Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Wild Princess by Mary Hart Perry--Review

I love historical fiction, especially when they are done well. I admit that I have a secret passion for historical romance that I don't often indulge in. Why? Who knows! It just isn't something that I actively seek out for some reason, but I’m so glad that I had a chance to review The Wild Princess by Mary Hart Perry.

Here's the synopsis on Goodreads:

The astronomical success of the historical novels of Phillipa Gregory and Christine Trent prove that readers simply can't get enough of the British royals--and now Mary Hart Perry enters the fray with an exciting, deliciously sensual novel of Queen Victoria's "wild child" daughter, the Princess Louise. The Wild Princess transports us back to Victorian England and plunges us into the intrigues of the royal court, where the impetuous Louise brazenly followed no one's rules but her own--even marrying a commoner, which no one of royal blood had done in the previous three centuries. Filled with rich period deal, The Wild Princess is an exciting, enthralling read. The Tudors have gotten the lion's share of attention in historical fiction; it's high time Queen Victoria and her family got their due.

Now the only thing I would contradict about this synopsis is the title of historical fiction. I think they need to include the word romance in there somewhere because if you are a reader thinking you are going to just read a straight story about Queen Victoria, you'll be upset. This is really a historical romance and one that is very well done!

Based on the life of Princess Louise, The Wild Princess reveals a sweet character that has already seen more than her fair share of trouble. After surviving a terrible scandal, Louise longs for a happy marriage in the arms of her new husband, Lorne. He's a handsome man and fits into her mother's idea of the perfect match. Oh, did I forget to mention that her mom is the formidable, no nonsense Queen Victoria? The problem is that even though Lorne is a good looking man with money of his own, he isn't exactly known for his relationships with women. In fact, he doesn't have any romantic relationships with women. Why? Let's just say that he's a big supporter of Oscar Wilde!

So what's a girl to do when she discovers that her husband would rather be hanging out with the guys at his club? Princess Louise throws herself into charity work and causes that support women's rights. That is until she meets Stephen Byrne, a rugged American from Texas who is supposed to be helping track assassination attempts on her mother. When she meets him, the sparks fly and we discover exactly why Louise has the title of "the wild princess."

I liked the story a great deal. The characters were fun and well developed, and the plot flowed so easily that it was hard to put the book down.  I loved the character of Louise and the mix of history in the story. This is such an interesting time period, and the author really captured the look and feel of it. There are some fun, if predictable plot twists, but to me, some of the best scenes were the ones where the two main characters got to consummate their passion. Here's why: typically, sex scenes in romances like this one are graphic and drawn out. These scenes were intimate and detailed, but not over the top with a bunch of erotic mumbo jumbo. I also kept wondering how the author would resolve the love story in the end. After all, this is Victorian England! Royals can get divorced all they want now (thank you, Charles and Di), but back in the day, it was pretty taboo. Unless, of course, you were Henry VIII and then all bets are off! In short, the ending was satisfying and I felt like the story was complete.

Check out The Wild Princess! It's a great summer read! Here are the buy links and more info about the author.

Amazon code for The Wild Princess:

Mary Hart Perry Online:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dreamwalker by Andrea Heltsley--Review

Is there anything yummier than a nice paranormal romance on a hot summer afternoon? Sure it's already steamy outside, but isn't it fun when your imagination and a good book raise the temperature even more? Dreamwalker by Andrea Heltsley is the latest paranormal romance I've had the good fortune to read. It's part of an Innovative Online Book Tour (one of my favorite book groups!) and lucky me--I get to review it here at All Things Writing.

Here is the book synopsis from the cover:

Noel Kennedy lost her boyfriend, her job and he dignity all in one week. Then something happened and she began to dream of this stranger she had never met. She couldn’t resist the man of her dreams named Jared especially when she met him in real life. Entranced, she slowly unraveled a world she was meant to stay out of. Her life was not what she thought it was once a sexy Boone stepped into the mix and shook things up. Can she escape a life of servitude or immortality for a chance at love?

Let's begin with the book cover--nice. I like it! It captures the romantic, ethereal tone the author is going for!

When I first started the book, I wasn't sure if I was going to like the main character, Noel. See, she just got dumped and spends the first few chapters in a deep depression. It kind of had me worried. Was this going to be the trend for the whole story? Luckily, her best friend Autumn and a hottie tottie stranger called Jared help pull her out of her funk and get the story moving.

Jared is not only easy on the eyes, but he's special. Really special. As in he has powers that let him slip into your dreams and do…special things. Let's just say that he gets Noel's motor racing and helps her learn that she also has some extraordinary gifts that the bad guys are willing to capture her for.

And then there is Boone. Ah, empathetic, good looking Boone who also gets Noel hot and bothered. Once he enters the picture and we find out his back story, the plot starts to really unfold.

I think this book is full of interesting and well written characters. I especially like the best friend, Autumn, who evolves throughout the story. As stated early, I was worried about liking Noel, but she also goes through some changes that turn her into a strong person the reader cares about.

There were a few things about this book that bothered me. One was that the dialogue from time to time felt a little stilted, and occasionally the changes in point of view were tough for me to follow. I also was distracted by some typos and grammar issues such as too many dialogue tags or lots of ly adverbs that over describe situations. While I enjoyed this book, I think it could have benefited from one more round of editing.

All in all though, this is a hot paranormal romance to add to your reading list. After all, it's going to be a long, steamy summer!

Here are the buy links, as well as, more info on the author!

Amazon code:



Andrea Heltsley Online:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Morning Star by Desiree Finkbeiner--Interview and Review

We love to chat with authors about the writing process. Today we interview Desiree Finkbeiner, author of Morning Star.

Mary Ann: Thanks for joining us on All Things Writing today, Desiree! I really enjoyed your book, Morning Star.

First of all, I think you've created a really unique group of characters in this story. I've got a bit of a crush on Kalen (shhh….don't tell my husband!). When you set about creating characters, where do you begin? Do you think of them physically first or do you start with their actions?

Desiree: Thank you. The first thing that comes to mind is personality and then their features and quirks develop around them. No matter what a character looks like, if they are not genuine in their desires and motives then it doesn’t matter what they look like. People will not love or hate them if they don’t have solid character.

Where did the idea for the Ethos series come from?

I was laying in bed recovering from a surgery, bored out of my mind… so I started daydreaming. Dragonflies and mushrooms popped into my mind, and a world where faeries are more than little people floating around on wings. The first character to take shape in my mind was Kalen, then his opposition, Ellette. Once the basic plot was formed, I started writing and never looked back.

I love the graphics in this book! Did you do them yourself or hire an artist? How did you decide on the look/style of the art?

I did the art and also designed the cover. I have an art degree and have been selling and licensing my art for over 20 years. Deciding on a style was hard because I have so many versatile styles. In the end, I decided to go for a graphic novel/comic book style, with my own spin. The drawings were rendered in ink and then scanned into Photoshop, where I added grayscale shadowing. I’ve revisited a few of them and started to make highly detailed digital paintings in full color. One example is that of the mermaid. I’ve included some images to show my process from line drawing to fully colorized image. I have about 8 hours in this single piece and over 100 hours in the art for the novel.

 One of my favorite things about you as a writer is that you send an awesome promo package which includes your book trailer. I struggle with creating trailers. How long did it take you to create this one? What program would you suggest to those who are interested in creating our own book trailers?

I have two trailers for the book. One is fully animated from my own artwork. Animation is VERY time consuming! This trailer took several weeks to complete. I collaborated with Irish orchestral composer, Graham Plowman, who did the music on both of my trailers. He also did the video production on the animated trailer. He added the after effects and pieced it together, I did the animations frame by frame.

The other, more character based trailer, featured narrative from Kalen, the hero. I used a voice over artist from this is an excellent place to find affordable voice over talent for only $5! Though the book is written in the first person, from Brianna’s perspective, the second trailer is from Kalen’s perspective. I used some clip art from which is FREE so long as you notify the photo owner how and where you’re using their images, and agree to follow their creative commons licensing guidelines. For this trailer, I animated and edited many of the stock photos to fit my own story. For the animated gifs, I used Photoshop CS2. It was put together in Windows Movie Maker (free program) and the music and voice over was put together with Audacity (also free). There are tutorials on youtube for these programs to help with quick start use- believe me, watching a 15 minute tutorial will save you HOURS of learning curve. They are very easy to use and you can put together a decent trailer in just a few hours.

Check out the trailers:
Action Adventure Fantasy Book Trailer #1:
Paranormal Romance Fantasy Book Trailer #2:

How did you hook up with Hydra Publications?

I spent several days on Google searching for ‘open submissions’ for ‘fantasy novels’. After submitting to about 50 publishing houses, I got offers from 3 different publishers but decided to go with Hydra Publications.

Agent or no agent? What's your take on having one?

No agent. I prefer to have more control and better royalties. But if I had a ton of books out and couldn’t keep up with the PR, then I’d hire an agent to help with the work load. Until that day, I prefer to do it all myself. I don’t think I make enough money with my writing at this time to warrant the use of an agent.

Review of Morning Star

Ah, the angst of the young! Most YA novels seem to have a healthy dose of angst and broken hearts in them no matter what the genre is. I think that's because heartbreak and frustration is something we all relate to. Hey, everyone has been there! Morning Star by Desiree Finkbeiner is a science fiction young adult novel with lots of action, romance, and some really cool purple dragonflies.

Here is the synopsis from the book cover:

When a mysterious stranger interrupts Brianna's mundane routine, her eyes are opened to the dark underbelly of reality... immortal rogues, ancient conspiracies, prophetic revelations, savage tribes, mammoth dragonflies... She's thrust into a race for her life when Kalen, a warrior from Ethos, discovers that she is harboring a secret... a secret that he'd give his life to protect. There's just one little problem... they are tempted by a forbidden romance, which threatens to compromise a divinely appointed mission. They are faced with a choice... love eternal, or the end of the world...

To be honest and despite my affection for teen love, the beginning of this novel was a bit slow for me. I think I'm starting to show my age because I felt a little frustrated with Brianna's constant "does he love me/does he love me not" syndrome in the first few chapters of the book. They got in the way of the plot and learning the importance of the magic mushroom. (Get your head out of the gutter! It's not that kind of mushroom. Not really…) However, once the author got past that and introduced the bad guy, the story really got rolling!

Kalen is an interesting hero who has made a vow on his home planet of Ethos not to get involved with anyone romantically. Heck, the fate of the world pretty much hangs on him being stoic and not giving in to his feelings for Briana. I liked him overall. I wanted to hang out with him and touch his super cool hair.

As these two struggle with their feelings for each other, they also have to focus on the meaning of a prophecy and how it will affect them. This was what kept me reading this book! I loved how the author unfolded the story and was intrigued by the world of Ethos.

Another thing about this book that makes it unique is the illustrations. They give Morning Star sort of a graphic novel feel and are extremely well done. Definitely one of the more memorable things about this tale!

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I did see lots of grammar errors, but those are things a good editor should have caught. I was also reading the Kindle edition and for whatever reason, I tend to catch more mistakes in those version than in the paperback editions. Regardless, I think this is an excellent story idea and the sequel should have fans of this book series excited!

Want more? Then check out the buy links and author info!

Publisher: Hydra Publications (March 28, 2012)
Author website:
Author facebook fanpage:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I'm late today

I'm late. But, as I will demonstrate, it's better to be late than to be wrong.

First, though, let's give a nod to Celebration of the Senses Day, which was the 24th. Know how I celebrate the Senses every time I write? Right! By including them in every scene that I can. We always use sight and sound, and smell and touch aren't too hard. Taste is the hardest for me to work in and it doesn't happen in every scene. But one of my edits is always done for that before publication. The more help I can give readers, the more chance they'll be there with me, right where I want them. Do you do this?

Now to the haste makes waste.

Here's the story:

I loaded all the files for my trade paperback edition of CHOKE and they looked good. But, just to be safe, I took the time and ordered the proof copies (5 is the max you can order from Createspace and I can always use them for reviewers and such). They take a few days to arrive, which seems like forever after doing digital publishing.

Lo and behold. What you see in the template document is backwards. You see page 1 on the left, but really it's on the right. So I started with a blank page. You turn it and my title page was on the left! Not good.

So I fixed the file. Yeah, I fixed it. I deleted the last blank page and added one at the front. Then, because I knew it was right, I published it and ordered 10 copies.

OMG! When they arrived, I could see that the header and page number started on the very first BLANK (blankety-blank) page! Chapter One started on page 7. By deleting that last blank page, I deleted a section break, if you're into these things. Grrrr. I could also see that people were buying this copy! I cried. 

Then I took it out of circulation as soon as I could and fixed it. I also found that I had added an extra space in the dang header and the book was much longer than it needed to be. With less pages now, I can lower the price.

I'm waiting to hear from anyone who bought the early copy. If I do, I'll try to make it right. But they should stop and consider what a collector's item this is! It's like a mistake on a coin by the US Mint, right? It should be worth millions in a few years.

Yeah, right.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Universal Mirror--Interview and Review with Gwen Perkins

Today we have the fabulous Gwen Perkins visiting with us. She has written a fantasy novel called The Universal Mirror which was published by Hydra Publications. Ms. Perkins is sharing some of the secrets she uses when creating a novel.

Mary Ann: Hi Gwen! Thanks for being with us on All Things Writing. I really enjoyed your book The Universal Mirror and look forward to its sequel, The Jealousy Glass. Let's chat about the writing process!

You've created this complex and unique world of magic in The Universal Mirror. How did you go about doing this? What do you think about as a writer when you are creating a location like Cercia where certain rules seem to apply?

Gwen: One of the governing rules for me in building the world of Cercia was this: "Magic has consequence."  That's the simple basic tenet but it became much more complex as I began to explore it. 

The magic system in Cercia is a little different from what I've observed in many fantasy novels.  In Cercia, magicians draw their magic from the earth using their bodies as a conduit.  While you don't see it in The Universal Mirror, in the sequel, where two of the magicians travel to the nation of Anjdur, you learn that other countries don't possess magic that has nearly the strength of the Cercians'.  This is because the Anjduri have literally scorched their earth, causing so much damage to their environment that it becomes difficult to draw energy into human beings.  As a result, that culture's magic have evolved.  (This is made more explicit in later books.)  That's the literal consequence of using magic.

However, there are also social and political consequences to the use of magic.  In Cercia, there is a series of laws called the Heresies which govern how magicians are allowed to utilize this force.  Is it because of a desire to protect the land?  Not so much as it is because the government understands how dangerous it would be to allow its people to wield power outside of its supervision.  This isn't only because of a perception that people would hurt one another—it's also to preserve those secrets that keep the government in power.

I liked Catharine a lot and loved the interactions between her and Quentin. Their dialogue felt so real. Do you have any tips on creating believable dialogue?

To be honest, just listen to people.  I listen to people all the time and try to note their small gestures and interactions. 

Catharine and Quentin were difficult to write because they are a couple in crisis—that's not an easy thing to capture, particularly because it involves examining something that I think all of us find painful.  I can't say that I based them on any one couple that I know.  I tend to shy away from doing that.  But there are elements of a lot of faltering relationships that I've seen or been a part of that slipped into their interactions.  The hardest thing, I think, was in juggling the fact that these are two people who do love one another.  It's just that they can't get past their own issues to allow those feelings to shine through.

 I know that you are hard at work on The Jealousy Glass. Did you find it easier or harder to slip back into the world of magic?

It's very easy to return to Cercia.  I actually felt that The Jealousy Glass wrote itself in a lot of ways.  I hadn't intended there to be a sequel to Mirror initially but I received so many emails and questions about what happened next that the story started weaving itself.  I've since realized that there's a lot more to tell and I'm very happy to be telling it.  Future books dive deeper into the history of Cercia as well as explore the revolution that was started at the end of the first book.

How did you hook up with Hydra Publications?

It's kind of odd, perhaps, but I hooked up with them because I read one of their novels, Anon by Peter Giglio.  I'd been looking around for a small press because I wanted to be published by someone who was willing to teach me and show me the ropes the first time out.  I didn't actually read Anon with that in mind but I enjoyed the novel so much that I googled the press.  On a bit of a whim, I sent Hydra the novel and got a great response.  Subsequent emails back and forth convinced me that this was the press to work with and it was the kind of personal relationship that I wanted to have with a publisher.  I didn't want a distant overseer of my work—what I wanted was someone that I could really talk to about concerns and ideas and that's exactly what I got. 

Working with Hydra is like being part of a wonderful family.  I talk to my fellow authors and publishers every day and they offer support and encouragement both about writing and about my personal life.  What a wonderful experience it's been.

Okay, I have to ask because we writers are nosy people (or maybe that's just me!), but do you have an agent? If not, what's your take on that for writers? Should we or shouldn't we have one?

I don't have an agent.  That's not to say that I won't in future but it wasn't where I decided to go this first time.  In terms of what my take is?  That really depends on what your goals with publishing are.  I wanted to go small press and in that case, I don't feel that an agent is necessary (though I would recommend research and looking over contracts carefully for any writer).  If I'd decided to go Big 6, I would have had to have one, I believe. 

Personally, I don't think there's any one path for an author.  We're all different, all of our books are different from one another.  The key thing is to make the choice that's right for you. 

What do you think was the most challenging part of writing The Universal Mirror?

Starting it.  I have great trouble with beginning stories—unlike many writers, my favorite part is the middle.  I struggle with opening a piece and then I hate to see it end.  (One of the best things about writing a series!) 

I knew when I began Mirror that I wanted to open it with a scene that I wrote years before I actually started the novel—two men digging a grave—but deciding what followed after was difficult.  A couple of the chapters ended up being rearranged in the final version, actually, because of that.

What have you learned about writing since being published? Is there anything you would do differently?

I've learned to love my bad reviews or at least, the critical ones.  I think carefully about what people've said about the book and it definitely has influenced how I've written the second novel. 

I've also learned, however, that not every book is for every reader. I don't think authors should feel bad if not all audiences enjoy their book.  One wouldn't expect every James Joyce fan to enjoy Stephen King—it's completely unreasonable to think that you can write a "one size fits all" book.  I certainly wouldn't want to.

One of the things that I would do differently if I was to write Mirror again would be to slow down a little and put more exposition in the story.  As a reader, I dislike large chunks of history but I've learned that there are other ways to go about it.  My natural instinct is to jump from action scene to action scene without allowing much space for characters to talk.  While The Jealousy Glass is fairly action-driven, I've tried very hard (with the help of some wonderful beta readers) to slow myself down at points.  It's a better novel for that.

Review of The Universal Mirror

Magic. Man, do I love some magic in my stories! A lot of my summer reading list is made up of books that have some sort of paranormal, magical hoopla to them, as a matter of fact.  That being said though, I don't actually consider myself much of a straight high fantasy reader. It's just not one of those genres that I've ever really gotten in to.

That's why I was so excited to read Gwen Perkins book, The Universal Mirror. If you read the above interview, you know that Ms. Perkins has created a complex world where magic is drawn from the earth and there are definite rules that must be followed when practicing it. Here is the synopsis from the book cover:

On the island of Cercia, the gods are dead, killed by their followers and replaced with the study of magic. Magicians are forbidden to leave their homeland. Laws bind these men that prevent them from casting spells on the living--whether to harm or to heal.

Quentin, a young nobleman, challenges these laws out of love for his wife. His best friend, Asahel, defies authority at his side, unaware that the search for this lost magic will bring them both to the edge of reason, threatening their very souls. The Universal Mirror shows how far two men are willing to go for the sake of knowledge and what they will destroy to obtain it.

I found this to be a very character driven novel.  The author spends a lot of time developing each character, really giving the reader a strong sense of who they are and what their purpose is.  Quentin has the money and power (due to his marriage to Catherine), and Asahel is sort of the poor church mouse that most people in upper society won't acknowledge. The friendship between these two men is interesting to watch unfold and there were times where I wasn't sure if I really liked Quentin--though I did love watching him interact with his wife, Catherine. She may not be the prettiest gal on the block due to a previous illness that left her scarred, but Quentin is in love with her and their relationship was one of the things I found compelling in the novel.

Without giving too much away, what I really discovered about this book is that yes, it is about magic and what happens when you abuse it, but it's really about friendship and what people will do to keep it. As I said, this is a character driven story, so I did feel at times the action was a little slow, particularly at the beginning. However, the second part of this story really pushed things into overdrive and made me look forward to the sequel, The Jealousy Glass.

I'm hoping Ms. Perkins will come back and talk to us more in the fall when the second book comes out! Below are the purchase links, as well as, links to learn more about Gwen!

Author links:

Friday, June 22, 2012

Creativity: The Key to Writing Success by K.Ford.K

Today's guest post touches on a topic close to my heart: creativity! Enjoy!

Ten years ago, when I was first asked to teach creativity to children, I wasn’t sure that creativity could be taught.  I racked my brain for bits and pieces of my daily life that had brought me that rarest gift of all: inspiration.   If I was going to teach creativity, I had to believe that the inspiration for creativity was not just stumbled upon by chance, it could also be cultivated on purpose. 

Tigers and Tennis Shoes

I had always believed that creativity was born when two things that don’t belong together are put together.  I called this the juxtaposition of unlike things.  Creativity was making connections that no one else had thought of.   So I made lists of odd pairs and gave them to a group of children with the instruction to write a story.  (I also reminded them that a story must have a problem that will be resolved by the end)  The one example that sticks out in my mind was Tigers and Tennis Shoes.  This unusual juxtaposition brought about several very good stories and my students discovered what good writers they really were.

Imagination Tea Parties

With an even younger group of children, I planned what I liked to call ‘Imagination Tea Parties’.  The children dressed up in costume and came to tea with their parents on the edge of a small wooded area.  I began the story for them and as we walked through the forest, they invented the rest of the story on their own.  I gave them a few prompts now and then but for the most part, they had so many ideas that they shouted out all at once.  I was almost deaf by the end of the party.  And the children discovered their inner storyteller.  

Creativity Likes an Open Mind

 Adults may have to work a little harder to be that creative.  My advice for writers is to jot down the things that have given you inspiration in the past and try to use them again.  Travel is one of my favorite methods for finding inspiration.  Immerse yourself in a foreign culture and language.  When problems arise, pay attention.  It’s the worst things that happen to us that make the best stories.  If you can’t afford to travel, watch foreign films, eat exotic foods, talk to people who have a completely different outlook on life and culture.  Creativity likes an open mind.  Sometimes inspiration comes from a single out-of-place word, a delicious color, a bright scent, a visible sound.   Reading philosophy works for me because it forces me see the world in a different way.   Learn something new.  Experience something new.  Sometimes creativity comes from being uncomfortable. 

Creativity Likes Silence

It’s also important to travel within.   Clear your mind.  Let your mind fill from the deep well of the unconscious instead of the distracting bustle of life on the outside.  Creativity likes silence.  Creativity likes to be heard. 

If you find a way to cultivate creativity, you will find writing success.  I don’t know if monetary success will follow right away but I do know that you will be successful in creating something new and exciting - something that is uniquely you.  And that sounds like a pretty important success to me.   

Check out The Concugine's Gift by K.Ford K.
Author Bio for K. Ford K.

I became a storyteller by accident. It all began in Mexico where I attended university and where I learned to accept the supernatural as a normal part of life. From the revered opinions of the local witch, to the preparation of meals for dead grandmothers, I learned to see the world through different eyes and I came to understand that things are not always what they seem.
Later, on my way to attend a university in France, I traveled to Morocco. I stopped at a marketplace in Marrakesh and while eating my lunch of dates and oranges, I watched a tattered beggar transform himself into a storyteller. He moved with the practiced gestures and fantastic expressions of his trade, surrounded by a growing circle of people who listened to him with eyes wide open, their own lives forgotten. In another culture, at another time he might have been a rich man, but here he was selling beautiful tales for coins in the dusty marketplace. I longed to be like him, this mendicant from Marrakesh.
Years later, I moved to Tokyo to teach and write articles for The Tokyo Weekender Magazine. Every day I traveled the crowded trains, sharing space and breath with millions of strangers.
There amid the crushing humanity, I watched the surreal combinations of east and west in language and life, the painful and beautiful growth that occurs when two cultures collide. I witnessed two public suicides, and felt firsthand not only the temporality of life but also the beauty of a single moment.
The time spent crushed between strangers, doors and windows of the train became a quiet meditative place where I learned to accept life and death. There on that Tokyo train, I began to write novels in my head, while that tattered beggar from Marrakesh, who had captivated me years before, whispered in my ear like a nagging dead man, “Tell me a story.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

DIY Book Marketing by Pete Abela

Today's guest blogger has some excellent tips for writers in all phases of the marketing process. Read on to learn some of Pete Abela's great suggestions for book marketing!

There are numerous ways to promote a book: from Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads to Blogs, Author Interviews & Spotlights and Guest Posts. Today’s post will cover some of the aspects of these tools and some pros and cons of each.

Many of these techniques are inter-related. Twitter and Facebook can be used to drive traffic to your blog. The blog advertises your book and showcases your writing. Pick some regular themes for your blog and post according to a consistent schedule (at least weekly) in order to maintain and grow your following. These forums are your primary platform and over time will build a great store of content for people to explore and learn about you. However, to a certain extent your audience is somewhat static for these tools. Your followers – be they on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or your blog – can only buy one copy of your books each (at most). You may be able to increase your audience over time, but this will typically be an incremental and gradual process. A key aspect of these platforms is building them up early – well before your book is launched – so that you have as large an audience as possible when the big day arrives.

Author interviews, guest posts and spotlights come into their own as a means of putting you in front of new audiences. If you can make a good impression, you can make an immediate sale or attract them back to your own blog or website, thereby providing the potential for a step-change in the people aware of you and your book.

Another important method is to identify niche groups who may be interested in your work and find vehicles to pitch to them. In my case, Wings contains aviation themes so I have sent press releases to a number of aviation magazines and flying clubs around the world. A number of them have agreed to review or publicise my work which puts me in front of new eyes with an affinity for my work.

Similarly, local newspapers are always looking for content and may be receptive to a well written press release. Spend some time thinking about what makes your story different or interesting. If you can find the right angle, you’ll be surprised at the positive responses you can get.

The techniques listed above are all useful for raising your profile and making your work known. But will they lead people to buy your books?

This is where reviews come in. Positive and credible reviews from independent and trusted sources may provide the impetus necessary for a potential reader to take a chance on your work. If you can identify reviewers with a large following, so much the better. Reviewers often have long lists of books to review so you need to contact them well before the publication date. You need to put your best foot forward to maximise your chances of a positive, or even glowing, review so a professional, well-written pitch and a polished (although not necessarily final) copy of your manuscript are essential. I found a number of reviewers via Twitter, and a site like is another great resource.

Because of the independent nature of a review, I am of the view that they are the best tool to encourage sales of your books. However, you cannot rely on reviews alone, because without the other tools, people may not even see the review. A cohesive and well-thought out strategy utilising all of the tools at your disposal is vital to ensure you have the best chance of standing out in what is a crowded marketplace.

Given I’m still in the early days of my life as a published author, I’d be happy to hear any other thoughts or suggestions for book marketing.

A Review of Wings

“This multi-generation novel of a Grandfather and Grandson and how flying shaped their lives deserves to be the smash of the summer … I really can't recommend this book highly enough.” – Andy Angel. Full review at

Pete Abela’s Biography

Pete Abela’s book Wings, recently published by Really Blue Books, heralds the arrival of a talented new Australian writer. In contrast to his youthfulness, his mature character-driven style has surprised many. When not writing, he is conjuring up novel cyber-marketing strategies to spread his words around the world.

Pete has a Master of Arts in Theology and works as an IT Manager. He lives with his wife and four children on the charming southern-east coast of New South Wales where he is currently working hard on his second novel.

Find out more about Pete at:

Like Pete on Facebook:

Pete’s Twitter handle: @PeteAbela

Friday, June 15, 2012

What Ray Bradbury Taught Me about Censorship and Freedom by Guest Author Diane Lefer

The master is gone. I've been thinking about Ray Bradbury all week and I'm sure you have been too. Is there a writer or a reader anywhere who does not respond to Fahrenheit 451?

In Bradbury's novel, not only are books burned but newspapers disappear due to public indifference. People are instead entranced with their "parlor walls," the flat screen TV's that Bradbury imagined back in 1953 that can now represent the internet and Wii and all the virtual worlds that have usurped the role of books. But to me, the "walls" carried me back to the immigration detention center where I was a volunteer interpreter for people held for months, even years, awaiting their hearings. Books and magazines were prohibited while TV sets blared at full volume all day.

And I thought about a friend who was convicted at age 16 for a stupid youthful incident in which no human being or any living creature was injured in any way. After being sentenced 35-years-to-life, he spent a year in solitary, supposedly for his own protection--and inmates in solitary were not allowed to have books. A wonderful person on the outside Xeroxed entire novels and put three double-sided pages in the mail every day, in envelopes thin enough that they would not be confiscated. Reading novels in 6-page installments was what kept my friend sane.

I have other true stories like this and it has always been a struggle to get any of it into print. (Talk about censorship: the media is barred from California prisons and detention centers.)

But Ray Bradbury was able to offer a scathing critique of our society and see it not only published but a bestseller. David Ulin, Los Angeles Times book critic, suggested perhaps writing genre fiction--in Bradbury's case, science fiction--gave an author more freedom.

Yes! I thought of my late friend, Ted Gottfried (aka Ted Mark), who wrote dirty books from the Sixties up until around (coincidence?) 1984.  Ted believed teenage boys were gonna learn about sex from porn and he wanted them to learn healthy attitudes, especially respect for women. In the Man from O.R.G.Y. series, Steve Victor travels the world solving sexual problems, always taking the advice of his feminist girlfriend, Stephanie Greenwillow. Along the way, Ted's books addressed every controversial issue of the day. As long as there was arousal material on every page, the publisher didn't care if Ted expressed his opinions.

Ted's porn career came to an end when smut went visual: dirty movies and then the internet. As Bradbury understood, you don't have to burn books to make them disappear. I wish Ted could have still been writing books during the era of AIDS. He could have saved lives by making safe sex very sexy.

I think Ted would have enjoyed my new novel, Nobody Wakes Up Pretty, which Edgar Award winner Domenic Stansberry described as "A sexy, funny, tender-hearted puzzler about a young woman sifting the ashes of America's endless class warfare." And I realized my NYC noir--my genre novel--says more about race and class and says it more overtly than anything else I've had published.

Is genre the only way to write uncensored fiction? Maybe it's just that you can't write a genre novel without telling a good story. And when you tell a good story you have freedom.

Bio: Diane Lefer is a playwright, author, and activist. In addition to Nobody Wakes Up Pretty, her recent books include The Blessing Next to the Wound: A story of art, activism, and transformation, co-authored with Colombian exile Hector Aristizábal and recommended by Amnesty International as a book to read during Banned Books Week; and the short-story collection, California Transit, awarded the Mary McCarthy Prize. Her works for the stage have been produced in LA, NYC, Chicago and points in-between and include Nightwind, also in collaboration with Aristizábal, which has been performed all over the US and the world including for human rights organizations in Afghanistan and Colombia. Diane has led arts-and-games-based writing workshops to boost literacy skills and promote social justice in the US and, in Spanish, in South America. Her website is

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Review and Interview with Becca Smith, author of Riser

Today our guest is a terrific writer! The one, the only, the amazing....Becca Smith! (wild applause please!) She is chatting with us about her book, Riser, and talking shop about writing in general!

Mary Ann: Becca, I really loved your book, Riser. I thought it was a unique idea and I loved the futuristic quality. I'm excited to get to interview you at All Things Writing! What prompted you to set Riser in the future?

 Becca: Thank you so much! I’m so happy you liked it! The seed for Riser started when I read an article about a scientist at Cambridge University that claimed he’d have the “cure” for aging in ten years time. It got my mind going, thinking of how much I wanted him to succeed, but also what the consequences would be in a world where people could live forever. The only way to truly show those consequences, in my opinion, was to have it take place in the future. That way it gives the world I created with Age-pro in it enough time to turn into what I call a utopian-dystopia, lol.

 I love Chelsan's character. She is still your typical teenager worried about boys and dates while balancing this incredible gift. How difficult or easy was she to write?

Chelsan was very easy to write, because she’s basically me with superpowers. I was always an awkward teenager. I had secret crushes on boys I’m absolutely positive didn’t even know my name, lol. Drawing on my memories of my high school days, I was able to put some humor into Chelsan’s awkward moments, because we’ve all been through that. Having her power to control the dead only made her life more complicated than a normal teenager. That was where I was able to have the most fun, using her power to put bullies in their places.

 Riser deals with voodoo and I think you gave it an interesting twist. Was this a subject area that you had to do much research in?

Yes. I had to do a lot of research on voodoo. Although the spells and rituals are pure fiction in Riser I wanted to give it a foot in reality. I actually found spells that supposedly raise the dead, and from there I tried to create a world with a mixture of science and black magic. It was a lot of fun.

  Jill was a great "nasty" villain. Did you have any Jills in your life that inspired you to create this character?

Oh yes. It’s funny because an old classmate of mine contacted me through facebook and had read the book and she asked me the same question. I told her no because I knew she was still friends with some of the girls that were mean to me. In fact, she was one of the girls. What’s crazy is that so many years have gone by no one ever remembers being a bully. Or if they do they don’t admit it. It’s such a stigma today and rightfully so. Let’s just say I had a lot of experience to draw on when dealing with girls being mean to me.

What's next? Is there a sequel? What is your next writing project?

I’ve actually already released the sequel to Riser, it’s called Reaper, and the third and final book in the trilogy will be out this fall. My next writing project will be another trilogy in the Riser universe. The main character is a character I introduce in the third book, Ripper. She’s a three hundred year old assassin, so it should be pretty fun to write!

 Do you have an agent? If so, what has that experience been like?

I actually don’t have an agent. I’ve had them in the past and in my experience, I still had to do all the work, lol.

 What have you learned the most from the publishing world?

The number one thing I’ve learned from the publishing world it not to be offended if someone doesn’t like my book.  It’s like watching a movie with your friend. The two of you can have the same opinion on 9 out of 10 movies, but on that 10th movie one of you hates it and the other one loves it. People have their opinions and what speaks to some may not speak to others. You can’t control what others like and don’t like, so I just enjoy the good feedback and accept the bad as gracefully as I can.

Thanks for being with us today! I look forward to reading more of your work!

Riser Review

Okay, not only did I get to interview Becca Smith about her book Riser, but I get to review it as well.  Ah, some days I'm just too spoiled….

So let's get to it. Here is the book synopsis.

Black swirling holes churning madly in the center of every corpse. This is how eighteen-year-old Chelsan Derée sees the deceased. Her ability to connect to the black spinning holes allows her to control every dead thing within a four-mile radius. But that's the least of her problems. It's 2320 and Chelsan Derée has to survive another year of high school, which for her is pure and utter torture, mainly due to the fact that her schoolmate Jill Forester's favorite activity is making Chelsan's life a living hell. If that isn't enough, Chelsan's impossible crush on Ryan Vaughn makes her brain do somersaults on a regular basis, especially since she is positive he doesn't know she exists. And being eighteen Chelsan has to deal with the pressure of whether or not she should take a little pill called Age-pro, which cures aging, making the world eighteen forever and highly over-populated. When Chelsan's mother, Janet, is brutally killed, along with everyone else in her trailer park, Chelsan finds out that she was the intended target. Chelsan must use her power to raise and control the dead to save herself, protect her friends and take down the man responsible for murdering her mother.


Riser rocked. That's all there is to it. It's a fast paced, futuristic YA that touchs on something many people worry about at one point or another in their life: aging. In Ms. Smith's future, they've created a handy dandy little pill called Age-pro which if you take it at the right age makes you look around nineteen or so forever. Pretty sweet, right? Um….well, kind of. Like anything Age-pro has its drawbacks as Chelsan (our heroine) discovers. But then again, aging is the least of Chelsan's worries. She has an extraordinary talent for raising dead things--and not just dead people. Dead spiders, dead plants, some really pissed off bees, and cockroaches are just a few of the things she works with.

I thought this was a clever idea and a new twist on necromancy. All the characters are well developed, and the bad guy is pretty darn bad. The world the author created (futuristic L.A.) was creative and I suppose if you are from that area, it's filled with landmarks the reader would recognize. As someone who just released a book that deals with voodoo, I thought it was interesting to see how voodoo might be used in the future.

The other thing I liked about this book was the eye catching cover. Nice work!

This one is a keeper! Here is the Amazon buylinks!

And here is how to find all things Becca Smith.

Becca's Website