Great Summer Reading: “Summer of the Rose” – now in hard cover! #TimeTravel #Southernhistoricalfantasy

“Is ‘The Wind in the Willows’ a children’s book? Is ‘Alice in Wonderland?’ Is ‘Treasure Island?’ these are masterpieces which we read with pleasure as children, but with how much more pleasure when we are grown-up.” – A. A. Milne 

2014-01-15_14-05-07_194 - Copy (3) - CopyGreat news for all you summer book readers! Book 1 in the “Secrets of Rose River” Time Travel Trilogy, is now in hard cover edition on B&N.comIf you liked “Tuck Everlasting”, you will love this one! A Southern Historical Time Travel Fantasy, with just the right amount of romance, and even a bit of mischief, this is a “coming of age” story being told by “Anna” who’s now 87, that will be enjoyed by young and old alike! Pull up a chair, Anna’s just getting started! The River has secrets she will never tell, but Anna just might know a few of them…

Summer’s just around the corner, and “Summer of the Rose” will make a great addition to your list!

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A RIVER OF SECRETS…Anna Brownfield is 12 the summer of 1877, when she and her twin brothers, Jed and Josiah, 15, set out to find the secret place in the river, hidden in the forest near their little dirt road southern town, where folks say that if you touch the water there, you will look around and realize you have traveled forward or even backward in time. Little do they know what the “Enchanted Lady” winding her way through the forest, which Anna refers to as “Lady River”, has in store for them.

ROMANCE…Did she find her true love because of a secret place in the river, like others claim they did? Anna is now 87 years old, and she has some stories to tell, but none quite like the “Summer of the Rose”. There are others who have stories to tell, and Anna knows who they are. She also knows that there are few who have ever been able to resist the River’s call…

TALES OF TIME TRAVEL…So pull up a chair and sit for a while with Anna, Sam “Tater” Jenson, Mattie Turner, and the others, along with “Flapjack”, the town hound dog as they take you back to a time of early southern America, when the town storytellers sat out in rocking chairs in front of the old stores and told stories of days gone by. Go back to a time when you saw the world through the eyes of a child and dared to imagine the impossible. You might hear a story you just wouldn’t believe…

A truly heartwarming, yet daring romantic adventure you won’t soon forget! Get it now on Amazon in Print (Paperback) and Kindle, and now on B&N.com in Hard Cover, as well as Paperback and Nook! If you liked the movie, “Tuck Everlasting”, <— (Click here for my “Interview” with “Anna” and a special treat at the end!), you will love this book!

Be sure to subscribe to my email so you won’t miss Book 2, “Scent of the Rose”, and my other future releases! If you know someone who would enjoy this book, please share to your Facebook or Tweet, via the buttons below! Get yours today, and I hope you enjoy it! Be sure to stop back by the Amazon or B&N pages and leave a review!

 

 

 

Book Writing for Procrastinators, Part 2: Overcoming Distractions & Mind Blocks #WhatsYourStory #WritersHelpingWriters

Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.  – Ray Bradbury

“It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.” —Robert Benchley

cropped-cropped-kimg15561.jpgHi again, everyone! I hope everyone’s enjoying this lovely Saturday – and yes, I do plan to get out with my husband and enjoy it a little myself in a little bit. But first, I wanted to share with all of you other writers out there, (or would  be writers, hey what are you waiting for?) my second installment of “Book Writing for Procrastinators, Overcoming Distractions & Mind Blocks”. I also have a little surprise I want to share with you, a podcast on this very subject I happened to stumble across. But before I get into all of that, I would like to suggest that if you haven’t read my first post on this subject, take a moment to go here and read it.  It’s loaded with tips on what has helped me, and 8 ways to learn from the pros, and get started writing that book, along with some links to resources from some more experienced writers who have been some of my greatest teachers, so be sure and check that out for some good advice on how to quit procrastinating, get started, and write that best seller! Hey, I know I’m not quite there yet, but we’re all writers helping writers, right? So without further ado, let’s dig in to what I have for you today!

How Procrastination is Born: Overcoming Mind Blocks…

In the last post, I mentioned that I have PTSD from a terrible car accident years ago. That’s just it, I have it, it doesn’t have me! As I mentioned in that last post, for years I struggled with lack of confidence and other issues, which mainly stemmed from the PTSD. Of course, I am doing much better now than I was a few years ago. Now, through my faith in a God that will never leave us nor forsake us, and the love of my wonderful, sweet husband, who is also my high school sweetheart, whom God recently reunited me with after all these years, I am doing much better. You can read some of our story here! Here is a sneak preview of my book on faith that is coming out soon, which will have my story of my near death experience and what I’ve learned on my road to healing. So, with 2 books now under my belt, I want to share with you what has helped me…

Mind Blocks: Finding the Root Cause of Procrastination…

My point here is, you just wouldn’t believe how much things like this can affect you. I know it did me, for a long time. Besides that, for years, I suffered from low self esteem, in large part due to the fact that I worried too much about what other people thought about me, among other things. What I didn’t realize was, over time, all of this just kind of conglomerated into a mind block. This, together with the bouts of depression that come from going through “the change” (I am a grandma now), along with my tendencies to become easily distracted, caused me to develop a mind block that nearly derailed my ever getting much of anything done, that is, until I decided enough was enough. I prayed about it, and I talked it over with my husband. Then, I came across a powerful podcast from Kary Oberbrunner. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s a very influential author, coach, and speaker working to “help other writers, people, and others just like you and me to discover who we are, why we are here, and how to become souls on fire so we can share our message with the world.”  Visit him and check out his website and some of the resources he has available here.

So, Check This Out…

Over time, this stuff can really “clog your mind up”, just like an old, nasty air condition filter in your home that needs replacing. You pull it out to replace it and say, “Wow, I didn’t know all of that was in there!” Well, that’s how our minds get sometimes, and eventually, it causes you to form a mind block, like I did. That lack of confidence in yourself can spill over into an addiction to social media and email, etc, which is what Kary Oberbrunner talks about in this podcast, which I found to be very helpful. So, I will just share the link here with you, and you can go check it out for yourself. So, since he explains it better than I can, here you go, head on over and just listen to this. I know it helped me.

How to overcome an addiction to email and social media, by Kary Oberbrunner 

For me, as well as the rest of us in the undiagnosed generation of people who likely suffer from an adult form of ADD – or Attention Deficit Disorder, it can be a challenge to get things done that others find so easy to just breeze right through. After listening to Kary’s podcast, I began to realize that it was my own lack of confidence in myself, among other things, that led to my eventually letting things like email, social media, and other things provide that “sense of accomplishment” he refers to here. Now that I understand a little better what the root of my problem was, I, like others who read this, can begin to become friends with myself again, and work to cut out the “time wasters” that have distracted me. I can work to put myself on a schedule that will be effective for me, just like I do my young grandsons when they come to stay with “Mamaw”, and I can finally believe in myself enough to overcome procrastination and get those books written, and I think you can too!

You Can Do This!

It is in exploring the root cause of procrastination, that we will finally begin to understand it better, and thus, overcome it, and the mind blocks that come with it, and eventually replace it with a focused plan and a schedule. It is in doing so, that we will finally understand who we are, why we are here, and what our message is that we have been put here to share with the rest of the world. That is where the renewed confidence in ourselves will come in, and we will become a powerful and unstoppable force, moving forward to the prize before us.

Well?…

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Okay, so I snitched this pic from Facebook. So what’s your story? And why aren’t you writing? Let me know when your book comes out! Until next time, happy writing! Now, if you will excuse me, I have some writing to do, and I think you do too!

Thanks for reading, hope this helps someone! If it’s helped you, then please feel free to share it with someone! Then, get to writing!

Click here to read Part 1: Book Writing for Procrastinators… 8 Ways to Learn from the Pros, Get Started, and Write that Best Seller!

 

Book Writing for Procrastinators… 8 Ways to Learn from the Pros, Get Started, and Write that Best Seller! #writingtipsfornewbies

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. — Maya Angelou

I think of myself… as a troubadour, a village storyteller, the guy in the shadows of the campfire. – Louis L’Amour

Do you have a story to tell? Is there a future best seller trapped inside you? Do you want to write it, but have problems with procrastination? If so, you have come to the right place! I have had times I could be the queen of procrastinators! So, let’s help each other!  Even if you don’t have a problem with procrastinating, do you have an idea for a book, but just don’t know how to go about it? Then read on. Here are some tips from my experience that might help you. But first…

A Little More About Me…

If you’re anything like me, I went for years never even imagining myself writing a book. Maybe you’ve thought about it, but just been putting it off. Or maybe you’ve wanted to, but just don’t know how to go about it. For starters, let me just say, for the record, I certainly don’t claim to know everything there is to know about writing books. As a matter of fact, I am somewhat of a procrastinator. That said, I also had to put everything on the back burner for a while when my husband had his second kidney transplant a couple of years ago, plus I am a grandma to 3 very active little boys I like to see when I can. Then too, life can be just plain hectic these days. So, at this point, I am still playing catch up, but I am finally making progress, and my husband and I are very excited about the projects I have in the works right now. I currently have two books available on Amazon, you can check them out here. Although I have taken the self publishing route thus far, hubby and I are very optimistic toward pursuing the traditional route for my current projects, which are in the proofreading/polishing stages now. One is a book on faith, which will have my testimony of my near death experience in a horrific automobile accident in November of ’85, you can read more on that here. Be sure to subscribe to my email so you don’t miss out! Also in the works is my “Sadie’s Love” Duology (so far 😉 ). Next up is rolling up my sleeves to write those query letters! But enough about me already! Today, we’re going to talk about you! So what’s your story?

So What’s Your Story?

So, what’s your story? I will admit, writing comes to me naturally, as my mother was also a writer, and she has been one of my greatest teachers, as well as my dad, who inspired in me a love for reading. I can be watching a movie or listening to a conversation and get an idea for a story. But it didn’t always come to me that easily. For years, my tendencies to procrastinate alone kept me from feeling that I could ever sit down and write a book. I simply didn’t have the self discipline. But now, with two books down and more to come, I want to share with you some of what has worked for me, what I’ve learned from “the pros”, and even a few links to resources I have found helpful along my journey. I’ll share with you what I have found helpful, and in turn, if anyone knows anything I haven’t listed here that has helped you, feel free to comment and share. After all, we’re all writers helping writers, right? …

1. Traditional or Self Publish? Learning From Rejection… 

Let’s face it. Most of us as writers start out with dreams of hitting that coveted New York Times Best Seller List, and maybe even eventually having our books made into movies. But we quickly find it isn’t that easy. So do we just give up? Certainly not! Quite the opposite. The best way to get started on that path to becoming a NYTBS Author is to do just that, get started. Write that book. Carve out some quiet time to sit down and write. Then, do your online search for literary agencies, midsize publishers (some of which do not require an agent), and follow their instructions to send in a query letter and/or a synopsis of your work. But if your first book is rejected, don’t get discouraged. My first book was more or less a story I had “trapped in me” as Maya Angelou said, and wasn’t really in a popular genre, so after multiple rejections, I finally decided to self publish it through Amazon Createspace. That being said, although sales for it and even my second book have not been quite what I would like them to have been, I look back on the experience and learn from it, and keep writing. After all, that future best seller isn’t going to write itself! A good example of a pro we can learn from here is Jack Canfield, Co Author/Creator of the now ever popular Chicken Soup for the Soul Series, who went through something like 144 rejections before he found a publisher. Did that stop him? No! And just look where he is now! But don’t just take my word for it. Click here for some of Jack’s tips and author training on writing a book and making it a success!  So write that book and send those query letters. If it gets rejected 10 or 20 times, don’t just give up. Use the experience to learn ways you can improve, and study the examples of success stories, like Jack Canfield and others. Your story might just be that diamond in the rough!

2. Read! Other Authors Are Our Best Teachers…

The best way to learn the art of writing is to read. Reading the works of other authors not only gives you plenty of exposure to different writing styles, but it also provides a good way to learn about character development, irony, symbolism, dialogue, personification, as well as the flow of the story itself. The best place to start is with some of those favorite best selling authors you like. As you’re reading, notice how the story is set up. For fiction, what literary agents want to see is: hook, conflict, and resolution. Here, Rachelle Gardner explains more of what literary agents are looking for in a query letter. In a good, best selling fiction novel, you should be able to see how well the author has set this up. There is usually an exciting, romantic, or heart-pounding beginning that “hooks” you as the reader, the ensuing “conflict” between the characters or with one character and their situation, and then how the conflict is resolved, the “resolution”. Another benefit of reading the work of other authors is that it gives you insight into sentence structure, setting up dialogue, punctuation and so forth. I got started early as far as reading, since my dad has always been an avid reader. Being one who especially loves Westerns, he has read every book Louis L’Amour ever wrote. As early as first grade, I found myself reading them from time to time. I especially love the way he writes so as to make you feel you are actually there. I also got my son started on reading at an early age. He is a dedicated fan of the Lord of the Rings Series, ever since my dad gave him his old copy of “The Lord of the Rings”. I have learned a lot just from reading those best sellers by my favorite authors, taking a little something from each of them, combining it all over time as I develop my own style. Best of all, you can set your own “class” hours!

3. Meet Other Authors! Inspiration is the Best Medicine for Encouragement…

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Me, (L) and my daughter and grandson at Nicholas Sparks’ book signing for “The Last Song” at Barnes & Noble in Cary, NC. Yes, that’s been a few years, that cute little baby’s 8 years old now!

Another of my greatest teachers and one who has been a big inspiration to me is Nicholas Sparks. I have learned a lot from reading several of his books and have seen most of the movies. The turning point in my deciding to pursue a career in writing came the day I met him at one of his book signings at a Barnes & Noble in our area. It was for his book, “The Last Song”, although at the time, I had just finished reading “A Bend in the Road”. I found it to be a very inspiring experience and walked out of that B&N store that day thinking to myself, if he can do it, I can! I haven’t stopped since. I may not have gotten there yet, but then, the turtle won the race with the rabbit, simply because he refused to give up (or waste time and procrastinate, ha ha)! As a matter of fact, Nicholas Sparks also has a page on his website dedicated to those who want to be writers. One of the tips he gives? Just as I said above, read!

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Me with Mary at her book signing for “Lessons…” at the Barnes & Noble in Lynchburg, VA

I have also had the great honor of meeting actress, author, producer, and life coach, Mary McDonough, whom most of us older folks may remember as “Erin” from “The Waltons”, which ran for 9 seasons (and in my opinion, is only one of the best family shows of all time, hands down). In addition to her book, “Lessons From the Mountain, What I Learned From Erin Walton (read my review here), she also has two fiction books now available. Click here to visit her website and check them out! I can honestly say, both of these experiences were greatly inspirational and exciting experiences for me. After all, they have been some of my greatest teachers. So who’s the next best selling author coming to a book store near you? Go! Meet them! For anyone who wants to be a writer, there is nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of getting to meet a best selling author! A learning experience in and of itself!

4. Watch a Good Movie

Hey, you never know when you’re going to get another idea for a great story. That’s what happened when I got the inspiration for my 2nd book, “A River of Secrets, Summer of the Rose”, which is the first book in the “River of Love’s Rose” Time Travel Trilogy. It is a Historical  Fantasy with a Southern flair, as well as just the right touch of romance and some Time Travel. I got the idea after a walk one day, and part of my inspiration for it was a movie called “Tuck Everlasting”, which my son introduced me to. It was adapted from a children’s book by Natalie Babbit. I actually did an “interview” with my main character, “Anna”, who is actually telling the story. Here is my previous post featuring the “interview” with “Anna”, along with the movie trailer for the movie that inspired my book. As for the series, of which I have begun work on the 2nd book, the story and characters are all my own, and, as it is also a bit of a coming of age story, it is one that I feel will be enjoyed by young and old alike. As for Anna and her sisters, there is a little of my late maternal grandmother and her sisters in it as well. If you have a “writer’s imagination” like I do, you have probably found it’s not hard to get ideas. Just make sure that if you do, your ideas and story are all your own! Of course, it helps if you happen to be writing in the more popular genres, but for me, it has to come from the heart and be something I enjoy writing about. Then too, it has to be something that will sell. So there are already a gazillion werewolf stories or Time Travel Romances. What is it that will make yours unique, and better than the rest? Again, as I have learned from my first experiences, I like to think each successive book I publish will be an improvement from my previous ones. That is how we develop into experienced and seasoned writers. Next stop, best selling author! (Hopefully, lol)

5. Join a Writer’s Group – Writer’s Groups and Best Selling Author Fan Pages as Learning Tools

With the convenience of social media these days (and hey, for us old dinosaurs, we are still learning how all of that works, but then again, we all did all of our stupid stuff before the internet, hee hee), more and more authors, especially best selling ones, can be found on Facebook,  Twitter, and other places. Joining a writer’s group or “Liking” or Subscribing to a best selling author’s fan page can be especially helpful. As you watch what works for them as far as their posts and how they advertise, you will gain insight as to how this whole thing works and that in itself can be a big confidence builder.  I am in a writer’s group on Facebook started by Beverly Nault, who worked with Mary McDonough on her book, “Lessons…”, called Fresh Starts Writing Room – Advice for Emerging Writers. As a seasoned traditional as well as self published author, Bev shares a lot of helpful advice and interesting posts/articles, plus we all just kind of help each other. Writers helping Writers, right? Oh, and Mary McDonough is also on Facebook, as well as Debbie Macomber and others. So go find them, watch, and learn!

6. Learn from the Pros – Informative Websites, Webinars, Blogs, & Training Programs

Many authors who have been successful are now doing a lot of webinars, podcasts, and training programs to help other writers by providing active hands on demonstrations of what has worked for them. Here are a few who have helped me:

  1. Another Author who has a wonderful blog filled with articles and helpful resources for writers is Joanna Penn, whose blog, The Creative Penn, has been a big help to me.
  2. Shelley Hitz also has a lot of helpful resources, podcasts, webinars, and training resources.
  3. Derek Murphy, who has a PhD in Literature, has tons of helpful resources, including this page, with info on designing your own book covers, and book cover design templates.
  4. Joel Friedlander offers a training course on successful self publishing as well as professionally designed templates for you to use, among other valuable resources.
  5. Jane Friedman also has a lot of helpful resources for writers and self publishers. You can check out her blog here.
  6. Kary Oberbrunner is an author, coach, and speaker who offers some very helpful resources. I have listened to one of his webinars.

Those are just a few suggestions as to resources that have helped me in one way or another. As I said before, if you know of other resources I haven’t listed here, please share!

7. Take a Class

Hey, when it comes to writing, no amount of education is too much. With the increasing ease of self publishing now, more people than ever are turning to self publishing to tell their stories. But you do want your readers to know you made it past the eighth grade, right? So, if it’s been a while, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to enroll in a class or two, whether it’s a writing class or just to brush up on punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, subject-verb agreement, etc. Although as for the writing itself, my “teachers” have mostly been other authors, like Mr. Sparks, Louis L’Amour, Debbie Macomber, and others, I actually lucked out as for the rest, as I have an Associate’s Degree in Office Systems Technology, which involved a lot of Text Editing and Formatting, Keyboarding (okay, the “dinosaur” term is, “typing”), and the like. However, I have also found that you can find all kinds of instructional pages online written by literary agents and other professionals on subject-verb agreement, commonly misused words that sound alike, setting up dialogue with your characters, etc. So educate yourself. Yes, it is incredibly easy to self publish, if that’s the route you want to take. But if you want it to ever have a chance of achieving best seller status, it needs to look like an adult wrote it. Still, we are all human, and if possible, that future best seller will need a professional editing job. But for those just starting out, who haven’t quite raked in enough money from all those awesome sales to afford that option, we need to at least educate ourselves. I still find myself searching the internet at times for one of those “five minute” brush up sessions on something. It’s an ongoing process as we work to hone our skills and become best selling authors. But then, when you finally get a literary agent to represent you, if they are legitimate and do things the way they are supposed to, unlike those vanity publishers, then you won’t have to worry about it. Until then…educate yourself. And keep writing.

8. So Stop Procrastinating, Sit Down, and Write that Best Seller! 

So, what’s your story? Are you tired of walking around with that best seller trapped inside of you, yet? If you’re anything like me, well, life just kind of gets in the way sometimes. As for me, I suffer from PTSD from a horrible car accident, as I mentioned above, and my journey to healing and telling my story hasn’t been an easy one. It’s an ongoing process. But, like that turtle, I am not stopping. We will fall sometimes. But then, we get up and keep trying, and keep helping each other until we get to where we’re going. So, sit down and just start writing. In addition to MS Word, there are also programs more suited to writers that you can check out, like Adobe InDesign and Scrivener, among others. Whatever you use, just sit down and start writing. As for that procrastinating thing, I have found that working to put myself on a schedule, like I do my grandsons when I keep them, has helped me. Work to eliminate the time wasters or other projects that can wait until later, assign yourself a schedule, and stick to it! Reward yourself for doing well! One of the main reasons I think I have tended to procrastinate stems from a lack of confidence, which I suffered for a long time, due to issues surrounding my PTSD. But thankfully, with my faith in God that has brought me through the hard times, and the love and encouragement of my sweet husband, who is also my biggest fan, I’m getting there. So, if you tend to have problems with procrastinating, talk it over with God, your spouse, or a family member who can help you get to the root of the problem. Then, instead of letting the problem continue to be a road block, He will take those “lemons” life has handed you and turn them into the best “lemonade” you have ever tasted. That is when you can finally stop procrastinating, sit down, and start writing that story. Whether it’s your life’s story or the next best selling fiction novel, it isn’t going to write itself!

As for that story of the Rabbit and the Tortoise, in the end, it wasn’t about who ran the fastest. It was who kept on going, despite his limitations, and won the race. As for us writers, it’s not about who writes the fastest, or the most books. It’s just writers helping writers. It’s you, finally sitting down to write that story that no one is ever going to read unless you write it! And, it’s getting up again when you fall and pressing on, with the help and encouragement of those who believe in you, and believing in those who will be touched by your story, even though you haven’t met them…yet.

So, what’s your story?

Click here to read the 2nd post on this: Book Writing for Procrastinators, Part 2: Overcoming Distractions & Mind Blocks

 

#Writers vs. #Readers and #Goodbooks…What’s in a Great Read?

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.  – Edgar Rice Burroughs

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.  – Stephen King

I think of myself… as a troubadour, a village storyteller, the guy in the shadows of the campfire.  – Louis L’Amour

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My first book, “Return to Freedom, Voices in the Wind”, inspired by a late Native American friend and mentor.

What’s in a good book? What distinguishes a really great read from all the others? What is it that makes the really good ones stand out?

Of course, we as writers all know, first of all, we need to have a really great cover that tells the reader what to expect. (I admit I am still working to improve mine. Hey, we are all learning here). Then, we have to have a back cover blurb, or description that makes it sound interesting enough to make them want to read it. Those are just for starters. These are just the factors that will make your book actually stand out from the rest and make people want to read it.

Then too, we all know we need to have a good, thorough and professional editing job on the inside, although some of us cannot afford that, especially if you are just starting out, as I am. If you can’t, that’s okay, if you can get a fresh pair of eyes to help you, maybe a teacher or other professional you know. Bottom line, it’s just going to look a whole lot better if it’s edited professionally, as I know Joanna Penn, as well as others, have said. For now, I happen to have an advantage on that since I have had text editing and formatting classes, which were a part of my curriculum when I was pursuing my Associate’s Degree in Office Systems Technology. Yet, even still, you can tend to miss something, especially if you have been looking at it for (insert however long you have been working on your book here). Meanwhile, for now, we just do the best we can and keep learning from other authors and look forward to eventually climbing our way up the “best sellers’ ladder”.

For more tips on writing, self-publishing, and marketing our books, there are plenty of experienced authors, artists, and others out there who offer a lot of tips and helpful resources, like these that I subscribe to, Joanna Penn at http://www.thecreativepenn.com/ and Shelley Hitz at http://www.shelleyhitz.com/. Joel Friedlander at http://www.thebookdesigner.com/ also offers a lot of helpful advice, and he has some very affordable interior design templates for self-publishing authors you can check out at http://www.bookdesigntemplates.com/.

Another great website that some of you old die hard dinosaurs like me who still like to work in MS Word might find helpful is Derek Murphy’s DIY Book Covers, http://diybookcovers.com/. Derek has packed it full of tutorials, freebies and lots of other goodies for the “do it yourselfers” like us. But you don’t have to just take my word for it. Click here to read what Joanna Penn and others have to say. You can also download some free sample book covers to try it yourself or become a member for a very affordable price and have access to hundreds of other templates, and of course, Derek’s help along the way.

Both of my book covers were done using one of his templates (although he wouldn’t recognize it, but hey, I’m still learning)! If it’s not working, then I work to improve it and go back and get some more advice and maybe even some hands on training using Derek’s tutorials, and keep going until I get that best selling cover that will hopefully eventually get that coveted NYTBS phrase that we all want to see on our books. Meanwhile, like all of us writers, I keep writing, and improving as I go, and hoping that I will finally write that one great book, that will climb up the ranks, and eventually win me a place in the best seller lists.

Then, of course, there is one accomplished author, whom I met at one of his book signings a few years ago, who is certainly more qualified than I am to give writers’ advice: Nicholas Sparks. Yes, he has an actual section of his website for writers, and I think it’s safe to say, his advice is well worth listening to.

Of course, this post would not be complete without my mention of a lady who is a much more experienced writer than I am and has taught me a lot, my friend and mentor, Beverly Nault. I have to say, hats off to Bev for the help she has given me so far. You can stop by her page for a visit and check out her books at http://beverlynault.com/. She also has a writers’ group on Facebook which I am a part of, called the Fresh Starts Writing Room. It goes without saying that we help each other. We post helpful links to share with the others, we ask advice, and we share things, we critique each other’s work, all under Bev’s helpful guidance. Bev also worked with Mary McDonough on her book, “Lessons From The Mountain, What I Learned From Erin Walton”. For those of you who remember “The Waltons”, you will remember Mary as “Erin”, the middle daughter.

For those who are already traditionally published, my hat is off to you, and you are certainly welcome to comment here and give us all some advice! For the rest of us “Indie Authors”, we write, we edit and re-write, and work to improve, we learn from our mistakes and help each other as we hone our craft, and hope that one day, we will achieve that best seller status, and hopefully, eventually be able to attract a traditional publisher. If you know of some resources or links that I haven’t listed here, please comment and share!

Now, back to my question: What’s in a really great read? What makes it a “must read” that everyone will be talking about? That is probably a question I am not qualified to answer as much as some of those I have referenced above. Perhaps, to me at least, it evokes one more question: What is the one thing that helps propel a really great book forward and make it a success? If we do all of these things I mentioned above to the best of our ability and produce that really great book that readers will want to read, and we market it through every channel possible to those that will read it, then it will stand out, and it will earn that one thing that truly makes it a success–REVIEWS!

I had the wonderful experience of meeting Mary at one of her book signings for “Lessons From The Mountain, What I Learned From Erin Walton”. You can read my (blog) review of her book here. My customer (Amazon) review of the book is somewhere amongst the others on the Amazon page. I will also be posting reviews of other books in the near future to help my fellow authors. In the meantime, if you have purchased either of my books, “Return to Freedom, Voices in the Wind”, or “River of Secrets, Summer of the Rose”, I would greatly appreciate it if you would stop by the Amazon page for them and leave a customer review!

WRITERS vs. READERS? I should think not. If you think about it, there is really no contest, because at one point or other, we are all readers and writers. At some point, we all write. Even if you are just writing your thoughts in a journal, that makes you a writer! My husband, has degrees in Law Enforcement, Criminal Justice, and Paralegal, yet he cannot work at the job he would love to have because of his kidney disease and having to go to dialysis three days a week. So, I told him why not put all of his training and knowledge to work writing–what else—murder mysteries! He’s already started on his first one, and so far, it looks pretty intriguing to me! Who knows? Maybe there is a future New York Times Best Seller trapped inside of you! In reality, there is no contest of readers vs. writers, but all of us, helping each other. So, the one thing that is in a great best selling book is going to be in the number of reviews it gets. No matter how hard we work at what we as writers do, without our readers, we have nothing.

So, why not sit down and write a review on Amazon or Barnes (and) Noble for your favorite author? It doesn’t have to even be long, just your honest opinion, good or bad, just a few sentences. Even better, write one for a self-publishing author. When you do, you will be helping us all as writers, and perhaps yourself as a future writer. Then, don’t stop there, keep writing. No use walking around with that future best selling novel trapped inside you.

So, what’s in a really great read? Maybe that is for you to decide.

KIMG0503With the Librarians at the Johnston Community College Library

Me with the JCC Librarian receiving my books for addition to the library
Me with the JCC Librarian receiving my books for addition to the library