Blog Archive

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Best Blogging Tips from Around the Web to Get You Started and Keep You Going

In my weekly interviews with authors, editors and publishers the talk always comes around to the importance of promoting yourself by blogging. So I thought I would add a "Best Of" post to highlight some of the best posts on the web about blogging by specific topics. Hope it will encourage you to start a blog if you haven't already done so and give you some encouragement if you are already blogging.

Choosing a Blog Platform
Where are you going to post your blog? That is the first question you should consider. The two most well known are WordPress and Blogger. Also many chat room forums include the option of putting up a blog on their site. I have a blog on BookBlogs as well as this one. When you start the process of choosing a blog platform you need to consider what your plans are for your blog. These are some opening questions to consider first:

Will blogging be long term process or just a passing hobby?
What will be the main purpose of your blog?
Will blogging be used for a professional basis to promote yourself or your business?
Will you include advertising on your blog to make additional income?
Click here for more tips on deciding on a blog platform

Finding a Niche For Your Blog
Now it's time to decide on a theme for your blog. Don't think of it as one of those hated writing chores like in the movie, "Christmas Story." You get to choose the topic and what you want to write about. If you want a following of readers, your theme needs to be a popular topic that will draw in a large amount of people.

Many bloggers write about their favorite subjects as it is something that will personally hold their own interest in writing and will excite them to continue writing. To start, get a sheet of paper and write down a list of your hobbies, special interests and your expert training or skills. Do you travel, love music or read lots of books? That could also be the start of a blog.

Having a hard time coming up with a list? Click here for more ideas.

How To Keep Motivated
Blogging can be great fun as you share a favorite topic or hobby to encourage others about the subject. But how do you keep going and finding new info? First off, remember to be yourself. Unless you are an expert, you don't always have to write like one on your subject. It's more important to show your passion for the topic. Read other blogs and see what interests you and draw from that. Just remember you can't do a cut and paste from that blog or website without their express permission. Just like in school that's called plagiarism.

Don't think you can come up with continuous ideas? Here's a link to to see 10 Ways Blogging Can Improve Your Life, just click here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Interview with author, J.D. Holiday on her books, Janoose the Goose and The Great Snowball Escapade

Today's interview is with author J.D. Holiday who currently has two children's books in print. She is not only the author but the illustrator as well. If that wasn't enough, she also has her own book publishing company. So let's get on with the interview and find out what keeps Jan so busy.

On your blog, for The Book Garden Publishing, it says “Our mission is to promote reading in children that will last a lifetime!” Can you explain what you mean by that?
First let me say thank you for having me on your blog. I believe in order to keep children interested in most stories the story must move along quickly and flow well to keep their interest. I structure my stories to do just that. Once children find reading fun they will keep at it.

What inspired you to create Book Garden Publishing?
After years of submitting manuscripts to the traditional publishers and waiting for the rejection letter, I had enough. I’ve had editors interested in my stories. I’ve had some short stories published, including some in a Chapbook. I even had an agent, but in the end, no books published. Then, finally, along came publishing services so at first I tried one of them. That did not work out well, so after much thought I knew I had to be my own publisher. I started Book Garden Publishing and hired a printer to print my books.

Print services, like AuthorHouse, CreateSpace, etc., are middemen that authors use to publish (or really) to PRINT their books. Print services hire printers (the book makers) to print the books and charge the authors more money than it actually costs to print the books. This is why books done by these service are priced out of the market. Books done this way can't compete with books traditional publisher sell because print service made books do cost more since the middlemen take their cut!
Printers, themselves will not, for the more part, work with authors. They work with Publisher/publishing houses that know the publishing business. This is why I had to start my own publishing business and learn about it so I could hire a printer.

What were some of the pitfalls you ran into?
As I mentioned, I tried a print service company. I thought at the time this was it. I would be published, finally. I had been told the book would be ready in eight months. We got everything in motion. Flyers to be mailed to newspapers, bookstores, libraries, and letters to accompany the review copies of the book were all ready to go.

Then the galleys arrived. I thought they would look great and be ready to sell. But they weren’t. They were a MESS. Among the things wrong were that the pages where the pictures should be covering the entire page, with the text embedded in the pictures, were on half the page with lots of white space around them. The text ran through the picture all right, but also out of the pictures into the trim off area. There was no way this was a finished book. I knew enough about PhotoShop to show this company how each page should look. I sent the galley back with my examples.

Weeks later, coming to my book release date, the galley came back. They failed to correct almost everything. A release form accompanied the galley. It said, according to this company, the book was ready to be published! Somebody recommended I call the Better Business Bureau. I decided to contact them by email. I thought this would be wise in my emotional state of mind. I was put half out of my misery in 150 words or less, and I got my money back in full.

Who gave you help and guidance?

I got help and guidance from Small Publishers of North America and their online discussion group of self-publishing professionals. What I have learned from this discussion group, the resources SPAN has for its members, and the books I’ve read put my publishing future into focus.

You’ve now done two books that you both illustrate and author. I’ve always read it’s hard to sell both your text and illustrations. You say you’ve worked with an agent. Did the agent try to get you to submit your stories without illustrations?
Back when I had an agent, almost twenty years ago, they would not take authors who illustrated their own work for the most part, unless the author/illustrator had a selling track record already. They are still telling authors that today. My agent was only submitting my stories.

What suggestions do you have for author/illustrators who want to get their combined work published?

I would tell them to try submitting their stories with their own illustrations to traditional publishers first. They might just be lucky. But I would also tell them to stick to it. If they are turned down because the publishers do not want their illustrations, and they feel their work is as good as any other illustrators out there, then they should do their own homework and look into self-publishing. I have found that self-publishing is not for everyone.

Tell me about going from illustration to the printed page. What type of medium do you use?
For my first book, JANOOSE THE GOOSE, I painted the pictures in watercolor. For my second book, a chapter book for 6 to 8 year olds, The Great Snowball Escapade, I did the sketches by hand and inked them in art program, Painter Essentials 4. I designed the book by using a book software program called, Indesign CS 3.

What other things do you have to consider when that medium is being changed to the printed page?
Once you have a printer to print your books, you can get from them the templates and all the measurements and specifications, usually in a manual, they will need to print your books. They will need you to follow all instructions carefully.

What doesn’t translate well from an original work of art to print?
I have found that my paintings and drawings translate very well. As long as you read and understand the printer’s needs and adhere to their templates and specifications there should not be a problem.

Do you consider yourself more of an artist or an illustrator?
All illustrators are artists. So it doesn’t really matter to me but there are artists who prefer to be called illustrators.

An illustrator's job is to do the pictures for book, magazines, cartoons. This can include a series of drawings and paintings for animated TV shows and movies as well. Most people believe that artists are people who draw, paint or play music. I have seen where actors and dancers also feel they are artists as well. There are probably other professions that feel that way too.

Which do you do first? Does a picture inspire words or vice versa?
I always come up with a story first. I don’t do the pictures until I’m going to make the book.

There are lots of blogs for writers. What about for illustrators?
Just like writers, illustrators blog and have networks. Illustrators use their sites and blogs to showcase their work, works of other artists and do works in process where they show how they do their pictures and paintings and other mediums.

Who encourages or critiques your art?
My family loves my artwork. They encourage me.

Your site shows note cards and your books for sale. What other art work items do you have?
I sell my artwork at as paintings, cards, caps, shirts, and a mouse pad using a painting that my grandson painted when he was three years old. My grandson is five now and loves to draw and paint.

Looking through your blog, you’ve got a lot of ways to promote yourself and what you do. You also show a link to “submit your site to dozens of top search engines.” For those new to blogging, can you explain why that is important?
Listing yourself, your site and/or blogs and your books on search engines (SEO or Search Engine Optimization) is a must. This can be done for FREE, so don’t list on search engines where they want you to pay.

There are plenty of SE’s that have a free listing, though it is not always easy to find the SUBMIT A LINK tabs! When you do find it make sure you add smart keywords when listing your site, book, yourself, etc. That’s how the internet works; searches look at the keywords to find you. That link on my site and blogs that you referenced is Search Engine Submission Biz:
Some other search engines are:, Google, Alta Vista, Yahoo,, META CRAWLER, Bing, and WebCrawler

What are some of the best suggestions you’ve learned for promoting and growing your blog and your writing?
Write articles about what you know about writing and publishing. Do reviews of books you read and interviews with authors and others. Post them on your blog as well as join free article sites, (if you are posting articles) and post your articles on them. Places your articles, review, etc. on sites like Facebook, Myspace, as well as other sites you are networking and Twitter about your latest ones. Don’t forget to add those keywords or tags so that search engines can find your postings and you. Network on sites for authors and sites where you might find your audience. But watch out for sites that have restrictions on promoting yourself. Some sites/companies frown upon that.

Bauu Institute has lists of sites to place your books, articles, press releases, social networking, marketing and more. Though not all the places will be free or in use any longer but it is well worth the picking.

We always see ads for "monetizing your blog." What have you learned in working with Google Adwords?
If you want ads on you blog you need to sign up for them. Google Adwords places ads on blogs at blogger. You click on Settings then the tab Monetize. That is where you will find out about "monetizing your blog." You have you choice of ads with text and images or just text. You can choose what type of products you would like to have as well. If your visitors click on the ads you can make a small percentage of money. There are drawbacks which you will have to read about but one drawback is that you only get paid after the amount reaches $100.

That's all the time we have for today's interview. To learn more about J.D. Holiday you can visit her website at:
JD blogs: JD’s writers Blog
And Independent Publishing News

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Confessions of a Writing Addict

I have tried so hard, but I have come to realize that I am powerless over the urge to write. I stayed away from the computer as long as I could without reading about any writing contests or calls for submissions. I limited myself to just blogging. I thought that would be harmless.

Then I saw a side banner ad on a blog. I got sucked into a Google Ad Words contest - it was only 95 characters. It was just one small bit of writing. That would be enough. I thought I could walk away and not write anymore. Then I got sucked into writing travel reviews for another blog. Then it was back to reading blogs with calls for submissions and downloading the info to submit. Now all I can think about is the next thing I will write.

Yes, I must each week I do it here in my blog, on other blogs and yes for contests, calls for submissions and for book publishers. I just can't help myself. I am totally powerless in the urge to write.

Are there other writing addicts out there? State your name and admit your disease! Sign in below and share your story....

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tips on Creating an Author Presence and Blogging -- Interview with author, Jo-Anne Vandermeulen

My interview today is with Jo-Anne Vandermeulen who is an expert blogger and one who is willing to offer free marketing tips to other bloggers. She is also the producer and hostess of “Authors Articulating” on Blogtalkradio. And if that is not enough, she is also the founder and marketer of the online marketing business “Premium Promotional Services.” So let’s get on with it and get some of her tips!

After you published your novel, Conquer All Obstacles, you started writing a book on tips for writers which became Premium Promotional Tips for Writers. Why did you think you could write a book on helping other authors after writing just that one book?
Great question...I knew Premium Promotional Tips for Writers would make a great resource book from reading all the comments from my ‘suddenly’ HUGE following. In less than 3 months, I had over 100,000 followers and my daily blog hits were averaging around 200 a day. With this massive traffic, there were many comments about the same request...they wanted to read more marketing tips and would love to read these tips in a resource book. I knew this book was in demand from the many requested comments.

What type of response have you gotten from your readers?
Around 98% of the readers left 5-Star reviews with amazing comments of how much this book helped them conquer their online marketing feat. They felt inspired and encouraged to tackle the once daunting task of having to market themselves. They were impressed that the tips were user-friendly and all free. They learned another avenue of writing they never even knew existed...and many now enjoy online marketing.

How did you get started in writing the Tips book? Did you just use your own experiences for the book or did you draw from other writers as well?
I first read blog posts from other online marketing experts. Soon, I discovered a passion for the content. I started my first blog in October 2008 titled ‘Conquer All Obstacles – Professional Support Network for Writers’. Initially, I wrote posts about writing techniques; but by December 2008, my new passion took over and I wrote about all the incredible information I was reading from these online marketing experts.

I not only wrote about the ‘how to’ market; but also, (being a teacher for 20 years) was able to condense this somewhat technical information into user-friendly morsels of valuable content that my fellow writers could simply implement—a unique online marketing resource book different from the other self-help books for authors.

One of the concepts that I like is that you tell writers to start marketing their book before it is even published. Why do you think that is important?
Basically, I knew I had to create an author platform even before my first book was published so I took all that I read and shared the knowledge with others. There are 2 main reasons why it is important for an author to market even before the book is published:
1.) It takes time to generate an online presence.
2.) The marketing focus should be on the author first and then the book.

How do you define the term creating a buzz?
Creating a buzz is generating talk among others. I call this viral promotion—a VERY powerful method for online marketing. Basically, I compare viral promotion to a snowball rolling down a hill. Once the author starts to make an online presence and shows they have valuable content for others to explore, these new followers will be excited to share this information with others—the snowball has now started down the hill...and as more and more people read about this amazing content and where they can find even more, they will then tell even more folks...these folks will tell others, etc—now the snowball is building—growing bigger and bigger, faster and faster. Soon, the author (with the appreciated help of his/her followers) will have created a buzz throughout the Internet.

One of book segments is called “targeting mountains instead of molehills.” Could you explain that concept?
Targeting mountains instead of molehills refers to the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) graph. Whenever an author has a blog, he/she needs to register in the 3 top Search Engines (Google, Yahoo, and MSN). After he/she publishes a post or article, it is very important for them to ‘ping’ their post by sharing the highlight of the content and a functioning link with the webcrawlers or social bookmark networks such as Digg, Delicious, Reddit, Stumbleupon, etc.

Finally, with this post, the author should list keywords (including their name, the name of the post, and the title of their book) as tags. The webcrawlers from the Search Engines will then be able to snag on to your tags, content, and link, submitting them into the Search Engines. With more posts and more pertinent tags, soon your blog will elevate higher and higher in the Search Engines—the SEO graph will be spiked like a mountain. People who are searching for you, your book title, or even the subject/topic will now be able to find you without having to scroll through pages and pages in the Search Engines. Can you imagine being on the first page of Google? about massive exposure because now you are easily found.”

For someone who is new to blogging, what should be the first steps they should take to formulating their blog?
Keep it simple. Abolish ALL fears of doing things wrong or making a mistake. Write about your passion. For free, choose a template (design) from . Explore the dashboard or skeleton of your new blog. Go ahead and add a short article. View your creation and then edit from there. Once you’re happy with the appearance and post, click publish. That’s it!

Trust me, you’ll be surprised how simple blogging really is....and like most ‘things’ in life, your posts will become better and better with more experience...and with this building confidence, you’ll find yourself ready to modify your blog to make the entire appearance custom designed just right for you...your voice will ring true and your readers will begin to flock.

In your book you say you need to provide great content. That might scare some bloggers off in thinking they need to spend hours on end creating posts. Could you explain what you mean by that?
Creating great or valuable content is publishing articles with information your readers can use. What would bring a new reader back to your blog?
If you’re writing about your passion, there shouldn’t be any writer’s block. Again, keep it simple and write 2-4 paragraphs per post. Edit after.

How important is it to be techno-savvy in designing a blog?

With the right attitude, even a beginner with no tech background can learn as they go and have their own blog. They don’t have to design it if they grab a free template...everything is done for you!

I guess that’s why most of my book ‘Premium Promotional Tips for Writers’ is written with the ‘voice’ of inspiration and encouragement. I wanted my readers to feel confident. I use my own experiences as being a new marketer and the tips as a reflection of how I conquered the tech terminology. I then turned what I learned into user-friendly online marketing tips for them. I wanted my readers to know that if I can do it, they can do it too. I really didn’t want to keep anything inside. I keep no secrets. Honestly, I measure my success when I know I can share the wealth of knowledge and help others.

What other books do you have in process now?
I have another Marketing Tips book that is at the Editors. Just today, She wrote saying that I should be expecting the first draft proof very soon...YIPPEE!!!...I cannot wait!

This Online Marketing Tip Book is written for authors and anyone who has products to sell online. I’ve learned to expand my audience—I can help authors and other people who need help marketing themselves and their products.

That's it for now. That's a lot of material to work with! If you'd like to know more about Jo-Anne's writing, click here. Or if you want to purchase the book, here's the info for her publisher -

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Interview with editor and author, Linda Yezak

How long have you been an editor? Is there much of a transition from being an editor to being the writer?
I've been a consulting editor with Port Yonder Press for about a year, but a freelance editor for three. It's a lot like being a critique partner--it's so much easier to see other's mistakes than your own.

As an editor you see lots of query letters and proposals. Give me an example of both that really grabbed your attention in a good way.
Last year, I had a speaking engagement where folks submitted to me, and again at the ACFW conference in Indiana. Since the experience is new to me, being approached always takes me by surprise. At the conference, one young lady said, "I've been looking all over for you!" That tickled me.

But as far as query letters and proposals, I discovered first hand how frustrating it is when people don't follow directions. I'm new, so I read through the submissions anyway, but can you imagine an agent/editor who receives hundreds of submissions a week? I doubt they'd take the time to look at something when the author didn't bother to read and follow their submission requirements. So, that's point number one: Read and follow the submission requirements! And research for each agency/publisher you submit to, because each one is different.

What advice would you give writers in sending out query letters and proposals?
PYP pretty much wants an entire proposal packet--or at least they did, I haven't looked at the process lately. For me, I'm interested in the cover letter and the first few paragraphs of the manuscript. In the cover letter, I expect to learn a few things quickly: title, genre, word count, intended audience, and what the book's about. A quick, eye-catching, imagination-sparking blurb of what the book is about is vital--and it also doubles as an elevator pitch, or can be modified into a one-liner to attach to your signature. From the first few paragraphs of a manuscript, I can tell quickly how well the author writes. If I like the writing style, I move on to the author's platform and marketing plan. I'm one of the ones who doesn't read the synopsis.

Keep in mind, I've only done this a few times, but from what I've read, most agents/editors are the same way. They may choose different things to check first, may put different emphasis on each component of a submission packet, but they all do the same thing. According to Terry Burns's book, A Writer's Survival Guide to Getting Published, that "thing" is finding a reason to discard the submission. Seriously. If you think about it, it makes sense. Consider again how many submissions an agent/editor gets in a week. Competition for those few slots of publication is fierce, and everyone seems to know that but the new author who hasn't done the research required to make it past the first hurdle.

What are the top reasons a story is rejected?
I can tell you what I've discovered through reading editor/agent sites and from what little experience I have:
1. Not following instructions found in the submission guidelines.
2. Pitching to the wrong editor/publisher. Be sure to research these people. You wouldn't pitch Sci-Fi to a Western publisher.
3. Cover letters that are amateurish. There are so many sites out there that give examples of good and bad cover or query letters, an author has no excuse for not sending a professional one.
4. Sending in a first draft. Many authors these days are using freelance editors to go over their work before they hit the publication trial. This can be expensive, but it's well worth the cost. Otherwise, find a critique partner or group, enter contests, submit to peer reviews--anything that will give you feedback and help you improve. But don't type "the end" and think you're done. You have a long way to go. Go the distance.

When do you think a writer should follow up on a query or proposal?
Again, read the agent/editors' sites about this. Some will tell you how long you can expect to wait for a response, others won't. Look at what the average waiting time is, and for those who don't give you an indication, give them the average time before sending in a follow-up email.

What is the best part of being an editor? What is the worst part?
As a consulting editor for PYP and a freelance editor, the best part is taking good work and making it even better. As a freelancer, the worst part is having someone's first draft and being expected to work miracles, which is awful of me to say. Lately, I have been more careful who I take on as a client. I enjoy working with people who show promise, and have decided to limit myself to these people. I stink as a writing coach for those just starting out. Don't have the patience.

How does being an editor affect your own writing?
Sometimes I see things that hit me wrong and I don't know why. When I do, I study the issue and apply what I've learned in my own writing. But I usually learn more through having my own work edited. There's nothing like having a fresh set of eyes go over your work to wake up the student in you.

I see you were a 2010 Finalist, ACFW Genesis Competition. Can you give me the details of that competition?
I was a finalist in 2010 and in 2008. I had forgotten which year Give the Lady a Ride placed). American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) runs a contest for unpublished authors every year, and the number of participants has grown exponentially. A writer submits fifteen pages of their novel, and the submission is judged by a panel of first-round judges. This panel is composed of volunteers from within the organization with varying degrees of experience. From there, the works of the top five finalists in each genre move on to the final round, which consists of a panel of judges from the industry. Editors from major publishing companies, experienced multi-published authors, and established agents make up this panel. The winners in each category are announced at the banquet at the ACFW Conference, held in different states each year in September.

Judges are requested to make comments, and some of those comments sting. Authors--myself included--need to tuck their pride away after the initial pain subsides and consider what the judge is suggesting. This contest, most major contests, is valuable for the feedback you receive. If used as a tool to improve your work, contests can up your chances of getting published.

In a previous interview with Lisa Grace she mentioned that you were her editor for her historical thriller tentatively titled The 15th Star. As an editor what is your input and focus?
When I work, I look at everything. Punctuation is my weakest suit, but beyond that, I work on grammar, sentence/paragraph/chapter construction, the broad view of the book--does it work? are there plot holes? Is the premise feasible?--to the narrowest part, "does this comma go here?" (I usually have to look that up!) Usually, with pieces that are well-written, I may suggest ways to smooth out transitions, offer alternative words, and point out things the author may have missed. With pieces that need more work, I'm afraid I pour out a serious amount of red ink.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given on writing? What advice would you give new or established writers?
The best advice ever is to study the craft. Every aspect of it. That's the best advice I've ever received, and the best advice I can give.

Although we’ve only touched on it in this interview, Linda is also an author. The book is called Give the Lady a Ride. It's available on and Barnes and Noble on line. You can find more about Linda and her writing by clicking here.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Celebrating Easter in Books

After reading a children’s picture book about Easter, it got me wondering how Easter is celebrated in the publishing world for children. So I did a search on Amazon for how many books have been published covering this topic since 2009. Amazon currently shows 55 picture books for Easter.

Books for Halloween in that same time frame are at 80 titles. That should not be a surprise as Halloween is now the biggest retail season after Christmas. Halloween and Christmas judging by publishing standards, are both secular holidays. However, there are still a number of holdouts that proclaim the birth of Christ for Christmas. You will still find those titles in Barnes and Noble and others as well celebrating our nation’s Christian heritage.

A few months back I did some research on Christian Children’s books. I checked out the children’s books in Christian book stores as well as national chains. That’s when I discovered that B & N had a section for children by Christian writers. Then I went to Borders books. I had to ask a clerk where they kept the Christian inspired children’s books. It was pointed out to me and was relegated to the bottom shelf in a corner and only consisted of a couple of prayer books and children’s Bibles. I guess they never ran across the wonderful fairy tales by Max Lucado with the beautiful illustrations. Fancy Nancy books were more important and needed more space.

Back to the subject of Easter picture books…So how is Easter celebrated by the picture book publishers? I’ll leave that to the words found in a publisher’s jacket flap…Capturing the precious memories and emotions of the Easter holiday, this book commemorates the magical traditions of the… Easter bunny’s arrival. Yes, it’s all about the Easter eggs. The secular press has done themselves proud in almost obliterating what was once the tradition that almost every family celebrated – going to church on Easter Sunday. Hmmn, maybe that gives me inspiration about writing an Easter story.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Interview with author, Bettina Restrepo on her book, Moose and Magpie

My interview today is with Bettina Restrepo. Her writing has appeared in Highlights for Children, Nature Friend, and Boy's Life magazines. Moose and Magpie is Bettina's first picture book. She is also currently writing young adult novels.

Your current children’s picture book is called Moose and Magpie and is called “a fiction book with a non-fiction base.” What exactly does that mean?
Sylvan-Dell’s concept is that children absorb facts best in a story rather than bulleted factoids. While a talking moose is pure fiction, the idea behind his migration or the symbiotic relationship he has with Magpie is straight fact.

The book is published by Sylvan Dell, a publisher who strictly deals with stories about nature and science. What made you decide to contact them?
My writer friend, Doris, had just finished 3 beautiful math books for them. I met the publisher at a conference and he referred me to their website where they provide their current list of needs. I designed Moose and Magpie solely for SD. It never went anywhere else. My experience in the educational market was magazine writing which helped me to think in small “bites” of info.

What sort of research did you do in preparing to write this book? Reading over 40 books about moose, wildlife blogs and just a general curiosity about these large animals.

Did you suggest the fun facts in the book?
Most of them, yes. But, the information was edited beautifully by my editor.

I see their guidelines say up to 1500 words. Do you recall the original word count for your book?
It was 800. To me, it’s still too wordy. I think I could have done a better job at 500 words!

From the time you sent in your manuscript how long was it before you got any feedback?
One month – which floored me. Donna German has a quick eye and knows what fits her list. She finalizing her list by season and I received a contract within four months.

Is this the original title?
The original title was “Why did the moose cross the road?” Moose and Magpie is so much better,

How is the writing process this book for Sylvan Dell different from writing for Katherine Tegen Books (an imprint of Harper Collins)?
My SD book was very focused on format. I knew I had sixteen spreads to get from birth to migration. Systematically, it was broken down and then the story built around the concept.

In my YA novel, Illegal, I worked with the character Nora to tell one snippet of her story. The ARC is larger, the characters deeper. But, the editing process was minimal. Books nowadays must be 98% ready to go to market. My agent (who I didn’t have while I did Moose) truly helped shape Illegal.

Do you have a preferred preference for writing in a specific genre? If so, which one and why?
Yes, YA. It’s where my voice is at. I hope to return to fictional picture books in a few years when the market is better.

Do you have any other books in process with either of these publishers? Yes, my next novel is optioned at Harper Collins. They are a fabulous publisher to work with and I have been very pleased with the product we have created together.

What do you do to promote your book?
EVERYTHING. Blogs, conferences, bookstores. I’d dance down Broadway naked – but I think that wouldn’t be so good for my book career.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to submit a manuscript to Sylvan Dell or other education related publishers? Research what they have – and look for their holes. Then, understand their style and tailor your word to fit within.

Thank you for your time, Bettina. If you would like to learn more about her writing or would like to buy her books, here are some helpful links...

If you would like to read an except from her YA book,Illegal, click here
To see the the book trailer, click here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

BREAKING NEWS >>> Jimmy Hoffa May Hold Clue to his own Murder

On July 30, 1975, Jimmy Hoffa went to the Red Fox Restaurant outside of Detroit to allegedly meet with a couple of labor leaders and a local mobster kingpin. Witnesses said no one met him in the restaurant but he was seen getting into a car in the parking lot with several other men. That was the last anyone saw or heard from him. The controversial leader of the Teamsters Union, which boasted strong connections to organized crime, just disappeared.

That is until recently when a field in Waterford Township, Michigan was breaking ground for a new shopping center. In their excavations they unearthed a 55-gallon steel drum that contained a corpse. Through dental records it proved to be Jimmy Hoffa’s body. And now through a DNA resuscitation matrix, police hope to solve that crime and perhaps others as well. Through many years of research, forensics scientists have finally found a way to temporarily revive a person’s cortex and vocal cords for a scant 60 seconds. They hope this is enough time to get the answers as to who was the perpetrator of the deadly dead. Whether or not the responses will hold up in court is yet to be determined.

The above is a true story in regards to the first paragraph, but the rest is not. It is April 1 – or April Fool’s Day. The concept actually comes from a short lived TV series where the lead character was able to revive a murder victim for 60 seconds to see if the victim could point to the perpetrator. However, it wasn’t without consequence as someone else would die in that time frame not to be resuscitated.

We may not be able to resurrect another human being but you can resurrect or make new your own life. Others in this blog chain will be discussing resurrection and redemption (which is the theme for the month) in more theological aspects, but here I will deal with it within a psychological experience. This is taken from notes on a recent inspirational talk by a Christian motivational speaker, Dan Sneed. The topic of his talk was “Success is never final; failure is never fatal.”

For many people the recent economic downturn has affected their income. I can attest to that as the career that supports my writing is real estate sales. Those sales have been spiraling down for the last few years. Now I need to start creating a new business model or a new career that pays. I could look back at the diminishing returns in real estate and feel diminished as well. Or I could look forward and use this as an opportunity to renew and refocus.

Many people define themselves by their income or their job title. When you make that your identity you might believe that you are a failure and unworthy. But as long as you have breath you have the opportunity to be redeemed and restored. Here’s how the famous feel about failure in their own words…

"Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely." Henry Ford

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Thomas Alva Edison

"Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm." Sir Winston Churchill

"All my successes have been built on my failures." Benjamin Disraeli

The last one is my favorite. I’ve had many ups and downs in my life, but I’ve learned from my past. My failures are a part of my life and have helped me to see that I will survive. I can pass that hope to others as well.My worst month was when both my husband and I both lost our jobs and my dad died suddenly. I didn't shrivel up and hide then. I let my hopes and not my disappointments shape my future.

So do you need redemption or resurrection for your life? It is still possible – you just need to have faith in yourself!If you that personal renewal, you might want to read the book that is link to the talk I heard. The book is called The Power of a New Identity by Dan Sneed. You can find it here.

Heart Clip art copyrighted by Bobbie Peachey,