Mirror Interview #7: Katie Sullivan

Katie Sullivan

Katie Sullivan

It was a nice change, talking to myself as me, instead of talking to myself under the guise of my character/muse/monster, the druid known as D.

 

Give those who may not know Changelings: Into the Mist a snapshot of the story.

Irish teens Maureen O’Malley and Sean McAndrew are lost to time. Lured from the abbey they call home by the vision of a warrior shadowed by mist, they are tossed between pirates led by Grace O’Malley in 1584 and revolutionaries dreaming of a new republic in 1916 Dublin. To return home, they must defeat the man – the myth – responsible for their misadventures: the tyrannical Faerie king, Nuada Silver Arm. Maureen and Sean are the strongest Changelings in one thousand years, and the king would rather the last of the descendants of Man and Fae remain lost to time forever. Aiding them is the man in the mist: Dubh an Súile mac Alasdair is a warrior-priest to a people 1300 years-dead and the only Changeling the king could not break. With his help, Maureen and Sean will learn to accept the magic in their blood, defy the king who would enslave them, and claim their place in their own time.

When is it available?

Good lord, self, I think you might be channeling D.

Oh dear – my apologies. I wasn’t being facetious; I do think it’s fascinating. Of course, I could be biased. So, about that release date…?

Changelings: Into the Mist will be released on November 11, 2014 on Amazon, Barns & Noble and others (a full list will be available on my website and blog). It will be available electronically as well as in print.

Am I invited to the release party?

Really?

Had to ask.

Indeed. And before you beg: yes, you are invited.

Is this a stand-alone or a series?

It is one of two books. Changelings: The Coming Storm will continue (and conclude) Maureen and Sean’s tale. There are one-to-two more books that belong to this particular universe, and timeline, but there are other stories clamoring for my attention. Plus, a break from time-travel might be beneficial for my brain!

How does D feel about that?

Um, I haven’t told him.

Hmm… that’s going to be an interesting day on the blog. So, how did you meet your characters? Were you introduced, did they demand your attention in some innocuous place, or have you known them so long that you can no longer remember life without them?

Sean and Maureen happened upon me during mass when I was 13 or 14. I was day-dreaming, and so was Maureen. Except, during her daydream, she saw a time vortex in the church ceiling. She whispered the rest of her adventures with Sean throughout the next three years.

D was later given to me by my ex-husband. He liked the story, but said someone was missing and told me about this mysterious Druid who lurked at the edges of Maureen and Sean’s adventures. I agreed and stuck the Druid into the story, but since D and I did not get along – compounded by the fact I could not “see” him clearly – it went nowhere.

10 years later, I went to a movie, was inspired by the actor in it and was gifted with a vision of D. The book was completely rewritten 9 months later and D and I started a blog in the meantime. Sean and Maureen are all grown now, and I almost feel like their mother: I’m so proud of where they’ve ended up, and I know I finally did justice to their story.

Which of your characters can you identify with the most?

Maureen, hands down. Maureen was what I wanted to be. I was a shy kid with big, rebellious ideas; it was easy to live vicariously through her. Eventually, I would follow my dreams and move to Ireland, and get over some of that inertia and shyness. I like to think that I, in turn, helped temper her, um, more rash tendencies when I re-wrote the story.

Yeah, rash. That’s a good word to describe that young lady. Anyway, do you have a least favorite character in Changelings?

It would be too easy to say D is my least favorite character, but in truth, he’s my favorite. We just tend to butt heads because he is so … so … infuriating and dramatic and grand and stubborn and…

We get the idea.

Right. Anyway, my least favorite character isn’t even the main villain. It’s a secondary character, Mrs. Mallory, who basically ran the show in the 1916 portion of the story. She was neither easy to write, nor a particularly savory character. Sean and Maureen, while not her responsibility, are in her care, and she puts them into a very awkward and dangerous situation.

If you were in the same situation as your characters, what would you do differently?

I’m not sure I would do anything differently. Some of this story is “what would I do if I were suddenly transported back in time?” The answer: have a grand adventure. I hope I would be stronger than Maureen, more easily able to resist the pull of certain situations, but my younger self would not have been!

So basically you’re saying you’re a reckless—

Oi! Spoilers.

Oh, sorry! What makes you uniquely qualified to write Changelings?

I’m what my father calls the ‘throwback’ member of the family. I got on really well with the older generation of relatives that had come over from Ireland in the 20s, and I took many of their stories to heart. I moved to Ireland when I was 18 and married an Irishman, but even before that I was studying Irish history, the political situation and my family’s connection to it. My grandfather left because of the Civil War in the 20s, and my mother is an O’Malley – and claims kinship with Grace O’Malley. I grew up basically considering myself the child of pirates and revolutionaries.

Good lord. Well, that’s all I have for you today, Ms. Sullivan.

Why, thank you, self. That was a lovely interview.

Don’t just thank me.

Of course not – many thanks to Ionia Martin for hosting us today – and thank you to all of you for reading!

The D/A Dialogues - a blog about the sometimes-fractious relationship between an author and the character in her head as they go about writing a book together.

Mirror Interview #6: Malia Ann Haberman

 

Malia Ann Haberman

Malia Ann Haberman

Malia’s conversation with herself:

 

Mirror Malia: Malia! It’s wonderful to meet you. Am I pronouncing your name correctly?

 

Regular Malia: Nope. You’re way off. It rhymes with Maria, not Talia. Or Somalia.

 

Mirror Malia: Great! Thanks for setting me straight. And might I add that you’re looking quite lovely today?

 

Regular Malia: Why thank you! I got this fancy new outfit just for the occasion.

 

Mirror Malia: You have excellent taste! So, let’s get started. How does it feel to be a rich and famous author?

 

Regular Malia: (An uncomfortable pause) Oh, uh, well, I’m, uh, not rich and famous.

 

Mirror Malia: You’re not?

 

CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE

CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE

Regular Malia: No. Besides, I didn’t write my books for that reason. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be incredibly awesome, but I think one of the most important parts of writing is the readers. Every writer should write for their readers. I get so excited when I know people are reading my books and really enjoying them. If someone is writing for only fame and fortune, they’re in for a big surprise. Also, ever since I was a kid, I’ve felt the need to write. It’s like a calling, like someone is inside my head saying, “Write. Write. You need to write books and poems and stories.”

 

Mirror Malia: Ah, I see. So it’s as though you’re talking to yourself, huh?

 

Regular Malia: Very funny. Just ask me another question.

 

Mirror Malia: Okay. No need to get all testy. So, Malia, if I went to your computer right now what document would I find open?

 

Regular Malia: Definitely the fourth and last book in my Chase Tinker Series “Chase Tinker and the House of Mist.” I work on that every chance I get. I’m trying my hardest to make sure all the storylines will be wrapped up in a satisfactory way so that my readers won’t be upset with me. I don’t want to leave anything significant hanging. I’ve read series books like that. I’ve also read reviews where readers are complaining because the series ended, but some questions were left unanswered.

 

Mirror Malia: Will you ever give any of your ebooks away for free on Amazon or any other ebook selling sites?

 

Regular Malia: No. Never. Too much time, work and energy go into writing books. Unless it’s for a giveaway contest or review copies, I strongly believe that authors should stop giving away their hard work. In my opinion, it devalues the book and the author. From the beginning of publishing, unless they borrowed from a friend or a library, readers have had to buy books. Now just because books are in electronic form doesn’t mean they should be given away like they’re just blades of grass. What other business does this and at such high numbers? When you go to your job, you expect your boss to pay you for your time, don’t you? Then why shouldn’t authors expect that from their readers? After all, ebooks ARE real books. If an author wrote a quality, entertaining book, then he/she deserves compensation for it. If you want to bring attention to your books, then do some $.99 promotions. Those can work great.

 

Mirror Malia: You know, I totally agree with you.

 

Regular Malia: Of course you do.

 

Mirror Malia: Now tell all the fabulous blog readers what makes your books unique and why people should purchase and read them.

 

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CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE

Regular Malia: Since we’re all different in our own special ways, my books are unique because they came from me. A lot of books have the same elements, but it’s the writer’s ideas, style and personality that makes each book one of a kind. I think readers will enjoy them and should buy them and read them because my heart and soul went into every word and page, making them what they are: awesome books with interesting and fun characters, mystery, adventure, secrets, lies, goofiness, darkness, and of course, magic.

 

Mirror Malia: How about sharing a fun Haiku about your Chase Tinker books.

 

Regular Malia:

Where magic abounds

You’ll find secrets and peril

Enter if you dare.

 

Mirror Malia: Intriguing. So, while reading your books’ reviews, I saw that some have compared your books to the Harry Potter series. How do you feel about this?

Regular Malia: You know, I didn’t write my books thinking that I wanted to write something just like Harry Potter, so I didn’t. The only things they have in common are fun adventurous kids, awesome magic and good vs. evil. What I want most is for my Chase Tinker books to have the same “appeal” as Harry Potter. Not only kids, but people of all ages all around the world love Harry so that’s what I would really like for Chase.

With that in mind, I don’t mind people saying that my books are reminiscent of Harry Potter or any of the other fantastic fantasy books that are filled with magic, in fact it’s kind of flattering, but I really don’t want any of my Chase Tinker books to be judged like it’s some sort of competition about who wrote the best magical books. I had one reviewer say that she really liked “Chase Tinker and the House of Magic” but that it wasn’t as good as Harry Potter. I have to admit, that comparison bothered me because it’s not what I was aiming for at all.

 

Mirror Malia: Any writing advice you wish to share?

 

Regular Malia: I pretty much suck at giving advice, so besides, read, read, read, write, write, write, edit, edit, edit, I’ll let Neil Gaiman say the rest for me:

 

“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”

 

Mirror Malia: One last question. Tell us one thing about yourself you hate to admit.

Regular Malia: Hmm…okay, here goes…I’m a ballroom dancer and instructor who can’t even bend down far enough to touch her toes. Except if I cheat and bend my knees. I’m also a bit of a klutz. So embarrassing.

 

Mirror Malia: Hahaha! Um, sorry.

 

Regular Malia: You weren’t supposed to laugh!

 

Mirror Malia: Well it’s not my fault you have these problems. (Awkward pause) So, join me for lunch?

 

Regular Malia: Wouldn’t miss it.

 

 

 

CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE

CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE

Website: http://maliaannhaberman.weebly.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mahaberman

Twitter: https://twitter.com/malia_ann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mirror Interview # 5 Elle Knowles

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Is writing your only job?

I don’t really consider writing a job. For me, writing is fun, an outlet, and downtime. Sadly, no, it is not all I do. By trade, I am a seamstress. I used to do alterations for bridal stores, but the pressure of working with brides and their families is very stressful. I have stories to tell and have plans to turn that experience into a book one day. Watch out. You may see yourself! Now working through the middle man, I work from home making mostly pillow shams and accent pillows for designers for condos in Destin, Florida. This gives me plenty of free time to write. If I was more organized I would probably produce more material, but that is a different story.

Why do you write under a pen name?

When I first started writing, I wanted to keep my actual life separate from my writing life. It wasn’t because I had something to hide, but more because I was doing something I had never done before and I wasn’t real sure of how it would turn out. Does that make any sense? After researching the practice of authors using pen names, I came up with the idea of using my maiden name and first initial spelled out as a pen name. Hence, L = Elle. Sometimes I feel as though I am a different person when I write. It took a little getting used to when I started writing my blog under the name and readers would call me Elle. Now I am more comfortable with it and it suits the purpose.

Do you have a pet peeve as an author?

Yes, I actually have two.

People who give nasty reviews. I don’t mean bad reviews. I can take a bad review and sometimes learn from it. Nasty reviews are a whole different ballgame. It is as though the reviewer has a vendetta or is holding a grudge. If you don’t like what you read or have found lots of errors or mistakes, there is always a nice way to say it. If you don’t get out of a book what you expected to then okay. Make the statement if need be and leave. Don’t go on and on about how the book is not up to par for you and not what you wanted it to be or thought it should be about. Yes, there are stupid people in the world. It takes all kinds and all books are not nicey, nicey when written about stupid people. Bad or nasty reviews don’t really bother me when I am searching for a good book or movie. If the content looks interesting and catches my eye I read the book or watch the movie. It’s all in what you prefer.

Readers who read a fiction book and just assume it is non-fiction and about the writer’s life. I really think this is more so of the writer’s family and friends. I have never thought a fiction book was a writer’s life and never thought to assume this. In my eyes, fiction is fiction.

How much of yourself to you put into your books?

I believe all writers include a portion of themselves in their books even if they are fiction. I only have one book published so far and I am working on the sequel. I did pull a little of my personal life into ‘Crossing The Line’. To clarify, Helena was a decorator and a furniture restorer in my storyline. At the time I was writing we were beginning to renovate and update a 1956 family home and I incorporated those experiences into my story at times.

Do you have plans for other books once you finish the ‘Crossing The Line’ sequel ‘What Line’?

I have varied ideas on the back burner. The first thing I want to work on is a book about my families’ experiences homesteading in Alaska in the late 1950’s. This will actually be a true story and I have letters written by my mother and other artifacts that I will pull this story from. I intend to have a lot of input from my four siblings and other family members and friends of the family to add to the story. We were young, but we made great memories! I wish I had done this before both of my parents passed away and am so grateful I have my mother’s letters and writings on this. There is always some hindsight.

I also have a few ideas and notes written on another novel. I don’t want to say what it is in case it does not pan out. “Crossing The Line’ was supposed to be a trilogy and now that I am into book two I am not sure there will be a third book. Read the preview of ‘What Line’ at https://www.createspace.com/Preview/1122188.

How long do you plan to continue writing?

I plan to continue writing forever because I love it. I always wanted to write, always had dreams of it. There were stories spinning around in my head continually. I think actually writing it all down scared me though. Instead of pursuing the subject I got married young and had children, divorced, married again, and had another child. When the last child went off to college I finally decided to take time for myself.

These days with self-publishing and blogs, writing and publishing is so much more than just a dream. However, it’s not just typing into a template, slapping on a cover and hitting the send button. There is a lot of research to be done and with self-publishing you have to also market and promote your own books. I have learned so much through writing and self-publishing and have acquired so many writer friends just like me through my blog and the internet.

Keep up with what’s happening in my writing world on the sites listed below. ‘Crossing The Line’ can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

http://www.knowleselle.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elle-Knowles/507408332614952

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crossing-the-Line/445787668808115

http://www.amazon.com/Crossing-Line-Elle-Knowles-ebook/dp/B00BQ6RNKC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406479385&sr=8-1&keywords=crossing+the+line+by+elle+knowles

 

**Thank you so much, Elle, for sharing your insight and joining us today, it is lovely to have you!

Mirror Interview # 4 Rishika S.

Thank you so much Rishika, for joining us on Readful Things today. It is so much fun to get a glimpse into the mind of an author and learn about their process. If you would like to do your own mirror interview, please email me from my contact me page here on the blog. Thanks everyone, and please take a moment to check out her work and spread the word!

 

Tell us a little about you and your work.

My name is Rishika and I publish under the name of Rishika S. My first piece of published fiction is One Chance. It’s a short story based around the life of a married couple that is torn apart by deceit. The story follows their path to finding trust and love again. A Bond Unbroken is another love story, and is based on the reunion of two people who had been greatly in love but were forced to take different paths in life. Both of them are short stories that fall in the genre of love stories – the kind of books that you would read while travelling, on holiday, or if you wanted to read something quick.

So how do these story ideas come to you?

Most times, any one scene from the story will play itself out in my head. This generally happens through my dreams. I see these vivid dreams that come with their own back stories and that, I know, will lead somewhere. And if I remember them long enough after waking up to write down some pointers, I have a starting point around which the entire story falls into place.

You have a scene, you have an idea of a story surrounding it – then what? Do you write a haphazard first draft, just getting it all out there, or do you detail an outline? What is your writing process?

I generally just work on it in my head, forming connections and subplots until it all comes together. A lot of research goes on during this phase which often aids the process. Sometimes, I may make a brief outline. But mostly, I’ll just start writing. I write individual scenarios and bring them together and I also write from beginning to end. But I’ve never done a first draft as such. Most of my work is already quite ready to be read and structured. I guess the first draft is getting cleaned up in my head itself.

But you do follow through the outline you’ve set, whether down on paper or not?

Not necessarily. The odd thing is that you create characters, you give them personalities, and then they just start behaving the way a real person with those personalities would. The characters can turn a story differently than I’d planned – basically take a different route to get where the story needs to. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. But I always go along with it just to see if it works better than what I’d thought of, and I’ve very often found myself agreeing with the paths they choose. That is actually the most beautiful part about writing a story. You create people, and they live out their own lives, just about following the idea you have. That’s what makes a story great, in my opinion. You have to really associate with your own characters if you want others to do so. And I want people to associate with my characters and their emotions. Only then can they associate with their situations and with the story. I want my characters to feel as alive to the readers as they do to me. I’ve found that from the many books I’ve read; the ones I’ve loved are the ones in which the characters just pull you in, all on their own. It was reading such books that made me want to write so that I could create that kind of pull in readers.

So do you think that reading is essential to being a good author?

Immensely! I think that if you don’t read, you can’t write. I read a lot as a kid, and still do. I miss reading when I need to take a break so that I can concentrate on writing. Reading is a major part of me; it’s what made me want to write. It’s what successfully pulls me out of writer’s block – just taking a break and reading for a couple of days. And there are some fantastic authors out there, who make reading not a hobby, but an experience that you live out with the characters.

If you could meet any author, past or present, who would it be and why?

J.R.R. Tolkien, because he is one author who writes beautifully and whose work, to me, is charming. His work is truly unique.

Michael Crichton, because he made me love science fiction even though I had always disliked science as a subject in school. But more importantly because his character development is brilliant – he really knows how to depict human beings and he does it so subtly that you won’t even realize it’s happening. That is why you can love, hate, and feel for his characters.

Stephen King, because from the little of his work that I’ve read (I’m really scared of reading horrors, but I’ve tried his books), and from the many quotes and interviews of his that I’ve read, I think he’s a brilliant man who voices his thoughts in a quirky, but very honest manner; and I think he’d be a great conversationalist. And I think anyone could learn a lot from him.

Let’s look at the opposite end for a moment – are there any authors, or even characters (since they’re the ones that make or break a story for you) that, given the chance, you would… I don’t know… punch in the face?

Quite a few actually. The first would be Bella, from Twilight. I’ve read the books, and I just couldn’t like her. The entire clumsy, modern damsel in constant distress needing rescuing thing didn’t work from me. Her need for a guy’s support at all times, the way she breaks down when Edward leaves, was all a bit over the top. I mean, a normal woman, I think, would pick herself up and move on. The second would be Edward Cullen – only because he sparkles like diamonds. I mean, come on! You’re a vampire! And Dracula is one of my favourite books. So I just can’t digest this new twist on the ‘why vampires can’t get out in the sun’ thing. I’m even okay with the ‘I hunt only animals’, though vampires don’t exactly have consciences, but that’s creative liberty. But shining like diamonds – nope, sorry! As someone who loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula, that’s a bit much to take. My third choice would be Frodo Baggins. Odd, I know, but not because I hated him. In fact, I thought the way his character is influenced by the ring and the way he begins to slowly change was awesome. I just feel so bad for him – he was a good guy who was entrusted with something that began to break him. And I’d punch him in the hopes of breaking him out of that spell (even though it wouldn’t work).

You clearly don’t like the Twilight saga! What about another series that has garnered just as much popularity – the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy? You must have tried that one?

I did actually, but I couldn’t really get past the first half of the first book. It had nothing to do with the theme. BDSM has been around before Fifty Shades and will continue to be around. In fact, it’s an interesting genre to read too. But there was something about the story that just dragged on and I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it, making it only the third book I’ve ever left midway! The same goes with the Twilight saga. Vampire fiction has always been popular. I’ve read others in the genre like Katherine Sorin’s City of Lights trilogy which I really liked (the vampires were all gory and bloodthirsty in those, fitting my idea of a vampire). And there is nothing wrong with the Twilight saga or the Fifty shades trilogy. They really work for some people and, like all books, have been created through effort which I respect. But I just can’t associate with them, or really like them either.

Say you were hanging off a cliff and the only way to save yourself was to read either Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey. Which one would it be?

I’d brace myself for the fall! No, but seriously, can I watch the Twilight movies instead? That way, I get popcorn and save a lot of time… and my life!

You like giving honest reviews. But what would you do if someone gave your work a bad review?

I’d recognize that just how I can’t like every author’s work, not every reader can like mine. But like every storyteller, there are stories that I can tell in my own way which is different from others. And those that like my way, will like my work. You cannot please everyone, that’s part of every writer’s life. Accepting that isn’t easy. But I think I’ll get there with some effort.

Do you plan on continuing with short, love stories or is something else coming up?

I’m not genre limited. I write what comes to me. So I’ve got a lot of ideas for romances, fantasy, and mysteries and thrillers, which happens to be one of my favourite genres. But right now, I’m working on a full length novel – a historical fiction based in 700 CE, India, which should be up for sale end of this year or early next year.

Last question before we wrap up – how can one know more about you?

To know more about my work and me, you can visit any of the following links to my Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon author pages.

http://on.fb.me/R4HfLU

http://bit.ly/1ga5Hkp

http://amzn.to/1oOt1h5

Key elements to writing a stellar fiction book blurb

So…you’ve written an awesome book, right? Of course you have. You’ve slaved over it, perfected it, edited it until you can’t even see the words anymore. You have a great cover, your beta readers have sufficiently fluffed your feathers and then you realise…oh shit…(sorry Chris,) that you need to have words on this cover other than your author name and the book title.

What do you say to describe an entire book in a few sentences? How do you approach this situation when you have so many great scenes running through your head and you can’t pick just one or two?

This is going to sound silly. Wait for the logic. (Yes, I can still produce some once in a while.)

 

Treat it like a love interest.

Seriously. Think of your potential audience like someone you are trying to attract and go on a first date with.

First, you need a hook (shout.) This is the opening line that will captivate the attention of the reader and give them a reason to keep reading. Think of this ladies and gentlemen, as your pick up line.

What should this line include? A few words that give an overall feeling of the book. Is it full of danger? Steamy romance? Heartfelt family ties? You can use a complete sentence, or just a few words. Examples: “You can run, but you can’t hide.” Or “One woman. One runaway child. Two lives forever changed.”

Once you have your hook in place, next comes the body. Of course if you are going on a first date, you want the body to be attractive, right?

You don’t want the blurb to be miles long and detract from the point in the story. Keep in mind that your characters play a vital role in the book and you need to mention the important ones. It is easy to lose sight of them in the rush to make an exciting blurb, but they lead the story and need proper mention. Include the major conflict in your story, but do not give away any plot points you want the reader to discover inside the book.

Again with date mentality: Give enough to be interesting and make your potential suitor want to know more, but don’t tell the life story of your book in a single shot.

An important rule: Online dating book blurb, if you will. Before you have even met your date you can destroy any potential relationship by building up hype and not being honest. Think that little 23 year old blonde with the trim waistline and perky boobs on the computer screen is the hottest thing you’ve ever seen? How will you feel when you find out she is a 6 and a half foot tall behemoth that has a love of fried foods and a butt to back it up, also she’s 62. Do not make promises in your blurb that you can’t deliver on. People will soon find you out and word will spread. If you have written a book about snails, don’t promise it will be “the best action packed ride of the year,” unless you have somehow figured out how to make that actually work. I’ve seen stranger things.

Writing a book blurb in present tense, 3rd person will make the action seem as though it is happening right now, and make the blurb more exciting.

Finally, the closing. You have attracted your dream date, they have eyeballed you appreciatively and you have  had dinner and a nice conversation. Will they call you for a second date?

You don’t have to end on a cliffhanger in a book blurb. Sometimes this actually bothers readers, but you do want to ensure that your last sentence is a memorable one. You can end with a question, “How will Jane return to the world she knows and save the ones she loves?” Or with a statement “Mary doesn’t believe in ghosts, until she encounters one that won’t let her go.” The idea here is to sum up both conflict and plot in a single line. Not easy, but not impossible. Make certain that date has your number and intends to use it. Hinting at a resolution to the conflict you mentioned prior is a good way to close.

Another option, if you choose not to put together this type of traditional blurb, is to let the manuscript do the work for you. If you can find a particularly good excerpt from your manuscript, sometimes that will suffice as a perfect blurb. Of course, you want to ensure that you choose piece that is both exciting and has the information you want to give, but does not reveal any major plot points and isn’t terribly long.

Five important points:

Mood is important and it needs to match your book.

Length is very important as shoppers will not spend a lot of time choosing.

What makes your book stand out? Why is it different?

Editing the blurb is very important.

Read other blurbs in your genre and use the advice of your readers. What was their favourite part, why were they intrigued?

 

No one said this was easy, but it can be done. Ask yourself what would make you read a book? What kind of back cover copy interests you?

Hook that date, plan a wedding. Long term relationships offer security. Go write.

 

 

 

Hell no I don’t read, but if I did…

There will be a part 2 for this series in a day or so with the same questions asked to a lifelong reader, just for comparison.
 
I have seen a lot of blogs poll readers or feature readers and ask them what they look for in a book. What do they want to see on the cover? What do they want to see in a title? Is there something that influences their buying decision one way or the other more so than other things?
 
I’m not here to do that.
 
Well, not exactly.
 
I, being the great (short) pioneer that I am…am going to ask pretty much the same exact questions, but to someone who doesn’t read, or at least not very often, anyway. I think getting an opinion from someone who doesn’t read much is an organic approach to this non-scientific method of questioning. I’d like to know what would make someone who doesn’t usually read much, be encouraged to buy a book and maybe even pick it up and open the cover. So here we go.
 
 
My guest today does a lot of different stuff and he is a good guy, so you all can’t give him too much guff for not reading. Well, you can, but I will not be held responsible. I have to give him credit for patience. He always listens to me ramble on about books, even when he doesn’t care what I’m talking about. I do the same to him when the 49ers play. blah blah something about a funny looking little ball that has nothing to do with a foot.
 
I am going to protect his identity from the hoards of angry people who think everyone should read.
 
Rather than his actual name, we are going to call him Jeremiah “that guy.”
 
So with out further ado, here is “That guy” and I having a bookish conversation.
 

Ionia: So, “that guy,” why don’t you read all that much? I know you have to read for work and you have to read for daily life, but why don’t you read more for pleasure?

TG: I don’t find books very often that pique my interest enough to read them, or at least not all the way through. I find something that might interest me occasionally, but then I tend to lose interest rather quickly. Sometimes the plot goes to sleep and so do I.

Ionia: When you do find a book you think you’d like to read, what is it that first captures your attention? What makes you pick that book rather than another?

TG: The first thing I look at is the title. It isn’t as much the cover as it is the title. The title has to be really interesting and make me want to pick it up. If the title seems boring, I won’t even bother. Secondly, I look at the size of the book. I might be feeling ambitious, but I know my concentration has limits, so if the book is enormous…uhm…Tom Clancy…if I can watch it in the movie a lot faster there is no hope for the book. Sorry readers. I do look at the cover, but it isn’t as important to me as the blurb and the one liner that tells what others thought. I might not buy a book solely on what those say, but I’d rather read a book with a boring white cover that has people saying good things than one with an awesome cover art that has no one saying anything.

Ionia: The title thing is interesting. There have actually been studies done on what happens if a poorly selling book gets a more exciting title. The results were kind of amazing. Some books that had been out for ages started selling to the top of the charts within a few days of the change. How important are what other customers say about the book in reviews? Do you pay attention to star ratings and customer reviews?

TG: If I’m buying online I do somewhat take into account the customer reviews. A lot of it depends on whether or not it is fiction or non fiction. Fiction is subjective. People may love one writing style and not another or they may be influenced by which POV the book was set in. With non fiction, especially if you are using the book to learn a new skill or for education purposes, I would pay more attention to the reviews. If, for instance I got a book about algebra and the other customers said it was confusing and unhelpful, I may look at another one instead. But with fiction, I pay little attention to the opinions of others. Sometimes it is the one star reviews that make me interested in a book though.

Ionia: I have to agree about the one star reviews. Plus, sometimes they point out things that the four and five star reviews don’t, such as which characters could have been improved, or plot holes. I hate those. Do you do most of your reading in paper format or digital and why?

TG: I have both, but I am somewhat old fashioned. I like paper books. I don’t ever have to worry about my battery dying in the middle of a hardcover. I do have to say though, reading a paper book in the dark is not very easy. It is easier to collect more books with a reader than with normal books and it takes a lot less effort to move them.

Ionia: I’m really amazed at your bravery for facing down this rabid audience of readers and writers. I appreciate the honesty here. Don’t look behind you. Charles, put down the mallet. John, it isn’t nice to make faces. Susan…never mind. Susan you can continue whatever it is you’re doing over there. What turns you off in a book, right away? Say you have gotten past the title, and the cover, and the blurb. You’ve decided to read this book. What makes you say..never mind. Not for me.

TG: If the author can captivate me and hold my attention (for fiction anyway) within the first 3-10 pages I will continue. I can handle a small boring spot, but if it is more than a few pages I lose focus and put the book down. If I like the direction and approach the author takes to writing and I can visualise the content, I am more likely to keep reading.

Ionia: Does it matter to you if the book was put out by a big publisher or an indie author or indie press? Does the name of the publisher have any influence on if you will take the risk and buy the book?

TG: It doesn’t matter. It is more about the content than who it came from or where. If you don’t write things that I find interesting, then I won’t pick up the book.

Ionia: Do you have any favourite categories that you do enjoy reading when you find a book that you enjoy?

TG: I like to read fantasy. As I am a highly visual reader, I love the descriptions and worlds in fantasy, but I will read other stuff if it is interesting.

Ionia: Does price influence your buying decisions? Are you more likely to buy a less expensive book than a more expensive on or is it really about the content?

TG: Price really doesn’t affect my decision. If I’m liking the above named things about the book, I’ll spend the money.

Ionia: Will you buy a book just because it is part of a series? The hole in the shelf syndrome, if you will? Even if you don’t intend to read the books, will you buy based on having a partial series?

TG: No. If the book doesn’t interest me and I have books 1, 2, 3, and 5, I won’t buy 4 just because I don’t have it.

Ionia: I think our wallets all envy your reserve.  Does sales rank have anything to do with purchasing decisions?

TG: Not at all. I can find a great book at a thrift shop or one that has a million plus sales ranking. It makes no difference to me as far as buying the book.

Ionia: One final question: Where do you see the most advertising for books and have you ever bought based on an ad from that place?

TG: I see the most advertising from Kindle, but I don’t necessarily buy based on those ads. They might encourage me to look at a book, or download a sample. It really is about the content and the overall impression I get of the book. A pretty cover doesn’t mean that it will be a great fit for me.

Ionia: Thank you so much for your time and for answering all these questions. Put down your torches and pitchforks people. He is doing all of us authors a service.

 

So what do you all think about what our guest had to say today? Do you agree or disagree? Authors, here’s your chance to give your hard earned two cents.

 
 

 

The City by Dean Koontz

The CityThe City by Dean Koontz

#1 New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz is at the peak of his acclaimed powers with this major new novel.

The city changed my life and showed me that the world is deeply mysterious. I need to tell you about her and some terrible things and wonderful things and amazing things that happened . . . and how I am still haunted by them. Including one night when I died and woke and lived again.

Here is the riveting, soul-stirring story of Jonah Kirk, son of an exceptional singer, grandson of a formidable “piano man,” a musical prodigy beginning to explore his own gifts when he crosses a group of extremely dangerous people, with shattering consequences. Set in a more innocent time not so long ago, The City encompasses a lifetime but unfolds over three extraordinary, heart-racing years of tribulation and triumph, in which Jonah first grasps the electrifying power of music and art, of enduring friendship, of everyday heroes.

The unforgettable saga of a young man coming of age within a remarkable family, and a shimmering portrait of the world that shaped him, The City is a novel that speaks to everyone, a dazzling realization of the evergreen dreams we all share. Brilliantly illumined by magic dark and light, it’s a place where enchantment and malice entwine, courage and honor are found in the most unexpected quarters, and the way forward lies buried deep inside the heart.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Part coming of age story, part suspense novel, this is definitely not the Dean Koontz I recall from earlier novels.

I really wasn’t sure what to think when I began reading this novel. I have had good and bad feelings about the work of this author in the past. Sometimes his work would surprise and thrill me and yet other times I would come away feeling like I just didn’t get it. This novel, was a little bit of both.

If I had to choose what I liked about this novel and sum it up in a single paragraph, it would be that it is different and a bit unexpected. The writing is superb and the descriptions did not run away with the story as I have noticed in some of his other works. This was a new direction for Mr. Koontz to take his readers, and for the most part I thought it worked.

I won’t go so far as to say that every second of this book was exciting, but it was a thoughtful tale and had a lot of fully formed, independent characters that all added to the story. There was still some suspense and some tense moments as with his other works.

Overall, I gave this book three stars for being an example of an author taking a risk and making it work. If you are a fan of the older Koontz novels, this may strike you as a bit of an oddity but I encourage you to give it a shot.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.