Sunday, September 30, 2007

My new favorite group … and why. An old Sixties ‘Rocker’ reconsiders

My new favorite group … and why. An old Sixties ‘Rocker’ reconsiders
Or…can an ‘Old Dog’s’ musical taste still learn a few new musical ‘tricks’?


The year was 1967 and my band was opening for the Kingsman (of Louie – Louie fame). We knew all about Rock & Roll and could rip a rift from one end of a stadium to the other..
The Stones were king as well as ‘Mo-town’, Eric Clapton’s blues, the ‘Folk’ of Dylan and folk/rock of the Byrds.
We had redefined musical taste in everything from concerts to commercials for the next milleniumn and it was fine with us,

Ever since those golden/vinyl days we Boomers have had the self-satisfaction of knowing that we have set the standards for rock and pop music for the foreseeable future.
After all, who could displace us? Certainly not the pallid, wimpy ‘Disco’ groups of the late Seventies or the self-conscious’, gimmicky wanna-be’ groups of the nineties. After all, we were – no strike that – are (well we still are, right?) the generation that invented Rock & Roll!
We are the generation that said “Bleep-You” to convention and the status quo. We changed everything from morals to music to the way as Shakespeare would have put it – “the world wags on.”
So I’ve gotta admit in retrospect that I might have been a tad bit ‘closed minded’ when one of my kids told me about a new ‘break-out band’ that they’d heard in one of the rowdy bars that I used to play in when I was a musical young punk growing up in Boston back in the sixties.
They played a few cuts off of a CD but I’m ashamed to admit that for one of the pioneers of musical freedom four decades ago, I was sadly close-minded. I mean what could these twenty-something ‘head-bangers’ have to offer the generation that invented the youth culture and put sex, drugs and Rock & Roll on the societal map.
Well guess what… LOTS !

Yes – we Baby Boomers gave the world a culture of new social mores and a musical heritage that will last a lot long than we will. I mean, hey, we gave society words and music that are used for everything from commercials to Webster’s dictionary. The feelings and once idealistic dreams of the sixties have not only become part of the lexicon of contemporary society, but in many cases – the law itself!
In other words fellow Boomers, we (as Pogo would have said) “have met the enemy and he is …Us!

So it was with some surprise that I came to the realization this weekend at a wedding for one of my sweet nieces … And many, many continued best wishes for happiness, Betsy! …that the musical envelope is continuing to be pushed. And in more creative ways then we ever could have dreamed.

And that brings me to the point of my rant – no, my observation … ( Jeeze Ric – about freakin’ time ! ) The world continues to have both interesting and innovative expressions of music and society whether we buy into it or not.
You see the group that my kids thought I’d like (and I would have if they hadn’t suggested it first) is a fantastic Punk Rock, Folk/Irish group called the Drop Kick Murphy’s.

Now bear with me for a minute here. When I say punk-rock I’m not talking about some pimply faced Goth types with more tattoos than ‘Popeye the Sailor’ and at least as many piercing as a striped bass in a Sunday afternoon fishing contest.
No – what make this group “wicked awesome” as we say around Boston – home of Standels, of ‘Dirty’ Water fame, is that they actually combine Folk, Irish traditional, hard rock, head banger, punk and … whatever – with a creative blend of traditional folk and hard driving contemporary Pop/Rock/Folk/Punk sound that makes them all at once children of the sixties folk/pop and at the same time a totally new mix of the gritty best of the new wave punk/rock rebel iconoclasts.

In fact if The Drop Kick Murphy’s had been around in the ‘old days’ of the 60’s vinyl R&R that I recorded on, I probably would have worn out at least two of their CD’s this weekend!

But bottom line id that those of us who pioneered ‘Do our own thing’ – and - ‘keep an open mind’, should probably take a good long look in the mirror every once in a while to make sure that we’re still practicing what we preach.

I finally did - and my reward was a fantastic new group to my personal pop/rock list. Right up there with Dylan, Beatles and Stones.

So in the end this ‘Old Dog’ put his musical parameters through their paces and learned another trick or two. I recommend it.

All the best!
Ric

Ric Wasley - Author

· Shadow of Innocence - Kunati - April 2007
· Acid Test - 2004

New from Kunati Publishing: SHADOW OF INNOCENCE - The Newport Folk Festival provides a groovy backdrop for this fun and exciting mystery set in the music and drug soaked sixties. The Baby Boomers and everyone else are sure to enjoy this appealing mystery featuring a pair of musician partners in love and danger. Don't miss Shadow of Innocence! From Kunati Publishing. Available now on; Amazon , Barnes & Noble and at bookstores everywhere.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Ancient Greece. It’ll be lovely when it’s finished

So that’s me back from Greece. More specifically, Rhodes, which is a crumbling rock of an island pinned between the Agean and the Adriatic seas. Great time had by all too, especially my mum and dad who celebrated their golden wedding anniversary whilst we were there. We stayed near Lindos, which I’m told is the ancient capital of the place. Lindos is akin to a rat maze. The streets are white and narrow and defined by a tumble of low, square buildings (scattered like feta cubes) each with a roof top restaurant served by white shirted greek boys. Magnificant place but with only one public piazza large enough for the hundreds of coaches to empty their loads of map clutching tourists, entering the town is frantic at the outset; everyone squeezing urgently into the run to sniff out and gather the cheese. Above Lindos there is an ancient acropolis (no doubt where the scientists observe from!) and it dominates today as it did when it was first built over 2000 years ago. It looks broken now, beaten down by shaking ground, harsh winds and the occasional invader. At least that’s what we’re led to believe by the archaeologists. To be honest, I don’t buy it. You see, having driven around Greece and seen the quality of their modern day work ethic, I don’t think that the acropolis is in fact a ruin. No, I’m willing to bet my bollocks that they never bloody finished it in the first place.!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

8th Annual Express Yourself...Authors' Conference

Tonight I am 'penning a Pennsylvania post' from the Sheraton Park Ridge Hotel in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. And yes, two days ago I was in Edmonton, Alberta. So how did I get here? Well, by plane, of course. :)

I am attending the 8th Annual Express Yourself...Authors' Conference, sponsored by Infinity Publishing. I was very honored when the Special Projects Director John Harnish asked me if I would take part on a panel, and since one of my goals is to give back to writers--particularly to new authors--I was thrilled. Plus, I've never been to PA before.

I left Edmonton yesterday morning very early. The flight was uneventful, with a stop in Minneapolis. Haven't been there either, although I didn't see much from the airport windows. :) When I arrived in Philly, I couldn't get over the heat. 90 degrees F. It was about 40 in Edmonton when I left.

Today's conference event was a writing workshop that covered self-editing, overcoming writer's block and much more. The day ended with a terrific buffet and our guest speaker Dave Lieber, an author and award-winning columnist for the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Dave encouraged us to "break the rules", something which I seem to not have a problem doing. :)

Tomorrow will be a full day and I'm looking forward to it. Conferences always give me ideas for writing and marketing, and anyone who knows me knows that I am always looking for creative and fun ways to market my books.

On Saturday I will be presenting at the conference--on 2 different panels. The funny thing is that I knew about one of them but had no idea about the other. I found out today that when I told Infinity Publishing that they could "use" me in any way that would benefit them and the attendees that they did just that. :) Good thing I love to talk about writing and marketing. I am really looking forward to being able to share some of the things that I have learned along my journey. So for any of you who are writers, I will put together some of my notes next week and post them on my site.

Also, as the Canadian Author Liaison for Infinity Publishing, my goal is to connect writers (especially Canadian writers) with one option for getting published--self-publishing. This has become a viable and acceptable method of publishing, especially since most traditional publishers accept less than 2% of manuscripts. Although my personal goal is to have all of my novels traditionally published (and I would be quite happy with one or more of the big New York houses), I recognize that there are different goals for every author. So if you're a writer looking to get published and you want to consider self-publishing, I invite you to check out Infinity Publishing, a company that really does have its authors' interests at heart. http://www.infinitypublishing.com/

For my dear readers, please know that I am always striving to learn more about my craft. There are always new things to learn. I write for 'me' in the beginning, because I have a story that needs to be told. But then I write for you--for every fan who has supported my work in the past and for every new one who discovers me. My goal as a suspense author is to challenge myself with writing a story that is sophisticated yet entertaining, suspenseful yet emotional, and always my best work with enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes. I hope you'll let me know when I succeed.

By the way, if you are in the Valley Forge area tomorrow and Saturday, please stop by the Sheraton Park Ridge Hotel and have the hotel come find me at Infinity's conference. Providing I am not in the middle of my panel, I would be happy to autograph a copy of Whale Song, The River or Divine Intervention. I have limited copies available.

http://www.cherylktardif.com/

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nikki Leigh visits The Write Type as part of her virtual book tour



A message from Nikki:

Lady Lightkeeper – The Characters

Before I start writing, I interview with each character. I’ve played with various character worksheets to figure out what details I need to know. In my character development, I become familiar with the hometown of my characters, which plays a part in their attitudes and values. This ties in well with my setting research and that allows the information to show up in the story in several different ways.

Lady Lightkeeper was different since I worked with these characters in Widow’s Walk. It’s been fun to work with these characters through about 20 years – in their world J

Let me introduce you to a couple of my characters.

Lizbeth Sullivan Kinsey – She’s the heroine of the story. Lizbeth lost her mother at a young age and her father died in a boat accident. She’s lost so much in her life and William’s boat is missing. She knows the sea can take anyone in the blink of an eye.

Sara – Sara has been in Lizbeth’s life since shortly after her mother died. They are very close and that relationship gets even closer when Lizbeth learns that her father had an intimate relationship with Sara for years. She loves Sara like a mother and Sara is very protective of the only daughter she’s ever known. Can a rumor tie these two women apart?

Aidan Kinsey – Aidan is Lizbeth’s young son. He’s very smart, kind, caring and patient. Lizbeth knows that Aidan needs his father, will William be able to come home and help her raise their children?

Marta Kinsey – Marta is Aidan’s twin sister. She’s spoiled and she loves her daddy very much. She has a hard time understanding why her daddy hasn’t come home. When will she see him again?

Duncan Jones – Unrest is becoming more obvious in American. So, when its suggested that this shy and quiet stranger should be the new lighthouse keeper for Misty Cove, the residents are concerned about whether he can be trusted. They learned in 1841 (in Widow’s Walk) what can happen to their loved ones when the lighthouse keeper can’t be trusted. Can Duncan win their trust and how does he figure into Lizbeth’s life?

These are just a few of the characters from Lady Lightkeeper. But, I’ve had a number of readers asking me to hurray and write the next story – they want to know what happens to the characters. I even have a few readers who are plotting what they think will happen to these people next. For information about all my characters, visit http://www.nikkileigh.com/characters.htm.

Excerpt from Lady Lightkeeper by Nikki Leigh

Gulls flew and dipped toward the boat while the men tightened their lines to the sturdy posts. The birds’ wings fluttered in the rays of sun. They flew along the dock each time fishing boats came to shore. Their presence around the boat reminded me of Marta, always looking for the next meal. Thinking my daughter brought a warm smile to my face.
Several of the men working on the dock were tall, others were short and chunky. I noticed a few that tied bandannas around their heads. Some men moved barrels, while others rearranged their traps. A cool breeze stirred along the shore and carried the brackish smell to my nose. The scent reminded me of William. Of course, everything reminded me of William.
“Who’s that woman?” A man called from the boat.
“What a looker? Maybe she’s here to see me.” Another man chuckled in the distance.
“No, she wants me. What woman would want to see a man that smells as bad as you?” A voice boomed from the other end of the boat.
I held my head high and walked with determined steps. Someone on the vessel might have the tidbit of information I needed to find William. My boot heels clicked against the boards below my feet. Water lapped against the pylons while waves hit the dock with a restful and refreshing rhythm.
The cry of the gulls, waves washing against the piers and boats, these things and more reminded me of father and William. We spent many times around the while I was growing up. Being near the ocean brought back sorrowful memories of father’s accident and death, but it prompted joyful thoughts from my life with father.
One of our boats was tied to the dock and the men had a wooden bench near the lines holding the boat ashore. The bench held supplies when they loaded and unloaded the craft. Spreading the hem of my skirt, I sat on the bench and tried not to look out of place. I belonged there, but there was no need to discuss that with the sailors. More important things were on my mind. The sound of my foot tapping on the boards distracted me while I waited.
“Men, will we go ashore and try to find some fresh food?” The words hung in the air.
I stood and grabbed the corners of my skirt to hold it off the boardwalk. Whistles carried to my ears and I lowered my hem a little. Shaking my head, I walked straight to the gangway. A group of men disembarked from the boat and the rumble of voices made its way to me.
“Lovely lady, can I help you?” The sailor weaved his way across the boardwalk. He smelled of whiskey, even from this distance.
“Leave the lady alone. She doesn’t want to be bothered by a disgusting sea dog like you.” There was a wicked glint in the sailor’s eye as he seemed to defend me. “I would imagine she might choose a fine man such as myself.” He lifted his battered hat to display a bald head that shone in the sun.
His sweeping gesture made me laugh. A cheer arose from the tight group when I laughed. The bald man lifted his fist into the air. “That sweet sound is a signal of my success. I made the lady smile. Let’s see if anyone can accomplish more than that.”

CONTEST:
Each person who buys a copy of Lady Lightkeeper, needs to email me a copy of their receipt. I just need a receipt that shows you bought a copy of Lady Lightkeeper and I'll enter you in the drawing for a copy of Widow's Walk. That seemed like a good giveaway since the story starts with Widow's Walk. However, if the winner already has a copy of Widow's Walk, I'll be happy to send a copy of Lilah and the Locket instead.

In addition, each person who posts a comment on any or all of the blog stops will be entered in a separate giveaway. Each comment will be entered in the drawing and at the end of the month, one person will win a copy of Lady Lightkeeper. Again, if the winner bought the book already, I'll send them another book as a prize. Any questions, let me know. nikki-leigh@excite.com.

http://www.nikkileigh.com/
http://www.nikkileigh.com/lady_lightkeeper.htm

Friday, September 21, 2007

Reaching out on behalf of a fellow writer

Dear Writing Friends,

A wonderful member of our online writing community has fallen on very difficult times. Linda Barnett-Johnson, Assistant Editor of Long Story Short, the ezine (http://www.alongstoryshort.net/), has learned that her husband has cancer. They do not have health insurance. They are raising their 4 grandchildren and now neither can work until Karl completes his chemo and radiation therapies.

Her writing friends have launched a fundraiser: A Trip to Paris, http://atriptoparis.homestead.com/ where you can take a virtual trip to Paris and donate to the cause.

Or you can take a writing course at the Long Story Short School of Writing, http://www.lsswritingschool.com/ and the school’s share will go to the cause.

Thanks so much.

P.S. This is a valid fundraiser. I can vouch for this.
Cheryl Kaye Tardif
http://www.cherylktardif.com

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Author Cheryl Kaye Tardif has lunch with Canadian Idol Eva Avila

The lovely and talented Eva Avila, last season's Canadian Idol winner, is in Edmonton to kick off the Oil Kings hockey game. She will be singing the national anthem and some of her hit songs at tonight's game (Kootenay Ice vs. Edmonton Oil Kings), which starts at 7:30 pm.

Today I had the distinct pleasure of having lunch with Eva. We left her hotel (sorry, I'm NOT telling) and headed down Jasper Ave., battling a chilly wind, in search of sushi. Now there's something Eva has in common with my daughter Jessica. They are both sushi addicts. :) Well, we didn't find a sushi place and ended up instead at WOK BOX, where the food has a definite asian/indian flavour. YUM!

You're probably wondering what the heck I did to deserve an hour of this busy young woman's time. I think I'm wondering too...lol. Eva and I have been corresponding via email after I contacted her through her MySpace page. But this was the first time we've met. And what a sweet girl!

We spent an hour chatting about the similarities between writing novels and writing songs, the challenges of promoting and marketing, and the advantages of online marketing. Then I gave her a limited edition Whale Song mug to thank her, and asked a customer to take a pic. Hey, I needed evidence to show Jessica. Apparently, my "cool-scale" went up a few notches, she told me. And any mom knows how important that is when you have a teen daughter.

Eva and I talked about Whale Song, my bestselling novel and a novel that has captured a lot of movie interest. Currently, numerous film companies, including many from Hollywood, are reading it. We've have been talking about the possibility of Eva playing the lead role. I would be thrilled if a film company asked her to audition. The more I spoke with Eva, the more of "Sarah Richardson" I saw in her. Not just her dark coloring, but her spark and spirit. She brought Whale Song with her on the trip to Edmonton, and I was thrilled to hear that.

There are two women I can see playing the lead role of 'Sarah Richardson'. Kristen Kreuk and Eva Avila. And isn't it wonderful that they're both Canadian?

Visit Eva Avila's site.

Order Eva's CD Somewhere Else.

Order Whale Song.

Canadian Idol Eva Avila reads Whale Song in Edmonton


Today I got quite the surprise. I was barely listening to an announcement on the radio--91.7 The Bounce, to be exact, and I heard Eva Avila's name come up. It didn't twig completely until they started talking about the Oil Kings game. (I just don't DO sports! ) Then it hit me.

Eva Avila was coming to Edmonton!

Now let me backtrack just a bit. Eva and I have been emailing for 2 or 3 months now. In fact, she was very interested in Whale Song, so I sent her a copy. We've been talking about the possibilities of her playing the lead role of "Sarah". I am hoping that when my publisher makes a movie deal that the film producers/directors will at least consider Eva. She fits my image of Sarah, and I think that girl has a ton of talent. Beyond singing.

Let me backtrack some more. I've been an Idol fan for a few seasons but it was Eva who actually got me voting more than once a night. In fact on the final vote night I spent 2 hours calling in my vote on speed dial. My Japanese daughter was doing the same thing from our other line. :) Ok, yes, I'm an Idol addict. But really, I was just so inspired by Eva.

I finally figured out why tonight.

Eva is 19, only 2 years older than my own daughter. Eva has always had a dream. And she has known that eventually it would happen. She is passionate about her goals and dreams and is working so hard to achieve them. She reminds me of someone.

Me.

Of course, a far younger "me", but all the same, she has the intense dreams of becoming a huge star, just as I have wanted to be a New York Times bestselling author. My dream also started at a young age. But it took me far longer to realize even part of my dreams.

I admire Eva for her spirit, and the 'Mom' in me is proud of her. Even though she's not my daughter. :)

Ok...fast forward. So Eva is coming to town. And I just had to email her. She emailed me back and we're getting together for lunch tomorrow. Not only that, she brought Whale Song with her. "To read in my hotel room before bed", she said. :)

Now that makes me feel like a New York Times bestselling author. Thank you, Eva.

Order Whale Song on Amazon or your favorite online retailer or bookstore.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

MARKETING

I have been asked: “How do you sell your books?” It’s not a question but a challenge. There is no real sense in self-publishing if all that will happen is the books languish in your basement or garage. Having done the dirty deed of spending hard earned money to produce an obscure book from an unknown author, the challenge is how does the author get rid of the book?

SCHOOLS:
My first 2 books were non-fiction books on the Holocaust; mystery stories that defy logic. The idea was to write about the Holocaust but not of the Holocaust – about people. In this case, children. Who were my audience? I thought it would be adults. I was partly right. It was everyone. I learned this when a school teacher having read one of the books wanted to know if I would talk to her class about the Holocaust by telling them my stories.

My third book was a children's fully illustrated hard cover book on the Holocaust using metaphors. The three books have made me a yearly attraction with elementary and secondary schools in the GTA and parts north. I receive calls to participate in either writing programs or to relate stories from the Holocaust. I'm dealing with children and as such do not attempt to sell my books. My fee is that the school library must purchase all my books so that the children can read without cost to them. This has on a number of occasions resulted in orders coming from the school for my books because several of the students want to buy one or more. I have had some schools buy as many as 20 copies and made the book a part of the curriculum. I am not referring to Jewish schools but to schools that have a predominantly non-Jewish population. The attraction for buying the books is that they are about children. When I receive a repeat request from a school that has all my books, I participate in a class session for free and this, too results in books being purchased.

So I am marketing to children who go home and tell their parents about me. This connects me with adults. I have received many, many letters from children telling me about the impact of my stories. This had to have carried over to the parents. In some cases I have received orders for the other books I've written. Since two of my books are murder mysteries, I have to assume it's for the parents. I have also been told by the librarians that after I leave, all my books are ‘out’ for a good month until the excitement of my storytelling has been momentarily forgotten. The students want to know how a story ends. I never reveal the ending. They are forced to go to the library to find an answer.

Marketing is necessary to make ones self known. The most successful and least expensive method of advertising is word of mouth. Word of mouth can only be accomplished if the author is seen and heard. Reading only works in a group. A single person complimenting a novel generally tells maybe one or two people. A group tells two times the number of people in the audience.

I spoke on the writing game at OISE College for two years. This has resulted in the teacher-student calling me after they are employed at a school to ask me to come to their school and talk about writing. Word of mouth leads to speaking at Reading Groups. I avoid book stores.

READING GROUPS and SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS
I canvass neighbourhood newspapers for reading groups and send a professional brochure and detailed resume. I emphasis professional brochure because if it is home-made and is unattractive, it can be interpreted as an indication of the speaker. This is not the time to think poor. I send my brochure and resume to non-profit organizations, churches and synagogues informing them of my background and ask if they would like to have me as a speaker.

I used to charge for my services. Anywhere from $50 to $250 depending on the location. I don't charge any more but stipulate that I be allowed to sell my books at the end of meeting. If I have more than 25 in attendance I will sell about $150. Over 40 – more than $250. Over 65 – $400. I have had more than 100 such speaking engagements since 1998. Do this enough times and word of mouth replaces cold calls. Do this enough times and sales average over $8,000 a year.

The reason I avoid book stores is that it's a hit and miss situations. I have done this more than a dozen times in INDIGO/CHAPTERS. The worse was 1 book for 8% royalty. The best – 12 books and I had to wait 6 months for KP to pay my royalties. Before the new system, I would consign books myself (self-published) to INDIGO and bill them after my speaking engagement. They would pay me direct. Since they took 45%, what was left for me wasn't worth the effort and there was no long term benefits other than I could say I spoke at INDIGO.

When people asked where they could find me, I gave them my web site: alvinabram.ca – never my personal address.

PUBLICIST
I asked KP if they would finance a mid-western book tour. I had 2 inquiries: Saskatoon and Calgary to come out and do a reading and be interviewed. They said it wasn't practical. I needed more engagements. I made calls to other organizations that knew me and called KP and said that I now had Edmonton and Regina booked. KP said it wasn't in the budget.

I decided to make my own tour. I bought 100 books from KP at 40% off, packaged them into 4 lots and mailed them to mail drops in the 4 cities. I arranged an 8 day tour using my air miles and hired a publicist in Regina where I was staying for 3 days. By the time I returned, I sold all my books and grossed $1,100. It cost me $300 for the publicist. I stayed in a hotel twice for 2 days. Two cities I was housed by the host. I was on TV, Cable, interviewed by 4 newspapers, spoke at 6 groups, 2 schools, signed books at 2 stores and met some terrific people. I returned exhausted and with money in my pocket.

Since then I have hired publicists for my last 3 books. It costs $1,500 for 30 days. I've been on TV in London, Hamilton, Kingston, Montreal and Toronto. Been interviewed on radio more than a dozen times from several cities in Ontario from my office. I've been interviewed via e-mail and appeared in newspapers in Canada and U.S. I could have gone to Ottawa and Windsor for TV interviews but work got in the way. I've appeared on Mystery TV 3 times; twice because of CW and once by personal contact. London TV has asked me back. All because I was introduced to the media by a publicist.

FREE BOOKS MAKE MONEY
Another way I make money is I give my books away to the libraries. I walk into a library, introduce myself by asking the librarian to call up a book of mine on screen and then smile and say – that's me.

Are you aware that a book taken out in a library, results in money for you? I received a cheque for $278.80 the first year from the Public Lending Right Commission. The following year, I received $356.04. Two years ago, $538.75 and this year almost the same amount. I've sent my books to Winnipeg and Ottawa. I keep them in my car so that when I pass a large library I can go in and make them an offer they can't refuse – I hope.

Marketing is using your initiative. Even when published by a traditional publisher, the onus still is still on the author to promote their book. The only one who will put themselves out for you is you. Something to think about.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Book club, Whale Song and crab quiche


Two nights ago, I was very honored to attend a book club meeting held by 7 lovely ladies (Bev, Anne, Eve, Isabel, Gloria, Nancy and Joyce) in west Edmonton. It started at 7:30 and went until 10:00. I had a blast...especially since I was the 'guest author'. They had just finished reading Whale Song.

The first order of business--food. Hey, what's a good book club without good treats? And I tell you, these ladies know how to put on a spread. Crab quiche, made specially because of the ocean theme of Whale Song. I asked if we were having whale sandwiches next...hehe. Nope, but fresh veggies and strawberries, salsa and chips, cheese and crackers, chocolate, cashews...wine (darn, I don't drink!)...coffee. Why does book club food taste so awesome?

I'm thinking the next book I write should have a steak and lobster theme. Hmm, wonder which of the ladies will be BBQing...lol

We chatted about traveling as one of the ladies is off to Paris today or tomorrow and another is heading for Madrid. I told them I was going to Pennsylvania, but somehow that just doesn't compete with Paris and Spain.

Then they got down to business.

I am always very excited (and just a tad bit nervous) when attending book club meetings. After all, I expect them to be honest about their thoughts and reactions. The first thing they did was a thumbs up/thumbs down vote.

I held my breath.

8 thumbs UP!

I was told that doesn't often happen.

They began telling me how much they loved Whale Song and many of them said they cried. In fact, I was encouraged to give out packages of tissue with the book. Strangely enough, I have thought of that idea often.

The conversation around Whale Song was great! One woman started telling me about one of her favorite parts and she started crying. Next thing, we were all blinking away like crazy and talking about Whale Song. They asked a ton of very thoughtful questions, about the book, writing, my life, living on the Queen Charlotte Islands, native relationships, getting published. I wasn't surprised to hear that many of them really loved the native grandmother Nana.

What I found most interesting was when one of the ladies shared how she thought the story around the mother (Daniella) and her illness was going to go in a certain direction, and that all the clues and foreshadowing could lead to that conclusion. And she's right! Yet, I had never really thought of it...probably because I knew exactly where it was all leading. As a writer, I find it very satisfying to learn that I have delivered a twist, consciously or not, that works.

The ladies had me sign their copies of Whale Song and then they bought The River and Divine Intervention, which I had on hand for a special price.

In the end, I left feeling exceptionally inspired. It is one thing to write a book and know people are reading it; it is another to actually meet your readers. I have found that being a guest at a book club meeting is a wonderful way to see what people like and don't like. No matter how many industry reviews I get, there is nothing better than being reviewed by avid readers.

They want me to come back. I would love to! (And thank you, ladies, for such a wonderful time!)
P.S. Attention Edmonton book clubs: If you read any of my novels in your club, please email me. I would love to attend your book club meeting. Seafood, optional! :)

Read an excerpt from Whale Song.

Order Whale Song: A Novel

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Article: Authors Tour the World with Virtual Book Tours by Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Over the years, authors who wanted to promote their books directly to the public had one main option; you had to physically travel across the country conducting book signings and readings in various bookstores and praying that people would show up. This meant spending money on flights, hotels, transportation and meals. This traditional type of book tour is expensive and very few publishing companies are willing to pay for them. But now, authors have a new method of ‘touring the world’―the virtual book tour.

Virtual book tours (also known as virtual author tours, guest blogging, blog tours, or VBTs) are a simple concept. The author tours various blogs and sites that pertain to a theme in the book or to writing in general. This way, you can potentially reach thousands of avid readers each tour day from the privacy of your office or home.

The goal of marketing your book is to expose it to as many people as possible in an exciting, cost-effective and entertaining way. Guest blogging can achieve that goal. Most blogs are archived, so your post becomes permanent and often viral, spreading from site to site. That is leverage. You are in essence leveraging your internet presence and duplicating yourself with every VBT stop. Your blog tour is working for you even while you sleep. Try doing that at a bookstore signing!

Read Cheryl's article Authors Tour the World with Virtual Book Tours on John Kremer's Book Marketing site.

‘Dad, there’s a man in a dress tryin’ to beat me up!’

Well I finally got here, and all the way from Manchester, England too! Okay, I understand that nowhere on the planet is more than a couple of clicks away these days but still, it’s always good to arrive where you want to be and getting published in the US is a real buzz. Actually, this first novel thing turned out to be not quite as daunting as I had convinced myself it would. One of the hardest things about it has been what I’m doing now. Publishers and seasoned, techno-savvy authors call it a ‘virtual book tour’ apparently but to me and you it’s called ‘being a pain in the arse until someone agrees to let you pitch your book and muscle in on their hard earned blog community.’ To be honest, when I was first told about the concept I thought, ‘hmmm, not for me that. Think I’ll stay here at the back and watch what happens.’ but, having finally done it, I found the whole business pretty cool; made contact with some really helpful people and I must say, I’m really pleased with the sites that I have managed to get support from. But more on that later in the blog. For now, and by way of an introduction to the tour, I’d like to say a bit about the places and the people that inspired my debut novel.

Manchester is a fantastic, vibrant city. It’s where I grew up and it’s where Recycling Jimmy happens.

In Manchester there are only two serious choices that a young man has to make; which football team to support and what clothes to wear to the match. I chose United, (wisely as it turned out) but perhaps not so clever was my fashion choice. See, I was a ‘mod’ back then, and for those who don’t know, in early eighties England mods were an endangered species. People just loved to hit us. I guess we asked for it though. I mean it wasn’t ever going to look right for a fourteen year old kid to hit the streets wearing a two-tone suit, Ben Sherman shirt and shiny black brogues was it? Kids dressed as men is just wrong, like we’d escaped from a Bugsy Mallone set, and if that wasn’t na├»ve enough, we would finish the look by draping ourselves in heavy ex-NATO army parkas that served no useful purpose other than to slow us down as we ran from gangs of rockers and skins, punks and new romantics. I can honestly say that getting chased down the road by some bloke who’s wearing make-up and a blouse is not something that you want your dad to see. Looking back though, my lack of pace turned out to be not such a bad thing as invariably those short lived chases would give me just enough time to get my mouth into gear and ready to talk my way out of a beating. Talking was a tactic that worked well for me back then and the sharp wit that I relied on is what Jimmy and Kevin do so well in the book. Admittedly, some of their slightly twisted exchanges result in darkly dubious conclusions and actions but their character (basically good hearted lads) remains in tact. I guess the person who is most corrupted by the whole ‘suicide for profit’ deal is Wanda who, having entered as a principled and ambitious young lady, changes into something more akin to Ma Baker than Mother Teresa.

So what can you expect from my blogs on the tour? Well, they’re funny for a start and if you like them you’ll love the book. There is a theme running, that being a brief discussion in each about different elements of writing black comedy but I must warn you that these are my theories only, just stuff that I’ve had to think about during the whole process so you’ll see an awful lot of rambling there too. I like to think and talk about those things that are for the most part just on the limits of my knowledge and that’s the other thread you may pick up on. A lot of the time I may be expressing opinions that are woefully ill informed! But that’s not such a bad thing is it? After all, theories are there to be challenged and changed so I like to keep my mind open. I can be serious but it’s very rare and I hope that my laid back take on life and its challenges doesn’t offend. I’ll try and do it with tact (more blog on this later) but I‘ll apologise in advance just in case I don’t pull it off.

As for the line up, here it is:

13th Septemberhttp://scaryduck.blogspot.com/‘There’s only two Andy Gorams……’So what makes a sick joke sick? Here’s my take on bad taste. By the way, this is a cracking site. Take a few minutes to have a read and I guarantee you’ll want to comment.

14th September
http://biffovision.blogspot.com/
‘’Do not open your parachute until you are clear of the boat.’’
An introduction to Urban Philosophy (wise words formally known as bullshit). You’ll see this smattered all the way through Recycling Jimmy, the only thing other than skunk that makes you laugh and think at the same time, but without the paranoia. By the way, if you don’t know Mr Biffo yet you will do soon. The lad is a genius and it won’t be long before you’ll see his credits drifting up the screen after you’ve watched your favourite sit com.

15th September
http://www.bigblogmedia.com/
Finally, jokes have made it across the Atlantic.
A quick debate about the differences between US and UK humour (apart from the spelling). Spike Milligan vs Jerry Lewis?This site has a vast number of contributions too so there should be something to read while your there if you don’t like what I have to say!

17th September
http://www.iamlivid.com/
Cough for Christ’s sake man!
Dealing with dodgy dialect. Hosted by Mr Angry, this has got to be one of my personal favourite blog sites. Great take on life, and could have been written by Jimmy Gee from my book. Nice one.

18th September
http://www.kunati.com/andy-tilley-blog/
So Why is Zoe’s Boyfriend a Twat?
This, the Kunati site, is where I do most of my blogging. Coincidentally I have just completed a manuscript which deals with the science of picking a partner. It isn’t that straight forward as it turns out! Ask Zoe who, by the way, deserves every bloggers kudos for nicking the best European blog of the year award for the past three years running. Go and have a look at http://www.myboyfriendisatwat.com/ and you’ll understand why.

Andy Tilley

Author: Recycling Jimmy
Publisher: Kunati Inc. (September 1, 2007)
ISBN-10: 1601640137

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Eavesdropping at Denny's


Today I was writing at my new haunt--the Denny's on 50th St and 25th Ave. My usual writing place--the Cappuccino Affair--may be sold soon and the owner has kind of lost interest, which means that the menu has dwindled to next to nothing and sometimes he isn't even open. Since I like to write for 6+ hours, I need a place where I have a few things to choose from for lunch or supper.

A few weeks ago, I went into Denny's Restaurant and spoke with the owner. He was extremely accommodating, allowing me to come in and write any time and for as long as I want to--even if all I order is coffee. Well, he's got nothing to worry about there. I happen to like way too many things on their menu! And they're open 24-7!

I have two favorite tables already, and the staff is getting to know me and I, them. Some great young people work there! Sogand has greeted me every day that I show up as if I'm her favorite author, yet I know she hasn't read any of my books. So today I brought her a signed copy of Whale Song as a thank you because she had shown an interest in my work and she always made sure I got my table as soon as it was available. Today, however, my favorite tables were full, so I sat at a different one (there are only 4 with outlets for my laptop). Then I set to work on Divine Justice, book 2 in the Divine series.

I was well into my story and characters when 2 women and 2 young boys (not sure of their ages--maybe 5 and 8) sat down in the booth behind me. They were a bit boisterous and I was distracted, so I figured I'd take a break. I started up my Spider Solitaire and was settling into a game when I heard something that made my ears perk up. My name. Well, not my name exacly but "Aunty Cheryl", who was sitting behind me. The two boys were so excited that Aunty Cheryl was visiting that they couldn't contain themselves and soon their mother was reprimanding them for interrupting. I had to smile. How do you possibly contain two small bodies who obviously love their Aunty Cheryl? For a moment, I wished I was their Aunty Cheryl. :)

I tried to return to my game, but then they began talking about a subject that filled my ears. Books and reading. Okay, could you possibly dangle more carrots in front of me?! Apparently the other woman knew someone who had just found a love for reading and she was excited for him. I thought she was talking about one of the boys at first. She mentioned some book titles and authors' names, and then I made carrot cake out of all the carrots they were dangling and turned around.

"Excuse me," I said. "I'm sorry..." I saw the look on their faces. I think they thought I was going to complain about noise or something. "...I couldn't help but overhear your conversation. I'm an author."

Eyes lit up. I let out a breath, relieved that they weren't going to snarl at me for having large ears.

"What do you write?" they asked. To which I replied, "Suspense, mysteries and thrillers." I passed them two of my (ever ready) bookmarks. To Aunty Cheryl I said in a low voice, "I was asked recently what I do and I told them 'I kill people for a living.'" It's a good thing she got my joke! :)

I discovered that the new avid reader was actually the one woman's husband. So I mentioned that The River is my bestseller with men. After a brief chat, I turned back to my work. It's really hard to NOT listen when someone is talking about you literally behind your back. lol I heard the moment they discovered my name. "Her name's Cheryl too," someone said.

Before they left, I heard that one of the boys wanted to ask me a question. They tried to encourage him to come and ask me, but he was too shy. I set my glasses aside and waited. A second later, they all appeared at my side. The older of the two boys asked me his question: "Why did you call it Whale Song."

I smiled. And then I told him why.

~CKT

Read Amazon reviews of Whale Song.

Monday, September 03, 2007

VBT dates..finally!!

Well, it was as difficult asCheryl said it would be but I finally got there. Holding out for those sites that you really want to be guested on takes nerves of steel but it was worth it and I'm pretty darn (?) pleased with the one's I've got...even if I do say so myself. Here's the final line up...don't forget to take a peek if you get a minute (and aren't too sensitive) and tell your friends!

12th September
http://writetype.blogspot.com/
‘Dad, there’s a man in a dress tryin’ to beat me up!’
My first blog was posted here way back when, so as good a place to start as any. An introduction to the tour before we step out into the unknown.

13th September
http://scaryduck.blogspot.com/
‘There’s only two Andy Gorams……’
So what makes a sick joke sick? Here’s my take on bad taste. By the way, this is a cracking site. Take a few minutes to have a read and I guarantee you’ll want to comment.

14th September
http://biffovision.blogspot.com/
‘’Do not open your parachute until you are clear of the boat.’’
An introduction to Urban Philosophy (wise words formally known as bullshit). You’ll see this smattered all the way through Recycling Jimmy, the only thing other than skunk that makes you laugh and think at the same time, but without the paranoia. By the way, if you don’t know Mr Biffo yet you will do soon. The lad is a genius and it won’t be long before you’ll see his credits drifting up the screen after you’ve watched your favourite sit com.

15th September
http://www.bigblogmedia.com/
Finally, jokes have made it across the Atlantic.
A quick debate about the differences between US and UK humour (apart from the spelling). Spike Milligan vs Jerry Lewis?This site has a vast number of contributions too so there should be something to read while your there if you don’t like what I have to say!

17th September
http://www.iamlivid.com/
Cough for Christ’s sake man!
Dealing with dodgy dialect. Hosted by Mr Angry, this has got to be one of my personal favourite blog sites. Great take on life, and could have been written by Jimmy Gee from my book. Nice one.

18th September
http://www.kunati.com/andy-tilley-blog/
So Why is Zoe’s Boyfriend a Twat?
This, the Kunati site, is where I do most of my blogging. Coincidentally I have just completed a manuscript which deals with the science of picking a partner. It isn’t that straight forward as it turns out! Ask Zoe who, by the way, deserves every bloggers kudos for nicking the best European blog of the year award for the past three years running. Go and have a look at http://www.myboyfriendisatwat.com/ and you’ll understand why.