Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Second Wind Publishing is Celebrating the Release of Four New Novels!

Contest! To celebrate the release of Susan Surman’s new book, Dancing at all the Weddings, she is hosting a writing contest, “A Healthy Divorce.” Please write a very short story or a real life anecdote (no more than 500 words) about a healthy divorce — if there is such a thing! Click here for rules and further information: A Healthy Divorce Contest.

Contest! Dellani Oakes’ new novel, Lone Wolf is set in the year 3032. To celebrate the release of Lone Wolf, Dellani is sponsoring a contest. All you have to do is answer these questions: What do you think will be the best thing in the future? What will be the worst thing? Click here for the rules and further information about: The Best and the Worst of the Far Future Contest.

Contest! To celebrate the release of Calvin Davis’ new novel, The Phantom Lady of Paris, he is sponsoring a contest. All you have to do is tell us in 50 words or less what is the most memorable thing that ever happened to you in your life. Click here for the rules and further information about: The Most Memorable Thing that Ever Happened to You Contest.

Giveaway! Second Wind Publishing is giving away four ebooks. Click here for rules and information: Celebrate Our New Releases with Contests, a Giveaway, and Lots of Fun!

New Releases:

Dancing at all the Weddings: Vivacious and talented Elaine Richman is faced with choices: A risky life in the New York theatre; an exciting life with college sweetheart, actor/director Jake Applebaum in Hollywood; a secure life in Boston with predictable lawyer David Alter, the match anointed by her domineering mother because ‘he’s the kind you marry.’ On the way to a dream, it is possible to collide with another dream’s seduction, only to learn there is no fulfillment on the path to safety. Elaine goes through the wringer to meet herself, proving there is no expiration date on talent or true love.

Click here to read the first chapter of: Dancing at all the Weddings by Susan Surman


Lone Wolf: The year is 3032 and mankind has expanded far beyond Earth’s galaxy. Matilda Dulac is a member of the Galactic Mining Guild. With her lover, Marc Slatterly, she works in a small mining ship in deep space. Their well ordered life if suddenly thrown into chaos when one miner arrives with a load of Trimagnite, a highly toxic liquid ore. Enter the Lone Wolf. Wil VanLipsig, known as the Lone Wolf, arrives to take the Trigmagnite off their hands. Is it a coincidence for him to show up on Marc’s ship years after Marc thought he’d killed Wil? Or is this the beginning of something far more insidious? Lone Wolf is the first book in a new science fiction series by Dellani Oakes.

Click here to read the first chapter of: Lone Wolf by Dellani Oakes


Donations to Clarity: The plan was simple: hoax Bigfoot, then sell tours to Bigfoot enthusiasts. The plan wasn’t brilliant, and neither were Harry, Earl, and Patch. The three chemical-abusing friends only wanted to avoid the 9 to 5 rat race, but their antics attract the attention of a real Bigfoot. When the misogynistic Earl is mistaken for a female Bigfoot by the nearsighted creature and captured; it is just the beginning of their problems.

Between bong hits and water balloon fights, Harry and Patch come up with a plan to save Earl and the lovestruck Bigfoot. Where do you hide a giant, mythical creature? In an insane asylum, because who is going to listen to them?

Click here to read the first chapter of: Donations to Clarity by Noah Baird .


The Phantom Lady of Paris: In 1968, a year of worldwide explosive protests, Paul Lasser, an American educator, ventures to Paris on sabbatical to write a novel. There he encounters the mysterious “Phantom Lady of Paris.” Though cordial, she conceals a shadowy past that will change Paul’s life forever, a secret history which unfolds amid a backdrop of cafĂ© bombings, Sorbonne student riots and the drug overdose death of an American “flower child.” But in spite of these events, there blossoms a soulful relationship between the American educator and the walking enigma, The Phantom Lady, all taking place in the metropolis for lovers and dreamers…Paris.

Click here to read the first chapter of: The Phantom Lady of Paris by Calvin Davis

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Spamming Gone Too Far?

We’ve all had our share of spam over recent years and, for the most part, it doesn’t bother me much. Most of the spam emails I receive go directly into a separate folder and the contents quickly deleted. Emails that slip through the spam net are also dispatched with the click of a mouse.

With the rise in e-books and self-publishing, I’ve seen a marked increase in the number of spamming authors, not only in emails, but on social networking sites. Again, it’s usually not a big deal to me, as I truly understand an author’s desire to let people know about his or her book. Many times, a friend I do know will ask me to vote or comment on something. For me, this isn’t spam and I’m happy to help out when I can. Other times, a new friend I don’t really know will press the issue a bit. About three years ago, one young lady from the U.S. asked me to vote for her book in a competition, so I did. When she made the next round, she asked me to vote again and then again, and a fourth time--she made it to the semi-finals.

This week I received an email from a new “friend” I didn’t really know on a social networking site (not Facebook or Twitter) asking me to buy his book and review it so he could increase his amazon ranking. Really? I don’t even pay much attention to my own amazon rankings, let alone anyone else's.

Based on the way his message was worded, this author was sending his request to heaven knows how many others. This individual did not offer to reciprocate to his “friends”, and although his book was only ninety-nine cents, I’m still bothered by his tactic. That he wanted us to spend our money, and our time reading and reviewing his book, was too much to ask.

Advertising one’s book through blogs and social networking sites is fine, but sending out email requests to buy and review your book is not. I’m wondering what you all think of this strategy? Have you been asked by a virtual friend to purchase and review his book, and without any mention of reciprocation? I know of a number of authors who review one another’s books through mutual consent, but it can be a sticky situation. I’d appreciate any suggestions for handling this in the future. On this occasion, I simply hit the delete button, but was it enough?

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,, Chapters/Indigo

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sarabande by Malcolm R. Campbell

After her sister, Dryad haunts her from beyond the grave for three long and torturous years, Sarabande undertakes a dangerous journey into the past to either raise her cruel sister from the dead, ending the torment or to take her place in the safe darkness of the earth.

Sarabande leaves the mountains of Montana for the cornfields of Illinois on a black horse to seek help from Robert Adams, the once powerful Sun Singer, in spite of Gem’s prophecy of shame. One man tries to kill her alongside a deserted prairie road, one tries to save her with ancient wisdom, and Robert tries to send her away.

Even if she persuades Robert to bring the remnants of his magic to Dryad’s shallow grave, the desperate man who follows them desires the Rowan staff for ill intent... and the malicious sister who awaits their arrival desires much more than a mere return to life. While this fantasy adventure is a sequel to “The Sun Singer,” it can be read as a stand-alone novel. The e-book is available on Kindle with publication of the paperback edition expected August 31.


Gem pulled her hands away and stood up so quickly she knocked over her spinning wheel. She didn’t appear to notice. She walked to the window and leaned out as though making sure no one else would hear her words.

“I was shamed by the king.” Gem pulled up her left sleeve to reveal the letters SJ in a bold pink scar that contrasted with her walnut-colored skin.

“Your strike brand!”

“I bore Justine’s mark as well as his child. Both were conceived in pain in a dark cell covered with urine and rat droppings.” Sarabande went to her, but Gem rolled down the sleeve, covering the ugly mark that signified Sovereign Justine. “No, my friend, I cannot abide your seeing it close at hand. My daughter, though, this doting mother will speak of her at great length if allowed to do so.”

“Cinnabar has shown me her brand,” said Sarabande.

“Discretion is a lesson I was never able to teach her. But listen: on your journey to Osprey’s house, you won’t walk through the domains of kings.”

Sarabande gasped and sat down, suddenly lightheaded when she understood why Gem showed her the scar.

“If there are no kings, what dangers have you seen?”

Gem put her hands on Sarabande’s shoulders and kneaded out the growing knots. Her touch always felt like a touch of power, and she wondered if she shared Osprey’s way with healing magic.

“I have seen a dark creek beneath a bridge on a foggy night. I have heard screams and howls outside my comprehension. I don’t understand it,” said Gem, holding their eye contact as though she understood more than she would say. “Sarabande, you know without my lecturing at great length about the ways of the world. A woman on a lonely road can be a target. Travel with a sharp knife.”

The impromptu massage felt good. The unclear warning did not. Vague predictions were worse than silence. They stirred up what did not need to be stirred up.

“Yes, I know that, Gem. I will carry a knife and take care to have it handy.”

“With due care, you can avoid your fate, but destiny is the way you’ve already written your life’s story.”

“I wanted to walk the sixteen hundred and fifty miles to Osprey’s house long before it occurred to me I would ever do so. If there is to be shame in it, then I will live or die with whatever I find on that lonely road.”


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of three fantasy novels with primary scenes set in Glacier National Park, Montana. His passion for the Montana high country began when he worked as a bellman for one of the park’s hotels during the summer while in college. He hiked many of the trails, climbed some of the mountains, rode horses into the high country and became thoroughly addicted to the “shining mountains.”

In addition to “Sarabande,” “The Sun Singer,” and “Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey,” he is the author of a non-fiction e-book about the park’s Swiftcurrent Valley, “Bears: Where They Fought.” He lives in Jackson County, Georgia, with his wife Lesa and four feisty cats.

Malcolm's books are published by Vanilla Heart Publishing and are listed there on his author’s page. He's been posting about the experience of writing this novel on his Sarabande’s Journey blog.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

New Release! FORCE OF HABIT - Contest!

All she wanted was a breath of fresh air. Was that too much to ask?

Apparently so.

Isobel Enid Schuster never planned to go into space. She almost wished there had been no Vatican III, and the clergy had not gone co-ed, or at least the Jesuits had not.

But all those things had happened. The Galactic Union Space-Troopers teamed up with the St. Bennedetta Jesuits to form the Space Academy Preparatory School, and now Bel is a Professor of Extra-Terrestrial Humanities and Value Systems on a starship.

Restricted shore leave on the planet Llannonn is better than staying on the ship, especially when Bel swaps clothes with a close-look-alike Llannonninn woman and slips out to see the sights. But the woman is the target of a criminal from another planet. The woman thinks Bel is a police agent, come to take her place. The criminal thinks Bel is his target. Yet another criminal thinks Bel is a VIP he can kidnap and hold for ransom.

The only thing between Bel and a life of slavery in the provinces is the tenuous friendship she's formed with Tetra Petrie, a language professor from the planet Gilhoolie.

Gangsters aliens, local law enforcement and highly placed political operatives all get into the act, as a tangle of misunderstanding, miscommunication and mistaken identity land Bel in court, facing what passes for a legal system on Llannonn.

AND, I'm running a contest on my blog:

What are the prizes?

  • a copy of EEL'S REVERENCE (eBook)
  • a copy of FORCE OF HABIT (eBook)

  • a copy of LONNIE, ME AND THE HOUND OF HELL (eBook)

  • a copy of THE KING OF CHEROKEE CREEK (eBook)

  • a copy of MA'S MONTHLY HOT FLASHES: 2002-2007 (eBook)

  • a MomGoth's Sweet Little Baby Angels pin

  • the name of your choice in the story I write to promote my next eBook release, SIDESHOW IN THE CENTER RING. Holly Jahangiri, who won this in the last contest, called it, "Best. Prize. Ever."

How do you win?

  • leave a comment on this or any other blog on which I post, saying you're entering the contest. One entry for each post on which you comment.
  • If you've already bought and read one or more of my books, write a review (or reviews) and leave a comment on this blog linking to the review(s). One entry for each review.

  • Mention the contest on your blog and your social media networks (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, whatever) and leave a comment on this blog saying so. One entry for every place you spread the word.
Entries will be numbered and winners chosen by Random Number Selector. First entry drawn gets first choice of prizes and so on.

How long does it run?

Until midnight EST October 31.

Ready. Set. GO!

Click here to read the first chapter.

Click here to read a sample and buy from Smashwords in multiple formats.

Click here to read a sample and buy from OmniLit in multiple formats.

Here’s a link to a post about turning fanfic into original fiction.

Here’s one about the roots of this novel in Star Trek (TOS) fan fiction.

Here’s a link to a post about cross-genres and mash-ups relative to FORCE OF HABIT.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Saturday, August 20, 2011

How to be a Tease

Last weekend, I explained how writers need to learn to become a tease and tease readers with bits of information BEFORE their book is released. Creating buzz is important to your success. This weekend, I'm giving you some ideas on how to be a tease.

1. When you sign a book contract or when you decide to self-publish a book, make a small announcement that you have a book deal or that you will be publishing a new work within the year.
2. If working with a publishing company, blog about the process, but don't go into too much detail on the specifics. Always keep in mind that you really want to talk to your target audience, your readers. Give them only enough info about the process that you think they can identify with. Help them identify with the process by comparing it to a more mainstream type of career.
3. When your publisher has shown you the cover, blog about seeing it, but don't describe it. Mention that you'll post it as soon as you can, once your publisher has given you permission to do so. Use the same technique, though obviously different wording, if you're self-publishing.
4. When you see the back cover text, blog about seeing it. Let people know how awesome it is. Again, tease them and let them know you'll post it ASAP.
5. When you are about 2-3 weeks to publishing, post the back cover text. Later, post review blurbs. Post them one at a time. Ask your readers for feedback. What do they think about the description?
6. About 1-2 weeks before, mention that you'll be posting the cover soon and that they should check back. Again, tease them.
7. Post the cover. Make it large. Ask readers what they think? What do they like best about your cover?
8. On release day, let everyone know your book/ebook is available and give them a live link so they can easily click on it and buy it. Always make it easy for your readers to find information on your book and give links to major retailers so they know exactly how to buy a copy.

The above list will always be subject to what your publisher wants you to do. When unsure, always ask. Never post something they send you without clearing it with them first. Often you'll see early drafts of a front cover, or a rough draft of back cover text. Your publisher may also want you to do things a bit differently than the list above.

Becoming a tease is easy for some and more difficult for others. What may make it easier is to always ask: if I were the reader, what would I want? What would tease me? Putting yourself in their shoes is one of the best marketing practices you can learn. Learning to be a tease is another. And this kind of teasing doesn't require nimbleness. Or a pole.

There are other things you can do to tease: post a book trailer video, write a short post about one of your characters, or become a guest blogger/interviewee on someone else's blog.

What else can you do to tease a reader prior to publication?

Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling author of Children of the Fog

Friday, August 19, 2011

How Much Do Top-Earning Authors Make?

There’s been a lot written over recent months about the slowing sales in hardcover books. If the following authors are hurting, they’re still doing pretty well. Mind you, a lot of them might have to rely on ebook sales in the future to keep the money flowing in. Forbes has come out with a list of top-earning authors, and their incomes are pretty impressive. The chance at the brass ring is tempting when you see these numbers, and realize that all of these people were once struggling unknown writers. Here’s the list:

1. James Patterson, $84 million, (up $70 million from last year, apparently)
2. Danielle Steele, $35 million
3. Stephen King, $28 million
4. Janet Evanovich, $22 million
5. Stephanie Meyer, $21 million (only half of what she earned the previous year)
6. Rick Riordan, $21 million
7. Dean Koontz, $19 million
8. John Grisham, $18 million
9. Jeff Kinney, $17 million
10. Nicholas Sparks, $16 million
11. Ken Follett, $14 million
12. Suzanne Collins, $10 million
13. J.K. Rowling, $5 million (low for her, but this year’s movie will change that)

There are plenty of others like Charlaine Harris and Lawrence Block, for example, who I’m sure are right up there as well. You can see more at

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,, Chapters/Indigo

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lawsuits, Bad Blood, and Fierce Competition

Before I launch into this week's blog, I want to thank everyone for their comments from last week's blog, and I've responded to questions in the comments box!

So, once again, the writing community is abuzz with news of trouble for publishers, this time involving Apple. Two consumers’ rights firms have filed a class action lawsuit against Apple and five of the six large publishers for hiking the price of ebook titles for profit (isn’t that what profitable businesses are supposed to do?). An article by Jason Boog in eBookNewser maintains that the collusion between Apple and the publishers was in response to Amazon’s heavily discounted ebook pricing policy, which is having a detrimental affect on their ability to sell books. Whether they win remains to be seen. You can read more about it at

As you probably know, Amazon has entered the traditional book publishing business (with better contracts than other publishers offer, according to some), however, there’s been backlash over this endeavor. Angela Hoy, co-owner of the popular, quotes a Publisher’s Weekly report which claims that some bookstores refuse to carry any of Amazon’s titles. They won’t even purchase them on special request from customers. Let’s face it, Amazon hasn’t made many friends in the bookselling bizz, so this isn’t a surprise.

Although Amazon isn’t part of the class action lawsuit, they remain a player in the scenario and have been subjected to lawsuits themselves, including one launched by Hoy which she talks about in her article. In fact, she has several good links in her piece that will give you a fuller picture of other legal entanglements for Apple and Amazon. The bottom line is that bad blood seems to running strong between publishers, booksellers, amazon, and Apple. It will be interesting to see how this all turns out. You can find Angela’s article at

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,, Chapters/Indigo

Writers Must Learn to Be a Tease

A good writer knows that when writing any novel, they must tease the reader with bits of information, plant red herrings, leave cliff-hangers and dangle a trail of action and emotion to keep the reader in suspense, but what they may not know is that once the book is completed, the real teasing must begin―teasing readers.

Marketing a book is generally divided into two sections: pre-publication or pre-pub marketing and post-publication/post-pub marketing. If you promote your book by dumping all the information in a reader's lap at once, you probably won't see the best results. But if you slowly tease them, heighten their awareness of your book and your name, and build up the anticipation, you'll have readers throwing dollar bills at your new creation.

Like any budding relationship, it's all in the tease. Think of a great romance movie. The lovers didn't just dive into their romance. It built up over time. It started with a look, a laugh, a soft touch, the first date, the first kiss, the challenges they must overcome to be together, the longing for more until finally the couple has had enough of teasing. Why do people go to movies or read books? They love a good tease.

Many expert marketers use the term "create buzz". You want people talking and thinking about your upcoming release. You want them telling their friends so that those friends will tell two people, and so on and so on. You want them anxiously awaiting release day so that they buy your book right away. If they wait too long, something will come up to distract them. Creating buzz should be like a slow strip tease, only instead of stripping, you're adding layers and layers of anticipation.

Teasing effectively is a bit of an art, but it can be learned. Stop by The Write Type on Saturday for step-by-step instructions on 'How to Be a Tease'.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling author of Children of the Fog

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Where Publishers Went Wrong, According to Some

There are many blogs and opinions which say this is a great time to be a writer, and they’re not wrong. Let’s face it, the ease of publishing your work in print and electronically, and the many opportunities to promote books through the same platforms big name writers use, allows people to bypass the lengthy process of traditional publishing. Traditional and self-publishing have their ups and downs, but I came across a really interesting blog by Alan Rinzler in who goes into some depth about why it’s so good to be an author these days. His piece is worth reading because he worked on the inside of the publishing industry and what he has to say might floor you.

As Zingler and others have pointed out, the balance of power is shifting from publishers to authors. More authors are choosing to control their publishing destinies, and this change in paradigms is finally being admitted aloud, by some publishers anyway. According to Zingler, technology isn’t the only reason this has happened; it’s that publishers have messed up big time, and not just because they’ve been slow to change their ways. The big reason, Zingler says, is that many of them don’t know what they’re doing in the first place!

Most traditionally published books lose money, Zingler says. Publishers have no clue which book will become a bestseller, and they can’t rely on the old models of selling books through bookstores and book tours. Shelf space has diminished and book tours definitely don’t pay for themselves. In fact, pretty much all expenses, not to mention marketing plans, fall on the authors’ shoulders now, so is it any wonder more of them are choosing to self-publish?

Zingler goes on to list the three big myths about self-publishing: that commercial publishers won’t touch a self-published book, agents won’t represent self-publishers, and that it’s easy to succeed as a self-publisher. To read what he has to say about these go to

Recently, I was speaking with a writer who was told at a conference last month that self-publishing isn’t the way to go with one’s career. Other established writers state that you’re dumb if you do sign with a publisher because you lose control and possibly income. Who’s right? It’s a good question, and I can only speak for myself.

Self-publishing my first two novels opened some doors for me and taught me a lot about the production process and about book promotion. I understood the business and the financial risks before I signed with my traditional publisher. As an unknown writer, I felt it was important to go with a traditional publisher because their distribution avenues for print books (and print still matters) are far better than mine. Also, a publisher can publicize my books in ways that I couldn’t. For instance, my traditionally published novel, The Opposite of Dark, has had far more access to established reviewers than my self-published novels did.

I don’t believe that publishing is about choosing just one option. I believe in learning and making use of whatever avenue is available in the best possible way. Not everyone will agree with my decisions, but at the end of the day, I’m the one who must live with them.

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,, Chapters/Indigo