Thursday, October 30, 2008

I couldn't say it better than Penny Sansevieri (so I won't try)

Penny Sansevieri's latest newsletter is out. She mentions that an author should blog twice a week among other great, free tips to those who sign up for her monthly newsletter.

A newsletter all about SUCCESSFUL publishing and POWERFUL promotion.
October 30, 2008 Issue #181
in this issue
-- Note From The Editor
-- Gen X and Gen Y Moms Use 'Net Differently
-- Simple Ways to Promote Yourself Online
-- ReZoom magazine
-- AME-University: Book Marketing, Publishing, and Internet Marketing classes
-- Attracting Activity to your Blog - Part 1
-- Book Bits and Bites
-- Why Oprah's Kindle Endorsement Matters
-- You've Written Your Book, You've Gotten it Published. Now what?
-- A Publishing Insider's Perspective
-- Load Time Matters
-- Listen to The Publishing Insiders
-- Successes of the Red Hot Blog Tour
-- NOW is the Time to Promote Your Book
-- Reader tip: Making the Most of Videos
-- How to Buzz Your Book!
-- Twitter, Tagged and Ning - You're It!
-- Virtual Author Tour Pays Off
-- Reader Tip!
-- ------------------------------------------------------------
Penny C. Sansevieri, Editor


You are receiving this newsletter compliments of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. To opt out, please scroll down to the bottom of this newsletter.

Note From The Editor
Welcome to another issue of the Book Marketing Expert Newsletter!

Dear Reader,

I just completed a sweep of conferences this past November. I taught my Internet course in several states and for many different authors, and the same issue kept popping up: I would have gotten on a long time ago but the Internet confuses me, I just don't know where to start. If this is what you feel like, take heart! This week I've broken Internet marketing down into some very simple steps. The idea is to just get started, and I hope this article will help get you there.

Sourcebooks has slated Red Hot Internet Publicity for a Sept '09 launch! Would you like to be in Red Hot Internet Publicity? If so, let me know. I'd love to get an endorsement (only if you've read the prior edition), or if you have a stunning before and after web site snap shot I'd love to include that. By "before and after," I mean a site that went from so-so to fantastic after a web site redo or overhaul. I have a list of things I need for the book and I'd love to have you be a part of it, so email me at Any blurbs used will be featured either on the cover or in the book! Yeah, I'm pretty darned excited.

And even though things look bleak on the economic front, now is NOT the time to stop marketing your book. We even have programs designed with your budgetary needs in mind, learn more below!

From us to you we, as always, wish you publishing success. Thanks for reading and being a part of the AME family!

Penny, Paula, Susan, Lauren, Alex, Earnest and everyone at Author Marketing Experts, Inc.

P.S. Check out our blog!

We offer great tips and insights, such as: 'It's All About Twitter:'

Gen X and Gen Y Moms Use 'Net Differently
When targeting an audience online, it's important to know how and why they use the Internet. On the 'Net, Gen X and Y moms are very different, according to a study published in MarketingCharts.
Gen Y Moms spend more time reading blogs, participating in an online community of moms, and creating and sharing their own videos. Meanwhile, Gen X prefers to shop online and upload photos. Learn more about the generational divide.

Simple Ways to Promote Yourself Online
In as much as I've taught Internet marketing and publicity classes, the idea of marketing yourself online is still very confusing to a lot of people. Let's face it; our company has a department dedicated to this. Why? Because stuff changes all the time on the Internet; if we didn't have a dedicated department researching this and reading all the "geek stuff," we'd never be able to keep up. But for right now I want to give you the bottom line basics - because at the end of the day, we all need to start somewhere, and the best place to start is online.
Blogging: If you don't feel like you can do anything online or you don't have the time for extensive promotion, the quickest and simplest thing you can do is have a blog. A blog is a great way to keep your site fresh (search engines love sites that are updated often) and a blog is a great way to reach your reader. If you don't have a blog or haven't blogged in a while, take heart: start somewhere and plan to blog a minimum of twice weekly. You'll need at least two posts a week to keep it current. The biggest problem though with new bloggers is deciding what to blog about. Well, here are some ideas:

· Talk about trends in the industry you're in (this works even if you write fiction, talk about the publishing industry)
· Review other (similar) books - this is a great way to network with other people in your market
· Blog "in character" - readers love this!
· Develop your next story on your blog: you can ask for reader feedback on story direction, characters, etc.
· Lend your voice to a "hot" industry issue or controversy
· Comment on other blogs, or feature them on your blog
· Interview people on your blog
· Talk about the elephant in the room: if there's a looming issue in your market, why not offer your insight on your blog?
Feedback and blog comments: if you aren't getting people commenting on your blog, don't despair, it takes a while to get folks commenting and offering feedback, but the more you can tap into issues your reader cares about, the more comments you'll see popping up on your blog.

Publishing content: The Internet has really opened the door to publishing and pushing a lot of content online. Whether it's articles, audio, or video, there's a home for all of it on the 'Net. Consider doing article syndication to start pushing content online. Here are some basic guidelines for article syndication:

· You don't get paid for this syndication. This is always the first question I get when I talk to authors about syndicating their articles, book excerpts, or tip sheets. You post it online for others to use and promote you, what could be better?
· Your articles need to be helpful, not self-promotional. The more helpful they are, the more likely they are to be used. Yes, you can mention your book but my recommendation is to keep any and all promotion of it to your byline.
· Article titles are important. Remember that the title of your article must be descriptive, don't make people guess what you've written about. If you do, you'll find your pieces aren't as popular as you'd like them to be.
· Articles should be a minimum of 500 words, a maximum of 2,000. Generally the most popular pieces are around 1,000 words. Don't forget your byline and web site address. Also, and very important, get those articles edited before they go out on the 'Net. Once you send them out, you can never get them back.

Participate: when it comes to online promotion, it's really about participating. Think of the Internet as one big cocktail party. Go strike up a conversation with someone who you'd like to get to know better. Here's a great way to do that. First, go to and find the top five blogs in your market, then watch them for a week or so and when you're comfortable with what they're talking about and the angle of their message, start posting comments and offering your own insight into their postings. Bloggers love comments and by participating you're doing two things: you're doing some virtual networking (aka cyber-schmoozing) and you're promoting yourself via the link back to your site that's part of your post every time you comment.

Conduct your own blog tour: after you've done some virtual networking and gotten to know some folks in your industry, you'll want to contact them to see about guest blogging opportunities. Guest blogging is pretty simple, you post an article on a site (sometimes it's also a Q&A) and you respond to comments that come in during that day or week that you're guest blogging. Be ready to host a blog tour of your own and unless the content is really off-topic from your site, I recommend that you consider it.

Blog carnivals: if you haven't participated in a blog carnival and you've been blogging for a while, then head on over to and get started. Honestly, it's super easy. Just find a category/topic that you can speak to or have blogged on and submit those blogs for consideration. It's a great way to virtually network and publish more content online.

Help promote the good stuff: do you get Google alerts on yourself? If you don't, you should, and here's why: how else will you know what people are saying about you online? Google alerts is a simple way to monitor the cyber-chatter and get in touch with folks who review your book or feature you on their site. You can also go to, plug in your name, company name or title of your book and see what you pull up, then you can subscribe to the syndication feed of the search (just hit the RSS button and it'll automatically subscribe you to that feed). Once you have your feeds all ready to go you'll want to promote all the good stuff. How can you do that? Well first off, offer a cyber-thank you to whoever mentioned you, reviewed your book or featured you on their site. Next, link to their site from your blog and finally, go to a few social bookmarking sites and bookmark these postings for enhanced exposure. Here's how you do that: go to either,, or and create accounts (this takes just a few minutes). Then follow the instructions to bookmark a blog post or page on the site that's featured you. This will help drive interest (and possibly traffic) to the site (which site owners will love you for) because you're placing it in a public bookmarking system.

There's a lot more you can do online, the possibilities are really endless - but what I've found is that the confused mind doesn't take action, so the simpler you keep it, the more you'll do. If only one thing on this list appeals to you, that's great. Keep in mind, doing one more thing this week than you did last week keeps you moving forward and helps you continue to create marketing momentum for your book!

ReZoom magazine
ReZoom targets the Baby Boom generation, but describes its focus as redefining life for an 'ageless generation.' In other words, if you're not ready to become a member of AARP, ReZoom is for you.
Issues and topics include living well, being well, traveling well, investing well and doing charitable work through A Better World, which has awarded $20,000 to 20 charitable organizations. went live in 2006 as a digital media and entertainment company that offered an online community for the generation entering the "center of their lives and new challenges," which include second and third careers, health and wellness and caring for aging parents.

The site also covers entertainment, and music, via ReZoom radio. Readers can also become members of the ReZoom community, modeled on the concept of an online coffeehouse, and have their own personal page with features such as calendars, photos, an interactive forum and more.

The magazine - a reflection of the website - was launched in Feb. 2007 with a circulation of 500,000.

Story ideas are welcome if they are relevant to the issues facing people in this stage of life.

7003 Chadwick Dr. Suite 331
Brentwood, TN 37027

AME-University: Book Marketing, Publishing, and Internet Marketing classes
These free teleclasses from AME-University may be just the thing to get your book marketing savvy ramped up!
Red Hot Web 2.0: Tricks to Sell More Books!
When: Thursday, Nov. 6, 4 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Description: You've heard the term "Web 2.0" but can it really help you sell more books? You bet it can and this class will show you how. Packed with tons of information and super simple things anyone can to do get themselves into the Web 2.0 marketing world, you'll walk away with fun ideas, simple tricks, and tons of helpful advice. Here's what we'll cover:
· Creating "feeder" sites that feed traffic into your web site!
· Using book videos to sell more books
· Using Wikipedia to market yourself
· Why linking to other web sites is a bad idea
· How to get more web site traffic right away!
· Got blog? The one thing you should NEVER do with your blog!

Web Site WOWII: Convert Traffic into Revenue
When: Friday, Nov. 7, 4 p.m. - 5 p.m.
AME-U classes offered by Jeniffer Thompson
Description: Web Site WOW II: Convert Traffic into Revenue There is no reason to drive traffic to your site if your site is not converting. Learn how to track your traffic effectively and see what is working and what is not - and what you can do to fix it. Understanding the elements that convert traffic into revenue is the first step to Internet Marketing Success. In this second class of the Web Site WOW series, you will learn how to:
* Encourage viral marketing
* Create a buzz that takes on a life of its own
* Create a community among your visitors
* Turn your blog into an effective marketing tool
* Create engaging opt-ins and stay in touch with your visitors
* Sell the benefits not the features

How to join in:
To sign up or learn more about these classes send an email to

The AME website has a complete class listing for handy reference:

Missed a class? Here's an easy way to catch up on past classes, go to:

Attracting Activity to your Blog - Part 1
As with static websites, the success of a blog depends on attracting a steady stream of new and return traffic. It is just that the tools for blog promotion are slightly different, a bit more diverse and on the whole much more effective.
Blogs are designed with interactivity and social networking ability built in. They are ideal both for developing relationships and marketing your brand.

However, this doesn't mean you should neglect standard promotion techniques in favor of blog only techniques. In fact, traditional marketing activities can become even more potent with a blog due to its nature.

For example, you will still want to utilize your email list by incorporating an autoresponder system. Ask readers to subscribe, and let them know when you post a new article just as you would with a new feature or product on a static website.

Of course, if you are a prolific blogger and post every day, you'll only want to alert them when you've published something extra special or compile a list of new posts and descriptions and send it out once a week.

You don't want to overwhelm and annoy, but inform and share. However, do make sure you ask them to subscribe at every opportunity - on your sidebar, at the end of every post, on every page, and perhaps with pop-ups.

(But use pop-ups judiciously. Remember, you don't want to annoy. As you can see, I use an unobtrusive bottom slide-up opt-in form on this blog, which is Instant Slideup. Since incorporating it, my options have tripled.)

You don't want to neglect keywords either. Choosing titles with strong keywords and using key phrases within your post is important to attracting new traffic through search engines. Part 2 will discuss how you accomplish this.

Tip offered by Susan Gilbert, AME's Search Engine Marketing Expert and Web 2.0 company owner,, which provides Social Networking websites and services.

Book Bits and Bites
These Books Really Talk: The Santa Monica Library really knows how to make books come alive. They let patrons check out "living books" on subjects such as nudism, Buddhism and foodism. For up to 30 minutes, these real people were available to share their expertise on their topic. What a novel idea!
Saving Us From Ourselves? The folks at Google are having fun with 'Mail Googles,' which are designed to stop people from sending out emotional emails that could later hurt them - personally and/or professionally. The program can be scheduled for evenings over the weekend and requires users to answer some simple math problems to ensure they are in the right state of mind - before hitting that send button. Check it out.

The Newspaper, Sans Paper: A company called Plastic Logic is working to alleviate the problems associated with reading newspapers - awkward size, ink that rubs off, etc. - with an all-plastic paper. It's the size of a table mat and weighs about as much as the average magazine. Will it take off? See it for yourself.

Happy News: Times may be tough, but the number of books about happiness have multiplied. The reason: there are scientific findings to document happiness. The LA Times took a look at some of the happy titles that came out this fall.

Why Oprah's Kindle Endorsement Matters
The impact of an Oprah Winfrey endorsement can't be underestimated: she has demonstrated an ability to sell (and sell out) a lot of products that have earned her much sought after endorsement. And last week Oprah turned her endorsement to Amazon's e-book reader Kindle. Given the device's $359 pricetag, it's an investment that might be tough for many to make during these uncertain financial times, even with the $50 off coupon (OPRAHWINFREY).
But clearly Oprah has put the Kindle in the spotlight and for authors, this means one thing: publish a Kindle version of your book. This is a great way to be noticed by a devoted cadre of e-book readers. In fact, there are a number of groups and blogs devoted to the Kindle, sharing tips, asking questions and talking about books. Take advantage of this Kindle book buzz by making your Kindle title stand out - offer it for free for a certain period of time - this tactic is guaranteed to get you noticed by the Kindle enthusiasts who are always looking for the next book. Or, consider offering a report or excerpt for free that can introduce your work to this group. If they like it, they will talk it up!

You've Written Your Book, You've Gotten it Published. Now what?
Have you ever wondered why some books sell and others don't? The topic was interesting, the story fascinating, the characters mesmerizing - but no one is buying it. When Oprah chooses a book for her book club, it begins to fly off the shelves, everyone wants to read it, everyone is interested. It's proof that Publicity sells!
Once your book is published, the really tough work of marketing your product begins. Do you hire a Public Relations firm or "shop" yourself? Should you have a press kit, or better yet, what is a press kit? Do I write my own press releases or let someone else? How do I know what television, radio or newspapers would be interested in interviewing me, and how do I let them know I'm available? If I'm lucky enough to get on television, how do I know what to say and how to say it, where to look, what to wear, etc.

You've written the book, possibly even self-published, you can market yourself and save a ton of money - if you know how to do it. Learning how to put together a press kit, contacting the media, handling yourself in an interview or knowing what your options are if you decide to hire someone to do your publicity are all vitally important to your success. Marketing is the key!

For More information or to schedule a coaching session just email me at or call (602) 509-6468.

~Tip offered by Media Veteran Laura Holka, who is the producer of the Pat McMahon Show & a Media Consultant. She can be reached at or email

A Publishing Insider's Perspective
A recent segment on The Publishing Insiders focused on book reviews - what authors should know and what reviewers have to say - and included guest Simon Barrett of Blogger News Network. Read what Simon has to say about the show and book reviewing in general!

Load Time Matters
Employing Organic SEO techniques means your site gets listed with the search engines and your audience finds you. Here's an SEO tip that every author should be aware of: Load Time.
Google, specifically, will ding your search ranking if your home page takes too long to load. So, optimize your images. Web images and photographs should be no more than 72 ppi (pixels per inch). If you do not own image-manipulating software like PhotoShop for instance, you can use the tool at As an example, you can take a 356 KB image and downsize it to 23 KB without losing any perceptible resolution, and it will load much more quickly.

Tip offered by Jeniffer Thompson, author of Web Site WOW, Turn Your Web Site Into Your Most Powerful Marketing Tool, Thompson is also the President of Monkey C Media, a full-service design house offering author web sites, book cover design, book teaser videos and much more,

Listen to The Publishing Insiders
Be in the know and hear what the publishing insiders: Penny Sansevieri, CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., and select guests each week have to offer in terms of tips and insights into the industry! Listen here.

Successes of the Red Hot Blog Tour
Seven bestsellers can't be wrong! In the past six months seven of the books we've put into our Internet campaigns have hit the New York Times bestseller lists. Will your book be next? Our Red Hot Blog Tour will get you the kind of action you never thought possible. We'll tour your book on high-traffic blogs with links back to your site. If you're ready to promote your book on the 'Net, try our Red Hot Blog Tour today! For more information send us an email at

NOW is the Time to Promote Your Book
Looking for inexpensive ways to promote your book? We've just developed and launched an exciting series of budget-friendly programs that still pack a powerful punch! Think you can't market your book in a tough economy? Think again - we've got the answer! Email us for more details:

Reader tip: Making the Most of Videos
I just published my debut Speculative Spiritual Fantasy, Ivory Joins the Reaping World Wind or Who Caused the Best End of Earth Ever?
In order to promote this book, I have designed and produced several short teaser videos. They are posted on several video web sites including YouTube, GodTube, JesusTube, Forumpwr, woopie, etc.

I have had so much fun and delight doing these videos (voices, sound effects, artwork, animation). These productions are a launching pad for an eventual motion picture version of the novel. I recommend more authors use this route of promotion for their books.

Tip submitted by: Hollis Williams, author of Ivory Joins the Reaping World Wind or Who Caused the Best End of Earth Ever? Visit

How to Buzz Your Book!
We've designed our products with your success in mind! Regardless of where you are in your publishing journey, we've got a product that will suit your needs. Check out our books, special reports, and our audio programs, all designed to help you reach publishing success!

Twitter, Tagged and Ning - You're It!
Three social networking sites - Twitter, Tagged and Ning - were the fastest growing sites in the US according to a study reported in Marketing Charts.
Not a part of the scene yet? You can click on the links above to learn about these highly popular (and very addictive) sites.

Virtual Author Tour Pays Off
If you're still not convinced that the Virtual Author Tour (TM) pays off, consider these examples: A social networking page we built on Squidoo for one title we worked with, Rules for Renegades, became so successful it actually outranked her books page on Amazon. And for another book, our video tour gave Alex Webster and the Gods 3,500 new incoming links to his website; at the start of the tour he had practically no visitors to his site.
If you haven't considered touring yourself virtually, you might want to. For more information on how we conduct our Virtual Author Tour (TM), send a quick email to:

Reader Tip!
If you've got a Reader Tip you'd like to share, please send it to with the subject line "reader tip." Submissions should be 75 words or less.

Author Marketing Experts, Inc. is a full-service book marketing, promotion, and publicity company. We serve authors at all stages of marketing and promotion. We offer a full range of packages and services to choose from.
To see a price list or schedule a free consultation, send your e-mail to with the subject line "Author Services Info." You can also visit our Web site at

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rowena Cherry, interviewed

This is neither Craft nor Opinion, but it might be an object example of making the best of free promo.

This morning, I received a Google Alert, and upon checking it out, I discovered that an interview I gave/did in July had been uploaded... or maybe it was uploaded in September, and the search bots only just found it.

So, I postponed what I really intended to blog about, and made sure to let my friends on various author loops, and my readers in my yahoo group etc know that the interview is up.

Why? On the surface, it does sound rather vain. However, for readers, there is a chance to win a free copy of KNIGHT'S FORK, which the blogger, Realms On Our Bookshelves is offering. That was the approach I used for readers.

For colleagues, I checked out the comment function to be sure I was being truthful, and then pointed out that if they left a comment, they could leave a live link to their own profile/blog/site.

By Realm Ghuardians(Realm Ghuardians)

"I didn't feel that the same joke would work for a sequel, so "Insufficient Mating Material" is a serious action/adventure Romance but still humorous. The principle couple is Djetth and Princess "Marsh"..."

Portal to Realms On Our Bookshelves -

Aside from that... some more info.
Yesterday I did a short reading and booksigning in Westland, Michigan. Admittedly the bookstore is very hard to find, you have to be truly determined. Nevertheless, I put up a paid advert on Facebook. It was targeted at Female, over 18 years old, college graduates, with reading romance as an interest, living in Westland, Michigan.

It is amazing how one can target! The readers who showed up were the bookseller's regular reading group. No one responded to my ad.

I also discovered that on both and it is possible to find potential recipients of one's promo by zip code, and invite them. I'm not sure this is really the best idea in the world, but for what it is worth, it is available.

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Does chastity count?

Never in my tamest dreams did I ever imagine that I'd see one of my covers on the same page as a quote by Barbara Cartland.

It happened.

Thank you, Just Jinny. You've got me thinking.

“A historical romance is the only kind of book where chastity really counts.” ~ Barbara Cartland quotes

Does chastity count?

In my debut futuristic romance, Forced Mate, chastity counted. Technically. Royal males tended tended to cheat, but an heir to the Tigron Imperial throne was legally required to take his Princess Consort's virginity at their Mating ceremony.

However, Forced Mate was an affectionate spoof of a historical romance, so Djinni-vera's story isn't particularly interesting as an example.

My next heroine was a widow, and reasonably sexually continent (my editor abhors that expression) more for lack of opportunity than anything else. When opportunity knocked in the buff and ripped form of Commander Jason, whom she took to be a lesser being, totally unsuitable, sexually safe, and deliciously beneath her, she took him to bed, made a video the occasion, and got herself into trouble. A Royal shotgun wedding was the result.

Again, Insufficient Mating Material could have been an historical romance if it hadn't been in outer space.

The heroine of Knight's Fork is an Imperial Princess. She is also a Queen because she is married to a King. Her King is an alien and a lesser being, so he cannot impregnate her. She requires a sperm donor. No chastity there!

However, her choice for a potential stud has sworn a vow of chastity. Sexual chastity. (During poverty awareness week, I learned that chastity doesn't necessarily refer to sexual abstinence. Chastity can refer to absolute respect for oneself and others.)

Carnal chastity matters very much to 'Rhett, hero of Knight's Fork.

What about other authors' fantasies, futuristics, science fiction romances, spec roms, space operas and even paranormals?

Where do we stand? Does chastity count for some of our heroes and heroines? In other words, does Barbara Cartland's quote still apply?

I think editors of pulp fiction assume that in the future, human scientists will have solved all the problems the fear of which keep us chaste: social diseases, unplanned pregnancies, disapproving parents/pastors/presidents... Is there anything else?

Therefore, and rather conveniently (given that sex sells) our heroines of the future can have as much--if not more--zipless fun as the bad boys of history.

I wonder, though. If there's no risk, no danger, no love, no reason--as we understand it--for chastity to matter, will it?

Interjection: they're just playing Viva Viagra on the TV. Why is this issue (is it an issue?) so normal and socially acceptable? What effect will Viagra in our drinking water (you know it is getting there after it's been passed by our water inspectors) have on future generations? Why is there such a burning need for these products (or is there?)

Possibly, it is more likely that in the future there will be new reasons for chastity. I'm thinking of Dune. What a hassle to get in and out of those suits! What a waste of water! What happens if in the future, we are rationed to one bath a month (whether we want it or not)? Perhaps we'd spray ourselves with futuristic Febreeze, and rub ourselves with minty fresh hand-sanitizer.

On that happy thought, I will leave you.

Rowena Cherry
Apologies... I posted virtually the same thoughts on alien romances

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Interview with a Capuchin brother

Interview on Poverty for October 15th (Global Blog Action Day)

I'm embarrassed, but I'm not familiar with the correct way to address a member of the Capuchin order (or any other monk). Are you Father, Frater, Brother….? And is it polite to call you a monk?

The vision of our founder, St. Francis of Assisi, was that we would be brothers to the world—first of all, to other human beings, of course, but also to all of creation—the birds, the animals, the fish of the sea. He spoke of “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon”, and taught us that we must deal respectfully with all of creation. This was eight hundred years ago—he was “into” ecology way back then! I say all this to arrive at the point that since we strive to be brothers to the world, it is never incorrect to address any Capuchin as “brother”, even if he happens to be a priest. (Some of us are priests and some are not, but the bottom line is that we are all brothers.) And technically we are not monks, as monks are “attached” to a certain monastery for a lifetime whereas we are much more mobile. So it is more correct to call Capuchins “friars” (which comes from the Latin word for “brother”, though we are similar to monks and even call some of our residences monasteries.

I've seen The Sound of Music, and I've read some of Ellis Peters's Brother Cadfael mysteries, and I saw Richard Chamberlain in The Thorn Birds.

What is the difference between a monk and a Catholic priest, in terms of job description, career expectations, pecking order, contact with members of the public?

As I stated above, a monk is attached to a particular monastery for a life time; that does not mean that he can never leave the premises, but that he is “connected” to that monastery for his entire life. Most priests in this country are diocesan priests, meaning that they are “attached” to a particular diocese for a lifetime. A diocese is a geographic area of the country, of which a bishop is the leader or shepherd. He is the leader of all the Catholics in that area, and the diocese is organized into local parishes or churches. Those churches are served by priests who in most cases have been ordained to serve within that diocese.

However, within the Catholic Church there are also religious orders, such as the Capuchins, who are groups of men or women who feel called to live the vowed life (poverty, chastity and obedience) in the spirit of their founder. In our case, that was St. Francis of Assisi; in the case of the Dominicans, it was St. Dominic; in the case of the Jesuits, it was St. Ignatius of Loyola. The bottom line for us in religious life is that we feel called to live that vowed life within a community of like-minded individuals. Thus, living that life faithfully and authentically is our bottom line. Now, within those religious orders of men, some members are priests and some are not priests. Our common life; our charism and spirituality are the same; it is just that the way we live it out is different: the priests do so as administrators of the sacraments and by celebrating the mass, those who are not priests work as teachers or social workers or nurses, etc. Those who are priests “report” to the leaders of their order, whereas priests of the diocese are under the leadership of the bishop.

This is getting to be a very long answer, but in response to another part of the question, within the Capuchin Order we try to live without a “pecking order.” We proclaim ourselves a fraternity of equals, with no special privileges for anyone, whether ordained or not ordained. Members of some monastic orders live quite contemplatively without much contact with the world beyond the monastery walls., we Capuchins are very involved in the world. However, although we Capuchins try to be contemplative as well, (spending a significant portion of each day in prayer and contemplation), we are very involved in the world. In fact, our mission is no less than to “transform the world through reverence!”


Is it true that nuns, monks, and Catholic priests all take vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience? If not, who takes what vow?

Men and women members of religious orders (ordained and non-ordained) take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Some take a vow of stability as well, meaning that they are attached to a particular monastery for life. Diocesan priests take vows of chastity and obedience.

I'm sure that there's a very good reason why there are three vows, and they are "Poverty". "Chastity" and "Obedience"? Would you liken those three vows to the three legs on a stool?

My understanding of the vows is that all people are called to live poverty, chastity and obedience, but that vowed religious are called to live them more intently. To me the vow of poverty means to use respectfully the goods of the earth, to share those goods with others, and to use no more than we need. Chastity means that I view others as magnificent creations of God, who are to always be treated respectfully. And obedience means “careful listening”—to God, to life, to others, to those in authority. And it seems to me that living poorly, respectfully and with a “listening spirit” is fundamental for anyone--vowed religious or not--to living life fully and harmoniously with others and with all creation.

What is it like to take a vow of poverty, and to live a life of poverty within a monastic order?

Once again, I do not technically belong to a “monastic order”—but I did take a vow of poverty. Throughout the centuries (and the vowed religious life goes back for centuries and centuries) there has been great discussion and debate about what the vow of poverty “means.” My understanding is that the vow calls us to a respectful use of all things material, to hold in common what we have, and to share what we have. On a practical level that means that the car I drive belongs to the community, not to me personally. It means that I have no bank or checking account in my name, and that the salary I earn is turned over to the community and placed in the general fund to cover the needs of all. It means that I must respond to those in need and share what I have with a wider world. And it means that I live simply, without accumulating a lot of “things,” or chasing after a lot of money.

Could you compare and contrast monastic poverty with the poverty you see in Detroit? (Or any other inner city)

The most obvious difference is the fact that those of us who have taken a vow of poverty almost always have what we need in order to live with dignity and comfort, whereas many others who live in Detroit do not. Again, my understanding of the vow of poverty does not mean that I am to live in destitution—there is nothing blessed about that. Rather, it means that I live simply, using only what I need, and sharing what I have with others. The difference is that while most of us who have taken a vow of poverty do not have a great deal of “things”, drive modest cars, dress and eat simply, we do it out of choice and conviction. Many others, however, are forced to do so—there is no choice about it.

Is it true that in Brother Cadfael's time, impoverished and unwanted young people were sent to a convent or monastery? If so, why wouldn't that work in modern times?

I am not certain about the social conditions specifically during Brother Cadfael’s time, but I do know that throughout the centuries entrance into a convent or monastery was sometimes a viable option to a life of poverty when there were few other escape routes. I guess the key thing here is choice—a choice to enter the vowed life must be made freely, without coercion. The life style must fit one’s temperament and “spirit”; otherwise, I suspect the person involved would not enjoy much happiness in trying to live a lifestyle that does not “fit.”

How is a Capuchin Soup Kitchen different from a Salvation Army soup kitchen?

Although I have had little experience with a Salvation Army soup kitchen, I suspect that we would have much in common. I believe that our motivators are basically the same—the idea that we are all sons and daughters of a common God, and that we must care for each other. I am certain that we share a belief in the goodness and dignity of all human beings. One possible difference is that –and I’m not sure about this—is that the Salvation Army perhaps uses their facilities as places to proselytize—preach—whereas we do not. Our founder, St. Francis of Assisi, said, “Preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.” In other words, we try to preach by the way we live our lives. We feed hungry people because it is the right thing to do, not because we want to preach to and convert them.

Why is there so much poverty in Detroit? Would there be less poverty if there was more chastity and obedience in our society?


Another Capuchin brother once said to me that what we have in Detroit is ”economic apartheid”, that when most of the white people moved out beyond Eight Mile Road, they took with them most of the jobs and the financial resources of the city. While I believe that that analysis is somewhat simplistic, I do believe that there is a great correlation between racism and poverty. But the decline of manufacturing in these cities is also a huge factor, as well as limited educational opportunities and poor transportation systems for the people left in the city. And while I have not thought a whole lot about this, I suppose a case could be made that if everyone treated everyone else respectfully (chastity), and everyone really listened to their inner voice and the voice of God speaking to us (obedience), there would be less poverty in the world because we would conclude that it is unconscionable that some of us enjoy such excess, while millions have not the basic necessities of life. And we would do something about it.

I was very impressed with your organic vegetable gardens on the abandoned lots of Detroit. I've also heard that lots in Detroit are unsold (owing to the debts and back taxes) for $1 each.

I also hear the saying "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish…" What would happen if the Capuchin monks taught Detroiters to grow their own vegetables?

What would happen if the Capuchins organized allotments (tiny communal market gardens) ? Like Habitat for Humanity, only for vegetable gardens instead of dwellings?


There is a strong movement underway in the city right now to encourage people to grow a portion of their own food. The Greening of Detroit is very active in this endeavor, and the Capuchin Soup Kitchen works in collaboration with that organization. In fact, the Soup Kitchen has a greenhouse where each year approximately 100,000 vegetable seedlings are grown for distribution to individual gardeners and community gardens throughout the city. Each year the program grows in number of participants and levels of enthusiasm, and some of the gardeners are now selling some of their produce. Here at the Soup Kitchen some of our guests have tiny plots where they grow vegetables of their choice, and it is gratifying to observe the care with which the gardens are tended. Working with the earth is also very calming and healing, and I really believe that gardening can help heal the wounds so prevalent among the people of our city.


I see you do "Teach a Man to bake…" Tell me why the Capuchins chose baking as a new career for men who have been incarcerated. Can a man "bake" his way out of poverty and destitution?

Or, is the baking a way of providing the bread to accompany the vegetable soups?


Our ROPE program (Reaching Our Potential Every day) teaches baking techniques and life skills to formerly homeless or incarcerated men. The idea is not simply to learn a skill or trade, but to simultaneously address the issues that brought the men to homelessness or incarceration in the first place. Thus, participants do receive training in baking, but at the same time deal with their addiction problems, or work on obtaining their GED or other educational pursuits, or receive professional counseling to come to peace with issues that have caused them turmoil in their lives up until now. The hope is that after they have been in the program a year they will have saved enough money and resolved enough of their personal issues that they can successfully “re-enter” society and become assets to their community. Some might choose to continue working in the field of baking; others may pursue truck driving or whatever other career might interest them.

How does donating clothing, furniture, and appliances to the Capuchins for distribution differ (if at all) from donating to the Red Cross or Salvation Army, or Purple Heart?

I've never received a postcard or a phone call from the Capuchins telling me that their truck will be in my neighborhood, and asking if I have anything to donate.


I’m not sure about all the other organizations named, but one possible difference is that items that are donated to us are distributed free of charge to people in need—we do not sell them. And while in the past we were able to send trucks out into the neighborhoods to pick up donations, the costs of fuel and labor now make that prohibitive.

What have I not asked about Poverty that I ought to have asked?

Entire books have been written about poverty. I could go on and on—but I think we have a good overview here at least.

Are the Capuchins only in Detroit? If not, where else are your Soup Kitchens, Gardens, Art Therapy Programs, Food package donation outlets, and shower facilities?

What have I not asked about The Capuchin Order and the Capuchin Soup Kitchen service sites that you'd like to mention?


The Capuchins are an international order of brothers, found all over the world. In the United States (and internationally as well) we are divided into geographic provinces. There are six provinces in this country, and this Province of St. Joseph is headquartered here in Detroit. We are about two hundred members, and are separate from the other provinces in terms of finances and personnel. The Province of St. Joseph sponsors a similar food program in Milwaukee, though not of this magnitude. I am not familiar with much of the work of other provinces, although I do know that the friars in Denver operate a homeless shelter, as do friars of the Pittsburg province stationed in Washington, DC. Traditionally throughout the world we have been known to minister among the very poor.

I would like to close this by acknowledging that the work we do is made possible only through the generosity of the people of this community. Our annual budget is seven million dollars, and most of that money comes from fundraising activities and donations from generous benefactors. It is very humbling to me that people trust us so. I also extend to anyone interested, an invitation to come and visit us. We are very proud of what we do, and love to show it off!

Useful Contact Information for the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit

To volunteer
313-822-8606 ext 10

To donate
313-579-2100 ext 173

Thank you very much!
Rowena Cherry

Friday, October 10, 2008

PRISM Awards winners

2008 PRISM Winners.

Light Paranormal
1. Dead Girls are Easy by Terri Garey
2. More Than Fiends by Maureen Child
3. Highland Guardian by Melissa Mayhue

Time Travel
1. Wired by Liz Maverick
2. Thirty Nights with a Highland Husband by Melissa Mayhue
3. Forgiveness by JL Wilson.

1. Mona Lisa Blossoming by Sunny
2. Pleasures of the Night by Sylvia Day
3. Double Dating with the Dead by Karen Kelly

1. My Favorite Earthling by Susan Grant
2. How to Lose an Extraterrestrial in 10 days by Susan Grant
3. Insufficient Mating Material by Rowena Cherry

1. Over the Moon by Sunny
2. Street Corners and Halos by Catherine Spangler
3. Wild Hearts in Atlantis by Alyssa Day

Dark Paranormal
1. Immortals: The Awakening by Joy Nash
2. Betrayed: A House of Night Novel by PC Cast
3. Touched by Darkness by catherine Spangler

1. The Eternal Rose by Gail Dayton
2. Lucinda, Darkly by Sunny
3. Voice of Crow by Jeri Smith-Ready

Best of the Best
Wired by Liz Maverick

Best First Book
1. Grave Illusions by Lina Gardiner
2. She Wolf by Teresa D'Amario
3. Thirty Nights with a Highland Husband by Melissa Mayhue

Monday, October 06, 2008

The perfect compliment to my mission statement

For anyone who was following the promised countdown, I will do a retrospective on what I should have done. In the meantime, here's a bit of fun. I'm trying out what I call "Contrarian Marketing". I've been on a blog tour (I'll report back on the success of that, too) and I noticed that Savannah had a list, and she said she'd got the idea from someone else.

Those of us who are trying what might be a new trend of truth in advertising are tweaking the idea of a list in different ways. I find it the perfect compliment to my mission statement.

My goal as an author is to give good value. I expect to provide my readers with six to eight hours of amusement, a couple of really good laughs, a romantic frisson or two from the sensual scenes, a thoroughly satisfying Happy Ever After, and something to think--or talk-- about when the book is finished. And possibly some useful information


11. Disrespectful words such as tallywacker and joystick are used with reference to male body parts

10. It's long. (Not the tallywacker... well, it is, but I meant the book). Knight's Fork has 340 pages, and most new Chapters do not begin on a fresh page.

9. It has a Prologue and an Epilogue. That's two beginnings, and two endings!

8. It's going to take about eight hours to read.

7. The hero is a 28 year old virgin and proud of it. (He's also ruthless with a weapon of a different sort).

6. The heroine is locked in a chastity belt, and she doesn't have a key.

5. The family tree is so complicated they needed to spread it over two pages.

4. If you read in bed, your significant other might be disturbed by your giggles and snorts.

3. The F- word is used, but only by villains, and only in conversation.

2. If you read it in public, someone may ask why the naked man on the cover is lying in a puddle

1. If you don't read every paragraph, you may ask yourself why the naked man is lying in a puddle

If the above list has not deterred you, please look for Knight's Fork at this convenient location

Knight's Fork was awarded a PNR Reviewer's "Top Pick"
also a LASR readers' choice for Best Book of the Week

It's predecessor, Insufficient Mating Material recently won the 2008 Hollywood Book Festival's Romance category.


10. Insufficient Mating Material are not words I feel comfortable waving about in front of gentlemen on the bus or train, for instance.

9. If it's about a man with a small penis, I don't want to read that... I see enough of that at home/at the office/on TV.

8. It's going to take about eight hours to read.

7b. I find it totally implausible that a male could have a tattoo on his male body parts... and as for one that flashes in the dark, I'm not interested in the slightest.

7. The hero is a loser. I don't like books that take the antagonist from a previous book and give him a happy ending.

6. I don't identify with a heroine who is a little bit overweight, and who wears a corset (or any other tummy taming garment).

5. The family tree is at the back of the book. I'll be furious when I find that I wasted all that energy trying to memorize the characters' names and relationships.

4. I've heard that if I read Insufficient Mating Material in bed, my giggles and guffaws will annoy my significant other.

3. The F- word is used by the hero both as an expletive and as a verb.

2. If "Survivorman" Les Stroud loved it, there's probably too much information about hunting, fishing, camping, and surviving in the wilderness.

1. Apparently, it contains "a sizzling passion hot enough to singe" my "fingers as I turn the pages".... That sounds uncomfortable.


10. I'm told that it's not a bodice ripper, but it sounds like one.

9. PS. I like bodice rippers.

8. It's going to take about eight hours to read.

7. The hero is an alpha male. I don't like books that give male chauvinist pigs a happy ending.

6. I don't identify with beautiful, spirited, young, virginal heroines who have some funny ideas about sex.

5. I can't get my tongue around the Dj- names. I know that I simply pronouce them as if the D isn't there, but all the Ds bother me.

4. I've heard that if I read Forced Mate in bed, my giggles and guffaws will annoy my significant other.

3. The alien hero uses alien swear words. Moreover, his command of English grammar isn't perfect. He says unsense instead of nonsense. I hate that!

2. The spirited heroine uses her wits and her tongue. I can never have enough of heroines who kick the heroes in the goolies.

1. I don't like fantasy books set in England. Or in outer space.

Rowena Cherry

I think Rowena's true skill is that she weaves this intricate world of aliens and sex just the same way J.K. Rowling weaves the world of Wizards.
~Des DiFabio, bookclubqueen

Friday, October 03, 2008

Ten or more reasons not to buy Knight's Fork

Ten reasons NOT to read Knight's Fork

(Ten reasons not to—may be a new, contrarian trend among authors who blog.)

10. It's long. It has 340 pages, and most new Chapters do not begin on a fresh page.

9. It has a Prologue and an Epilogue. That's two beginnings, and two endings!

8. It's going to take about eight hours to read

7b. Disrespectful words such as tallywacker and joystick are used with reference to male body parts
7. The hero is a virgin and proud of it

6. The heroine is locked in a chastity belt, and she doesn't have a key

5. The family tree is so complicated they needed to spread it over two pages.

4. If you read in bed, your significant other might be disturbed by your giggles

3. The F- word is used, but only by villains, and only in conversation

2. If you read it in public, someone may ask why the naked man on the cover is lying in a puddle

1. If you don't read every paragraph, you may ask yourself why the naked man is lying in a puddle