Thursday, April 30, 2009

Exactly the help I need. Penny Sansevieri's newsletter

From time to time, when I've nothing useful to communicate, I treat Penny Sansevieri as an impromptu guest blogger, with her permission.

Mind you, I cannot fathom why everyone doesn't already subscribe to Penny's free marketing newsletter. Click the live links to sign up. Look at the index, so see what you are missing if you don't! (I'm not sharing Penny's entire newsletter).

A newsletter all about SUCCESSFUL publishing and POWERFUL promotion.
April 30, 2009 Issue #194
in this issue
-- Note From The Editor
-- Monetizing the Web
-- Is Anyone Listening? Eight Tips to Help you Market in the Age of New Media
-- Yankee Magazine
-- AME-University: Book Marketing, Publishing, and Internet Marketing classes
-- You've been Invited to the Social Media Party
-- Book Bits and Bites
-- The Duplicate Content Police are here!
-- Quick Tips for Media Success
-- Say Please, Say Thank you
-- Why You Should 'Share This'
-- Hear The Publishing Insiders
-- AME in the news
-- Why You Should Promote Your Book NOW
-- Join Penny at the Self Publishers Online Conference
-- Learn to Buzz Your Book!
-- Twitter Tip - TwiTip Graphics
-- Twitter Tip - Nearby Tweets
-- Reader Tip!
-- ------------------------------------------------------------
Penny C. Sansevieri, Editor

By the way,
Follow Penny on Twitter:

While you are about it,
Follow Rowena on Twitter

Penny writes:

Monetizing the Web
With all of the "stuff" out there online it's tough to know what will actually bring in the customers and the dollars, but here's a tip that's sure to work. First off, get your company/book/self a social networking page - either on Facebook or Squidoo, but I'd stick with Facebook and in a minute you'll see why. Next, make sure that your web site has a sign up on the home page for either a newsletter or mailing list.
Make sure you have an ethical bribe (a give away to get consumers to leave you their email addy so you can grow your list). Then, open a Twitter account. Your Twitter account should be used to share information, helpful tips, insider scoop and also link to sites, blogs, or audio online that would be helpful to your consumer. Become a filter, *the* place your consumer goes for everything on your topic or area of expertise. Once you open your Twitter account go to and get an account there, will allow you to set up a welcome message whenever someone "follows" you on Twitter.

Your welcome message should offer your freebie (ethical bribe) and redirect people to your site. This way, you'll get sign ups for your newsletter or mailing list. Now, to your Facebook page: You can and should add your Twitter account to your Facebook status updates (you can't do this through Squidoo or MySpace). That way you can share your tips with your Facebook fans, which will help you grow your fan base there too. Make sure you link your company's blog to Facebook and Twitter (you can do this through Twitterfeed) so that everything is recycled into these two services. By using both of these Web 2.0 properties and focusing your efforts heavily there, you can pull in customers to your site and business. Don't fragment yourself by getting a bunch of social networking sites. You need to spend time with these and if you can expand on just one site, it will serve you much better than having 30 sites you rarely touch.

If time is a constraint (and when isn't it?) you can use a site called Tweetlater to plan your tweets for the week, meaning that you log-on Monday and drop info into this system, it will then Twitter for you all week so you don't have to worry about it.

By keeping a circular "funnel" going you bring customers in at two of the biggest points of the web right now. These are huge properties online and when used effectively, can really help monetize the Internet for you. Remember though, be helpful first, sell later. The best metric for online selling is 95% helpful, and 5% sales. Believe it or not, this pays off big in the end.

When I did this we quadrupled our newsletter sign-ups and doubled the inquiries into our business.

Great advice. I'm no expert, and I haven't tried Tweet Later, but as a bumbling Twitter user, I find myself becoming annoyed by RT or ReTweets. If they weren't prominently marked as ReTweets, I wouldn't know the difference. But they are. I don't know about anyone else, but I want a genuine conversation, so if I see several RTs from the same person, it's either like someone who goes round a cocktail party telling the same joke, over and over... or it's like spam.

I unfollow boring ReTweeters. (Not Penny, of course!!!!)
What about you?

OK. Penny deals with another great issue here. Back to Penny's take.

Is Anyone Listening? Eight Tips to Help you Market in the Age of New Media
In the past month or so I've had numerous conversations with authors that I either met at conferences or am coaching asking me why nothing they're doing is working. Have you ever felt like that? If you have, you aren't alone. There seems to be an epidemic of "black hole marketing" going around. What's black hole marketing? Simple. It's when you feel like all your marketing efforts are going down a black hole and vanishing into the ether.
So it seems like just when you got a handle on the old rules of media, the rules keep changing. It's true. The digital age has brought with it a tsunami of information. Let's face it, with so much data, news, and emails coming at us most of us feel like we're trying to drink from a water hose. I've seen a lot of change in the ten (plus) years we've been marketing books but nothing like what's transpired in the last 18 months. The old marketing rule of 7 is now 70 and your 15 minutes of fame has shrunk to 15 seconds. Do you remember the shootings in upstate New York where 14 people were killed? How much time did the media spend on it, do you even remember any of the details? See what I mean? Fifteen seconds. We flit through stories like we zip through email. Delete, delete, delete, archive, and on and on.

Why is this? Well first off, there are so many ways to make news these days. You can be on Twitter and start a rampage on some topic and suddenly Katie Couric is reporting on you on the evening news. You can write something on a blog that gets everyone's attention. So many new ways to drive media mean that the media window is shrinking. All you have to do is run a search on Twitter using #teaparty or #amazonfail and see what I mean. Rapid and furious conversation around both of these topics, all of them generating a buzz in less than an hour of posting.

With all of these increased ways to get our news, it also means that the marketing "Rule of 7" is now around 70. An old marketing adage suggested that it takes 7 exposures to your book, message, or product to hook a new consumer. Now, with all of the things that we consume on a daily basis, the rule is considerably larger. Is it 70 exactly? I don't know. But it's certainly well beyond the seven exposures.

1) Relationships: these days it's all about relationships. Sure, marketing has always been built on relationships but it's more important than ever especially when it comes to bloggers. The blogging community continues to be looked down upon; believe it or not, they are considered by many to be second-rate journalists when in fact, their blogs are sometimes more popular than your local paper.

2) Never Swap Horses Mid-race: when things don't go well it's tempting to switch ideas, tracks, or angles. If you're not sure that you're doing everything right then hire someone (even on an hourly basis) who can come in and offer some objective feedback. If you've done that and you're still not seeing results don't change horses just to get ahead. This will only set you back and put you in a space of starting from scratch, because when you switch horses mid-race, that's exactly what you're doing.

3) Do a lot of the right thing: when we talk about the rule of 70, you know that means you need to do more of what you're already doing. So focus in on 3-4 key areas and saturate those. Get on Twitter, start blogging, do whatever you have to in a concentrated, focused fashion.

4) Pay to play, it's here: more and more TV stations are turning to a paid format, meaning that if you have enough cash, you can get on the air. I'm not kidding. This is a frightening turn of events, but it's reality. When I was in the Phoenix area I found out that many of the shows there are already doing this. Phoenix is considered a Top 10 market so if you're not in a big market it may not have hit you, but likely it will and probably before the end of this year. Why is this important? Because if you're ever asked to spend some dough on a show, you'll know why. Also, that's what makes the Internet so great: it's free. If you're ready to have your own TV show, why not turn to YouTube? You'll get a much farther reach!

5) Real voices: be real or be gone. Save the sales talk and jargon for your ad copy and be real when you're blogging, pitching yourself or on an interview. The world is gravitating to real, genuine voices. You won't impress anyone but mom with your $5 words.

6) Everyone is a journalist: as we saw with the Amazon mess, everyone is a journalist. If you have a blog that you're dedicated to and that's getting traffic and ranking, you could report on something that others pick up and, in some cases, you could end up being on the evening news. The reins of the media have now been dispersed to anyone who has access to Twitter and a blog. Why is this important? Because when you get yourself out there never assume that just because whomever you're pitching or has featured you isn't tied to the Wall Street Journal that they don't bear significant weight in their market. Get to know your community, respect them, pitch to them, and treat them no differently than if you were pitching major media.

7) Sources don't matter: when a story first breaks on a site like Twitter, sources are often misquoted and inaccurate. This is just the nature of instant news, it takes a while to catch up. What's the point? The point is if you can be a source and jump on a story that's being discussed online, you can get coverage.

8) Get your story out there quickly: remember that 15 seconds of fame? It's very true and very much why you need to get out there quickly. In fact with all the news coming at us, I've seen stories dissipate in an afternoon. If you have an angle, don't wait till it's "perfect" - get it out as soon as possible.

9) Don't spread yourself too thin: if you're thinking back to point #3 and going "Wow, I guess I need to get a few more social networking sites," hold that thought. When I talk about doing more I don't mean getting more, I mean doing more with what you already have. Don't fragment yourself. Focus is so key now, especially with so much stuff coming at us at one time. Stay crisp, focused, and on message, and don't just grab onto everything because it feels like you're "doing something."

10) Focus, focus, focus: I mentioned this in point #9 but it bears repeating. Keep your message focused and on point. It's ok to have a lot of angles, but keep them sharp and clear. People (and especially the media) have much less time than they ever did, if you can't capture their attention quickly you'll lose them, possibly forever.

The new media is changing on an almost daily basis. Today's lone blogger could be tomorrow's Huffington Post and tomorrow's local print newspaper could be turned into an online subscription format (as many papers have). It's not harder to get media; in fact, with so many stories and so many ways to get your news, the choices can seem endless. That's why aside from abiding by some of the new rules I've outlined here, you want to have a plan as well. Planning your strategy and then realizing that a few core areas of focus are key to success can help turn a so-so campaign into a wow-'em program.

Reprint permission
Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Who Do You Want In Your Cockpit?

This is a piece of activism on behalf of a friend, Susan Grant, who is not only a fabulous author, all round super person, but is also a former military pilot, and has flown Jumbo Jets for as long as I've known her.

Here's Susan's explanation of the issue:

Friends, travelers--even if you're a non-pilot or non-airline this is a good time for YOU to decide who you'd like to see in the cockpits of your flights in the near future. Do you want the experience of military trained or airline trained experts, or some kid who chose between goat herding and airline flying (kid...take the goat herding!) from some third world nation that pays their pilots with grain and rice? You don't see this happening? The pilots of United, Aer Lingus, Continental and most other large U.S. airlines do. This goes beyond union propaganda and labor issues. It goes beyond party lines. It goes into the category of AVIATION SAFETY. This takes two minutes. Seriously. Please do it. Click on the active banner in the middle of the message and follow along. Then, tell YOUR friends. Forward to as many people as you can. ....

Here is the message Susan forwarded

On April 7, 2009, the DOT granted tentative approval to United Airline’s Antitrust Immunity filing to include Continental under the Star Alliance network of carriers. This has been a full-on press by United Management and it promises great peril for us and this once great airline. Success would give Management the option to outsource even more pilot jobs and on a much greater scale. The reality of Tilton's management team to operate the “virtual” airline is a mind numbing reality. The Aer Lingus agreement is but the tiniest precursor to what may be in store for us.

(us = pilots)

A “Call to Action” alert has been issued by the MEC Legislative Committee for all pilots to contact their elected officials via the link below and / or by phone. Using the link, all of your elected officials will automatically be identified based on the entry of your address. It is possible that the antitrust immunity could be cancelled or at least modified to help us preserve our jobs and this airline. Please take action today.

This link was provided:

When I clicked the link, I was routed (this is all terribly clever) to my own Senators and Representatives and a form letter template popped up for me to use.

Since I am not a pilot, I modified the first line to inform Representative Peters, Senator Stabenow and Senator Levin that I am a frequent flyer on various American airlines.

In case the "capwiz" link doesn't work for you, here's what I wrote via the ALPA mail system.

Dear [recipient name was automatically inserted here],

As frequent traveller on United Airlines and other airlines, I am writing to express my concern over the lack of protections for labor in the Department of Transportation's tentative approval of Continental Airlines' and United Airlines' joint application for Anti-Trust Immunity (ATI), granted on April 7, 2009. Neither the application, nor the tentative approval granted it by the Department of Transportation, fully explains the ATI relationship between United and Continental in those markets that are not currently "Open Skies." There is no reference to labor in those documents and, in its present form, that relationship likely will cost American jobs if this ATI is approved without modification.

The application states that "…Continental, in conjunction with United and other Star Alliance ATI Carriers, will pursue integrational efficiencies on a global basis in order to reduce costs …" in both Latin America and in the Asia/Pacific region. Many of the countries in these regions currently do not have open skies agreements with the United States, and approval in this form has the clear potential of disadvantaging the American workers of each labor group at each airline. Neither carrier fully explains what cost savings they envision. If this ATI application is approved without protections for labor, both carriers will then have the potential to whipsaw their respective employee groups against each other.

The managements of United Airlines and Continental Airlines are on a fast track for approval of their application. It is our view, however, that enough questions have been raised that this application should be given a full and public hearing. The new Administration needs to fully view, with input from labor, the ramifications of such an approval.

I am not opposed to ATI as long as there are adequate protections for labor; I simply ask that all come to the table to find that solution. This issue is about protecting American jobs. We have had eight years of a dismantling of our industry. The Obama Administration, the Department of Transportation and the Congress must ask the question "Why does this Anti-Trust Immunity need to be on such a fast track?" Congressman Jim Oberstar, Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee,
believes this to be an issue important enough to move cautiously. We are only asking for a level playing field.

Please use all resources to include language in this Anti-Trust Immunity filing that clearly protects American jobs. Otherwise, I urge you not to approve the United-Continental ATI filing until all issues concerning American workers and American jobs have been properly resolved.

Rowena Cherry

Feel free to repost or forward or share.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Clicking "scrotum" is a bad idea

Excuse me?

In case anyone is feeling contrary, let me be clear. You cannot, as far as I know, click "scrotum" on my blog, or in anything I've written, and get anywhere. I do not post pictures of such things* and I don't post links to strange places.

However, some joker has posted excerpts of my blog... it might be some kind of Haiku, but I think not... and the "scrotum" is hooked to Linux. As far as I know, LINUX is respectable, but this "linux" site might be dangerous. Anyway, from a quick search of Wikipedia, it seems to me that LINUX is supposed to be free, so why would you pay for it?

I'm not sure what I think of WORDPRESS for allegedly snagging random phrases from my blog and stringing them together to make me look inarticulate. At present, I simply wanted to warn my friends and well-wishers that clicking on "my" blue "scrotum" text link could be a bad idea.

* Unless you count the naked Cerne Giant on and His Mightiness is a hill figure, so all you are going to see is a curved ditch.

What do you all think of this (below)?

romance books

Rowena Cherry remarks: Not Romance! What’s the most uncomfortable question

Afraid, to hand Jack Kilborn charitable: A horrifying on for the benefit. I lov.
Don and I. and SPACE SNARK”
Wendy Burt-Thomas (Query Letter guru)
Jumping on the shining stained scrotum controversy
One bathroom link up too away? Not. on TheAuthorsShow

LibraryThing giveaway
Blazing Trailers
Press Releases and on for the benefit giveaways
Penny says..
Two Can Play..
Hero allsorts
Insufficient Mating Material finals in Most Humoro. chess
Transitions of Power, shotgun Royal Weddings, squeaky.

Knight’s Fork
The Cost Of Magic
Editorial Ass: C[r]ash Flow (Or What Went Wrong in.
Knight’s Fork is a featured review
Knight’s Fork wins Authors’ Choic.

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 16th, 2009 at 12:00 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed.

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Not Romance! What's the most embarrassing question

What's the most important, embarrassing question you dared to ask?

On Facebook, Craig Conn's list of things he would not ask prompted a moment of candour from me.

Some questions may be embarrassing, but you really do need to ask. Your life or lifestyle might depend on it. I firmly believe that my mother got C-Difficile, and almost died, from a medical professional. Those white coats aren't necessarily as clean as they look.

Embarrassing questions I've asked to the surgeon: "Do you have AIDS?" (He was offended that I should think of asking)

To my husband's doctor's assistant, "Aren't you going to wash your hands before touching my husband?" Got three demonstrations of handwashing after that, which didn't help much because he wiped his nose on his fingers six times and his hands on his jeans (thigh, high up) three times.

To a former boyfriend: What are those white zits around your mouth? Have you been tested for herpes?

If you haven't asked anyone anything truly cringe-making, what do you wish you'd asked? What will you ask, next time?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Interview With The Sinister Minister

Bio blurb: Rev. Dr. Steve Burt, a.k.a. The Sinister Minister, has won the Bram Stoker, Ray Bradbury, and Benjamin Franklin Awards. In addition to horror and mystery/suspense, he writes church leadership books, inspirational books, devotional material, and has published hundreds of pieces in such venues as Reader’s Digest, Writer’s Digest, Yankee, Family Circle, and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He’s the father of writing authority Wendy Burt-Thomas (Writer’s Digest Guide to Writing Query Letters) and grandfather to Ben and Gracie. In February 2009 he was profiled in Connecticut Magazine (“The Sinister Minister”). His book Even Odder was a runner-up to Harry Potter for the 2003 Bram Stoker Award, and his Oddest Yet won it in 2004 (Young Reader category), and is the first self-published book to do so.

1. The major TV stations and Connecticut Magazine recently profiled you as “The Sinister Minister” for being the clergyman who won the world’s top horror award, the Bram Stoker. That’s a joke, isn’t it?

No, it’s the ironic truth. After 30 high-profile years in my primary vocation as a pastor, national lecturer, and writer of church leadership books, articles, and inspirational pieces (like for Chicken Soup for the Soul), the spotlight was suddenly shined on my low-profile avocation as a closet writer of horror and dark fiction when Oddest Yet won the Bram Stoker Award. Funny thing is I was nearly outed the year before when Even Odder was runner-up to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter in the young readers category. So now people come up to me when I’m autographing books at arts & crafts shows and exclaim, “I know you. You’re The Sinister Minister.” The accidental branding was serendipitous for me.

2. Your output is impressive--a thousand shorter pieces in print, over a dozen books, not to mention cranking out a sermon the length of a mid-length short story or article each week—all while working as a pastor and national lecturer on small church issues. And you say you manage to read a book or two a week. When do you ever find time to write?

When do doctors and lawyers find time to play golf? How do other people carve out time for bowling leagues? We find time for what we’re passionate about. I’m passionate about writing. I only watch three TV shows a week—LOST, Desperate Housewives, and Two and a Half Men (oh, and the UConn women’s basketball team), while most people spend hours either watching TV or simply channel checking. I don’t channel check, and that alone must save me twenty hours a week. If I can get three hours a day in for five or six days or nights a week--at only 3-6 manuscript pages per sitting—that’s a minimum of 15 pages a week, and a maximum of 36. Do the math. Pages pile up.

3. How did you get started as a writer? What were your influences?

My fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Youngs kept me after school for being a chatterbox; and instead of making me clean the erasers or write “I will not talk in class” until my hand fell off, she had me write stories, and then she’d critique them. I also read voraciously—comics, weird magazines, mysteries, whatever I could get my hands on from the school and public libraries: The Mushroom Planet, William O. Steele’s frontier adventures like Buffalo Knife with their young protagonists, stories of the Norse, Roman, and Greek gods, Sir Walter Scott Ivanhoe, Daniel DeFoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Stephen Crane, everything in the Weekly Reader and Scholastic books-to-buy programs (my classmates and I traded). Before I hit my teens I had read The Odyssey, The Iliad, The Aeneid, Poe, O Henry, Twain, DeMaupassant, Saki, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley. The last thirty years I’ve really enjoyed work by old seminary neighbor Stephen King, Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series, James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series, Robert B. Parker’s Spenser books, Tony Hillerman, John Sandford, Sue Grafton, and Thomas Perry. That’s the tip of my reading iceberg. And I read a lot of theology, too.

4. Your stories sometimes fall under horror, but they're not gory. How would you describe them?

Horror Lite, some supernatural adventure, a few paranormal mysteries like my Devaney and Hoag stories. Right now I’m writing a young adult novel that falls under “realistic fantasy.” While my work appeals to young readers and adults alike, just as Harry Potter does, I lay off the gore, preferring Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock off-camera approaches. And I like character-driven stories rather than plot-driven ones, so mine have far less dependence on shock or special effects. Myself, I’m sorry horror literature took the turn toward splatterpunk and gore in the early seventies with movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, and Nightmare on Elm Street, because they de-emphasized good writing. That may be why I read a lot of what my Brit colleagues call “weird fiction,” the high quality stuff you get from Ash Tree Press and The Ghost Story Society.

5. Have you always self-published? If not, what made you decide to do it?

No, I wrote church leadership books for traditional publishers like Judson Press and Alban Institute. But making 3% to 6% on a $10-$13 book that has a first run of 2,000-3,000 books isn’t very rewarding monetarily. They changed my titles, insisted on covers I didn’t like, and—in one case—had a 3 year delay before the book came out. And I had to do all the p.r. myself anyway. I’d rather run 2000 of my own books (from final manuscript to published product in 3 months) for $2-$5 cost apiece, and sell them at fairs and public readings for $15 a book. Other than I don’t even bother with bookstores or distributors. When I did have a distributor, I sold fewer than 1% of my books through bookstores, and the store and distributor made all the money. I mean, by producing books myself, meeting my audience face-to-face (young readers), and selling direct to my market (teens, parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians), how many copies do I have to sell per year to beat the money offered by those “real” publishers? I owe this realistic approach to self-publishing guru Dan Poynter, author of The Self Publishing Manual, whose weekend course I took.

6. Have you any advice for those considering the self-publishing route?

Yes. If you can’t devise a concrete, workable, realistic plan for getting your book in front of (#1) your audience, which in my case is mostly teens, and (#2) your market/buyers, which in my case is parents, grandparents, and teachers--don’t write it. Or at least, don’t pay the money to self-publish it. Once you’ve given the first 10-50 copies of your press run to family and friends, who will purchase those books (cases of them!) stored in the attic? And don’t think you’ll get them sold through bookstores or online, because you still have to do the PR and marketing to drive customers there to ask for them (if you can even get those bookstores to stock them).

7. Do you have to deal with writer’s block?

Hah! Every week I first have to deal with sermon-writer’s block. So I just sit down and start. My congregation wouldn’t like it if I stood up on Sunday morning and said, “Sorry, no word from God this week.” That pressure, and the discipline I’ve developed by producing an 8-10 page, double-spaced manuscript each week, has helped me write fiction. I usually just sit down and apply myself. (And I have a large sign above my monitor that says “Writers write. I am a writer.”

A side story about writing process. After Odd Lot won a Ben Franklin silver medal for Best Mystery/Suspense Book in 2001, I felt the pressure to beat that with my next collection. So I wrote and rewrote the first lines, first paragraphs, and first pages of the opening story for Even Odder. Damn! Writer’s block! Dead end! A month of it! Finally my writing-authority/editor/daughter Wendy Burt-Thomas (Writer’s Digest Guide to Writing Query Letters) advised me to free myself up by shifting from the write/edit side of the brain to the storytelling side. I got a mini-cassette tape recorder with headset mouthpiece and from scratch orally created a story every day while on an hour’s walk with my dog. At the end of 43 days I had 43 stories, some very bad. But I transcribed the best 15 to MS Word, edited on-screen, and published Even Odder (not a great book, but runner-up to J.K. Rowling for the Stoker). I didn’t write the book, I told it. We may not all be good at writing stories, but everyone tells them.

8. Do you have any funny stories?

Yes. Oddest Yet, won the 2004 Bram Stoker by outpolling Dean Koontz and Jeff Marriotte, and tying Clive Barker’s Abarat (a terrific book). After getting drubbed in New York by Rowling the year before, I figured an unknown minister with an unknown self-published story collection had no chance against the biggies, so I opted to skip the black-tie ceremony in Burbank, California. But my L.A. agent, always looking for photo ops with the biggies, attended, and at 2 a.m. my time phoned. “Guess what?” she teased. “You won the Stoker.” I was still pretty much asleep and had to preach the next morning, so I muttered “Shit” and went back to bed. The Stoker arrived via UPS that week (a haunted mansion modeled after Poe’s House of Usher), and I placed on the altar above my fireplace. After two weeks of kissing it goodnight at bedtime, I eventually noticed the little door in its front and opened it. It had Clive Barker’s name inscribed there for Abarat! He’d walked off the Burbank Hilton stage with my Stoker! After a mediated hostage exchange, Clive graciously and apologetically surrendered my trophy and I returned his. (Apparently he hadn’t thought to open his little door, either). Afterwards, when I told my author/daughter/capitalist Wendy, she emailed, “Are you nuts, Dad? Clive’s is worth a lot more than yours on eBay.” Kids are here to keep us humble, right?

9. What advice do you have for new writers?

Read, read, read—for enjoyment and to learn. Write, write, write anything you can--sermons, newsletter articles, jokes, anecdotes, devotional material, poems, cartoon captions, recipes, anything—but especially stories short and long. Write what you like. Submit stuff. Publish even if sometimes there’s no money but only a contributor’s copy. My first horror stories went for no-pay and low-pay, but I gave away only one-time rights, then later collected them into Odd Lot (almost all reprints from those low-pay and no-pay small magazines and zines); it then went on to win awards and made me some money. That’s contrary to what you hear from most writing-advice columnists who are selling nonfiction and advise you not to ever let it go unless you get paid for it. Learn from writing-related magazines and books. Learn from rejections (I had a thousand before an acceptance), then submit again and again. Publish your own stuff if you have to, but make sure you know your audience (for me it’s teens), your market (for me it’s their parents and grandparents and teachers), and how you can get it to the buyers. As my old neighbor Stephen King said: writers write, wannabes wannabe.

10. What books do you recommend fiction writers read?

Everything in their favorite fields or genres, then beyond that. I gobbled up hundreds of romances for awhile to see if I wanted to write them (which I didn’t). But even though I chose not to write them, I learned a lot about character development, plotting, and how to begin and end a chapter. Oh, and there are two absolutely essential primers every fiction writer should read: Gary Provost’s Make Your Words Work and Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer. Most of us try to write instinctively, but Swain shows us things like Motivation/Reaction Units, so we see how and why our best writing works, so we can learn to do it again and again.

15. Where can people buy your books?

At public readings, school visits, writers’ conferences, arts & crafts shows around New England. Use your Visa or Mastercard on my in-home answering machine (860 885-1865) or hit the website I only sell autographed copies, and it’s only through me that you can get the 4-pack special deal of $10 off for the series. Request a brochure (29 Arnold Place, Norwich, CT 06360. As a last resort, get an autographed copy from

Monday, April 13, 2009

Knight's Fork wins Most Intriguing Award

For those who have never heard of the New Covey Awards, the site is worth checking out. There is no charge to enter your work, when you submit, you may be wait-listed, but David Boultbee is wonderfully responsive and will let you know when you are "up" and voting for your work is scheduled.

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The wolverine, the queen, and the pirate

"it's only stealing if you take something away from someone - so if i wasn't going to pay to see the movie if even if i couldn't watch it for free, then it would be ok if watched it for nothing - cos i wouldn't have paid to see it even if i couldn't get it for free - right?
if you are working in movies and you can't support yourself perhaps you should give up on a dream you're never going to achieve and step back into the real world."

To read the rest of the discussion of Wolverine and some lovely shots of Hugh Jackman in action here:

It's been an interesting week.

J K Rowling and other bestselling authors took on SCRIBD, and the Times of London Online reported sympathetically.

On a Copyright Alliance blog, a commentator suggested that President Obama's gift to The Queen of England may have set an unfortunate example of piratical behaviour.
How about the Queen? Should she have to give her Ipod back? Technically what she did is infringement!

Another interesting discussion of infringement

Apparently, there is a report that someone at the prestigious TED conference has analyzed morality and petty theft, and the conclusions may tend to be rather depressing.

If I read the argument correctly, humans are hardwired to cheat and steal if they think they can get away with it, especially if they know someone else who does so.

Editorializing now.
When I started teaching, it wasn't easy to steal copyrighted material. Those were the days of carbon copies and the Banda machine which you rolled to press out glorified and very messy copies one at a time, and before you could do that, you had to use an old fashioned typewriter, and type every character. Your time had to be worth very little for piracy to make economic sense!

Now, photocopiers are everywhere, and they probably do not come with the same warnings that are stuck on FedEx Kinkos machines for the public to use. "Copying Is Illegal" is printed large on materials intended for school use, and teachers copy the materials, warnings and all, and give them to children. A generation has grown up honestly believing that, if you don't have the budget, it is fine to copy and share, and nothing bad will happen.

What a difference 25 years make! Where will we be (morally) in another 25 years, assuming that Nostradamus was mistaken, and the world doesn't end in 2012.

Will there be an entertainment industry? Will it be like ancient Rome again, with the Emperors responsible for putting on mass entertainment (free) to pacify the masses and deciding --based on brutal popularity polls and Imperial whim-- whether we are paid and how much, or whether we are put to death for not being appropriately amusing?

For those artists and writers and musicians who want their copyrighted work taken down from "file-sharing" sites, look at the Footer of the site in question for words such as "Copyright". That's the text link to find out what their requirements are for a "Take Down Notice". Usually, you will need a screen capture, and dual processor so you can have two windows open at the same time. You also need an ISBN. Not all works have ISBNs.

You also need an email account that suggests that you are the copyright holder. This, too, is a problem these days.

Here's the form of words that one site requires:

Pursuant to 17 USC 512(c)(3)(A), this communication serves as a statement that:

1. I am the exclusive rights holder for [TITLE OF WORK] ISBN [OF WORK], the titles of copyrighted material being infringed upon, which were published [DATE OF COPYRIGHT/DATE OF PUBLISHING];

2. These exclusive rights are being violated by material available upon your site at the following URL(s): [GIVE THE URLS TO THE DOWNLOADS AND TO THE PAGES OFFERING YOUR WORKS]

3. I have a good faith belief that the use of this material in such a fashion is not authorized by [YOUR NAME] the copyright holder, the copyright holder's agent, or the law;

4. Under penalty of perjury in a United States court of law, I state that the information contained in this notification is accurate, and that I am authorized to act on the behalf of the exclusive rights holder for the material in question;

5. I may be contacted by the following methods

I hereby request that you remove or disable access to this material as it appears on your service in as expedient a fashion as possible. Thank you.

Please be aware that if you send a take down notice, the site is likely to post a note telling the world that you were the person who requested that the download be removed.

Friday, April 03, 2009

National Humor Month

Celebrate "National Humor Month" with LASR/WC and 30 romantic comedy authors!

WC, for those whose minds are boggling, stands for Whipped Cream, the erotic side of the Long and Short of it review site. I know, I wondered about water closet humor for an instant, too!

Every day a different author will be giving away a prize, which might be a download, or a gift token, or chocolates, or a book. This is a structured scavenger hunt, and those who join in must be sure to write "Scavenger Hunt" in the subject line when they write in with their answer to the question of the day.

Here's the roster of Romantic Comedy authors

4/1 Victoria Blisse

4/2 Christy Tillery French

4/3 Catherine Wade

4/4 Vivi Andrews

4/5 Robin Glasser

4/6 Phyllis Marie Campbell

4/7 B. H. Dark

4/8 Ann Lory

4/9 Sylvia Shults

4/10 Jami Davenport

4/11 Lena Austin

4/12 Robin Kaye

4/13 Linda Wisdom

4/14 Jennifer Johnson

4/15 Judi Fennell

4/16 Patrice Wilton

4/17 Michele Hart

4/18 Jennifer Shirk

4/19 Charlotte Chalmers

4/20 Elizabeth Rose

4/21 Marianne Arkins

4/22 M. K. Trent

4/23 Michelle Moncou

4/24 Kari Thomas

4/25 Bryl Tyne

4/26 Rowena Cherry

4/27 Amber Polo

4/28 TBA
4/29 TBA

4/30 Libby Malin

I will be giving away a box of Godiva chocolates, and I will be asking a question about the Cerne Giant's dimensions. The Cerne Giant features large in my first book FORCED MATE.

Beware.... this excerpt is decorated with a rude photograph.

Bryl's Blog: Honor National Humor Month!

Bryl's Blog: Honor National Humor Month!