Tag Archives: author

Cover Reveal! Book 4 of Between Series is HERE!

At last! The awaited cover reveal of the much-anticipated fourth book in Cyndi Tefft’s BETWEEN series has arrived! Sacrifice of Greatest Price will soon be in our hot little hands. (Well hello again, Mr. MacRae;) Until then, have a peek at this teaser and follow Cyndi for word on the book’s release date. Enjoy!

Three in one, forward and back

Here and gone, to deepest black

Silver blooms, swollen with child

Birth crimson globes, untethered wild

Life meets death where the sun meets the sea

Blood sacrifice, for you and for me.

It has all come down to this.

Sacrifice of Greatest PriceA prophecy, passed down through generations of MacRaes, tells of a blood sacrifice. A simple stone placed in an ancient dagger unleashes an army of hell transporters with glowing red eyes who have now come to exact that price.

In the epic finale of the Between series, Aiden and Lindsey will be tested in ways they could never have imagined. Visions of the past, from thousands of years ago when the Broch of Gurness in Orkney was whole, provide more questions than answers. But every secret will be revealed as the MacKinnons and MacRaes join forces to fight a battle they cannot hope to win.

Follow fabulous Cyndi on Twitter @CyndiTefft, or here on  Facebook, or click on Ask the Author with all your Qs at 
Learn more about author Cyndi Tefft at cynditefft.com. I recommend you check out this page to see book trailers and goodies created by Aiden’s Angels, uber-fans of the BETWEEN series. 

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Filed under Fiction Novel Writing, Who is Writing What?

Tips and Strategies for a Successful Book Launch

You want to sell books, right? The journey to publication was long, wrought with *tears and massive revisions (*Oh, was that just me?). The sole purpose of our admirable, satisfying, and daunting craft is not to send our books to a blind oblivion, buried under the three million other books published each year. We not only want our books seen, but more importantly, read.

I’ve included several links below to some great tips online. These are tried-and-true methods of book PR pros who know how turn the publication of a book into an event. The launch of a book is (typically) one-time-only, happening live–and the more attention you can attract to your book event, the more readers you’ll reach. (And in turn, sell more of your already published books.)

keep-calm-and-smell-all-the-new-booksJoel Friedlander  of The Book Designer blog, says, “For many authors, this is a critical time in the life of their book. First, decide whether you want to run all of your activities on a single day, over the course of a week, or extending to a longer time period. Any of these options is workable. Remember that you’re in charge, so you get to decide the exact parameters of your book launch. ”

Let’s look at book launch opportunities. You won’t be doing all these things, so don’t become overwhelmed. Read through these exhaustive lists and create your own menu of options, the action items that you feel you can tackle.

My method: I am creating my own Book Launch Marketing Plan. Examining each article I’ve linked to below, I’m copying and pasting each idea or action item which appropriately fits my audience, budget, time schedule, and let’s get down to it–capability. I’ll then organize them in an effective order. That way, each day, I’ll know what I’m supposed to be doing and who I should contact or reach out to–or help. (We’re all in this together.) This approach is easier and allows tasks to be accomplished, while averting the pitfalls of attacking a gigantic to-do list. It will also help me focus on key components, which are much more trackable. You can do this too!

Begin with these links:

Mr. Friedlander adds, “Putting together a book launch can be a lot of work. But there are a lot of tangible and intangible benefits. If you’re in this for the long haul, you’ll recognize that these benefits will repay your efforts in many ways. For instance, by going through the launch, you can:

  • Create better relations with other bloggers in your field
  • Better understand your readers and why they respond to you
  • Explore aspects of your subject that might be of interest to different groups of readers
  • Learn which approaches work best in driving traffic, and interest, about your book.

Managing a book launch can be an exciting and awarding adventure. You’ll learn a lot, and you’ll be able to use that learning for your next book. What are your ideas? What works and what doesn’t? Please comment below!

More Resources

Book Launch Media Kit—Using Your Testimonials

Book Marketing: Your Online Press Kit

Let’s connect! Follow me on Twitter @TheRJLacko

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How to Use an Unreliable Narrator in Your Story

The character who is an unreliable narrator can be one of the most powerful tools available to a writer, telling the readers a story that the reader cannot take at face value. In this post, Now Novel, an excellent resource for writers, explains: “The unreliability may be obvious to the reader throughout the novel, may be revealed gradually or may come as a single revelation that results in a major plot twist. This may be because the point of view character is insane, lying, deluded or for any number of other reasons.”

In my novel, Radio Head, protagonist Shelby has undiagnosed schizophrenia. From her point of view, everyone has a song inside–and she can hear it. The reader is drawn into what may prove to be magical realism, or possibly the delusions of a mentally ill young woman.

illusions

What does the writer stand to gain from using an unreliable narrator to tell a story?
What is the purpose of the unreliable narrator in fiction? How can the writer ensure that the reader understands that the narrator is unreliable?

Here are highlights from the post:

The narrator is unreliable by the very nature of who that character is. Some stories are related by narrators by who are such terrible people that they cannot tell their stories objectively. In general, even people who commit the worst crimes do not go around thinking of themselves as monsters; they justify their actions to themselves. In Lolita, Vladimir Nabakov signals Humbert Humbert’s unreliability to the reader in a number of ways such as his outrageous claims, his endless justifications for shocking acts and his contempt for others. Alex from A Clockwork Orange is another example of a reprehensible character sharing his unreliable narrative of violence and mayhem with the reader.

The unreliable narrator can also be used to great effect in stories of crime and mystery. Both Agatha Christie’s classic novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and the recent Gillian Flynn best seller Gone Girl employ unreliable narrators whose lack of reliability is crucial to the construction of the mysteries at the hearts of both novels. In these types of books, the reader starts out trusting the narrator and it is only as the story goes on that something begins to seem amiss.

The unreliable narrator is not always deliberately deceptive. Sometimes, a narrator is unreliable due to youth or naïveté. The young autistic narrator of the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon or the five-year-old narrator of Emma Donoghue’s Room are simply reporting the world as they understand it. These books rely on the readers to make inferences based on clues from the narrators and an assumption from the outset that due to the ages and circumstances of these characters, they are not always accurately interpreting what is happening around them.

The unreliable narrator can be of particular use to the writer of horror and supernatural fiction or fiction in which the writer wants the reader to question the line between fantasy and reality. A  recent example is Yann Martel’s novel The Life of Pi in which the reader may increasingly wonder about the reality of events as described by the narrator.

A narrator can be unreliable due to having incomplete or incorrect information although initially neither the narrator nor the readers is aware that this is the case. The narrator of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier initially misunderstands nearly everything she learns about her new husband’s dead wife, and therefore, the reader does as well.

Read the remainder of the post to learn how Lionel Shriver combined several of the above types in We Need to Talk About Kevin. The post also outlines the dangers of using an unreliable narrator and how to avoid them.

How have you used the unreliable narrator in your own writing?

Now Novel  is an organized, easy to use novel writing method. We help motivate and structure your writing process. Follow Now Novel on Twitter @nownovel.

Follow me on Twitter! @TheRJLacko

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Filed under Best Writer Tips, Fiction Novel Writing, Guest posts

Sell More Books with Calls To Action at the End of Story

A good book makes you want to live in the story. A great book gives you no choice. When a reader comes to the end of your novel, he or she lives in the world of your characters. If the story was compelling enough to get to the last word, chances are good this reader wants MORE. More of what you, lovely author, have to offer.

Putting calls to action in the back of your book is a form of passive marketing that will help you to sell more books. You only need to set up these calls to action once and you’re done–but they will continue working to help you to sell books.

556_woman_reading_book_on_grass_3001BookMarketingTools.com has some excellent ideas for directing readers where you are mostly likely to keep them as a reader–or better yet, a fan.

Below are Book Marketing Tools’ call to action ideas that you can strategically place in the back of your book to encourage your readers to buy more books from you–or connect with you so they are more likely to buy from you in the future!

6 Calls to Action To Put In The Back Of Your Book

1. The link to your homepage. This is a simple one, but putting the link to your website at the end of your book will help to guide the readers to your website, where you will hopefully have appealing bonus content, as well as your other books listed for sale. If your website URL is only listed in the front of the book, your readers may never go back to the front of the book when they are finished reading. Put the link in the back of the book as well.

2. A bonus offer if they sign up to your mailing list. Inform your readers that they can get a special bonus if they go to your website and sign up for your free mailing list. Bonus offer ideas might include additional worksheets for a nonfiction book, art, a novelette about your main character, or a sneak preview to your upcoming book. Once you have a mailing list setup, then you can notify each person on the mailing list every time you have a new book coming up.

3. A chapter of another book of yours. This works great if you have a series of books. They will keep reading since they are already at the end of the book, and you can end the first chapter of the next book with a cliffhanger (and a call to action to buy the book). Be sure to promote the additional content such as a chapter from the next book, in your book description.

Read tips 4, 5 and 6 HERE! 

Book Marketing Tools exists to empower authors with tools, education, and community to help them sell more books. Their Ultimate Author Checklist for Book Marketing online is a FREE guide that helps authors to make sure they have done all of the important steps for creating their book marketing engine. Click here to get this free guide.
What Calls or Action have been successful in your book marketing plan? Comment below or tweet me @TheRJLacko

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Filed under Best Writer Tips, Fiction Novel Writing, Guest posts

Kill Writer’s Block Now: The Fast Track to Creativity Starts Here

Staring at a blank page?

No me, my friend; I’m already off and writing this blog post, charmed by the prolific Charles Bukowski, “Writing about writer’s block is better than not writing at all.” (The Last Night of the Earth Poems)

Garnering the wisdom of two of my favorite writing instructors, I’m here to solve your blank-page-trauma in only five minutes. Yes, you can be power-typing a brand new story before a fresh pot of tea is ready. Here are my tried-and-true, never-fail rules for copious creativity:

Know what a story is. If you haven’t already (why haven’t you?) get yourself over to WiredForStory.com, home of famed storycraft maven Lisa Cron. You must learn, internalize and copy/paste at the top of your page Lisa’s mantra:
A story is HOW and WHY what happens (the plot) affects (the protagonist) who is in pursuit of a deceptively difficult goal (the story question) and how he or she changes as a result (what the story is about).

If your idea is “Mom makes a peanut butter sandwich,” then apply Lisa’s guideline as follows: Why does she make it?  Does she have a child who will order a burger and fries in the school cafeteria if no PB&J is offered? Slow down the action and tell us HOW she makes it. Make her think about the pattern on the plate, the weight of knife, and whether she’ll choose Tupperware or a ziplock and WHY. How does she feel about all this? When the sandwich is complete, how has she changed by the experience?  Satisfied in her parenting skills, or comforted after concern from pediatrician about high fat and cholesterol in child’s diet? Is she thinking about her own mother, or suffering any symptoms as a result of a nut allergy?)

Writing Prompt Helpers. That peanut butter sandwich prompt was genius Rebecca, but where can I get ideas so shiny and bright? Generally, I have a character or situation to begin with–especially when I’m starting a new chapter in an existing fiction piece. If I’m at ground zero, I Google “writing prompts,” like a trained chimp, ahem. The silliest prompt can elicit some profound thoughts, so don’t be afraid to grab the first one and go.

Brainstorm without borders. For no-nonsense writing advice from an accomplished writer and busy mom, you can’t go wrong with Author Jody Hedlund. I love her brainstorming plan, and I think it’s a must-do at the beginning of every creative venture. Jody says, “Before writing, I come up with pages of ‘what if’ possibilities for my story. I make long lists of all kinds of wild and crazy ideas that I could include in the story. I don’t limit myself. No idea is too stupid. I write down everything and anything… Usually the first few ideas we have are somewhat boring and cliched. So if we stop there, we’ll find ourselves frustrated. But if we list a hundred (or more ideas), then finally we’ll start digging deep enough into the creative well to pull out fresh ideas that excite us.”

This is solid advice, but one HUNDRED? (Yes!)
My next tip will save you from spending the entire weekend on that list…

The 5 Minute Miracle This is my own, personal, golden ticket. I set my phone or kitchen alarm for 5 minutes and I type as fast as my little fingers can. I don’t care about spelling, punctuation, capitalization–nada. I don’t stop to sip my coffee or pet the cat. I type without censure. You may call it stream of consciousness, but it isn’t. Why? Because of Lisa Cron’s mantra at the top of my page. I start with who, and I steer myself toward how, and that leads me to why, and then aha! Even I didn’t see coming the natural progression to the change experienced by my protag as a result. I type these scenarios as fast as I can, and when the alarm goes off, I have several ideas, a bunch of junk to be edited or cut, and some real, solid, satisfying fiction leads I may have taken HOURS to arrive at, without these tools.

Same goes for dialogue. If I’m working a scene and I don’t know exactly what my characters ought to say, I five-minute the heck out of them, and when the buzzer goes I’m surprised to learn what they “really” wanted to say all along.

Set your alarm, find a prompt, and let the five-minute-miracle unfold.

Oh, then tweet me about your adventure @TheRJLacko –or comment below, of course!

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Filed under Best Writer Tips, Fiction Novel Writing, For the love of writing, Your highest potential

A writer’s manifesto for 2012. Read this and get to work

Sometimes I like to pretend I’m writing “to” novelist Chuck Wendig. It helps me cut the crap when self-censorship creeps in. I love Wendig’s writing voice, and I just feel freer to speak my mind on the page when I’m in his literary presence.

What you’re about to read was actually blogged by Chuck Wendig last April. Who cares? If your manuscript or writing goals are in need of a New Year’s resolution-esque shaking of the collar, a smartening up, or a come-to-Jesus, you need to dig in and read these excerpts.

25 Things Writers Should Know by Chuck Wendig:

1.You Are Legion

The Internet is 55% porn, and 45% writers. You are not alone, and that’s a thing both good and bad. It’s bad because you can never be the glittery little glass pony you want to be. It’s bad because the competition out there is as thick as an ungroomed 1970s pubic tangle. It’s good because, if you choose to embrace it, you can find a community. A community of people who will share their neuroses and their drink recipes. And their, ahem, “fictional” methods for disposing of bodies.

2.You Better Put The “Fun” In “Fundamentals”

A lot of writers try to skip over the basics and leap fully-formed out of their own head-wombs. Bzzt. Wrongo. Learn your basics. Mix up lose/loose? They’re/their/there? Don’t know where to plop that comma, or how to use those quotation marks? That’s like trying to be a world-class chef but you don’t know how to cook a goddamn egg. Writing is a mechanical act first and foremost. It is the process of putting words after other words in a way that doesn’t sound or look like inane gibberish.

3.Skill Over Talent

Some writers do what they do and are who they are because they were born with some magical storytelling gland that they can flex like their pubococcygeus, ejaculating brilliant storytelling and powerful linguistic voodoo with but a twitch of their taint. This is a small minority of all writers, which means you’re probably not that. The good news is, even talent dies without skill. You can practice what you do. You practice it by writing, by reading, by living a life worth writing about. You must always be learning, gaining, improving.

Read the post in its entirety here

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Filed under Best Writer Tips, Fiction Novel Writing, For the love of writing, Guest posts

Sell More Books: Good Writing vs. Creating Urgency

Writing “well” should be good enough. Good enough to score an agent and a publishing contract. Good enough to entice a potential reader to move past page one, and keep reading, breaking only for food and the uncontrollable urge to refer your book to everyone with an inbox.

Author and mighty story expert and deconstructrix Lisa Cron (read her bio below–be prepared to be impressed) says the goal of learning to write well is a myth. A myth! Phew. (Does that mean I can produce a dungheap and watch it skyrocket to the top of the New York Times bestseller list? Assuming I publish it under an anonymous pen name, that is.)

Ms. Cron points out how the myth of “good writing” is perpetuated: “Everyone says it – writing books, professors, writing groups, editors, agents, even readers. It sounds so logical, who’d argue?”

Makes sense to me. However, as Cron states, “The first goal of any story is to anesthetize the part of the reader’s brain that knows it is a story. When we get lost in a good story, it feels like reality–literally. Recent research has shown that when we read about an action, the same areas of the brain light up as when we actually experience that action. We really are there. As a result, the last thing a reader is able to do (or wants to do for that matter) is analyze how, exactly, the story is creating such a perfect rendition of reality. And so when asked what it is that grabs us about a great story, we say it was the luscious language, the intriguingly complex characters, the witty dialogue, the fresh voice. In other words, we say it’s well written when what we really mean is that it felt like life.”

Doesn’t that sound like good writing?

“Writing well is the handmaiden of story,” Cron says. “The real goal of every writer is to learn to create that sense of urgency that makes the reader want to know what happens next. This is not triggered by dazzling wordsmithing, but by mastering story itself, and understanding what people are wired to crave from every story they hear.”

To put it more plainly, “We turn to story to shed light on the thorny internal problems we face. Stories teach us how to make sense of ourselves, others and the world at large by allowing us to vicariously experience myriad “what ifs.” After all, life is tricky and rife with risk, so what better way to prepare to navigate the one place we’re all headed — the future — than story?”

Lisa Cron’s top three tips for creating a sense of urgency:

1. Make sure you know how your story ends; ask yourself, how
does my protagonist’s world view have to shift in order for her to achieve her goal?
What does she have to realize that, most likely, she’s spent her whole
life avoiding? Then don’t hold back — sew this internal conflict into the
story, beginning on the first page, if possible, in the first sentence.

2. Always remember, what draws people into a story is that sense that all is not as it seems. The reader is all too familiar with “business as
usual” (read: ho hum), a story is about what happens when something out of the ordinary bursts through that predictable pattern and forces your protagonist to deal with it or else – even if it begins with something as seemingly mundane as the mail arriving a half hour late.

3. Let us know that something specific is at stake, and don’t be shy about telling us what it is, and how it’s affecting your protagonist. Make us feel it by letting us know what it forces your protagonist to confront. How does it differ from her expectations? What action does it trigger?

After all, stories are about how the unexpected forces us to confront our beliefs about ourselves, the world and others – and find out what we’re really made of.

What’s the last book that swept you away? What did it teach you about life, or better yet, yourself?

Lisa Cron spent a decade in publishing, first at W.W. Norton in New York, then at John Muir Publications in Santa Fe, NM, before turning to TV. She’s worked on shows for Fox, Bravo and Miramax, and has been supervising producer on shows for Court TV and Showtime. She’s been a story consultant for Warner Brothers and the William Morris Agency in NYC, and for Village Roadshow, Icon, The Don Buchwald Agency and others in LA. She’s featured in Final Draft’s book, Ask The Pros: Screenwriting. Her personal essays have appeared on Freshyarn.com and the Huffington Post, and she has performed them at the 78th Street Playhouse in NYC, and in LA at Sit ‘n Spin, Spark!, Word-A-Rama, Word Nerd and Melt in Your Mout (a monthly personal essay series she co-produced). For years she’s worked one-on-one with writers, producers and agents developing book and movie projects. Lisa has also been a literary agent and for the past five years, an instructor in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, where she currently teaches. Her book, Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence, will be published by Ten Speed Press, Summer 2012.

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Filed under Best Writer Tips, Fiction Novel Writing, For the love of writing, Guest posts, Who is Writing What?