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Writing Contests: Go for the Big Ones (plus a book giveaway!)

Twofer! A Great guest post by novelist, Kathy Handley, on the in’s and out’s of entering writing contests – PLUS! a chance to win her novel, Birds of Paradise. Just post a comment or question today and be entered in the random drawing! Check back Thursday for the winner…

Win this Book!

When it comes to Contests- Go for the Big Ones

I was once told to submit to well-known journals along with the lesser known ones. “You’ll get a fair reading,” my friend, Jamie Cat Callan said. That may be the same with contests.

A new writer is often hesitant to submit their work to contests. Early on I sent stories to the National League of American Pen Women, Soul-Making Contest, in the short story category. I placed several years in a row and was invited to join the team of judges later on. How cool is that? If I had never entered, I wouldn’t have the pleasure of meeting the great folks who judge and enter the contest that was started by Eileen Malone, the dynamo writer and do-it-all gal.

A good rule of thumb is to get your work out there and move quickly to the next project or submission. True, you’ll have rejections, but try to see them as paying your dues. I often said that I’d have to pay my dues by writing a million words–still working on this–just to learn and get better, but I have Indie-published two books this year.

It’s a good idea to submit in varying genres for the many contests there are out there.  You can access Poets and Writers for deadlines.  If you are writing a novel, take a chapter that will stand alone as a story and send it out. Try flash fiction and poetry and perhaps a short non-fiction piece that speaks to your passion.  Although we didn’t win the national contest for a boundless playground for my grandson’s town, the letters served to educate persons who were not aware of special needs. In this case, we wanted a playground accessible for all.

My big win involved the Nervous Breakdown site that sponsored a Page-To-Screen contest with a prize of a Kindle and the opportunity for entertainment folks to consider the story for a movie. With many entries judged by Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants author, this win was a great thrill for me. You can do it too. Polish up that work and go for it.

I want to wish all of you writers out there good luck in the contests you enter. Send me an email when you place or need suggestions about venues for you work. Imagine your excitement when you are able to use your publishing and contest winning data in the front of your book.

Warmest Wishes,

 Kathy Handley

Kathrynhandley@msn.com

http://www.kathyhandley.com

About the Author:

 Her grandfather entertained his family with stories and dancing, her father quoted Shakespeare and her mother was known as “Mary the Poet” so naturally Kathryn would become a writer…eventually!

Now a published novelist at age 71, Kathy’s short fiction has appeared in many literary
magazines. She recently won Word Hustler’s Page-to-Screen Contest (2011) and currently serves as Prose Poetry Judge for the National League of American Pen Women Soul-Making Contest. A collection of her work will soon be released under the title A World of Love and Envy (short fiction, flash-fiction, and poetry).

*Don’t forget to leave a comment or question for our visiting author and be entered in the book giveaway!!

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Back to School Giveaway!

backtoschoolDoes everyone know what time it is??

There’s a bite in the air, restless children wearing new backpacks and gym shoes, busses bumping down the roads: It’s Back-To-School Time!

Which means, not only the beginning of hectic fall schedules and earlier bed times, but the fun-filled prize-packed month of GIVEAWAYS courtesy of Christina Katz’s Writer Mama Blog.

Don’t miss out on daily giveaways of books, writing materials and a few extra goodies!

For the third year in a row, The Writer Mama, Christina Katz, is giving away thirty books in thirty days. All you have to do to participate is answer the question that Christina will pose daily. One lucky winner will win each day. There is no limit to how many times you can enter. The drawing is for U.S. residents. You don’t have to be a mom, but of course, the event is created with moms in mind, so please tell all the writer mamas you know! See ya in September at http://thewritermama.wordpress.com

Check out the details here and be sure to visit daily Sept 1-30 for chances to win!

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Filed under books, contests, Give Aways

Blog Book Tour & Giveaway: Elisa Lorello, Author of “Faking It”

Elisa-Lorello_cutesy_01

Today, please welcome first-time novelist, Elisa Lorello in her book blog tour for Faking It.

Originally from Long Island, NY, Elisa is a full-time instructor of academic writing at NC State University and a member of the Raleigh Write2Publish group. She has appeared on *The Artist’s Craft*, a local Raleigh television show, and is currently on a blog tour for her first novel, FAKING IT. In addition to writing and teaching, Elisa’s passions include reading, music, chocolate chip cookies, and reciting lines from *This is Spinal Tap* with her siblings.

Elisa is giving away a copy of her book Faking It to one random winner!  You must leave a comment or question (following the interview) by 12 midnight tonight for a chance to win!  Winner will be posted tomorrow!  So, kick back with your notepad, cause you’ll want to jot these tips down, then pick up a copy of Faking It for a fun summer read!

Interview by: Mary Jo Campbell

Tell us about Faking It.faking it cover 2

Thank you so much for hosting me today—it’s an honor to be here!

Faking It is a romantic comedy. Andi, a 30-something writing professor, meets Devin, a handsome, charming escort (is there another kind?) who catches her attention. She proposes an unusual arrangement: lessons in writing in exchange for lessons in how to be a better lover. When the two break the rules of their contract that forbids each other from seeing each other socially and become friends, problems ensue. I always pitch the novel as *When Harry Met Sally* meets *Sex and the City*. It’s witty and fun, but also poignant at times. The perfect summer read!

What made you decide to go the self-publishing route with your book, Faking It?

I had queried about sixty agents, and even though I received and responded to several requests for manuscripts, I wound up with all rejections, albeit encouraging ones. Looking back, I made a lot of mistakes with the querying process, including not doing enough research about prospective agents and writing queries to a specific audience as opposed to a form letter, to name two examples.

I listened to the feedback that these agents had, however, and made the necessary revisions. I always believed that the novel was worthy of publication, and I knew I had access to an audience in terms of networking, so after doing some research and weighing the pros and cons, I decided to self-publish. I was also very fortunate to catch the wave of social networking (such as Facebook and Twitter), which has been instrumental in Faking It’s success.

What steps did you take to find the “right fit” with a self-publishing vendor?

I attended many panel discussions organized by author Stacey Cochran through the Raleigh Write2Publish group about self-publishing, and did some internet research as well. I probably didn’t do as much research as I should have at the onset (mainly because I didn’t know where to look or what to look for), and know a lot more now than I did then. There’s a lot more information available now (at least it seems that way), and a lot more competition, so you have to be careful.

I chose Lulu.com because they allowed me to maintain creative control as well as the rights to my book, the technical support was very helpful (especially for a first-timer like myself), and I liked that it was a local company (they’re currently located in Raleigh, NC). And while I’m not disappointed with Lulu, some of my criteria has changed, so I’m not sure if I’ll stick with them for my second book. As I said before, I’m in a better position now to make a more informed decision.

Can you tell us about the steps of self-publishing, i.e. do they offer editing services? Marketing? Book cover design?

Great question. Lulu offers all of the above services, and has especially kicked up its services in terms of marketing and cover design. Another nice thing about Lulu is that you can pick and choose which services you want or need. If you want to hire a graphic designer outside of Lulu, for example, you can, and use your own cover art. I edit my own novels, but some people may have neither the time nor ability to do so.  Keep in mind, however, that these services cost extra, so you need to determine what’s feasible for you. But, also keep in mind that all of the above elements are crucial to the success of a book—the more professional your finished product is, the better.

Was there anything that surprised you about the writing and/or publishing process of this novel?

It took me five years before I even started writing this novel because I kept telling myself that I wasn’t a fiction writer. All of my previous attempts at writing fiction (namely short stories) were horrid, so I just kept trying to push the idea for Faking It in the back of my mind. But the idea wouldn’t go away—it needed to be born. So I finally sat down to write it and told myself that I was the only one who had to read it—thus, if it was garbage, no one would ever know! My mantra while writing it was “I wrote the book I wanted to read.” And lo and behold, it wasn’t coming out like garbage—quite the contrary, and when I showed it to people, they responded positively. Then the dam broke, and now I can’t see myself as anything but a fiction writer (or, a fiction writer who occasionally writes nonfiction essays).

The writing process can be slow and tedious at times, but I like those times because it gives me time to listen to the characters’ voices and to do a lot of mental composing.

What has surprised me about the publishing process is how time-consuming it is, especially when it comes to promotion—it never stops. Everything takes longer than I think it will take. And I’m not the most organized person (I blame this on being Italian), so I’m sure that doesn’t help.

What happens if a big publishing house now comes a-callin’ for Faking It?

Hello! Bring ‘em on! Seriously, since I own the rights to my book, that’s not a problem. If the right agent and the right publisher/publishing deal come along for Faking It, then I’ll go with it. I’m still on the lookout for a literary agent and/or a traditional publisher mainly because they have the resources to reach a much bigger audience than I do, and because, unfortunately, self-publishing still carries the stigma of being an outlet that produces poor quality works. That is perhaps the greatest obstacle to overcome. But I stand behind the integrity of my novel.

I also have more confidence now than I did when I started this whole process of getting published three years ago. I’ve learned a lot, especially from my mistakes. When my next manuscript is ready to be queried, I feel quite confident that I’ll have more success finding an agent. If not, then I’ll continue to self-publish.

Have you experienced any back-lash from authors who are “traditionally” published?  If so, can you offer any tips on how to counter these attacks.

The majority of authors and independent booksellers I’ve personally encountered have been nothing but supportive, be they traditionally published or independently published. And yet, I’ve attended panel discussions in which traditionally-published authors insist that that’s the only route to go if I want to be taken seriously. I also recently read and participated in some discussion forums in which readers were downright mean and discriminatory against indie authors. And I already know that know major retail chain booksellers won’t touch my book with a ten-foot-pole because of the aforementioned stigma (and because they don’t really make money from self-published books unless it really breaks out).

Here’s the best and worst thing about self-publishing: anyone can do it. With digital technology and POD companies like Lulu, anyone who wants to write and publish a book can do so, and make it available to the masses. That means there’s a lot of poor quality work out there and, as a result, readers are going to have to sift through all that sand to find the gold.

The best piece of advice I can give is to maintain integrity about your work and yourself as an author. If you want to be taken seriously as an author, then treat yourself like a professional, as if you’re drawing a monthly or weekly salary. Treat your work professionally. That means get feedback and be willing to accept criticism. Form a writers group so that you maintain accountability. Get an editor if you need one. Hire a graphic designer or a publishing consultant if you need to. Be a go-getter, but also know what’s appropriate and inappropriate in terms of approaching an independent bookseller or scheduling a reading or a blog tour. Know the protocols.

As for those who continue to slam all indie authors as hacks, well, they’re not people I want reading my book. Don’t waste your breath trying to convince them otherwise.

Tell us about any of your current writing and marketing events/tours/appearances and what is on the horizon for future writing projects!

Gladly! I’m currently in the middle of a 30-day blog tour for Faking It and would like to do at least one more reading at an independent bookstore to wrap up the promotional tour. I’m also in the process of getting Faking It into at least two more independent stores: one on Long Island (where I’m from), and another one in MA (where I lived for eleven years).

ALSO:

If you have a book club, I’m offering a special: order four or more copies of Faking It from me directly (you can email me at elisa@elisalorello.com, subject: book club) and not only will I discount the order price, but also sign the books. What’s more, if your book club is local to Raleigh, NC, I’ll attend your discussion meeting. If you have speakerphone, I’ll participate in the fun that way.

I’m also preparing to release Ordinary World, the sequel to Faking It. I was originally planning an end-of-summer release, but now I think it’s going to take longer than that. I’d like to get more of a buzz going about it first (enlist previewers, possibly give away sample chapters as teasers, etc.). Meanwhile, I’m working on a third manuscript, this time with a writing partner, which has been a fantastic experience. When that novel is finished, have us back because that is a great story! I don’t think I could collaborate with anyone else.

Faking It is currently available at Quail Ridge Books and Music in Raleigh, NC; Baker Books in N. Dartmouth, MA; Lulu.com; and on Amazon Kindle. For more information about Elisa’s blog tour and other events, go to her blog “I’ll Have What She’s Having” or www.elisalorello.com.

Thanks again!

Be sure to leave a comment or question for Elisa for a chance to win!

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Filed under Author Interviews, books, Fiction, Get Published, Novels, Platform/Marketing, writing inspiration

And the Winner is….

… Luci !!!!

Congratulations! You’ve won a copy of Stephanie Riseley’s book: Love From Both Sides: A True Story of Soul Survival and Sacred Sexuality.

Please email me at mjcwriter “at” comcast “dot” net with your mailing address

And thanks to all who stopped by and commented.

If you’d like a chance to win another FREE book, come back tomorrow for my first ESSAY writing contest announcement and find out what book will be the prize!


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Book Blog Tour & Giveaway: Stephanie Riseley, Author of “Love from Both Sides”

Stephanie standingToday, please welcome, Stephanie Riseley, author of Love from Both Sides: A True Story of Soul Survival and Sacred Sexuality, as she talks about her latest book and her experiences and background as a hypnotherapist.

Be sure to post a comment or question for Stephanie for a chance to win a copy of her book! (posts must be made by 12 midnight, June 3)

Stephanie Riseley is a writer, teacher, and hypnotherapist. Her book, Love From Both Sides: A True Story of Soul Survival and Sacred Sexuality, tells the story of her husband dying in her arms and coming back to chat.

Besides being a writer, Stephanie has studied hypnosis since 1971. Over the years, she’s helped hundreds of people get healthy, quit smoking, and make empowering lifestyle changes. Because she’s also a teacher, she explains how our computer-like brains work and then teaches her clients a skill-set that helps them to re-program their own brains. It’s like fixing a glitch in the wiring, or like ridding a computer of a pesky internet virus.

Scientific research proves that once people change their thinking, they actually change the physical structure of their brains. Because of that, they’re freed of self-destructive behaviors that ruin lives and steal happiness.

To do this, Stephanie uses hypnosis, along with techniques from Cognitive Behavorial Modification and Guided Interactive Therapy.

Find out more about Stephanie, by visiting her website: http://www.stephanieriseley.com/

Remember to post a comment or question for a chance to win your own  copy of : Love From Both Sides: A True Story of Soul Survival and Sacred Sexualitylove cover

Interview by Mary Jo Campbell:

  1. In your book, Love from Both Sides – a True Story of Soul Survival and Sacred Sexuality, you tell the story of your husband dying in your arms and coming back to you.  What exactly happened?

 What happened became the first paragraph of “Love From Both Sides,” and here it is:  

    I had my hand on my husband’s heart when it stopped beating. To feel his big, strong heart come to a complete and utter stop under my hand was so shocking, I didn’t have time to even think or react. Because just as his heart stopped, I felt “him” whoosh through me like a wind, and then from behind I heard, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I’m free at last!” What? Had Dan become Martin Luther King? I turned to look behind me. Was he on the ceiling? No? Where then? What? Free? Free! Free of me? Of our life?

This is not what you want to hear after you’ve just spent six manic, exhausting months doing everything possible to save a man. I turned back to look at the face I loved. The man that I’d married just twelve years before – the love of my life – the man I’d waited for so long to come. That man. The man who asked me to marry him on the fourth date, the man who worshiped my body when he made love to me – the man who could make me scream. The man whose soul I thought I knew so well. The man I fought with, the man I hated sometimes, the man who hated me. The man whose smell I couldn’t get enough of? That man? And the asshole died? He died! How could that be? He’d leave me? I wanted to scream, “No! Don’t go! Come back!” But all I could do was whisper, “No, no, no. Please, no.”

 Now, the question a writer might ask is how did I decide exactly where to begin to tell that story?  Because the book tells the story of two soul mates who finally found each other (after many misses and 20 years!) and it also tells the story of a very problematic marriage, I chose to begin at the most dramatic place I could think of – my husband dying in my arms. 

If you want to read the first four chapters online, here’s the link: http://sriseley.findhornpress.com/

2.     How did you know that you weren’t just imagining things? 

 

I wasn’t alone in that room.  The book continues:

 Samuel, my straight-arrow, twenty-eight-year-old stepson, who stood stock still next to the bed there in the Intensive Care Unit at Kaiser, would say later that Dan, my husband, had whipped into him and said, “Sam! Sam! I know it looks like I’m dead, but it’s okay! It’s really okay. I mean, I’m dead, but it’s all right.”

And Sam continued to hear from his father for months afterward.  I, on the other hand, couldn’t hear anything at all except my own muddled, miserable inner monologue until I just got angry at being so unhappy, and consequently changed energetic “frequencies,” and then Dan was able to connect. 

Sam could “hear” his father, but only vaguely.  He said, “I know what Dad’s saying, but I can’t actually hear words — I have to supply the words.”  I, on the other hand, could hear the actual words – and ultimately I was able to channel them, so Sam and I would compare notes. 

I feel what makes “Love From Both Sides,” fascinating is looking at the interrelationship that all three of us share, because if Dan had met me earlier, in 1970 for instance, when we were “destined” to meet, Sam would have been my son.  Ladies?  And if you think your husband is stubborn? ; ^) Read what happens when “stubborn” hijacks happiness.

 3.    For you and Dan, how long did you continue to have this intense connection from the other side? 

 Our connection lasted almost a full year, and that’s the time period the book covers – the year of channeling.  Figuring out how to tell the story seems self-evident in retrospect, but until I just decided to use my screenwriting skills, and tell it chronologically – as if it were a movie – it stumped me completely.  But as writers reading the book, you’ll appreciate my own nuttiness with the process!

 3.a.   Why did it end?

The channeling ended because I had to let Dan go completely, so that I could reclaim my own life.  And to do that, I literally had to take his ashes back to France to where we had had a life together as nuns in the Middle Ages.  This life together had been a “pay back” life, i.e., an opportunity to love as male and female.  As Dan would say, we come in a lot together, but usually as friends – male friends. 

 4.   At the beginning of your book, you say that you started out to write a book called, “The Married Girls Guide to Hot and Sacred Sex.”  What happened to that book?

 The impetus for writing “The Married Girls Guide to Hot and Sacred Sex,” happened when I realized how many of my girlfriends were in relationships where sex had been relegated to a back burner, and because of that, their marriages were growing cold, and their families were falling apart.  Sexuality is such an emotionally charged subject because of a wrong turn taken by the Judaic/Christian belief system 2000 (or 4000 depending on whose research you’re using) years ago, when sex became “original sin,” filthy, evil, etc.  I’d studied the Goddess worshipping cultures where sex was sacred, and the where the source of life – woman – was honored.  (I read “When God Was a Woman,” by Merlin Stone in my twenties, and it shifted my own belief system.)  So I thought I’d write that book that brought that sense of sacred-sex into a marriage. (It still stuns me that anyone could view the source of life, the source of comfort, and connection, but it is what it is, yes?)  Back to the book?  There’s only so much time in the day, and now I teach what I would have written.  In my hypnotherapy practice, when women can’t lose weight, I ask them, “So how’s the sex?”  And after the tears stop flowing, I get an ear full.  Usually women who are carrying around 40 to 50 extra pounds are “starved” for love, and they feel compelled to feed their face to get it.  (And thus create an obsessive compulsive behavior.)  So I hypnotize them into loving themselves more, accepting their bodies, and letting go of their weight.  

 5.  In your work as a hypnotherapist and on your website StephanieRiseley.com, you mention that Guided Imagery can help to “reprogram brains.”  Can you share a few tips on how writers can use this method to help quiet stress and find the clarity we need to focus on our writing?

Hypnosis, Guided Imagery, Meditation, Prayer – all create Theta Waves in the brain and that’s when the creative juices can flow freely.  That’s why writers are prone to drug use and alcohol abuse – they want to get to that “state of being” fast, easily and without effort.  On my website, I explain hypnosis, and for any creative person, getting into that state of focused concentration (hypnosis) is essential.  The easiest way is to close your eyes, and focus on your own breathing, and learn how to calm yourself down.  I make CDs for my clients, and teach them techniques that become automatic, so they can keep calm in LA traffic, or when their 15 year-old son doesn’t come home, or the Dow Jones falls.  I teach my clients to do an internal inventory, and ask all the different parts of their body, “Is everything okay this fifteen seconds?”   So, why not try it?  Close your eyes, and begin at your toes.  Have a dialogue with all the parts of your body. By the time you reach your head, you’ll be ready to write!

 6.  The work you’ve done with clients on Past Life Regressions is fascinating.  Do you think these sessions would provide someone with enough material to write a memoir about one of (or a combination of) their previous lives?

Absolutely!  I would bet that most historical writers are just accessing “old files” in their brain – and the collective unconscious.  I’ve got a screenwriter coming in today to do just that – she wants to access a past life to use in a script – a murder mystery.

 7.  In your post on Holistic Future, you say “souls incarnate to learn different things.”  So, how can we live more consciously every day in order to achieve our purpose for this life?

 Show up for the life you are living now.  Appreciate everything you have, as opposed to thinking about what you don’t have or worrying about tomorrow.  Know that everyone in your life – even your impossible mother-in-law – is there to teach you something.  Patience, perhaps?  Compassion?  Who knows?  When you look at your day as an ever unfolding series of moments, and are able to find things to be grateful about, it changes your life completely.  Your life is what you are thinking – literally – and if you are constantly criticizing yourself, or your husband, your life, your world, etc., you are creating a negative force field around yourself.  So flip your thoughts into a “gratitude groove” (neuropathways) and encourage yourself appreciate “what is.” 

And if you’re a writer?  Write.  That’s your purpose, or an aspect of it.  I remember a quote from Rust Hills in, “Fiction,” that goes something like:  “Maybe you can’t make a sows ear into a silk purse, but very few sows ears want to be silk purses.”  So if you want to write, you’re a writer.  It’s your job/purpose to share what you have to say with the rest of us, yes?

SacredSexflyerPlease share any current or future projects, tours, books or events you have planned.

I will be speaking at the Bodhi Tree here in Los Angeles later on this summer, and then depending on what shows up, I’ll just keep going forward.  I just did some interviews on YouTube, which were fun.  My life feels like white water river rafting – but I’m getting good at it.  We’re all here to develop skills and enjoy the adventure, yes?  Thanks for having me here!

 Post for a chance to win!

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Filed under Advice, Author Interviews, books, Give Aways, Inspiration, Rest, writing inspiration

And the winner is…

Sarah Joyce Bryant!

Congratulations, Sarah! You won a copy of All Men Are Cremated Equal: My 77 Blind Dates, by Elizabeth Fournier.

Please send me your snail mail address and Elizabeth will ship out your book! Email me: mjcwriter”at”comcast.net

Thanks to all for stopping by and be sure to follow Elizabeth on the rest of her book blog tour….and come back to Writers Inspired for more author interviews and book giveaways!

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Book Blog Tour & Giveaway: Elizabeth Fournier

Welcome to the Summer Book Blog Tour Kickoff!

Today, I am pleased to introduce, Elizabeth Fournier, author of  All Men Are Cremated Equal:  My 77 Blind Dates

HeadshotFournierElizabeth0309Elizabeth earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications and
Broadcasting in 1991, but she followed her heart and pursued a career
in the death care industry. She currently owns the funeral home in
Boring, Oregon and can be heard narrating the autopsy exhibit in the
forensic wing at the United States National Museum of Medicine. You
can also see her online as the Video Spokesperson for Chinook Winds
Casino Resort, and she also teaches Ballroom Dance at Reed College in
Portland, Oregon.

Read about Elizabeth discussing the one-year journey that lead her to
find the love of her life in her new memoir, “All Men Are Cremated
Equal: My 77 Blind Dates.”AllMenAreCrematedEqual,cover

Leave a comment or question today for Elizabeth and you’ll have  chance to WIN a copy of her book!

Interview by: Mary Jo Campbell

MJC: OK, first of all, I have to comment on your vast variety of careers: ballroom dance instructor, voice over for an autopsy exhibit, radio personality and TV show host and finally your full time job as a mortician.  How fascinating to have all of these experiences.  What has your writing career/background been prior to publishing All Men and have you written about any of your other life/job experiences?

Elizabeth: For quite some time I fancied myself as a country song writer. I’ve penned a spiral notebook full of songs, titled things like “Smoking Lucky’s All Alone,” “He’s My Kind of Grit,” and “You Drove Me To Drinkin’ Now I’m Too Drink To Drive.” That last title is so awesome I have a feeling I probably heard it somewhere before.

I also did a smidge of freelance for Metro Newspapers. Here’s a quick sample:

Best Way To Feel Love For Under A Buck

Forget about all the upscale watering holes. When you need a fix, nothing satisfies like a cool 44 oz. refill from the ubiquitous little stores with the green signs. This way-downtown ode to the trash culture has its competition beat in fair-‘n’-square, mega-corporation style. Shaken, stirred, on the rocks–it’s all iced goodness. And at a mere $.75, my cup runneth over with love. Bound together by the fellowship of The Super Big Gulp, the faithful come to worship a bubbling cup of sugar-water devoid of all nutritional value. Synthetic? Maybe. But tasty? Always.

MJC: Did you know going in to the one-year “escapade of blind dates” that your experiences would turn into a book?  And if so, did you accept dates just because they would make good story material?

Elizabeth: My dating was purely dating. All I wanted was to get off the dating roller coaster and find the right guy to marry. The character study question is a great one because I was set up with such colorful people. They provided me with great stories to and dialogue to write about. I couldn’t make any of them up! At the time it was quite frustrating to meet off the wall people when I was serious about my search. But beyond a doubt the wackier dates certainly made my book zesty.

MJC: I love to try and relate all things to writing somehow.  How would you compare being a mortician to being a writer?

Elizabeth: Being a mortician doesn’t involve that sort of creative energy. When the work presents itself (in the form of a corpse), it’s there to be done. And being a mortician involves so much personal contact with family of the deceased and the people attending the funeral service.

I suppose that being a writer takes creative energy/inspiration — which doesn’t always come when one would like it to. So perhaps the writer is sometimes not able to write… like it’s going against the flow of the moment. … Also, writing is primarily “the loneliest sport” as Dick Button would say. (Am I aging myself here?)

MJC: How did you market this book so as not to blend in with all the “other dating books” on the market today?  Is your book’s purpose strictly to entertain or give dating advice, as well?

Elizabeth I just don’t think there are many blonde morticians who went on 77 blind dates to find their husband, so marketing has been easy. The title intrigues people, plus the storyline is entertaining. I wrote it and market it as self-help, but fortunately people get my humor, too.

MJC: Last but not least, you got the book – did you get the guy?

Elizabeth: Absolutely! The message to women in my memoir is to stay true to yourself. Always. I thought about what I wanted, I stayed the course, and yes, got the guy. It wasn’t always easy, and it certainly wasn’t always pretty. But it was effective and I am happily married to a very supportive, wonderful human.

MJC: Please tell us what’s next for Elizabeth Fournier: any tour dates, appearances, readings or upcoming titles or projects you’d like us to know about?

Elizabeth: I am currently on a blog tour, so below is my schedule if any “Writers Inspired” want to check out more of my random thoughts:

5/21/09: Annette Fix http://annettefix.wordpress.com

5/22/09: Kristin Bair O’Keeffe www.kristinbairokeeffe.com

5/26/09: Wedding Skulls http://weddingskulls.com
5/27/09: The Divine Miss Mommy http://divinemissmommy.com

6/ 02 /09: Nice Shoes! and other life observations   (http://barbjacobucci.blogspot.com)

6/05/09: Fatal Foodies http://fatalfoodies.blogspot.com

6/08/09: Sybil Baker http://sybilbaker.com
6/11/09: Misadvertures with Andi http://misadventureswithandi.com
6/15/09: Modern Single Momma http://www.modernmarriedmomma.com

And look for me this summer in a fun online film. Toshiba chose Boring, Oregon (where I live!) to compete against another aptly named town in a friendly contest to see which can become more “exciting.”
Camera crews will document my project on Green Burial education using Toshiba Laptops’ innovative and helpful technology. Over the course of the project, online viewers will vote on which town they believe achieved more and collectively became more “exciting.” The town with the most votes will receive a technology upgrade to the local school system, courtesy of Toshiba. Award-winning documentary and commercial director Mark Foster has been tapped to helm the project.  Visit:  www.elizabethfournier.com

Leave a comment or question for Elizabeth today for a chance to win a copy of

All Men Are Cremated Equal: My 77 Blind Dates

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Summer (Book) Tours & Giveaways!

How fortunate I am to be in touch with the fine ladies at WOW! Women on Writing.  WOW! has kicked off a book blog tour and I am one of their lucky hosts!

So, get your calendars ready:  here’s the line up of fresh authors who will visit Writers Inspired this summer to dish on their newest books and the journey they took to get them published. (Plus, you’ll have a chance to win a copy of these books when commenting after their interviews)

Wednesday, May 20:

AllMenAreCrematedEqual,coverElizabeth Fournier, author of All Men Are Cremated Equal: My 77 Blind Dates.

Genre: Memoir (reads like Chick Lit)

Elizabeth chronicles her true life dating spree as a marriage-minded mortician in her mid-30’s. Set off by her broken engagement, she enlists everyone in sight to set her up on blind dates in a passionate quest to meet just one really great guy. Armed with a 10-point list of dating criteria, skintight jeans, and flash cards on Nascar, football, and micro-breweries, she spends one full year doing the blind meet and greet. Names are changed to protect the rejected as she humorously dishes dot-com hotties, compulsive bloggers, and tattooed graduates of the Gene Simmons School of Dating. Bridget Jones would be proud of her American cousin.

Find out more about Elizabeth by visiting her website: http://elizabethfournier.com/

and her blog: All Men Are Cremated Equal Blog.

Tuesday, May 26:

VioletRaines-cover Danette Haworth, author of Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

Have you almost been struck by lightning? Eleven-year-old Violet Raines has, in more ways than one. And when she’s not dodging lightning or outrunning alligators, she’s trying to keep the prissy new girl from stealing her best friends.  

Visit Danette at her website at www.danettehaworth.com
and her blog: http://summerfriend.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, June 3:

Lovefrombothsides.coverStephanie Riseley, author of Love From Both Sides: A True Story of Soul Survival and Sacred Sexuality.

Genre: Memoir

Synopsis: In this memoir, memorial, and celebration, Stephanie Riseley shares the deeply emotional and powerfully physical story of the continued relationship between her and her husband Dan after his sudden death. Exploring the ways in which love and forgiveness can transcend the boundaries of life and death, the book intends to change perceptions of the emotional and spiritual relationships two people can share. Problematic marriages and challenging relationships will take on positive new dimensions.

Stephanie’s website: http://www.stephanieriseley.com/

Wednesday, June 10:

Secret Keepers.cover

Mindy Friddle, author of Secret Keepers

Genre: Southern Fiction

Synopsis: At age seventy-two, Emma Hanley plans to escape small-town Palmetto, South Carolina, and travel the globe. But when her fickle husband dies in undignified circumstances, Emma finds herself juggling the needs of her adult children. Her once free-spirited daughter Dora turns to compulsive shopping and a controlling husband to forget her wayward past. Her son Bobby still lives with her, afflicted with an illness that robbed him of his childhood promise.

Mindy’s website:  http://www.mindyfriddle.com/

Wednesday, August12:

FearlessConfessions.coverSue Williams Silverman, author of Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir

Genre: Writing

Synopsis: Everyone has a story to tell. Fearless Confessions is a guidebook for people who want to take possession of their lives by putting their experiences down on paper–or in a Web site or e-book. Enhanced with illustrative examples from many different writers as well as writing exercises, this guide helps writers navigate a range of issues from craft to ethics to marketing and will be useful to both beginners and more accomplished writers.

Sue Silverman’s website: http://www.suewilliamsilverman.com/

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And the winner is…

 

The random number generator has spoken and declared… Jenni the winner!

Congratulations! And thanks to everyone who participated.

Jenni, please send me your mailing address and Rachel will send you a copy of Through Endangered Eyes

mjcwriter “at” comcast “dot” com

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Blog Tour: Author/Artist Rachel Dillon

r_dillon_portrait1 Today, joining us at Writers Inspired is Rachel Dillon, introducing her first book in a series on endangered animals: Through Endangered Eyes. Rachel not only wrote the poetry for this book , but illustrated the beautiful dot paintings on each page and cover. And, if you comment in today’s post (after the interview) you will have a chance to win a copy of Through Endangered Eyes.

Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, Rachel Dillon earned her bachelor s degree in art and graphic design from the University of Wisconsin Madison. She lives and works as an artist in the Southwest. Beyond design and fine art, Rachel holds a special interest in ecology, evolution, and extinction. Her passion for animals and endangered species has
led her to write about them in hopes that educating others will lead to a more conscientious treatment of these animals and their habitats.

book_cover_tee-squareBe sure to leave a comment or question for Rachel today (April 6) for a chance to win a copy of Through Endangered Eyes!

Interview by Mary Jo Campbell:

MJC: It is obvious you are an animal rights’ activist. How did you research for your book: how did you decide the poses you were going to paint and the information you were going to put into poetry?

RD: When I started the book, I chose animals that most people have heard are endangered: African elephant, giant panda, tiger, snow leopard, sea turtle, humpback whale. I had reference books, zoos and the internet to help me research these species. Some of the lesser known species: the Marbled Murrelet, the Channel Island Fox, and the Comoro Black Flying Fox, were more difficult to find information. For those I spent most of my time doing searches online for qualified information.

I really wanted to keep the facts for the animals simple and direct, so young readers and listeners could understand. I think the fact that I am not a scientist helped me to keep it simple. I wanted to really find something unique and special about each species that I could convey in a poem. What feature or behavior was different about the animal and how can I capture a child’s attention with words?

I think I leave the painting question for last, because my paintings mean so much to me. When I shopped for a publisher, I mentioned they didn’t have to take my artwork, if they only wanted the content. Looking back, I think that was an insecurity I had about the quality of my art. Even though I knew how fascinated children were with my paintings of animals, I wasn’t sure if it was too unique for the general public.

Some of my earlier paintings in my book (the African elephant, tiger and sea turtle) were poses of animals I had already painted or drawn before.  As I progressed further into the book, the story telling in my paintings or the complexity in the detail of the paintings improved: examples are the Grevy’s zebras, snow leopard, polar bear, and Karner blue butterflies. These paintings were more than just portraits, the animals are interacting with each other or their environment.

MJC: I love that your kids are so involved in your writing experiences, like the mention of your daughter wondering if a stranger on the street knew who you were because “you were in the newspaper last week.”  How do you, as a mom and artist influence these artistic passions in your kids?  Do you have any projects that you work on together?

RD: I certainly try to encourage my kids’ creativity. My daughter is a doodler, so she has paper at the table and is constantly drawing. I give her drawing instruction books too so she has guidance. I also go into her first grade class and work with the kids twice per month on art concepts: perspective, complementary colors and painting styles.

My son is five, and he is less confident with drawing, but loves to paint. He mixes beautiful colors and just enjoys the freedom of the abstraction. I go into his classroom once per week and work with the pre-k and kindergartners on painting. They love to get messy and some have never had that experience.

Together we (my kids and I) pull out the watercolors and play with the paint. When I am getting some of my promotion materials together for the book, they help me paste and stick, organize and fold things. I also like to work on my paintings in front of the kids. They watch me paint and they’ll ask questions, so I know being exposed to the process is also essential in their learning.

MJC: Artistic expression, I believe, is vitally important to our society, our children and ourselves. I applaud you for combining your paintings with your poetry.  Do you consider yourself an artist first and an author second, and how do the two compliment each other?

RD: I feel more comfortable calling myself an artist first, since I have had training and a lot of time to build that image of myself. I am still getting used to the idea of being an author but farther from calling myself a poet. I feel that writing and poetry come naturally to me, but have not studied them thoroughly enough to feel proficient. I come from a line of published authors – my father, and my grandfather to start, I am excited to be finding my own path as a writer, and know how proud my parents are.

I completely agree with your comment about the importance of artistic expression. It is important to me to expose my children to galleries, theatre, dancing, music and other performances as much as I can. All of these arenas can hold such wonderful examples of expression.

MJC: Can you tell us about the marketing and publication process of Through Endangered Eyes, and how you were involved as both the illustrator and author?

RD: Luckily, I have had career experiences that taught me about marketing and PR. I think my publisher is doing their part in the process of publicizing my book, but I am determined to take it a step further. My Web site, blog, Facebook page, and network of friends and family have been a wonderful start at getting the word out about my book.

If I have a book event, I send a press release to the local paper, get on their Web events list, update my Web site, send emails to the people I know locally and postcards if I have mailing addresses. I definitely know that exposing people three times to something, helps keep it in the front of their mind.

As the artist, I have made note cards and prints of the book illustrations and offer the actual illustrations for sale on my Web site. As give-aways, I hand out bookmarks and magnets showing one of my illustrations and I have started making t-shirts of the book’s cover image. Wow, I feel like Walmart when I list it out. Not sure if I am commercializing the product too much or just enough. I know that my goal is to make an income at this, so I can live the dream of being a full time artist and author.

This blog tour has been an amazing way to publicize the book as well. No matter what, my motivation for creating the book always remains the same, I want to get as many kids thinking about endangered species as I possibly can.

MJC: Please tell us about book two in this series and your plans for marketing more through your blog (videos of reading and painting.)

RD: I feel like a rookie in the blog world, as much as a new author on a steep learning curve. So, seeing what other authors write on their blogs and how they share information certainly helps me to see the possibilities.

I want to add a few things to my blog: more classroom photos; a video of me reading the book; an audio of the book’s poetry; and video of me painting. Now, I just have to figure out how to do that.

As I start the process for the next book I will definitely post the images of the new animals I am working on and the species I choose to write about. I also want to work with mores specialists and shoot more of my own stock photography of the animals I want to paint. I know several of the species in the next book, will be impossible to find in a location I can take pictures, so I will rely on stock photos I purchase or combining several photos together I find online, to create an original image. Keeping people updated and interested in learning more about the next book, is a great way for me to share the process and increase their enthusiasm to go out and get the next one!

Thank you so much for the opportunity to participate in your blog and great questions!

Links
www.RachelDillon.com – you can purchase the original artwork, notecards and prints from the book
Blog: throughendangeredeyes.blogspot.com
You can order a print from: Amazon.com
Publisher is http://www.finneyco.com/endangered_eyes.htm
Artists for Conservation: http://www.natureartists.com/rachel_dillon.asp

Post a comment or question for Rachel and one lucky winner will be randomly selected and announced tomorrow!

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