Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Mystery Behind Artifact Theft is Inspiration for New Novel, Anasazi Intrigue

Stolen artifacts, a snoopy newspaper reporter, and mysterious events begin to unfold with Anasazi Intrigue. Ancient American artifacts are being sold to the highest bidder. When an ancient ruin is discovered, it doesn’t take long for thieves to find out about it.

Archaeological thievery is becoming more and more of a problem every year but Utah’s vandalism is the worst in the country. Theft at the Four Corners area of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona is still a big problem. The damage to these sites is estimated at almost $42,000 in two year’s time. An ancient funeral pit can be sold for as high as sixty thousand dollars on the black market, not to mention pottery, baskets, and pendants found by looters.

An article in the Associated Press said, “Two dozen people were indicted Wednesday after a sweeping undercover investigation into ancient artifacts stolen from public and tribal lands in the Four Corners area.” (Associated Press, Mike Stark, June 11, 2009)

There were around 300 federal agents that were involved in the arrest of both men and women from ages twenty-seven to seventy-eight. They were all part of an underground network. In fact, archaeological theft has gone corporate. They even pay rent on private property in order to dig without being caught. Unfortunately there is no law to prevent digging on private property.

I read an article in the Las Vegas Sun Newspaper about a couple men who were loading some artifacts in the trunk of their car. A ranger saw what they were doing and questioned them, not realizing he had accidentally stumbled upon the largest operation around. The article said they recovered more than 11,100 relics.

Did you know that people are actually selling shards and arrowheads on websites? The Anasazi culture is being sold to the highest bidder. Is there anything that can be done to protect America’s past?

This subject was so intriguing to me that I sat down and began writing. My new mystery series surrounds the theft of artifacts. In Anasazi Intrigue, it all begins with a devastating flood, which takes out several homes in a small town in southern Utah. Julia Evans, the town's newest reporter, is shocked by the news of a poison spill that kills many of the fish and neighbor's pets. Intrigued, she jumps into action and begins her investigation. Quickly though, Julia realizes the story and investigation are much bigger and more dangerous than she thought! Julia and her husband find themselves on the run trying to save their lives while finishing the story of a lifetime. She never realized that being a reporter could be so dangerous. With artifacts, dead fish, a devastating flood, and miscreants, John and Julia have their hands full.

The Evans are not the ordinary couple. Together they investigate and solve crimes. You laugh at the humor and sigh at the romance. Just sprinkle in three grown daughters, and you have quite a mixture. This novel has good values along with a little suspense and adventure. The John and Julia Evans mystery series includes Anasazi Intrigue, Mayan Intrigue, and Montezuma Intrigue.

“Anasazi Intrigue: The Adventures of John and Julia Evans,” a story of mystery and intrigue, disaster and hope. To learn more, visit

Monday, May 24, 2010

Interview with Author Michele Ashman Bell

Michele Ashman Bell grew up in St. George, Utah. After marrying, she moved away from the warm winters of southern Utah to all that snow in northern Utah. As a young girl she was a devoted journal keeper. She said, “I would express my most personal thoughts and feelings in my journal in a way I could never express them verbally.” Michele is the mother of four children and the author of 20 novels.

Summer In Paris: Kenzie Williams feels like she has it all: wealth, friends, popularity. But when her father tells her that he has declared bankruptcy, her whole world in New York City turns upside down. Her parents' solution while they sort out their problems is to send Kenzie to live with her relatives in Paris . . . Idaho! Feeling like she's been sentenced to three months in Hickville Prison, Kenzie arrives in Idaho feeling like a square peg in a round, horribly podunk, hole. Leaving everything she loves behind, Kenzie is forced to get up at the crack of dawn, do chores, etc. She feels like she's about to die until she meets handsome Adam White whose got a deep secret. He’s been accused of killing his best friend. She is determined to get to know him and find out his secret.

Hello, Michele. I’m so excited about this interview. I read your book and thoroughly enjoyed it. There were parts, which were so humorous, that I laughed out loud. You were able to portray your characters so vividly. I would recommend this book for all ages. First, tell us about your new book.

Hi Linda. You're so nice to give me a chance to talk about my new book. Even though I have had other books published, this one is kind of special because 1) it is my first honest-to-goodness YA book, 2) it's my first national release, and 3) because I wrote it about 15 years ago and have wanted to see this story published for a long time. I feel like I've been pregnant forever and finally gave birth.

What a cute way of expressing the “birth” of a novel! Where did you get your ideas? Give us some examples.

I'm fascinated by this whole process of coming up with ideas and having them turn into books. The smallest thing can trigger a book idea. As you yourself know, authors tend to have their radar on constantly for new ideas. We eavesdrop, observe and ask "what if" about everything around us. I don't think a day goes by that I don't kick around a headline I've read, or a story someone's told me, or an issue that's a hot topic, and ask "what if." Sometimes nothing comes of it, other times my brain explodes with possibilities and I find myself scrambling for a notebook to jot down all the ideas. I have a file folder full of ideas. Some end up published. It is the coolest moment when I get excited about a new idea. Imagination is amazing. One word can trigger it and turn an idea into a story. My ideas usually come in one of three forms; from a setting or location, from a character idea, or from a premise or issue I want to write about. For instance, our family went on a vacation to Cancun, Mexico. It didn't take long to realize I had to write a book with Cancun as a setting. I am very inspired by places I visit. Most of my stories are a result of a character going through a challenge. A girl I met told me she had been abandoned at the altar on her wedding day. I had to explore the emotions associated with that and wrote a story about it.

Hey! I read your book that was set in Cancun. I loved it. Do you use an outline when you write or play it by ear?

I am an outline junkie. I have to have a general idea of where I want the book to go, yet I seem to always get derailed because my characters take control of the story and don't really care what my outlines says. I actually love when this happens, but I'm constantly revising my outline.

That proves how well you develop your characters. When we get to know them so well, we realize that the original outline just won’t work. One reviewer wrote, "Michele Ashman Bell has combined a series of winning elements: friendship, comedy, romance, mystery - and given us a heroine who truly lives up to that name. Kenzie is not perfect, and at the start of the book, she might not even be very likable. But every experience she has changes her and softens her.” So… in other words, Kenzie is a snob at first. Right? Tell me your thoughts about this review.

I totally appreciate and respect honest opinions so I felt this was a great review. Kenzie is a brat, yet she is a product of her environment and the way she's been raised. Once the reader understands why she's the way she is, she garners sympathy and understanding. I really love her character and the growth she goes through in this book. That is my goal in every story, to show a character grow and change. I'm confident that the reader will empathize with Kenzie even though they don't love her in the beginning, and by the end they will love the person she becomes.

Michele, I love the fact that she grows and changes and becomes likeable. Kenzie’s surroundings are what made her change. Writing is second nature to you and you wanted to be an author for years but it wasn’t easy. You never gave up after ten years of rejections. Tell us why you didn’t give up and give our future writers some suggestions … or even hope.

Yea, I'm the poster girl for persistence. I didn't have formal training as a writer and am pretty much a grammar idiot, so it took ten years for me to learn the skills and get the thick skin a person needs to be a writer. It was so frustrating at times, but I believed in myself and my dream and I was willing to do whatever it took to make it happen. Most of the published authors come about because of hard work, not talent. Anyone can do it if they want it badly enough and are willing to work hard enough. Those ten years were valuable to me and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. I'm so glad I didn't give up!

Bravo, Michele! Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I hated chocolate until I turned 40 and now I'm a chocoholic! I've collected every Doris Day movie ever made and am now working on Audrey Hepburn movies. I love to travel.

Thanks for the interview Linda. You are awesome!

Thanks. This was such a fun interview, Michele. Now we all know the real you, the person that hated chocolate for 40 years and a Doris Day fan. Hey, my family and children are Doris Day fans, too. They’re collecting them as well. In fact, my kids are amazed that their friends don’t even know who Doris Day is.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Interview with Author Anne Bradshaw

Anne Bradshaw was born in Caernarvon, Wales and grew up in Cheshire, England. After fifty-one years in England, she and her husband moved to the USA. They have four children and several grandchildren. She is an “avid reader and scribbler,” writes books, screenplays, youth short stories, and articles. Anne's motto on her blog says: “Not Entirely British!”

"Anne Bradshaw has collected a smorgasbord of FHE ideas to delight any and every family. From foil dinners to teaching scriptures and songs -- this book is full of ideas to make family time the best it can be. Ideas come from families worldwide, a sampling of ways to love those that love you the very most!" - Amy Freeze, Fox News Chicago.

I’m so excited about this interview. For those who may not know the term FHE, it means “Family Home Evening.” What is Family Home Evening? It’s special time you spend with your children, where you teach them good principles, play games, have fun, and sometimes argue. Hey, no family is perfect!

Anne, please tell us about your new book, “Famous Family Nights."

My main purpose in writing Famous Family Nights was to provide a uniquely entertaining and informative book that would help others gain fresh enthusiasm for holding family home evening.

It's all too easy to quit when things don’t go right, but after reading stories from parents whose children are now grown, and from children… now parents themselves, I'm all the more convinced that quitting is a sad choice. Learning how most of them struggled at times, and what happened as they persevered, was a revelation that had me punching the air and grinning. Some stories are so funny, while others are tender. Many include great ideas. Many share long-term results.

In addition to prominent names, I included many talented people who were less well known and struggling to make their way in their chosen profession. I love anything that is a win/win situation, and this book is just that - participants, readers, publisher, author - we all win. The entries are not only from entertainers and artists, but also from achievers in the world of sports, business, and service to the community.

At this time, we are all concerned about our children traveling the straight and narrow path, hoping they won’t go astray from our teachings. Where did you get your ideas for this very timely book?

The ideas in "Famous Family Nights" are written by LDS personalities from several countries, taken from real life experiences. Many of the stories are hilarious, many are serious, but all are anecdotal and help us realize how very human we all are, no matter what our position in life.

I love the fact that it's taken from real life experiences. Do you use an outline when you write or play it by ear?

When writing fiction, I use a rough outline, and then let the story unfold. Sometimes the outline changes, and that’s okay, as long as there is a riveting beginning, exciting middle, and a believable and satisfying ending.

George Dyer, an International Opera Singer, wrote about your book, "After reading the first few stories in this book I let out a sigh of relief and a chuckle as I realized my family really wasn't so dysfunctional when it came to family home evening experiences after all! It provides wonderful ideas, and also helps us realize how important family time is to our children - whether they know it or not." I love this quote. Tell me your thoughts about this review.

Yes, I also enjoyed reading this from George. I thought he hit the nail right on its proverbial head. Most of us tend to feel our family nights are the only ones in the whole world that aren’t as perfect as we would like. But we all have challenges with which to work (some more than others), and following the advice of Prophets by consistently providing this family experience—no matter how it turns out—will bring promised blessings in the end. One of the major blessings is the building of warm and loving feelings that last a lifetime.

What does your family think about your writing and are they supportive?

Our children have long since left the family nest, but yes, they are supportive. Some of them even read and critique my manuscripts. When our oldest grand-daughter’s picture appeared on the cover of a previous book, “Please, No Zits! & Other Short Stories for LDS Youth,” it was fun hearing her tell her friends about it. Many of them didn’t believe her at first when she said her grand-mother wrote the book. I had to write on her Facebook page as proof.

Now that's what I call real support: reading and critiquing your manuscript. Tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

The real me loves collecting recipes, the majority of which sit in boxes, unused. Why? Because I’m a lousy cook. I invariably manage to do something wrong and the delicious looking dish ends up bland, burned, or looking disgusting. Thank goodness for crock-pots. Throw everything in, cook for hours, and dinner is edible . . . most of the time.

Now we all know the real you! Being a lousy cook is just fine as long as everyone is well fed and you have your reliable crock-pot. I love it! And besides, it’s a great way to inspire husbands to help out in the kitchen. Right?

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Importance of Promoting Your Book

When I became an author, I didn’t know one thing about promoting one’s book. I was oblivious to such a thing. I had pictured myself sitting at my desk and writing more stories. I was not prepared for all the hard work I was supposed to do. My publisher told me to get a website, write articles for the Internet and local newspapers, get reviews, get interviews, enter contests, etc. The list was long and I became discouraged.

Finally my sweet husband said, “You worry too much. I know you can do it. It’s just like eating an elephant.”

“An elephant?” I exclaimed.

“Yes. Just one bite at a time!”

That’s right! After your book is published, an author’s responsibilities are just beginning. Many people think that an author can now relax after the book has been written and begin their next book, but it’s not so. An author must promote his or her book by doing a few things that will enhance the book’s success.

First, when creating your website, make sure that it can be loaded easily. If it can’t be loaded within 10 seconds, visitors will give up. Make sure your images are optimized for web view. Don’t make the site too busy or visitors will feel overwhelmed and give up.

Second, send your book to professional reviewers. Pick only reviewers who review your genre, otherwise it’s a waste of time. Some reviewers only review established authors, so select carefully so you don’t send your book to someone who won’t review it.

Third, write articles for the Internet and local newspapers. You must publish articles so you will be recognized as an author and it will enhance your web presence. These articles are important for your book’s success, for the one reason that people are getting to know you. Articles help you and your book to stand out and be noticed. There are some excellent websites to write articles: American Chronicle, Article-hangout, Go Articles, Articles Base, Amazines, Search Warp, and Authors Den.

How do you begin writing for the web? The American Chronicle is a great one because it has twenty-one other chronicles where your articles will be published. First, you need to send an article to the Chronicle as evidence of your writing skills. The other article websites don’t ask for samples. All you have to do is just sign up and begin writing. You may visit my site at American Chronicle and see what kind of articles I write. Make sure you have a good byline that includes your name, your book, and contact information such as your website. With American Chronicle, you don’t need a byline because your bio is on your site.

Cheryl Malandrinos helps authors promote their books. She is a book reviewer, blogger, interviews authors and editors for The Book Connection, and is a virtual book tour coordinator for Pump Up Your Book Promotion. She is a founding member of Musing Our Children—a group dedicated to encouraging a love of reading and writing in young people.

Cheryl, you work for an online book promotion agency. You show authors how to sell books without leaving the comfort of their home. What are the most important things an author should do to begin promoting his or her book?

Thanks for having me here today, Linda. I love talking book promotion. The most important thing an author must do is create an online presence before the book comes out. That means investing in a professional-looking website. This could be a potential reader’s first impression of you and your work. It could also be visited by fellow authors and others in the industry. You want them to know you take your career seriously and will deliver a professional product. With my first children’s book coming out later this year, I’m taking the plunge and having someone design a new website for my work. God did not bless me with that type of knowledge, and I want something that will be attractive and informative.

Creating an online presence also involves learning how to use social media. When Pump Up Your Book Promotion started, there was no Facebook or Twitter. Now, it’s hard to imagine they haven’t always been around. I’m constantly using these and other social networks to promote our clients.

Another important thing an author should do is create a media kit. Social Media Consultant Angela Wilson has several articles about media kits on her “Market My Novel” website. If you go to the archives section and look under media kits, you’ll easily find them. In her article, “What Makes a Good Online Media Kit” (September 2, 2009) you’ll learn what an online media kit should include, along with examples from author websites.

Networking is also vital to successful book promotion. I’ve been networking online for years. You need to foster relationships before your book comes out so people are willing to help you when the time comes. If you’re good to people and supportive of their endeavors, they will be happy to return the favor.

Very good advice, Cheryl. A website is important because people want to know who the author is and what kind of books he or she has written. Why is Internet marketing so important?

Let’s face it, we live in very different times now. My children can’t imagine a world without computers in every classroom, the Internet, cell phones, iPods, and e-books. When I tell my son that I lived—and still live—without texting, he falls over with laughter.

Technology has meant many great things for authors. Self-publishing and POD companies have opened doors that might have remained shut for some writers. E-books and e-readers give people access to books at a lower cost, and make them easily portable. As the publishing industry has evolved, so has the way in which authors are promoting their books.

With limited marketing budgets, authors need to find the most bang for their buck. The Internet provides that by allowing authors to reach a much larger audience than they could with in-store book signings and other local events. Now, I’m not saying authors shouldn’t plan book signings or other events around their book, just that they need to combine what they are doing locally with savvy Internet marketing to widen their reach.

Thank you, Cheryl. You have given us some valuable information. Remember, as an author, your duties don’t stop when the book is written. It’s just beginning. You need to get out into the public’s eye and be recognized so your book will be noticed.

(Interested in mystery novels? Read my press release: “Mystery and Adventure” is Theme of New Novel: Anasazi Intrigue.)