Thursday, May 24, 2012

Interview with Author Steve Miller and Book Giveaway

J. Steve Miller calls himself a “wisdom broker,” collecting wisdom from many fields and packaging it for teachers and writers via his published books and the Web. He’s written seven books on subjects ranging from ethnomusicology (The Contemporary Christian Music Debate) to philosophy of religion (Richard Dawkins and His God Delusion) to writing and publishing. Over 1500 people a day visit his website for teacher resources on life skills and character education. He loves hanging out with his family, caring for his 106-year-old granny, and doing weird stuff like spelunking.

This book helps authors determine whether or not they would like to be self-published or go with a traditional publisher. I was impressed with all the information I gained in this book.” --George Clarke, graphic designer and owner of Red Mountain Shadows Publishing

Welcome back to my blog, Steve! You have some new books that will help authors with book promotion and publishing. Please tell us about your new books.

Since you last interviewed me in 2010, my wife (Cherie) and I have published four books for writers:

Sell More Books! Book Marketing and Publishing for Low Profile and Debut Authors: Rethinking Book Publicity after the Digital Revolutions. We researched low profile authors who were selling a lot of books to see how they did it. The resulting book helps authors narrow down which marketing methods might work best for them.
Social Media Frenzy: Why Time Consuming Facebook, Twitter & Blogging Strategies May NOT Work for Your Business - Consider These Alternative Social Networking Initiatives. Publishers and literary agents push authors to spend tons of time writing blog posts, tweeting and building followings on Facebook. Our research and experience questions this “build a vast following” concept and suggests that many authors would do better to pursue other social media strategies.
Publish a Book! Compare over 50 Self-Publishing Companies: Book Publishing with CreateSpace, Lulu, Lightning Source, iUniverse, Outskirts, Publish America, Xlibris, Xulon, etc. Here we try to cut through the confusing hype and help authors who want to self-publish to make wise choices in a company.
Writing Conversations: Spend 365 Days with Your Favorite Authors, Learning the Craft of Writing. Cherie and I love to learn from successful authors. Cherie put together a wonderful collection of inspiring and informative quotes from a wide range of famous authors such as Stephen King, Louis L'Amour, Ann Lamott, Janet Evanovich, Ray Bradbury, Agatha Christie, and William Faulkner about the craft and business of writing.

Where did you get your inspiration for these new books?

Our inspiration was twofold. First, we needed the wisdom. Cherie and I want to spend a big chunk of the fourth quarter of our lives writing and publishing. So it made sense to do some serious research into both the craft and business of writing.

Second, we kept meeting frustrated authors who were bewildered by the publishing and marketing process. Sometimes they had chosen the wrong publisher or self-publishing company, thus ruining their chances of successfully marketing their books. Other times they were feverishly blogging and socializing on Facebook, but their books weren’t selling. We wanted to help them, so we put what we were learning into books.

George Clarke, graphic designer and owner of Red Mountain Shadows Publishing, wrote about Social Media Frenzy: “I learned a lot from Steve Miller’s book. I found out that having a blog, just for the sake of having a blog, doesn’t do much for an author. The same goes for Facebook and Twitter. Our time is precious. The work involved in maintaining the blog doesn’t always provide the best results.” Tell us what you think about this statement.

Blogging works for some people. It looks like it’s working for you, Linda, since a lot of people comment and appreciate your reviews and advice. So I’m not saying it can’t work.

But the question that most people aren’t asking is, “Will it work for everybody?” Well, if by “work” you mean, “build a vast following and sell a lot of books,” I’d suggest that the answer is no. It may work for some, but probably not for most. Typically, authors with successful blogs (those with big followings) pour tons of time into researching their niche and even more time into writing regular, insightful posts. They also have claimed a particular niche that thousands of others aren’t competing to dominate. But even if you successfully build that following, you need to answer a further question: “Is this the best use of my time if my primary objective is to market my books?”

Let’s say you’re a debut mystery writer. I think it’s a good idea to keep up with your friends on Facebook and have a blog where you talk about your writing and publishing experiences. That’s what I’d call casual social media. But if your idea is to write substantive posts on mystery writing multiple times per week and expect that tons of people will start following you rather than following the established mystery writers, you’ll probably be disappointed.

I believe there are better ways to get noticed in social media besides trying to gather and keep a following. That’s the second half of my Social Media Frenzy book.

What kind of research did you do?

For Sell More Books, I first read widely in book marketing and general marketing - about 30 books as I recall. Beyond that, Cherie and I read widely in business and biography, gleaning general principles of success.

Second, we studied low profile authors who were selling a lot of books to find what was working. Us low-profile authors are very different from best-selling authors. If high-profile authors go on a tour, everyone wants their autograph and everyone wants to interview them. I wanted to discover how low-profile authors were selling tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of books.

Third, I kept careful records of what actually worked for selling our own books, and just as important, what didn’t work. I did lots of stuff that took a lot of time and money, but didn’t sell any books at all. Zilch. I think that’s just as important for authors to know as the successes.

For Social Media Frenzy, I drew from our own experiences in social media, our reading in the field, and our faithfully attending the long-running SoCon social media conference for over six years. We learn a lot from social media experts each year at SoCon.

For Publish a Book, I drew from my earlier research and publishing experiences and went to each self-publishing company site to read the fine print of what they were offering. Some, as Lewis Grizzard would have said, were “slicker than a bucket of greased eels.”

Any final words?

If you’re an author, keep learning the craft and business of writing. It doesn’t have to be my books that you read, but never stop learning. And force yourself out of your author’s cave to hang out with fellow authors and learn from them. Ignorance and isolation are bad ideas in this field.

Thank you so much for this interview and great counsel, Steve. I hope many authors take your advice.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Interview with Romantic Fantasy Author Anna del C. Dye

Anna is the author of The Silent Warrior Trilogy and three other Elf books. She has also authored “Emerine’s Nightmare” an electronic book about fairies for elementary kids. She has won many awards with her work, among others: First page award-A Kingdom by the Sea, Bronze award- for Elfs in a Conquered Realm, second place for Emerine’s Nightmare. Her short story “Why Me” was included in the Anthology Angels Round About by Julie Olsen and her piece “Women in my Life” was published by Deseret Saints.

Hello Anna! You write tales of Elves & Romance. Please tell us about your novel, Royal Elf of Abalon.

My Elf series has romance for the ladies and battles for the gentlemen. Elves in my world are everything a woman may want in a companion, and that is what attracts many readers to my books. A Royal Elf of Abalon is the story of a young princess smothered by her very selfish mother, until one day she sees through her and her life changes quite rapidly. However, with her mother out of her life, she isn’t prepared to guide her kingdom, let alone choose a mate for herself anytime soon. Yet, the choice to become a price toward the safety of her kingdom versus the possibility of marrying for love it is a luxury not given her as the royal princess. No matter what, she must do what is right. 

Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

Tolkien’s masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings. I love those books and they opened my mind to so much fantasy that I had to share it. Of course, my love of Elves has nothing to do with it. ☺

What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

I needed to learn how to describe battles, so I found a medieval sword-fighting class and joined it with my husband. We love it. I had to keep true to the elf civilization in my prior books and needed to go back to cross reference with them.

Thanks to the internet, I was able to find the right medieval wording for some of the words in A Royal Elf of Abalon. The name for the characters came from books that I used for ideas, but they are made up.

I’m impressed with the fact that you actually joined a medieval sword fighting class. Wow! What does your family think about your writing?

First would come my husband, who edits and takes care of all my website and electronic needs. He does anything for my book to shine. The president of my family fan club is my daughter-in-law, Monica. My oldest son converts them into audio books and does my music. My third son does my Book Trailers and posts them in YouTube. He also does some live trailers for me. As you can see I am very supported by them.

Now that’s real support. Okay it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I was born and raised in Chile, so my first language is Spanish. I met my husband there and he brought me to be married in the Salt Lake Temple in Utah. When I joined the church, the only temple picture we had in my ward was that of the Salt Lake Temple, so it became my dream. We have been married thirty-four years and we are the happy parents of three princes and a princess.

My husband, Rodney, a native of Idaho, is not only the reason I write, but also the love of my eternal life. He is the one that has always given me wings so I can fly. I am thankful that he took the time to transform me, a small worm, into a beautiful butterfly. Linda, thank you so much for having me on your blog this week. You can find my books at

Thank you, Anna, for this wonderful interview. It must have been difficult getting used to a new country. I also love the fact that your whole family is getting involved in your writing. That is awesome.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Desert Intrigue Book Launch


"Desert Intrigue is an entertaining and joyful book, my favorite in this mystery series by Linda Weaver Clarke, which I think would make an excellent TV mini series. I love the sparks of romance in this adventure--they spice things up and add much interest to the story. The book has a handful of surprises that I did not anticipate, and the mystery fuels much of the action." -Suko’s Notebook

Desert Intrigue
The Adventures of John and Julia Evans

When Julia’s brother announces that his dude ranch is haunted, she believes that someone is trying to sabotage his place and force him to sell. The mysterious happenings have to do with Superstition Mountain, the lost Dutchman’s goldmine, and the great Thunder God. Is it possible that the legend of the Thunder God is actually true? After a terrible thunderstorm, everyone begins to wonder. John and Julia quickly head to Mesa, Arizona and discover a few mysterious events. Will they find out who is behind these disasters before Uncle Kelly’s dude ranch is ruined? While Sharlene and Faith are busy helping their uncle save the ranch, April and Matthew are planning their wedding but everything seems to go wrong.

Steve Miller, Best Selling Author, called it “a Satisfying, Intriguing Story!” He wrote: “It was difficult to put this one down. I cared about the characters, I cared about their ranch, and I was brainstorming right along with this delightful family, figuring out how to either remove the curse or solve the mystery that threatened to destroy their way of life. But as with life as I’ve experienced it, it’s never just saving the ranch. There are children flirting with romance, relational complexities, and a wedding in the works that just won’t seem to come together. The writing is clear and lively, never calling attention to itself or getting in the way of the story. The touches of humor and inclusion of regional history tie it all together to make a satisfying story all the more fascinating. Highly recommended!”

Anasazi Intrigue: purchase a book at Amazon.

Mayan Intrigue: purchase a book at Amazon.

Montezuma Intrigue: purchase a book at Amazon.

Desert Intrigue: purchase a book at Amazon.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Interview with YA Author Steve Finegan

Into the Mist: Silver Hand is Steve’s debut novel. In addition to being a YA author, Steve is a seeker of the extraordinary in the ordinary and an avid, eclectic, and voracious reader.  Steve lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife Jeanne, son John, golden retrievers Gary and Cooper, one very old Yorkshire terrier named Corkie, and a horse named Jordan, who seems to think he’s a dog.

A pleasure to read. Enjoyed it thoroughly. Wanted more.”–Marc Mohan, The Oregonian

Hello Steve! Into the Mist: Silver Hand is the first book in a two-part fantasy adventure story. Please tell us about your novel.

Into the Mist: Silver Hand is a contemporary YA fantasy with adventures both in this world and in an alternate reality in which 13-year-old Gabe Wrenn becomes a central player in an epic battle of Good vs. Evil. But at its heart the story’s about Gabe’s struggles in this world to deal with his epilepsy and the way other people treat him as a result of it: His mom hovers over him. His brother bullies him. He has almost no friends. Gabe’s come to believe his epilepsy makes him an abnormal freak. On the other hand, Gabe’s dad believes his son’s epilepsy is responsible for making him a gifted graphic artist and writer. And his best and only friend, Ellie, thinks it gives him access to the supernatural world. To them, Gabe’s epilepsy is not a disability but an extraordinary ability.

This conflict, abnormal vs. gifted, is the engine powering this two-part series. Meanwhile, the reader should be experiencing another conflict: “Is this adventure real or all in Gabe’s head?”

My husband read your book and couldn’t put it down. It was full of intrigue and adventure. He thinks adults would enjoy this book as well as teens. Where did you get your inspiration for this story?

This is fun. Back in 2009, I was mulling an idea for a fantasy story: What if a terrified boy is found running from the clump of oaks bordering the park behind his new house? And what if he’s clay-smeared and bloody, daubed about his body with weird spiral patterns, and carrying a gore-stained makeshift spear? And what if his horrible screams are in an incomprehensible language? And what if later he remembers nothing at all about what happened to him?

Well, I loved the situation and believed that I could concoct a decent novel out of the mystery. I also thought it might somehow provide me with an opportunity to explore the hazy boundary between fantasy and reality – a particularly fascinating theme. The question was: Where should I begin? Being a parent, I knew this boy’s folks would most likely rush him either to the emergency room or to his doctor, so I called our pediatrician and asked him what he’d make of such a case. I expected him to brush me off or tell me the situation wasn’t plausible. Instead he said, “Wait a minute! I think I might know what he has.” Then he asked me to come in the following afternoon to talk about it.

The next day, I found myself gazing at Dr. Miller’s tacked-up collection of happy-baby Polaroid photos and wondering what he had to tell me about my young character. After a few minutes, he swept into the room, wearing his usual starched shirt and bow tie, and sat at his big oak desk. “I’d say your boy’s showing symptoms of TLE,” he said as if in answer to a question. “What?” I asked. “TLE. Temporal Lobe Epilepsy,” he repeated. I loved how seriously he was taking the case of my mystery boy. “What makes you so sure?” I asked. “I’ll show you.” He whipped around to his desktop PC and googled the term temporal lobe epilepsy.

For the better part of an hour, we sat cheek by jowl poring over online articles and talking about simple and complex partial seizures (which are short of the shuddering grand mal seizures everyone associates with epilepsy), and a host of other related issues. “The way I see it,” concluded Dr. Miller, “your boy had one of these more localized seizures right here.” He tapped the right side of his head just above the ear.

“Anyway he could have hallucinated an experience, which he then acted out, although it was very real to him. You see it’s as if the portal to the otherworld was in his brain, which more or less blurs the lines between fantasy and reality.” I felt a seizing in my chest. “Wow!” In that instant, I knew I had a story to tell. Yes, I had a ton of research to do before I could start writing it, but that didn’t dampen my spirits.

What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

The research phase was intense and time-consuming. Fortunately, I had Dr. Miller and one of his colleagues, a pediatric neurologist, to guide me, answer questions, and read drafts, particularly those passages dealing with Gabe’s symptoms, associated behaviors, as well as his diagnosis and ongoing treatment. After a few weeks, I had to clear space on my bookshelves for the dozen or so new volumes about epilepsy and related disorders. Then there was the research into Celtic-Welsh myths and legends, which was really just an extension of a decades-old delving into certain mythological themes and motifs that I felt a desire to express. Other parts of the book were relatively easy. My son was 13 when I began writing it, so I was immersed in contemporary teen culture. I also have a very good memory of my own teen years, and how I interacted with my friends and enemies.

Wow! You really took your research seriously. That’s wonderful. What does your family think about your writing?

My wife and son are very supportive. My son John often reads and comments on early drafts. Believe me, he lets me know if I’ve written a teen scene that isn’t as authentic as he thinks it should be.

I love it. What a great son! Okay, it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

Hmmm. The real me? Well, when I say I’m a seeker of the extraordinary in the ordinary, I mean it. Not in the sense of feeling compelled to skydive or anything like that, but to live more fully in the moment. This requires awareness and mindfulness, both of which are hard to achieve in our hyped-up world. So I meditate daily for about 30 minutes. I’ve been doing it for years. Just a simple sitting and breathing meditation. It helps tremendously to draw me back into my body and into the moment. It’s really amazing how much of the time our minds are caught up in the past and the future at the expense of the present moment.

You’re right. I totally agree. If we meditate about our lives for a few minutes each day, I think we would have less stress and enjoy the day a little better. Thanks, Steve, for this awesome interview.