Friday, July 24, 2015

Summer on the Water, Janis Cox - Season 2, Episode 14

Today I welcome a friend of mine to my blog,  Janis Cox who has written a fascinating children's book entitled Tadeo Turtle! 

Thank you, Janis, for joining me here, can you tell me what is your story about? 

Tadeo Turtle is a watercolour picture book for children aged 2-7. It is written in rhyme and can be easily memorized. The words are challenging enough for children in grade two to read on their own but the story is easy to understand for a two year old. There are full colour illustrations throughout the story to help give visual clues to the reader. 

At the back of the book, there is a selection of art activities and research questions to further enhance the experience.

The story involves a turtle named Tadeo who feels left out when he can’t run and play like the squirrels. Through an exciting adventure he learns to accept himself how God has made him. 

 Thanks Janis! Since this is a ‘Summer on the Water blog’,  What body of water you set your story near? 

The story brings Tadeo to the body of water. He leaves his shell by the river and finds it difficult to find when he needs it because it is camouflaged with the rocks. Water was a perfect example of how animals can use camouflage as protection. My river is purely fictitious but we know that many turtles are found around rivers and waterways. 

Does water have any special meaning for you personally? What is it?

I love watching turtles in the water, the way they sunbathe together. We live in a wonderful spot in Haliburton, Ontario that is filled with many lakes and rivers. I find it God’s blessing to be near water. So much so that when we winter in Arizona we are very close to 2 man-made ponds which house fish, cormorants, egrets, cranes, ducks, geese (yes Canada geese) and night herons.

Janis, Why are you choosing to self-publish?  What is one piece of advice would you give to authors who are thinking of self-publishing for the first time?

My self-publishing experience leaves me with mixed emotions. Even though I self-published I don’t have as much control in dealing with Amazon as I would like. What I did like about my publishing experience with Word Alive Press is the beautiful printing that was done with Tadeo Turtle. The watercolour pictures turned out extremely well. I can’t seem to break into the online marketing. Most of my selling comes from fairs, and groups.

One piece of advice I would give first time indie authors is to check around and make sure people are extremely happy with the publisher before you make the plunge. Also work on your platform – ie website, blog, social media presence – before you are ready to roll. I didn’t and have spent the last two years making my presence known online.

Okay, now for the fun question - You are asked to give a Ted Talk. What will you speak about?

A very interesting question as my experiences are varied. However, what I am learning very strongly is to stay in God’s Word. I would talk about how I grew through using the Bible – studying it, talking about it, writing about it. The words of God are changing me. Prayer and studying the Bible should go hand in hand. For that reason I developed the SIMPLE method of Bible study which I explain in my blog post. Here is the PDF of the S.I.M.P.L.E. Bible Study.

I am also on a weekly radio broadcast (Tuesdays) for HopeStreamRadio speaking about Growing Through God’s Word.

Where can readers find you?

Linked In
Google Plus

Where can readers purchase Tadeo Turtle?

Directly from the author

Friday, July 17, 2015

Summer on the Water, Katherine Smith - Season 2, Episode 12

Today I am pleased to welcome author Katherine Smith to my Summer on the Water blog. Not only does Katherine write, but she also manages Heddon Publishing, a publishing place for Indie authors. I'm looking forward to hearing her story as well as her Indie publishing venture.

Katherine, what is Writing the Town Read about? Give readers a brief elevator pitch.

Writing the Town Read is a modern story set in July 2005 when there were terrorist attacks on the London transport system.

The story is set in Cornwall, a good way from London and follows the story of opinionated yet slightly naïve local journalist Jamie, whose boyfriend Dave goes missing in London at the time of the attacks. It’s her story, not his, and follows her search for him as well as facing up to a number of other challenges. There are elements of mystery and humour which I hope combine to make an entertaining and thought-provoking read.

I love thrillers, and this sounds fascinating! Since this is a ‘Summer on the Water blog’, I want to know what body of water you set your story near. 

Writing the Town Read is set in an unnamed Cornish town which was largely inspired by St Ives, a town surrounded by the most beautiful turquoise sea – unexpectedly exotic for Britain.

Jamie has been drawn back to life in the town she grew up in, seduced by the sea and the different pace of life it inspires.

I chose to set the story by the sea because I suppose I am partially living vicariously through my novel – I have never lived by the sea but I fully intend to one day. For the meantime I just have to content myself with writing about it.

I am also intrigued by the contrast between life in small, remote places – and you don’t get much more remote than the tip of Cornwall, in the UK at least – and large cities. I do live in a rural town at the moment but it is land-locked. The sea adds another, vital, element to rural life.

I think we all to an extent, live vicariously through our stories! Thanks for this. Do you live near the water yourself, Katherine?
I am determined I will live by the sea one day. St Ives, though not named specifically, was a major inspiration for Writing the Town Read and a good portion of the book was written there. We used to have family holidays in Cornwall when I was a child and I love the county as a whole but I discovered St Ives when I was about 21 and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since. To risk sounding like a hippy, I feel my energy increases when I am there, and I just feel absolutely at home. 
You don't sound like a hippie at all! (If you are, then I am, too.) Okay, Katherine, why are you choosing to self-publish? Tell us about this thing called 'Independent Publishing."

I set out trying to find an agent and traditional publisher and I received encouraging feedback but the more I found out about self-publishing, the more it seemed to make sense. This tied in with being approached by another author, Michael Clutterbuck, to publish on his behalf (I was already working as a freelance editor, proofreader and copywriter).

From there, Heddon Publishing grew and by the time this interview goes out I hope to have published 20 books, two of which are my own.

Although I am assuming most writers dream of huge advances and a bestselling novel, I really think that the world of independent publishing is inspiring. It constantly reminds me of why I write – I love it – and is full of individuals who help each other out, which really appeals to me.

Having said that, yes, if I was offered a huge sume of money by a traditional publisher, I would probably sell out!

My advice to another author thinking of self-publishing for the first time is to make sure your book is edited, proofread and presented brilliantly Also get a good cover! The story may be absolutely amazing but without these key factors it will sink like a stone and possibly be ripped apart by readers.

Katherine, you are asked to give a Ted Talk. What will it be about?

Possibly about not letting parenthood limit your possibilities. I’m speaking as the mother of two young children (three and five years old). My first pregnancy was the catalyst for setting up my freelance business and since then I have self-published two novels as well as setting up Heddon Publishing and working with a range of clients in the publishing, education and business worlds.

Also, more importantly – though I’m not sure this is what TED talks are for! - not letting business compromise your parental ideals. My priority is being a parent but it doesn’t stop me achieving my goals. It just means they take a bit longer…

That sounds very self-righteous; it’s not meant to.

Thanks Katherine. Where can readers find you?


Heddon Publishing

Heddon Publishing/Facebook

To purchase:  

Writing the Town Read UK

Writing the Town Read US

Friday, July 10, 2015

Summer on the Water, Anne Allen- Season 2, Episode 9

As we head into the heady, hot days of summer, I welcome British historical novelist Anne Allen to my Summer on the Water blog. Welcome Anne! Tell us what your brand new novel is about. 

My latest book, The Family Divided, is the fourth in The Guernsey Novels series and focuses on the Batiste family in Guernsey. During the German Occupation the then heir to the family farm, Edmund, was denounced as a traitor by, amongst others, his younger brother, shortly before being murdered. His killer was never found and his young widow, after being ostracised by both the family and neighbours, fled to relatives in France after the end of the war, weeks later. It was only then she realised she was pregnant and gave birth to Jim later in 1945. More than 60 years later Andy, Jim's son, sets out to discover why his father was denied his rightful inheritance when he moved to Guernsey in the 60s, not even being acknowledged as a member of the by now wealthy Batiste family.

Andy is joined in his search for the truth by Charlotte, who is staying at an upmarket natural health centre and looking for answers to her own problems.

Since this is a 'Summer on the Water blog', I want to know why did you choose the theme of water for your story? What body of water you set your story near? 

I lived in Guernsey for nearly fourteen happy years and left part of my soul behind, as well as my elder son! A few years after returning, reluctantly, to England, I decided to try my hand at writing a novel. The natural setting for me was Guernsey and my first book, Dangerous Waters, was written as my homage to this beautiful island in the English Channel. It, and the other Channel Islands are only about twelve miles from France, resulting in a significant French influence, but they are actually British.

Does the sea have any special meaning for you personally? What is it?

Yes. I was born in the middle of England, as far from the sea as you could get, but my father came from the Welsh island of Anglesey and I spent many holidays there as a child. I fell in love with the sea and have been drawn to live by it ever since. At one time I even had a house, set on the Firth of Forth in Scotland, which led onto a beach. At present I live in Devon and a matter of minutes away from the sea, again the English Channel.

I see that you are self-publishing The Family Divided. Why are you going this route? Do you plan to continue as an Indie author? What is one piece of advice you would give to authors who are thinking of self-publishing for the first time?

My initial idea when I wrote Dangerous Waters was to become traditionally published and approached agents with my manuscript. Some were encouraging but most sent the standard rejection letter. This was about nine years ago and self-publishing was not as it is now. Then, in 2012, it became more respectable and worthwhile and I used a service provider to publish my book. I was completely naïve as to the process, particularly with regard to promotion and marketing, and it's been a steep learning curve. I published my second book, Finding Mother, and subsequent books, under my own imprint and am beginning to see the results of all my hard work. It's unlikely I'll stop being an Indie as I love being in control of what happens to my books. For new authors I would say that the writing is the easy part and it's important to spend a chunk of your time building up good relationships with bloggers, reviewers and fellow authors if you want to succeed as an indie author.

Now to my fun question of the season. You are asked to give a TED talk. What will it be about?

Ahh! Interesting question. I think it would focus on the many roles that women today feel the need to undertake in order to be 'successful'. It's no longer enough to focus on being a wife and mother: we need to find the path that offers us fulfilment as a unique individual – and as a woman in what is still a man's world.

Thanks Anne! One last question. Where can readers find you and your books?


The Family Divided on Amazon International link

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Summer on the Water, Suzanne Adair, Season 2, Episode 8

Welcome Suzanne to this very special edition of Summer on the Water. Today is July 4, when our American friends celebrate their country. And since Suzanne's novel Regulated for Murder fits this theme, I am pleased to welcome her on her country's special day!

Award-winning novelist Suzanne Adair is a Florida native who lives in a two hundred-year-old city at the edge of the North Carolina Piedmont named for an English explorer who was beheaded. Her suspense and thrillers transport readers to the Southern theater of the Revolutionary War, where she brings historic towns, battles, and people to life. She fuels her creativity with Revolutionary War reenacting and visits to historic sites. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking, dancing, hiking, and spending time with her family. October 2015, look for the release of her next Michael Stoddard American Revolution Thriller, Deadly Occupation.

Suzanne, what is Regulated for Murder about? Give readers a brief elevator pitch.

The series is set during the occupation of the Atlantic coastal town of Wilmington, North Carolina by the Eighty-Second Regiment (British) during most of the year 1781. While closely following the framework of actual historical events, each title follows Michael Stoddard, a fictitious young officer, in a personal and professional adventure as a criminal investigator for the regiment’s real, historical commander, Major James Henry Craig. Of the six-book series, two books—Regulated for Murder and A Hostage to Heritage—are already available, with another book, Deadly Occupation, scheduled for an October 2015 release.

For ten years, an execution hid murder. Then Michael Stoddard came to town.

Bearing a dispatch from his commander in coastal Wilmington, North Carolina, redcoat Lieutenant Michael Stoddard arrives in Hillsborough in February 1781 in civilian garb. He expects to hand a letter to a courier working for Lord Cornwallis, then ride back to Wilmington the next day. Instead, Michael is greeted by the courier's freshly murdered corpse, a chilling trail of clues leading back to an execution ten years earlier, and a sheriff with a fondness for framing innocents—and plans to deliver Michael up to his nemesis, a psychopathic British officer.

Since this is a ‘Summer on the Water blog’, I want to know why did you choose the theme of water for your story? What body of water you set your story near? Is this a real place or is it fictitious?

Historically in late January 1781, the Eighty-Second Regiment sailed from Charleston, South Carolina. Its mission was to establish a supply depot in North Carolina for Cornwallis so the general could march his army around the colony’s interior and subdue patriots.

Occupying Wilmington, a port town on the Cape Fear River, was a crucial part of this military strategy. From a base in Wilmington, the redcoats could move troops and supplies along the Cape Fear River, which opened into the Atlantic, without risking ambush during land travel.

Late in 1781, after Cornwallis surrendered in Virginia, the redcoats became outnumbered and trapped in Wilmington by patriots. However, the regiment’s naval strategy allowed the soldiers and their allies to abandon Wilmington and sail back to Charleston without loss of life.

Regulated for Murder starts and ends in Wilmington. However most of the book’s action is in Hillsborough, North Carolina, where the main body of water is the Eno River. The Eno plays a role in the solving of a murder.

Does water, and specifically the body of water you set your story beside, have any special meaning for you personally?

I was born and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, not far from the Atlantic Ocean. It’s difficult for me to conceive of writing fiction about the southern theater of the American Revolution without including the tremendous influence of the ocean.
Why are you choosing to self-publish? What is one piece of advice would you give to authors who are thinking of self-publishing for the first time?

My first three books about the southern theater of the American Revolution—Paper Woman, The Blacksmith’s Daughter, and Camp Follower—were published by a traditional, regional press. The books were all stand-alone but connected reads. The character of Michael Stoddard played a small role in each book, and when I spun off his series with Deadly Occupation, the origin story of the Eighty-Second’s occupation, I offered it to my publisher. He hedged for over a year, and in early 2011, the press folded. After I got the rights back to the first three books and re-issued them with different covers, I offered Deadly Occupation to several other presses.

The editor at one mid-sized press rejected the book with a claim that civilians in Wilmington wouldn’t have surrendered peacefully to redcoats—that surely they would have fought a la “Red Dawn”—never mind that I had plenty of primary documentation showing that the civilians did surrender peacefully. Here’s an article about why they didn’t fight. I had Regulated for Murder ready for publication and, thinking it might fare better because it didn’t deal directly with the occupation, offered it to the editor. However the editor didn’t want to see any more of my “controversial” history.

By that time (2011), it had been three years since I’d had a book released. Another mid-sized press did exhibit interest in Deadly Occupation, but they let me know that it would be at least 2013 before they could publish it. I still did want a publisher, but five years was way too long between books. I was sure I’d lost readers during the three-year wait. So I set Deadly Occupation aside and tweaked Regulated for Murder to make it book #1 in the series. Then I self-published it. Regulated for Murder got put on Suspense Magazine’s “Best of 2011” list. I followed that with Michael Stoddard #2, A Hostage to Heritage, which went on to win the Indie Book of the Day award.

Because people who’d read Deadly Occupation insisted that it was too good to not be published, I’m releasing it this year as book #0. All of Michael’s books are stand-alone stories, so my readers won’t be confused. A number of them have indicated that they’re eager to learn about the occupation and how several regular characters entered the series.
If you’re going to self-publish your book, my advice is to not personally do every task associated with the process, or your end result will most likely look self-published. There’s so much to do to release and maintain a book. Your best way to sell that book will be by writing the next book. You cannot do that while juggling all the tasks yourself. So obtain the following types of outside help, at least:
 - Five or more readers to comment on your manuscript
 - A professional editor to help you polish your manuscript until publishable
 - A professional cover artist (ebook and trade paperback)
 - A professional book layout designer for the interior (ebook and paperback)

If you have the money, hire someone to help you with promotion and setting up splashy release-week events months in advance of the actual book release. Hire a virtual office assistant to help you manage social media.

That certainly is impressive Suzanne! Where can readers find you?

Where can readers purchase Regulated for Murder, Suzanne?