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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Interview with author Janne Elizabeth Irvine



Making Friends with Other Trees and Flowers –
a Story of Low Vision and High Expectations


A note from the author…
I was born three months premature and gradually lost my sight throughout my childhood. Yet mine is a success story. I went to school with my sighted peers, had a happy childhood living in Belmont, Massachusetts and traveling with my family across this country, England, and Europe. When I was thirteen I could no longer read print. My mother read my homework aloud to me, and for the next five years, studying was about all I did unless I was practicing the piano or composing. I had come to music late, yet that was what I wanted to learn. In time I earned a BA, Master of Music, and Doctor of Musical Arts, from Sarah Lawrence College, Yale University School of Music, and the University of Arizona respectively.  I enjoy my work as a teacher and performer, and now as a writer I am including literary themes in many of my presentations. If Emma had Practiced, and Music in the Novels of Jane Austen are two of my most popular programs. I live in Tucson, Arizona and am currently writing Emma of Belmont Hill – a Twentieth Century Jane Austen Story.    For more info, see: janneirvine@www.com

1.      What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?
I have always been uptight about discussing my gradual loss of sight. Many of my music history and appreciation students, more than students since in time they became my friends, didn’t know I had a serious visual problem though they knew I did certain things differently. I began to realize they had the right to know. Why should they guess at what I could and couldn’t do?

My final class in February of 2010 was My Life in Music and Poetry. As I began to tell of my childhood, its problems and pleasures, I knew I had everyone’s attention. I spoke of my love of observing the changing seasons. Even with limited vision, I could still revel in the magnificence of a New England autumn.  I brought my class up to the present, and when I finished I could feel the electricity in the air. Everyone was with me.

This powerful experience is the Postlude of my book. Just talking about it was made all the more poignant since three months before I gave this class, my mother had died at the age of ninety-nine. I knew after teaching that two hour class three days in a row, I had to do something with all of the emotions I was feeling. A few days later I had written an outline, and by August I had written my first draft of this book.

2. What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader?
Making Friends with Other Trees and Flowers – a Story of Low Vision and High Expectations is a memoir of my childhood up to the age of eighteen. 

There are several varieties of potential targeted readers:
1.      People interested in a late beginner’s overwhelming desire to excel in music – Classical piano and composition in my case
2.      People who grew up in the 1950s and are nostalgic about the era of their childhood.
3.      People (like me) who have moved away from the glorious display of a New England autumn and who want to recapture its beauty through my descriptions
4.      Parents and teachers of blind and low vision children
5.      People who want to take their children to see some of the important places, buildings, and museums in England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and Holland
6.      Anyone who wants to know how to get the greatest enjoyment out of life

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down?
I hope one of the ‘everlasting thoughts’ is that life is wonderful. Disability or no, life is to be cherished. 

What I hope readers will take away from my book is my love of the acre of woods which surrounded my home in New England. The discerning reader, especially if he or she has read Anne of Green Gables, will help me pick violets in the spring and nasturtiums in the summer. The best season is fall, and I describe it from the moment the first sumac leaf turns red. The first snowstorm has its own magic, and a few months later it is time to pick violets again.

4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?
My advice is to be in love with your topic. I loved describing my happy childhood since my happiness outweighed the challenges of vision loss.
  
5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
I don’t have enough information to answer this last question. I don’t read many contemporary works. I hope the book publishing industry is reasonably healthy, and I hope that books remain in real space and not just in cyberspace. Personally, I read books recorded commercially on CDs. I also read books from Talking Books for the Blind.  For books I can’t find in any other way, I have friends read aloud to me from print books. 

6. What great challenges did you have in writing your book?
I think my biggest challenge was to change from WordPerfect to Word in the middle of my manuscript! Because I was the only one who really knew my subject, the writing itself went remarkably smoothly for a first book.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
My book is optimistic in its viewpoint. It tells of a family lifestyle which is all too rare now.   

All-New 2017 Book Marketing & PR Toolkit 

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 
http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs  

What Will Get People Interested in Your Book?



Good plot, strong characters, great writing, credentialed author. Boom, people should want to buy your book.  The media should interview you. But it doesn’t always go according to plan.  Same with non-fiction:  great subject, timely book, well-researched, great writing, solid author credentials. But no guarantee anyone will give a crap about you or your book.  So what will it take to get some attention?

Publicity.

Any effort to get attention for your book will yield results, even a short, poorly executed, campaign.  But if you put some thought and effort into it, you’ll come away successfully.

First, answer these questions so that you learn how you come across to others:

·         How do you think others perceive you?
·         Is your opinion respected?
·         Do others find you agreeable?
·         How well do you respond to the questions of others?
·         Do you do a good job of picking up on clues, leads, or hints from the other person?
·         Do you take the lead in the conversation?
·         Do you come off as pompous, righteous, overbearing, or obnoxious?
·         How well do you connect with others?
·         Do people see you as a giver or taker?
·         Are you seen as smart, knowledgeable, capable?
·         Do you make others feel comfortable or confident in you?
·         Do you make friendly gestures and appear to be giving?

Second, do you communicate effectively, especially in your written and verbal exchanges?  Do you, do this when you pitch the media:

·         Provide a solid solution to something
·         Offer bullet-point benefits
·         Raise questions
·         Use relevant metaphors
·         Play on words – rhymes, puns, etc.
·         Provide short anecdotes
·         Employ humor
·         Make a bold claim or offer good ideas
·         Express passion, concern, sincerity
·         Supply key facts, numbers and graphics
·         Use wit, humor or sarcasm
·         Offer a historical perspective on a timely issue
·         Use description and color
·         Challenge others
·         Present a hypothetical that could be real
·         Combine things not normally associated with each other
·         Shock them with a startling statement
·         Request the reader/media act now
·         Lend insight to a moral dilemma
·         Comment on news events or celebrities
·         Attack a known entity or rail against the circumstances of the day
·         Make a bold prediction.
·         Identify a major trend.
·         Make an emotional plea.
·         Say something unusual.
·         Issue a warning.
·         Support a charitable cause.
·         Debate something that seems undeniable.
·         Use a few words and one stunning visual
·         Quote a news outlet to highlight an issue’s significance
·         Beg -- use guilt, anger or other emotional pulls

If you communicate well and remain aware of how you come off to others, you should find success in promoting your book.

All-New 2017 Book Marketing & PR Toolkit 

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Interview with Author Dr. Jenny Kay Dupuis


I AM NOT A NUMBER

1. What inspired you to write your book?
Listening to the stories of my family and community history led me to write I Am Not a Number. My granny told me her story when I was a teenager at a time when I felt that she wanted to share her truth. I held onto her story for many years, waiting for the right time to share it. While I was working in the field of Indigenous education, I found there weren’t any picture books that focused on the Residential School System through the lens of an Indigenous family. So I wanted to reach out to young people through literature to ensure they hear the true stories about the legacy of forced assimilation, where Indigenous children were taken from their families/home communities and sent to residential schools (known as boarding schools in the United States). In addition, I also wanted to use literature as a means to encourage educators to begin to facilitate deep, meaningful conversations, with students and each other, about the policies that have impacted Indigenous peoples.

2. What is it about?
I Am Not a Number is about my granny’s experience being taken from her First Nation’s community at a young age to live in a residential school in the late 1920’s. An Indian Agent arrived at my granny’s front door and informed her father, who was also Chief of the community, that any child older than 6 years of age will be taken north. The story documents my granny’s time spent attending the residential school as she tries to hold on to the memories of who she is and where she came from, despite the efforts of the people who worked at the institution to shame and humiliate her. In my granny’s case, she returned home for the summer where she made a plan with her parents that she and her brothers would not be taken away again. If the plan failed, the family risked punishment - a fine or jail. 

3. What do you think will be the everlasting thoughts for the readers who finish your book?
Through this book, I hope that readers will reflect on how assimilation policies and residential/boarding school systems have deeply impacted the everyday lives of Indigenous children and their families in several countries around the world, including Canada, the United States, and Australia. I also hope that people who read this book will go one step further and engage in conversations about important topics such as assimilation, oppression, truth, justice, in addition to what is needed for reconciliation today.

4. What advice do you have for writers?
This was my first piece of children’s literature, so my advice for anyone who wants to write about truth, justice, and community memories is relatively straightforward:
      Have confidence in your abilities. Start by exploring a topic that you know and care about.
      Be honest and authentic. Prepare to gather information to ensure the authenticity of the story through an accurate portrayal of the people, place, time period, experiences, language, and setting.
      Be purposeful, thoughtful, and intentional. Take the time to identify what is the intended impact of the story. Writers need to continually ask themselves, "How will the readers be influenced by the characters, language, and overall messaging?” “How will the reader's view of their own world be expanded?”.
      Be authentic. Since I Am Not a Number is a children's picture book, it was important that it include authentic imagery. A relative of mine, Les Couchi, had restored a series of old family photos. The old photos helped to inform decisions when communicating with the illustrator, Gillian Newland about the hairstyles, what items to include in my great-grandfather's shop, etc. One of the old photos is included in the book and shows my granny and her siblings outside their house.
      Identify your responsibilities. Sometimes writers from diverse backgrounds have a greater responsibility that includes not just writing the story, but also educating others and transmitting knowledge about cultural, social, political, or economic issues buried within the story.
      Be patient and anticipate a lengthy process that may involve information gathering, several rounds of edits, fact checking, searching for the right illustrator, etc. As such, I regularly turned to my family between edits to get their feedback and continued to listen to their memories. Some of the stories included fond memories of how my great-grandmother often made the best homemade meat pies, baked breads, jams, and preserves.
      Realize that your work is reflection of you. Just because something was done a certain way in the past, does not always make it right today. Be prepared to speak up and ask questions when you feel something does not feel right as you progress throughout the process, especially if you feel it feel it impacts your own ethics and values, or misrepresents a person's/group's racial or cultural identity or nation.

5. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
Indigenous writers will be a driving force in supporting the retention/revitalization of Indigenous knowledge and social justice education through the stories and messages they share. The publishing industry will need to reflect on and make a conscious effort to create spaces for Indigenous authors and evaluate how they engage Indigenous writers, editors, and scholars in order to support the knowledge and experiences they carry with them. It is essential that publishers who engage with Indigenous writers recognize Indigenous expertise and honour the importance of how to respectfully work in collaboration with Indigenous peoples by ensuring their full participation, consultation, and informed consent at all stages of the process.

6. What challenges did you have in writing your book?
One of the main challenges that I had was finding the time to write. While co-writing this book, I was working full-time supporting educators in the field of Indigenous education.  I was also in the midst of completing a research study, Fostering Remembrance and Reconciliation Through an Arts-Based Response. And I had also just finished my doctorate in educational leadership. I knew it was a lot to take on, but I felt it was important that my granny’s story be shared.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
We talk about calls for truth, justice, and community healing, so it’s important that people begin to start learning about these stories and others like it. We need to find appropriate entry points where we can respectfully listen to and understand the complexities of the histories and how it’s impacted today’s generation so that we can move forward towards change and seek out reconciliation in a meaningful way. Using children’s literature can help young people to understand difficult histories and teach them to consider all viewpoints and become more self-aware. I Am Not a Number is not just about a First Nation’s girl who was taken to live in a residential school, but it is a story that raises consciousness that my granny (Irene) is one of over thousands of Indigenous children impacted by assimilation policies and racialized injustice. Through a book like this, all individuals can learn about this period of history and use it to facilitate open and honest discussions.

For more info, see: http://jennykaydupuis.com/

All-New 2017 Book Marketing & PR Toolkit 

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

10 Ways To Overcome Your Book Marketing Fears


Book marketing is not something every author wants to do. Far more people would rather write a book than promote it.  But today’s writer doesn’t have the luxury of choosing whether his or her book gets marketed.  No, the writer of 2017 and beyond only chooses whether to pay for help or not, but if he or she wants a book to gain readers, book marketing is a must.  For some authors, it may be a matter of clearing up misperceptions, fears, or concerns regarding the art of book marketing.  Once a writer has a clearer understanding of what book publicity is all about, he or she may feel more inspired, confident, and assured about how to go about marketing a book.

Here are 10 negative views about book marketing and new ways to put them in perspective, so they don’t hold you back from doing what really needs to be done:

1.      Some will see me as desperate
Not at all.  Promoting your book is an art practiced by millions of writers.  There’s nothing wrong with putting yourself out there and seeking attention for yourself.  Do it in a professional and classy way and you should come off in a proper light.

2.      People will see me as a bragger
Others will see you as rightfully tooting your own horn for something worthy – provided you don’t come off sounding as a self-centered know-it-all.  Besides, Trump became president by bragging, so maybe there’s no longer shame or stigma attached to highlighting one’s assets.  Look, if you don’t call attention to yourself, who will?

3.      Some in my profession will see me differently
Yes, in a positive way.  They may even feel jealous of your success and notoriety, but you’ll only gain credibility with every story or interview put out by the news media.

4.      I don’t know how to hype myself.
You don’t have to exaggerate, lie or present yourself in a distorted way.  Just put your best foot forward and present your strongest points and credentials.

5.      I’m fearful of being in the limelight
Don’t get a swelled head.  Not everyone cares about you or even notices the media coverage that you get.  You likely won’t become as famous as a real celebrity, star athlete or politician – but you can get exposure for your brand and book in a meaningful way.  Don’t worry, chances are, even with a successful PR campaign, your anonymity to the general public will remain.

6.      I’m not a natural marketer
Look, if you can make a phone call, write an email, or speak in front of 20 people you can do this.  If you’re really shy, skip public appearances but be active online with social media and other areas of marketing.  With some practice, prep, and focus you can do a terrific job promoting your book.

7.      I lack sex appeal – in my looks or my book
Not everyone has to be beautiful or write about something glamourous to get attention.  Sure it helps to be attractive or to write about things people find fascinating, but take what you have and make the most of it.  Look, even a book on tax strategy becomes sexy if the reader needs or wants good tax advice.

8.      By raising my public profile, I come under greater scrutiny
This is true, but why is it a problem?  Are you doing something wrong or illegal?  If you have a guilty conscience, book marketing is the least of your challenges.  Assume you are always being watched by competitors, enemies or crazies.  Assume the government scrutinizes you.  Act professionally, fairly, ethically, and pleasantly and fear nothing.

9.      I don’t have enough time to marketing a book
Either hire someone to help, prioritize your time better, or stop writing books.

10.  I don’t want to give away books, information or resources
You don’t have to give away a lot, but you need to be willing to share some ideas, experiences, or tools to help others and make them feel you are helpful.  Whatever you give away in content you will make back many times over in book sales, networking, branding, media exposure, and possibly clients (if you sell a service, are a speaker, or are in sales).

All-New 2017 Book Marketing & PR Toolkit 

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Interview with Author Mike Guardia



It’s Snowing in Hawaii

Mike Guardia is the renowned author of several history books, including The Fires of Babylon and Shadow Commander.  However, being the father of two young girls has inspired him to write It’s Snowing in Hawaii – his first children’s book.  He currently lives in Texas.

1. What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?
Without a doubt, my two young daughters inspired me to write this book.  I love being a father and my children inspire me daily.  Since they were born, I’ve always loved reading bedtime stories to them.  One winter, they were playing inside and watching a cartoon with a Hawaiian theme.  Suddenly, I asked myself: “It’s snowing outside right now…I wonder what would happen if it snowed on the beaches of Hawaii.”  At that moment, I knew I had found a good idea for silly bedtime story.   

2. What is it about and whom do you believe us your targeted reader?
My book, written in verse, tells the fictional story of snowstorm in Honolulu.  It contains many satirical “winterized” elements of Hawaii – such as Hawaiian flannel shirts, bearskin hula skirts, and figure skating on Pearl Harbor.  My targeted readers are children, ages 0-8 years old.

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down?
My sincere hope is that readers (parents and children) remember my book as a fun story with great illustrations.   

4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?
Absolutely.  Stay passionate about your craft and try not to get discouraged.  Also, be willing to learn from your mistakes as a writer.  Take a few moments to analyze what works in terms of building your craft and discard what doesn’t work.  Like Hal Moore said:  “Three strikes and you’re NOT out.  There is always one more thing you can do to improve your chances of success.”  

5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
I think there’s a growing trend towards digital media.  E-books have really taken off during the past few years.  Everywhere you look, it’s hard to deny that e-readers have really changed the dynamic of the publishing world.  Meanwhile, the “brick-and-mortar” book stores are either closing or reducing their shelf space.  I strongly believe that within the next 15-30 years, 80% of the book publishing industry will be digital. 

6. What great challenges did you have in writing your book?
The biggest challenge was forcing myself to think of a rhyming scheme and to identify what elements of Hawaiian culture I want to include in the book. 

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
My book offers a fun, light-hearted read that both parents and children can enjoy.  The book’s artist, Melanie Stephens, did a wonderful job with the illustrations.  Plus, it’s appropriately-themed for the Holiday season.   

For more information: www.mikeguardia.com

All-New 2017 Book Marketing & PR Toolkit 

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

To Promote Your Book Find Your Anesthesia Moment



I recently underwent a medical test that required anesthesia.  I’ve had it over a dozen times, so it’s become quite routine, but what I found that was not so typical was my reaction once I awoke.  I felt a sense of clarity, renewal, and cleansing.  I was given a fresh start.

It’s not that I survived going under, though I’m thankful a routine thing didn’t turn into anything more, but there was something about feeling like I went somewhere far away and came back to realize I want a new beginning, a chance to make things better, achieve my goals, and improve my relationships in life.

Call it my anesthesia moment.  

You can have your own -- and not see a doctor to do so.  Just find a moment to declare a break from the past.  Give yourself a chance to feel you have a clean slate to move forward.  Step out of your routine and away from your obligations.  Give yourself a respite, however brief, to transition from before to after.

It’s a weird sensation to go from awake to sleep and to be aware of it happening.  One second you are alert, eyes open, and talking.  The next, you are in snoozeland, unaware of what’s being done to you or around you.  Suddenly, your reality lived on the outside, is a different one on the inside.

How might you get your anesthesia moment?

Well, first you need to want one.  Then you’ll find it.

Give yourself a free day to ponder, to dream, to nap, to not be consumed by work, family or the distractions of social media and entertainment.  Don’t use drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, sex or other addictive crutches.  Just let yourself almost meditate your way from where you are to get to where you want to be.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. We are entrenched in the details of our daily reality. It’s hard to just turn all of the noise off and just walk away from life.  But if we don’t find a way to distance ourselves from, well, ourselves, we’ll never be able to properly take stock of ourselves and look to make the right changes.

You don’t have to make New Year’s resolutions to give yourself a fresh start.  Nothing wrong with making vows to change, but I’m talking about finding a clear-cut way to become something more or other than you’ve been.  Seek out your anesthesia moment and find inspiration from someone, something or the environment around you.  Make a commitment to change – and you will.  Embrace the new you.

All-New 2017 Book Marketing & PR Toolkit 

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby