Thursday, September 11, 2014

911- a tribute

Just wanted to start a post that our fans could comment on for a tribute to this day. If you just want to say God bless America that will be okay too. Here is an image of me back in the 70s when NYC was my fav tourist spot. 
We will never forget. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Meet Lida Quillen, Publisher and Founder of Twilight Times Books

She Dreams of Books
 
By
 
Dora Machado
 
 
 
Lida Quillen is the founder and owner of Twilight Times Books, an independent publishing house that publishes critically acclaimed literary, mystery, science fiction and fantasy books.  By her own admission, Lida dreams of books every night.
 
Founded in 1999, TT Books has evolved from a cutting-edge, pioneering e-publisher into a high-quality, full-service independent publishing house with an impressive catalog that showcases more than 70 authors and 150 titles including my latest novel, The Curse Giver, and many of MB4's very own Aaron Paul Lazar's novels.
 
As you may know, publishers are busy people, so I was delighted when Lida agreed to this conversation. During the next few weeks, she'll answer my questions in a series of four posts here on MB4, where she will share her journey as an independent publisher, her publishing philosophy, her views on which books deserve publication and why, and the trends of a changing industry. She'll also offer her best advice about finding a publisher, marketing your book and the future of writing.

 Today, Lida tackles a couple of questions regarding something that is mystifying to the average writer and downright mysterious to the newbie:  The life of an independent publisher.


Hi Lida, welcome to MB4. For those readers who don't know you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What's your background, when did you decide to go into the book business, and why publishing?

After attempting such occupations as air traffic controller, real estate agent, apartment manager, etc., I found a field of endeavor that is challenging and personally rewarding. I enjoy writing and by 1995 I had garnered publication credits in over twenty print publications with my short stories, poetry and articles. I had also completed the first five chapters and a chapter-by-chapter outline of the rest of the book for five different novels. These are best described as a dark fantasy set in another universe, a contemporary urban fantasy, a fantasy set in the Old West, an epic fantasy set in another universe and a supernatural murder mystery.

After I discovered the Internet, my fiction writing slowed to a trickle. There is something seductive about having 20MB of space to fill with your own creative works. I had fun building a personal website dedicated to beginning writers who plan to write and sell their work. I wanted to share what I had learned along the way to becoming a published writer.

When I first discovered the Internet in 1997, I was amazed at the number of highly talented and yet unpublished writers I kept meeting online. I could feel their anguish and frustration at not being able to break into print. I decided to do something about it and created Twilight Times ezine in July 1998 to showcase great writing and to give these writers an outlet.

Next I started listening to writers who could not get their novels published. In January 1999, I started Twilight Times Books to present the works of talented, but under-published novelists.

What is your workday at Twilight Times Books like? What kinds of activities consume your time? What part of your job do you enjoy best? What part of your job to you like least?

A typical day starts out at 8:00 AM. I am on the computer in my home office coordinating the various stages of the production process, assigning cover artwork to an artist who can best convey a sense of the story, matching a qualified editor to a particular manuscript, putting the finishing touches on the InDesign files that will be uploaded via ftp to the printer, etc. I upload files for new ebook releases to our various ebook distributors and begin promo and marketing efforts. The workflow is handled electronically, for the most part.

By now, it is 3:00 PM and the FedEx driver has delivered cartons of books to my car port and the UPS driver has left cartons on the front porch. With several hundred books in the house, the new books will need to go to a temperature and humidity controlled storage area off-site. I place galley copies in boxes along with a cover letter and marketing material for various pre-publication book reviewers then load the boxes of books in my truck and drive ten miles into Kingsport.

A quick visit to the post office and/or the UPS office and the orders are on their way. The cartons of new books are tucked away at the storage unit and I head home. I’m back on the computer to coordinate with authors, editors, artists, work on promo, publicity and marketing as well as respond to email queries (several hundred email messages most days), etc. After supper I typically work on the computer until 1:00 AM or so then fall into bed and dream of books.

Actually, I enjoy all aspects of publishing. I enjoy giving talented authors their first break and watching them develop as writers. Fortunately, I also enjoy the publication process. We have authors, editors and artists from countries around the world. A new book from an author in Denmark might have a Canadian editor and cover artwork from an artist in Australia. Finding the best editor for a particular author, commissioning the artwork, bringing out the book in various formats, sending it around to the distributors, handling the marketing and promo, etc. is all part of the publication process – a most interesting and challenging endeavor.

 Thank you so much for answering our questions today, Lida. And to our MB4 readers, Lida will return to talk about how she decides which book deserve publication next week!
 
*****
About Lida Quillen

Lida E. Quillen is an author, editor, publicist and publisher. She is the founder and owner of Twilight Times Books, Paladin Timeless Books and Twilight Times ezine and current owner of Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine.

About Twilight Times Books
The mission of Twilight Times Books is to promote excellence in writing and great literature. TTBooks is dedicated to enhancing the prospects of getting great fantasy, historical, literary, mystery, science fiction and Young Adult books into the hands of readers.

Submission Information

Twilight Times Books will be open to submissions from February 15th to March 5, 2015. Send a cover letter, synopsis, first chapter and marketing plan in the body of an email message. The subject line must begin with ttb or ttbooks.


Contact Information:

Lida E. Quillen, Publisher

Email: publisher@twilighttimesbooks.com – or – publisher@twilighttimes.com
Website: http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter.com

*****

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She is one only a few Hispanic women writing fantasy in the United States today. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories.

When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for the award-winning blog Murder By Four and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.

To learn more about Dora Machado and her award winning novels, visit her at www.doramachado.com , email her at Dora@doramachado.com, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.
 
 
 
 
 


Thursday, September 4, 2014

3 Ways Your Writer's Oath is Failing Your Reader

There is a pact between a reader and a writer, and when it is established with credibility the reader will read and commit to the writer's offering. Likewise,the writer will, on their end, agree to give the reader something for their time--a story, an idea, a way to look at the world.
DUH!
But sometimes we don't quite hit our mark, and we end up failing the agreement with our reader and well, this is a bad thing. So in order to prevent this from happening, we need to look at what our readers expect and how we might be failing their expectations.

1. We pledge an epic eruption at the end and all the reader gets is a tiny thunderclap. This is also known as not bringing the heat. We cannot build a climax for three hundred pages and not give them what they paid for. So, if you hint at a big finale, don't close the curtain before the job is done.

2. We commit to paper people who are true to themselves as we have written them. This is known as making characters stay the same throughout the book's journey. But sometimes, they just don't behave. They grow and change and act like someone else by the end of the book. That's really okay, sometimes they do change just like we do. But when they are zombies who don't know who they are and why they are doing what they do, well, that is not okay.

3. We vow to keep our chapters succinct and to the point. And then, the reader decides that they know exactly how it is going to end, and quits reading. Well- we should try to keep things interesting and not too easy to figure out. Part of the element of surprise is well, the element. Don't make out like the story is not going to move along in it's natural rhythm. It will. And it's okay to allow it to seep over the edges of convention as long as it doesn't jump in the river and swim all the way downstream.

So finally, try to make an earnest effort to give the reader what they think that they are getting when they read your blurb. But don't forget to throw in that special sauce that makes them say they were pleasantly surprised too.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What Are the Qualities of a Great Book Narrator?

By

Dora Machado

&

Melissa Reizian-Frank


 
Melissa Reizian-Frank

Dora Machado
 
 
Hello MB4 readers! Let me ask you this: If you were an author looking to make your novel into an audiobook, what qualities would you look for in a voice actress or actor?

 On the eve of my fourth audio-book launch, I've learned what I want in a narrator, somebody who can act the voices in my head and tell a story the way it should be told. I also want a narrator with a strong work ethic and a commitment to quality, who can produce not just a good product, but a great audio-book. I can't wait to listen to the final production of The Curse Giver's audible edition, narrated by Melissa Reizian-Frank.
 
 

Melissa was an easy choice for me. Her voice has a distinct quality, a throaty, silky rustle that enhances any story. She graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she also minored in Theatre, a skill she puts to good use in her narrations.After spending a decade as an award-winning and twice Emmy-nominated broadcast journalist, Melissa started in the business fourteen years ago and has voiced thousands of TV and radio commercials, countless e-learning training narrations and more than a dozen audiobooks, including Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone, Stonewiser: The Call of the Stone and Stonewiser The Lament of the Stone. 
 
  
 

 
I asked her the same question I asked you: If you were an author looking to make your novel into an audiobook, what qualities would you look for in a voice actress or actor?

Here's Melissa's answer:

Well, if I had to make my novel into an audiobook, I would look for this voice chick named Melissa Reizian Frank…I hear she’s good. Kidding! (well, unless you’re an author reading this J) But seriously, I would look for someone who is a good actress, not just someone who has that “typical reader voice” that so many audiobooks employ.

There are many MANY schools of thought out there as to how to narrate an audiobook. Some prefer scarcely any differentiation between characters…maybe raising or lowering the voice only slightly to indicate gender, whereas a full-production best-seller may have a full cast of name Hollywood actors, plus sound effects.

I do like to “Act” in my productions. I like to treat it like a radio drama. That style isn’t for everyone, and I am capable of toning it down to the “teacher read” voice, but I do cry when authors want that. Most of mine don’t, I think because the folks who choose me do so because of what I do.

A quality narrator MUST have a quality studio and know how to use it. I don’t care how good you are reading; if there’s static and noise in the background and dogs barking, it’s not going to be a pleasant listen.

A quality narrator also must know what they’re getting into. It’s not enough to say, “My friend says I have good voice and I like reading to my son, so I’m going to become an audiobook narrator!” This is a LOOOOONG process.
 
Reading the book, with re-reading the parts where you stumble, or a plane goes overhead, takes about 1 ½ hours per hour of finished audio. Then the initial edit takes about 2 hours per finished hour of audio. My husband, John, has become my editor so that I can keep voicing, and he does a great job! After that, I do a quality check that is basically in real time. So add that up. That’s about 4 ½ hours for every hour of finished audio. Curse Giver is just over 20 hours long…that’s two 40-hour work weeks for just one book!

So there you have it, folks. Straight from the narrator's mouth. From voice to studio, quality is fundamental all around.

Have a wonderful week and thanks for reading!

 
*****

 
 
After spending a decade as an award-winning and twice Emmy-nominated broadcast journalist, Melissa Reizian Frank entered the world of full-time voiceover 14 years ago with the aim of having more time to spend with her family. Since then, Melissa has voiced thousands of TV and radio commercials, more than a dozen audiobooks, countless e-learning training narrations (Need to know anything from minute details about cerebral palsy? How to be a good bowling center employee? How to spot a money-laundering scheme? She’s your gal!)

She’s a talking detergent dispenser (in English AND Spanish) at many Laundromats across the country, and will even tell you which cash register to go to at many national department stores! Melissa has been involved in theatre her entire life, and has done some community theatre recently as well. Melissa graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she also minored in Theatre.

www.YourChoiceVoice.com
www.VoicerKid.com

*****

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She is one only a few Hispanic women writing fantasy in the United States today. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for the award-winning blog Murder By Four and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.

 



To learn more about Dora Machado and her award winning novels, visit her at www.doramachado.com , email her at Dora@doramachado.com, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Being a Jackie-of-all-trades: How Cool and Scary is that? by Leslie Ann Sartor

 
Hello, MB4 friends and fans!

Please help me welcome Leslie Ann Sartor to the blog today. She's got some great tips and observations, below. See what you think? And please, comment. We love comments, and this topic should generate plenty!

Have a wonderful Labor Day,

Aaron Lazar
www.lazarbooks.com

copyright 2014, Leslie Ann Sartor

Thank you, Aaron, for hosting me on your blog, it's an honor to be here.

Today I'm talking about being the Jackie-of-all-trades…that's what you become when you publish Indie.

Now, this isn't a bad thing, honest. It's just very exhausting and I wish there were thirty-six hours to the day, twenty-four simply aren't enough.

And I have to sheepishly admit I mess up sometimes, and that's horrible for a person who has recently found out they are an alpha and near perfectionist.

Whatever "type" of person you are, I'm offering a few things I've learned that make an Indie life work in the 24 hours we're given..

            1) You cannot do it all. I finally found a great virtual assistant and she does some of the work like mailing lists and promo's, scheduling tweets I just can't manage to do. We've worked together enough so she knows me, what I like and don't. What a relief she's been for me.

            2) Try everything promotion-wise that sounds like it's up your alley. Then find out what works and what doesn't work. I put my Christmas book on Amazon's KDP Select  last winter/spring and I was pleased with the response it received. And even more so when it hit best seller.

I took it off KDP until just recently when I heard about Kindle Unlimited. And after looking at the sales stats from Amazon vs the stats on the other booksellers sites, I pulled all my books from everyone but Amazon, put them in KDP Select with automatically puts me in Kindle Unlimited.

KDP sign up is in basically for 90 day increments, so trying KDP is a short term experiment … or you can leave your book on full time. I know plenty of authors that do. Luckily it's up to you.   

            3) Then narrow your choices to those that work best, or feel right. Notice I said feel right? All the sites you're on, be it for promotion, for publishing for blogging, have to hit the right chords inside of you. I have about 5 promotional sites I'm pushing to build my presence on. That's down from maybe 15-20.

KDP feels right for me at the moment, but after the release of my next two books this fall and winter, who knows? 

Indie means I have choices and I'll use them.

            4) But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try more new things. Do numbers 3 and 4 sound contradictory? They're not. You can't remain static. Neither can you become complacent with what may have worked before, but may not now. So how do you find out what is working?

That's hard. For me it's not just numbers and stats, though I use those. It's reading posts about a seller or a trend, like Kindle Unlimited. Sometimes it's as simple as it feels right or wrong. Not scientific, but …..

If you have a better way to tell or chart what's working for you, I want to hear it. Please let me know in comments. After all we are a community of writers.

One other major change I'm going to be making is working on Stone of Heaven's cover and blurb. It's my second book and I admit it, sales are lagging.

So I need to look at the cover, which I like, but have to take a step back and see if I can  make it stronger. And the blurb, I need to and can fix it. I don't think it says how much romance is in the story. Read it and tell me what you think. Really, I'm all ears.

As an Indie Author, I can make the changes necessary to fix what I determine isn't working. How cool and scary is that?

http://amzn.to/12pl02k
Stone of Heaven:


Two things when I started this journey I swore I would never do, FREE and CHEAP.

But now I have a new title, Best Selling Author, and I have a following of great readers so why not repackage myself and offer free and cheap when it's right, like when I'm releasing a new book? No reason. See #4 on the list.  

So I did just that and it was amazing what it did for sales. I didn't keep the free book free, I did slightly lower the prices on all my books, but not to .99 as they were then they were "bargain."

I have a blog, www.anindieadventure.blogspot.com and I have room for guests (contact me on my blog if you want to be a guest), but I've had to rethink just how much time I can put into the blog, so I've changed what I can offer my guests. Numbers 1&3 on the list. But guests on blogs are a win/win situation.

You can't be static. You can be a perfectionist, but you can't dwell on things when they're not. And as writers, we still have to find time to write. After all that's what all the rest of this is about isn't  it?

What about trying all the different social media you ask? HA!! That's another post entirely.


Bio:
Leslie Ann Sartor (aka L.A. Sartor) began telling stories around the age of 4 when her mother, at Leslie’s insistence, wrote them down and Leslie illustrated them. As an adult she writes suspense and action adventure novels with a dash of romance, and screenplays—she's had a contracted adaptation!  She lives in Colorado with her husband whom she met on a blind date. Leslie loves to travel and thinks life is an adventure and we should embrace the journey. She has a blog: www.anindieadventure.blogspot.com. She is also one of the Five Scribes at www.fivescribes.blogspot.com. Check out her website, www.lesliesartor.com.

Leslie is releasing Forever Yours This New Year's Night, the second book in the Star Light ~ Star Bright Series (Be Mine This Christmas Night is book 1) in early November.

And Viking Gold, the second book in the Carswell Adventure Series (Stone of Heaven is book 1) in early 2015.

Social Links
L.A. Sartor's website:  http://bit.ly/Msu6J8
Facebook Writer:  http://on.fb.me/MUU9HK