Monday, December 27, 2010

Garasamo Maccagnone , St. John of the Midfield, Virtual Tour

Tour Schedule
Writers in the Sky authors' assistant, Vonnie Faroqui, invites readers to join WITS for a virtual tour celebrating Garasamo Maccagnone's release of St. John of the Midfield.

St. John of the Midfield, virtual tour begins on December 16, 2010, and runs through Christmas day, December 25, 2010, with every stop offering unique content.

December 16, 2010, Day one of the tour will be hosted by Irene Watson, of Blogging Authors, at www.bloggingauthors.com. Blogging Authors will host an author written article, "Prodigy Syndrome." Follow this blogger on Twitter: @bloggingauthors.

December 17, 2010, Day two, host Karen Pierce Gonzalez of Folkheart Press, http://folkheartpressblog.blogspot.com hosts a Q&A written interview. Follow this blogger on Twitter: @folkheartpress

December 18, 2010, Day three,  Dallas Woodburn of http://dallaswoodburn.blogspot.com hosts an article about using YouTube for promotions and the book trailer for St. John of the Midfield. Follow this blogger on Twitter: @DallasWoodburn.

December 19, 2010, Day four, Vonnie Faroqui will post a review of St. John of the Midfield, at her blog  http://inkslingerswhimsey.blogspot.com/. Follow this blogger on Twitter: @inkslngrswhmz

December 20, 2010, Day five, Garasamo Maccagnone will be joining Suzanne Lieurance, of The Working Writer's Coach, for a podcast interview you won't want to miss. Follow this blogger on Twitter: @WritersCoach

December 21, 2010, Day six, Carolyn Howard-Johnson of The New Book Review will host a Midfield review written by Irfan Faroqui. Follow this blog on Twitter: @frugalbookpromo

December 22, 2010, Day seven, Lisa Jackson hosts a Q&A written interview with Garasamo Maccagnone at http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com. Follow this blogger on Twitter: @lisajjackson

December 23, 2010, Day eight, Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz will host an excerpt from the book and a Q&A written interview at http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com. Follow this blogger on Twitter: @pennyehrenkranz

December 24, 2010, Day nine of the tour visits Writers In The Sky Podcast , for an author interview between Garasamo Maccagnone and virtual tour manager Vonnie Faroqui. Follow this blogger on Twitter: @writersinthesky

December 25,2010, Merry Christmas! We have a special bonus stop for everyone who has followed Garasamo’s tour.
Vonnie Faroqui, http://inkslingerswhimsey.blogspot.com,
offers a review of, For the Love of St. Nick, a Christmas short story written by Garasamo Maccagnone. Follow this blogger on Twitter: @inkslngrswhmz

Saturday, December 25, 2010

For the Love of St. Nick

Merry Christmas!

I have a special bonus treat for everyone that has been following Garasamo Maccagnone's St. John of the Midfield virtual tour. I had intended to post my review of For the Love of St. Nick, a Christmas story by Garasamo Maccagnone. Instead, I have been moved by Mac's story, to dedicate this post to the men and women of the US Armed forces at home and abroad, by sharing an excerpt from the book.

Told from a narrative perspective by the oldest of two sons, For the love of St. Nick is a story of faith and love that is perfect for Christmas. Garasamo once again captures the experience and joy of childhood in this moving story of brotherly love and faith.  I was transported to Christmas past, Michigan winters, childhood fears and faith.


Author: Garasamo Maccagnone

Book Title: For the Love of St. Nick
ISBN-10: 1439210128
ISBN-13: 978-1439210123
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (October 7, 2008)
Link to purchase

Synopsis:
Two boys who have lost their mother tragically, worry they'll never see their father,a Naval Commander, after he embarks on a secret mission with the United States military.


For the Love of St. Nick, Excerpt: Page 31-33

Before we could go, all the men insisted we make snow angels in the clearing. That's when Lieutenant Morrison told the group, "Make em big so we can see em from the sky. It's the first thing we'll look for when we return." While the men weren't paying attention to us, Lieutenant Morrison leaned over on his side and waited for Johnny and me to finish making our angels.


"Boys, boys," he said twice in order to get our attention. Johnny and I popped up to see what he wanted to say to us. Lieutenant Morrison bit his lip, then spoke to us. "I'm bringing him home to you. Don't worry. He'll be home before Christmas I promise."


"You promise?" I asked.


"Scouts honor?" Johnny inquisitively asked.


"Yes, yes, scouts honor."


"How will we know he's close?"


"I'll send you a signal."


"What kind of signal?"


"I'm going to buzz your cabin."


"What does that mean?"


Lieutenant Morrison turned back to see if the other men were listening. Realizing they were not, he turned back to us and said, "You"ll know when he's near. I'm going to fly so low, it'll sound like a freight train coming through the middle of your cabin."


"Pinky promise?" Johnny asked. Lieutenant Morrison put out his pinky. The three of us joined our pinky fingers in a deal-making pact.


"Pinky promise. You boys got a deal," said Lieutenant Morrison.

**************

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Writing From Experience

Today Ink Slinger's Whimsey would like to welcome guest blogger, author Rowena Portch.  Rowena has recently published book two in her Spirian Series, The Union.  Both book one and two of Rowena's paranormal romance series were published in 2010, with book one of the series, The Protected, receiving the Readers Favorite 2010, silver medal for general fiction. The Spirian Series has captured the attention of  reading groups and is garnering positive attention and feedback from reviewers across the country. Take it away Ro . . .



Writing From Experience

By Rowena Portch                 
(Photo of Greg and Rowena Portch Right)

When I explored writing over 30 years ago, a speaker I had listened to mentioned something about writing from experience. At that time, during my younger years, his profound bit of knowledge didn’t really stick. Years later, however, I decided to write about the odd set of circumstances that culminated my life. My memoir, “This is Not the Life I Ordered!” was born.

It was a two-year project comprised of anecdotes, and quotes I had conjured over the years. Though the stories were good, there was nothing to really tie them together; nothing to entice anyone to want to read them. My imagination kicked into high gear, and in three months, my memoir turned into a three-book series about a race of gifted beings called Spirians.

The challenge came with writing from the perspective of a blind massage therapist. Skye Taylor, the woman portraying me, was legally blind. Like me, she was not completely blind. She could still see shapes and some detail providing there was enough light. To keep the story interesting and descriptive, I had to draw upon my memories of what things looked like when I had good vision. Like Skye, most of what I see is in the form of energy, or vibrations that radiate from everything, even rocks and furniture. Describing objects the way that I actually see them would confuse the reader. Hence, I had to translate my experience to match those that a sighted person would recognize.

Many of the events that happen to Skye, happened to me in one form or another. For example, when Skye is in the hospital, she is visited by a mysterious man that leaves her with the gift to heal. This is an actual event. The part where the Shadow woman injects her with a tracking chip was fiction. It was a necessary element to stimulate a sense of danger. This is what keeps readers hooked.

Too many writers try to write about something that they have researched, or have written a story that they have always wanted to read but could never find. All of this is good, but if the personal experience is lacking, it will show in the story. To demonstrate this point, try writing about something you have heard about but have never experienced. Now, write about something that you have experienced. If you put full effort into this exercise, you will notice that one piece of writing lacks passion. The other shows emotion and heart, because the experience is a part of you.

Try this—the next time you go to a coffee shop, write about the people you observe, their displayed emotions, their body language, tone of voice, and appearance. Don’t forget to include your senses. What do you smell, hear, taste, feel? Now, take that short segment and see how you can weave your experience into a fascinating story. Make it short and sweet as if you were recounting your experience to a friend. The more you practice this, the more observant you will become to your surroundings. As a result, your writing will be stronger and much more believable to your readers.

By combining real-life experiences, and weaving them in with a good measure of fiction, what is revealed is a believable story that will keep your readers’ attention and make them yearn for more.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Welcome to Day Four of the St. John of the Midfield Virtual Tour

Happy Holidays!
I especially want to offer a warm welcome to the followers of the St. John of the Midfield virtual tour and author Garasamo Maccagnone.

This is day four of Mac's virtual tour and if you haven't had a chance to visit the other stops you really need to go check them out. Every stop is unique and well worth the click.

Midfield Tour Schedule   

And now. . .
It is my distinct pleasure to present to you, St. John of the Midfield, a review . . . by me, Vonnie Faroqui.

Photo right: Author Garasamo Maccagnone


Author: Garasamo Maccagnone
Book Title: St. John of the Midfield
Genre: Sports Fiction - Adult
ISBN-10: 1608607925
ISBN-13: 978-1608607921
Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing
Author Site:  http://garasamomaccagnone.com/

Link to purchase 


Reviewed by: Vonnie Faroqui for WITS





St. John of the Midfield Scores!

The saying goes “Sometimes in soccer you have to score goals.” Well Mac, you did it. St John of the Midfield is in the net.

Garasamo Maccagnone, is one of the best authors I have ever read. He has a talent that is remarkable and St. John of the Midfield doesn’t disappoint.

I think what I like best about Mac’s writing and St. John of the Midfield in particular, is that it is so . . . manly. There is nothing flat, politically correct or whitewashed about a Maccagnone story. He writes with depth and raw humanity. I like being in the head of his characters. As alien as the male perspective is for me, the realism is comfortingly honest. I don’t feel lied to.

It doesn’t matter that the story line might be shocking or disconcertingly painful, the characters and situations ring with truth. I laugh with the Santini Brothers in the kitchen as they tease their boy, Luca. I see Frankie call out and Mario shadowbox the dance of the heavyweights. Later, I feel Mario’s guilt and fear. I believe in Bobo. I suffer with Mario and I rage with Frankie.

Garasamo Maccagnone writes life into his stories; from the littlest observation –the waitress “with rugged facial skin like the underbelly of a rhino,—“to the bigger issues of ego gratification, responsibility and ethics. Mac writes it all in, Life and all of its dirty, selfish, poignant, angry, triumphant, beautiful, heartbreaking confusion, and he does it again with St. John of the Midfield.

This book is easily finished in one sitting, it is that good. I recommend it as a great gift for the reading men in your life, husbands, fathers, brothers, grown sons, and nephews. Women will love it too. One thing is for certain, you will never forget the character of Bobo, the true St. John of the Midfield.

Synopsis
St John of the Midfield
World-class soccer star Bobo Stoikov makes an escape from communist Bulgaria and finds his way to America. Landing a job as a youth soccer coach, Bobo builds a reputation for himself as a successful, yet unorthodox, coach who propels his team to the championship title. But things go far beyond the soccer field when arch rival Sonny Christopher seeks to destroy Bobo's reputation, along with that of his best player and the player's father, Mario. Before he realizes how serious the situation is, Bobo finds himself in sudden death and soon realizes there is more at stake than just a soccer game.

Next Tour Stop . . .

December 20, 2010, Day five, Garasamo Maccagnone will be joining Suzanne Lieurance, of The Working Writer's Coach, for a podcast interview you won't want to miss. Follow this blogger on Twitter: @WritersCoach


Friday, December 17, 2010

Claudy Is Back! Out of Retirement and Hitting the Paranormal Romance Scene

Author of 40 top selling romances, Claudy Conn, comes out of retirement after nine years to present her latest book, Spellbound - Legend.

This is the first paranormal romance she’s written but it is just the beginning. “What I have done is outlined my series in my head. Each installment will have a new heroine and hero with circumstances that will develop for them alone. The ongoing story will evolve through each of them. Important secondary characters will take part in all of the books.”

Claudy continues by sharing that “Writing is a must for me. Inspiration comes from everything, but especially from my hot Irish husband, our incredible daughter and her handsome husband.”

Claudy brings a wealth of writing experience, talks about eBook publishing, and romancing the book industry.


Click Play to listen . . . 



MP3 File



Visit the author's site at http://www.claudyconn.embarqspace.com/ to purchase your eBook today.












Bookmark and Share

Thursday, December 16, 2010

St. John of the Midfield, virtual tour begins TODAY!

St. John of the Midfield, virtual tour begins on December 16, 2010, and runs through Christmas day, December 25, 2010, with every stop offering unique content.

Author: Garasamo Maccagnone
Book Title: St. John of the Midfield 
Genre: Sports Fiction - Adult
ISBN-10: 1608607925
ISBN-13: 978-1608607921
Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing
Release Date: November 2010
Tour Date: December 16-25, 2010
Link to purchase

Garasamo Maccagnone has enjoyed writing since the age of sixteen. He is inspired by the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, and Jack London, and is currently working on his next book, The Fish and the Fox. Garasamo has owned a soccer club and coached and trained players for over twenty years. He lives with his wife, Vicki, and his three children, Garrett, Anthony and Sophia, in Shelby Township, Michigan, where his daughter plays soccer for the Michigan Gators.

ST John of the Midfield . . .
World-class soccer star Bobo Stoikov makes an escape from communist Bulgaria and finds his way to America. Landing a job as a youth soccer coach, Bobo builds a reputation for himself as a successful, yet unorthodox, coach who propels his team to the championship title. But things go far beyond the soccer field when arch rival Sonny Christopher seeks to destroy Bobo's reputation, along with that of his best player and the player's father, Mario. Before he realizes how serious the situation is, Bobo finds himself in sudden death and soon realizes there is more at stake than just a soccer game.

Link to Tour Schedule

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Promotion TIPS: Be A Guest

For Promotions there is no doubt that the Internet is the strongest place to market your product, in this case . . . your books.
There are a few online publicity tricks you can employ that will strengthen your marketing strategy and assist in elevating your site page ranking, self and your book in keyword searches with Google, Yahoo and others.

  • Become a blogging author
  • Become a commenting author at the sites of others
  • Become a guest blogger for an established blog or site
If you aren't interested in becoming a blogging author or in maintaining your own blog the other options are still open to you. Maintaining a blog however does open avenues and opportunities for promotions that shouldn't be passed up without serious consideration.

Each of these options will provide an opportunity for your byline and URL to be placed in front of potential readers and will create important cross and back links to other sites; which is important when you are seeking to improve your page ranking with search engines or when building toward monetizing your site.
Each of these options will also help establish your name and credibility as an expert or established author and will place your work in front of readers, providing sales opportunities; and all three are available and FREE ways to publicize your books.

Join me as a guest blogger
  • Blog about your current or past projects
  • Blog on your chosen theme
  • Submit an excerpt from your book
  • Send me your book trailer
  • Join our network of virtual tour blog hosts
  • Invite me to be a host for the virtual tour you are organizing
I am happy to be there for you.

Contact Vonnie Faroqui for information about being a guest blogger with http://inkslingerswhimsey.blogspot.com or at one of the Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services' blogs.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Spellbound - Legend: A Review

Have I got a treat for you!

Spellbound – Legend is "Smokin’ HOT!"


Book Title: Spellbound - Legend
Author: Claudy Conn
EBook ISBN: 978-1-59705-390-7
Paper ISBN: 978-1-59705-595-6
Publisher: Wings Press
Link to purchase
Reviewer: Vonnie Faroqui for WITS


After a nine year hiatus [we won’t call it retirement,] Claudy Conn returns to the world of romance fiction writing with Spellbound – Legend. You might remember the author as Claudette Williams and think of her regency and historical romances. Claudy wrote over 40 mass market bestsellers in that field using the pen names Claudette Williams and Melanie Davis for Fawcett, Zebra and Doubleday book club. Claudy Conn is back and writing with a vengeance to bring us her first paranormal romance.

Make no mistake this is top notch romance writing and Claudy embraces the paranormal aspects of her story with obvious enjoyment and ease. Paranormal and fantasy fictions are my absolute favorite reads and she has made the switch seem effortless. She has nailed the genre as if she was born to write it. No disrespect intended toward the historical and regency set . . . I cut my reading chops on those romances.

Spellbound – Legend is a masterfully written tale that pits a contemporary young woman against ancient forces. Maxie Reigate descends from a long line of Druid priests and priestesses. She’s always been aware of the family legend but what she doesn’t know is that her fate is tied into the world of the Tuatha Dé, the fairy people, also known as the Fae, who are at the heart of Irish Myth and folklore. The wall of power, set up to protect and separate the world of man from the Fae, is in danger of collapse; there is a blood sucking, evil and ancient beauty that wants her dead; the hero of her family’s legend, Julian, the High Druid Priest is about to wake up after a two hundred year coma and walk into her life; and then there is a Fae Prince who wants to protect and keep her for his own. There is danger at every turn and enough sexual tension to launch an arrow.

Talk about steam . . . Spellbound – Legend has all the elements needed to get your heart racing and in a good way. Claudy Conn has stepped onto the stage of paranormal romance writing and is going to give Harris, Hamilton, and Feehan a fight for their audiences. Conn is a master story teller returned to give us more of what we want. I don't know which is hotter Breslyn, Prince of Dagda or Julian of Talbot?! I am so conflicted! Best of all, Spellbound is just the beginning of an incredible new series.



Visit the authors site at http://www.claudyconn.embarqspace.com/

Saturday, December 11, 2010

St. John of the Midfield Virtual Tour Announcement

Writers in the Sky authors' assistant, Vonnie Faroqui, invites readers to join WITS for a virtual tour celebrating Garasamo Maccagnone's release of St. John of the Midfield.

Tour Schedule


St. John of the Midfield, virtual tour begins on December 16, 2010, and runs through Christmas day, December 25, 2010, with every stop offering unique content.

December 16, 2010, Day one of the tour will be hosted by Irene Watson, of Blogging Authors, at www.bloggingauthors.com. Blogging Authors will host an author written article, "Prodigy Syndrome." Follow this blogger on Twitter: @bloggingauthors.

December 17, 2010, Day two, host Karen Pierce Gonzalez of Folkheart Press, http://folkheartpressblog.blogspot.com hosts a Q&A written interview. Follow this blogger on Twitter: @folkheartpress

December 18, 2010, Day three,  Dallas Woodburn of http://dallaswoodburn.blogspot.com hosts an article about using YouTube for promotions and the book trailer for St. John of the Midfield. Follow this blogger on Twitter: @DallasWoodburn.

December 19, 2010, Day four, Vonnie Faroqui will post a review of St. John of the Midfield, at her blog  http://inkslingerswhimsey.blogspot.com/. Follow this blogger on Twitter: @inkslngrswhmz

December 20, 2010, Day five, Garasamo Maccagnone will be joining Suzanne Lieurance, of The Working Writer's Coach, for a podcast interview you won't want to miss. Follow this blogger on Twitter: @WritersCoach

December 21, 2010, Day six, Carolyn Howard-Johnson of The New Book Review will host a Midfield review written by Irfan Faroqui. Follow this blog on Twitter: @frugalbookpromo

December 22, 2010, Day seven, Lisa Jackson hosts a Q&A written interview with Garasamo Maccagnone at http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com. Follow this blogger on Twitter: @lisajjackson

December 23, 2010, Day eight, Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz will host an excerpt from the book and a Q&A written interview at http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com. Follow this blogger on Twitter: @pennyehrenkranz

December 24, 2010, Day nine of the tour visits Writers In The Sky Podcast , for an author interview between Garasamo Maccagnone and virtual tour manager Vonnie Faroqui. Follow this blogger on Twitter: @writersinthesky

December 25,2010, Merry Christmas! We have a special bonus stop for everyone who has followed Garasamo’s tour.
Vonnie Faroqui, http://inkslingerswhimsey.blogspot.com,
offers an excerpt from, For the Love of St. Nick, a Christmas short story written by Garasamo Maccagnone. Follow this blogger on Twitter: @inkslngrswhmz

Friday, December 10, 2010

Inside Murder: An Interview with Author Olivia Rodan Jacobs About The Poisoner's Agenda

WITS host Vonnie Faroqui and author Olivia Rodan Jacobs talk in depth about writing of Jacobs's novel, The Poisoner's Agenda.


From the Author:

I am not now nor have I ever been a spy! But it's fun to write a who-done-it, a thriller. Why set the story in Israel? What an exciting place! Besides, I've studied, visited, and "bummed around" Israel enough that I could picture all the places I wrote about. But how could I (not a spy!) write a mystery involving espionage? Well, my cousin was a real life spy, and then there's all those international intrigue mysteries I've read... To be candid, the "story" of THE POISONER'S AGENDA sprang full-blown from a careening imagination.






Click Play to Listen . . .



MP3 File

http://www.thepoisonersagenda.com/




Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Promoting Your Book

I wrote this article for the WITS Fabulous Friday Newsletter several weeks back and am only now getting around to publishing it here on my blog. I hope you find it useful.

Promoting Your Book Using YouTube

The era of publishers marketing books for authors is gone. Traditional publishing houses are no longer flush with funds and are not willing or able to promote the majority of the books they publish. If you are a self-published author you have always been responsible for marketing your books. Publishers, both independent and conventional, are increasingly advising authors to promote themselves online using virtual blog tours, podcast interviews, book trailers, and through the popular Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube social networking sites. The difficulty arises in knowing how to use these tools. Unless you are a teenager or surfing the Internet has become a major part of your life, you may not see all the marketing opportunities. You probably don’t know what to do, where to go, or understand how to integrate social networking into your marketing strategy as a means of redirecting internet traffic to your author home page, where readers can buy your book.

Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services [WITS] offers authors assistance with promotions, including consultation and management for a growing number of social network marketing strategies. This week we would like to highlight one aspect of social networking that will help you bring your book to the world market of YouTube.

YouTube was founded in February 2005 and has risen to become the world's most popular online video community. YouTube allows “. . . millions of people to discover, watch, and share originally-created videos.” It does this by allowing “. . . people to easily upload and share video clips on www.YouTube.com and across the Internet through Web sites, mobile devices, blogs, and e-mail.”

If you are not familiar with the Internet jargon . . .

YouTubing: is surfing the wave of Internet video posting.
YouTuber: is one who surfs the YouTube wave.

There are an estimated 30 million new video posts uploaded to YouTube every day from across the globe, in every language, with YouTube currently reporting “. . . 2 billion videos viewed a day [and a] . . . user base age range of 18-55, evenly divided between males and females, and spanning all geographies. Fifty-one percent . . . of users go to YouTube weekly or more often, and 52 percent of 18-34 year-olds share videos often with friends and colleagues.” ~ http://www.youtube.com/t/about

This is important to authors because the reading audience is hanging out and being entertained on YouTube and we want them to find, buy, and read our books.

What Can I do as an author to benefit from YouTube?

The first thing you need to do as an author is to have fun! Go exploring. Familiarize yourself with what YouTube has to offer. In the beginning you probably won’t have any videos of your own created or you will need to have a way of attracting YouTubers to your video clips. If you are going to attract attention you need to understand what YouTubers are looking for, to be where they are and to do what they are doing.

• Search for videos related to your own interests, e.g. video clips that share your book’s genre or major themes
• Create your own YouTube login account and channel (see WITS’ channel http://www.youtube.com/Writersinthesky)
• Keep your personal YouTube channel separate from your author channel
• Decide on a focus of interest for your author channel, choosing a genre, topics, or themes that relate to your book or that are in harmony with your book’s message
• Create playlists by theme on your channel
• Surf YouTube, using key words to find video clips you like, and begin adding videos to the playlists you’ve created under your chosen themes. By creating a playlist using other people’s videos, you are tapping into and harnessing pre-established searches. This saves time spent building a following and it places your author interview or book trailers where they can be seen.
• Post your author site URL and information through your YouTube channel to redirect traffic where your book is available.
• Use the subscription functions of YouTube to allow others to become a fan of your channel
• Allow followers to make comments. Even negative comments attract viewers and sell books. Google recommends, for increased search engine ratings and site traffic, that you do not monitor or block commenting.
• Become someone else’s fan and make comments on your favorite video posts. Leaving comments will create a back trail or back-link that allows others to find your playlists and video material
• Begin creating your own video vignettes, between 1-3 minutes in length is ideal.
• Have a trailer created for your book.
• Seek out video interview opportunities like those offered by WITS.
• Use video blogging on YouTube to talk about your book or current projects
• Key word tags are used to assist searching for and finding videos. Don’t forget to set up key word tags to any playlists and video clips you create

In this way you can begin to use YouTube to redirect traffic to an author site where your book is available. YouTube is a key component to integrating social networking into a marketing strategy and it isn’t necessary to have videos of your own created in order to begin benefiting.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Poisoner's Agenda: A Review



Book Title: The Poisoner’s Agenda: Jerusalem 3,000
Author: Olivia Rodan Jacobs
ISBN: 978-1432759117
Publisher: Outskirts Press (August 16, 2010)
Link to purchase
Reviewer: Vonnie Faroqui for WITS


The Poisoner's Agenda, written under the name Olivia Rodan Jacobs, is an exciting tale of murder and espionage. The story is set in 1996, during the year marking Israel's 3,000 year claim on Jerusalem as the center of Jewish religious and political life. The author uses the contention and the heated religious and political differences of the time to creative advantage, treating the political and religious tumult of the Middle East with care and a measure of generosity.

Jacobs draws extensively from her own experiences of living and working in Israel to cultivate her plot. Characters feel well placed within the story, coming alive in a world that is deeply textured and realistic. All the characters including the terrorist have been given interesting and well thought out back-stories that drive their choices in a realistic manner, true to individual culture, heritage, and religious affiliation. The political and personal motives of the terrorist are woven into the story, as are those of the other main characters. Although I did not find the poisoner's character to be a sympathetic one, I did find his back story illuminating and was able to empathize with his personal story in a way that made me appreciate the book on a level I had not anticipated.

I found much in this book surprising. As a historical fiction the book is educational and relevant. As a murder mystery the focus for the reader is not on discovering who the murderer is, but on discovering the how and why, with clues dispersed throughout for reader speculation and gratification. The Poisoner's Agenda is the most effective as an espionage thriller, being quite exciting.

While I was reading I was surprised by the volume of information and historical content relayed. There was much concerning the Middle East conflict which I was previously unaware of. I found myself checking information and historical references. The author seems to have researched the historical data well.

I found The Poisoner's Agenda to be fascinating on many levels . It is wonderful book, especially for those who enjoy spy stories or who are interested in the Middle East from a historical perspective.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Say It: I'm No Bitch, I'm No Ho, and I'm More Than Just Another Vagina

An Interview with Host Vonnie Faroqui and Author Elsie Spruill


Elsie Spruill, author of Say It: I'm No Bitch, I'm No Ho, and I'm More Than Just Another Vagina, loving yet firmly addresses a culture of sexual promiscuity and its impact on today’s youth culture. Join WITS host Vonnie Faroqui as they discuss the author's motivation for and approach to writing this book, and Spruill’s crusade to help young women value their bodies, their choices, and their self.



Click Play to Listen . . .


MP3 File





Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Article Marketing: An Example

November 17, 2010, I ran a small piece called Article Marketing: Promoting Your Book
This week I would like to offer an example of an article that has a search-able topic which ties in with an author's book promotion.

Retinitis Pigmentosa
Spirian Series Author Brings New Dimension to “Blind Seer” Heroine.


Ink Slinger’s Whimsey and Writers in the Sky [WITS] would like to share with readers information about an eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa and introduce a fiction author, Rowena Portch, writer of The Spirian Series, who has overcome the condition in her own life, using it to enhance her work.

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a group of degenerative eye diseases affecting one in 4,000 people in the United States and roughly one out of 5,000 people Worldwide. The retina, which is located at the back of the eye, sends visual images to the brain. In patients with this disease, damage to the retina gets worse over time. RP commonly runs in families and can be caused by a number of genetic defects. For those with RP, the photoreceptors in the eyes progressively degenerate, causing side or peripheral vision, to slowly worsen over time. Night vision is also diminished, with central vision typically declining in the advanced stages of the disease. The condition may eventually lead to blindness, with most patients retaining at least partial vision, total vision loss being rare. Wearing sunglasses will help protect the retina from ultraviolet light and may help preserve vision, and vitamin A may slow the disease from getting worse but there is currently no known cure or effective treatment for RP.

Signs of RP can usually be detected during a routine eye exam however; symptoms usually do not develop until adolescence, around 10 years old. Severe vision problems do not usually develop until early adulthood.
Author Rowena Portch retired from her successful career as an editor at Microsoft, when she lost her vision to RP. After leaving Microsoft, she and husband Gregg opened the Abel Wellness Center on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. Portch had already been writing professionally for over 30 years when she set out to write her ambitious 5 part Spirian Series. The Protected, book one of the series was released on May 11, 2010. The Union, book two was released October 26, 2010. The series is already gaining popularity, favorable reviews, and has garnered the 2010 Readers Favorite Silver medal for General Fiction for The Protected.

The Protected, are a supernaturally gifted race of beings, not quite human but not fully spirit that secretly share this planet. Among themselves they are known as Spirians, a race caught between the physical and spiritual realms – where anything is possible. Skye, a blind massage therapist, has lived her whole life as human and is unaware of her race and the path her life is about to take. Skye may be the prophesied “Healer” whose gifts are pivotal in the course of her people’s future; a future that could bring about the enslavement of humanity. The Protected, book one of the series, takes the reader with Skye into the hidden world of the Spirians, where a few stand in the balance ready to teach Skye to use the power that is her birthright before she becomes a pawn in a much larger game.

Author Rowena Portch was featured on the Writers in the Sky Podcast aired over the Internet on August 6, 2010.
“The depth of realism and texture Portch has written into the character and world of her ‘Blind Seer’ heroine is untouchable by the writings of sighted authors. Once you read The Protected you’ll never believe another author trying to write blind again. Portch has written a unique and engaging series that will thrill and inspire readers.” says book reviewer and podcast host Vonnie Faroqui of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services [WITS]
Learn more about Rowena Portch and the Spirian Series from her website at http://rowenaportch.com/ or by following her on http://twitter.com/RowenaPortch and at http://bit.ly/Facebook-RowenaPortch. The author will meet and sign books for the public with events to be announced through BookTour.com.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Say it: A Review by Vonnie Faroqui

Book Title: Say It: I’m No Bitch, I’m No Ho, and I Am More Than Just Another Vagina
Author: Elsie Spruill
ISBN: 143272410X
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Link to purchase
Reviewer: Vonnie Faroqui for WITS


Direct and to the Heart of Matters

Trust a Grandmother to put things in perspective. Elsie Spruill does just that in, Say It: I’m No Bitch, I’m No Ho, and I Am More Than Just Another Vagina. This little book packs a powerful wallop and speaks with loving concern directly to the youth culture about self respect and dignity. The tone of the book is modern and intelligent with urban grit.
Say It speaks frankly about sex, sexual relationships, and promiscuity. It may prove upsetting to those who are squeamish or coy, as the author is writing directly to the youth of today in an unvarnished, albeit creative voice. The chapter entitled, “The Vagina Says No!” is written from the perspective of . . . yes, the vagina and is sure to shock the rigid moralist. However, let’s not lose sight of the intended audience and message.
The author knows who she is speaking to and cares about the message she is presenting. Say It crosses blurred cultural lines to address a post feminist, MTV generation about the societal changes and impact of sexual promiscuity on the dignity, self respect, and health of women in the modern era. I felt the direct and powerful approach taken was realistic and necessary when reaching out, especially to the young urban woman. Elsie writes on a level that can be understood, delivering a message that touches every one.
Women’s groups and organizations that are dealing with the health and societal consequences of the sex and urban rap culture are sure to be able to use this book effectively to help promote change. Today’s youth are not interested in preachy sentimentality and glossy self righteous talk. Elsie knows this and writes in terms that will be understood and appreciated by those who deal and live real.



Bookmark and Share

Friday, November 26, 2010

Confessions of an Ex-Gun Dealer: an Interview with Author Ludwig Sawicki




WITS Podcast presents . . .
Confessions of an Ex-Gun Dealer, by Ludwig Sawicki, a humorous memoir about life as a gun dealer in middle America.

Author and host, Vonnie Faroqui, laugh over the life and situational humor in the book. Sawicki shares some of his writing and publishing choices and considerations.

The interview includes an excerpt reading by the author from Confessions of an Ex-Gun Dealer.


[Ludwig Sawicki, photo right]







Click Play to listen . . .





MP3 File





Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Get The Most Out Of Being A Host

The Keys To Being Successful as a Virtual Tour Host

If you have been following my site or have visited any of my site pages you are now familiar with the basic idea of a virtual blog tour and how it works.

Today I would like to look at the key elements that make a successful tour and how you as a tour host can maximize your involvement for the best results.


How Do We Measure a Tour's Success?
The true measure of a virtual tour's success comes as increased Internet traffic, improved site ranking, increased followers and/or product sales.

Success is built through . . .
  • quality tour management
  • quality tour value in the form of content -articles, interviews, and reviews
  • quality tour value in the form of external link acquisitions - Multi and reciprocal linking
  • tour completion incentives and purchase incentives 
  • Social media buzz 
  • quality host participation

There are three critical stages of a virtual tour . . .

Pre-Tour:
Increased Internet traffic is generated through the dedicated pre-tour buildup and promotional activities of the tour's management and hosts. Pre-tour buildup includes announcement of the tour as an online media release, mailing list notifications, pre-tour promotional blogging, and micro posting promotional efforts made through social media networks such as Twitter and FaceBook.

Tour Run:
Active participation by hosts and author during the tour . . .
  • appropriate posting of the tour articles, interviews and reviews, including purchase links, and tour stop links that tell followers where to go next 
  • ongoing management, author and host commenting at the various tour stops through the course of a tour.
  • the creation of  back links in comments made between hosts
Post Tour:
Really savvy tour managers and hosts will continue to get as much "play" out of a tour as possible, even after a tour is completed. They do this by referring to the tour in subsequent posts, by including links to other tour posts and hosts, and by visiting other host sites to leave comments about the tour's success.  Hosts benefit in many ways by doing this and often make networking connections for future endeavors.

A good example of post-tour promotion comes through my recent participation in the November 21, 2010, Blog Jog Day tour, managed by Carol Denbow of A Book Inside. [Oh my, did I just try to get more Blog Jog Day "play" by referencing my participation? Watch . . . I'm not done yet.]

The day after the blog jog was complete I was reviewing the comments left by hosts and visitors. I like to make sure to thank other hosts for commenting on my blog. In visiting others I was honored to find that another host, All Things That Matter, used a selection from my blog jog post in a post-tour blog entry. Not only did she bring my blog and site to the attention of her followers, she also referred followers back to the Blog Jog Day.

Can you see how a trend is developing?

If I had failed to follow up as a host through post-tour participation, I would never have seen that my site had received additional mention. I would have missed the opportunity to comment with a thank you and to create backlinks between our posts. Backlinks are important because search engines like Google, and Yahoo monitor the comments and backlinks as part of evaluating a site ranking.

The benefits of post-tour participation continue as . . .

In appreciation for the post-tour mention at All Things That Matter, I was inspired to write this post, where I continue to pay the good publicity forward, for Blog Jog Day, and All Things That Matter Press, drawing further attention to my own post, and most importantly to the authors and books I represent.

Think about it and remember . . .

Anything worth doing . . .

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Side Splitter with Bang Appeal.




Book Title: Confessions of an Ex-Gun Dealer
Author: Ludwig Sawicki
ISBN:  143275839X
Publisher:    Outskirts Press
Link to purchase  
Reviewer:  Vonnie Faroqui for WITS

Since we are into confessions . . . I have one of my own to make. I am a bleeding heart liberal, love animals and although I am not anti-gun I am close to it. When I first picked up this book I was skeptical about how fair I could be to the author and what kind of review I would give.  That being said, I really, truly, deeply enjoyed this book.

Southern gentlemen and the Irish aren't the only natural storytellers. Author Ludwig Sawicki can spin out a tale with the best of them. Confessions of an Ex-Gun Dealer is a humorous, intelligent, straight shooting, and honest memoir that reveals much about life. No time is wasted in political correctness and yet the book has a charm about it that allows the reader to remain comfortable, even when challenged with setting aside personal bias.

Sawicki’s love of guns is infectious. His knowledge and experience is vast and yet woven into the book with such ease one hardly realizes they are receiving an education.  There is an incredible level of joy and love conveyed in every character description and tale.  The people and accounts shared by the author seem to come alive. Reading, I felt rather like I did as a kid when my uncle would entertain us by the fire.

There are strange things done by men with guns,
for the love of the hunting trail . . .

This is a great book for anyone who enjoys the hunting and the shooting sports but it is also a wonderful study in human resilience, determination, and character.  The book is full of life experience and wisdom, business acumen, and best of all laughter.  Sawicki is damn funny and an astute observer of human nature.




Bookmark and Share

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Year in Review: WITS' Top 15 Book Picks for 2010

Welcome to Blog Jog Day!

Thank you for stopping by my Blog! Please explore all this Blog has to offer, then jog on over to . . . The Story Ideas Virtuoso http://www.debgallardo.com/virtuoso/. If you would like to visit a different Blog in the jog, go to http://blogjogday.blogspot.com.

~~~~~~~~~

Over the course of the year the team members of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services [WITS] have been privileged to work with and review books from many talented and gifted authors. This year I asked the WITS team members to send me their favorite picks from the many books we have worked on or reviewed throughout the course of the year.  The selection votes have now been sorted and counted.
 It is my great pleasure to present to you . . .


Writers In The Sky Creative Writing Services' Top 15 Picks for 2010!
The books presented here represent client submissions made between Dec 1, 2009 and November 30, 2010 and have been listed in alpha order by author.

Book Title: Babes in Bucksnort: Sister Mary Olga Fortitude Book 2
Author: Davis Aujourd’hui
ISBN: 978-1432745004
Publisher: OutskirtsPress.com 2010

Aujourd’hui creates men, women, and children with unforgettable (and descriptive!) names and even more outrageous behavior. We appreciated the sharp humor that the author employed to this end and found great entertainment in discovering what these characters would do next. We also enjoyed the important messages of love and acceptance that Aujourd’hui emphasizes, particularly through the teachings of Sister Mary herself. Once in a while, we all need mirrors placed in front of us to help us examine and rethink how we treat one another, and Davis Aujourd’hui accomplishes this through his writing. Babes in Bucksnort is a book that will make you both think and laugh.

Book Title: How Did She Get There?
Author: Ann Karen Dowd
ISBN: 978-0615335308
Publisher: White Ink Press 2010

How Did She Get There? is a modern day cautionary tale. The heroine however does not turn anyone into a golden statue out of greed; or laze all day in the sun, thinking the world owes her a living while others labor. She is as human and self absorbed as we come, with all the classic confused notions found in a folk tale character. The author, Ann Karen Dowd, has written a story that leads her heroine and the reader through a maze of challenges; attitudes to be overcome, confused perceptions about right and wrong, pitfalls of human nature, even exploring the motivational fears and desires which often hide beneath well meaning intentions.

Book Title: Passion’s Evidence
Author: Barbara Fifield
ISBN Number: 978-1432753573
Publisher: OutskirtsPress.com 2010

From the pleasure in eating fresh strawberries straight from the vine to her belief in the connection that be found only in true love to the healing powers of quiet moments at the beach, Fifield has seemingly transferred her soul onto the pages and poems of Passion’s Evidence and offered herself as an emotional offering to her readers. She shares her highs and her lows, as well as the moments during which she cannot discern exactly how she should be feeling. For those who appreciate the power that a poem has to capture a moment in time, Passion’s Evidence is a recommended addition to your collection.

Book Title: My Dog Tim and Other Stories
Author: Garasamo Maccagnone
ISBN: 978-1432755621
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc. 2010

Garasamo is a master of character development. His writing style is right up there with the greats. From first to last, Garasamo Maccagnone demonstrates a flexibility of wit and realism that makes My Dog Tim and Other Stories deep reading. These stories are dark, gritty, and for mature audiences only. Garasamo has that gift of revealing through his writing the secret struggles of life that most often remain hidden but are most in need of light.

Book Title: The Drawing Lesson
Author: Mary E. Martin
ISBN: 978-1450229364
Publisher: iUniverse 2010

The Drawing Lesson is a deeply insightful book about life, choices, forgiveness, madness, self doubt, and creative inspiration. Martin has an understanding of humanity, its inner turmoil, needs, and the creative urge that is both honest and compassionate. This is a compelling and moving story to be savored on the palate like fine wine.

Book Title: 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home
Author: Tisha Morris
ISBN: 978-1596525672
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company 2010

For those readers unfamiliar with feng shui practices the author explains just enough about the concepts to allow a lay practitioner to receive solid reward for their time investment when applying the techniques, without planting confusion about the ins and outs of feng shui itself. For readers who have already been exposed to the art and mystery of feng shui, the author assists by leaving out confusing or contradictory information and the superstitions which often impede implementation of an action plan and the needed changes. She writes with confidence that following the feng shui principles and applying these techniques will have a powerful healing impact and her confidence is transferred to the reader.

Book Title: Finding God: To Believe or Not to Believe
Author: Nicholas Oliva
ISBN: 098461432X
Publisher: Old Line Publishing

Nicholas Oliva writes a thought provoking and insightful book that challenges the ego attachments we have about the beliefs we hold. This book explores the world of science, religion, and atheism and integrates them into the aspects of Twentieth and Twenty-first Century physics. It ponders life and death experiences and includes the author's own near death experience. Posing many questions about the realm of our existence, it stresses the importance of promoting humanity without exclusionary elements of human prejudice. Hang on as your perfectly ordered world is shaken and stirred - if you have an open mind to believe what is real and allow for possibilities of the yet unknown.


Book Title: He Blew Her a Kiss: Communications from loved ones who have passed
Authored by: Angie Pechak Printup and Kelley Stewart Dollar
ISBN: 978-1432760922
Publisher: Outskirts Press 2010

He Blew Her a Kiss is a collection of inspirational stories relating experiences of communication from loved ones who have passed. The entire volume has been compiled, with sincere and gentle treatment by the authors, from email submissions by and personal conversations with ordinary people. This is a beautiful volume of collected stories that you will want to share with others. Not all of the stories are dramatic examples of after death communication, relating instead simple and poignant moments which have brought healing in times of grief. Some of the accounts are quite extraordinary and impossible to explain; all are uplifting and demonstrate humanity’s capacity to love beyond any obstacle, even death.

Book Title: The Protected
Author: Rowena Portch
ISBN: 978-1432758660
Publisher: Outskirts Press Inc. 2010

Portch has drawn from her own life and history to write Sky’s character and world, sharing in a way that only a skilled and talented writer can—the very personal experience of blindness. Not only has Portch succeeded to write a blind character in a sighted world, she has done so in such a way as to create a world paradigm, characters, and circumstances that elevate this book from the ranks of a good story to that of a great read.


Author Rowena Portch is getting an additional mention in our list for book two in the Spirian Series, The Union, ISBN-13: 978-1432764784, also published by Outskirts Press 2010. The author builds the dramatic tension in what is already an exciting series by introducing several unexpected elements and new characters. Book two, The Union, is a fast paced second offering sure to please readers already hooked by The Protected and the Spirian Series.


Book Title: Saying Goodbye: to the people, places, and things in our lives
Author: Julie Rember and Mike O'Mary, Editors. Contributors include Dianna Calareso, WITS writer/editor
ISBN: 978-0982579442
Publisher: Dream of Things 2010

This book is a beautiful anthology of stories about loss. At times the stories are funny, at times incredibly sad - but every story is deep, powerful, and gently pushes the reader to reflect on the power of loss in his/her own life.


Book Title: Awakened Wisdom: A Guide to Reclaiming Your Brilliance
Author: Patrick Ryan
ISBN: 978-0984236305
Publisher: Awakened Wisdom 2009

During the first few hours of its official Amazon Launch Awakened Wisdom became a bestseller in spirituality in both the US and Canada. Awakened Wisdom blends Buddhist, Native, and collected wisdoms into a beautifully crafted healing message for our modern culture. Patrick Ryan’s own life experiences greatly inform this work, and his message to his readers is simple and profound: we are at choice when it comes to how we want to live our lives during our brief time on this planet. In addition to sage teachings about ways of understanding our Selves, he also dedicates an entire half of the book to understanding and embodying the eight states of an awakened life. With exercises, daily practices, and plenty of anecdotes, Awakened Wisdom is sure to resonate with spiritual newcomers and advanced practitioners alike.

Book Title: Confessions of an Ex-Gun Dealer
Author: Ludwig Sawicki
ISBN: 978-1432758394
Publisher: Outskirts Press 2010

Southern gentlemen and the Irish aren't the only natural storytellers. Author Ludwig Sawicki can spin out a tale with the best of them. Confessions of an Ex-Gun Dealer is a humorous, intelligent, straight shooting, and honest memoir that reveals much about life. This is a great book for anyone who enjoys the hunting and the shooting sports but it is also a wonderful study in human resilience, determination, and character. The book is full of life experience and wisdom, business acumen, and best of all laughter. Sawicki is damn funny and an astute observer of human nature.

Book Title: Voices of Sedona: A Spiritual Path to Serenity and Contentment
Author: Lewis Tagliaferre
ISBN: 978-0595393671
Publisher: iUniverse 2010

Lewis Tagliaferre shares the five principles of Theofatalism®. The five lessons and the amazing details that accompany each principle inspire extended reflection and a desire to read certain segments time and again. Voices of Sedona is beautifully written in a style that is captivating in both its emotion and logic. If you are scared and confused about the uncertainties and suffering in life, you may find solace in Voices of Sedona. In addition to inspired dialogues with his spiritual teachers in Sedona, Arizona, author Lewis Tagliaferre blends elements of religion, psychology, philosophy, history, and current events into five incredible principles of universal awareness.

Book Title: Blood Betrayal
Author: Mike Thompson
ISBN: 978-1-4327-4802-9
Publisher: OutskirtsPress.com 2009

Set in the peculiar Anderson Valley town of Booneville, nestled against the foothills of Northern California's Coastal Range -- a mystery unfolds as a series of family tragedies is revealed when Wolf Magnussen's nephew is found slain in the midst of a family hunting trip. With Blood Betrayal, Mike Thompson has crafted a novel that will attract fans of suspense. The plot is unique and undoubtedly will have the readers guessing until the very last page, with a conclusion that warranted an audible gasp from WITS reviewer, Sarah Moore, as she sat alone in her living room.

Book Title: Memoirs from the Asylum
Author: Kenneth Weene
ISBN: 978-0984421954
Publisher: All Things that Matter Press, 2010

This tragi-comedic novel takes the reader inside the asylum, inside the worlds of three central characters: a narrator who has taken refuge from his fears of the world, a psychiatrist whose own life has been damaged by his father's depression, and a catatonic schizophrenic whose world is trapped inside a crack in the wall opposite her bed. The best aspect of the book is how the author has written from the perspective or inner thoughts of the characters. This is done with such realism, understanding and truth that it is easy to relate with the patient’s fears, frustrations, joys and triumphs. It is obvious that the author is writing from a deeper understanding of human motivation and psychosis. His treatment of his characters is compassionate and without judgment, allowing the reader to formulate their own opinions and confront their own preconceptions and prejudices. Well crafted, Memoirs from the Asylum proves itself in the great tradition of writing.


Thank you all and have a happy and safe holiday season.

Friday, November 19, 2010

TJ Gets a Haircut: an Interview with Audrey Fuller

This Friday, WITS Podcast host, Vonnie Faroqui, interviews children's author Audrey Fuller.

Click Play to listen . . .




MP3 File






Audrey is a 12 year veteran of the US Armed Forces. Her first book is titled, TJ Gets a Haircut: The Twintastic Adventures of TJ and Taylor. The book is suitable for young children.  The tale of a father who helps his son build a stronger self identity and take one giant step on the path to growing up.

Audrey shares the process of selecting an illustrator and more considerations taken when self-publishing a children's book, in this interview about one author's journey.





Bookmark and Share