Monday, May 30, 2011

A Review of the Book, Summer Is Her Name by Betsy Houser

Book Title: Summer Is Her Name: Born in Kentucky
Author: Betsy Houser
ISBN:  978-1432767778
Publisher:    Outskirts Press
Reviewer: Vonnie Faroqui

Summer Is Her Name relates the coming of age story of Summer Rogers. Follow Summer through her childhood on a farm in Appalachia, through painful losses, youthful infatuations, and disappointments.  Share Summer’s college days, and join her during World War II as she earns money for school working in a defense plant. Travel with her around the globe and witness other cultures,  places and people.  Finally, return home with her to find true love and peace in the old Farmstead where she was born. This isn’t a typical romance coming of age book. It isn’t written in the typical fashion. The story doesn’t rise and fall following all of the conventional plot formulas. Summer Is Her Name reads like a life.  I like life. I like it a lot. This book reminded me. . .  of how much.

There is a quality of grace and an acceptance of the “what-is-ness” of life contained in its pages that affected me in a way I hadn’t anticipated I would feel. Betsy has given breath and flesh to her characters, placed scents on the wind, and transported me into the heart of the farmlands. I have tasted the wild blackberries and felt the sun warmed grasses of Kentucky embrace me. In reading, I have felt the flush of embarrassment, the burn of surprise, the shudder of fear and the thrill of anticipation.  She has distilled life experience into a bottle and poured me a glass. I hope to taste the like of it again. I feel completely humbled in reviewing her work. What can I say?

It is a damn shame that Betsy Houser waited to publish her first book until she was 85! I feel sick to my stomach just thinking about it. I am sure that Betsy has many accomplishments of worth to her credit but, oh, what a sweet treasure she has given us in this lovely fiction. I am actually choked with emotions at the thought that she might have passed away without sharing it.

I interviewed Betsy, and she told me that there were aspects of the book based in part on events and people she had known, lived or heard tell of during her lifetime. Betsy shared that she wove these bits into her tale, but that Summer Is Her Name really is a work of fiction and not autobiographical. I can’t say I was disappointed, because deep down I had already determined that, for me, Betsy is Summer, whether she says it is so or not. I just want the story to be true; for there to have been a Summer Rogers and a Mont, and for the story of Summer’s life and their love to be real and to last.  I want this badly enough to convince myself that it is so, just as Betsy has written the story out for me. Thank you Betsy, for being you and for sharing Summer with us. You move me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Create a book for the Nook, fast--here's how

I would like to pass along a time sensitive opportunity for a free seminar, sent to me via email by the ultimate Publicity Hound, Joan Stewart.  I am passing it straight along to you, just as I received it.


From: On Behalf Of Joan Stewart
Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 1:30 PM

Subject: Create a book for the Nook, fast--here's how

Hi Vonnie,

The Barnes & Noble "Nook" eReader is starting to take the ebook world by storm because B&N now has 25 percent of the ebook market.

Even if you haven't published anything yet, there's still time to produce an ebook, fast, to promote your expertise, generate leads and create another revenue stream.

If you do have content

- in a printed book or at your blog or in articles you've written, all the better.

The ebook market is projected to increase to $2.7 billion within two years. That's billion, with a "B." Don't miss out on this.

Daniel Hall, who showed Publicity Hounds how to turn their ebooks into material for the Kindle late last year, is back with step-by-step instructions on how to make your book ready for the Nook.

I'm hosting a free webinar with him at 3 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow, Thursday, May 26. Set aside at least 90 minutes. He sometimes goes way over the time limit because he answers every question that participants ask.

Register here:

You'll also learn how to:

- Use your "Nook" books as lead generators for your business.

- Earn set-it-and-forget-it recurring revenue by building profit centers into each of your ebooks.

- Get readily available content to publish so you don't have to spend time and energy writing it

- Build your credibility within your market, whatever that market is.

This training is free. The content is solid gold.

Joan Stewart
The Publicity Hound

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How to Tips: for prerecorded podcast interviews

Considering seeking podcast and radio interviews to help market your book? WITS Podcast host Vonnie Faroqui has some tips for how to give a good interview.


How to Tips: for prerecorded podcast interviews

Prerecorded podcast interviews differ from live radio in several ways. You will need to find out ahead of time how your interview will be conducted, live or as a prerecorded podcast to be aired at a later date.

Many Web radio and podcast interviews are prerecorded for the convenience of the blog host and site management. This allows for minor editing, a “positive” in favor of prerecording interviews that a good host will use to make higher quality podcasts. Writers In The Sky pre-records its podcasts and schedules these interviews to be aired on a weekly basis.

Even the best editing can’t turn Mr. Potato into a thrilling interviewee

That being the case, here are a few tips to help you on your way to becoming an interview superstar.

Get Comfortable

Live radio interviews can begin abruptly. A prerecorded interview usually allows you to get comfortable with your host and to ask questions of your interviewer before recording begins. For WITS Podcast interviews, I like to give our guests the general outline of the interview a day or two early, and then to answer questions before we begin recording. Taking the time to chat with my guests beforehand helps me gauge an author’s comfort level, break the ice, and address any fears our guests may have about interviewing. Live interviews rarely have time to allow a host to put their guest at ease. Interviewing is a skill that, as with all skills, gets easier through practice. Practice your interview skills with friendly audiences. Get your friends to ask you questions about your book and themes. Play around with your responses so that you learn to answer questions on the fly.

About timing

With prerecorded interviews, there are fewer concerns or constraints about time and timing than is the case for live interviews. During a live interview, you will need to be prepared to talk at a moment’s notice and to keep your answers brief so that your host can speak to other callers or break for commercial. With a prerecorded interview, it is possible to take more time with your answers as pauses and hiccups can be edited away. In both cases, help your host know when you are finished speaking by ending with a declarative sentence or by using a vocal downtick to make it clear to the host that you’ve completed your answer.

No prepared speeches

Don’t write out speeches to read during the interview. Instead, create a bullet point list of things you would like to convey during the interview, key thoughts or themes you want to work into your responses. Read answers are never very engaging and will make you sound stilted and mechanical unless you are theatrically trained. Even good actors avoid reading from a prepared script and take liberties with their material to allow for natural, conversational phrasing. Don’t make the mistake of reading prepared answers during your interview. It is a mood killer.

Listen to your host

Listen to your host and do your best to answer the questions they ask. Don’t assume that they are disinterested. Give them something to work with. An unresponsive guest is a hosts worst nightmare. A host will often ask follow up questions if they like what you’ve said, if they are trying to draw out more information from you or if they want to carry you deeper down a line of questioning they think will be of interest to their audience. If you are listening to your host, you will hear the cues they will give you. Be responsive and they will guide you through. An engaging guest is a delight to support and easy to sell. If you need a little help with energy and want to avoid sounding flat and uninspired, try matching or slightly exceeding your host’s energy level. To do this you have to . . . listen.

Share your passion

If you aren’t passionate about your book, who will be? Listeners will turn the dial if your interview lacks passion, but they will “hear it” if you SMILE – so get a telephone headset and free yourself to wave those arms around while you talk. Let the love you have for your book, theme, and characters come through in your voice. Standing while you speak conveys energy and confidence. Gesturing helps you convey intensity and meaning. We rely upon these things in everyday speech to help communicate clearly. Allowing for movement will help you relax during an interview and greatly enhance the sound of your voice.

Give of yourself

Being a good guest translates down to one thing. Give of yourself. When someone speaks from a place of inspiration about something they love, it is always interesting. Do you love your book? Didn’t you just invest time, energy, and money in creating and publishing it? If you love your book and speak from that place, you will have something interesting to say.

Letting go of fear and embracing life is a challenge that everyone faces. The circumstances may vary, but the opportunity to move past fear comes to all of us. I have one last tip to share and it will help you overcome any fears you have about interviewing . And it is . . .

Keep breathing

Breath is life. When you stop your breath, you stop your life, you freeze your emotions, and stifle your truth. Breathing frees stuck emotion and gives you voice.  It carries you through and out of fear. If you encounter a question that throws you for a second, or need to gather your thoughts for a response, take a breath. In that moment of internal silence, while you concentrate on inhaling, your answer will come. It will come from a place of truth that exists deep inside of you, a place that is inside all of us. Share what comes to you and keep breathing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Am Going Where I Belong, A Review

Book Title: I am Going Where I Belong
Author: Hans Lindor
ISBN: 978-1592322657
Publisher: Enaz Publications
Reviewer: Vonnie Faroqui

I Am Gong Where I Belong relates a fictionalized and tragic tale of life for Haiti native Hans Leger. Born into the ruling class of Haiti and a life of privilege, Hans Leger discovers a side of his homeland that is both shocking and horrifying. The narrative carries the reader through a chance encounter with a child prostitute and her son, to the murder of Han’s father, and his family’s flight to and life in the USA as political refugees. This story reflects deeply on the living conditions, mental attitudes and struggles of the Haitian people. The narrative voice of the book relates and reflects upon issues of personal safety, survival, self loathing, racial and economic discrimination and political despotism.

I Am Going Where I Belong is loosely built around aspects of the author’s personal experiences, and offers a perspective and a vision of the Haitian people that have until now been given little or no voice. Author Hans Lindor eloquently weaves his personal experiences of life in Haiti and beyond into this fictionalized account, successfully capturing for his audience truths that can only be felt when shared by one who has lived and breathed them. Lindor has lifted his pen on behalf of Haiti and his native people.

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Hans Lindor after having read his book, I Am Gong Where I Belong. Lindor will tell you that the book is about a fictional character and that it is not about his life. After having interviewed the author, I can see why he would assert this. Many aspects of the character Hans’s life are fictionalized and differ from events that played out Lindor’s own story. However, the book also contains events, losses, and incidents that the author has drawn directly from his personal experience. The road of circumstance traveled may differ for the character, Hans, but when you read about Marie and her son, or when a beloved character is gunned down and must be left untended in the streets, there is an aspect of reality being shared that is heartrendingly real. These are elements of the author's own story which are retold using the vehicle of fiction to soften the impact for both the author and the reader. It is in these moments that Lindor’s ability to write is at its best. He transmits into words the incredible horror, loss and grief that has been his own and shares with all of us a tale of Haiti's children.

If you are at all interested in the lost boys of Haiti or in the politics and struggles surrounding this nation, you will benefit by reading I Am Gong Where I Belong. Well written and easy to understand, this book will open your eyes to realities and difficulties faced every day by the Haitian people. The author digs deep and offers up a piece of his soul in, I Am Gong Where I Belong.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Quetzal Skull: A Review

By request, I am re-posting my review of The Quetzal Skull. The original post first appeared on the Writers In The Sky blog, May 2, 2011.

Book Title: The Quetzal Skull
Author: Margaret Gill
ISBN: 978-1432768669
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Reviewer: Vonnie Faroqui

There is much good to be said about Margaret Gill’s writing and The Quetzal Skull in particular. To begin, Margaret knows how to weave a delicious story that will captivate her youthful audience as well as those adults that enjoy reading the Young Adult Fiction genre of books. The Quetzal Skull follows, Narwhal, as part two in a series.

Superbly written, The Quetzal Skull, relates the continuing tale of Gray, a young man on the verge of discovering his deepening psychic gifts and his place in the world as a shaman. After his brush with death, in Narwhal, Gray goes to the mainland to attend art school. He intends to study art that is, but it seems once again fate and prophecy have a plan for Gray which is outside of his understanding and control.  Kidnapping is the least of the lengths his enemies will go in their efforts to maintain their drive for power and control. They perceive Gray as a threat to their plans and won’t stop coming after him until they have eliminated the threat he poses. Follow Gray around the globe into the heart of myth and mystery, as he strives to solve mysteries locked in the distant past and fulfill his destiny.
Margaret does an excellent job of depicting and explaining concepts of psychic energy work and shamanism that accurately portray the teachings, methods and practices of modern and historic shamanic practitioners. She is able to capture in words and through story telling the atmosphere of time and place, which combine to create a flavor of danger and increase tension. Her research and insight into traditional shamanic roles and practices, as well as into the healing or mystical properties of certain herbs and the political intrigue used in her story, is to be commended. There is much to be learned, about our world and its societies,  which she has cleverly revealed in the story or used as a device to develop her plot.

Exciting and enlightening, full of physical and spiritual dangers, The Quetzal Skull takes Gray and the reader on an adventure of thrilling proportions. Discover wonder and mystery in the crystal skull of Quetzal. A cast of memorable characters waits for you. You won't want to put this book down.

If you would like to contact the author write to . . .

Also by Margaret Gill . . .

Friday, May 6, 2011

Author Margaret Gill Shares Her Book,The Quetzal Skull

Today I would like to share the interview I did for Writers in the Sky Podcast, with author Margaret Gill, about her most recent novel, The Quetzal Skull.

The Quetzal Skull, is already featuring in the quarter finals of the Amazon breakthrough novel contest for 2011. Three of Margaret's books have won first prizes at Winchester Writers' Conference and Swanwick Writers' Conference in the UK. Narwhal the prequel to The Quetzal Skull was shortlisted for the Cinnamon Press award, the UK Authors competition, was a Finalist in the Indie Excellence Awards (USA) and winner of the Eric Hoffer award.

This fascinating author shares her experiences in writing, the considerations she had about self publishing, for her choice of publishers, and gives some excellent marketing strategy tips.

Click Play to Listen . . .

"Margaret has a depth of emotion and joy for writing that really comes through in our interview. She writes from a place that few authors ever reach, a place of wonder for the mysteries of life and all things hidden. This author interview was pure joy. Thank you Margaret." - WITS Podcast host and reviewer Vonnie Faroqui.

Margaret lives in the United Kingdom, where she has spent the majority of her career as an educator. She was Head of English at Wellingborough College,UK, for twelve years. Her chief interests apart from writing are in the fields of healing, meditation and yoga which she teaches locally on a part time basis. She also loves to travel and art and is herself an artist, as she puts it painting from time to time.

To learn more about Margaret Gill's work visit

For those of you wondering, Quetzal is pronounced [ket-sahl]