Thursday, November 27, 2014

Hungry Moon~Quicksilver

One of the things I love best about my life is the time I get to spend reading. There is something deeply satisfying about being able to gift myself a day devoted completely to pleasing myself with a good book. That pleasure enters a whole new dimension of enjoyment when the book of choice is one of Claudy Conn's paranormal romance novels.  Most recently, Hungry Moon~Quicksilver captivated my attention.  Did I make a day of it? Yes, I did. I lounged in my floor length, red silk nightie, with painted toe nails, and generally pampered myself for a whole day. It was blissful.  If that is the kind of respite you need from your otherwise busy life, I highly recommend taking a page out of my book, with Claudy's Quicksilver.

Now, on to my review, because you need to understand why lounging dramatically in pretty lingerie, reading can be so satisfying.

Series/Title: Hungry Moon, (Book 1) Quicksilver
Author: Claudy Conn
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 9, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1481072196
ISBN-13: 978-1481072199
Reviewed by: AvidReviewer.com editor, Vonnie Faroqui
Rating: 4/5

Ravena Macallister, Is a woman on the verge of sexual exploration. Only one problem. She is running from herself and as long as she is doing that, self exploration is going to have to wait. You can think you are ready for the next level in life, and not be ready when you get there. That is Ravena. For all of her beauty, academic achievement, and sleek athleticism, she is still an untried, inexperienced girl, playing with fire and love.  Well, we know what happens when little girls play with fire?

Claudy Conn's heroines usually start out as virginal, with simmering sexual desires carefully hidden below the surface of their persona. Quicksilver's Ravena is no exception. Standing on the edge of the future she prepares to step over the edge of the known and begin her sexual exploration. She is vibrant, powerful, talented and free; a sexual volcano waiting to erupt under just the right amount of heroic pressure. Don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking it. Claudy's formula for thrills is a potent and powerful mix. As an author, she has skillfully balanced plot, story line and character development, with steamy sexual erotica.  And her writing has only gotten bolder with time. Claudy, goes there when she writes and she isn't shy about taking you there too. [I digress.]

First off, the heroine is going to be innocent, virginal even. She will be a stunner and will have waited for the right man. He will be a man, all man, virile, powerful,  magically and in physical prowess. He will be a man of purpose, equal to our heroine in nobility of heart and of soul. He will not be virginal. He will, quite probably be afflicted with some curse, or handicap that makes their coming together seem impossible.

We know. those of us who have been following Claudy's many series, that a way will appear in which the hero and heroine will be together in every sense of the word. Because it is destiny!  No matter how much tension Claudy is going to build for her characters, no matter how vile the villain, or terrifying the obstacles may be, nothing is going to prevent our hero and heroine from consummating the intense fires of passion and love burning in their souls. Yes, we know Claudy will take us there. The fun is in discovering how.

What will Claudy throw along their path, our path? Will it be a tragic loss, or a terrible curse. Will there be a monstrous evil to overcome or a sinister unfathomable threat. Will it be pride or humility that prevents one or the other of the lovers from opening up? We may not know the how, but we know in the end it will happen. There will be no denying satisfaction. satisfaction on every level. That is just how good it is going to be.

So, I assure you, Quicksilver is not going to disappoint. It has all of the classic elements of good story telling. There is a villain, he's truly evil. He totally wants the heroine. Thankfully, he is just a little too over confident and that sets the warning bells off.  Our heroine has just been burned by awesome looks and superficial interest, masking as love. She sees Evil coming from a mile away; no real danger of her falling under his love train.  Still there is the threat he might rape her.

The real problem is in how to go about rescuing our hero. He is out of this world, gorgeous, smart, self sacrificing, out of this world! No, I mean it, literally. He is out of this world, unreachable in any way but by magic. And, he is cursed with ill luck. not literally this time. Just, well he's been bit by a were-wolf. It doesn't look good for him, trapped, cursed, full of sexual potency himself. She is in one world and he is in another, helpless to protect her, or help her, forced to watch as her life blood is spilling. It's dramatic.

If only Ravena would stop denying her uniqueness, and surrender to her true nature. Then her power would be a strength instead of a weakness. Ah me. Claudy even manages to weave in a little character building morality along side the sexual tension. Nothing comes too easily. The struggle to find each other may be destined, but in order to overcome the threat of evil and stay together, there is going to be real pain, the kind that grows self knowledge, and enough sacrifice to demonstrate sincerity, giving the relationship value.

I don't want to give you any more or the story than this. You can read the synopsis, and guess at the plot line. The real enjoyment comes when you let go of what you know or think you know, and simply go on the journey. Surrendering to a story is as enjoyable as surrendering to destiny, to love, to great sex. When you are in it, there is nothing else.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tip Tuesday: “Above the Fold”

It is Tip Tuesday!

Expand your online marketing reach by developing effective strategies, SEO best practices and knowledge.

Tuesday's Tip for 11/25/2014  “Above the Fold”

The term “above the fold” refers to the contents of a website which are visible to the user without having to scroll down on their browser.

"Above the Fold"
Did you know the less work people have to do in order to see your offer, announcement, or incentive, the more likely they are to respond to it.

Marketing research shows that the upper right-hand corner is the most effective spot for an opt-in offer.

You can use this knowledge to your advantage.  If the sign-up form for your news letter, the like/share button, the purchase incentive, or that advertisement for your book/music cd/products are not already located above the fold, moving them to a more visible spot will often increase your conversion rate.

Tip Tuesdays, because the more you know . . . the better you do.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How Google's Panda Makes Content "King" for SEO.

"Content is King" for Google's Panda
Bow down because Content is King for search engine optimization.
Google's newest page ranking algorithm, Panda, is smarter than ever, able to recognize and make relevant content distinctions.  This has had a deep impact in online marketing circles and spammy strategies aren't going to yield results.

Google Releases the Panda

In February of 2011, internet marketers everywhere were shocked. Google had released a new update, and with it, changed the way SEO would work forever.

At first, it was difficult to know exactly what the damage was. Massive "authority" websites were reporting HUGE losses in traffic. But it wasn't mindless destruction - no, Google's latest update targeted a specific group of websites with surgical precision.

These were websites who played a crucial role in SEO. Websites like:

Article Directories
Online Forums and Message Boards
Web 2.0 "write-and-earn" Websites (HubPages, Squidoo, etc.)
Online Informational Sites (eHow)
The SEO process relied heavily on these types of websites. Since building backlinks was the most important part of the process, these websites were used to get quick and easy links.

And not just any links - the best type of links you could have. Links on pages with relevant information to your website (written by you). Links in the content of this relevant information. Links Google, before the update, loved. ~ SEOSiteCheckUp.com

How Does this Impact Authors, and Book Marketing?

It is my opinion that, done with integrity and sincerity, the old strategies are still going to serve authors. If you aren't abusing the system these changes may in fact help you by eliminating many of those competing in the market who are.

Genuine comments and posts in online forums and message boards, comments which include discrete anchor links within a signature or byline, are still likely to be approved and, as long as the links lead back to reputable content, they will continue to hold relevancy for SEO.  Since Google's Panda is able to recognize relevant content, it should be able to discern when your site and book are referenced appropriately.

Article marketing directories may have been severely impacted by the changes affecting search engine optimization, which does mean there is a potential impact on an author's ability to reach audiences using this method, as article directories themselves have taken a hit in relevancy and credibility. On the other hand, excellent content has become even more significant for SEO to bloggers and site owners; who are now forced to offer richer content in order to gain popularity and relevancy ranking. Article marketing websites could retain or gain relevancy themselves by offering richer content using tighter submission guidelines.  I believe that is what has been happening. Article marketing websites have tightened their quality controls, denying publishing acceptance to authors and articles that abuse the privilege of contributing to the directory by filling an article with links that lead to marketing sites.  True and relevant articles are actually going to be in greater demand, as those in need of content seek out quality articles.  Savvy authors will be using their bylines to lead readers back to their sites. These authors benefit by the environment clean up.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Marketing Doesn't Have to Kill Your Creative Joy

The writing and publishing worlds have been going through a deconstruction of their traditional roles and relationships ever since authors envisioned using the Internet to self promote, and market their own work. The role of traditional publishers is still being re-framed.

As publishers have less and less to offer aspiring writers, more and more authors choose self publishing. Gone are the days when publishers had budgets to give fat advance checks, or to invest in marketing for their authors. Even their best selling authors are feeling neglected in the pinch, forget marketing for the mid list picks. Within the traditional publishing houses the majority of promotions and marketing efforts are being left squarely in the author's lap. Traditionally published or self published, we are all in the same boat when it comes to getting our books in front of readers. Now is the time to re-imagine how we are going to bring marketing into our creative writing processes.





Don't Separate Marketing from your Creative Writing Process . . . Use it! 

As an author you have to know your target audience. You have to anticipate and plan for your reader's desires. You have to engage them if you are going to keep them reading. You should ask the same questions when choosing your audience, theme, and plot influences, as you would for marketing your book.

What is my audience looking for? What are they going to get from my book?
Are they looking for answers or seeking entertainment? What is it that will attract them to my book and my website over the books and websites of other authors? Is it my themes? Am I teaching a skill, proselytizing an ideal, or prophesying a dire warning? Am I making a political comment or a spiritual declaration? Does my book hold expert or life knowledge? Do I have more to offer than just this book? Can I hook my audience into purchasing and reading my book through a shared interest, a cause, or sentiment?

These may be questions that both influence who an author is writing for or even about, plot devices, and theme development, as well as where and how they might market a book in the future.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Creative Process and Marketing Innovation


Starting a marketing strategy before the book is written can benefit the creative process.

  • Plan to meet your target audience's needs from the start.
  • Build interest and plot themed hooks into your story or material, usable themes which will open up marketing angles in the future.
  • Is your book of a self help nature, or does it have an element or theme that could be used to attract related interest groups? 
  • Knowing your audience wants may lead you to write in or material suggestive of marketing venues and purchase incentive opportunities. 
  • It allows you to bring your audience into the creative process, through blogging, "chat"-ter, forum activity, collaborative challenges and competitions.
  • Having an interested reader base before you go to print can encourage creative output, and editorial excellence.
Write down marketing ideas as you go. They will feed your creative process and may help you develop new plot elements, as easily as creative marketing strategies.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tip Tuesday: Diversify!

It is Tip Tuesday!

Expand your online marketing reach by developing effective strategies, SEO best practices and knowledge.
Tuesday's Tip for 10/22/2014: Diversify! Diversify! Diversify!

Approach building your online presence and marketing power from multiple angles. Attract larger, more loyal audiences, and increase your Search Engine ranking while doing it. Approach your marketing and creative process with an eye to diversify. Deconstruct, re-frame and then re-imagine how you will reach your audience.

Three areas of the utmost importance in attracting an audience to your blog or website are

  • SEO ranking: clean up your webpage for search engine optimization; start by loading quality content.
  • Social Media: reach out and engage audiences using social media
  • Mobile Apps with visually optimized webpages
Search Engine Optimization
With "Content as King," SEO is hands-down your best way of bringing traffic to a blog or website. However, search engine ranking criteria is constantly changing. Technologies are also changing, so are the ways people enter and use the Internet.  In order to increase and safeguard your ranking, you will have to be flexible too.  Diversify your marketing activities, so that when changes occur the impact on your website will not be catastrophic. 

Social Media
Did you know, Facebook has partnered with Bing to use LIKES as a major factor in which pages will rank highest during keyword searches. If one of your friends has liked a page and you perform a corresponding keyword search, that page is most likely to appear at the top of your search query. 

Google has also associated social media activity with ranking clout; analyzing Facebook, Twitter and other social media interaction and connections to a webpage or blog, and is assigning rank with these factors in view. Social Media gives Google a more reliable tool in gauging site popularity, than counting back-links ever did. Back-links aren't dead, but social media activity which leads traffic back to your site has taken the lead in determining SEO popularity.

Mobile APPs, Smart Phone/Tablets
Technological advances change the way people use the internet. Mobile apps -- smart phones and tablets, are the fastest expanding point of access for Internet users. Be sure to optimize your website for easy mobile app viewing. 


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy Birthday AvidReviewer.com!


Ink Slinger's Whimsey just gave birth to our first offspring, AvidReviewer.com! Officially born today, but we already have some dreams for her. . .
  • To Share our listening and reading enjoyment with others 
  • To Grow as readers, listeners, and reviewers 
  • To Invite others to share their reviews 
  • To Discover new books, music CDs, authors, musicians, vocal artists, and bands 
  • To Introduce our friends to what we have experienced and 
  • To Give authors, musicians, vocal artists, and bands a place to connect with their audiences.
Ambitious parenting? Well, maybe a tad. No Worries. Books and music bring so much enjoyment, this is an awesome hobby to indulge in. I hope you will continue on the journey with us.

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing the Ink Slinger's Whimsey archive of reviews and interviews with a new home on AvidReviewer.com. This will allow us to further dedicate the ISW blog to writing and promotion themes, while developing a more friendly reader and listener focus through AvidReviewer.com.  If you are a reviewer looking to further your reach, an author, or a musical artist seeking audience exposure, please visit our submissions pages on AvidReviewer.com. We are happy to share this space with you.

Cake?


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Time to Think Outside the Book

To stand out in the book market you have to think outside the book, beyond the story you are writing.
Do you as an author bring any added value, knowledge, or expertise to the world in addition to your book? If you do, that is a marketing tool in your bag. Any aspect of your interests, experiences, profession, or life outside of and within the writing world could lead to audience exposure and interested markets.

It's Time to Think Outside the Book 

Your book is an extension of yourself, a form of self expression. It can transmit your skill, your interests, dreams, traditions, education, point of view, loyalties, ideals, values, bias, ideas, hopes, agenda, convictions, frustrations, loves, curiosities, anger, illusion, temptations and fears. Every character has grown from thoughts and experiences that you have had. Every plot twist and turn first wound through your imagination.  Loyal fan bases are often eager to interact with and curious about the life, mind, and/or interests of their favorite authors. Use that to tendency to your advantage.

Marketing research reveals that it takes on average three visits to a website before any purchases will be made. You have a book ready to market. How will you get reader attention? How are you going to entice people to visit your website repeatedly, until they decide to buy your book?

Books do not have the same value to readers as they did in eras of the past. Gone are the days when wealth was determined by the size of your library. Books have competition as suppliers of news, entertainment, education, and inspiration. Audiences have a thousand distractions and options to choose from in the form of the Internet, TV, Film, Theater, Sports. . . need I go on? Bringing audiences back to your site is gong to be an important focus for your online marketing activities. This is guerrilla marketing we are talking about. You have to be able to stretch your reach beyond what has worked in the past and try new tactics.

Once a book is published it isn't changing. The story is over, it isn't going anywhere and your audience knows it. Where as, your life is still growing, and that is where things get interesting. Find a way to interact with or engage your audience further than the immediate entertainment value of your book. Attach your book to a cause, or an interest group you belong to.  Use your website to promote what you have to offer the world in addition to your book.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tip Tuesday: Anchor Text

seo

It is Tip Tuesday!

Expand your online marketing reach by developing SEO best practices and knowledge.

Tuesday's Term of the Day:

Anchor Text

Anchor text is the visible characters and words that hyperlinks display when linking to another document or location on the web.


Have a look at this blog video . . . (Passing along the good stuff.)

How to Acquire Anchor Text-Rich Links Without Resorting to Spam or Manipulation 

October 10th, 2014 - Posted by Rand Fishkin to Link Building and Whiteboard Friday

Thursday, October 23, 2014

When Should I Start Thinking About Marketing My Book?

Marketing anything can be hard and books are a static product. They have a lot of competition from TV, film, and other entertainment and information industries. If you want your book to compete well and attract readers, you will be thinking about marketing from the beginning of your writing process.

Ask Yourself Tough Questions

writer's block
  • Why am I writing this book? 
  • Do I have something to say that is worth listening to?
  • Why will/does my book deserve to be read?
  • What will make my book idea different from other books of it's genre?
  • What value will/does my book provide readers?

The best answers often have nothing to do with making money, but could be future selling points or lead to creative marketing strategies.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tip Tuesday: Site Popularity and Relevancy

seo

It is Tip Tuesday!

Expand your online marketing reach by developing SEO best practices and knowledge.
Search engines are designed to crawl and index hundreds of millions of web pages. In doing this the Google search engine makes heavy use of hypertext in collecting data for analysis and categorization of variables, and trends. It uses data gained from hypertext, including links, to establish relationships, popularity, and relevancy of and between pages. The PageRank algorithm used by Google counts hyperlinks as determining factors in popularity. Pages with the most external links pointing at them are considered the most popular.

Link relevancy is determined by both the content of the source page and the content of the anchor text. It is a natural phenomenon that occurs when people link out to other content on the web.

Tuesday's Term of the Day:

Popularity and Relevancy

Q:  What is the importance of "popularity and relevancy" in search engine ranking?

A: Popularity combined with relevancy metrics determine the best results for a given search query. When determined relevant for a particular query, the most popular and relevant pages become the first pages listed in Google's results.    

This is why elevating your popularity and relevancy with search engine page ranking is an important area of focus for any marketing strategy.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

" New Gate Keepers" A Publishing Tale by Mary E. Martin

Gather around. DID YOU HEAR?

There’s a new gatekeeper in our town. The world of publishing has been transformed. I bring the news to you from my front row seat. But the best way to explain is—as usual—to tell a story. . .


Some of you are too young to remember the arrival of personal computers in our homes. But when they did arrive, many of us decided to become writers. (Given the huge volume of prose that has flowed since, I must conclude that our creativity was severely repressed in earlier times.)

With so many people writing all kinds of stories and opinions, the publishing houses were flooded with manuscripts, more than ever before. Agents and publishers [the gatekeepers] grew angry at the onslaught and so overwhelmed were they, that rarely did they answer the poor writer’s little query letters, over which he had labored for weeks. With no response, the writers grew angry.
But it wasn't really the fault of those publishing houses. Their technology and staff were not up to the deluge. Neither was their cash flow. In this new publishing landscape, they could afford precious little time and very little money. Where were those fat advance cheques, the authors [the ones who got past the gate] wondered?

The writers became angrier.  After all, no one liked to be brushed off with a generic rejection letter. Nothing seemed to be “for our list”. The writers were very dispirited. Their creative urge was nearly expunged. In desperation, they sought other avenues for getting published.

Along came innumerable self-publishing companies and more new technology called print-on-demand and much later, e-books. In those days, any author forced to admit he was self published hung his head in shame. Aside from being rejected in a rude and uncaring fashion by the traditional gatekeepers, the writer had yet another cause for unhappiness—public humiliation. The stigma of being “self-published” was branded on his forehead. The book must be garbage. After all, without the imprimatur of the gatekeeper, how could the book be anything else? What could the angry and humiliated writer do?

In front of gate -tfsimon
(What a sad and frustrating tale!) Back then, any author, convinced the old order still existed, quaked like a lowly vassal outside the King’s castle. Fearsome dark turrets with few openings rose up and towered over him. The drawbridge slammed shut with such a bang that the author was nearly deafened. But, despite his despair, he remained ever determined. The author would fling his manuscript over the moat, aiming for one of the lowest portals. If those sheets of paper magically took flight and got into the castle, the vassal would sit patiently on a rock and wait. And wait. He would try to keep his spirits up by following the usual advice to keep writing while waiting. Actually that was not bad advice and many new manuscripts resulted. Rarely did any writer get called to enter the castle. Oh yes—there were a few, but throngs of other supplicants were never noticed. What could the authors do?

No one knows how it happened, but one morning magically a new market square appeared between the castle and the forest where the writers lived. It covered many acres and was loud, noisy, colorful, and crammed with thousands upon thousands of people. Many hawkers had built rude little stands and made bright red and gold signs. The attendant at each stand shouted out to advertise their wares [mostly books] which were piled in baskets. The more enterprising had helpers who slipped through the crowds to hand out advertisements and coupons with marvelous offers—free books.

Signs were posted at the most promising locations in the market where the traffic was highest. But where could anyone find their sort of customer—the ones who would actually buy their books?

One hawker of food said, “If someone is looking for a mutton leg, no point in wasting time trying to sell him fruit and vegetables. You got to find the right customer for your wares.” By the way, those who sold food did very well. People who were browsing the books became ravenous.
“So how can we find the carnivores?” the writers asked.
Sad to say, few customers could afford the price of meat.

From dawn to dusk, the shopkeepers [writers] slaved. Later some met to consider putting on a play to tell about their books and attract readers. Others decided that singing and dancing might help. The brightest and the best said—“Now is the time to be creative!” One even dressed up as his own wife to act the part of one of his characters. Those who normally shunned the limelight hurried back home to write in peace.

Now . . . about that new gatekeeper.

This is a tale filled with irony. The old gatekeepers at the castle no longer had their jobs. They came each morning to the market asking if they might guard the gate. They did not seem to understand that the order had changed and that they had to find a new way to go on. No one wanted to hire them because anyone could come into the market. In fact, the more people the better.
“The market needs no gatekeeper,” the hawkers insisted.
“And why is that?” the old gatekeepers asked.
“The market itself, in its massive size, is its own gatekeeper."

The old gatekeepers looked sad and scratched their heads. Finally they began walking aimlessly through the market looking for something to do.
I am no expert in the effect of technological advance upon societies. But any who cannot figure out the game of selling their wares is barred by the extreme difficulty in being heard above the din in our market.


Mary E. Martin  is the author of two trilogies The Osgoode Trilogy set in the corridors of power in the world of the law, and The Trilogy of Remembrance set midst the glitter and shadows of the art world.








Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Have You Heard . . . Hungry Moon - Jodi is out!

I would like to give a great big shout out to the Paranormal Romance Audience!

My favorite sizzling romance author Claudy Conn has just released a series third, Hungry Moon-Jodi.
HungryMoon-Jodi, by Claudy Conn

I bring this up because, I would like to do two things in today's blog; promote Claudy's work, which is deserving and excellent; and point out her excellent promotions strategy. Claudy is accessing more readers and selling more books by publishing her works as Kindle download-ables, e-books, than if she only formatted her books for print sales.

Now authors, don't wrinkle your noses at the sight of "e-books." Just because they don't have that nostalgic paper smell, and we can't lounge dramatically about, turning their pages, doesn't mean they are less valuable to readers or as book sales.

e-Books have become the fastest growing book market, helped along by mobile technology and yes, social networking -- word of mouth. Which, not so incidentally, is the reason why websites like Wattpad, Twitter and Facebook are so popular in marketing strategies. Wattpad is the most author friendly because it was designed and created for the purpose of sharing books and writing, to encourage reader reviews/sharing, and to help authors build fan bases, all using mobile/smart apps for e-reading, e-books.  Every promotions expert knows and will tell you "The best marketing boost an author can get comes through word of mouth referrals." Combining social networking, mobile phones and e-book app tools, like kindle and other e-readers, was a genius stroke in helping authors like Claudy Conn dominate the reading market.

I believe that part of Claudy's success lies in her ability to quickly move from one plot and idea to the next. She is the most prolific and zesty writer I know. I have read many of her books and she never bores me. Claudy keeps her material fresh by changing sub-genres, which expands her creativity and the appeal of her many series. She has developed her ability to write quality (and steamy) romance in several genres, on a level that keeps her fans in constant supply and demand. The fact that e-books are more affordable and cost nothing in trees is only a minor factor in allowing Claudy's avid fans to keep purchasing.

Congratulations to Claudy Conn and to any other author who takes advantage of the shifting and changing technological advances which are shaping the landscape of book marketing and enjoyment.




Tweet

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tip Tuesday: External Links

It is Tip Tuesday!

Expand your online marketing reach by developing SEO best practices and knowledge.
Logo Gurú con mi type "parábola" integrando la imagen y la tipografía #enproceso

Tuesday's Term of the Day:

External Links

External Links are hyperlinks that point at (target) any domain other than the domain the link exists on (source). ~ moz.com

For our purposes and understanding, external links are those which originate on another site or domain and lead traffic to you and your website. External links are the most coveted and influential for SEO ranking, as they are harder to manipulate and therefore viewed by search engines as a more reliable indicator of popularity and relevance. Sometimes you will hear these links referred to as back links.

Developing good network relationships with other theme or interest related bloggers and site owners, in order to establish links between pages, is one way of acquiring external links for your blog or web page. This form of linking is referred to as reciprocal linking. Often these kind of relationships are used in multi-site linking where sites band together to create and use links for SEO. Trading articles, offering promotional support, participating in virtual tours, blog jogs, and incentive giveaways are just a few of the creative link building tactics used by savvy marketers who wish to establish reciprocal external links, drive Internet traffic, and raise SEO page rankings.

Another form of external link that will benefit your SEO ranking and lead Internet traffic to your door is one way links: those which come from articles, reviews, media releases, forum or comment signatures, and bylines that lead back to you. You can create many of these links through your own activity and through reciprocal relationships.

Directory links are external links which generally lead traffic seeking resource material and information. Having your site listed for expert content in a directory can be very useful to your SEO relevancy standings.

Acquiring and creating external links is an important step along the path of marketing your book, brand, product or personality online. They are valuable to search engines because they help measure two key factors, popularity and relevancy. More about that another Tip Tuesday.

The more you know the more you grow.
Great day to you.

Tweet

Saturday, October 11, 2014

"The First Draft and How To Get There" an article about writing, by author Mary E. Martin

What a "high" seeing those three hundred pages stacked up on the desk --the first draft! I always wanted to print out the manuscript because it gave me such a sense of accomplishment just to see it. @MartinTrilogies

This Monday I would like to share a Wattpad article written by author, friend, and fellow blogger Mary E. Martin.
In this author's experience blog, Mary talks about creating her characters, fleshing them out, and how the character building effort fed her creative process.

No Character can come alive on the page unless I know him or her really well. @MartinTrilogies



Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Road Back

This blog post is autobiographical in nature. I invite you to read a little of my personal history since 2011, as I offer my friends and clients a peek into this artist's life evolution. I hope that in some way, through sharing my experiences, you will be inspired on your own creative journey.

Life is a journey, but you have to walk the road.

Two years ago in October 2011, I was a percussionist and singer in a tribal percussion ensemble, a band. I also had a small writing and author promotions business within a networked creative writing team. I loved my life and was supporting my family of two through these creative efforts. I can't tell you that I had a plan or a goal in mind for where I wanted to go in life, with my business, or even my singing and performance career. I was just happy to be living the life I had.  As so often happens in life and in stories, all that was about to change.

It was the chickens fault. The musical community, in which my husband and I performed and lived, housed a chicken coop. The coop was ancient and in great disrepair, but sheltering 16 chickens. I was the volunteer chicken wrangler, feeding, and shooing the chickens nightly into their shelter. I took my chicken duties, as well as the health of my chicken charges, very seriously.

Chickens are funny creatures, very amusing to watch, with a variety of personalities and habits. Unfortunately, my chicken friends were under nightly opossum attacks and I was at a loss about how to protect and serve them.  We had appealed to our landlord/band and community leader for assistance in repairing the chicken coop, without success. I was having lung issues related to the cleanliness of the facilities. The chicken coop had dirt floors and could neither protect the chickens from predator attack or be properly cleaned. Without going into chicken husbandry, let me just say that things were not well on the farm.

My husband was notably concerned with my deteriorating health.  He determined that I was carrying too much responsibility and set about to correct the situation.  We discussed the matter together and he decided to speak with our landlord/band leader, to give my two week "chicken detail" notice. We felt that the landlord would not respectfully allow me to back out of the chore, for which I was being compensated in eggs only, and that my husband's support and backing would be advisable in the situation.

Well, the resulting encounter saw our landlord physically assaulting my husband for refusing to give an explanation of why I was no longer willing to be in charge of the chickens. My husband's quiet response that " I am respectfully giving you two weeks notice, so you can find another person to take care of the chickens. Vonnie doesn't need to give you a reason for why she doesn't want to continue carrying the responsibility. . ." met with a violent reaction. In the span of 15 minutes a 5 year friendship, 2 year band relationship and an apprentice relationship was ended, my husband was injured, and we were basically homeless.

Gone was the singing and percussive performance career. Gone was the writing and promotions business. I had no place to work and no Internet. Gone was my husband's percussion apprenticeship. We were out of the band, a home, and about as low in life as we had ever been. All we had were the few possessions we'd held onto, my Grandfather's paintings, our clothing, drums, and my computer. Everything we had been building, all the dream chasing, ideas, and creative expression we so valued seemed stripped away.

I would like to say we bounced back resiliently, but we didn't. We were bruised and broken by the encounter. Our faith in life, humanity, our sense of security, and safety had all been shattered. We were now unemployed, homeless, and to make things worse, I had to return service fees to clients whose writing and promotions projects I could no longer complete.

It has been two years since I worked my writing and promotions business, written in my blog, or worked for a client. I have been a home maker and substitute teacher.  Oh, I thought about writing. I thought about my business. I continued to follow the promotions trade online. I thought about what I would like to do and how. In a way, I think I was waiting for my husband's permission to pick up my pen and start again. I have felt a tremendous responsibility and guilt for what happened to him and to our lives. He never held me accountable, but the guilt was there no less. He has always been supportive of me. I just couldn't bring myself to revisit that part of my life and start over again. Basically, I was having an EGO moment that lasted two years. I didn't know who I was anymore.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

This summer, I was contacted by a former author client of mine, for a book review. It was unexpected. I was afraid. Don't ask me why? I was just afraid. It seemed like such a small request, and I so loved her previous work. I said yes.

What a simple thing a yes can be. "Yes" can open doors and hearts. "Yes" is turning the boat downstream to flow with the current of life. "Yes" is allowing, creative, and fertile. Sometimes, all it takes to recover from trauma and start moving forward on the road of life, is saying it. Yes, Yes, YES!

I don't know what paths I will tread on this journey. I can't guess at how successful my business will be and if it will recover from two years of neglect. I just feel so glad to be saying YES, and to feel life course through my creative veins again, the prospect of rebuilding doesn't feel so frightening anymore.

I am thankful. I am thankful for the flood of creative work that my client friend has poured into my hands; her willingness to invest in herself, and the trust she has placed in my ideas and efforts.  Returning to creative work has been a healing balm and brought a turn around in my outlook and thoughts.

It is never too late to grow and expand in life. Our experiences do shape our attitudes and beliefs about what can be, but they don't have to be limiting. Our thoughts influence our point of attraction and determine the circumstances that flow in to us. I know this by looking back over these two years of my life. The person I was is gone. I am more than the experiences I have shared. I can see how my thoughts and beliefs influenced what could happen and did happen around me.

I am busy again, creatively, energetically, and working. I am in a better position to create the life of my dreams than I was two years ago. I have restarted my writing and promotions business. I am fiscally recovering, balancing work worlds, between teaching and the writing/promotions work. Every week I am singing and drumming in a Jazz group.  My husband has resumed his musical training and is also jamming with me weekly. We are back on the road to successfully living the lives we dreamed of having two years ago. We are filled with gratitude.

My biggest problem these days. . . is finding time to write in this blog.

Expect to read more from me in the coming days, as I get back in the saddle and practice for myself and my clients the work I know and love.

Ink Slinger's Whimsey will have a new services website very soon. We are days away from publishing a revamped service menu, re-establishing our former InkSlingersWhimsey.com domain.

Thank you for reading and sharing in my journey.

Never let go of your dreams. When you get bucked off the horse, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back on it! It is the same with life.

Love and Light
Vonnie










Monday, September 8, 2014

"Watt's Up?" A Look at Wattpad and How it is Helping Authors Find Readers


What is Wattpad? 

If you haven't heard of Wattpad, you haven't yet fully joined the era of Internet and social media savvy readers and writers.

Wattpad is the Internet sensation and brain child of friends Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen; who each dreamed of using social media to revolutionize how we tell and share stories.
"Their realization: that user generated content, social networking and mobile phones were all that was needed to enable the future of storytelling." ~ Two minds: Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen. One idea: to use social media and mobile phones to build a network of readers and writers.
You can learn all about how they got together in 2006, to take advantage of the changes in technology, and the building of Wattpad in the article, Two minds/One Idea, through the link above.

The end result, or should I say the beginning, of their collaboration became Wattpad, an online community using social networking and mobile smart phone technology to advance, share and enjoy the written word.
Wattpad is a writing community in which users are able to post articles, stories, and poems about anything either online or through the Wattpad app. The content includes work by undiscovered and published writers. Users are able to comment and like stories or join groups associated with the website.  ~ Wikipedia 
Authors are always searching new methods of reaching a reading audience and Readers are always in search of new and exciting books. The idea of bringing the two together and of harnessing technology to facilitate their joining is brilliant.
All this started 7 years ago before social networking and media took over our telephones. Today, Wattpad is one of the largest social networks going and they are entirely devoted to sharing and discovering literature! That’s right, a whole forum of interaction devoted to writing and reading.

How many times have you as a reader chewed your finger wishing you had something to read; and how many times have you authors agonized about getting your book under the nose of a reader?

Today's readers aren't just looking for a good read, they are looking to engage, contribute, and connect in ways that readers of yesteryear did not. Some of the best and most well known writers of this century are those who have embraced a two way conversation with their fans. Social media is not only a marketing tool it is a creative tool allowing writers and readers to interact, communicate and grow together.  Writers are able to test ideas, and improve their work using fan based feedback and comments. Readers become personally attached to their favorite books and authors, they share with their friends at the click of a link button those authors and books they enjoy.  A match made in heaven, or in this case, Toronto Canada, the home base of Wattpad.

In the words of Wattpad . .

  • All You Need are Words: You don't need a publisher, editor, or finished manuscript to write on Wattpad. Anyone can share their writing. Anything you post on Wattpad can be published in as many other places as you like. We don't demand any rights to your work, or any control over where you share it.
  • Writing Socially and Serially: One of the greatest benefits of Wattpad is a direct connection between writers and 30 million readers, all over the world. Readers receive notifications whenever a new chapter of a story is posted. Many writers share their work serially: posting stories one chapter at a time, so readers keep coming back. 
  • Amplifying Authors: Published authors use Wattpad to amplify their online presence. They post short stories and drafts, or attract new readers by sharing the first part of a series. Our readers are socially engaged, and the writers who prosper on Wattpad are the ones who embrace this direct social connection with their fans.

According to Wikipedia, as of April 2014

  • 85 percent of Wattpad's traffic and usage comes from mobile devices [13]
  • 25 million unique visitors per month [13]
  • over 1,000 story uploads per day [14]
Friends of Ink Slinger's Whimsey found on Wattpad . . .

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santeria - A Review

Skilled as an orator, writer and priest, Ócha'ni Lele brings a deep love and understanding for Santeria to his readers. The excellent writing and composition style of Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santería: A Complete Guide to the Rituals and Practices
lends itself to an ease of understanding and imparts a depth of knowledge that is invaluable to those who are seeking growth in the religion. The sacred stories come alive, while annotations broaden without becoming dry and academic in tone. With so many seekers and so few available teachers, Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santeria is by far the most in-depth and skilled presentation of the sacred rituals and practices available. Anyone interested in the religious history and traditions purely from an academic standpoint will be pleased at the level of attention given to cross referencing information with the diloggun, patakis, and other scholastic records.

As the daughter of a fundamentalist minister, I was vastly intrigued and greatly impressed by the incredible dedication author Ocha'ni Lele gave in presenting the sacred rituals in Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santeria. I found this book to be deeply enriching. As one who was raised in a religion which no longer participates in ritual blood sacrifices, outside of symbolic practices, I found it enlightening to be presented with a living example of ancient sacrificial rites. In learning about the sacred rituals and practices of Santeria, I found a new level of understanding for the value and significance of blood ritual. I think this book would serve serious students of Christianity well in understanding the impact ritual sacrifice and the cessation of such practices has had on the development of their own religion and culture. I am sure each reader will be impacted differently, based on their personal level of understanding and spiritual inclinations; however, there is great room for growth and healthy discussion to be enjoyed through broadening one's perspective.

Alive with rich imagery, sacred storytelling, and detailed analysis, there is no better transmittal or loving record of this vital information available to friends and family of the Orishas, than that which is being transmitted through their vessel, Ócha'ni Lele, in Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santeria: A Complete Guide to the Rituals and Practices.

Author: Ócha'ni Lele
Publisher: Destiny Books (August 22, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1594774552
ISBN-13: 978-1594774553
Rating: 5 Star

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ritual Sacrifice and the Regla de Ifa

Havana and www-nomadxpedition.com


Artists borrow inspiration from life to express themselves. The worlds of arts and entertainment have often borrowed from Ifa –the religious traditions of the Yoruba, and its American cousin –Santeria. Most often found are sensationalized settings depicting images meant to inspire horror for dramatic effect. American film audiences are both thrilled and terrified by symbolism that seems frighteningly familiar and violently primitive.

It is no wonder that practitioners of these faiths meet with difficulty as they become more visible in American culture and society. Rarely depicted are core spiritual principles which include peaceful co-existence, the personal and spiritual goals of attaining balance in life, and of taking personal responsibility for one’s circumstances and actions. It is true that ritual sacrifices, ecstatic trances, spirit possessions, and ancient divinatory practices are all very alive within Ifa and Santeria. However, understanding the religion more deeply adds layers of symbolic meaning to which Hollywood images and depictions merely hint, but our instinctual minds respond.

02
Modern practitioners, those who come to Ifa and Santeria without previous heritage and familial ties, have many social taboos and indictments to overcome. Often, they find it difficult to study the sacred teachings or find spiritual mentorship. Even so, the number of initiates in this age of science and skepticism is on the rise.

By tradition Ifa and Santeria have been historically secretive in sharing their ways and practices. This is born out of a need to protect initiates from persecution by other religions –most notably Christianity. The majority of practitioners come from “word of mouth” Oral traditions, where teachings are passed down within a family or casa de santos (house of saints), also known as an ilé. Those coming from outside cultures seeking to learn the ways and practices of Ifa and Santeria often meet with mistrust and hostility, as they seek out information and attempt to interact with seasoned initiates.

Neophytes most often run into trouble when their understanding of the practices come with little or no practical example, or trust worthy guidance. Those coming from outside the tradition often lack the cultural background and experiences which would otherwise assist them in deriving deeper meaning and reverence for the ways and practices. This lack of understanding does create fissures between new initiates and those who have grown up in the faith. However, it is no surprise that cultures dominated by Christianity find the religious practices of Ifa and Santeria difficult to understand let alone accept. Christianity left behind ritual blood sacrifices, with all the cultural and symbolic implications, when it embraced the idea of a “final sacrificial savior,” and created the symbolic enactment of the Eucharist. The ensuing passage of time has alienated many Christians from their ritual past and from other cultures and faiths that retain blood rites and practices. The deeper symbolism and meanings associated with ritual animal sacrifice are easy to dismiss, or reject as horrendous, when there is no personal context associated with shedding blood. The entertainment world takes advantage of these cultural rifts when choosing images, and depicting distorted, or even honest scenes of ritualized animal sacrifice, ecstatic frenzies, spirit possession, and other practices.

10
Industrialization of the food industry has further estranged modern societies from the bloody business of slaughter. Gone are the days when killing and plucking a rooster for Sunday dinner was an American family norm. Modern American's, especially those removed from rural life, are often repulsed and confused when slaughter occurs as part of religious practices. People from cultures where industrialized farming and Agribusiness are the way of life, often have difficulty conceiving of or witnessing any form of slaughter. In cultures where the slaughter and butcher of meats in the home remains prevalent, people have very little difficulty accepting ritual sacrifices as part of religion. "We feed ourselves and we feed the Gods." For these people ritual sacrifice is often part of everyday life. These are the kinds of cultures where Ifa, and Santeria are well established and visible.

Whether the entertainment industry has benefited these religions through increased exposure, or harmed them through negative depiction, is a matter of debate. What is certainly true. . . the worlds of arts and entertainment will continue to derive inspiration from them, religious scholars will investigate and share their findings, and dedicated initiates will continue to practice.

For information on the ritual practices of Santeria, refer to Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santería: A Complete Guide to the Rituals and Practices
, authored by Ócha'ni Lele , published by Destiny Books.

  Come back and read our review Friday, 9/5/2014.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Protected is "Breath Catching!"

Book Title:  Protected
Author: Rowena Portch
ISBN: 1432758667
Publisher: Outskirts Press Inc.

Fantasy and romance fiction lovers alike are in for a delightful and surprising read as author Rowena Portch presents Protected, book one of the Spirian Series. Portch successfully gifts the reader with a heroine and a story that will capture as well as excite the imagination, deeply satisfying the avid reader's hunger for freshness with a style and plot line all her own.

Skye is a blind massage therapist with special gifts and a bright spirit that has attracted the wrong attention. Skye's power to heal has been noticed, making her the coveted target of those who would steal her freedom and manipulate her gifts. The fate of her race rests on choices she must make. Poised in the balance point of shifting powers, Skye must choose her loyalties well. One wrong choice will tip the balance between redemption and destruction. If she falters, she dooms not only her race but all of humanity. Vulnerable in ways that would terrify and immobilize lesser spirits, Skye transcends the circumstances of her blindness to wage a battle for Spirit and for all of us.

Portch has drawn from her own life and history to write Skye'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.

The Protected is full of rich descriptions, breath catching tension, humor, and desire, with characters that come to life and walk off the page to live in you. With a voice and experience uniquely her own, author Rowena Portch will make you believe the world she writes and you will seek it inside yourself.


Monday, August 25, 2014

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

Ink Slinger's Whimsey 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. Protected, book one of the Spirian series, will be our featured book review later this week.

Retinitis pigmentosa 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. Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) commonly runs in families and can be caused by a number of genetic defects. For those with RP, the photo receptors 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, rapidly growing a fan following and favorable reviews.

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.
“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.” - Reviewer Vonnie Faroqui, of Ink Slinger's Whimsey
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.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Inspired! Teachings of the Santeria Gods: The Spirit of the Odu


Book Title: Teachings of the Santería Gods: The Spirit of the Odu
Author: Ocha' Ni Lele
ISBN: 1594773327
Publisher: Inner Traditions
Reviewer: Vonnie Faroqui

Ocha'ni Lele's Teachings of the Santeria Gods is an essential addition to the spiritual library of anyone who is pursuing a study of or with interests in the practices of orisha worship and Santeria. With this work the author begins what will be a life-long pursuit to preserve and pass on the living and sacred stories or patakis of the Santeria and Lukemi. The volume includes more than 100 stories and histories about the odu and the orishas; breathing life into what was becoming a disappearing oral tradition.

With great skill and care Ocha'ni Lele, begins by giving an insightful introduction to the dilloggun, the sacred system of divination practiced by the Santeria. He goes on to share the patakis, whose themes are as relevant today as they were in the past, more so in the modern age of technology as people move farther away from authentic spiritual communion. For each odu or pattern in the diloggun, the author has written a chapter explaining the major theme or teaching of the odu and shares several illustrative patakis. In this way the knowledge revealed is more easily understood, remembered and applied. Ocha'ni Lele's writing is both timeless and inspiring. The formatting of the book makes for easy reading. The presentation of each story's thread is deeply satisfying as well, providing food for a growing understanding in the wisdom teachings and the diloggun.

I found more insight and information regarding the practices and teachings of the Santeria through this one book than I have found in all the previous years of searching, and I am deeply gratified to the author for his work. I especially enjoyed the stories of Okana, whose journey through the tales serves as a powerful lesson for many practitioners and energy workers of both the right and left paths. `Obatala Eats Heads' and the patakis for odu Osa are among my favorites.

Himself a Priest of the religion and child of Oya, Ocha'ni Lele opens the door of understanding and leads the reader in to the mysteries, delivering the telling of the tales with a love and enjoyment that shines through. A skilled writer with personal experience and passion for the work, Ocha'ni Lele's treatment of the stories is not simply academic, but flows from the heart and in so doing reveals more than scholarly acumen.

Those who have a deeper interest and motivation to discover the stories and the truths held within will be especially gratified as Ocha'ni Lele imbues new life and vigor into the telling of these traditional patakis. This inspired work has become a treasured volume in my personal collection.


Tweet

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Savoring "Night Crossing" . . . a Review

When I planned the schedule of blogs with my intention to post this review Friday, August 15, I had not considered that Night Crossing is a book with its own spirit and purpose. There are questions being asked that will arrest progress through its chapters by capturing thought and time. And so, I come late to write my review.

When you drink wine, do you gulp it down; racing to the bottom of your glass? Do you savor it; holding it in your mouth; flicking it with your tongue; allowing yourself the pleasures of experiencing its texture, the changing flavors as it rolls over your taste buds, splashing against your palate. Night Crossing is a story that, like pleasing wine, deserves to be savored.

 
Title: Night Crossing
Author: Mary E. Martin
Series: The Trilogy of Remembrance
Publisher: iUniverse (June 20, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1491737158
ISBN-13: 978-1491737156

The Trilogy of Remembrance comes to an inspired and satisfying conclusion in, Night Crossing. Enter our hero and favorite artist, Alexander Wainwright, vision guided into a swirling dream like progression of thought, darkness, light, and dancing rhythms which open windows to the heart and soul of creative experience. He is the student and the observer of life. He journeys, inspired and driven by compulsions and forces he does not understand, meeting guides and antagonists along the way. Each in turn adds to the mysterious patterns being woven around him. Their destinies entwined.  His muse Daphne, faithful narrator Jamie, and friends both new and old will enter your heart and find their way to places that resonate. A new story unfolds, new mysteries are explored as Alex frees his unique inner light and searches for the place love holds in his art. These characters breathe. They hurt and love, like we hurt and love. Their stories, choices, and struggles give us pause because they are stories we recognize as versions of our own.

I love Mary’s writing, which is eloquent and full of human insight. In Night Crossing, as in the previous books of the trilogy, she reveals surprising depths of interest and perception –both spiritual and aesthetic, into the visual, musical and performance arts.  Through her story telling she has the reader pondering many ideas, concepts and truths relating to creativity, spirituality, and life. Her writing illuminates much and yet leaves room for further exploration. I find her work entrancing and provocative, without being pushy. I will miss Alexander and find myself wondering how she might work him into another novel or series now that his trilogy is complete.

Do I recommend Night Crossing? Oh yes, yes indeed, I do.

Synopsis: Magical light suffuses Alexander Wainwright's paintings. But he must find something new. A vision of a golden sphere studded with gems appears before him-the cosmic egg, source of all creativity. Next day, his art dealer shows him an unsigned painting of the very same cosmic egg dedicated to a Parisian pianist, Dumont. Does the cosmic egg exist not just in Alex's imagination but in the real world? That burning question drives Alex to take the ferry-a night crossing- from Portsmouth to Caen and then onto Paris to find the pianist and the artist. On that trip, the elderly Miss Trump, enters Alex's life with myriad mysterious effects. The ferry capsizes. Alex tries to save her and a young mother and her child. Miss Trump drowns but mother and child are safe. When her body is mistakenly cremated, Alex is seized with an inexplicable sense of responsibility and carries the ashes with him to Paris where he simply comes across Dumont playing in a café. The pianist says the painter, Anton, is in St. Petersburg. Still determined to carry the ashes, Alex travels by train to St. Petersburg to find the artist. Stunning revelations await him. Learning far more than imagined, he finally understands the meaning of his vision and the true purpose of carrying the ashes across Europe. But when he returns to London, he may find that he has lost what he cherishes most-Daphne, his love and muse. This tale is about love so strong it transcends life and death. It's about cruelty and compassion, life, art and the magic of creation. All told, it speaks of that yearning within us for what lies beyond.

Mary E. Martin is the author of two trilogies The Osgoode Trilogy set in the corridors of power in the world of the law, and The Trilogy of Remembrance set midst the glitter and shadows of the art world.

 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Trilogy of Remembrance: an interview with author Mary E. Martin

In celebration of publishing part three in her Trilogy of Remembrance --Night Crossing, I am posting an excerpt from an interview I did with author Mary E. Martin, when book two, The Fate of Pryde, was released.

Read our review of Night Crossing when it posts on Friday, August 15, 2014.

It is always a pleasure to speak with an author about their work and process, but Mary's interview was especially interesting. She gave our readers a fair amount of personal insight into what motivates her as an author, as well as her writing process for the Trilogy of Remembrance.  Today's excerpts will only include questions and answers pertaining to the Trilogy of Remembrance.

Mary E. Martin  is the author of two trilogies The Osgoode Trilogy set in the corridors of power in the world of the law, and The Trilogy of Remembrance set midst the glitter and shadows of the art world.

This excerpt has been taken from the Ink Slinger's Whimsey blog for,  August 24, 2011.

Author Mary Martin
Martin: My second trilogy of novels [The Trilogy of Remembrance] is about an artist, Alexander Wainwright, Britain’s finest landscape painter. The genesis of this trilogy occurred many years ago, before the publication in 2005 of my first novel, Conduct in Question, the first in The Osgoode Trilogy.
A writer friend/mentor of mine challenged me to write something other than a mystery novel. And so, I tried to write a romance, with little success. I had a man and woman meet while travelling on [believe it or not] the Orient Express to Venice. After thirty pages, I was getting bored. I knew enough to say that if the writer is bored, heaven help the reader!
At that moment in time, I envisioned a mysterious character who pretty much appeared in the room in my imagination. At once, I knew he was the protagonist for the book. It took a long time to get to know him, but after innumerable character sketches and other jottings, he became Alexander Wainwright, Britain's finest landscape artist. He would be the main character around which the next trilogy would be built. So, I suppose it was Alexander, himself, who inspired the trilogy. Once I got to know him a little bit, I found he had a great deal to say.
My experience has been that the characters an author creates are a part or aspect of oneself. Consequently, the growth of Alexander — a person who believes that there is much more to this world than meets the eye — probably is my inquiring, prodding, reflective self. I present him with many questions to which I personally want to find answers.

The next novel in this trilogy—The Fate of Pryde—will published this fall on Amazon’s CreateSpace. Again, Alexander is the protagonist and I’ve presented him with a new character from whom he has much to learn, Jonathan Pryde. Pryde is an extremely wealthy patron of the arts who wants to commission Alex to create a vision in stained glass for his residence in Vence in the south of France. Alexander hesitates. After all he is a painter, not a glass cutter. But Alex is drawn into Jonathan’s strange and murky world. At the foot of the garden of Pryde’s chateau-like home, stands a bunker protecting his secrets. In this novel, the question posed to Alex is—How can the very best and the very worst of humankind reside in one’s man breast?
And so, I love to present my protagonist with all sorts of problems to reflect upon. I have a few ideas for the next novel, but the trick, as always is to create a driving plot to find all the questions and— a few answers.

Faroqui: How do your books evolve? Do you get a creative burst which eventually matures into a novel? Do you pick a theme and lay a foundation? How do you approach the creative process?

Martin: I think each novel evolves in its own way. A lot like raising children—each one is quite different. It seems I do a lot of work “in the back of my mind” and so, when it’s ready, I sit down and get started. The growth of The Drawing Lesson was quite unusual. In fact it started out as a novella or even three novels and so the structure of a full novel was not really in place at the outset. Parts or scenes of the novel kept “floating up” to me and I would write them down without really knowing why. And so, I made a rule for myself—not to throw anything out until much later. It was like walking on a beach and coming across different shells and having to decide whether to pick one up and carry it home or not. Not until the end of the process did I cut out or change significant portions of the manuscript.
So, sometimes it starts out as an idea or a kind of character or a bunch of questions. I think I’m a pretty “organic” writer in the sense that I like the natural flow of the story to take over and guide me where it wants. I’m a great student of Carl Jung and consequently really believe in the power of the subconscious, which I think is a lot smarter and more creative than I am.

Faroqui: Some people believe that in order to be truly creative a person has to be tormented, or have deep inner turmoil? What do you think of that notion?

Martin: No! At least I certainly hope not. Much is made of battles with inner demons. But it’s interesting you should ask. In fact, Alexander Wainwright does have a battle like that in The Drawing Lesson. Suddenly, this artist, known for his beautiful landscapes bathed in an ethereal light, starts painting trolls—ugly humanoid creatures—along the riverbank of his most recent painting. Of course this heralds a breaking up of his art so that he can advance creatively. I guess I’ve inflicted that on Alex so that I don’t personally have to deal with it. But seriously, I don’t think you have to suffer in order to create. I guess you do go down into the subconscious where wonderfully creative stuff resides, but so does a lot of stuff of nightmares.

Faroqui: What do you hope readers will come away with when they read one of your books? Do you send messages through your work, hoping to inspire perhaps?

Martin: I hope the reader will enjoy looking beneath the surface of life for various layers of meaning and have found moments of quiet reflection. But, I also hope the reader has also been fabulously entertained with a great story and fascinating characters. In the weeks and months to come, he or she will think back to something in The Drawing Lesson or The Fate of Pryde and say— "This person I've just met in real life reminds me of a character in that novel like Rinaldo or Daphne or Jonathan Pryde."

Link to the full interview, 8/24/2011.