The MFA Debate: Do you Need Another Degree to be a Great Writer?


Every year, thousands of students return to universities across the country to pursue creative writing MFAs. As a former journalist, I confess that getting an MFA even crossed my mind once or twice in my professional writing career. Although the degree never really suited me, I understand why some people would think about going back to school to obtain an MFA. If you're debating whether or not you need an MFA, here are three key questions you should ask yourself in order to help you decide whether or not an MFA is the right choice for you and your career.

What will you do with an MFA degree?
Most professional writing jobs don't require an MFA degree, but there are a few that strongly encourage an MFA. If you have an idea of what profession you want to work in, do some research and find out if that job requires or encourages an MFA degree. If your career doesn't require you to get an MFA, that doesn't mean you still shouldn't consider obtaining one, however. Many people feel the intensive writing, editing, and revising that is encompassed in an MFA program is extremely worthwhile. If you feel that a few more years of school would be of benefit to you and your writing, then I'd definitely give an MFA a consideration.

Have you talked to MFA graduates?
You don't really know what you're getting yourself into until you've talked to other MFA graduates. Many of these former students will be able to tell you the true value of an MFA degree. Reach out to teachers, colleagues, students, and mentors who have obtained an MFA and ask them if it was worthwhile to them. Listen to their thoughts and opinions and take them into consideration. Don't, however, let their views sway you too much in any one direction. The decision to go for an MFA is ultimately up to you, and you probably have a good idea whether or not you need to go back to school. Listen to their feedback, of course, but make sure you aren't letting anybody make the decision on your behalf.

How will you utilize your time in an MFA program?
An MFA isn't just a degree program; it's also a time for you to focus on writing, editing, revising, and working. During the years you're studying for an MFA, you should be utilizing any and every resource available to you in the program. Talk to visiting authors, go to your professors' office hours, meet with fellow MFA students, go to outside writing classes, and focus on developing yourself as an author. You should never go back to school just for the sake of hanging another diploma on your wall. An MFA is an opportunity for you to immerse yourself in a world of creative inspiration and writing exploration. If you feel as though you will utilize all of the countless resources in the MFA degree program, then I'd say it's definitely worth giving an MFA degree a serious consideration.

Should you find yourself wondering 'to MFA, or not MFA,' keep these three previous questions in mind. Good luck!

Guest post by Nancy Wood, a freelance blogger who regularly contributes her work to various education resource websites, such as www.OnlineCollegeClasses.com. Her articles usually cover topics related to college student life, trends in education and career planning. Feel free to leave Nancy any comments or questions below!
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Interview with Ethan Cross

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

It started as early as I can remember.  I wasn’t an only child, but since my three sisters are so much older than I am, it felt that way growing up.  I’ve always been an introvert and my favorite pastime as a young boy was playing pretend with my action figures and my imaginary friends (as my parents called them).  But I’m not sure if they were truly the imaginary friends that we traditionally think of.  I say this because they were more like characters in my own little movies.  At the time, it was a boy playing with his imaginary friends, but I still do basically the same thing as an adult, only my imaginary friends find life on the pages of my books. 

What genre do you write and why?

I write crime thrillers.  I’m not sure where my fascination first stemmed, but I can say with almost one hundred percent certainty that I’ve never read a fictional book where no one was killed or no crime was committed.  It sounds pretty morbid when I read those words, but honestly, I think it all comes back to what’s at stake.  The more that’s at stake, the higher the level of excitement and tension.  My goal with writing is to create a book that I would want to read, and crime/action thrillers are the type of books that excite me because they have the highest stakes.

Tell us about your latest book.

With THE PROPHET, I wanted to touch on the world of doomsday cults and the abuse of power wielded by the charismatic leaders of such groups but also on the impact of abuse and how the sins of the parents affect their children.  Throw in some gun fights and explosions, and you’ve got yourself a story!  And I’ve received some wonderful praise from some of my extremely talented colleagues:

"The best book of its kind since Thomas Harris retired Hannibal Lecter, a cat-mouse-game extraordinaire that will leave your knuckles white and your stomach churning." - Jon Land, Bestselling Author of Strong Vengeance

"Cross pushes the boundaries in this sinisterly clever showdown between one shadowy vigilante justice group and three twisted serial killers. The surprises are fast and furious and will leave you breathless to read more." - Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Catch Me and Love You More

"Solid, memorable storytelling that moves rapid-fire through a complex and gripping plot. Ethan Cross is one of the sharpest emerging writers on the thriller fiction scene today."
- Steven James, National Bestselling author of Opening Moves and The Pawn

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book? 

Anything that could generate word of mouth, since that’s how books are sold.  We’re trying to generate buzz using a lot of promotions, giveaways, blog posts, reviews, social media, etc. The key is to first write a good book and then get people talking about it. Neither one is an easy task.

What formats is the book available in?

My books are available as trade paperbacks from all major retailers and as ebooks on all major platforms. 

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I’m a huge movie buff. My wife and I religiously have date night every week and take in a movie. And if I’m not writing or watching a cool story, I’m probably reading one.

Who are your favourite authors?

I enjoy any book that’s action-packed, regardless of genre, and I've been known to read three or four books in a week.  I love David Morrell, James Rollins, Lee Child, F. Paul Wilson, Dean Koontz, Jeffery Deaver, James Patterson, Douglas Preston, Clive Cussler, and many, many more.

What advice do you have for other writers?

The first step in succeeding as a writer is having a deep love of stories and then learning how to write.  You can do that in many ways including reading (and doing it a lot), taking classes, attending conferences, etc.  For me, the most significant and worthwhile experience was attending Thrillerfest in New York.  While there, I took classes from some of the biggest selling and most accomplished writers in the world.  I learned so much and have applied those techniques to my writing.  I also made a lot of great friends and business connections while there.  So I guess I could sum it up as: have an incredibly strong desire to write and a deep love of stories, learn to write well (and keep learning and improving), and get out there and make connections.

What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” - Stephen King.  I think this sums it up.  You can learn more on the craft of writing by reading great writers than by sitting in any classroom or attending any conference.

What's the best thing about being a writer?

The fortune, fame, and groupies… wait, that’s a rock star… or maybe a politician.  But seriously, I think the best thing about being a writer is the act of creation. I’m happiest when I’m enjoying someone else’s creation or bringing one of my own into existence. Forging something new from nothing using only your imagination is a very therapeutic and fulfilling experience.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

Visit me at my website: EthanCross.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EthanCrossBooks

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5 Tips for Children's Authors

My best selling children's book
Out and About at the Zoo

Writing a children's book may, at first, seem like an easy task but it's not. The skill of being able to tell a captivating story in such a limited number of words, the ability to combine the written story with the visual story, creating a simple text that flows smoothly... There's a lot more to children's writing than a lot of people think.
                             
Here's a few tips:

1. Book format. A standard children's book is 32 pages long. As the actual text usually begins at around page 5 (after title page, copyright page, etc...) this leaves you 27 pages to tell your story.

2. Balance. There needs to be a balance between text and illustrations. The text needs to be divided up evenly with fairly equal amounts of text on each page. The text must also match the illustrations.

3. Planning. Draw up a plan of the 32 pages so you can see how the layout of your book will be. This will help you divide the text and give you ideas the placing of illustrations.

4. Word choice. The text of a children's book is limited so every word counts. There is little room for visual description but most of that is done with the illustrations anyway.

5. Read it aloud. Children's books are meant to be read aloud. Read to an audience or record yourself reading the text so you can check for flow.

What tips would you add to this list?

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How to S.E.O. your YouTube Videos

Creating video content is a fantastic way to promote your books and build your online brand and since YouTube is one of the largest and most used sites in the world setting up a channel is a must. 

Although Google will automatically list any videos uploaded to YouTube in their search results if you want to get maximum visibility for your content you need to do some S.E.O. (Search Engine Optimisation).

A lot of writers aren't marketing experts and S.E.O. sounds like a foreign language.  This is why I've made this easy to follow infographic to outline some of the main steps you need to take to give your YouTube content a boost and help it show up in search results:


Do you have a YouTube channel? How are you using it to promote your writing? What other steps should be included?


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How to promote your book after publication


The first thing I did to promote my book once a release date was set out in the future was to hire a good web designing team to put a top-notch and graphically appealing website together for the book, which included key content such as: 1) book trailer, 2) free content (first two chapters of the book), 3) reviews, and 4) a blog. 

As a relatively new author in the fiction genre, I knew that a catchy and fully loaded website was absolutely necessary to show off what I believe to be a very high quality product… Sweetest Taboo! Not much happened after the website went ‘live’ because the promotion of the website through Search Engine Optimization was a necessary next step, then a press release about the book’s impending launch date (October 1, 2012), then of course a social media outreach plan was developed and implemented for Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Pininterest, and Google+. Once those key elements were in place, and once a handful of bloggers began to read and subsequently review ARCs of my book, posting and sharing reviews, the website began to take off with site traffic. It’s still nowhere near the site traffic levels I’d like the site to be, but with time, I am confident things will begin to happen.

I enjoy blogging about topics related to Sweetest Taboo. However, I’m not 100% sold on the idea that because I post weekly musings on my blog I will sell more books. I really wish it did because I think many authors spend a great deal of valuable time blogging, and maybe that time is taking away from professional writing endeavors such as writing new titles that their readers will enjoy. As an avid writer, I enjoy writing weekly blog posts that I believe will either be enjoyable reads for my readers, will attract new followers, and/or will be beneficial to readers and aspiring authors in some way, shape or form (i.e. writing tips, promotional tips, etc.) and these weekly posts do not necessarily take away from my creative writing process. With that said, it’s important to note that my promotional plan was tailored to my personal and professional needs, which was dictated by my ability to have time to write only one blog post a week. There are many authors out there that either write posts every other day, with some writing daily. If that is driving their sales, then it is definitely worth the work. But if it is not or the verdict is still out on impact on sales, then perhaps that is time not well spent.

Since I want the most exposure for my debut novel as possible, I decided to sign up for a virtual blog tour as a way to officially launch Sweetest Taboo. To keep the momentum going, I also decided to run a virtual blog tour of ‘heavier hitting’ blogs during the month of November. I decided to try out two main providers: Goddess Fish Promotions (October 2012) Pump Up Your Book (November 2012).

The virtual blog tours will be very effective and likely to be the key book-marketing tool at my disposal. Virtual blog tours are, by far, the best way for an independent author to achieve maximum exposure to a newly released book. As an independent author, I don’t have the fund accounts and marketing expertise that publishing houses make available to their authors, so I do believe that achieving maximum exposure to potential readers through a series of virtual blog tours will be crucial to the success of my debut novel.

Guest post by Eva Márquez. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, daughter of European immigrants, Eva Márquez has spent most of her life outside of her home country. At the age of five, Eva accompanied her parents to the United States, where the family settled permanently. After graduating from university, she went on to complete graduate studies in International Relations in Spain. Eva received her Master of International Studies degree from the University of Sydney and went on to work in the global health field in Sub Saharan Africa and South East Asia. Eva currently resides in Southern Africa.

Links:
www.SweetestTabooBook.com (website AND blog)
@EvaAuthor (Twitter)
http://youtu.be/flff2TcA4AQ (Official Book Trailer on YouTube)




Eva will award a Kindle touch to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a swag pack of goodies to one commenter at each stop. She'll award a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn host.

So I encourage you to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://www.goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2012/08/virtual-book-tour-sweetest-taboo-by-eva.html
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The Generosity of Strangers – How It All Started


For as long as I can remember, my mother has told me stories about her childhood experiences in Italy during World War II and its immediate aftermath. Born and raised in the tiny hilltop town of Fornelli—located in Italy’s mountainous heart—life for my mother and her family was often-times a contradiction. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Yet, their ability to live an honest life despite war, hardship, and even poverty serves as an inspiration to all of us.
For many years, my mother’s stories lie dormant somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind. Then, in 1996, the Army assigned me to Naples, Italy—a bustling metropolis only 75 miles from Fornelli. One October morning, I drove to Fornelli. For the first time in my life, I visited the town, the neighborhood, even the very house in which my mother spent her childhood days. I met her cousins and childhood friends, and I relived the customs and traditions that I remembered as a child growing up in Rhode Island. When I left Italy in 1999, a part of Fornelli came with me, and I never let go of hope that I would some day capture my mother’s story in the pages of a book. Finally, some 13 years later, I’m honored and privileged to present to you The Generosity of Strangers: When War Came to Fornelli.
My mother—Antonia Lucia Petrarca—lived everything in this book as a young girl growing up in Fornelli, Italy during World War II. Over the past several years, she and I have had several conversations—in person, over the phone, and through the exchange of pictures, notes and audiotapes. The result is a series of episodes or vignettes, spanning a period of about 15 years. These episodes reflect my mother’s interpretation of the events as they occurred more than 50 years ago.
There’s something beautiful, something magical about my mother’s story. I once told my mother that I learned more in researching and writing The Generosity of Strangers than I learned from six years of college. I hold firm to that belief even today. The Generosity of Strangers is a charming story that touches our common humanity in a way that no school textbook can. It is a timeless story for the entire family.
Guest post by Thomas E. Antonaccio
Coming soon to Amazon
Genre – Children’s NonFiction / History – Europe
Rating – PG
More details about the book
Connect with Thomas E Antonaccio on Facebook
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Interview with David W. Huffstetler


When did you know your wanted to be a writer?

That was probably in my early thirties; although, I always enjoyed the creative outlet of writing. I wrote my first real manuscript in a time before laptops and email queries. Submissions were sent by snail mail with return postage included. The life stepped in and raising a family delayed my next manuscript for a couple of decades. I'm glad I came back to writing, or maybe it came back to me.

What genre do you write and why?

Fiction and some historical fiction. There is a certain freedom in writing fiction, as the author can explore emotions and motives that one might have to assume in nonfiction characters. I don like to incorporate some factual, historical accounts in my stories, as I find the things people actually did to be fascinating.

Tell us about your latest book.

Blood on the Pen is the story of an unpublished author who receives one rejection letter too many and starts killing literary agents. Jack Harden, a modern-day Texas Ranger, is called to the case. Jack lost his wife last year to a drunk driver. He struggles with his desire to kill the man who cost him Jenny and the desire to just kill himself. Then he meets a young, Hispanic reporter named Elsie Rodriguez. She is pushy and aggressive, and she always want the things she can't have. Theirs is a complex and stormy relationship that develops in ways neither of them expects. It's a crime drama/thriller, but it is also a story of redemption and hope.

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?

I've appeared on radio talk shows, distributed free copies of my book to major book stores, bought radio advertising, provided an excerpt to a magazine, and, of course, social media and my web site.

What formats is the book available in?

Paperback, pdf, html, epub, LIT, PRC, MOBI

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Think about writing. Just kidding. :) :) I like sports, and my wife and I enjoy the theatre, both live and film.

Who are your favourite authors?

That's a difficult question for me. I appreciate good writing, whether it comes from a best-selling author or someone I am just coming to know.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Perhaps I should be asking for their advice, but I suppose it would be persistence. Writing itself isn't a tough business, but publishing is. Before submitting a manuscript to an agent or publisher, get feedback from someone who isn't afraid to offend you. Read about the craft. Some very fine stories can sit idle because the gatekeepers can't get past problems with point of view or redundant phrases. Trust me on that.

What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?

Barry Eva, the delightful host of Book and a Chat, says stories are actually written by aliens that inhabit our bodies. What he means is that we lose track of ourselves when we really get absorbed in writing the story. You see that when you proofread and don't remember having written the text you are reading.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

It's such a great outlet for all that creative crap you have stored in your head, those ideas that gnaw at you. But, undoubtedly the best thing is when some tells you they were touched by what you wrote. For one of my stories to resonate with a reader is very special.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

My web site is davidhuffstetler.com

Anything else you'd like to add?

Just that it has been my pleasure to be part of this blog and I'd love to hear from folks with their questions and comments.



David and Wild Child Publishing will be awarding a $10 Wild Child Publishing GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, so I encourage you to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 



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Interview with Alan Kessler


When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I was ll, I wrote a story about the world opening up and creatures, called Leaks, crawling from the fissures. Fortunately, I don’t remember much else about the plot. In high school I struggled academically but had a teacher who gave me an A+ on a writing assignment. After that, I was hooked.

The teacher, Mrs. Silverstein, had a powerful impact on my life.

What genre do you write and why?
Spiritual horror. For me, horror should not only be organic to the story, moving the plot along, but contain within it a spiritual message lifting the reader beyond the visceral.

I don’t like to write stories where the spilled blood is wasted.  

Tell us about your latest book.
What does the devil really want?

Nostalgic for the Inquisition and plague, Satan feels neglected by the modern world that no longer blames him for disease and death. He plans to create a new genesis, a place where people will love him. For that, his son needs just the right soul.

And there is one—unique, powerful, able to heal. To get it, Satan has a plan that begins in Ireland in the famine year, 1848, and 180 years later traps a young girl and her family in demonic forces pushing them to kill.         

A Satan Carol is a horror story about family values--even if they originate in hell.

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book? 
I contacted review blogs, submitted copies of the novel to Kirkus and Midwest Book Review, advertised on Goodreads and BookDaily, posted interviews at websites, arranged readings, gave an interview on an internet radio station, participated in a blog tour.

What formats is the book available in?
Print, PDF, Kindle, Nook, .epub, .mobi

Available from the publisher, Wild Child Publishing, and at Amazon; Barnes and Noble.  

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I own a karate school, watch Ohio State football, walk the dog and do my best to be a good husband and father.

Who are your favorite authors?
Dickens, Faulkner, Harper Lee.

What advice do you have for other writers?
Persevere beyond the doubts and rejections; write what’s true to you, from the heart, even if that means a story where the heart is removed by something hideous. 

What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
What a teacher told me—“Don’t let your imagination devour the story.” This has to do with restraint, economy of language, and control at all times of the plot.

What's the best thing about being a writer?
You get to create a universe where there is justice, retribution for evil, and hope.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
Read the reviews, both good and bad, for my novel, A Satan Carol
and contact me at alan@askessler.com or visit my web site www.askessler.com to see a cool trailer.

As for my Bio: I live in New England, have a wife, four children, and a dog, Buckeye.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Thank you for having me. If anyone is interested in receiving a review copy of my novel, just send me an email.


Alan and Wild Child Publishing will be awarding a $10 Wild Child Publishing GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour (international), and a 12 pack of Snackwells Devils Food cookies to another commenter (US/Canada only) So I encourage you to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 


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Review of The Forbidden Secrets of the Goody Box

Title:  The Forbidden Secrets of the Goody Box
Authors: Valerie J. Lewis Coleman with Christopher Reid
Publisher: Pen of the writer, LLC
ISBN: 978-0-9786066-3-3


Reviewed by Jo Linsdell



"What your father didn't tell you and your mother didn't know Successful. Beautiful. Intelligent. Yet a satisfying relationship eludes Debra Hampton. At thirty-five years old, she can't figure out why her philosophy on men-and what they want from women-isn't working. She's trapped in a cycle of shattered relationships, until a friend refers her to a relationship guru. After some resistance, Debra finds refuge in the counsel of Doc Reid as he helps her navigate through the storms of rejection and failed love. Once he reveals the error of her ways, will Debra master the forbidden secrets to attract her soul mate or continue to keep love at bay? Christopher "Doc" Reid-as he has been nicknamed by friends and clients-has analyzed the mechanics of relationships for almost twenty years. Not a medical doctor, his God-given insight makes one believe that he has a Ph.D in matters of the heart: a relationship cardiologist."

A good, easy read chick-lit that includes some great practical advice for building your self-worth and understanding what you want out of a relationship.

Heart break, friendship, cheating, new relationships... this book covers a lot of ground but does so in a fun and light hearted way. 

The perfect read for someone that's getting over a break up.




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Creating Characters for your Novel


People often ask writers how they come up with their characters. Are they based off real people or are they entirely fictional? For me, it’s normally a mix of both. I might give a character the first name of one friend or the last name of another. The bad guy might have the same name as the nasty customer I had to deal with at work that day. And sometimes characters completely create themselves. But I have to admit, that the characters in Phantom were inspired by the people around me more than any other book I have written. I thought it would be fun to introduce some of the people who helped make Phantom one of my favorite novels so far.

Rebecca Hope-Rebecca is the main character, and she gets the lead role of Christine in the play. She isn't really based on anyone in particular, but I did give her a few of my own characteristics. In the first chapter, I mention that she was normally hiding in the orchestra with her violin instead of trying out for a role. That was totally me in high school.  I was always too shy to try out for the musicals, even though I really wanted to. But unlike Becca, I was actually a much better violinist than a singer anyway, so I was better off where I was.  She also shares my nervous energy, and of course, we are both obsessed with the Phantom of the Opera in all its incarnations. 

Jay Kopp - In my book, Jay Kopp is the class clown. The one making jokes at all the wrong times, and who thinks he is a whole lot cooler than he really is. The real Jay Kopp is not much different. Instead of the class clown, he is the office clown.  Here is a man who is in his forties, but still makes faces behind the executive president's back while he's handing out awards. A man who every single solitary day, walks out the door at closing time and yells, "Stick a fork in me, I'm done."  A man who has somehow wound up with the nickname of "Muffin" among his female coworkers.  Some of his other shenanigans include tapping a picture of my husband (than new boyfriend) all over the office, including the toilet seat, and dressing up as Flavor Flav, and no, it wasn't Halloween. As you can tell, our little group had a tendency to stray away from corporate etiquette and we loved every minute of it.   All that being said, Jay is actually a really sweet guy, a hard worker, and a wonderful husband and father.  I think I stayed pretty close to Jay's real personality in my book. I just made him thirty years younger.

Mr. Russ - Mr Russ is the school janitor. He's a little on the dirty side and he’s definitely not all there. Again, he is based on a real person, but I can't say his name because I don't want to get sued. When I was working, there was an old man who worked in one of the buildings on the same street. I would run into him at Wawa all the time, and he decided he had a crush on me. Finally, he came in the office one day with a pack of tickets for the Lion King on Ice, and wanted to take me and my children. Ummmm...creepy!  Of course I told him as nicely as possible that I couldn't do that, and explained I was in a relationship for the hundredth time.  He got a little angry, I got a little freaked out, and thus I had to turn him into the creepy school janitor in my book. His name is different, but his physical description is right on. If you read this book, you'll understand why he made me nervous.

Carmen Webber -  Carmen is one of Rebecca's best friends. When I created Carmen, I was really thinking about one of my best friends, Viv.  I gave her a lot of Viv's personality traits, but when it comes to her looks, I was thinking more about her daughter Sarah. Sarah is closer to Carmen's age.  So she sort of wound up being a combination of them both, but she definitely has a little more attitude than either of them.  On a side note, their last name is Zarfati, which is also the name of one of the characters in my Destiny series.

Debbie O'Neill  & Wendy Wright - Both of these girls got their first names from people I worked with.  Wendy is the class snob, and there was a girl at one of our offices in North Jersey that always had an attitude when she called. Plus she sounded like a valley girl. I was trying to decide on a name for Wendy and she happened to call that day in a particularly miserable mood, and so she became my b***h.  With Debbie, it was more a physical thing.  Someone was leading a meeting and she looked exactly the way I envisioned Debbie, so she took her name.

Darlene & Matt:  Darlene is a good friend and was my former High Priestess before she moved out of state. She opened her arms to me when I was new to the Craft and completely on my own, and I learned a lot from her. When she didn't get "a part" in Destiny, I promised to put her name in Phantom. She took it a step further and asked me to add in her best friend Matt as well.  So I made them someone's parents. What's funny is, I never really intended to include any parents in the book, but adding Darlene became a big part of one of my favorite scenes. Meeting Darlene & Matt is a fun part of the book, so I can't say too much more. But if you met the real Darlene, you would definitely find that she and her namesake have the same remarkable ability to speak in complete paragraphs without taking a single breath.

Tom Rittenhouse:  This is the guy who gets the role of Raoul, the hero. Tom is very much like my first real boyfriend, even though I don't think I realized it myself until I read back through the book when it was done. He was a surfer. He was the star of the high school musicals. He even had hopes of being an actor someday. He did get a few small parts in TV and Broadway in college, but as far as I know, he gave up on Hollywood and is back home now.  Darron from Destiny has some of his characteristics as well. I think since he was my high school sweet heart, and my first love, he comes back to haunt my high school characters...

Tempest: Tempest is a Gothic Belly Dancer. I consider myself truly blessed to have not only met Tempest, but to have shared Sacred Space with her on a few occasions. About three years ago,  I was introduced to Tempest through my best friend and coven sister, Donna. She was taking her belly dance class at a local gym, and convinced me to come along.  The class was fun, but was nothing compared to watching Tempest perform live. When she begins to move, it’s like she is magically transformed into the Goddess herself. Her movements are fluid and graceful. Her costumes (which she often designs herself) are enchanting. She has created her own version of Gothic Belly Dance that is elegant and breathtaking. It literally brought tears to my eyes. Even as a writer, I find it hard to express just how amazing it is to watch her perform.  Tempest is one of the most beautiful women I have had the privilege to meet. It is a beauty that emanates from her soul and is transferred to the fluid movements of her body. All the wisdom of the ages is expressed in the poetic motions of her dance. She is a true artist.

Justyn Patko (AKA-Lord Justyn) - When I tell people that Lord Justyn was based on a real person, most of them look at me like I'm crazy. They think he's my imaginary friend.  But, nope, he’s is real. Like my character, the real Lord Justyn is a Gothic Pagan who also happens to be a musician and an actor.  I have never spoken to Justyn outside of cyber space. We met on MySpace before I met my husband. I don't even remember how. But I do remember how all his notes would have a little old world charm in them. We would talk about books and movies, and, of course, magic and the Craft. He even read Destiny way before it was published. I would be lying if I said I didn't have a little crush on him. But in the real world, when we lived in different states and I was a single mom, there was no way it could have worked. Not to mention the fact that I am several years older, and not really the cougar type. 

Maybe in another time or another life it could have happened. But in this life, I could only make him into one of the most amazing characters I have ever created. It all started because I was writing him an email while Andrew Lloyds's Weber's musical was playing the background. I started to think how great he would be in the role of the Phantom...one thought led to another, and Phantom was born.

Finally, Justyn’s last name came from my friend Jared Patko. He was handsome. He was fun. He was hilarious.  He was an amazing artist. He also suffered from severe Bipolar Disorder. In 2009, Jared took his own life. I had just started writing Phantom when this happened, and I wanted to immortalize him in some small way. I had promised him I'd use his name in a book eventually, and he had hoped to draw the cover art. Phantom is also dedicated to Jared as well as the real Lord Justyn.

Well, that pretty much sums it up. It’s amazing how even the smallest things that people do and say can touch our lives and bring about inspiration. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing for these folks will probably depend on who lives, who dies, and who the killer really is. But you'll have to read Phantom to find all that out. I have to wrap up this post with one of my favorite quotes. "Be careful, or I'll put you in my novel!"

Guest post by Laura De Luca. Laura “Luna” DeLuca lives at the beautiful Jersey shore with her husband and four children. She loves writing in the young adult genre because it keeps her young at heart.  In addition to writing fiction, Laura is also the sole author of a popular review blog called New Age Mama. She is an active member of her local pagan community, and has been studying Wicca for close to eight years. Visit her on her websites at http://authorlauradeluca.blogspot.com or  http://newagemama.blogspot.com.



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Strategies for Effective Facebook Wall Posts

Everyone (or at least the majority of the worlds population) is on Facebook. This makes it a must-have part of any writers marketing plan. After all you want to be where your audience is. Having an account on Facebook and being able to use it effectively are however two very different things.

I came across this great infographic by the guys at Buddy Media that gives a run down of some of the strategies you can use for effective Facebook wall posts.
How many of these techniques do you use? Which type of content gets you the best results?


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Promoting Locally


Promoting locally is something that I feel to be very important for authors, and something that I think is often overlooked.  Over the past few weeks, I've had articles written about me in several local and regional newspapers (most on the front page), and I have events scheduled at local schools, libraries, community organizations, and bookstores.  I think that it's part of human nature to have a certain amount of community pride, and most people are very interested and excited to hear that someone in their surrounding area has written a book.  It's viewed as quite an accomplishment.

These people see you at the grocery store and at community functions.  They feel like they know you, even if they only have a thin connection to you.  It's important for authors to remember that these people are far more likely to support you and tell others about your book than people that don't feel any kind of attachment to you.

But all of this can be very time consuming, and it’s only a few sales…right?

This is true; local promotion most likely isn’t going to transform you into a bestseller.  But we can't forget the importance of customer ratings and reviews for online retailers.  These ratings are an integral part of the new world of digital publishing.  When local fans comment to you about your book, encourage them to post a rating and review.  This, in turn, helps get the word out to the rest of the world.  Those that feel a connection to you are more likely to take the time to post something because they want to show their support.  So while promoting locally isn’t going to make you rich, it’s definitely not something to be dismissed or ignored.  In fact, I feel that promoting locally can be one of the most cost effective and rewarding forms of marketing that you can do as an author.


Guest post by Ethan Cross. Find out more about Ethan at EthanCross.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EthanCrossBooks
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Interview with Minister Susan Moll


When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I had been doing online bible studies for years and when I got Facebook found a cousin that wrote children's books, after reading my posts she asked me, Susie you need to get these in books for people that don't have computers, she walked me through it and from there it went on, and I try to do a book every two years or so.God started speaking to my heart in a way things come together that I could never do on my own, as I allow myself to be used and be open to the word He brings things together in my heart and mind and I write it.

What genre do you write and why?
Mine was  faith and devotionals, its something that just flows in me, I have been Minister since 1996 and my first book was made with all my studies from 96-2019 I have 2 that are all devotions and studies, one that is how I got to the point of being useable vessel for God to use, one a revised addition of first book and the 5th one is dealing with chronic pain.

Tell us about your latest book.
"Finding Your Healing" started out just being a journal to get my feelings out, but when I went back and read it, I saw the feeling I expressed was due to the life of pain and not my poor husband which had been my blame target. the healing is coming day by day learning to allow God to help me deal with this and heal from it in the process.

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?
I use websites, there are so many that are free and some that only charge 20.00 dollars a year, Authors den is also great place, do book signings in your home town, bookstores and get Facebook, that gets your book out all over the world to people you could never meet in person.

What formats is the book available in?
One is hardcover the others paperback and 3 you can get on E-book

What do you like to do when you're not writing? 
I love to spend time fishing, being outside, walking with my dog. and sewing, I give tours at Guiboud Valle house and have made all my costumes from dress in 1806

Who are your favorites authors?
Alan Dean Foster, I got to know him and his wife JoAnn in Az. years ago and love his books, I also love Billy Graham, Steve Sampson, Hansie Steyn, and a few others

What advice do you have for other writers?  
Keep writing, keep journals, and always have paper and pen handy, you never know when something will just start flowing.

What's your favorite quote about writing/for writers?
I don't have one yet.

What's the best thing about being a writer?
When someone comes up to you and shares how much your book has helped them, been a comfort to them, or gives you a hug and just says thank you

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?  http://www.forministry.com/USMONONDENBMNB/

Anything else you'd like to add?
When I got called into the ministry, it was in my heart to reach the world, I thought God had made a huge mistake, how could a mother of 3 kids, bus driver and house wife reach the world, He has allowed me to do this through my websites & books, you too can reach the world, all you have to do is open the door that is in front of you right now.
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