Wednesday’s Word: Diane McGyver presents “the Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes”

Diane McGyver

Introducing author Diane McGyver. Her first book, Shadows in the Stone, was released in 2012. Since then, she’s written seven books, including four more fantasy novels and two stand-alone books for her Romance Collection. In this interview, she shares a little about her most recent book, the Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes.

1) What is the title of your most recent book? Is it a series, what genre is it and is it suitable for all ages?

The title is the Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes. It’s a stand-alone book, and I’ve no intentions of writing a sequel. It fits squarely in women’s fiction but overlaps into small town romance and inspiration. The content and story is geared towards those over 16 years old. If I had to narrow the age group down to the ones who’d enjoy it most, it would be women between 45 and 65.

2) In a few short sentences, tell us about the book. Give us a glimpse of the plot without giving away any spoilers.

The book opens with Mary considering the last piece cake that celebrated her 50th birthday. She’s looking back on life and thinking about the future now that her kids have grown and are creating lives of their own. After almost 25 years of marriage, mostly dedicated to keeping house and raising kids, she wants to take advantage of life’s opportunities and rekindle the relationship with her husband.

When she starts to make subtle changes, she runs into opposition from her husband and friends. Once she sets change in motion though, her life transforms in areas she hadn’t expected or wanted, and it won’t stop even when she wishes it would.

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Self-publishing from Scratch: Article 2

The Next Step

After deciding how many books I want to write and publish, the next step in the publishing journey is promoting my first book. This step is one for writers in groups #3 and #4 as discussed in Self-publishing from Scratch: Article 1: writers who want to publish three or more books.

Wait. What do you mean? Promote my first book? I haven’t even written it yet. Or at least it’s not finished. I don’t know how to publish it. Why would I promote a book that isn’t ready for readers?

Why indeed.

Promoting My First Book

This is the advice I’d give to myself if I was just getting started in the publishing business. I need to start building interest in that book now. I need to start presenting myself as a writer now. I need readers to learn about me now.

So when my book is ready to publish and I hit that PUBLISH NOW button, I have at least a small following and my book has been seen by several thousand sets of eyes.

How Do I Promote a Book I Haven’t Finished Writing?

Easy. Talk about it.

Did you know, I’m writing a dystopian novel? It’s called Seeds of Life.

Phew! That was easier than I had thought. Who did I tell? Well, I first told my sister. She was impressed I was writing a book since I had flunked Grade 11 English. Then I told my neighbour – two people know I’m writing the book. They want to read it. Cool.

By the end of the week, I’ve told 30 people, and I’m eager to spread the news further. Oh, Facebook. I just posted the news to share with my “friends”. Here’s what I wrote: Hey, everyone. I’m writing a book, and I’m going to publish it. The title is Seeds of Life.

The girl I went to high school with commented: What’s it about?

Oh. Good question. How do I answer it?

Developing Your Elevator Pitch

This is when you start to develop what is called the Elevator Pitch. It’s describing your book in one sentence or two or three short sentences.

Answer: It’s about this girl who is born after the world is devastated. She’s kinda special because seeds, which are vital to life, are messed up, and she can fix them.

Thinks to myself: I’ve gotta work on that. I also gotta finish writing the book. I’ve only got 61,158 words written, and I’m aiming for 90,000 words.

Spreading the Word Further

In two weeks, I’ve told about 300 people I’m writing a book and publishing it but to sell lots of copies, I need to spread this news to the world. I could do it on Facebook, but I have only 226 friends, and only Aunt Pearl shared it. Wait. Aunt Pearl has 3,539 friends. I guess more people than I thought saw that I’m writing a book. Eek! I better get to finishing it.

To spread the word further, I need a platform. This is where promotion starts. It’s the stage where I promote my book to everyone in the world.

Next Week: Platforms: What are they and how do I create one?

Wednesday’s Word: L. P. Suzanne Atkinson presents “Didn’t Stand A Chance”

Introducing author L. P. Suzanne Atkinson. Her first book, Emily’s Will Be Done, was released in 2016. The first book in the Stella Kirk Mysteries, No Visible Means, was released in 2019. The second book was launched this spring. In this interview, she shares a little about her most recent book, Didn’t Stand a Chance.

1) Is Didn’t Stand a Chance a series? What genre is it? What age group is it geared towards?

Didn’t Stand a Chance: A Stella Kirk Mystery # 2 is the second book in the series. The Stella Kirk Mysteries are traditional cozy mysteries. My audience tends to be women aged 30 years and up, but I get a remarkable amount of feedback and comments from men, as well.

2) In a few short sentences, tell us about Didn’t Stand a Chance. Give us a glimpse of the plot without giving away any spoilers.

The assumed accidental death of a young bride leads Detective Aiden North and Stella Kirk, the owner of Shale Cliffs RV Park, into an investigation fraught with sibling secrets, revealing choices, and unforgivable misunderstandings. Which family member holds the ultimate power of influence? Will Lucy Painter’s murder be confirmed? Will the perpetrator be exposed or will family ties be unbreakable until the end? This mystery illustrates how perceived sacrifice and devotion can be twisted into horrible results for a family.

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Self-publishing from Scratch: Article 1

What is the First Step?

Using the information and experience I’ve gathered over the past 10 years of self-publishing and 23 years of writing professionally (Before I turned to fiction full time, I had a successful freelance business where I pitched non-fiction stories to magazines and newspapers), I’ve given careful thought about what my first step would be in the non-traditional, self-publishing world if I was starting the journey today. From this perspective, I’ll create this series of posts called Self-publishing from Scratch. It’s geared towards the writer who wants to publish their first book.

Step 1: How Many Books Will I Write?

This might be an odd question for some, but after thinking of many other questions, I kept backspacing and finished at this one. This question helps answer the ones that follow.

Each Writer is Unique

I’ve met a lot of writers over the past two decades. While we all love to write, we had different goals for our writing.

Writer Group #1

Some just wanted to write for personal reasons. They didn’t have the desire to see their stories in print. Others wanted to hold their book in their hand and share it with family and close friends.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these goals. Writing for them is self-satisfying. They don’t want to share with strangers, sell books or become a name in the business.

Writer Group #2

Some writers want to write one book. That’s it. They fall into the category of everyone has a book inside them, and that’s all they want to write. They want a few dozen copies to give to family and friends, and they think it’s cool to see it on Amazon’s website. They’re tickled pink to earn a few dollars to pay for their coffee once in awhile.

Writer Group #3

Some writers want to give it a shot, so they commit a few years, a few dollars and write a few books. Only half their heart is in it because, well, they like reading, but they don’t know if they like writing lots of books. They’ll be happy to sell a few, happier if they sell a million with little effort.

Writer Group #4

Then there are the hard-core, addicted, won’t ever stop writing writers. They don’t care about discouraging comments made by family, friends or inner voices, how long it takes, or if sales aren’t as high as they expected them to be.

They’re going to write book after book until they fill their shelves with titles. They’re going to burn the midnight candle, spend birthday money on paperback proofs and ads, attend workshops and markets, read countless articles on how to successfully write a book and sell it, learn how to do all the things they can to build a book and save money, and spend every day writing to reach their word goal.

These hard-core writers have their own individual goals: writing x-amount of books a year, selling x-amount of books, becoming a famous author, winning awards, etc.

The Number of Books and Self-publishing

Writer Group #1

The writer who wants to write for personal reasons or the one who wants to hold their book in their hands and share with family and friends, need never know how to self-publish.

Writer Group #2

The writer who wants to write one book and sell it on a small scale doesn’t need to put forth much effort. They could create a webpage so the book has real estate on the Internet, and anyone looking for information on it and links to buy will find it. Obviously, sales will be low unless the subject is self-propelling.

Writers with one book who want to sell that book like crazy need to learn marketing. The basics of self-publishing will carry them through to get that book published. They won’t need to repeat the process, just sell what they have.

Writer Group #3

Writers dabbling in self-publishing with the goal to write a few books, let’s say three, to see if they can make money at it need to know the basics. However, since they are not planning to spend the next 20 years writing or make a career from it, they don’t have to learn as much as those in Writer Group #4.

Writer Group #4

These writers will write as many books as they can until life forces them out of the game. They aim to make this their career and are looking forward to the day they can quit their current job to become a full time writer. The more they learn, the better they’ll be.

This is the group I’m in.

Who is Self-publishing from Scratch directed at?

This blog series is directed at Writer Groups #3 and #4. I will assume you want to write more than one book, and I’ll direct the conversation in that direction. That includes discussing the basics of formatting, setting up a website, getting an ISBN, starting a company, networking and many other things I’ve done to not only publish books but promote them.

The best time to write that novel and self-publish it was 15 years ago. The second best time is today.

Wednesday’s Word: Sophia Minetos presents “Graves for Drifters and Thieves”

Introducing author Sophia Minetos. In this interview, she shares a little about her first book scheduled for release on December 15th, Graves for Drifters and Thieves.

1) What is the title of your most recent book? Is it a series, what genre is it and is it suitable for all ages?

Graves for Drifters and Thieves is a YA fantasy-Western. It is suitable for ages 12 and up, and it is the first installment in a series.

2) In a few short sentences, tell us about the book. Give us a glimpse of the plot without giving away any spoilers.

Jae Oldridge is a seventeen-year-old bounty hunter working in the Hespyrian West. When a twist of fate brings her to the enigmatic Harney brothers and their gang, she finds herself ensnared in a conflict involving their boss, warlocks, monsters, and a mystery surrounding the brothers themselves.

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Starting a Self-publishing Career from Scratch

Every other week or so, a writer contacts me and asks how I do something or where to find information in regard to self-publishing. Often, these are writers who have been writing for a long time but have never entered the publishing world either traditionally or non-traditionally.

Sometimes they ask a question I can answer in one sentence. Other times, I can go to my website – this website – find the post or page on which I discussed that topic and send the link. Still other times, they have many questions. I try to answer the best I can, but my time is limited, and I can’t spend an hour crafting an email with links and details.

An hour to write an email? Yes, because I double check information or I find a reference to it on the web to ensure that information hasn’t changed and to provide a place where they can learn more. Then I read it carefully a few times to ensure I’ve said things properly, didn’t leave out a word and included everything I wanted to say.

It’s Already Online

The truth is, most of the information I provide is already on the web. Many times it’s on my website because, believe it or not, on January 3, 2021 (The First Step in Blogland), I mark ten years in blogland, and I’ve written about every step from writing that first draft to getting that published book in hand.

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Book Launch Team: What is it?

For the past month or so, I’ve been a member of Sophia Minetos’ Launch Team for her upcoming novel, Graves for Drifters and Thieves. One of the perks of being a member is a signed ARC (advanced reading copy) of the book to read before it’s released to the general population. My paperback copy arrived Monday.

Sophia Minetos

Graves for Drifters and Thieves Sophia Minetos

You’ll meet Sophia in Wednesday’s Word on November 18th and learn more about her book.

I learned about the recruitment for Sophia’s book launch team at Goodreads and signed up because the book looked like one I’d enjoy. I wasn’t wrong. I’m enjoying it. You’ll read my review December 15th, the day of the book launch.

It’s a western, and my brain is thirsty for westerns lately. It’s time to pull out Young Guns and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly to watch, and finish writing that western laced with romance with the working title Billy the Kid and Lady Luck.

What is a Book Launch Team?

It’s a group of people who come together to help promote a book during its pre-order stage. While I’m sure there are many ways to give incentives to members to share news on their social media accounts about the upcoming book, Sophia is doing weekly challenges where members have a chance to win fabulous gifts.

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Wednesday’s Word: Laura Churchill Duke presents “Two Crows Sorrow”

Laura Churchill DukeIntroducing author Laura Churchill Duke. She is a freelance journalist, and recently her first book, Two Crows Sorrow, was published by Moose House Publications. In this interview, she shares a little about the book.

1) What is the title of your recent book? Is it a series, what genre is it and is it suitable for all ages?

Two Crows Sorrow published by Moose House Publications.

This is a creative non-fiction adult novel. This means that everything that happens in the novel is true, but it is woven together creatively so it reads like a novel, rather than an actual historical account.

2) In a few sentences, tell us a little about the book. Give us a glimpse of the plot without giving away any spoilers.

Two Crows Sorrow is about the life of Theresa McAuley Robinson, a woman who lived on Nova Scotia’s North Mountain at the turn of the century. This is the true story of Theresa’s love and devotion to her children and her farmland, which ultimately led to her demise. In May 1904, Theresa was found murdered and her farm burnt to the ground. Her second husband William Robinson was accused of the murder. Two Crows Sorrow follows Theresa’s life to her death, then William’s court trial to its dramatic conclusion.

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Creating Your Brand and Why It’s Important

On my journey to promote my books, I took another look at branding. I’ve read about this many times over the past five years and each time, it gave me pause for thought and examination. This time was no different, and I reviewed my websites, my book covers and the few social media platforms I use to promote my books.

My focus was on my McGyver blog and the book covers. Everything else is designed to spread the brand further.

First, what is branding?

Experts who specialize in this will explain it better, but I’ll give it a shot.

The simple explanation is the manner in which you present your products in all formats across all public places.

The long answer is the themes, colours, tones, images, icons, graphics, fonts and messages used in and on your books, your websites, your business cards, your social media platforms, your promotional T-shirts and everything else associated with your products. It often means using the same banner on the top of your website and social media accounts.

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Wednesday’s Word: Alice Walsh presents “Last Lullaby”

Introducing author Alice Walsh who writes fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. The first story I’d read by Alice was Uncle Farley’s False Teeth, a picture book I’d read to my kid many times when they were younger.

This was back when I didn’t take note of author names and who wrote what. I never thought I’d meet this author one day many years in the future, and that she’d be a member of our writers’ group. But here we are.

Alice has written many books for various publishers. Many of her stories take place in Newfoundland because that’s where’s she’s from. Her latest book, Last Lullaby, is no exception. Today, she shares a little about the book with us.

1) What is the title of your most recent book? Is it a series, what genre is it and is it suitable for all ages?

My latest book, Last Lullaby, is a mystery for adults. It has been described as “Equal part police procedure and dinner gossip.”

2) In a few short sentences, tell us about the book. Give us a glimpse of the plot without giving away any spoilers.

Claire and Bram’s only child, Ariel, dies from what they believe is a clear case of SIDS. However, after autopsy reports reveal the baby was murdered, Claire becomes the number one suspect. In addition to her anguish and despair, she finds herself on trial for murder. The deck is stacked against her: She was alone with Ariel in a locked house when she died. Claire’s only hope is that her friend, Lauren, will solve the case before it goes to trial.

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Appearances on Two Websites: Judy Penz Sheluk and Rita Lee Chapman

Today, I share the news of two websites I’m appearing on.

ONE

Several weeks ago, Judy Penz Sheluk,  mystery author of Where There’s a Will, offered a spot in her New Release Mondays to announce the release of Northern Survival. I accepted, and today that post appeared. You can read the post here: New Release Mondays: Northern Survival by Diane McGyver.

Judy’s book is scheduled for release on November 10th and is available for pre-order. If you love mysteries, check it out.

TWO

The Poinciana Tree Rita Lee Chapman

Also several weeks ago, Rita Lee Chapman offered an interview for her blog. I answered several questions, including which of my characters is my favourite and which book did I enjoy writing the most. I also shared an amusing story about the guinea fowl I once owned. They are peculiar birds.

The interview appeared on Sunday (Australian time) and Saturday evening (Nova Scotia time). Rita is the author of The Poinciana Tree, and I interviewed her on this blog for Wednesday’s Word.

You can read my interview by Rita here: Author Guest: Diane McGyver.

Rita’s book is also a mystery, so if you love mysteries, it’s your day.

Have a wonderful Monday, and happy reading. And, of course, happy writing.

Diane McGyver books

Book Review: “Emma” by F. W. Kenyon

Emma F. W. Kenyon 1955

I picked up Emma by F. W. Kenyon at a yard sale back in July. It’s the hard cover 1955 version. Right away, I was surprised at the willingness and ease Emma, the main character only 17 years old in 1780, living in England, gave herself to Captain John Willet-Payne who offered to free her 14-year-old cousin from the Navy, having been forced into it by a press gang. ‘Gave herself’ as in a sexual favour exchanged for a personal favour. Oddly, it seems this wasn’t Emma’s first sexual experience.

No surprise, her stint at Uppark at South Harting in Sussex under Sir Henry Fetherstonhaugh’s protection ended within a year, Emma having become impregnated and showing. Offered protection by Charles Grevill, she eventually falls in love with him as he tutors her into being a refined lady.

In this novel, a man offering protection was not merely him putting a roof over her head and protecting her innocence; it was more often the woman doing the chores and offering her bed whenever her protector needed satisfying.

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Wednesday’s Word: Rita Lee Chapman presents “The Poinciana Tree”

author Rita Lee ChapmanIntroducing author Rita Lee Chapman whose first book Missing in Egypt kicked off her Anna Davies Mystery Series. The series continues with Missing at Sea and Missing in London. Her book, Winston – a Horse’s Tale is a story for horse lovers. The Poinciana Tree, a crime mystery, is her most recent release. She shared a little about this book in Wednesday’s Word.

1) What is the title of your most recent book? Is it a series, what genre is it and is it suitable for all ages?

The Poinciana Tree is my latest book and it is a crime mystery – a book for adults.

2) In a few short sentences, tell us about the book. Give us a glimpse of the plot without giving away any spoilers.

This story is set around the beautiful Poinciana tree, with its amazing red flowers.

Suzanne Matthews arrives home from work to find the kitchen in disarray and her daughter missing. After searching the house, her eyes turn towards the garden, drawn to the Poinciana tree. Underneath its canopy she sees her daughter, slumped against its trunk.

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Which way do we direct traffic for the best long-term results?

the Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes Diane McGyverWhile I’ve generally thought about this over the years, in the past two months, I’ve thought about it a lot.

  • In which direction do I direct traffic?
  • How many directions do I want that traffic to go?

We all have 24 hours in the day, and with busy lives – such as writing that next book – we want our time spent marketing our books to be efficient and effective. We get bonus points if we do one action for a book and it has a ripple effect for other times during the book’s life cycle and for our other books already published and books we will publish.

When it comes to book sales, when books are reduced to entice readers to buy, obviously, we want to direct traffic to the sale page, be that Amazon or another vender, so a click or two later, the book is sold.

But what about other times, when we want to do a simple share of the book and/or its information with the hope of someone buying it? And what about times we want potential readers to learn more about what we do and what we write in general with the hope they will one day buy a book?

This has me thinking long and hard about the many websites appearing in my radar these days.

For example, when I placed a promotional ad for Northern Survival with Awesome Gang (See warning about this site on my Promotional Sites page), the operators of this site suggested I complete an interview and share it with my readers to help promote the book.

After I submitted the interview, I asked myself: Why would I spend my time and my space on my social media platforms to send traffic to Awesome Gang to read my thoughts? Why wouldn’t I send them to my website, where they will not only read my thoughts today but see my past thoughts and my books and, if they like my material, follow me where long into the future, they’ll see what I’m doing? Better to do that instead of sending them to Awesome Gang where they’ll see that one interview frozen in time and nothing more…except what Awesome Gang has to offer.

This is exactly what Awesome Guy wants – for others to share news about them. It’s why they offer the free interview space.

Also, I ‘hired’ them to promote my book, not for me to promote them. My money should go towards them directing readers at my books and my site.

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Marketing: Our De-sensitivity for Advertisements

the Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes by Diane McGyverI’m going to be the first to admit I don’t see ads. My brain has the super power to look at a page, see the information offered and put blank squares over the advertisements, so they don’t distract me.

This started with newspapers and has become more refined while surfing the web. Partly because I’m not a shopper, so I’m not looking for deals, and partly because I’ve been inundated with ads since I was a child, so I’ve grown immunity towards them.

I’m not fussy about which ones I ignore: I ignore them all, the ones I’d never be interested in and products I would probably buy.

I’m talking about this because of an article I read last night. It discussed our ability to ignore ads has increased over the decades. Are you surprised? I wasn’t.

Bill Arnott has a Beat on “The Miramichi Reader” website where he imparts sage advice for writers with and without books published in his Writers’ Tips from Bill’s Workshop Series II. You can read the full article here: The Essentials of Ads and Promo.

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