Thursday 27 May 2010

One, Two and Three

May comes ever close to ending - didn't it just begin?  How time flies when you're having fun.  Well, I'd like to think that I have been having fun.  Promoting a book takes everything out of you.  I feel as if I've spread myself all over the worldwide web like a cyber-slut.  Okay, just disregard that last comment...but you get my meaning.  Selling yourself, is still, basically, selling yourself.

To date I've done ads from Facebook, internationally; email blasts, locally.  Made discreet comments on Twitter (does anyone really take notice of things like that?  Feels like I've been talking to myself, almost) and chatted the book up on my Facebook page till I reckon people no longer take notice of it.  Phew.  The risk of someone coming up with a page that tells people not to 'like' the page is great.  The next step I took was exchange interviews with fellow writers (fellow writers, I think I'm finally getting used to that title) and sending out emails asking for book reviews.  I hope people are actually getting the emails, but their lack of response really makes me begin to wonder.

Something must be paying off, maybe even good old word of mouth.  Checking back on the Champagne Books bookstore site over at Fictionwise, The Lancaster Rule is still ruling the science fiction world at Number One.  I'd really like to think it's the actual book itself that people are liking - maybe even loving - and telling everyone they know that the book is super-cool and you must read it!!  It is, honestly, it quick, go get a copy and have a read.

The recent visit from my friends Jess and Darryl has also re-aligned my thoughts regarding book two, The Master Key.  Jess has been (and I hope she continues to be) my number one fan.  Her enthusiasm that sparked like a brilliant ray of light when she first read The Lancaster Rule, has not diminished in the least.  She used her wily charm and procured a rough draft of The Master Key.  After devouring it, she came up with some solid thoughts on a few areas that, unbeknownst to me, were a bit on the grey side of things.  We sat and clarified it, which then had me rewriting a few areas - possibly even more.  The Master Key is complete, but still needs another re-read and some good old fashioned polishing.  After that, I will submit and hope for the best.

One is done and out, two is to be polished and made ready for submission, and three, The Eternal Knot is finally complete!  Two days ago, I wrote the last chapter and let out a great big sigh of relief.  I was beginning to think that I'd never finish it.  By far, it has taken me the longest to complete, what with all the distractions of publicizing the first one.  I'm in the process of re-reading it and adding a few bits here and there.  After talking with Jess, I realized that my original ending could use a little shake up.  So, I've written an extra chapter which might either stay or not.  I'm still not sure.  It feels a little sad to be saying goodbye to my favourite characters, but all good things must come to an end.  Maybe, this alternative ending may leave things wide open for a possible fourth book.  Maybe not...maybe the re-read might tell me what to do.

Sigh, so The Lancaster Rule series is finally done!  Feels like I've achieved a goal and now am able to move onto the next project (I've two ideas that are in the works).  But even though they are complete, I know I'll be neck-deep busy trying to make sure it still rules!  Being at the top is very hard work.  (Okay, really ignore that last comment since it sounds very much like boasting).

In the next few months, I'll be re-organizing my plan of attack by dishing out a fresh set of ads and email blasts (must not let people forget, right?), and somewhere in there, squeeze in a much needed holiday.

Okay, back to my re-reads...

Wednesday 26 May 2010

My Guest: Cherie Burbach

Today I have Cherie Burbach answering some questions I had for her. Last week, she interviewed me for her blog, so it's only fair right? Cherie and I "bumped" into each other while trolling around cyberspace seeking like-minded individuals with an interest in books, writing, and everything else connected to the written word. Stick around and meet her.

LR: Tell us a little about yourself.
CB: I'm a freelance writing and author. I love football season and reading anything about the Tudor's or historical fiction in general. I've written six books, including 21 Simple Things You Can Do To Help Someone With Diabetes and Internet Dating is Not Like Ordering a Pizza. (I like long titles, can you tell?)

I've also penned my first novel, For Those Who Knew Zach. I'm currently working on my second novel and looking for an agent.

I'm also very proud of an essay I wrote for NPR's "This I Believe" which is still the fourth most popular after four years on the site. It means a lot that so many people have responded to it.

LR: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer, and for how long have you been writing?
CB: I knew very young that I wanted to be a writer, but like many creative types I went into a "sensible" line of work instead. I worked in marketing for 20 years, which gave me an opportunity to write press releases, copy, direct mail pieces, and other business-related stuff. It was creative but I hated the field of marketing. I always had the idea that I wanted to write for a living in the back of my mind, so I started doing freelance articles here and there in addition to working. I transitioned into full-time writing by doing freelance work part time and marketing work part time. Eventually I went into full time freelancing and writing books. I'm trying to work on more fiction work now, which is new to me. Up until now I've done nonfiction and poetry.

LR: What sort of books do you normally write?
CB: I've written several nonfiction books about dating and relationships, and one about diabetes. I've also written three poetry books. I'd like to do more of both of those. I finished my first fiction book and am looking for an agent. I'm about halfway through the second book.

LR: What inspires you?
CB: Oh gosh, everything and anything. Really. There's never a day where I'm at a loss as to what to write.

LR: What do you try to get across in your written works?
CB: I like to show the other side of things. In my diabetes book, I wanted to show what diabetics go through and how the rest of us should act toward them. Diabetics get such a bad rap and there are so many misconceptions. People think they know about diabetes because of a relative who may have it or even what they see on TV, and many times their information isn't correct. They treat diabetics a certain way as a result. That really bothers me, and I wanted to write about it.

Online dating is another thing that some people snigger at. I don't get it. It's a great way to meet someone, and yet there are people who think only losers do it. So I wanted to help online daters write the best profiles they possibly could so they would find someone special and put those critics to rest.

I like to read about things that show me the other side of a situation, so I suppose it's natural that I would write about those things too.

LR: Who are your favourite writers and why?
CB: There are so many favorite writers, I know that as soon as I start answering I'm going to forget some. I like Elinor Lipman because her dialog and characterization is really terrific. Maya Angelou has such wonderful poetry. Willa Cather is a beautiful writer. Barbara Kingsolver and Elizabeth Berg are really fabulous. I love so many different historical fiction writers: C.W. Gortner, Michelle Moran, Robin Maxwell, Karen Harper, Philippa Gregory, and on and on. M.J. Rose is someone I admire from both a writing and business perspective. Lots of them.... I could go on forever!

LR: Your advice to aspiring writers.
CB: For freelance writers, I'd say learn about the business of writing and find the right clients and work environment for you. There are so many options, and each freelance writer has a slightly different career, so find out what works for you. For authors, there are also a lot of choices in publishing today, but be smart about how you approach the business. Learn all you can. And write every day!

LR: Where can we find you on the web and purchase your books?
CB: The best place to find out more is probably my website: You can purchase my books on Amazon or Barnes and, or anywhere online where books are sold. You can go also go to your local bookstore and order them.

LR: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
CB: Thank you so much for having me! Writers need to stick together, so be sure to support your fellow writer. Write reviews about the books you love, give a new author encouragement, and always be happy for another writer's success.

Thursday 20 May 2010

Virtual Virtuosity

As I continue my journey into the literary world, I learn new things every day. Journeying into the electronic world, I learn more than one thing with each new click. Virtual tours is one of them.

What are they? Pretty much like the old fashioned touring when you try to promote a product...only, from the comfort of your home whilst sitting in front your computer. I like that already!

To date, I've done three interviews at three different blog pages and websites. In turn, I've interviewed said three as we wend our way into exchange interviews. This is a really cool way of promoting your book, promoting your exchange interviewee/er's book, and basically building up a buzz-base. Everyone could use a good buzz, right?

Next month, I'll be featured on Anne Patrick's blog, who I've spotlighted earlier this month. Next week, May 26, I'll have Cherie Burbach in my hot seat as she answers some questions I threw at her. The dates aren't set in stone, but come June 7, I'll also be spotlighting another fellow Champagne Books writer (and fellow sci-fi writer), T.M. Hunter, where he'll talk about his latest release, Friends In Deed, among other things.

As the months progress, and more buzz about my book is created (hopefully) I am aiming to target a few more blogsites by fellow writers who might be interested in doing an exchange of sorts. Any takers? Let me know.

I think I'm starting to get the hang of this whole virtual thing. I think...

Monday 17 May 2010

Feeling Like Number One

As my hideous cold winds its sickly way through me - twice - I begin to feel like I've blown myself inside out. Who knew your nose could hold so much junk! This, by far, is the worst cold I've had in a very, very long time. I hope not to repeat it - ever! The next time I see a nearly-four year old kid drooling snot from his nose, I'll remember to steer clear and invest in those hazmat suits.

The one good thing during my snotty ordeal, was visiting the Fictionwise page for the Champagne Books bookstore and finding out that my book has reached number one in the science fiction category! Woo-hoo!!! Oops, I mean, hawk, cough, snort...
What a great feeling it is, to see your name, right there, next to that single digit number that looks so close like an exclamation mark...! To be honest, I did have to make sure I saw right - even refreshing the page just in case it was a glitch in the system.

Another good part about my phlegm-filled two weeks, was the arrival (and the ever-close departure) of my good friend Jess and her main squeeze Darryl (did I mention he's a musician masquerading as an engineer? That's a whole other story, by the way). For those who didn't know, Jess was the one who gave me the "now famous" (ha-haaa) title of the book, The Lancaster Rule. It was Jess's initial input (after she used stealth tactics to obtain the very first draft) that spurred me on to develop the book more. Her suggestions and insight were invaluable. Did I mention, too, that it was her mother who gave me the initial kick up the ass to start writing? Must be a family trait they have to make one motivated.

Last night, she finished my second draft of the sequel The Master Key. I love her enthusiasm! Makes the whole ordeal of sitting for hours typing away worthwhile. And, she opened my eyes to the ending. It's amazing how a different pair of eyes can see things, especially since she knows these characters in my head quite intimately and could probably anticipate their reactions and thoughts like I would. So, I've a few more alterations and add-ins to make before I submit the sequel for the rest of the world to see. Now, through these 'discussions', part three, The Eternal Knot, is taking on a better shape. My initial ending of the trilogy might have to change - for the better, of course.

It's great to have a sparring partner!

But for now, I'll just bask in that nice feeling of being number one. Makes feeling sick worthwhile.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

My Guest: Anne Patrick

Earlier this month, Anne and I, fellow Champagne Books writers, decided to swap interviews.  She has a new book out called Out Of The Darkness.

Anne Patrick, author of ‘Sweet’ Edge of Your Seat Romantic Suspense, has penned more than a dozen novels.  Her works have garnered four and five star reviews and she’s received or been nominated for several awards.  Her heroines are usually strong willed, witty, and often very opinionated…combinations that usually land them in situations where death seems imminent.  Anne has an alter ego by the name of Kinzie Monroe, who writes Inspirational Romance.  Anne, you might say, is the dark side of Kinzie.  Anne’s books may be darker in subject matter, but they all carry messages of hope and faith.  Born and raised in Oklahoma, she now makes her home in Kansas.

LR: How long have you been writing?
AP: I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, but I didn’t get serious about it until a couple of years ago.  It was then I studied the craft, honed my work and started submitting.  After a folder full of rejections, I landed my first publisher in 2007.  I now have nine books under contract with several different publishers.

LR: What's your genre and why this particular?
AP: I write ‘Sweet’ Romantic Suspense because I’m a suspense junkie big time.  I have an alter ego named Kinzie Monroe who writes Inspirational Romance.  She’s my lighter side.

LR: How do you get inspiration?
AP: My muse tackles me from many different directions.  While people watching, driving down the highway, walking my dog, I’ve even dreamed some of my ideas.

LR: Which books/authors are among your favorites? 
AP: Dee Henderson is at the top of my list for her O’Malley and Uncommon Heroes series.  They are fantastic!  Many others follow.  Stephen King, Ted Dekker, Iris Johansen, Tami Hoag just to name a few.

LR: How did you get through the initial no-name-writer-going-through-submissions stage?
AP: The biggest step I took in seeking publication was finding a pro editor who worked with me on my first two books.  Her help was invaluable in that she pointed out my weak areas, but at the same time was very encouraging.  Once I had enough confidence I started submitting and just kept at it until that first door opened.

LR: How many books have you written?
AP: More than a dozen, so far.  Nine are under contract, a couple are being reviewed by publishers at this time, and I’m working on two others.

LR: Your current release, what's it about? 
AP: Out of the Darkness released from Champagne Books May 3rd.  Here’s a blurb: Ex-FBI Profiler Alex Michaels is forced into hiding by the serial killer who murdered her twin sister and left her with a career ending injury. Meeting up with an ex-pro football player who is also facing an uncertain future, Alex makes Royce McIntire an offer he can’t refuse.  Settling into her new life, Alex has no idea the killer is hot on her tracks along with the team of FBI agents who failed to protect her before.  When they all catch up to her, not only is her peaceful life shattered, but once again her life is in jeopardy.   You can purchase it here:
LR: Are you in both print and ebooks?
AP: Yes.  Most of my releases are available in both formats or will be soon.

LR: Why ebooks?
AP: I personally like ebooks because of their affordability and convenience.

LR: What's next for you?
AP: I’m working on a romantic suspense and an inspirational romance.

LR: Anything else you’d like to add?
AP: I just want to thank you for having me on your blog today and I’d like to mention that throughout the month of May I’m giving away free downloads of Out of the Darkness and Ties That Bind, along with a few other goodies.  To learn more about my latest releases, please visit my blog: or my website:

Saturday 8 May 2010

A New Month, A New Look

Living in Barbados, spring cleaning comes and goes whenever you feel like chucking out the old and flinging in the new.  Or even rearranging things so it looks like you've done something productive to remove the same old staid and boring clutter.  The weather doesn't dictate our actions, but it certainly restricts our motivation.  Tropical climates are coveted by many, except those that live in it year-round.

I am no exception.  To top it off, I've a nasty cold thanks to my nearly-four nephew, whose snot-laden hands roamed countless surfaces.  So while I succumb to the germ-riddled inevitable, I swelter in the tepid heat all around me.  The thought of cleaning house (we've house guests staying with so I should make the house look half decent) has been limited to tidying up my blog page...from the cool air-conditioned comfort of my bed.  Laptops are an amazing invention!

Having looked at countless blogs and websites in my journey to "get noticed" by promoting my first book, I've observed, with each cringing click, that my own blog page is hideously dull.  Selected from a standard template with pleasing colours, I had done absolutely nothing to inspire readers into any form of awestruck wonderment.  As for adding pictures, the most I'd done is post the cover of my book.  (Posting pictures are still a bit confusing for me as I navigate into unknown territories.  The web-world is a vast unknown for me - but I'm getting there slowly).

So, since I have a fair amount of time between hacking up phlegm and blowing the snout, not to mention some over-the-top groaning, I decided to redesign my page.  Since green is a favoured colour, to me that is, I chose it for the main theme and used complimentary colours and hues to suit.  Hopefully, it's a little more pleasing to the eye and doesn't render the prospective reader into complete boredom.  This month, I am playing host to a guest blogger with an interview.  Have to make the "house" welcoming and appealing, right?

On May 11, a fellow Champagne Books author, Anne Patrick will be answering some questions I threw at her and give us a little insight into her new book Out Of The Darkness, which is available now.  You can also visit her blog page at (wow, her page is amazing! Wish mine looked like that...)

That leads me onto another topic: I should change the name of the blog...eventually.  I realize that it's the title of my book (mostly to get people to know the name).  Since I plan to continue writing, not to mention that there's two more under the Lancaster Rule series, the point of keeping the title of the blog is, well, pointless.  I may as well change it to something catchy, like tktoppin.blogspot, don't you think?  Or even booksbytktoppin...  That would pretty much cover all books and book related topics that I plan to cover...  But that's for another day, another month.

Right now, I need to blow the nose again.

Check in again on May 11 and meet Anne.