Erin’s Book Challenge Check-in

There can never be too many books!

There can never be too many books!

Erin’s Book Challenge Check-in

Greetings Readers!

It’s time for a check-in on my reading progress for Erin’s Book Challenge that runs July 1 to October 31. Here’s what I’ve read so far.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness in the “Book into Movie” Category.


Finished this in one night. A Monster Calls was an incredible and thought-provoking coming of age novel exploring a teen’s struggle with his mother’s life-threatening illness. I could see this used in a high school psych course. Not for the faint of heart, however.

Here is the trailer for A Monster Calls. What do you think? To me, the monster of the movie trailer looks more like a friendly giant than the menacing id of Ness’s novel. I remember when A Bridge to Terabithia was turned into a movie. A similar thing happened. The movie focused on the fantasy creatures and special effects, which were only peripheral aspects of Paterson’s soulful coming of age novel.

In the “Blue Cover” category, The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty


I had a wonderful time spending time with this lovelorn hypnotist and her quest for marriage and family, complicated by her new boyfriend’s struggles with a stalker. There were laugh out loud moments interspersed with all the joys and setbacks of new love. I even learned some stuff about hypnotism therapy. This protagonist is definitely not the amateur sister-in-law of Matheson’s Stir of Echoes.

Moriarty is now one of my favorite authors in the Women’s Fiction genre. My other favorite books of hers are What Alice Forgot (very funny) and Big Little Lies (a must-read for every parent and teacher).

What’s next for me in Erin’s book challenge:

1. Started listening to Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters

2. Reading during my work break Night Film by Marisha Pessl

3. Reading at bedtime Death Is Now My Neighbor by Colin Dexter

Anyone else doing a book challenge right now? Do tell! I’d love to hear.


Writerly Wednesday with Tasha

image flickr creative commons via photopin

image flickr creative commons via photopin

Writerly Wednesday with Tasha Duncan-Drake

Today I’m having a hanging out with the incomparable Tasha Duncan-Drake, prolific author and co-founder of Wittegenpress. She graciously hosted me for a joint discussion on a Korean ghost film called Tale of Two Sisters from Director Kim Jee-woon.

I first met Tasha through Blogging A to Z when we were happy to discover we both loved ghost film and fiction. I had a great time doing Blogging A to Z this year and met interesting people. I recommend joining up next year if you’re a blogger.

Anyhow, please hop on over to Tasha’s blog to see what we have to say about the ghostly Tale of Two Sisters (and, naturally, while you’re there, you’ll want to sign up for Tasha’s Thinkings.)

Erin’s book challenge

There can never be too many books!

There can never be too many books!

Erin’s Book Challenge

I’m now surfacing at Pen In Her Hand after two months of pretty intensive writing, including Blogging A to Z (thank you for hanging in with those 30 blog posts!) and online seminars. Later this month I’ve scheduled a conversation with the incomparable Tasha Duncan-Drake to discuss a Korean ghost movie called A Tale of Two Sisters, so watch for that.

For now I’m catching up on writing and marketing tasks. I never even mentioned I released a new book 31 Ghost Novels to Read Before You Die, which is a work of love–an anthology of my musings and reviews of favorite ghost novels. There’s a ghost novel in there for everyone, so step right up. Don’t be shy. An official kick-off is forthcoming.

In the meantime, I came across an intriguing book challenge by Erin over on Facebook. I’d been thinking of joining a reading challenge for a couple of years but never found the right one. I happened upon Erin’s site through one of the dozen blogs I read during the Blogging A to Z challenge and found myself hooked.

If you’ve ever thought of doing a reading group, you may want to check this one out. Below are the categories and my choices for each.

• 5 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages.


My choice: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

I really enjoyed Marisha Pessl’s novel Special Topics in Calamity Physics, which I think I first picked up just for that cool title.

• 10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “R”.


 My choice: Ruined by Paula Morris

A ghost novel! Who’d have guessed I’d be drawn to this one?

• 10 points: Read a book with five words in the title.


My choice: Death Is Now My Neighbor by Colin Dexter

• 15 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) blue cover.


My choice: The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

I’ve heard mixed reviews on this one from people like me who loved Big Little Lies and What Alice Forgot. I’m holding my breath, but I picked this up at the White Elephant Sale, so it was handy.

• 20 points: Read a book with twins as characters.


My choice: Minty by Christina Banach.

I mean, young adult narrator…plus a ghost. What’s not to love?


My choice: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

• 25 points: Read a book set in a country you have always wanted to visit.


My choice: Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters

True confession time: When I penciled my first story at the tender age of ten, I wrote about two people lost in a pyramid who bumped into each other and fell madly in love. Cringe-worthy stuff, I promise you, but in honor of that intrepid little writer, I bring you a novel of Egypt.
• 30 points: Read a historical fiction book.


My choice: Everlasting Empire by Yi In-Hwa

I decided I wanted to read a novel set in the Joseon era (the same era of Moonlight Dancer) though this one takes place in 1800 rather than in the late 1600’s. The Joseon dynasty was a long one, headed by the Yi family. Perhaps the author is a distant relative.
• 30 points: Read a music related book.


My choice: Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I really enjoyed this movie, so hopefully the book will be as good.
• 35 points: Read a book originally published over 100 years ago.


My choice: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

There you have it–the categories and my choices. I’d love for you to join me. There’s still oodles of time to participate as the event doesn’t begin until July 1.

Have you ever joined a book challenge? What was your experience? Are you tempted by the Book Challenge by Erin?

Author Interview: Paula Margulies


The Tao of Book Publicity

New (and even old…er, experienced) writers often struggle with book marketing. Where to start? What are the best strategies?How much marketing is too much? Do I need a publicist?

Today I’m pleased to bring you an interview with Paula Margulies as she discusses her new book The Tao of Book Publicity: A Beginner’s Guide to Book Promotion and answers questions every writer needs to know. Isn’t the cover stunning? I just want to dive into that lush green pond. At the end of the post you will find information on a giveaway, so watch for that!

The Tao of Book Publicity has received early praise from the publishing community, including Huffington Post contributor and Author Magazine editor, Bill Kenower, Southern California Writers’ Conference director, Michael Stephen Gregory, and UCSD writing instructor, Marni Freedman, who writes, “The Tao of Book Publicity is filled with easy-to-implement, savvy, practical advice from an experienced industry insider. Paula Margulies breaks down the often-confusing landscape of book publicity with clarity, humor, and insight. Don’t promote without reading it first!”

Now, here is Paula to tell us more about book publicity.

Paula Margulies

You have been a book publicist for more than 25 years. What made you finally decide to write a guidebook on promotion for authors?

In the course of my publicity work, I’ve received calls from hundreds of authors, many of whom ask the same questions: When do I start my publicity campaign? How much should I plan to spend? Do I need a website? How do I build a platform? What price should I give my book? Do I have to use social media and, if so, which sites are best? Should I print a hardcover version, or will a paperback suffice? Do I need to enter contests? How can I get more reviews?

These are all important questions, and since so many authors seem to have the same concerns about their books, I decided to share what I’ve learned over the years as a publicist in one convenient, inexpensive resource guide.

The Tao of Book Publicity has a Zen look and feel to the cover and title. How does understanding the Tao principles help authors to promote their books?

I chose the Tao as a way of offering authors a practical philosophy on how they might approach book marketing. There are many authors who find promotion crass and time-consuming; a good majority would rather be writing than spending time trying to develop promotional material and schedules for themselves and their work. But I’ve found that book promotion can be a rewarding and fulfilling activity if done with the right perspective in mind.

As I describe in the book, most book publicity comes from a place of not-knowing; there are people we approach, for example, for reviews or interviews, but we cannot strong-arm those individuals into giving us what we want. Instead, we take the time to think about what our message is, who we are targeting with that message, and how to propose it in the most succinct, relevant, and motivating way we can. We then present our message (what most in my business call our “pitch”), and then follow-up with persistence to try to get a yes response. Our results are never guaranteed – it is up to the reporters or editors we contact to decide if the message we’re sharing is right for them. But when we come from a place of humility and unattachment, we tend to do a better job of both preparation (in which case, we usually achieve the goals we’re attempting) and managing our expectations.

What other aspects of book publicity to do you cover in the book?

I provide how-to explanations for developing publicity material, including front and back cover text, press releases, Q&As, media and blog tour queries, and newsletter and media lists. I also cover topics such as social media, book pricing and sales, book tours and media interviews, and author websites. In addition to explaining how book publicity works, I also discuss practical topics such as publicity costs, timing, and

considerations when hiring a publicist; I’ve found that many authors want to know upfront about fees for services and what steps they should have completed before they contact a publicist like me.

If you have one piece of advice for new authors, what would it be?

That’s easy – write a good book!

Of course, that’s easier said than done. I’ve found that oftentimes authors, especially those who have chosen to self-publish, are in a rush to get their books out. In their hurry, they forgo important steps like workshopping the book, spending time on revision, hiring a professional editor and cover designer, and developing their platforms. As a result, many of their books, sadly, don’t sell. If authors want their books to be well-received by booksellers, the media, and (most important) readers, they must take the time to carefully edit, polish, and package them well – there is no substitute for these steps in the publishing process.

Can you describe how an author might use this book as a guide to his or her own publicity plans?

Authors can read the chapters in any order they like (each chapter is designed to be read as stand-alone unit) and see what sounds as if it might be a good fit for them and their books. If something doesn’t sound right, they don’t have to use it. The information in the chapters is there to provide guidance and insight into what I believe are the common practices of most book publicists, but none of what’s there is meant to be a hard-and-fast prescription for any author’s individual book publicity plans.

Are you working on another book? If so, what can you tell us about it?

In addition to this latest book, I’m also the author of the short story collection, Face Value: Collected Stories, and two novels: Coyote Heart, which is a modern-day romance about a married woman who falls in love with a Pala Indian man, and Favorite Daughter, Part One, a first-person retelling of the life story of the famous Native American legend, Pocahontas. I’d like to get back to writing fiction and plan to spend the next year completing Part Two of Favorite Daughter.

Thank you, Paula, for dropping by today to talk about your new book and offer valuable marketing tips to writers. Here is information about where you can find Paula Margulies and her new book:

The Tao of Book Publicity: A Beginner’s
Guide to Book Promotion by Paula Margulies
ISBN: 978-09913545-3-5
One People Press
March 9, 2016
Kindle: 0.99; Print: $9.99

Paula is offering one print copy to a winner in the US and Canada and one ebook copy to a winner worldwide. Just leave a comment, and I will enter you in the giveaway drawing to be held May 19th.