Friday, July 31, 2009

Tips for Authors-Why Writers Need Editors

Why Writers Need Editors
Dr. Michelle Hutchinson

No matter how well you write, if you plan to publish your own book or submit your manuscript to a publisher, you need an editor. Why? Because an editor will serve as an extra set of eyes that will catch grammatical, spelling, punctuation, and usage mistakes, and be an objective reader who is paid to be candid with you and point out any flaws or inconsistencies in your manuscript.

Sure, it’s okay to have your friend who was an English major read your book, but most English majors were trained to analyze literature, not edit someone else’s writing. Besides, your friend may not offer honest criticism for fear of hurting your feelings and/or ruining your relationship.

Now, you may ask, “If a publishing house is going to publish my book, it will assign an editor to me, so why do I need to hire my own editor?” You need to hire your own editor before you ever submit your manuscript to a publisher or an agent, because you want to present a quality story or nonfiction document. Your manuscript will be placed in the reject pile if it is riddled with errors and deficiencies. Just remember that old adage: You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Next time: How to Choose an Editor

Dr. Hutchinson is the president of Wordhelper Professional Editing Services and is a contributor to Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Self-Promotions or Death: PR Tips from Sara Dobie

Start a bi-monthly email blast. First, build your email list. Your email list should include friends, family, local bookstore owners, local media, your Associated Press branch representative, and blogger friends. Build this list. Do an initial introductory email with information about you, your book, and your website. Then, every two months, touch base with these people. Your bi-monthly email blast should include book updates (especially if you have a new release hitting shelves), upcoming events where fans can meet you in person, media quotes about YOU/your BOOK, and an article or two of interest to your audience (i.e. something with content similar to your book or your industry). Include links to your website, book ordering information, and contact details. The important thing here is to keep on the radar of prospective customers. Don’t let them forget you’re out there, you’re doing stuff, and you’re important, dang it!

Feel free to stop by my blog, You'll find all sorts of useful information and interviews there.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tips for Authors-Mail Your Review Book ASAP!

Welcome to our new column offering tips for authors on how to get their books reviewed. Suggestions range from contacting a review site to proper formating of a book. All sorts of things that our reviewers see every day, from the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Tip # 1 - With all the new books/new authors trying to get a book review, it can sometimes be very hard to find a site that is willing to review your book. If you hear back from a review site and they say "yes, please send us a review copy" (something every author loves to hear), send a copy right away! I'm always amazed at how many authors (and even publishers/publicists) fail to send along the review book, or wait a month or more to send it out. By then, the review site has probably received dozens of other books and may no longer have time to review your book, or if they've promised to review it, the book may wind up at the bottom of a very big review stack (which has grown larger since the initial contact). Send a review copy immediately upon request and send it priority - DO NOT send via media mail. We've had books take a month or more when sent media. Also, when you do get that much anticipated email from a review site asking for a copy of your book, acknowledge the email with a quick, "thanks, I'll get a copy of my book sent out right away." Let the reviewer know you are serious about promoting your book!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Coming Soon - Tips from our Reviewers!

For the authors who visit our blog - we'll be adding a new weekly column to our blog within the next few days. Each week, we'll offer a tip from one of our reviewers. They'll give suggestions on what you can do to improve the look of your book, get noticed by reviewers, how to get your book to standout from all the other books in a reviewer's stack, how to put together a great marketing packet, what reviewers read/don't read, what mistakes authors make when submitting a book for review, etc. Tips will come directly from our reviewers who have seen more than their share of great books, and not-so-great books. Stay tuned...

New Reviews at Feathered Quill

We posted several new reviews today at Feathered Quill. Please hop over to our site and check them out!

Author interview with Amy Nielsen

Our interview today is with Amy Nielsen, author of Victor and the Sun Orb

FQ: What drew you to the world of sun fairies?

I’m an avid reader of fantasy books and fairy tales since I was a little girl. When I migrated to Denmark in 2001 to join my Danish husband, I was fascinated by the little town of Nysted, where we lived for the first 6 years. The old houses, a 13th century church and castles, and the 4,000-year-old tombstones in the Black Forest were all well preserved. In one of our visits in the castle park, my husband climbed an old oak tree and he looked so white and bright under the midday sun that I thought he only needed wings to look like a fairy. When we went to the forest and I saw the tombstones, I began to imagine the forest full of fairies and the story just swirled in my mind non-stop. I searched on the internet about fairies, but I didn’t find any story or book about sun fairies, so I decided to make them as my main characters. Since sol is the Danish word for sun, I named Sol as the goddess of sun fairies and their world eventually became Solandia.

FQ: There are many different species in the fairy world of Solandia? Which one is your favorite and why?

I like most Strawberryhawk, foremost because she’s highly original. I didn’t borrow her from any fantasy books or fairy tales. I created her myself as a hot-tempered, straight forward, over confident talking bush, but with a heart of gold. I was in fact laughing while writing her scene with Prince Victor. Aside from Strawberryhawk, I like also the sun fairies especially Prince Victor whom I named after my nephew, Queen Magenta as the gentle and powerful queen of the sun fairies, Antik as King of the Ants, and the evil croogs (half-cat, half-bat), simply because they are my own creation.

FQ: Did you draw inspiration from any people in your own life for any of the characters in your novel? For example, were Queen Magenta and King Godfred at all inspired by your parents?

I was inspired by my grandmother Alejandra. She died 15 years ago at the age of 90, and some of her stories are still fresh in my memory. She had many visions and experiences about the metaphysical world. Some incidents in Prince Victor’s quest like the appearance of the little book, crossing the Black River with Rower, and meeting the Boss with a white rooster in the Golden Palace of Destiny came from my grandmother’s story. She claimed that when she was a teen, she had several visions of their house’s roof splitting into two, allowing the little book to zoom down to her. She refused however to accept the little book because its power was too strong that it almost made her crazy. Her cousin however had the same experience and in contrast, he accepted the little book and the effect of it which I described in my book. Apparently in his death, he decided to take the little book with him and didn’t pass on to any of his children. In another case, once my grandmother was very sick and she lost her pulse for a few minutes. Again she claimed she travelled far and wide. She crossed this black river manned by a rower and brought her to this shining golden castle full of books. Everything happened as I described in my book inside the Golden Palace of Destiny was exactly what my grandmother saw and experienced. I regret however that I didn’t write in detail all of my grandmother’s real life stories. I could perhaps write a great non-fiction novel out of her stories and experiences.

FQ: The fairies in your novel have no souls, so they do not go to heaven. On the other hand the human characters seem to believe in life after death. Was this contrast intentional?

No, it wasn’t intentional. It just flowed naturally in the story. Before writing Victor and the Sun Orb, I did some research about fairies and magical beings, and I came up to this book where it described fairies having no souls. I followed the same principle. However, I strongly believe in life after death that unconsciously I carry it even in my writing.

FQ: Do you plan on continuing the story of Prince Victor and the Sun Orb?

The story of Prince Victor will continue in three parts. I am currently writing the sequel titled Victor and the Seven Circles of Darkness. His adventure will continue as he rescues his friend Rower from being banished forever from the Black River. Angels will be added as new characters in the story, and again, I will incorporate some of my grandmother’s vision in the after life in the story. The story will be darker, entertaining and mystifying as well.

To learn more about Victor and the Sun Orb, please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Feathered Quill Now a Vine Reviewer

We're happy to announce that Feathered Quill Book Reviews is now a "Vine" reviewer at Amazon. What does that mean? In Amazon's words, the Vine program "...enables a select group of Amazon customers to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make educated purchase decisions. Customers are invited to become Amazon Vine™ Voices based on the trust they have earned in the Amazon community for writing accurate and insightful reviews." This helps to raise the visibility of all our posted reviews on Amazon because each review is now marked with a 'vine voice' notation beneath our name, so readers can be assured of a quality review. We're excited that Amazon felt our reviews merited this honor and that they selected us to join Vine Voice.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Self-Promotion or Death: PR Tips from Sara Dobie

Be a speaker and an author. I know we “writer people” like hiding behind glowing computer screens, Facebook, and Twitter. However, in order to become an author with impressive book sales, you have to be a speaker AND an author. Get a presentation together. If you’re a children’s book author, have a presentation for kids with props and craft activities. Also, have a presentation for educators! The educators are the ones who buy your book, so have a presentation revolving around literacy tips and getting kids excited about reading. If you’ve written an adult novel, host workshops and speak at conferences. Build your reputation. Become an expert. By becoming an expert, people will want to learn from you. They will want to buy your book and invite you to events to SPEAK. In order to SPEAK, you have to be a speaker and an author. So learn the tricks. Take a public speaking course if you need to, but learn fast! Because half the battle of “Best-Selling Author” is “Available for Speaking Engagements.”

Feel free to stop by my blog, too: You'll find all sorts of useful information and interviews there.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Reviews at Feathered Quill

We've just posted several reviews at Feathered Quill Book Reviews. Please check them out - there is sure to be something to interest you:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Author interview with Debra Killeen

Our interview today is with Debra Killeen, author of Legacy of the Archbishop: Volume 3 of the Myrridian Cycle

FQ: Myrridia is a rich world, full of magic and wonder. Where did you get the idea for it?

I wanted to develop a world with a lot of similarities to our own, partly to make it easier for readers to comfortably enter the world, especially readers who aren’t big fantasy fans. But this world has a few major differences – the big one, of course, is that Magic works, sometimes spectacularly, and at the beginning of the series, the Church is in control of Magical practice. I also happen to be a lover of history. While I studied pharmacy in college, I was strongly interested in history, and almost studied it, and I’ve maintained that interest well beyond my college years.

FQ: Did you think out the plot/characters before writing, or did they flow from your computer as you wrote?

I’ll start with the characters, and then talk about plot. I do have short bio’s for the major characters. I need to have an idea of who the main cast is before I begin plotting out a given novel’s storyline. I can’t write them convincingly if I don’t know who they are. Now, that’s not to say that I know everything about all the characters when I begin. For example, I didn’t know that Robert Claybourne was claustrophobic when I began writing the first novel. But it became clear as I was writing Legacy of the Archbishop. On occasion, I’ve had a character surprise me while I’m writing a scene. One of them may do or say something, sometimes unplanned, and it leads the scene in a different direction than I’d initially intended. And usually it’s a change for the better.

I do a rough plot outline before beginning any novel. I usually know how the story will begin, how it will end, and a few of the major points along the way. Although these things are not set in stone, as some events may lead to other events, which go in a different direction, not to mention, as above, when a character may say or do something to change things. But I find that part of the fun and joy of writing.

FQ: What inspired you to include time travelers in your story?

Well, technically, Chris, Elijah and Nicole are more “dimensional” travelers than time travelers, but I won’t split hairs. To be completely honest, I’m a sucker for time travel stories myself. In the case of the first book in this series, An Unlikely Duke, the initial premise for the novel was to have a character from our world travel to another world to prevent the death of a ranking nobleman. I didn’t know at that point that this character would have a friend go with him. But it gives me a chance to point out differences between the two worlds, based on these characters’ reactions to Myrridia and its environs.

There will be a spin-off series to this one, taking place in our world. One of the characters in the second book, A Prince In Need returns with another character to our world. So this medieval character will be coping with the modern world – which opens up a lot of potentially entertaining possibilities. This series is currently planned to be more paranormal mystery than straight fantasy.

FQ: Do you think Chris and Helen have changed since their first meeting? How have their characters developed?

Well, if their characters haven’t changed by the time of this third novel, then I’m not doing my job as an author! They have both changed, though – and for the better, and at least part of it is through the love they have for one another. During An Unlikely Duke, Helen didn’t trust most of the men in her life – her cousin Michael was a rare exception. She didn’t trust her husband, the king, Edward Fitzroy, etc. However, Chris showed her that some men are a little more complicated than the men she knew, and she grew to first trust and then love him.

Chris went from a frustrated medical resident – mainly due to what he saw as a physician with our managed care health system (which came directly from my own experience as a pharmacist, I might add) – to a man capable of performing a job well for which he initially had no training. He’d also been dumped by his ex-fiancee, and so he wasn’t really looking for a woman with whom to share his life. At least until he met Helen – he was pretty much smitten with her upon their first meeting. He’s learned to trust some of the people he interacts with in Myrridia and he’s formed deeper bonds with a number of people. Before, with a few exceptions, most of his relationships were superficial, and he had a tendency to run away from problems that came up. He’s stopped running.

FQ: The interplay between Aldric and Nicole is a great page turner and adds much to the story. Was there a specific reason you wanted such a strong female character? (role model, etc.?)

Nicole is a terrific character (as is Aldric, for different reasons). The ironic thing about Nicole is she often doesn’t realize how strong a woman she really is. She’s still working to build up her confidence, and her interactions with Aldric help her in that regard. She manages to keep him from killing her well beyond what either of them expect, in part by having the audacity to argue with him and in part by her own wits.

Most of my female characters are strong, not just Nicole. Part of that is because I’m a woman, and I don’t want to read about a bunch of ninnies! (I admit, there is the occasional ninny in the stories.) I also feel it’s important for female readers to have strong women with whom they can hopefully identify, or at least say, “Hey, if Nicole can do that, so can I.” Mostly, it just happens. I’ve read some good historical sources, and women back in the Middle Ages did a lot more than most people realize. They rode into battle, took over their dead husband’s/father’s businesses, and the like. I think it makes for a more interesting story to put traits like this into the characters, male or female.

FQ: What’s next for Myrridia?

The next volume in the series will be published next year. It’s currently titled Priestess Awakening and a number of those strong women characters will be back in full force. For those who’ve read A Prince in Need, Allyson Claybourne will figure prominently in this one, as she comes into her full Magical powers – as a pagan Goddess worshipper. I won’t say more, for those who may not have read the first volumes. But many of the same characters are back, with plenty of magic and adventure. The final volume in the series should be published in 2011 – Kingdom in the Balance, which opens with the death of two kings – one by natural causes, the other by foul play, followed by a kidnapping of the heir to one of the thrones.

Beyond that, there is a second series planned for the denizens of Myrridia and its neighbors. Some of the characters will be going on crusade about 10-15 years after the events of this series. I hope to explore the theme of religious tolerance in these books, and readers can expect heroes and villains of several religious persuasions. So there’s plenty more to come!

To learn more about Legacy of the Archbishop: Volume 3 of the Myrridian Cycle, please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Free Book Contest for July

Don't miss your chance to win a FREE book, compliments of Feathered Quill Book Reviews. This month's book is the teen thriller, Prism. You can read the review here. To register for our contest, simply go to our contest page and fill out a short form.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Self-Promotion or Death: PR Tips from Sara Dobie

Tip of the Week: Make friends with your local media. I’ve told my clients a million times; I can do as much as possible on my end. I can send the review copies, email the press releases, and make the phone calls for you. However, it’s so much more effective for your local media to put a face with your name, as opposed to dealing with “Publicist Sara Dobie”—some faceless ghost person who only exists in the electronic realm and as a disembodied voice on the phone. If you have a book coming out (or heck, even if your book came out a year ago), be sure your local media knows you. Don’t be afraid to show up at your local TV station with a copy of your book, and just say, “HEY! I’m a local author. I’m amazingly important, and here is a complimentary copy of my book. And but of course, I would love to stay for a quick interview.” You will be making a reporter’s job much easier. You will be handing them a story. Don’t fear the media. They’re your friends. They will help you sell books. Just make sure they know who the heck you are and that you’re a literary phenomenon, thriving in their back yard.

Feel free to stop by my blog, too: You'll find all sorts of useful information and interviews there.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Few Book Suggestions

Steve Hely's satiric novel masquerades as the tell-all memoir of Pete Tarslaw, author of the runaway bestseller
The Tornado Ashes Club who's become a lit-world pariah. Two years out of college, Pete still moons after the brilliant Polly Pawson, who dropped him post-graduation for law school. His hygiene and motivation have degraded such that he's accumulating beer bottles next to his bed as convenient substitutes for the toilet. His dubious job transforming the convoluted prose of wealthy foreign students into earnest college entrance essays depresses him, more for its lack of prestige than any ethical implications. When Polly announces her engagement in a gleeful mass email, Pete's desire to upstage her at the wedding inflames his obsession with the fame, fortune, and female attention enjoyed by bestselling authors--clever charlatans, in his estimation. What follows is Pete's exposé of the Machiavellian tactics he employed in creating and selling a maudlin mess of a book. It lands him a spot on the New York Times bestsellers list (hilariously parodied by Hely) and an unwisely candid prime-time TV interview, in which his theories on authors as con artists spark a book-world feud, spike his Amazon sales rank, and force him into a literary showdown at a Texan book festival. Along the way, no one connected to books--writers, writing teachers, lit agents, publishers, critics, book buyers--gets off unskewered by Hely's rapier pen (and readers may wonder, on occasion, if Steve Hely has employed Tarslawian strategies in his own bid for a slot on the bestsellers lists). But out of the irony emerges something that feels like genuine reverence for great books, and for those who write out of honesty. For fellow book lovers weary of tracking book sales trends, Hely's wrap-up might even feel like a catharsis. -- Mari Malcolm

Shortly after sixth-grader Miranda and her best friend Sal part ways, for some inexplicable reason her once familiar world turns upside down. Maybe it's because she's caught up in reading A Wrinkle in Time and trying to understand time travel, or perhaps it's because she's been receiving mysterious notes which accurately predict the future. Rebecca Stead's poignant novel, When You Reach Me, captures the interior monologue and observations of kids who are starting to recognize and negotiate the complexities of friendship and family, class and identity. Set in New York City in 1979, the story takes its cue from beloved Manhattan tales for middle graders like E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy, and Norma Klein's Mom the Wolfman and Me. Like those earlier novels, When You Reach Me will stir the imaginations of young readers curious about day-to-day life in a big city. --Lauren Nemroff

"If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared." The ninth book in Daniel Silva's smart, fast-paced series about enigmatic assassin and art restorer Gabriel Allon begins with an epigraph courtesy of Machiavelli. A fitting start to a twisty spy thriller chock full of clandestine meetings, tenuous alliances, and ruthless men. The beauty of Silva's series is that it is easy on acronyms and byzantine operations (so you don't have to be a spy novel aficionado to enjoy it), and each book gives you a discreet rundown on familiar characters and back-stories (so you don't have to start at the beginning). In The Defector, the disappearance of Russian defector and dissident Grigori Bulganov draws Gabriel out of semi-retirement and into the path of Ivan Kharkov, the former KGB agent and Russian oligarch from Moscow Rules. Exotic locales, intriguing characters, and a breakneck pace make for a riveting summer read. --Daphne Durham

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Readers - Tell us what you want!

Readers - is there a book you're curious about but before investing your money and time to read it, you'd like to read a review? Tell us what book(s) you'd like to see reviewed and we'll do our best to get a review copy. We're here to help YOU! Suggestions? Send us an email at

Author interview with Behcet Kaya

Today we're excited to chat with Behcet Kaya, author of Voice of Conscience.

FQ: The early life of the main character in Voice of Conscience, Ramzi Ozcomert Jr. closely mirrors your own. Did you base Ramzi on yourself?

In part. Yes, as far as the basic facts that Ramzi was born in a small village in eastern Turkey, travelled to England for school, and then came to America, the great land of opportunity. But no, as far as the actual events that shaped Ramzi’s life, they are all fictitious.

FQ: The descriptions of village life in Turkey are quite vivid and realistic. Are you describing your own childhood home? Was it hard to revisit that time in your life?

Yes, the descriptions are of my village and village life. In fact, (except for the name of the village) the introduction is not fiction, but is based on true archival information. No, it was not hard to revisit that time in my life, for it will always be a part of who I am.

FQ: Every character needs a difficult father-in-law and you certainly gave Ramzi one with A.W. Townsend! Was Mr. Townsend created in part to show the cultural differences, what a young Muslim man might have to deal with here in the States?

Not entirely. I created a very proud father who was overly protective of his daughter. I believe the father would have felt the same prejudices even if the prospective son-in-law had been European, or even American, for that matter. The point being, here was an unknown entity taking his daughter away. However, being a Turk and Muslim did exacerbate the situation. One important thing to remember, most westerners consider Turks to be in the same basket as the rest of the Muslim world. This assumption could not be farther from the truth. Here I can speak for myself and the majority of Turks that Turks are Turk first and Muslim second.

FQ: Throughout the story, there is a strong theme of family bonds. Is this something that you hold sacrosanct?

Yes, this is the culture into which I was born. Family is all consuming, family comes first, and family members will go to any length to protect their loved ones and protect their land. Land inherited from the father is sacred and sons will kill for it or be killed over it.

FQ: Ramzi is a very successful man, building an incredibly successful business, he has a great family, etc. How did that success play into the story of revenge? Would the story have played out differently if Ramzi was poor?

I don’t know if there would have been a story at all. Ramzi’s sole purpose in life was revenge and he believed the only way he could achieve this was through success and money. He knew that being wealthy would open the doors for the opportunity to settle his ultimate payback.

FQ: I see you're working on a sequel to Voice of Conscience. Would you tell us about it?

Yes, there will be a sequel to Voice of Conscience. This novel will follow Ramzi’s daughter Erin, as she searches for her roots and tries to find answers as to why her father followed the course he did. However, although I have quite a few chapters written, for the time being this novel has taken a back seat to another story that has been percolating in my head for the last nine months. I have begun work on this novel, and have written over one-third of the story.

To learn more about Voice of Conscience, please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Self-Promotion or Death: PR Tips from Sara Dobie

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Sara Dobie, Public Relations Coordinator for Sylvan Dell Publishing in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. I've seen books thrive; I've seen books fail. It's all thanks to the author. It's all thanks to self-promotion. So here we are. From now on, you'll get a tip of the week from me on topics ranging from website etiquette to book events and signings. Feel free to stop by my blog, too: You'll find all sorts of useful information and interviews there. Let's get started. Self-promotion or DEATH!

Tip of the Week:

“If you’re an author/writer, I’m assuming you have a website dedicated to you and your work. (If you don’t, we have trouble. If you don’t, get one NOW, whether it be a blog or an expensive, designer site. Just DO IT.) On your website, do you have an easy way for people to order your book? It sounds simple, but people overlook it all the time. On your website/blog, you should have a link to your publisher’s website, a link to Amazon, and a listing of which bookstores carry your book. How else are you going to make your money if people don’t buy your product? So be sure you make ordering easy for your fans. Otherwise, you’ll never make a profit, because let’s face it, people are lazy. But it you give them a magic button that says BUY THIS BOOK, they are much more likely to cough up the dough and build your fan base.”

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Book Contest Winner

Congratulations to Elizabeth Weiss of Walnut Creek, CA. She won the June FREE book contest and receives the book The Little Pot by Dawn Stephens. Our July contest features the hot-off-the-press book Prism. This teen mystery/suspense novel by Faye Kellerman is climbing high on the sales charts at Amazon and you can win a brand new copy just by visiting our site and filling out a simple entry blank. To learn more about Prism, read our review here. Then simply go to our book contest page to enter. Good luck!