Monday, April 23, 2018

Straight from the Mouth of Children's Author Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving and the recently released, Amos Faces His Bully. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. 



Thanks for letting us interrogate interview you! Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?

You don’t want to be an author. You are one. You can’t deny it. You can’t ignore it.

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be? I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?

Being an author is great…as long as you don’t expect to become a millionaire. There are big names out there, but for a lot of us our writing won’t allow us to quit our day job. Big perk is meeting new people and hearing they enjoyed your book. That, however, demands you sit your butt in the chair and write, then edit, then submit it somewhere and hope it gets accepted. Once it’s accepted you have more work to do and, once the book is finally ready to meet the world, there’s more work to be done promoting it.

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?

All four of my books—Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving, and Amos Faces His Bully—were published by small independent presses. I like the opportunity to be involved in my books from beginning to publication and beyond. It’s also nice to support small businesses. My books appear at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers, so I don’t feel like I missed out on anything by not going after the big names.

Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

My children have always been very supportive. My husband doesn’t understand why I do it, but he doesn’t try to stop me either.

This is for pet lovers. If you don’t own a pet, skip this question, but do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?

Now that we have a dog, all the animals get fed first thing in the morning. Do they get their supper on time? No comment. :)

This is for plant lovers. If you don’t own a plant, skip this question, but if you do, are they actually still alive?

I have two plants in my office struggling for survival as we speak. I hear you are supposed to water plants. Whoops!

Out of all the people involved in getting your book published, which one would you say did the most for you?

This is like asking which kid is your favorite. I’m grateful for everyone who has helped me along the way. My mentors have been wonderful and supportive. My critique group priceless. My publishers are open to new ideas. Pump Up Your Book is there to help me promote my books. It’s always a team effort.

In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?

These days I write at night, so most of the people that need to reach me are in bed.

How about the social networks? Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?

I use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram a lot. LinkedIn too, but not as much.

Book sales. Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)? How are you making the sales happen for you?

With Amos Faces His Bully I’ve done a much better job of getting the word out locally than with my previous books. This virtual book tour is a big help online. I blog and guest blog when I can to keep my name out there.

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?

I wrote this awesomely fun picture book that I had been struggling to get to come together for several years. It’s polished and I’m on the hunt for an agent.

Okay, too much sugar for you today! Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in. Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?

Writing isn’t for everyone. It takes discipline and dedication. I have the second one down, but still working on that first one. I can’t imagine not being an author. It’s part of who I am. Yes, it can be challenging to carve out time for it, but anything worthwhile won’t come easy.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Straight From the Mouth of Michael Robert Dyet

The Art and Science of Blogging for Authors
10 Insider Tips for Success
By Michael Robert Dyet
Author of Hunting Muskie: Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet
and Successful Blogger

Blogs can be a powerful tool for authors to build awareness of themselves and their work. But it is not as simple as setting up a site and starting to post. You will need to do some upfront thinking and planning before you jump in.

Fortunately, there are best practices to follow, including pitfalls to avoid, that translate to success. The following are 10 insider tips I have learned in my decade of blogging as The Metaphor Guy.

·         Be Original: Find an Innovative Hook

I have seen many authors launch blogs in which they talk about the experience of writing, the challenges of getting published and the difficulty of selling books. Some of these posts are quite insightful. However, these topics are mainly of interest to other writers. What you really want to do is to engage prospective readers.

Take the time to find an innovative hook for your blog that will readers will find engaging. You want a venue in which you can showcase your writing, show a bit of your personality and keep readers coming back for more.

A decade ago, when I launched my blog, I consciously developed it to enhance the brand image I wanted to build. I call myself The Metaphor Guy in all my author profiles and communications to communicate that I write literary fiction.

In keeping with that branding, I called my blog Metaphors of Life Journal aka Things That Make Me Go Hmmm. All my posts explore topics through the lens of metaphor. This custom approach has served me well and brought me many regular readers.

·         Post Categories Pay Dividends

At the outset, establish posting categories and flag each post accordingly. Why is this important? When a new reader comes across your blog, they will want to quickly determine if it warrants their ongoing attention. It is difficult for them to do so if they must scan through hundreds of posts.

Post categories enable new visitors to get a sense in a few minutes of what you write about. For example, here are the post categories in my blog which reflect and are consistent with its theme.

·         Deep Dive: Metaphors of the Deep (Philosophical contemplations)
·         Random Acts of Metaphor (Short slice-of-life posts with a metaphor spin)
·         Shifting Winds: Metaphors of Change (Reflections on life in modern society)
·         Songs of Nature: Metaphors of the Wild (Singing the praises of nature)
·         Sudden Light: Metaphors of Light (Moments of insight and inspiration)

Make sure the blogging platform you select facilitates post categories and take the time to create engaging names for them.

·         Anchor Pages Attract New Visitors

Once you have identified your post categories, the next step is to create anchor pages for each category. An anchor page is an article that explains and puts in context what you will be writing about in that category. It serves as a sample of what readers can expect from those posts.

Now the new visitor who wants to evaluate your blog has a few articles to read which they can use to assure themselves that you are offering something that will interest them. Again, ensure that the blogging platform you choose facilitates anchor pages.

·         Subject Lines: The 5 Second Rule

Every good marketer (I count myself one of them) knows the 5 second rule: Your advertisement has 5 seconds to catch the prospect’s attention or they will move on to the next ad. That is why the headline in an ad is critical.

The same applies to the subject line in a post. In my experience, it is the single most important element in determining whether a post is read or not. It needs to engage the reader’s interest and/or pique their curiosity. Here are examples of subject lines from my most viewed posts – posts that continue to get views months and even years after they first appeared.

·         Malware, Black Holes and Karma
·         When I Grow Old and Wear the Bottom of My Trousers Rolled
·         Passport Photos: No Smiles, No Frowns, No Upside Down Crowns

·         A Picture Really is Worth a Thousand Words

The old adage is absolutely true. Photographs capture attention before words do. Our eyes are automatically drawn to an image and our brain makes a connection. I now make it a practice to include an image at the top of most of my posts.

You can find a photo or image for just about any topic on Google Images. Caveat: Google grabs photographs posted online without requesting permission. (They even have a few of my photographs!) It is generally safe to use these photos in posts unless there is a watermark on the photo that indicates ownership. But do not use these photographs for commercial purposes.

·         Routine is Good: Post Frequently and Regularly

Acquiring regular readers requires that you post often and preferably on a regular schedule. Aim for weekly posts around the same time each week. Admittedly, it can be a grind sticking to a weekly schedule. There will be weeks you are wracking your brain for a post subject.

If you can maintain a weekly schedule, your readers will become conditioned to watch for your posts. Your blog will become a regular part of their routine. And trust me, people like routines!

Occasionally, of course, life gets in the way and prevents you from keeping to the schedule. One strategy is to have a few articles written and in reserve to use in those weeks. Confession: I keep planning to do this but have not yet gotten around to it!

·         Be Topical: Follow the News

Keep an eye on news sources for things you can blog about. I have found that posting on items in the news translates to higher readership. It is human nature to be curious about someone else’s opinion on the news of the day. Bonus: It spares you the stress of coming up with a blog topic on your own every week.

Caveat: Exercise discretion in this area. It would be easy to blog every week about something Donald Trump says or does. But going to the well too often will discourage readers.

·         Be Provocative: Get Your Readers Engaged

From time to time, take a deliberately provocative viewpoint. Getting your readers fired up is a good thing. The more emotionally invested they are the more likely they will be to post a comment. Taking the time to post a comment means they are engaged and that is exactly what you want to achieve.

A word of caution: Think twice before wading into highly polarized issues. For example, the sudden spate of sexual harassment claims against male celebrities and public figures. People are very emotional about such issues and may react vehemently to your point of view. Engagement is one thing. Making enemies is quite another.

·         Replicate Your Blog on Social Media

Ideally, you want readers subscribing to your RSS feed and going direct to your blog. But you must be prepared to meet readers where they hang out which often means social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Blog platforms usually allow you to link your blog to major social media sites so your posts automatically appear. Alternatively, you can post a link directly on your chosen sites. Use or to generate short URLs from the lengthy ones that your blog software creates.

·         Prepare Yourself for Spammers

I learned through painful experience that spam is not just an e-mail problem. Unscrupulous people will post spam comments on your posts trying to piggyback on your readership to pitch their wares. (Viagra, for example!).

Some of these spammers appear to have developed automated programs to post their spam comments. At one point, I was getting 100+ spam comments a day. It drove me mad deleting all of them. I resorted on a few occasions to deleting posts which the spammers had singled out.

Eventually, I discovered a setting in my Admin Page that allowed me to close posts for comments after a set number of days. It was a regrettable step to have to take, but necessary for my sanity! Ensure the blog platform you choose offers this functionality.

A Little Planning Goes a Long Way

Integrating these 10 insider tips for success into your blog will accelerate your readership and save you some headaches along the way. It took me decade to learn them all. You can fast-track your learning curve by applying them from the beginning.

About the Author

Michael Robert Dyet is the Metaphor Guy. Novelist, short story writer, closet philosopher, chronicler of life’s mysteries – all through the lens of metaphor. He is the author of Hunting Muskie: Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet, Blue Denim Press, October 2017.

Michael is also the author of Until The Deep Water Stills: An Internet-Enhanced Novel – traditional print novel (self-published) with a unique and ground-breaking online companion featuring text, imagery and audio recordings. This novel was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Michael posts weekly in his blog: Metaphors of Life Journal aka Things That Make Me Go Hmmm

Metaphors of Life Journal Blog:
Novel Online Companion:



Thursday, March 22, 2018

Book Blast: The Possum in the Pool by Joy Liebl

Title: The Possum in the Pool
Author: Joy Liebl
Publisher: XLibrisUS
Genre: Children's Book
Format: Ebook

A fun and educational book with attention grabbing illustrations for younger children and easy to read text for older ones.  The book's focus is on listening to parents and the consequences of not doing so.  It also deals with a parent's love and concern for their children. It received great reviews from "Pacific Book Review" and "US Review of Books (w/Eric Hoffer)". 

Joy Liebl was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI.  She spent 5 years living in Elmhurst, IL before settling in Winter Park and then Safety Harbor, FL.  Joy loves to crochet, do needlepoint & embroidery, sketch and work with dollhouse miniatures which she sells in her Etsy Shop “JoysHandmades” along with her crocheted pieces and varied vintage items.  She is an avid reader but enjoys “Fantasy” the most.  This is her first published book.  The story line is based on a true life experience of finding a small baby possum in her pool one morning and expanding her mind to create what she felt happened before and after the poor possum fell into the pool.  Joy designed every bit of the book herself as to how each page must be set up to maximize the story.  She was thrilled with D’Lynn Roll’s vision of how Robby would look and with each picture subsequently done.  Joy was equally thrilled with the wonderful reviews she received from “Pacific Book Reviews” and “US Book Reviews”  



Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins March 19 and ends on March 30.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on March 31.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Straight From the Mouth of Mystery Author Mike Martin

A Tangled Web is the latest book in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, which is set in small fishing communities in Newfoundland, on the easternmost tip of Canada. This series began when the main character, Sgt. Windflower walked out of the fog one night in Grand Bank and started talking to me. I just wrote down what he and the other characters told me. True story. I couldn’t make all of this up myself.

I have always been a writer, but most of my writing was from my head and not from my heart. I wrote business articles and created newsletters and wrote speeches and backgrounders. Then, I became a freelance writer and started writing a little more about what I wanted to write about, but still writing from my head about what I thought and what I knew. But I realized something was missing. I started writing short stories for my friends and family and that felt good.

I write from inspiration and try and connect to the creative flow that I believe exists in and around all of us. I find a beginning. Usually it is a scene or a picture or something in the news that catches my attention. That’s my starting point. If it has resonance I begin writing about what I see and the rest of the story comes along

For me, every book kind of starts the same way, with some connection to a picture or scene. In the case of A Tangled Web, I actually did see a truck parked near the brook in Grand Bank one day and thought that some small child could climb inside, without anyone noticing. Months later, when I sat down to start the new book, that image was still there.

All of my books have been self-published and while it may have been easier using the traditional publishing route, it would not have been such a great adventure. Just like the ones that Sgt. Windflower has in A Tangled Web.

About the Author

Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a longtime freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.

The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune and A Long Ways from Home.

A Long Ways from Home was shortlisted for the 2017 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web is the newest book in the series.



About the Book:

Author: Mike Martin
Publisher: Booklocker
Pages: 338
Genre: Mystery

Life is good for Sgt. Wind­flower in Grand Bank, Newfoundland. But something’s missing from the Mountie’s life. Actually, a lot of things go missing, including a little girl and supplies from the new factory. It’s Windflower’s job to unravel the tangled web of murder, deceit and an accidental kidnapping that threatens to engulf this sleepy little town and destroy those closest to him. But there’s always good food, good friends and the love of a great woman to make everything better in the end.

A TANGLED WEB is available at Amazon.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Straight From the Mouth of Nadia Natali

Nadia Natali, author of the memoir, Stairway to Paradise: Growing Up Gershwin, published by Rare Bird, Los Angeles, 2015, and The Blue Heron Ranch Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Zen Retreat Center published by North Atlantic Books, Berkeley CA, 2008, is currently working on a second cookbook titled Zafu Kitchen Cookbook. 
Natali, a clinical psychotherapist and dance therapist, specializes in trauma release through somatic work. She earned a master’s degree from Hunter College in New York City in Dance/Movement Therapy and completed another masters degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis in somatic psychology at the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. Nadia is a registered practitioner of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (RCST) and is also a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) who trained with Peter Levine.

DanceMedicine Workshops is Natali’s creation where participants move through their trauma with dialogue and dance. She also offers the Ojai community, DanceMedicine Journeys. In addition to her private practice, Nadia and her husband offer Zen Retreats at their center.

Born into a famous family that was riddled with dysfunction, Nadia Natali made the choice to turn her life inside out and step away from fame and fortune. Against her parents’ consent she married an artist and moved to the remote wilderness in California. It was there that she found grounding as she and her husband raised and homeschooled their three children and opened a retreat center. As she gathered her own momentum, she enrolled in a doctorate program finally becoming a clinical psychotherapist specializing in psychosomatic work. She and her husband live in Ojai California.



Thanks for letting us interrogate you!  Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?

Actually, I never wanted to be an author nor do I think of myself as one. Even though I’ve also had a cookbook published. I realized that if there is something I want to get out and a book is the best form to express it, I will then write it.

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be?  I mean what are the perks and
what are the demands?

Writing is hard and it has to flow. If there is an internal conflict that keeps getting in the way it has to be addressed as to why before I can go on. This process can be painful but when it is all done there is an exhilaration like I passed through a crisis. Pretty wild swings.

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?

I self published first and then looked for a PR agency that would help me launch it. The PR agency that took me on was also a publishing company. I offered to pay for the printing when they showed interest in my book. I found the whole process tricky trying to figure out where to go and whom to trust. Even then I’m not sure I got a good agency. However, I am happy with my decision because I don’t know of a better one.

What’s the snarkiest thing you can say about the publishing industry?

Going to publishing companies is very hard and what is best about them is that they distribute the book on your behalf. Although that part is pretty good, the promotional aspect with my two publishing experiences was and is minimal. They suggested I use social media but in my case that suggestion wasn’t sufficient. I didn’t have the skills.

Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

I’ve had the best support from my husband and most of our children. One daughter, however, was difficult in terms of not wanting me to publish the book on account of our personal difficulties. On the other hand my twin sister whose portrayal was not flattering came to me and apologized for her behavior towards me as a child. That was most healing for us both.

What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?

I kind of wish there was a crazy insane thing that happened in the publishing process; at least it would be more memorable.

How about the social networks?  Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?

I have no idea about social networks and how well they work but I believe it works better than whatever my publishing agency did or didn’t do. I understand twitter is a big help but one has to tweet every day several times and connect with many others hoping to get a following. Personally I am not good at this. Right now I have again hired a PR person who is sending out my interviews to blogs and I am hoping it will help.

Book sales.  Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)?  How are you making the sales happen for you?

I haven’t any idea. I would love to sell many books and I have placed my book on Amazon etc. but I feel helpless and wish I could do more. Do much more.

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?

I am simply happy to have finished a dear project and am moving on.

Okay, too much sugar for you today!  Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in.  Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?

I suppose more support from my publisher would have been wonderful but at this point I really don’t mind what happens and I feel I have done my best, my book is out there and life moves on..

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Straight from the mouth of Ilona Salley, author of Yesterday is Never Gone

Title: Yesterday is Never Gone
Author: Ilona Sally
Publisher: iUniverse
Genre: Thriller/Crime
Format: Ebook
Niki is no stranger to horrific personal challenges. As a child, she bravely endured abandonment by her father. While in her teens, she witnessed her mother’s murder and the abduction and presumed death of her only sibling. Although her secrets have always been carefully cloaked from others, they have shaped her personality more than she would like to admit. But with a past as terrible as hers, how can Niki ever hope for a bright future? Years later, Niki is a dedicated profiler in a criminal investigation agency with no idea her life is about to change exponentially. One day, through a quirky twist of fate, she receives startling news that her sister, Inge, is alive. As a driving force compels Niki to search for her, she embarks on a quest that takes her through cities and wilderness on two continents. She encounters difficult decisions, threatening mobsters, near-death experiences, and romance, yet nothing deters her from reaching her goal—not even a gruesome discovery about her father. But Niki is about to discover that things are never what they seem to be. In this thrilling tale, deception and inner turmoil hamper a young woman’s journey toward a new reality as she attempts to reconcile her past and find the truth.

Question1- Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author? 

Through writing, I can connect with the reader, and although I will never know exactly how many readers there are, it is a feeling akin to that of being able to see someone and smile at them. Somehow, it is meaningful. It is a form of sharing, I think. Some people like to talk: I like to write.
Also, through the writing, ideas which I have in my mind become clearer and I get a better sense of who I am.
Question2- Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be? I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?

The perks are a feeling of satisfaction, of personal growth, and of a better sense of self.
The demands are many. I can’t count the time involved, which is enormous, because I would never have finished the book if I hadn’t enjoyed the challenge. It is a challenge on many levels. It is difficult to create something which others might enjoy. That was my first goal. Then, I wanted to make it the best I could, so I spent hours polishing sentences. The characters were difficult to establish. I first created a main character whom I discovered I did not like. So, I went back and modified to create someone less rough, tough and mean – someone feisty, yet fragile.  And the ending was originally okay, but didn’t have the impact it needed, so I changed that too.
When I finished, it was a book of over 500 pages, and now is a book of over 300. It was hard to tear down and rebuild constantly. But then, a thriller has to be lean.
Question3- Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like? 

I talked to so many people who were frustrated by efforts to find someone to publish their work. One woman told me that it took her seven years to find a publisher. So, my decision to self-publish seemed clear. I went online and started looking. The next day, I searched again and an ad popped up. It was fate. There it was, a publisher. I researched this one some more, and was happy with what I saw. Then I talked to someone who had used the same self-publishing company, and he too was happy. So, I signed on.
It was a wonderful, challenging, frustrating experience. And I learned so much. It seemed that my mantra during the editing process would have been: Delete. Delete. Delete. When I purchased the marketing packages, it was a time of complete confusion. I had no idea what the people were even talking about: widgets, a blog tour, and book stubs.
Question4-Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

It is just my husband and myself now. He has been extremely supportive, interested and helpful. Mostly, my writing time does not interfere with things we want to do. When we go on trips, twice each year to Florida for weeks on end, and maybe one trip abroad, I stop writing.
Question5- In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?

I basically allot three hours per day in the morning. That time is devoted to writing. I have always multi-tasked, so answering the phone was not a problem. And since I no longer have another job, that issue is non-existent. But if I were working, I would simply reschedule my life and write in the evenings. I never attempted this because I thought I would be writing for eight hours a day. I did this at the beginning and found it to be very unhealthy for me. My knees became worse after several months of sitting.
Ilona Salley emigrated from Germany to Toronto, Canada, with her family when she was three. Throughout her life, her interests have included squash, skiing, wood carving, literature, art, and languages. Her fascination with architecture and archaeology has led her to travel in search of ancient places and artifacts. After a long career as an educator, she expanded her horizons by teaching in England and China. Now, she spends part of each year in Fort Myers, Florida.