Category Archives: Special Postings

The Monsoon Ghost Image

Tom Vater Author Interview

Laure Siegel Interviews Tom Vater

You’ve lived in Thailand for fifteen years. Your latest novel, The Monsoon Ghost Image, the third and last part of your Detective Maier series, is largely set in Thailand and this is the first time you have chosen the country as a location for a novel. How would you define your relationship with the country and why did you finally decide to write about Thailand?

I love living in Bangkok. It’s the greatest, most liveable city in Southeast Asia. People are super-friendly and you can get anything you can possibly imagine and quite a lot of stuff you probably can’t. And I’ve been traveling around Thailand extensively for years because I’m the co-author of a German language guidebook to the country which is blessed with incredible natural attractions, decent food, good infrastructure…. And then there’s the mad, convulsive politics… so there’s a phenomenal amount of shadow and light there and it took me some time to be able to see between the extremes. I have written plenty of non-fiction about Thai culture, including the best-selling illustrated book Sacred Skin – Thailand’s Spirit Tattoos (www.sacredskinthailand.com) with photographer Aroon Thaewchatturat, but it took me a long while to take a step back to select the issues I wanted to talk about, the kind of things readers in the West can relate to and those that are too far out for anyone to relate to – the ethnic minorities, the mass tourism, the tawdry sex industry and its foreign adherents, the general air of impunity and injustice when powerful forces become involved, but also a straightforward personal singlemindedness when it comes to social justice that many Thais quietly carry with them.

Also, I can’t think of many novels set in Thailand that I really like myself. So much of the fiction about the country written by foreigners is inhabited by the very lack of sophistication its authors ascribe to Thais, which is actually a form of detachment, both from daily horrors and overwrought empathy. It’s hard to explain. When Europeans come to Bangkok for the first time, they often have this impression of a modern, thriving metropolis, cosmopolitan, brash, and money-driven with abject leers in uniforms. And that is surely all there. But then there’s this other side to the city – quiet back alleys smelling of frangipani, perfectly symmetrical lotus plants floating like deep sea oceanic apparitions in bottomless clay pots, quickly passing smiles that drip with promise, laughter so light it floats through the smog straight to heaven, someone being so incorruptible in the face of absolute venality, it might appear frightening to pragmatic western minds.

The background of the novel is the CIA rendition program which went in full force after 9/11 and which used third-parties countries to interrogate and torture people. Thailand was briefly one of those host-countries. Why did you use this theme?

The previous two Detective Maier novels had historic themes. The Cambodian Book of the Dead revolved around the Khmer Rouge genocide, while The Man with the Golden Mind touched on the CIA’s secret war in Laos in the 1960s. With The Monsoon Ghost Image, I wanted to bring the series into the recent past. Rather than have Maier sift through the detritus of long gone cruelties, I wanted him to face something that is relevant today – the war on terror, America’s endless war and the co-option of weaker nations into its realpolitik. I’m not out to blame Thailand. The pressure applied by the US to assist in its barbarism was presumably immense.
I feel that the clearly undemocratic actions of nations who talk about democracy incessantly and who pride themselves on their apparently participatory governance, need to be a much more prominent part of our common narrative if we are to create a future in which it’s worth living. And I am not sure we’re doing anything like that. The renditions were a collective failure, not just of agency people, the military, the politicians, but of everyone who waves this off as a mad minute, including Europeans. I love American arts, their music, their movies, their paintings, but the abuse of the very norms the US cherishes is so commonplace now, it comes with a sheer endless number of historical precedents and is nonetheless so fiercely defended by many Americans, that there needs to be a counter-narrative. Incidentally, most of the information I used came from the Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program, published in 2012. Read that and weep.

You write many other things, political and cultural journalism, illustrated non-fiction books, guide books to well-known Southeast Asian destinations, but you seem to find solace in fiction. What do you find in fiction and which message do you want to convey?

I think you can get much closer to essential truths with fiction than with what is published in mass media. And the writing process is so solitary, the author is in control, within the limits of her skills, of the message, the characters, the plot, the whole thing. Like a painter, one goes to places by oneself, in one’s head, in one’s memories, alone. That’s always appealed to me.

What are your current projects?

I’ve just co-written a long crime story about sharks in La Reunion. That’s currently being published as a five part serial in Ecoute, a French language magazine for sale in Germany. I’ve also just finished a short story called To Kill an Arab (not a meditation on MAGA fantasies, I’m afraid) which is set in Morocco and which will be out in an anthology in the US later this year.
And I am currently on my way to Nepal for the Mekong Review, an Asia-based literary magazine, to write an essay on the changes I’ve seen there in the past twenty years, especially since the 2015 earthquake, which I had the misfortune to witness.

You are German but write mostly in English. Why? Is this a way to detach yourself from yourself?

I learned English as a teenager, not just in school, but also because my parents spoke English and because I hung out with American GIs as I grew up near a military base in West Germany. When I was 18, I moved to the UK and studied literature. I always liked Joseph Conrad for whom English was a third language. And I loved America’s literary and musical outlaw landscape from Paul Bowles to William Burroughs and Charles Bukowski, from The MC5 and Patti Smith to Captain Beefheart and The Velvet Underground. When I started writing obsessively, I was already in South Asia, where English is a prerequisite….it seemed a natural thing to do. It’s served me well. There’s more interest in Asia in English speaking markets, so I stuck with it.

What is your writing routine and would you recommend it to anyone else? How do you feel about the fact that it’s almost impossible to make money from personal writing?

I used to write a thousand words a day, for a couple of decades. But I write so much journalism now that the fiction and even longer non-fiction projects only come in intermittent bursts. But once I’m on a project, I generally don’t stop until there’s a first draft.
Making money from fiction is a huge challenge. Making money from popular music is a huge challenge. Being a painter might not earn you enough to eat either. I mean, who manages to do that? You can count bankable writers in any given country on one hand. Basically the arts are on their knees, trapped between old, broken, no-risk and elitist Swengalis who no longer function as creative gatekeepers because decisions on the merit of a story are made only with money in mind, and the Internet which has opened the floodgates for millions who write whom no one will ever read. And with Amazon both distributing unfiltered cultural waste and hogging almost all distribution channel, art will continue to die until we find a new mechanism that provides artists with a chance to create and lead a reasonably dignified existence.

In these confusing times, what can genre literature bring to our collectively troubled minds? And is the trade doing the job?

Genre literature either brings comfort or a rude shock. In rare cases perhaps both. Most mainstream crime fiction falls into the comforting kind, from Lee Child (whose single-minded tone I love) to whatever title with ‘The girl…’ in it that is being pushed this week. I don’t know if crime writers like David Goodis, Ross MacDonald or Jim Thompson would be read today. Guys like Massimo Carlotto are not on the bestseller lists.

But I also read that there’s a lot of challenging Sci-Fi out there, driving issues like climate change and gender equality. Incidentally, my favorite novel that features Bangkok is The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigulapi, a brilliant Sci-Fi take on the city being consumed by rising sea levels.

Laure Siegel is a French journalist who has been reporting on popular culture in Europe and Asia for ten years. https://muckrack.com/laure-siegel

Tom Vater has published three crime novels and is the co-owner of Crime Wave Press, a Hong Kong based crime fiction imprint. He writes for The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Telegraph, CNN, Marie Claire, Penthouse and others, and has published some twenty non-fiction books, including the best-selling Sacred Skin. https://www.clippings.me/users/tomvater

Crime Wave Press

Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff Author Interview

Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff Author Interview

Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff Author Interview

DR: How did you come up with Gina S. Miyoko?

MKB: I honestly don’t remember except that she arose from a dream I had, the plot of which (yes, my dreams often have plots) I don’t remember. I knew I wanted to write her as the protagonist of a mystery novel, and I knew I wanted her to be different from the female P.I.s I’d read. I love mystery and crime fiction but I noticed that all the female protagonists were alienated and broken and party to dysfunctional relationships. I wanted Gina to be flawed and have enough pain in her life to be relatable, but I also wanted her to be part of a very functional, if quirky family and support network. Among the Japanese names I was considering, Gina Suzu Miyoko meant ”Silver Bell Temple”; Tinkerbell became an inevitable nickname. And her personality just grew out of that.

DR: And Russian Orthodox witches?

MKB: Around the time I was developing Gina and the characters that would surround her, I was reading a book entitled THE BATHHOUSE AT MIDNIGHT: An Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia (WF Ryan). I was reading it because the novel I was working on at the time (MAGIC TIME: ANGELFIRE, from Harper-Voyager) had a Russian ex-pat as one of the central characters. Okay, and also I’m Russian-Polish on my father’s side and have been fascinated with the folklore and history of slavic culture since I was a child. Probably more so because my grandmother was so adamant that I not be taught anything about the Old Country but be brought up thoroughly American. In any event, the book sparked the idea that I wanted Gina’s mother to be Russian and fascinated by arcana. She was originally going to be a psychologist, but by the time I started writing the book that became THE ANTIQUITIES HUNTER, she had morphed into a cultural anthropologist and folklorist.

As tends to happen with these things, as I began to write the characters, they essentially told me who they were. I’m sure you know the feeling—as if the character is inside your head whispering sweet somethings to your Muse.

DR: Can you talk about Tinkerbell on Walkabout—the novelette that describes how Gina became a detective?

MKB: I wanted to document Gina’s genesis as a PI, but the plot actually came about as a weird synthesis of several real-life moments. I lived in Grass Valley for about 35 years and set it there in part because of an experience I had being a founding member of Nevada County Citizens for Racial Unity, a group that formed after a black man who’d just moved to the area was beaten up by a bunch of white teenagers in a local park. That caused us to consult with the California Highway Patrol about the forces of racism in the area. What our CHP liaison told us about gangs from Colusa and Yuba counties trying to gain a foothold in Nevada County gave me most of the plot elements I wanted for the story. A visit to Charlotte, North Carolina one Christmas occasioned me seeing the mostly scrupulously tidy wrecking yard I have ever laid eyes on and that gave me a key element in Gina solving the crime that lies at the heart of the story.

DR: Did you research PI procedures like the post-it notes and Who/What/When etc?

MKB: I have to laugh. The post-it note method is something I’ve used to plot novels for years. It seemed to me that my post-it process would be as ideal for working out the nuances of a real world mystery as it is for plotting a novel. My editor suggested editing the scene in which you first see Gina use the post-its so that she just wrote on the white board. I declined and explained the beauty of post-its to her by having Gina demonstrate it for the reader.

DR: How did you become interested in the problem of looting of antiquities? Why the Southwest?

MKB: I have loved archaeology for as long as I can remember. I subscribed for years to Archeology magazine, and KMT (Kemet – which is the old Egyptian name for Egypt). I happened to read an article about a female undercover agent for the National Park Service and the sort of work she and her teammates did, chiefly in the Southwest where there are a lot of vulnerable caches of artifacts, mostly on First Nations land. But I’d also been following several international cases at the time—the Elgin Marbles that the British Museum had to return to Greece and the blackmarket cases that big US auction houses and museums alike had been implicated in. I was also following the rediscovery of the Rosalila (an utterly fantastic nested temple at Copán in the Honduras) and some amazing finds at Bonampak, which is in Chiapas, Mexico.

It was that last item that gave me the location for some of the action in the book. I sort of let all of that percolate and it seemed natural to have my protagonist have the experience I’d dreamed of having—seeing those antiquities first hand. More than that, I wanted her to have a hand in saving some of them. The lack of funding for preserving these sites is a real and persistent problem in the world of archaeology.

DR: These days cultural appropriation is a sensitive topic. How did you go about portraying Hispanic, Asian, and Native characters in a respectful manner?

MKB: I suppose every writer has their own approach; mine is to love the people I write about and to recognize that they’re people first, not representatives or symbols or archetypes of a particular culture. But, in writing them, I have to recognize that their cultural framework will condition their responses to things. So, to Rose Delgado, though she’s married to a non-Hopi, living in Sausalito and working all over the country, she’s still Hopi. That means that Hopi lands are still sacred to her and that she takes the theft of native artifacts personally. Her job is more than just a job because of her cultural background and her investment in it is different than the other members of her team.

To me, Gina’s tattoo is exemplary of the cultural intersectionality I’m portraying. It’s a Russian Orthodox True Believer cross with a Buddha seated at the nexus in a lotus blossom. The cross is for her mom, the Buddha for her dad. Gina calls herself a Russian Orthodox Buddhist, which is an echo of what I told people who asked about my religion before I became a Baha’i. I’d say I was a Hindu-Buddhist-Christian. So, what I was trying to capture in Gina was a character who was an intersection of three cultures—Japanese, Russian and American.

I’ve been privileged to have been surrounded by people from diverse cultures all my life and I think that if you approach characters of any culture with curiosity, love and an attitude of learning, you’ll strive to portray them as complete, three-dimensional human beings.

DR: Is there such a thing as SASH (Society for the Appreciation of Sherlock Holmes), and would you join?

MKB: There’s a Sherlock Holmes Society of London, but as far as I know, there’s none in the Bay Area—at least not like the one Gina’s dad, Edmund, is part of. I made it up. Or maybe Edmund did. I would totally join SASH if there was one around. I love Sherlock Holmes—in fact, I have a Sherlock Holmes pastiche idea I’d love to write.

DR: What have you written recently?

MKB: I’ve been doing a lot ghostwrites lately. And they have been diverse and interesting. I just finished up a YA set in Seattle, and am still working on one that also makes use of my deep love of archaeology. Beyond that, my dear agent is shopping a crazy range of novels I tossed at him, including an SF novel with a peculiar genesis that I’d love to see be the first of a trilogy, a YA paranormal/contemporary fantasy featuring a 14 year-old-protagonist who discovers she’s a witch from a long line of witches, a magical realism yarn that is my take on the old Russian fairytale, Frog Princess, and a paranormal romance that I collaborated on with a couple of show runners from LA.

DR: What lies ahead? What lies ahead for Gina Miyoko – are new novels in the works?

MKB: I’ve been working on what I hope will be the next book in the Gina Miyoko series—working title, THE FORGETFUL FOLKLORIST. I’ve got about eight or nine novels sketched out and more ideas popping into my head all the time. I’ve also been outlining a steampunk novel I’d like to write, involving yet more artifacts. (I got the idea from a book cover someone asked me to design, then didn’t want.)

DR: How does The Antiquities Hunter fit into your repertoire of published works?

MKB: It’s a real outlier among outliers. I started out writing science fiction. In fact, I’d published a bunch of stories in Analog before I shifted gears and wrote four epic fantasy novels all based on dreams. Then I discovered magical realism and fell madly in love with it. That caused my writing to take a weird turn that peaked with ”The White Dog” (Interzone). In moving over to crime fiction, I’m really pursuing something that’s fascinated me as a reader for years. I’ve been in love with mysteries and detective fiction forever. So, even though THE ANTIQUITIES HUNTER looks like a departure from the outside, from where I sit, I’m just writing what I’ve always read. I also realized, when I looked at the fiction I’ve written, that most of my stories have a mystery embedded at the core—sometimes blatantly, as in ”The Secret Life of Gods” and ”Distance” (Analog), or in a veiled way as in my novels THE SPIRIT GATE (originally from Baen, in reprint from Book View Cafe) and STAR WARS LEGENDS: SHADOW GAMES (Del Rey/Lucas Books).

DR: What authors have most influenced your writing? What about them do you find inspiring?

MKB: My greatest prose heroes are Ray Bradbury, W.P. Kinsella (whom I cast in DISTANCE with his permission), and Tim Powers. These are the writers whose use of language, storytelling chops, and sheer imagination made me hungry to write. Bradbury and Kinsella have written some of the most beautiful and evocative prose in the English language and Powers has given me epiphanies about the many ways reality can collide with the fantastic.

I admire Dean Koontz, JK Rowling and Sue Grafton as well, especially for their character development chops and the uncanny way they connect the reader to their characters from page one. I also have to credit Harry Turtledove (who’s written some of my favorite Analog stories) with making me stray into alternate history, with my novelette ”O, Pioneer” (Paradox) which takes an upside down and backwards look at Christopher Columbus’ ”discovery” of the Americas.

DR: Why do you write what you do, and how does your work differ from others in your genre?

MKB: I write what I do because either a character demands to be written about (Gina Miyoko being a case in point) or an idea demands to be explored. I thrive on exploration. It’s why I love road trips (What’s around that next curve?), research, archaeology (What is that thing I just dug up?), first contact stories, and mysteries of every kind. Writing is exploration I undertake to satisfy my insatiable curiosity about what if.

I’ve been told that I write fantasy with rivets, meaning that my fantasy work tends to take a very pragmatic approach to the fantastic. It works the other way, as well. My Gina Miyoko stories have an undercurrent of the supernatural to them if the reader chooses to read the pragmatic references to obereg (the good luck charms her mom is forever sneaking into her pockets), Holy Water, and spells as being more than just a concession to Nadia Miyoko’s avocation. This means that my fiction often falls through the cracks. When I sent ”The White Dog” to Interzone, the editor wrote back and said essentially, ”I loved it, but where’s the fantasy element?” I responded, ”In the eye of the reader.” He bought the story and it was a finalist for the British Science Fiction Award.

DR: How does your writing process work?

MKB: Mileage varies … a lot. With short fiction, I’ll sometimes scribble a handful of questions that become notes and when I see a beginning and end, I start writing. With novels, I sometimes get out the sticky notes. I had a great little flow chart app I used for a while, but they stopped making it. I use Evernote to toss bits and pieces into, as well. The sticky note brainstorming is still the best method I’ve found of plotting a novel because it allows me to visualize relationships between characters, their motivations and other plot elements.

Once I’ve charted something that way, I write a synopsis that becomes a living document that I can add to as I work. At some point the characters start yakking and doing things and I have to start writing. I used to have to write everything in #2 pencil on lined paper first, then edit as I committed it to the computer. Then I’d do that until roughly the last third of the book when the boulder started rolling downhill. But for some time now, while I still love writing notes long hand, I do all my writing at the keyboard. I’ve only ever had a laptop, because I feel the need to be portable. Sometimes a silent house is the best place to write, and sometimes a noisy coffee shop is best. I’ve also learned to give myself permission to do what I heard one writer refer to as ”moodling”. It looks (and feels) like I’m not doing anything, but my mind is hard at work looking for connections. And when enough connections are made between elements and characters, the writing happens.

Whenever I sit down to write, I always read back what I did previously. I tried Hemingway’s stopping in mid sentence and it only led to frustration.

DR: What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

MKB: First, write without editing. Ray Bradbury famously said of writing, ”Don’t think.” He advised hiding your editor hat and just getting the bones of a story or a scene down without worrying about whether you found the right word. THEN, put on your editor hat and edit. This can make the difference between a story ending up attached to an email on its way to an editor’s inbox or ending up in an obscure file folder.

Second, learn your tools—words. Know what they mean, what they imply, how they taste, how they sound. Read your prose out loud before you submit it. Here, I find Mark Twain’s advice sage: ”Use the right word, not its second cousin.”

Third, be flexible. The method you used to write one story may not work for the next one. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re broken or that your process is broken. It just means it’s different this time. This was a hard-learned lesson for me. It took reading Lawrence Block’s learning experience with regard to flexibility (in one of this Writer’s Digest columns), to understand that I wasn’t losing ”it”; ”it” had just morphed a bit.

I’ve learned a lot from the experiences of other writers and from their prose. One of the most valuable learning experiences for me is to read other writers’ prose with an awareness of my own responses to it and analyze why it makes me feel how I feel. Then I try to apply that in my own work.

Oh, and when you’ve written that story and read it out loud, making sure that (as Twain said) you’ve used the right word, not its second cousin, send it to the magazine or agent or publisher you really want to see it with, not something less. When I sent my first story to Stan Schmidt at Analog, the wisdom in all the writing magazines I’d read was that I should send it to a small non-pro market first and work my way up. And I should send something short that stood a better chance of being accepted. I went against that advice and sent a 19,500 word novella to my favorite magazine and got accepted.

Short form: Always shoot for the moon.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter

This interview was provided by PrentisLiterary.com.

Gina “Tinkerbell” Miyoko is not your typical private eye. Armed with a baby blue Magnum, a Harley blessed with Holy Water by her dramatically disposed mother, and a Japanese mingei tucked in her pocket (a good luck charm from her Sherlock Holmes-obsessed father) Tink spends her time sniffing out delinquent dads in the San Francisco Bay area and honing her detective skills.  

But when her best friend Rose, an undercover agent, discovers there’s a stalker on her tail, she hires Tink as a bodyguard. Someone must be trying to intimidate Rose and scare her out of testifying in an upcoming case on looted Anasazi artifacts.  But when Tink tries to flush-out the stalker, things take a far more dangerous turn.

Now, with a dead black-market dealer and an injured Rose on her hands, Tink must take her best friend’s place and follow the looters’ trail towards a powerful and lucrative antiquities collector in Cancun, Mexico. Equipped with an ingenious disguise and a teasingly coy persona to match, Tink is determined to find out who is behind the attack on Rose and the illegal trafficking of these priceless artifacts. Along the way, she will find help in the most unlikely of partners…

Deep in the jungle and far from civilization, Tink must decide who she can trust as she tries to unearth the ones responsible behind the pilfering and bloodshed―and still make it out alive. 

Buy Now From Amazon.com

20 Quirks 7 Strange Habits – InfoGraphic

Everybody has some habits that might be intriguing and even weird. No famous authors are exceptions. Custom-Writing.org put together 20 of them in their infographic. Find out who was a fan of rotten apples and whose way of better writing is hanging upside down.

20_quirks_and_strange_habits

Authors Helping Authors end of Year 2017

Grandma's Secret Blessings: A Memoir with a Twist by [JohnEgreek]

If American learned something from the Trump Campaign, the power of Social Media won an election. Why not capitalize on the lesson learned and begin a campaign geared toward Authors. Smashwords.com says “The first few days after Christmas mark the biggest ebook selling days of the year as millions of readers around the world unwrap their new e-reading devices and smart phones start loading them with new ebooks to read.  Let’s help these readers read!” And what about all those gift cards for Amazon, Barnesandnoble, Apple iTunes and more?

As Authors, we can make the week between Christmas an New Years dedicated to Authors around the globe. Thic can become an annual Campaign for Authors. Here’s what I propose we do. First, I will jumpstart this campaign with this blog by posting it all over facebook via my Author page, on Goodreads , my webpage www.johnegreek.com and tweet on Twitter.

What we can do as authors/editors/writers/publishers, etc.,  beginning at 12:01 A.M. 12/26/17 through 12:01 A.M. January 1st is as follows:

  1. Tweet or Retweet an Authors tweet with his/her book link to Amazon, B&N, Apple, Smashwords, Goodreads, or others. Every tweet should start with: Author Helping Author –
  2. When that Author is notified that his book has been tweeted or retweet, he should identify the Author/person by name, go to one of the carriers listed, copy the link to their book and tweet or retweet their book. If the person tweeting is not an author, remember to identify and thank them by following them on twitter.
  3. Make sure twitter links are tied to Facebook, Instagram or Google+, only to name a few.
  4. Do not discriminate by genre or author. Retweet or tweet anyone’s book.
  5. If an author retweets or tweets your book, make sure you follow them. This is also a terrific way to build your twitter following. Do the same on Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram. Build your following.
  6. Make sure your tweets contain the following: The link to the Author’s book, your Twitter account name and your website/email address.

This can become an Annual campaign. Better yet, it can also become a Spring, Summer, Fall, Thanksgiving and Christmas Campaign. We can use the power of Social Media to build our Author following, increase our sales and increase our exposure.

Are you ready to begin… Authors Helping Authors end of Year 2017

it’s just about Mid-night 12/26/17 is around the corner.

John E Greek's Website

 

Book Nomads

Some time ago my friends and I were sitting in a small restaurant near our office in Amsterdam. Food was great, the conversation was flowing, and even though I don’t exactly remember what we were talking about, a spontaneous and intriguing thought popped up in my head.

Are my books bored?

Of course, I love all my books, and every time I bought one I always treated it with the upmost respect but, was that enough? How boring must it be to sit on a bookshelf…. forever?

Some of them, like ‘The Courts of Chaos’, I keep re-reading every month, but most of them I just read once and it is over.

I thought a bit more about the reason why. I feel like it is related to latest data-driven optimizations and profiling trends in all entertainment. Movies, Video games, Anime and Books, big studios/companies/mangakas are producing so much, and so much of it looks good-ish, but turns out to be just exploitation of the market. Very few want to put themselves out there and push the boundary so they can make me re-live their story over and over again. Kind of depressing when you think about it. I am not saying that great work is less than before, it is just harder (for me) to find.

Anyway, this was a bit off topic. After I thought about my books sitting on that lonely bookshelf at home, I thought, how cool it will be if I could just share them with my neighbors?

First I would meet someone who reads things that I read, and, for purely selfish reasons, I could ask this person to recommend me some books that I might like, or at least books that I would want to get from his re-reading book list.

That seemed really awesome!

I shared the idea with my friends, and they also loved it, so we decided to build a platform to facilitate borrowing and lending books. We launched https://www.booknomads.com.

Shortly after, I shared my first book ‘The Design and Implementation of the FreeBSD Operating System’ (https://www.booknomads.com/browse/book/165/1) and it felt great. I learned so much from it, it was a shame for it to sit all day long, bored and ignored on a bookshelf. Now it is on an adventure by being a booknomad 🙂

BookNomads is still quite young and you can help us improve it by giving us feedback, or adding your books.

Any feedback is invaluable.

Thanks in advance!

PS: My daughter(6 yo) also loves it, and now she is waiting for someone to borrow her books so she can make new friends.

PPS: I wonder if there is a name for that feeling you get after you finish a book, the more the book resonates with me the stronger it is. It feels like emptiness and completeness at the same time, as if I am stretched into the abyss. I want to get the books that made you feel like that!

Borrow books around you

because books deserve to travel

 

The Ultimate List of Fiction Books You Should Read At Least Once in Your Life

Finding the next “good read” is never easy. Sometimes you want to read something in your genre. Other times you want to read something that’s completely different. Sometimes you have no clue what you want to read. No matter what “reading” mood you’re in, This is Writing has got you covered with in-depth book recommendation list.

Below you will find the top book recommendations from the five major genres of fiction (like romance) or you can get super specific with 104 sub-genres (like the Top 5 Reads in Chick Lit). If you need a quick recommendation for a fiction book, you can probably get started with one of the books from these set of booklists.​ Now get reading!

 

BEST HORROR BOOKS TO READ

TOP THRILLER/SUSPENSE NOVELS

ROMANCE NOVELS WE RECOMMEND

MYSTERY BOOKS YOU HAVE TO READ

SCIENCE FICTION BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

FANTASY BOOKS FROM AWARD-WINNING AUTHORS

 

This is Writing

ThisIsWriting.com

 

A Snapshot of American Reading Habits in 2017

As Dr Seuss said “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Reading opens up a vast world of knowledge, pleasure and fun. It also comes in many forms. What books do you love to read?

Old favorites

According to Global English Editing’s latest infographic, a few well-known, well-loved authors tend to top the charts. Writers like JK Rowling, John Grisham and Stephen King, who have published page-turner after page-turner, were among the highest paid authors of 2017.

But one reader’s trash is another’s treasure, and we don’t all want to read the same things. Every state in the country had its own favorite books and writers this year, from Hilary Clinton in Rhode Island to Dan Brown in Arkansas.

New beginnings

Reading has been framed as an old-fashioned pleasure, even a dying one. But the evidence shows that younger people are reading more than older people, and we’re all reading just about as much this year as we did last. The death of the book will be a long time coming.

Ready to read?

If it’s been a while since you picked up a book, that’s not surprising. We’re all constantly distracted by a world that throws information at us from every angle. Given that, it’s a surprise that books still mean so much to so many of us.

Then again, maybe it’s not. Can you imagine a world without books? Neither can we. Check out Global English Editing’s infographic below for all the fun facts about America’s reading habits in 2017.

 

50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading – Finalist

Author Ruth Finnegan

Author Ruth Finnegan

Author Ruth Finnegan is a finalist in the Authors show 2017/18 ’50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading’. Show your support by casting your vote.

Cast Your Vote

2017 Contest for the 2018 Edition of
“50 Great Writers You Should  Be Reading”

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Your Book Launch Timeline —What to Do When to Launch a Book That Sells

What’s your launch strategy?

95% of authors I ask this question to reply “I don’t have one” or say “I’ll post a link to my book on social media and hope for the best”.

Hope is not a strategy and won’t get your book on the bestseller lists.

But you know what will?

A carefully orchestrated book launch.

Here’s what you do:

Assumption: the entire execution time from idea to launch is 5 months.

5 MONTHS BEFORE LAUNCH – POSITIONING

You start with the end in mind. What do you do when you want to launch a successful business? You look for a niche that you can dominate. You look for a blue ocean. It’s the same with books.

The majority of books fail because nobody sat with the author to help them them find a category which they can both fit in (so that librarians know how to categorize their book) and stand out (blue ocean).

Take my book How I Sold 80,000 Books. This is my big business card.

How does it fit in? It answers the question “How do I sell more books?”, just like its competing titles.

How does it stand out? It solves the question “How do I sell more books?” using the 4Ps marketing mix framework.

4,5 MONTHS BEFORE LAUNCH – OUTLINE

Writers often label themselves as planners vs. pantsters. I’m a huge believer of planning.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

YOU know where you are going — you want to hook your readers, give them an unforgettable reading experience and get them to take action.

To be able to achieve that, you need an outline.

4 MONTHS BEFORE LAUNCH – WRITE

NaNoWriMo gives you one month to write a 50,000-word manuscript. Thousands of writers manage to reach that goal.

If you don’t love to write but still want a book, you can speak it to your phone and then get a ghostwriter to shape it into book material.

3 MONTHS BEFORE LAUNCH – DEVELOPMENTAL EDIT

Wow! You should now be holding a first draft of your professionally written manuscript in your hands. Congratulations!

Do you run and publish it? No, not just yet.

You need to know if there are any gaps or loose ends.

That’s what a developmental editor does.

If they find room for improvement, the manuscript goes back to the ghostwriter. If you get all green lights, you’re off to… no not quite to the races… you’re ready for copy-editing.

2,5 MONTHS BEFORE LAUNCH – COPY-EDITING

This is the fun task of going through your manuscript as many times as necessary to make sure that every comma and period is in place.

This is a must. It shows respect for your reader and it should also completely eliminate any future negative reviews regarding writing style.

2 MONTHS BEFORE LAUNCH – A STUNNING COVER

The first thing people will judge your book by is its cover. The cover consists of two main elements: the title and the artwork.

With the title of a non-fiction book you want to show people what results they will be able to achieve when they read your story.

A great example is Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace. If anybody is in a financial struggle, even just holding the book entitled Financial Peace in their hands will bring a sense of peace to them.

Another great approach is a “How to” title. They’re oldies but goodies. They work. For example, when someone buys How I Sold 80,000 Books what they are really buying is that result.

Next is the artwork. Most of your readers won’t be looking at your book in real size. They will be looking at a thumbnail next to other similar book as they search Amazon.

That’s why your book needs to fit into the other books in its genre but also stand out as being unique.

The most important thing to remember is that the title needs to occupy at least one third of the cover. It needs to be clearly visible as a thumbnail. Then you want one big image.

I recommend you order two or three different covers and then let your target audience choose the one that works.

1,5 MONTHS BEFORE LAUNCH – LAUNCH TEAM AND ENDORSEMENTS

  1. a) You should now have an ARC – an advanced review copy to build your launch team and get endorsements.

Create a landing page where people sign up and get a free review copy of your upcoming book as soon as they leave their email.

This allows you to build your email list and gives you the ability to mass mail all your team members during launch (crucial for the success of your launch).

Where do you get your launch team members? Anywhere your target audience hangs out. Reach out to Amazon reviewers who reviewed books similar to yours, write relevant articles on blogs (guest posts) and invite people to your launch team, appear on podcasts and tell listeners about your upcoming launch, reach out to existing connections.

Remember that about 30 percent of the people who join your launch team will actually leave a review, so if you want to launch with 50 reviews, you need more than 150 people who committed to do so.

You keep building the launch team until about a week before launch (where the time to read the book becomes too short).

  1. b) Simultaneously you want to reach out to people who could endorse your book so that you can add their quotes on your cover, inside the book and on your Amazon page.

Reach out to your connections, ask for introductions. It’s easiest to get an endorsement from someone you’ve already got an established relationship with but if you don’t it can be a good reason to start engaging with someone.

1 MONTH BEFORE LAUNCH – FUNNEL IN PLACE

Book royalties are great, but you will almost always generate more revenue on the back end than on the front end.

That’s why you need to have a link inside your book that will take your readers to your landing page so that they can subscribe and you can offer them your other books, products or services.

2 WEEKS BEFORE – OPTIMIZE FOR ONLINE SALES

Amazon looks like a bookstore but in reality it’s a search engine. That’s why your book needs to be optimized for online sales.

What this means is that you need to know what readers are looking for and make sure your book pops up at the top of search results when they are looking for answers your book provides.

That’s why I start with keyword research before I even come up with the titles. The full title and subtitle of How I Sold 80,000 Books is packed with keywords, which I found using dedicated software.

Another aspect is choosing the right category. We already touched upon it in positioning. By choosing the right categories you will be visible to those readers who want to read your book most.

You also need a captivating book description and an outstanding bio.

LAUNCH – IT’S SHOW TIME!

Your Amazon page looks stellar (great cover, title, description, bio, author pic, endorsements). Your book is optimized for online sales (keywords, categories) and it’s a book people will want to buy (and continue their relationship with you via your funnel that’s in place).

The #1 strategy here is successful communication with your launch team that you’ve been building up.

I recommend doing a free launch where you make your book free for a few days and urge your team members to download the book from Amazon (even if they already have the ARC) and leave a review which will be marked as “verified”.

Mail your launch members daily, giving them updates on the progress of the launch and sharing milestones, such as copies downloaded, number of reviews written or bestseller rank reached.

After the free days are over, set your book at $0.99 for a week or two and monitor sales. Increase your price every week or two (be consistent) by a dollar with all other factors unchanged and that will allow you to know (not guess) at which price point you make the most in royalties.

As soon as you’ve got your price point right, move to paid advertising (AMS ads, FB ads) and PR opportunities as well as partnerships to keep sales coming, build your list and increase your world domination!

LAUNCH DONE – NOW WHAT?

For more strategies on selling books by the truckload go to http://www.authorwisdom.com/ and download your free copy of my award-winning guide “How I Sold 80,000 Books” now.

 


By Alinka RutkowskaAlinka Rutkowska is a multi-award-winning and #1 international best-selling author.

She’s a coach who transforms struggling writers into profitable authorpreneurs.

She’s the founder and CEO of LibraryBub (http://librarybub.com/authors/), which connects librarians with award-winning and bestselling books from independent publishers.

She’s the founder and host of the 5-Figure Author Challenge (http://www.5figureauthorchallenge.com/ which gives authors winning strategies to get to 5 figures in 5 months.

She’s been featured on Fox Business Network, affiliates of ABC, NBC and CBS, Author Marketing Club, The Author Hangout, Kindlepreneur, Book Marketing Mentors, Examiner, She Knows, She Writes, The Writer’s Life and many more.

She’s a sought-after speaker. She’s been voted top 5 speaker and named most creative book marketer at the Bestseller Summit Online.

Download Alinka’s free award-winning guide “How I Sold 80,000 Books” at http://www.authorwisdom.com/

 

Inkitt launches a free program to help you turn your idea into a novel within 30 days

Have you ever thought about writing a novel? There are millions of people in the world who have ideas floating around in their heads that they want to write down but never find the time.

Inkitt, the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, will be launching their first ‘Writers Write Program’  on November 1st to help you turn your idea into an original novel. The 30-day program is completely free and filled with special benefits such as:

  • Free, 30 min private sessions with professional writing coaches (including the editor of The Martian)
  • Events and tips with bestselling authors like Andy Weir, Lauren Kate, and Gayle Forman
  • A variety of community features such as the choice to get a writing buddy who you can exchange manuscript feedback with

“Our intention is to enlarge the writing community by encouraging more people to become writers,” said CEO of Inkitt, Ali Albazaz. “The program is completely free so for us this isn’t about making money; it’s about encouraging talented and committed writers to keep going and finish what they started.”

If you are serious about taking on the challenge or want to finish (or start!) a manuscript then make sure to get your spot in the program now. There is less than a week left before it starts.

LEARN MORE

Free Writing Coaching Sessions on Skype

Professional writing coaches will help you improve your storyline. 100 selected writers will receive 30min coaching sessions every week

Motivation To Finish Your Novel

Receive motivational tips from successful authors such as Andy Weir, Lauren Kate, and Gayle Forman. See your public ranking based on how fast you’re writing and compete with other writers to reach the finish line

Structure

You can join our Writing Buddy Program – We’ll match and connect you with another writer within your genre so you have someone with you every step of the way

 

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