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Interview with Alina Popescu

What genre do you write and why?
I don’t write in just one genre, although I seem to be drawn to fantasy, paranormal, and sci-fi. I get an idea for a story and whatever genre fits, that’s it!

Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is also my debut novel. The Edge of Hope (Bad Blood) is the first book of the Bad Blood trilogy and it’s got vampires, love stories, quite a few conflicts, and many trials for my characters. It’s my first baby and I’ve been working on it for a few years now.

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book? 
I mostly use social media marketing for my books. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, even Google+. I’ve tried a bit of advertising in the past to increase my page’s audience, but I found donating to giveaways is sometimes just as effective. Book groups have been great in getting the word out and meeting reviewers and hanging out with other authors and reviewing their books has helped me learn a lot.

What formats is the book available in?
The book is available in all major ebook formats (mobi, epub, pdf) and in paperback. I wanted to make sure people could read it without making changes in their habits.

Who are your favourite authors?
I am a total failure at picking favourites. Other than my favourite color and my favourite season, I’m a lost cause. Music, movies, books, there are way too many favourites to come up with at least a top ten. I tend to read books from all genres and written by authors from all continents, so talking about favourites usually takes half a day.

What advice do you have for other writers?
My top advice for any writer out there is to start taking themselves seriously. If you’re a writer, think of yourself as one, stop diminishing it. Introduce yourself to the world as a writer, interact with your readers and other authors, work on your stories and don’t give up. You’ll learn everything else you need or find people who can help you with it, but unless you see yourself as more than an amateur, other’s won’t get a chance to discover you.

What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
It’s not exactly a quote, it’s more of a social media meme... It basically made fun of all the very strange things you can find in a writer’s browsing history, from illnesses, and killing methods, to history and mythology, to photos of hot models to help you with visuals for your characters. We are our own kind of crazy, if you asked me, just think of all the voices in our head!

What's the best thing about being a writer?
Getting the stories in my head on paper and sharing them with the world. I can’t imagine life without that.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
The best place to start is my website and blog (http://alina-popescu.com) It’s where you can get to know me a bit, explore my books and what I’m currently working on, read my author interviews and reviews for everything I read. I’m also quite active on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/authoralinapopescu and https://www.facebook.com/alinaelenapopescu) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/alina_popescu). 

Who is you favorite character in your book and why?
There are favorites in this book and favorites in the trilogy :) Alexa would always be close to my heart because we’re very much alike up to a point. I know many of you won’t agree with me, well, not yet, but Anthony is one of my favorites. Yes, I know he’s the baddie, but you’ll have to trust me on this one!

Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?
I think Alexa’s experience is very relatable. This is not your traditional paranormal romance, they don’t meet, fall in love, and get to a HEA. There are so many times when Alexa just doesn’t seem to make it work, but the main idea is to never give up. Life does go on and we need to keep on fighting. There are also sexy vampires and interesting twists, but basically, it’s a story about persevering, taking life full on, and accepting others as they are.

How long did it take you to write your book?
Alexa as a character has been around for about 6 years, but this variant of the story has been in the making for over three years. It also was the first ever book I worked on during a NaNoWriMo (back in 2010).

Who designed the cover?
The cover is the work of the very talented Patricia Revita (https://www.facebook.com/mprevita). I used one of her drawings for a short story I published for the fans of my Facebook page and later asked her to design the one for The Edge of Hope. She actually took the time to read my draft and come up with ideas. She was absolutely spot on and her version of Anthony was so close to what I’ve imagined he’d be like, I suspected her of being a mind reader. 

Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?
Yes, I learned that sometimes the story takes you where you need to go, that you have to stop and listen to your characters and trust them enough to follow their lead.

Where can a reader purchase your book?                    
The book can be purchased pretty much everywhere, Amazon, Createspace, B&N, Smashwords, Kobo, Sony, All Romance… Wherever you prefer to buy your books, they probably have it.
                                                      
What are you doing to market the book? 
Promoting the book is an ongoing adventure. It started long before having it published and it’s not something that is ever done. I have had a huge release day party, I’m now knee deep in my blog tour, there are some book signings in my future. I also spend a lot of time attending online author events, interacting with my readers on social media, and getting the word out. I have a brilliant street team that’s been helping me with this and I’m thankful for them every minute of every day.

Who inspires you?
Friends, family, people I momentarily crossed paths with, mythical beings, fictional characters, a certain song at times, or maybe a certain mood. It can be a big event or something almost insignificant that triggers a story. For example, I got an idea for a book during a spinning class at the gym.

How do you research your books?
It depends on the books. For The Edge of Hope and the Bad Blood Trilogy, I did very little research. That’s because I have been in love with vampire books and movies all my life, I’ve read a lot on the topic and I actually worked on a paper on people who consider themselves vampires while in college. It also happens to take place in places I’ve visited quite a few times, or that I’ve researched for other purposes. In other cases, I spend hours looking for the information I need. Online, libraries, books, documentaries, wherever I can find the resources, I’m there.

What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.
There are several, actually. The Bad Blood trilogy is almost entirely drafted, so I am working on a werewolf story, a sci-fi novel, a few romances. I work on multiple books at the same time, depending on my inspiration. It’s also a great way to avoid a writer’s block and keep writing all the time.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?
I think everyone should choose what best suits them. I actually had initially signed a contract with a small publisher, but after considering it further, I decided self-publishing was better for me. I am a PR and marketing consultant, so I had the knowledge and means to promote my own work, I found an amazing editor and a great designer, so I didn’t find it quite so challenging. I like being in control of what happens when.

Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve always loved books. My parents used to always read and I pestered them till they taught me. I started reading when I was about five and I’ve been writing my own stories since I was ten. Making up stories and telling/writing them was my favorite thing in the world and now it’s a part of me and my life. I can’t imagine ever giving it up.

Does your family support you in your writing career? How?
They’ve always supported me. I switched to writing in English years ago, so they can’t really read my books, but they love hearing about them. They’ve always encouraged me to pursue it and my dad actually said he’s buying 25 paperbacks just for himself. I’m supposed to sign them all :D

My friends have been amazing. They’ve stuck by me, beta reading, listening to me rant, cheering me on, it’s made me feel really blessed.

What are you currently reading?
While answering these questions I am reading Susan Mac Nicol’s Double Alchemy. I read a few books every week, so it will most definitely be something else by the time the interview is published.

What books or authors have most influenced your life?
Fram, the Polar Bear by Cezar Petrescu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cezar_Petrescu) is the first book I’ve ever read. It was huge, it had great illustration, and a very interesting and touching storyline. It’s what got me hooked on books, so I’d say it’s influenced me more than anything else.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Work and taking care of my dog tend to take up whatever’s left of my time. I should however say that I include promoting my books into my writing activities. That’s usually a few hours every day. Whatever time is left I use to read, go out with my friends, see my family, travel, go to the gym listen to my music, maybe even catch a movie.

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Review: Perfecting Plot: Charting the Hero's Journey by William Bernhardt

Author: William Bernhardt 
  • ASIN: B00D7JW6ZI



Reviewed by Jo Linsdell




"Even the most unique and interesting characters will not engage readers if their journey-the plot-fails. In this book, bestselling author William Bernhardt reveals the secrets that will keep readers riveted to the page. He explains the importance of matching character to plot and the key distinction between surprise and coincidence. Bernhardt discusses how to enrich your story by layering three levels of conflict and, in the final chapter, analyzes the primary plot structures that have delighted readers since the first story was told. The book also includes exercises designed to help writers apply these ideas to their own writing. William Bernhardt is the bestselling author of more than thirty books, including the blockbuster Ben Kincaid novels. Bernhardt is also one of the most sought-after writing instructors in the nation. He is the only person to have received the Southern Writers Gold Medal Award, the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award (U Penn) and the H. Louise Cobb Distinguished Author Award (OSU), which is given "in recognition of an outstanding body of work that has profoundly influenced the way in which we understand ourselves and American society at large." The Red Sneaker Writing Center is dedicated to helping writers achieve their literary goals. What is a red sneaker writer? A committed writer seeking useful instruction and guidance rather than obfuscation and attitude. Red sneakers get the job done and so do red sneaker writers, by paying close attention to their art and craft, committing to hard work, and never quitting. Are you a red sneaker writer? If so, this book is for you."


One of the best books I've read. All writers should read this. Excellent advice presented in a clear and easy to follow manner. Examples to back up each point made, and helpful lists at the end. I loved this book and will be looking for others in this series. 

The only negative comment I can make about it is that there is nothing in this book about the plot system known as "the hero's journey" and so the title could be seen as misleading.



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Get Ready to Promote, Network, and Learn!

On Saturday 31st May thousands of people will gather together for the annual online event Promo Day. This is not your usual writers conference. Promo Day isn't about learning how to write. It's about what to do after you've written. 

Many writers struggle with marketing and don't feel comfortable with the promotional side of things. Even those that are comfortable with it can benefit from some new strategies and ideas. That's why Promo Day is perfect for everyone in the industry. A whole day dedicated to promoting, networking and learning!

There are loads of opportunities to promote during the event (both via the event forums and in social media activities) that all attendees are welcome to join. Be interviewed, join in the panel discussions, and more...

Networking is super easy too. Just use the hashtag #PD14 on social media and you'll be connected with all the other attendees and presenters. Not to mention all the networking fun that happens in the forums themselves!

You'll have the chance to learn from industry experts in the free presentations that are available throughout the day. 14+ presenters sharing info, tips, and strategies for free!

Testimonial from last years event
This year there will also be live pitch sessions with publishers during the event. This is HUGE as you have the opportunity to skip ahead of the query piles and pitch them directly one-on-one. No waiting for months to hear if they might be interested. No need for agents or even query letters. 

You can find answers to all the FAQ's at 




Click to Tweet:







Register now for free at www.PromoDay.info

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Twitter Best Practices 2014

Twitter is under going a radical makeover at the moment as they roll out their new site design and new features. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at how you can leverage the micro-blogging powerhouse. I came across this awesome infographic at http://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2014/04/23-rather-marvellous-twitter-best-practices-2014-infographic.html and it covers so many good points I couldn't not share it with you (They really have done an amazing job with it).

One of the first things you'll notice about the new design is how visual it is. Images and video's are getting much more space.

23 Rather Practical Twitter Best Practices for Businesses 2014 - infographic










You can learn more about the new design and pick up some Twitter tips and strategies in my free webinar at Promo Day on Saturday 31st May. Register now at www.PromoDay.info


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Ten Cycles--Five Questions: Where Every Writer Should Be, and What They Should Ask Themselves When They’re There

  
This literary, if not life-plan, system was bestowed to me by a friend who came upon it years ago when, at 100-miles-an-hour, he had to pop a wheelie on his motorcycle to maneuver through a pack of baboons sunning themselves in the middle of a blacktop highway in the Drakensburg Mountains in South Africa.

He had only a split second to decide what action he had to take to avoid several life threatening, if not life ending, scenarios. In that snap-of-a-fingers moment, he slowed his thoughts to ten cycles a second, which is the measurable electro-magnetic activity of the brain that represents the meditative state. As human beings we normally operate and navigate our everyday lives between 20 and 30 cycles a second. If we’re experiencing extreme anxiety or excitement -- like hurtling toward a pack of baboons on a motorcycle going at extremely high speeds -- it’s quite a trick to slow your mind to 10 cycles.

Yet, as writers, we do it all the time. In fact, we do it multiples of times throughout the day.  When we immerse ourselves into the stories and characters that inhabit the worlds  we create, we’re at 10 cycles. Staring at the blank sheet of paper or screen of our computers, our minds slow as we create and destroy plot lines, story arcs and the inner workings and histories of each player in each scene or chapter. When we cease to be ourselves, and assume the identities of our inventions, we are in that meditative state.

Now you know you do it. So what do you do with it?

You ask yourself one of the following five questions. At first, try them in order. After awhile, if you get stuck on one, contemplate them out of order. And never stop asking yourself these questions; either of yourself or your characters.

Keep in mind, these are strategic planning questions not only for yourself, but for your characters. When answered (each is in time) they become statements. A helpful note, some people use Purpose, Mission and Vision synonymously--that’s messed up.

What’s my (or my character’s):

PURPOSE
The Purpose statement is an outcome. The purpose of every for profit organization is to make money. It isn’t. The purpose of Apple is to use technology to be counter culture. The purpose to get a job is to make the world better. You must have clarity about the outcome. Profit is a byproduct.

MISSION
What business are you in? What are you good at, what are you not good at? Either you’re the best, or the second best at what you do, or get out. You’re not doing the right thing for you. If you’re mediocre, get out of it. Understand what you are good at and use it. Great performers practice the basics over and over. If you do something for 10,000 hours, you’re pretty much going to be an expert at it. They you can call up awesomeness at a drop of a hat.

VISION
The ideal future state. It’s like an architect when he creates a drawing of a building - when it’s done with there is a whole lot of specificity. Without that vision by the architect,  the builder is going to build it in a way that’s easiest for him. The key to happiness is pattern recognition. Choosing to be optimistic, choosing to be the best. Your mind looks for opportunities that fit your vision. If you don’t have a definition of the ideal life or organization, it will just sit there like a Corvette in the garage. You have to have clarity.

Have to have a clear definition of the ideal future state in order for the tools of your subconscious to go to work. Those tools are :
1.  Reticular activating system - recognizing stuff. It goes to work finding stuff to support your hypothesis. supporting data to the vision.
2.  Pattern recognition skill. Best learned by playing Tetrus and chess. You learn the patterns of behavior of a knight, pawn, etc.  “If this happens, I can predict what might happen.” Those two things are critical to happen.
3.  Metrics, what are the key numbers that define your vision? Pick a few key metrics, not 20.
4. Scenario. What is the worst case, best case and most likely scenario. Think ahead. IMAGINE.

ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
What’s going on around you (your characters)? Be brutally honest. Check out the book Megatrends written 30 years ago. You have to understand the Megatrends in the greater world, and understand the Megatrends in your world or the world you are creating.
STEEP - Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental, Political. For environment assessment name five things in your environment that come up.

Environmental assessment takes some time and effort, and you’re likely to go back and forth between it and Vision.

STRATEGY
You can only have two priority action methods to move from where you are today, to where you want to be.

The first, and most common, is capacity building. After that it’s whatever you want.
Having three or more Strategies is like having none. And strategies change, all the time. It’s the most flexible and fluid of the five components.
In conclusion: you’re headed toward a back of baboons at 100 miles an hour and you have a split second to make a decision. What do you do?

Hughes Keenan
Hughes Keenan began his writing career at The Kansas City Star and was a member of the staff awarded the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for reporting. He has been a correspondent for United Press International, The Associated press, Reuters and Bloomberg News, covering war, politics, sports and finance. His first novel, The Harvest Is Past, was a finalist for the Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence.

Catch Up With the Author:
  

Interview with Yvette L. Allen-Tatum

Tell us about your latest book.

I Didn't Know - Identifying, Confronting & Overcoming Child Sexual Abuse - the title is indicative of the subject matter.  In this book the author brings to the forefront the many faces of child sexual abuse; those of the victims and the abusers.  Yvette Allen-Tatum boldly confronts her past of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) to demonstrate that TRUE deliverance is possible.  Yvette believes that we ALL (victims, abusers, enablers, nay-sayers, etc.) can OVERCOME the horrible effects of child sexual abuse.
This book proves that true healing is possible and necessary for us to become more than CONQUERORS through Christ Jesus. 
As a community, we have to:
§        Identify Child Sexual Abuse –
o       We have to talk about it (raise public awareness)
o       Know the signs & symptoms
§        Confront Child Sexual Abuse –
o       Error on the side of caution – THE CHILD
o       Be quick to BELIEVE the victim and make all necessary inquiries
o       Studies show people are more apt to believe the innocence of the accused; this has to END
§        Overcome Child Sexual Abuse –
o       We overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the     WORD of OUR TESTIMONY

What formats is the book available in?

The book is available in paperback and Kindle.

Who are your favourite authors?

BeBe Moore Campbell, Maya Angelou, Joyce Meyer, and Juanita Bynum

What's the best thing about being a writer?

What I love the most about being an author is the creative freedom that I have.  Although both of my books are autobiographical in nature, I love being able to tell my story the way that I want to tell it! I hope I give people an opportunity to see my life – live my life from my point of view.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

Contact information:
www.yvetteallentatum.com
surroundedbyfaith.org
https://www.facebook.com/yvette.tatum
https://www.facebook.com/SBF.yvetteallentatum
https://www.facebook.com/IDK.yvetteallentatum

How long did it take you to write your book?

I actually wrote by book over/during a weekend, but it took an additional three to four months to complete the research necessary to validate my claims.

Who designed the cover?

The cover design was actually a collaborative effort between my publisher, myself and my oldest daughter.  I provided the concept, my daughter gave me the idea of the withered rose, and my publisher provided the vision to the designer, John Price.

Where can a reader purchase your book?

I Didn’t Know: Identifying, Confronting, and Overcoming Child Sexual Abuse is available at all online retail outlets (Amazon, Barnes-and-Noble, Books-A-Million, etc.,) as well as my personal websites www.surroundedbyfaith.org and www.yvetteallentatum.com
                                                      
What are you doing to market the book? 

In addition to the virtual book tour, this is my second, I have public speaking engagements, host events, conduct email blasts, Facebook promotions, Twitter posts, and word of mouth. 

Yvette L. Allen-Tatum, Writers and Authors
Yvette L. Allen-Tatum
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

I’m really not sure what or who inspired me to become a writer.  I have always written in some form or fashion nearly all my life.  Most of my early writings probably came from my day-dreams and then just writing down what I dreamed about.  From there I picked up journaling and began to write-down different things that I believed God was speaking to me through visions and/or Scripture. 

When I started writing plays for my Church, specifically for the Children’s Church program, was when I actually began to believe my writings were for more than an audience of me.  During those days, most of those stories came from my personal experiences while going through a divorce.
I guess the short answer is that I have always believed that I had a story to tell.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

When I’m not writing I’m busy working on every other project I have in the hopper, whether it’s hosting an event, speaking engagements, or simply working as I am not a full-time writer.  I enjoy travelling, going to the movies and broadway musicals.  I also enjoy a good afternoon nap, which do not seem to come that often.

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