Wednesday, June 12, 2013

ACX Update and a n Tutorial

The last known activity on both books - State of Successes and Finally Home - was that the books were submitted as finalized by me on June 4.  The note you get from ACX is that they have to validate the books.  I searched the site, al the FAQs and every place I could think of to search for the answer to the question, how long does it take to validate and go live with projects?, to no avail.  I finally emailed support and was given the answer of it takes 10 to 20 days to validate.  Suffice it to say, the process can be longer on their part than on the author's part once all the edits and revisions are made. 

Overall, if you are planning on going the audio book route with any or all of your books, expect the process from finding a narrator to approving and validation by ACX to take up to 3 months or longer, depending on the length of the book, the amount of editing/revisions needed, and of course the time you have to dedicate to get the book out there in another format. 

I did email my narrator for the state book to let her know that I had posted on my blog about the books, et cetera and she did get back to me stating that she has told all her friends and family, a good many of them who are teachers, and the responses so far has been that everyone is anxiously awaiting hearing/reading the books in the series.  I've also posted in several places about the books going live soon.  I hope this will generate some interest and that the series will start picking up.

I will start the process for another state book once the first one goes live, so hopefully before the end of June, State of Wilderness will be on its way to the narrator and by end  of August or the first part of September should go live barring any complications on my end. 

I know once the books go live they will be available on,, and itunes.  Audible will set the retail price and the price will vary from all three depending on whether discounts are offered to members or if each site decides to price differently.  Remember that there is a good bit of work that goes into producing an audio book and that is why the price can be a lot more than print or ebooks.  The coolest thing about the audio books is that if you have a kindle (and this is true for all of them, not just the newer ones out) you can buy the ebook and the audio book and listen and read while the book is actually being narrated.  So for those of you who like both sensory stimuli, you can as long as the books are available in ebooks.  In the case of my state books, they are only available as print books and soon to be audio books for now.  Maybe when I get a sponsor or have more books out in the series, I will consider putting them up as ebooks.

How works: is a subscription service.  Basically, you sign up, start an account, pay the monthly fee (when I registered and started, my fee was $7.49 for the first 3 months and then will go up to $14.95 thereafter) and earn credits that are good towards the books available.  What I've seen so far in searching for various books in various genres is that no matter what the retail cost of the book you can get the books for 1 credit (which is basically your month's credit).  I picked up The Help which is an 18-hour+ recording for 1 credit while it retails for $26.60 and is available to members without credits for $18.62. As you can see, I got a $27 retail book for $7.49 or my 1 credit for the month of April. also runs specials like in April it was purchase qualifying books for $4.99 (I think you had to buy 4 during the 2-week period) and receive extra coupon monies (I don't remember what I purchased during that special deal but I have available to me 2 credits (May and June monthly member payments) as well as a $10.00 coupon.  I don't know if once my books go live that they will be automatically put in my library or if I have to "purchase" them or what, but once I know that, I will let you all know.

I hope my little bit of insight into the overall process of producing audio books has been helpful to all you authors out there who are thinking of going this route.  E :)

EARN TWO CHANCES FOR THE CROCHETED RED/WHITE/BLUE AFGHAN DRAWING:  For everyone who comments on this posting or any posting on either of my blogs (see below for links) between now and the end of June, you will receive 2 entries in the afghan drawing which will be done December 1, after all my events are completed for the year.  The chances normally sell for 2/$1 or buy a book and receive 5 chances, but I will put everyone's name who comments in the drawing.  Please make sure you provide me with an email address to be able to contact you for information on where to send your chances and/or afghan if you are the lucky winner.  Good luck to all.  E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of Finally Home, a middle grade/YA myster
Elysabeth's Blog
Elysabeth's website

Author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad (JGDS), 50-state, mystery, trivia series
Where will the adventure take you next?
JGDS blog
JGDS website

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Guest Post: Sharing Your Life Story - Creating a Memoir

Memoirs: They’re Not Biographies by Dennis Milam Bensie

I just returned from the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans where I was a presenter. I, along with a couple of dozen other writers, was given the opportunity to do a ten minute reading from one of my published books (you were timed and honked if you went over ten minutes). 

This was a big weekend for me because I had never been to the three day festival, which took place at the famous Hotel Monteleone on Royal Street. The hotel was the perfect setting for a writing conference because it had been a hub of literary personalities. The literary guest list also included Tennessee Williams, WIlliam Faulkner, Ernest Hemmingway and more recently Ann Rice and John Grishman. Truman Capote claimed to have been born in the Hotel Monteleone (a fact that was disputed; his mother was merely pregnant with him while living in the hotel).

I write memoirs. Most of my short stories could be considered memoirs. One of the many panel discussions I attended at the festival was called From Life to the Page: Turning Memory Into Narrative. I took many personal notes during all the seminars last weekend, but the most important notes I took came from quotes I heard during this memoir driven class.

“...All memories are fiction.”

It’s true. Everything you remember is fiction because it is your unique perspective. Your memory of an event is as individual as a fingerprint. Truman Capote probably wasn’t intending to lie about the site of his birth. Is it too much of a stretch for the Capote to think he was born in the symbolic hotel? It’s a better image to think of him being born at the Monteleone, rather than in a nearby hospital. A writer of memoirs has permission to rethink the literal usage of the word “born”.

“...Worry about the truth. Not the facts.”

A memoir is not to be confused with a biography. Facts are sometime crucial but should not completely dictate the Art.

The two quotes I list completely resonate with me as a memoir writer. I am sometimes asked how I can write more than one memoir. It’s not that I have had a long life of travel and adventure. It’s tone, style and perspective on certain events that give birth to memoirs, not merely where I was and what I did on a certain day.

Another thing that was discussed in the memory discussion from Saints and Sinners was that sometimes the best writing can spring from the smallest of events. Its possible to write a wonderful memoir story from something as simple as watching your mother brush her hair or the neighbor child tying their shoe. It’s not always necessary to know what Mom’s hair or the kid’s really looked like in memoir writing. Save the facts for the biography.

I wrote my first memoir, SHORN: TOYS TO MEN more linear in style. Everything ties together without any breaks in the book’s theme. It’s approach to storytelling reads like a fictional novel. Not to say that it reads as untrue or false. I use an emotional tone to tell the story of growing up with abuse and mental illness. 

ONE GAY AMERICAN,  my second memoir, proved challenging. The book is a bunch of vignette’s about my life growing up gay in the USA. In a few passages I told the reader the same story from SHORN. But it was my job to write the overlapped stories in a different way for each book, despite the fact that the facts were the same. 

One of the biggest story overlaps in both of my memoirs surrounds my three year marriage when I was nineteen. I couldn’t just leave it out of the second book because I already wrote about it in the first. 

I spent a simple paragraph or two in SHORN talking about giving my wife a heirloom bride doll for our wedding. My approach in ONE GAY AMERICAN was to be more poetic or symbolic and concentrate on smaller details of the event. I got to elaborate and write more about what the doll meant. It turned out I was able to expand and turn the story of the bride doll into a whole vignette of it’s own in my second memoir using metaphors and other dramatic techniques that I didn’t bother with in the first book.

My biggest advice for someone who wants to write their memoir is to
find a great style of storytelling that suits your life and what you want to say. Try an experiment: 

Take one event or fact and write three treatments of the same story trying to make it as different as possible each of the three times. Don’t worry so much about the facts: worry more about what you want your reader to remember when they finish your story. A good memoir will stay with it’s reader a long time after the last page is read and inspire them to think and feel rather than teach them facts or information.

I happen to choose as my reading selection for the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival the haunting chapter from ONE GAY AMERICAN about the heirloom bride doll. I was impressed that all the memoirists that read from their books each had very different styles of telling their personal stories.

I wonder if Ernest Hemmingway or Tennessee Williams worked on or ever read their memoir at the Hotel Monteleone. The two author’s styles are, no doubt, very different. 

(Dennis Milam Bensie reading from ONE GAY AMERICAN at the Hotel Monteleone on Sunday, May 26, 2013)

About the Author: 
Dennis Milam Bensie grew up in Robinson, Illinois where his interest in the arts began in high school participating in various community theatre productions. Bensie’s first book,  Shorn: Toys to Men was nominated for the Stonewall Book Award, sponsored by the American Library Association. It was also a pick in the International gay magazine The Advocate as “One of the Best Overlooked Books of 2011″. The author’s short stories have been published by Bay Laurel, Everyday Fiction, and This Zine Will Change Your Lifeand he has also been a feature contributor for The Good Men Project. One Gay Americanis his second book with Coffeetown Press and it was chosen as a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the Indie Excellence Book Awards. He was a presenter at the 2013 Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans. Dennis lives in Seattle with his three dogs.

You can find out more about Dennis Milam Bensie, his memoirs and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

Monday, June 10, 2013

Inexpensive Gift Ideas for the Literate Dad

Are you floundering over what to buy for dad this year?  I always buy books for my father (my mother too) - and this year is no exception.  Just knowing that I can pick something that fits his taste, and at the same time provides him with much needed relaxation, pleasure and intellectual stimulation is enough incentive for me to keep getting the same type of gift each year.  If you're wondering what to buy, books are great gift ideas and personalising your choice to your dad's taste is really thoughtful. 

If Dad isn't a big reader, then nonfiction is a pretty safe bet. You can buy manuals, guides or coffee-table books on almost any topic.  Biographies of people Dad admires or people from historical periods that Dad is interested in are also good.  If in doubt, go for award winners.  This year's National Book Critic winner for biography was Robert Caro's The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson.  This year's Pulitzer Prize winner The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss.  I think either of those would be a hit with most fathers - even those who don't normally hunker down with a book.   

For fathers who enjoy reading, you could do worse than picking an award winner in whatever genre they like.  for example, I got my own dad, a sci fi fan, the novel 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson.  The book won the 2012 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the plot summary sounds like it's just up his alley (normally I pre-read the books I send him, but haven't read any sci fi this year). Why not tuck in (perhaps instead of a card), a poetry chapbook as well to really stimulate Dad's literary imagination.  Imagining the Future: Ruminations on Fathers and Other Masculine Apparitions is the book of poetry I co-authored with Carolyn  Howard Johnson and can be either purchased as a super-inexpensive e-greeting card or sent as attractive paperback. To get you in the mood, here's a poem from the collection:

Horizon Scanning

Your eyes squint at glare
wavering between dreams

imaginary lines
or clear delineations

from this point
it’s not possible to judge

take a stand from your degraded platform
speaker’s corner cardboard soapbox

microwave radiation
blocking your ears

you can shout your head off
until everyone gathers

it won’t change reality
or will it?

28 billion light years
one edge to the other

there you are
explorer without a map

scratching your head
the horizon problem flakes those broad shoulders

Atlas in messy hair
and bell bottoms

every mystery you solve
invokes another.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Writing - How Nature can be a Muse

Watching this video of masses of seafoam covering the beaches of an Australian town got to me wondering just how polluted our oceans have become. The foam was caused by the churning of the waters in the Pacific by a cyclone.

Although it seems funny and people were walking through the foam laughing at its uniqueness, I have to think it’s a bad sign and that possibly those people shouldn’t be playing in what could be a toxic substance.

Combine this event with the odd weather patterns seen world-wide, the destruction Sandy caused, the many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes of the past year or two and it’s so obvious this world is going through massive changes (which are apparently cyclic according to studies of climate change).

The only question is this: are we exacerbating those changes through pollution, fracking, draining natural resources?

Would you be brave enough to walk this close to a lava flow and take a sample? I know I wouldn't.

As a writer I imagine several scenarios for possible stories. What do you see when you view these two videos?

Rebecca Ryals Russell
MG/YA Fantasy Author
Fantastical Worlds of Rebecca Ryals Russell

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Best Thing To Do with a Book Is Ruin It!

By WritersOntheMove member Carolyn Howard-Johnson

I always suggest that people mark up their books. I suggest it in The Frugal Book Promoter ( I even market with a photo of the first edition of The Frugal Book Promoter that publisher Nancy Cleary sent me. The book is bristling with her Post-It notes and fat with turned-down pages. And pictures speak a thousand words.

When you make notes in the margins, your book becomes a much better resource than when you turn corners down. But either approach is better than a pristine copy stuck away on a bookshelf somewhere.

I once fully annotated to a paperback biography of Michelangelo when when I was staying in Florence for an extended period of time. I just wrote anything that popped into my head including that I had just walked down the street where M's museum marked his birthplace.

I eventually gave that book to my grandson who was big on literature! I think it was a much nicer gift than something new.

Usually teachers discourage marking books because it seems destructive. I think it's just the opposite. It makes a book your own. My new year's resolution is to mark up more of my books and it turns out that Antoine Wilson, author of Panorama City, plans on doing the same thing in 2013. He says, "For years I've been folding down page corners as a means of noting remarkable passages, but when I go back to these, they're baffling." He resolves to do more scribbling in books, too

And how do I know this? I read it in the LA Times. It's not too late to make a resolution of your own, is it? At least not too late for something this simple!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Book Marketing - To Niche or Not to Niche

By Karen Cioffi

I was recently asked about having a marketing niche. The writer wanted to know what a niche was and if it was important. Since there might be other authors/writers out there who aren't sure I'll share my answer here.

A marketing niche is simply a specific topic you’re focusing on. One writer may write for children, another may write business content. Then there are also more specific niches: writing children’s picture books or writing specifically on business incentives in the business arena.

And, there are niches within niches. In the writing arena, you can be a children’s author, a romance author, a nonfiction writer, a biographer, a ghostwriter, or copywriter, among a number of other niches. So, to say you’re a writer, while it may be true, it’s not specific enough. It doesn’t give the listener, reader, or viewer enough information about you and what you have to offer.

Having a specific niche is important so you can create the element of expertise in it. This doesn’t mean you can’t have more than one niche, but you do need to keep them separate and promote each separately.

For an example, I’m a children’s writer of picture books through middle grade books. I’m also a nonfiction health, business, and marketing writer.

If I had one website for all these niches, I wouldn’t be focused. And when marketing, who would I market to? I wouldn’t want to bring people looking for health information to a children’s book site or vice versa.

You can’t market to everyone; you need to decide exactly who you will focus your marketing efforts on. And, that audience needs to be brought to a site that focuses on that niche.

The adage, ‘jack of all trades, master of none,’ comes into play. You don’t want to be known as someone who knows a little on a lot of things. You want to be known as a master, or expert, in one or two specific fields or niches.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning author, ghostwriter, and author/writer online marketing instructor. Check out her e-class through WOW! Women on Writing at:
Give Your Author/Writer Business a Boost with Inbound Marketing


4 Tips to an Effective Subscriber Opt-in
Author Website Blues – Simple Fixes, Huge Benefits
Kindle Select – What Works and What Doesn’t

Saturday, June 1, 2013

10 Website Landing Page Must-Have Elements Free Webinar

It's been a while, but we have our next webinar scheduled and here are the details:

Title: 10 Website Landing Page Must-Have Elements (Find out if you have all 10 in place)
Date: June 28, 2013
Time: 4PM, EST (U.S.)
Presenter: Karen Cioffi
Duration: around 30 minutes
Cost: Free

This webinar will go over 10 of the most important landing page elements, ones that are must-haves for authors, writers, marketers, and home/small businesses. You'll want to sign-up to see if you have all 10 in place.

And, the first THREE to register and request to have their websites used in the webinar will get a website review focusing on those 10 elements.

Plus, they’ll be a couple of website bonus tips!

With the new AnyMeeting plan I signed up for only 25 attendees can be in on the LIVE webinar. It’s during the live event that you can ask questions and get answers! So, sign-up now!
Those who register after the first 25 will get the replay.

Hope to see you there!



For full details please visit our Workshops Page. Just click on the navigation link above.

Please note: Attendees, if not already a subscriber, will automatically be signed up to The Writing World Newsletter.

P.S. To keep up with writing and marketing information, along with Free webinars, join us in The Writing World (top right top sidebar).

Karen Cioffi
Award-Winning Author, Freelancer/Ghostwriter

Author/Writer Online Platform Instructor
Build an Online Platform That Works


7 Ways Authors Can Support Their Author Friends: Kindled Spirits

As authors, we have an advantage in the online world, whether we realize it or not. Fiction. Nonfiction. Screenwriting. Poetry. Essays. Arti...