The Mystery of a Mystery – M.K. Tod

M.K. Tod wrote and indie-published two successful historical novels set during World War I. Her newest novel Time and Regret – published this month by Lake Union Publishing – stays true to Tod’s historical expertise while branching into new territory – mystery.TodMK-TimeandRegret-22790-CV-FT

Writing in a new genre stretches an author, and as a fan of her historical writing, I’m pleased to report that Tod not only stays true to her historical fiction core but also does a fine job weaving in a mystery. To read my review, click here.

I asked her to share her thoughts on why mysteries are so appealing and how she worked that into her new novel. This is what she said.

The Mystery of a Mystery
by M.K. Tod

Attracted by the front cover, you take the book off the shelf, peruse the brief description on the back and decide, yes, this is my type of book. A mystery.

Mysteries conjure excitement, the thrill of danger, the nail-biting question of will they or won’t they solve it in time. And then there’s the thrill of sleuthing as you become the detective, the cop, or the amateur accidentally stuck in the midst of a crime.

My new novel – Time and Regret – is a mystery with multiple timelines and a romance to sweeten the deal. In writing it – my first mystery – I’ve had to think a lot about this genre’s enduring appeal.

What is it about mysteries that makes them so satisfying? Why do some people read almost nothing else? Author Melissa Bourbon Ramirez offers this opinion: “I think one reason people love reading mysteries is because they are a safe thrill, kind of like roller coasters when you’re a kid.  They’re a safe adventure, as well.  Just as in any other type of book, we get to visit exotic or interesting places.  You can see the dark side of people, but you know that justice will prevail.  Good will overcome evil.”

Author Nancy Curteman has a different take: “Mystery readers are intelligent people. The mystery story appeals to their sense of curiosity. They enjoy action. They love to analyze the psychological makeup and motivational drives of characters. Most mystery readers are as interested in how and why a crime is committed as they are in who committed it. Sifting through clues and red herrings as the story progresses adds challenge.”

Other reasons have been put forward: to understand the behavior of criminals and the criminal mind; to live the intense emotions involved in crime; to vicariously experience a world of suspense, secrets, excitement and danger; to create order out of disorder and justice out of crime.

And then there’s the detective—typically a flawed but heroic figure who overcomes major obstacles while often making a mess of his or her own life. We can see ourselves in this individual and we root for them to successfully solve the crime while resolving some of their own life problems.

Here’s the premise of Time and Regret.

Time and Regret: A cryptic letter. A family secret. A search for answers.
When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long buried secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determine to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and is suddenly aware that someone is following her.

When I set out to write Time and Regret, I didn’t fully appreciate the expectations involved. Gradually, I added more to the story: more subtle clues, more plot twists, more danger, more violence, more dead ends. I made my heroine more conflicted and gave her a difficult childhood and I added flaws to my other characters. I wrote and rewrote and rewrote the ending.

Does it work? Will it satisfy the needs of mystery readers? Readers will be the judge because another thing I’ve discovered is that no two readers are the same—and that is the biggest part of the mystery of writing.

Find Time and Regret on Amazon:

Amazon US 

Amazon Canada 

Amazon UK 

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union on August 16, 2016. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

The Seven Year Dress – Devastation & Resilience

Today, I introduce you to Paulette Mahurin and her new WWII-era novel, The Seven Year Dress.

The Seven Year Dress covers one of the darkest times in human history from the perspective of one Jewish woman who lived to tell her story.TSYD-FRONT COVER The Seven Year Dress KINDLE(1) copy

The narrative tells how teenager, Helen Stein, and her family were torn apart as Hitler put in motion his plan to eliminate the Jews and other undesirables. With the help of one of those “undesirables,” a German boy who was also homosexual, Helen and her brother went into hiding for several years. Ultimately, they were discovered and Helen was interred in Auschwitz.

It was in that death camp that Helen suffered persecution, torture, and devastation at the hands of the Nazis. It was also in the death camp that she encountered compassion, selfless acts of kindness, and friendship. Ultimately, this is a story of the resilience of the human spirit.

The atrocities committed by the Nazis against the Jews aren’t easy to read about, but the story Mahurin tells in The Seven Year Dress is too important to miss. Click to read my review.

Telling stories for a purpose

Mahurin has written a number of books, most of them historical fiction. Her passion for telling stories supports another of her passions. The profits from all her books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters. She tells me that so far this year, sales of her books have helped rescue 79 dogs.

More about Paulette Mahurin:

Paulette Mahurin lives with her husband Terry and two dogs, Max and Bella, in Ventura County, California. She grew up in West Los Angeles and attended UCLA, where she received a Master’s Degree in Science.

While in college, she won awards and published her short-stories. One of these stories, Something Wonderful, was based on the couple presented in His Name Was Ben, which she expanded into a novel in 2014. Her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, made it to Amazon bestseller lists and won awards, including best historical fiction of the year 2012 in Turning the Pages Magazine. Her third novel, To Live Out Loud, won international critical acclaim and made it to multiple sites as favorite read book of 2015.

Links to Mahurin’s books & more

Purchase The Seven Year Dress on Amazon

Check out all of Paulette Mahurin’s books on Amazon

Find Mahurin:

Blog:

Facebook
Twitter:

Learn more about Mahurin’s efforts to help dogs

Does paying for book promotion pay off?

As an indie author, I’ve looked at paid book promotions from time to time and always backed away. There were so many questions for which I had no solid answers. Which promotion site? What guarantee did I have that it would work? How many books would I have to sell to break even? If I did a promotion, when? My novel Go Away Home published in July; was a September promotion too early? My memoir Growing Up Country has been on the market for seven years; would anyone still be interested?

Finally I decided: Do it or stop thinking about it. I took the dive, and scheduled a promotion  for my novel. I had to take a big gulp when it came to paying the bill and I spent a lot of my time holding my breath. Ultimately, I’m glad I did.

Here’s what I did and how it worked.

Go Away Home - BookBub PromotionWith the philosophy If you can’t go big, go home, I chose BookBub – the gorilla of ebook marketing in terms of reach, cost, and results – to promote my novel in September. Electing for as clean a test as possible, I didn’t do any promotion other than that. Not even social media.

Go Away Home Promotion

  • BookBub Cost: $400 for a one-day, $ .99 promotion.
  • Reach: 1,030,000 women’s fiction readers. I’d requested historical fiction, but BookBub recommended women’s fiction. I figured they knew what they were doing and went with it. Plus the women’s fiction promo was $40 less expensive.

Sales & Rankings:
Pre-promotion Amazon Kindle Sales Rank – 55,110

Day of promotion – Sept. 7 – Price at $ .99 – Sales – 1,422 – Author Rank: as high as 69
Day 2 – Sales – 319
Day 3 – Sales – 151
Day 4 – Price at $1.99 – Sales – 52 – Author Rank: between 393 and 1,116
Day 5 – Sales – 66
Day 6 – Sales – 61
Day 7 – Price returns to $3.99 – Sales: 27 – Author Rank – 1,298

Go Away Home - Amazon Best SellerGenre Rankings: In the course of the promotion, Go Away Home ranked in the Top 10 in Coming of Age, Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction and Historical Fiction

Return on investment: First-day sales covered the promotion cost by 2.5x

On to the next book: Encouraged by the success of the novel promotion, I elected to use paid promotions for my memoir. Again, I let BookBub lead the way and added two other paid promotion outlets: Ereader News Today and The Fussy Librarian. Here are the results.

Growing Up Country Promotion

Sales & Rankings
Pre-promotion Amazon Kindle Sales Rank: 217,307

Day of promotion – Nov. 13 – Price at $ .99 – Sales: 2,504 – Author Rank: As high as 21
Day 2 – Sales: 520
Day 3 – Sales: 388
Day 4 – Price at $1.99 – Sales: 101 – Rank: between 105 and 870
Day 5 – Sales 73
Day 6 – Sales 64
Day 7 – Price returns to $3.99 – Sales: 20

Growing Up Country Author RankGenre Rankings: In the course of the promotion, Growing Up Country ranked in the Top 10 – often #1 – in History, Family Relationships, and Midwest & Women’s memoirs & biographies.

Return on investment: First-day sales covered promotion costs by more than 3.5x

  • BookBub: 2,788 sales; revenue to me $1,951.60
  • Ereader News Today: 146 sales; revenue to me: $102.20
  • The Fussy Librarian: 17 sales; revenue to me: $11.90

Seven observations from these promotions:

  1. It’s a hoot: Okay, just had to get that out of the way. It’s a kick to see my book ranked up there with books by Sue Monk Kidd and Diana Gabaldon. Even if it’s only for a few days. Now back to business.
  2. Scheduling a promotion – BookBub is known for being tough to get into so I gave them as much scheduling flexibility as I could. They responded to my submissions in 48 hours and were easy to work with. I scheduled Ereader News Today & The Fussy Librarian to run in the days after BookBub to extend the news.
  3. You get what you pay for: There were fewer sales through Ereader News Today and The Fussy Librarian, but the cost was much less and they delivered sales proportionally, so I’d use them again.
  4. A long promotion tail: Even though sales dropped precipitously from promotion highs, both Go Away Home and Growing Up Country have sold more copies each day, every day since their respective promotions than they did prior to the promotions.
  5. Holiday cross-over sales: While paperback sales of Growing Up Country have always accelerated during the holidays, this is turning out to be particularly good year. The ebook promotion drove the memoir to the top of the charts as people were looking for gift books. A month after the promotion ended, the memoir still ranks in the Top 10 Midwest memoirs and is selling well in both ebook and paperback formats.
  6. Reviews – A Bonus: Because of the promotions, both books have garnered a healthy increase in reader reviews. Go Away Home picked up 36 new reviews since September and Growing Up Country has earned 54 new reviews in the past month, including its first one-star review (be still my heart!).
  7. Your results will not be the same as mine: BookBub shares the average sales for each category. Women’s fiction: Average sold: 2,120 with a range of 170 to 5,420. Biographies & Memoirs: Average sold: 2,430 with a range of 290 to 6,210. I didn’t quite make the average with my novel but exceeded it with my memoir. Great success since I was holding my breath that I’d surpass 170 and 290. All the usual suspects come into play in whether a book sells well: cover design, title, quality of writing, topic interest, reader moods, the phase of the moon.

I share this report for what it’s worth. Paid promotions are one arrow in the author’s marketing quiver. And this is one for which you can see a clear ROI.

This was a lot of numbers to crunch and I hope I was reasonably clear. Let me know where I confused and where I might yet elaborate. Apologies for the blurry graphics; they’re the best I could get from a screen shot.

Her kind of historical fiction

girl-mountain.400x625.rev“I’m blown away.” That’s what I thought as I read The Girl on the Mountain, a novel set in the West Virginia mountains at the end of the 19th century.

The characters are vivid and likeable (except for the ones we shouldn’t like). The language precise and fresh. The plot engaging. Beyond that, author Carol Erwin knocked me out with the way she wove in historical details to make me feel as though I knew the people, place and time. There are no famous people in this story, no memorable historical events. Nonetheless, it’s terrific historical fiction.

I invited Carol to share how she came to write this story and how she looks at historical fiction. Her thoughts fit right into the “How much of historical fiction is history?” question I blogged about recently.

My kind of historical fiction – Carol Erwin

I like historical fiction that enlarges my sense of life in other eras. Though I’ve always liked history, in fiction I care less about the unfolding of actual events and more about what they meant to people of that time.

In other words, I’m interested in characters. They don’t have to be historical figures, but they do have to seem real. I’ve always been impressed by the capacities of ordinary people, especially women, and was privileged to know several who lived in my small corner of West Virginia in the late 1800s. These women aren’t the subjects of my historical series, but their qualities definitely inspired me.

Mt.Women450x601The Mountain Women series begins with The Girl on the Mountain, a novel about ordinary people in a time of no particular significance. I began imagining a story about two adventurous girls, one privileged and one homeless. Where and when did they live? I wanted a familiar setting, but one a bit wilder than the farm community where I live. I did not have to go far, for I live near a region of virgin forest that was cut down in the late 1800s. When I revisited a non-fiction account of logging and lumbering in West Virginia (with its hundreds of old photos) I found the setting for my story. Eventually my two girls became May Rose, the young wife of a logger, and Wanda, her stepdaughter.

Even in soft-core historical fiction (my term), some elements must be true. I believe the truest features in The Girl on the Mountain are the mountains and streams, the sawmill, logging operations, and the artifacts of daily life circa 1900.

Research helped me authenticate and populate the story with details, but I had personal experiences that made me comfortable with them. I know the look and sound of sawmills. I’ve ridden an old logging train, climbed steep hillsides to pick blackberries, dug potatoes, stepped through creeks, raised and chased pigs, participated in old-time hog butchering, and used pen and ink to keep account books.

I felt comfortable describing life in 1900 because it’s not too distant. As a child I sometimes visited outhouses where the pit was covered with lime and the seat worn smooth. I named many characters after grandparents, grand aunts and uncles, so I didn’t have to research to know if the names were valid for the period.

When forty years ago I moved to my present location, I felt like I’d stepped back in time. The whole valley was made up of farms that had descended through several generations, and many of my elderly neighbors still used implements and carried on practices from the 1800s. Because of them, I know about neighbors helping neighbors and details like the operation of wood cook stoves and the scrape of a shovel into a coal bucket.

I tried to substantiate every historical detail. In The Girl on the Mountain I included references to well-read books of the period, used calendars of 1899 and 1900, and researched to make sure certain items were in use then, like canned milk. I had such a good time researching that I found much more detail than I could use.

One funny story: a friend who read the first few pages told me I should have a hen instead of a rooster simmering in the pot, because people had many hens but one rooster. I didn’t refute her, but I’m the one who has raised chickens, and I know that from little chicks you get as many roosters as hens. Guess which ones go into the pot?

Finally, the historical detail I chose had to be important to May Rose, the main character. I tried to keep her in mind with every description – what she saw, understood or thought about and what those things meant to her.

How much history you put into your kind of historical fiction will depend on your purposes, plus how much history you know and care to research. If you want to dramatize well-known events and give historical persons a new breath of life, you will rely on your expertise as a historian or researcher. If you want to write realistic period fiction, you may need only to learn enough to feel like you’re living at your chosen time.

Thanks, Carol Bodensteiner, for asking the question: “How much of historical fiction is history?”

Thank you, Carol Erwin, for sharing your perspectives on historical fiction with my readers. I highly recommend Carol’s novels. Click to read my review of The Girl on the Mountain. Follow the links below to her books and to learn more about her.

Carol.Studio.web.sm.

Carol Erwin

Carol Ervin has been a teacher, business owner, and writer and designer of marketing materials. She lives with her husband on a hillside farm in West Virginia with a steep lane and a spectacular view of wooded mountains. She loves West Virginia’s rugged streams and foliage and the history and culture of the region’s hardy settlers. Her historical novels include The Girl on the Mountain, Cold Comfort, and Midwinter Sun. She recently published a science-fiction/dystopian, Dell Zero.

The Girl on the Mountain

Cold Comfort

Midwinter Sun

Dell Zero (science fiction)

Website

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The Invention of Wings – Review – Historical Fiction

The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd

I’ve been a fan of Sue Monk Kidd since I read The Secret Life of Bees. So when Kidd released her newest novel The Invention of Wings, historical fiction set in the early 19th century, I was eager to read. The book did not disappoint.

The Invention of Wings tells the story of 11-year-old Sarah Grimké who is given 10-year-old slave girl – Hetty “Handful” Grimké – as a birthday present. The slave is intended to be Sarah’s handmaid for the rest of her life. But Sarah cannot countenance owning another human being and refuses the gift.

Raised by an educated father with educated brothers, Sarah believes she is capable of speaking her mind and being heard. She is quite wrong. Not only does Sarah suffer a speech impediment, she also suffers from being a woman.

Yet she pushes on, her personality encompassed in this early description of herself: “Drawing a breath, I flung myself across the door sill. That was the artless way I navigated the hurdles of girlhood.” Flinging herself forward in spite of obstacles is also the way Sarah navigates the rest of her life.

Meanwhile, Handful (the basket name given by her mauma) or Hetty (the proper name given by her owners) struggles just as mightily with her personality and her circumstances. Even at 10, Handful knows that the story her mother tells her about their people in Africa learning to fly is not true. Yet she engages in a life-long struggle to achieve just that.

Handful describes her dilemma this way: “I always had something smart to say, but my voice had run down my throat like a kitchen mouse.” A paragraph later she adds, “I stopped all my fidget then. My whole self went down in the hole where my voice was. I tried to do what they said God wanted. Obey, be quiet, be still.”

Obeying, being quiet, being still are not in Handful’s nature, exacerbating the challenges she faces but ultimately giving her the courage she needs for the crucial moment when she does fly.

Women finding their voices – figuratively and literally – is a powerful theme of this wonderful novel. The Grimkés are real people who lived in Charleston. Sarah and her younger sister Angelina grow into fearless pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements. While Handful is a fictional character, the juxtaposition of the two women – one a black slave and the other a free white – makes their journeys to empowerment all the more striking.

It doesn’t matter station. It doesn’t matter time in history. It doesn’t matter black or white. Women always seek to find their voices, to invent their wings.

As a reader, I found The Invention of Wings totally satisfying. Details of time and place that put me right in the center of the action without overburdening. A plot that intertwined the two stories and moved both along. Suspense. Emotion. A conclusion that wove it all together and did not feel contrived.

As a woman who worked in a male-dominated business and who was ordered at one point to “attend the meeting but don’t talk,” I could relate to the “voice” and empowerment issues Sarah and Handful faced.

As a writer, I am inspired by Sue Monk Kidd’s ability to find fresh ways to describe everything from water to clothing. I admire the way she creates voices for each character that are unique.

With The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd solidifies her place in the Top 10 of my all-time favorite authors. Do not miss this one.

The value of a blog tour?

RunningWhile I was running fast on the ground to launch my historical novel Go Away Home in Iowa, I was also zipping through cyberspace on a virtual book tour that included 15 blog visits.

In the course of the tour, I participated in two author interviews, shared my thoughts on efficient “just in time” historical research and my inspiration for writing the book, offered my ideas for networking online to promote a book, and made copies of Go Away Home available for giveaways.

A virtual book tour was a new marketing approach for me. My goals were to share my book more broadly and to garner reviews.

Here’s what the reviewers had to say:

Patty @ Broken Teepee: (4.5 stars) “This is a well written story about a young woman, Liddie, who was born on a farm in Iowa at the turn of the 20th century. I felt myself quite engrossed in the story and found it very hard to put down. It wasn’t all sweetness and light and Liddie learns some hard lessons as she grows up. Ms. Bodensteiner has a very strong feel for the era and its mores and I would love to follow the characters further.”

Kathryn @ A Bibliotaph’s Reviews (4 stars): “Bodensteiner draws on familial history within this tale, and her writing leaves the reader with a sense of homesickness for one’s family. Her writing style is detailed but not in a manner that overloads the reader with information. She often leaves them guessing as to what will come next. I highly recommend this book.”

PC @ Writing Whims (5 stars): “The research is impeccable in this novel. Ms. Brodensteiner has proven herself as an exceptional storyteller in her first novel. If you enjoy rich characters and historical fiction, you won’t be disappointed in Go Away Home.

Lauralee @ History from a Woman’s Perspective (4 stars): “Overall, the book is about family, friendship, love, loss, sacrifice, choices, and hope. It is also about a person’s quest for home. The pace of the novel is easygoing, reminiscent of a leisurely Sunday morning. However, it is pleasing and you care what happens to Liddie. I recommend this book to anyone interested in early 20th century America, life in the rural Midwest, and those who face tough choices in their own lives.”

Kathleen @ CelticLady’s Reviews (5 stars): “Go Away Home is written about the daily struggles within a family during a tough time in our American history. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am not sure if there is to be a sequel, but I think it would be interesting to see what happens to Liddie in the future. I highly recommend this book!”

Jorie @ Jorie Loves a Story: “Bodensteiner reaches back into the classical story-telling grace of giving her characters an encouragement of innocence and an appreciation for learning through their choices. She … fills … the novel with realistic truths and a backdrop of honesty that is refreshing to find in the historical fiction genre. This is a story that knits into your heart as you soak inside its core, giving you a firm realisation that you’ve found a family you’re emotionally connected too. I shall not soon forget this novel and I cannot wait to read more by the author.

Ashley @ Closed The Cover (4 stars): “Liddie is an incredible character, which is essential in a book like this as she is the primary focus of the novel. The book centers around her; her hopes, goals, dreams, passions and eventual understanding. She is everything a reader would expect from a young girl as she is naive, hopeful and passionate yet as the story progresses she grows and understands. Readers will find themselves quickly and fully engrossed in her story. Liddie’s coming-of-age story is remarkable and will take readers on a very emotional journey. In the end Liddie must choose that which is the most important to her and decide on what it is that makes life worth living. This is a beautiful book. Wonderful, lovely and a great read!

There’s no question a blog tour is a lot of work for the author. Posts to write, staying in touch with comments, sharing the posts across social media. I arrived at the end of the month as winded as if I’d run to all those places in real time. I also conclude the month satisfied that the investment in a professional tour company was well made. Kudos to Amy Bruno at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for setting up the tour and managing it so well.

I couldn’t have asked for more in the reviews. Some of these reviewers expressed interest in a sequel; other readers have, too. A sequel wasn’t in my head when I wrote this novel, but not the seed has been planted. We’ll have to see if it grows. Overall,  the success of the tour was summed up for me in the comment a reader left: “I’m seeing this book everywhere.”

Have you picked up a copy of Go Away Home yet? If these reviews spark your interest, here are links: Print – Createspace           Kindle – ebook

Feeling the love – Making the most of local book launch events

As I prepared for the launch of my historical novel Go Away Home, I wondered how much the world had changed. Since publishing my memoir as a paperback in 2008, ebooks have proliferated, social media connects the world. Would local launches even be relevant?

Now that the local events are over, I can say the basic strategies of “events, placement and promotion” I blogged about a couple of years ago for doing local launch events are still sound. I’ve refined a few things, and I’m basking in the glow of a successful launch.

I scheduled four events – three in eastern Iowa where I grew up, an area that serves as the setting for much of the novel, and one in Des Moines where I live now.

Libraries, Bookstores & the Historical Society

Preston book Launch 1

Sharing the history of memoir and fiction at the Preston Public Library.

The library in my hometown hosted a large event where I reconnected with friends who enjoyed my memoir and remembered our family fondly. This was my first change to try out my “Writing History” talk. The book talk and Q&A lasted an hour and a half. Another library event in the next county allowed me to connect with more people and maximize my time in the area.

The Jackson County Historical Society – one of my research resources – invited me to speak at their annual meeting. I refined the talk, read a couple of short sections from the book, and shared tidbits of Iowa history I’d learned in doing research for the novel.

Connecting with friends at a launch party for "Go Away Home"

Connecting with friends at a launch party for “Go Away Home”

In Des Moines, my event was at Beaverdale Books, an independent bookstore that was the first to carry my memoir. This event drew a wonderful cross section of people from my life: neighborhood, church, public relations, reading and writing, plus people I didn’t know who’d come to the event because they’d heard about it in the media. For this event, I pared the book talk to 15-20 minutes. Talking with friends old and new, signing books, enjoying a glass of wine. Wonderful!

Where to buy books?

In addition to having books at the events, I made sure books were available in advance of the events and the media promotion.

My home counties are largely rural, so I placed books with the local pharmacies and the historical society, in addition to the one small bookstore. Many people came to the events having already read the book. In Des Moines, I made sure both independent bookstores had copies on their shelves.

Unlike when my memoir was published, with the launch of Go Away Home, I was already live on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble was able to order.

Getting the word out

My marketing background kicks into overdrive for things like this. I created a media kit and made it available on my website. I started contacting media more than a month in advance of the events. This was important for two reasons. In the rural counties, some of the newspapers are weeklies so the deadlines are further out. In a large city like Des Moines, the competition for space is great and the media book time weeks in advance.

The overall news hook of a woman following her dream is a theme from the novel that is playing out in my life as I write and publish my books. I also added other hooks I hoped would appeal to the media: local author, historical fiction set in Iowa, centenary of WWI, successful memoir.  The scheduled events gave the news urgency – a reason to run the story NOW.

I also increased the sophistication of my email marketing. I segmented my email list, sending out “save the date” and reminder emails to people in each market.

The results?

  • The combined events drew in close to 200 people
  • The major newspapers in Jackson and Clinton Counties carried features in print and online editions. I was interviewed live on radio.
  • In Des Moines, the Des Moines Register included my event in the Sunday Arts & Entertainment section “Pick 6” column; I was interviewed on KCCI-TV at noon, and the Business Record focused on me in their e-newsletter and online editions.
  • Momentum. The buzz around these events has led to scheduling other events. People are reading the book and talking about it on social media. Reviews are getting posted.
  • Best of all? I connected with so many people. After working so hard for so long to bring Go Away Home to fruition, the reward is putting it into peoples’ hands.

Soon I’ll blog about the virtual book launch that’s been going on in cyberspace this month. For now, I’m happy feeling the local love. 

What is Go Away Home about? Readers weigh in.

One of my college professors spent much of a semester dissecting T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” I must admit, I left the classroom on most days shaking my head in dismay. I saw NONE of what the professor talked about.

Writers, painters and sculptors go about creating art out of their own souls. When they share their art with the world, readers and viewers apply their attitudes, emotions, and worldview to the art and create something new. They may see some, all or none of what the creator had in mind.

Now that my novel Go Away Home is out in the world, I’m seeing this happen. Recent reviews by bloggers on the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour offered these observations:

Svetlana at Svetlana’s Reads and Views suggested this theme: “There is more to life than satisfying self.”

Svetlana draws comparisons between Go Away Home and stories by Willa Cather and Sarah Orne Jewett who wrote on similar themes of responding to societal expectations versus satisfying self. “… the book is a bit of evolution when it comes to the question of “having it all,” Svetlana says.

“Whether or not the reader has familiarity with the era and what was going on, I found the story to be very resonating as well as relevant and modern,” Svetlana continues. To read more of her comments, click here.

The theme of inequality between women and men and the desire for that to change resonated with Darlene at Peeking Between the Pages

“At a time in history when women were made to accept being only housewives or teachers, she dared to be different and want more for herself,” says Darlene of the novel’s main character Liddie. “Go Away Home will tug at your heart and leave you feeling enriched for having read it.” To read more from Darlene, click here.

Midwest Book Review called it, “… a tale of choices, dreams realized and rejected, and how values evolve.”

Readers’ Favorite said, “Go Away Home is the perfect story of coming home.”

With each reader, I learn more about what I wrote in Go Away Home. Sometimes I find myself thinking, “I had no idea!”

Have you found yourself wondering whether what you took out of a novel or other artwork was what the creator intended? If you’ve read Go Away Home, please share what you think it’s about. I’m curious.

My virtual book tour continues throughout July. For more reviews, giveaways and guest posts on writing historical fiction, check in regularly on my blog tour.Go Away Home_Tour Banner_FINAL

Networking to promote online? Six tips

My Go Away Home virtual tour continues with a stop at Closed The Cover where I’m sharing networking tips for online book promotion. Special thanks to Ashley LaMar for inviting me to share these thoughts.

Since I’m learning something new every day, there are likely many more ways to do this. As I say when I talk about “The Big Brain,” someone’s probably already been down this road and come back with an answer. If you have a good idea, I hope you’ll share – here and when you make the jump to Closed The Cover.

Thanks!

Six Networking Tips to Promote Your Book Online

07/10/2014 

 Guest post written by author Carol Bodensteiner

Social media has created a brave new world for authors to promote themselves and their writing. A new world that is changing by the day.

When I published my memoir Growing Up Country in 2008, Kindle ebooks were brand new, introduced in November 2007, Twitter was two years old, and Facebook was still mainly a platform for college kids. Only innovators and early adopters were stepping into the electronic world of online book promotion. The rest of us were watching and waiting to see if any of it would last.

As I launch my historical novel Go Away Home this month, all doubt has been erased. The world has flipped. Some books are only published as ebooks. Twitter spreads news at lightning speed to people worldwide. Facebook brings together like-minded groups to socialize, support, and educate. Online platforms abound. New ones pop up daily.

As a marketing professional for most of my career, I’ve watched this media evolution and revolution with great interest. I don’t pretend to be an expert in all platforms, but I have found six guidelines useful in using online media to promote my books.

Generalize and specialize: It may be tempting to go broad and talk to everyone or to go narrow and target only your genre. I find some of both is better.

Generalize and specialize – It may be tempting to go broad and talk to everyone or to go narrow and target only your genre. – See more at: http://www.closedthecover.com/articles–news/six-networking-tips-to-promote-your-book-online#sthash.QxawI69U.dpuf

To read more, click:
 

 
Go Away Home by Carol Bodensteiner

Guest post written by author Carol Bodensteiner

Social media has created a brave new world for authors to promote themselves and their writing. A new world that is changing by the day.

When I published my memoir Growing Up Country in 2008, Kindle ebooks were brand new, introduced in November 2007, Twitter was two years old, and Facebook was still mainly a platform for college kids. Only innovators and early adopters were stepping into the electronic world of online book promotion. The rest of us were watching and waiting to see if any of it would last.

As I launch my historical novel Go Away Home this month, all doubt has been erased. The world has flipped. Some books are only published as ebooks. Twitter spreads news at lightning speed to people worldwide. Facebook brings together like-minded groups to socialize, support, and educate. Online platforms abound. New ones pop up daily.
 


 
As a marketing professional for most of my career, I’ve watched this media evolution and revolution with great interest. I don’t pretend to be an expert in all platforms, but I have found six guidelines useful in using online media to promote my books.

– See more at: http://www.closedthecover.com/articles–news/six-networking-tips-to-promote-your-book-online#sthash.prjraZgn.dpuf

 
Go Away Home by Carol Bodensteiner

Guest post written by author Carol Bodensteiner

Social media has created a brave new world for authors to promote themselves and their writing. A new world that is changing by the day.

When I published my memoir Growing Up Country in 2008, Kindle ebooks were brand new, introduced in November 2007, Twitter was two years old, and Facebook was still mainly a platform for college kids. Only innovators and early adopters were stepping into the electronic world of online book promotion. The rest of us were watching and waiting to see if any of it would last.

As I launch my historical novel Go Away Home this month, all doubt has been erased. The world has flipped. Some books are only published as ebooks. Twitter spreads news at lightning speed to people worldwide. Facebook brings together like-minded groups to socialize, support, and educate. Online platforms abound. New ones pop up daily.
 


 
As a marketing professional for most of my career, I’ve watched this media evolution and revolution with great interest. I don’t pretend to be an expert in all platforms, but I have found six guidelines useful in using online media to promote my books.

Generalize and specialize

– See more at: http://www.closedthecover.com/articles–news/six-networking-tips-to-promote-your-book-online#sthash.prjraZgn.dpuf

 
Go Away Home by Carol Bodensteiner

Guest post written by author Carol Bodensteiner

Social media has created a brave new world for authors to promote themselves and their writing. A new world that is changing by the day.

When I published my memoir Growing Up Country in 2008, Kindle ebooks were brand new, introduced in November 2007, Twitter was two years old, and Facebook was still mainly a platform for college kids. Only innovators and early adopters were stepping into the electronic world of online book promotion. The rest of us were watching and waiting to see if any of it would last.

As I launch my historical novel Go Away Home this month, all doubt has been erased. The world has flipped. Some books are only published as ebooks. Twitter spreads news at lightning speed to people worldwide. Facebook brings together like-minded groups to socialize, support, and educate. Online platforms abound. New ones pop up daily.
 


 
As a marketing professional for most of my career, I’ve watched this media evolution and revolution with great interest. I don’t pretend to be an expert in all platforms, but I have found six guidelines useful in using online media to promote my books.

Generalize and specialize

– See more at: http://www.closedthecover.com/articles–news/six-networking-tips-to-promote-your-book-online#sthash.prjraZgn.dpuf

What were your growing up lessons?

“Tuck in your shirt or you look look like a bum.” That’s a lesson my husband learned from his mom. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” That’s something my mother taught me.

We all carry life lessons we learned as we were growing up. Sometimes those lessons cross each other up because life is seldom black and white.

Lessons of life are one of the things I’m talking about with P.C. Zick on Author Wednesday at her blog Writing Whims. Here’s the start of the discussion. I hope you’ll join us for the rest.

Before you make the jump, what was a lesson you learned from your parents? Please share.

Author Wednesday – Carol Bodensteiner

???????????????????????????????Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I’m pleased to introduce you to Carol Bodensteiner. Carol released her first novel, Go Away Home, this past month, and she’s stopped by to talk a little bit about writing this World War I-era novel set in rural eastern Iowa. Her first book, Growing Up Country, is a memoir of growing up in Iowa in the 1950s. It’s so nice to have you visit today, Carol. Congratulations on publishing your first novel. Tell us about Go Away Home.Go Away Home Revised Ebook Final Cover Medium What’s the one sentence pitch for this work of historical fiction?

Thanks for inviting me to Author Wednesday, P.C. Go Away Home is the story of a young woman’s quest for independence and the right to decide her own future set against a twentieth century backdrop when options for women were limited yet social change was occurring and the Great War was on the horizon.

What is the main message you wanted to convey in this novel?

Go Away Home explores the reality that life is not as simple, or the choices as clear-cut, as we often hope they are …

To Read More, Click.

And don’t forget to leave a lesson!