Thursday, January 29, 2015

10 Questions with Author Nina Amir (@NinaAmir)

This Author Spotlight

Nina Amir

author of

The Author Training Manual

Nina Amir, the bestselling author of How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual, is a speaker, a blogger, and an author, book, and blog-to-book coach. Known as the Inspiration to Creation Coach, she helps creative people combine their passion and purpose so they move from idea to inspired action and positively and meaningfully impact the world as writers, bloggers, authorpreneurs, and blogpreneurs. Some of Nina’s clients have sold 300,000+ copies of their books, landed deals with major publishing houses and created thriving businesses around their books. She is the founder of National Nonfiction Writing Month, aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge, and the Nonfiction Writers’ University. As a hybrid author she has published 15 books and had as many as four books on the Amazon Top 100 list at the same time.

1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?

I’ve been writing since I was in middle school or so. I used to write stories about horses when I was young, and in high school I thought I might become a novelist. My mom told me that “only good writers make a living as novelists,” so I figured maybe I should find another way to make a living as a writer! I took a journalism course, began writing for the school newspaper and local papers, and went on to get a degree in magazine journalism. I graduated from college and began working as an editor and writer.

One day a friend asked me to edit a nonfiction book. I figured I could probably do the job since my college professor told me I could write a book if I could write an article; he said a nonfiction book was just a series of articles on one topic strung together. I knew how to edit. I edited his book. And then the next two books I edited went on to be great successes. One was picked up by Simon & Schuster and has sold well over 300,000 copies and is still in print. The other was self-published and sold more than 150,000 before the author sold it to Sounds True many years later.

While supporting other people in their efforts to write books, I realized I also wanted to write some of my own. I write to help and inspire others. I like to help creative people combine their passion and purpose so they move from idea to inspired action and become able to positively and meaningfully impact in the world as writers, bloggers, authorpreneurs, and blogpreneurs. I enjoy inspiring others to become their best selves and to fulfill their potential and their purpose.

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?

I like that I get to express myself, to share my knowledge and experiences and, in the process, to impact others in a positive and meaningful way.

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

I write something almost every day, because I have so many blogs. If I am writing a blog post, I have a minimum word count—400 words—to meet. If I’m writing a book, I may have a word count or simply a deadline to complete a chapter a day or a week.

I brainstorm my book projects with a mind map. This becomes a detailed chapter outline.

Articles and blog posts might start with just a title or a title and a few bullet points (subheads). I don’t necessarily outline them.

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

Diana Gabaldon
Malcom Gladwell
Wayne Dyer
Deepak Chopra

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?


6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

Because I am trained as a journalist, and I have used the AP Stylebook in much of my work, I prefer to only use the serial comma in a series of more than three. However, because I have edited many books, and book style uses Chicago Manual, I also know how to use the “Oxford Comma” and do so in  my book manuscripts.

7.What is your newest book about and how did it come to fruition?

I have 14 books at this time, some self-published and some traditionally published. Some are available only on my websites and some at Amazon or other major booksellers (online or off).

Let me mention my traditionally published books. I am the author of How to Blog a Book. I decided to write a book. I needed a platform. So, I started blogging, one blog, two, three, four—five at one time. I got involved with the San Francisco Writers Conference, first as an attendee, then as a volunteer, then as a panelist. The panel was about blogging—and something to do with blogging books, but no one was an expert on this. I decided blogging a book was a good idea and that I could apply the idea I had for a different book on how to write marketable books to this idea. I started a blog called How to Blog a Book a month before the conference and become the expert on how to blog a book. How? I was now blogging a book on the topic. I blogged the book in five months. My agent sold it to Writer’s Digest Books. It immediately became an Amazon bestseller and has stayed that way for more than two years.

Writer’s Digest Books then published the first book idea, which I had actually test marketed as a self-published workbook. This book was released in May of 2014 as The Author Training Manual. It also became a bestseller fairly quickly.

Since then, I have also published three bestselling ebooks:  AuthorpreneurThe Nonfiction Book Proposal Demystified, and the Write Nonfiction NOW! Guide to Writing a Book in 30 Days.

8.What’s your current writing project?

Well, I don’t have just one project…I have numerous projects.

I’m working on an e-book on blogging basics and on a proposal for a follow-up to The Author Training Manual.

And I just finished the revision of How to Blog a Book. The second edition will release in June 2015.

9.What book(s) are you currently reading?

Just like my writing, I read a lot of different books at a time. I’m reading Launch by Jeff Walker, Crush It by Gary Vanerchuck, The Charge by Brendon Bouchard, and The Real Name of God by Rabbi Wayne Dosick.

10.Who or what inspires your writing?

Passion, purpose and success inspire me and my writing. I’m passionate about personal development, practical spirituality, metaphysics, and anything that helps me and others achieve our human potential. When I see or hear about people who are passionate and on purpose and who achieve great success—especially success that creates a positive and meaningful impact on others or the world—I get inspired. I want to learn how they did this, apply it and share what I have learned.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

I believe when you combine your passion with your purpose you get inspired. That’s often the moment at which ideas are born and creativity is at its height. That’s when you take inspired action, which leads to success in any area of life.

Thanks, Nina!

Be sure to check out Nina's books, website, blog, and services!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Veteran’s Day 2014 Charity Challenge: Gone, but Not Forgotten!

Hi, gang.

My writer friend Richard Peters shared with me a Veteran's Day charity promotion for veteran authors and hopefully you guys would be willing to help promote this event. They have about 50 veteran authors who are pledging 100% of their royalties to their favorite veteran's charity, at least for 24 hours on Veteran's Day. Many are pledging much longer. This list also includes several NY Times and USA Today Bestsellers.

Event Summary:
Veteran’s Day 2014 Charity Challenge: Gone, but Not Forgotten!
On Veteran's Day 2014, 50 veteran authors will pledge 100% of their print, ebook and audio book royalties to their favorite veteran's charity. In most cases, these are organizations that assisted the authors personally and they are trying their best to give back.

Veterans from each service branch and every conflict period, from Vietnam to even one author deployed to Afghanistan at this moment, are pledging. This diverse collection of works includes New York Times and USA Today Bestsellers and covers most genres. From romance to action-adventure and everything in between, there's something for every taste here!

The ultimate goal of this event is to raise at least $10,000 for the 15+ veterans charities they're supporting. If you aren't interested in any of the books available, they have a page set up ranking the money raised for each charity and spotlighting bonus donations. Whether you contribute to the best performing or the least performing, either way your donation will be put to good use!

The complete collection of participating books and charities can be found here:

Note: For the sake of transparency, each author will post their donation receipts within 90 days. If you are a veteran author, they are accepting submissions until noon (EST) on 11 November. Please visit the Writer's Cafe at Kboards for submission details:,199976.0.html

Full details can be found here:

Take a look. Get involved. Pledge some money. Buy some books. There's fiction and nonfiction. My dad was an MP in Nam, so this stuff hits close to home. We owe our veterans a debt we can never pay. But we should still bust our butts trying.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

10 Questions with Dystopian Action Adventure Novelist Frederick Lee Brooke (@frederickbrooke)

This Author Spotlight

Frederick Lee Brooke


Frederick Lee Brooke launched the Annie Ogden Mystery Series in 2011 with Doing Max Vinyl and following with Zombie Candy in 2012, a book that is neither about zombies nor sweets (read my interview with Fred on that book HERE). The third mystery in the series, Collateral Damage, appeared in 2013. Saving Raine, the first book in Fred’s entirely new series, The Drone Wars, appeared in December, 2013.

A resident of Switzerland, Fred has worked as a teacher, language school manager and school owner. He has three boys and two cats and recently had to learn how to operate both washing machine and dryer. He makes frequent trips back to his native Chicago.

When not writing or doing the washing, Fred can be found walking along the banks of the Rhine River, sitting in a local cafe, or visiting all the local pubs in search of his lost umbrella.

1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?

I was an early reader and spent a lot of time at the public library. We didn’t have smart phones or computer games, and my sister and I were kept on a television starvation diet. I got hooked on reading. Later I discovered that writing is something like a much more intense form of reading. I write in order to enjoy the pure escape of a story in which I’m in the minds of all the characters. It’s quite a rush.

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?

I like revising best, going over a text again and again. Sometimes I’m trying to probe more deeply what motivated a character to do what he did, and express it so that readers can identify with him. Part of revising is deleting garbage and verbiage. I like reading stuff out loud, especially dialogue, to see if it sounds real or artificial.

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

I make a plan for the whole book, with three or four sentences telling what happens in each chapter. I sometimes spend months on the plan. Often three or four sentences become ten or twenty. I try to get the plan fleshed out as far as possible before I start writing. Then the writing flows more easily, and I’m not focusing so much on plot points as character development.

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

I love Gillian Flynn’s writing, Vikram Seth, Christine Nolfi, Martha Bourke, Scott Bury, Tracy Chevalier, Mark Haddon.

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

I don’t know for sure, and don’t care much. I have a very good editor who, among other things, makes sure my punctuation is correct.

6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

Generally I would leave it out, but it all depends on the level of clarity in that particular sentence. I don’t want readers distracted.

7.What is your book SAVING RAINE about and how did it come to fruition?

SAVING RAINE is the first book in my Drone Wars Series. This book was inspired by my research on the current uses for personal drones in countries around the world. I tried to imagine a world in the near future in which the political dynamics are drastically changed from what we have today in the United States, with nine parties represented and forced to make coalitions, the way it is in Germany or Italy right now. And a world in which computer hacking has reached such an extreme level that some of these political groups are able to infiltrate the U.S. military and steal drones or missiles, and armed, very well-organized militias have taken over certain sectors of the economy.

A few days ago, mirroring events in my book, the hacker group Anonsec claimed to have hacked and commandeered a scientific drone:

8.What’s your current writing project?

I’m currently working on the third book in the Drone Wars series, as yet untitled. The second book in the series, Inferno, came out in Spring 2014, and this one should be finished in Spring 2015.

9.What book(s) are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished a very fine book by Chris Bohjalian called Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands. This is the fifth or sixth book I’ve read by Bohjalian, who is a fantastically versatile writer.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

The Drone Wars titles SAVING RAINE and INFERNO by Frederick Lee Brooke can be found on Amazon as e-book or paperback as well as Nook, iBooks and other online channels.

Thanks, Fred! Great new series you've got going here. And I, unfortunately, agree with you 100% about the possibility of drones being used for evil. Such was the premise of one of my one novels, in fact. Let us know when book 3 is ready!

Be sure to grab a copy of SAVING RAINE and INFERNO right now!


And be sure to get in touch with Ally at Badass Marketing for top-notch professional marketing services for your own work.

Ally Bishop
B.A.I.T. (BadAss In Training)

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Please Help Shane

Hi, gang.

I haven't blogged in two months.


Been encumbered with other things a bit.

But a few days ago my writer friend/fellow novelist Frank Marsh contacted me about a very important person:  four-year-old Shane Lee.

Shane is battling DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma), a rare form of brain cancer that affects only children. DIPG is uber-resistant to Chemotherapy and as of right now has no cure.

That's where we come in. You. Me. Frank. All of us. Grab a copy of Frank's novel ENDWORLD - THE SHANE EDITION in order to support the hunt for a cure for this illness.

Please also take a second to click to The Shane Campaign to learn more about Shane and his family and to donate.

This kind of stuff shouldn't exist in this world. If everybody got together and pitched in, it wouldn't. Please help.

Links to Frank's book ENDWORLD - THE SHANE CAMPAIGN EDITION, available in format you require:

  • Amazon: Purchasable as an on-demand paperback HERE for $15.99 and as a download for your Kindle HERE for $3.99.
  • Barnes and Noble: Purchasable as a download for your Nook HERE for $3.99.
  • iBookstore: Purchasable as a download for your iPad, iPod or Mac HERE for $3.99.
  • Createspace: Purchasable as an on-demand paperback HERE for $15.99.
  • Smashwords: Purchasable as an .epub, .mobi, .pdf, for online reading or even as a .txt file (go figure) HERE for $3.99.
  • Kobo: Purchasable an a download for your Kobo or Sony eReader HERE for $3.99.
Also visit Frank's website for more info, etc etc:

Thank You.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Secret to Self Publishing

The secret is output.


You can't write/self publish one book and then sit back and wait. The marketplace is far too crowded now. You must write half a dozen books, pimp them on Twitter, Facebook, and BookBub, and "all the while" continue to write and pump out more books to subsequently pimp.

Just ask Russell Blake.

And get over the notion that you're uncomfortable with self promotion or with selling your work. There's absolutely nothing wrong with selling. If it helps, think of it as something you're excited about (your book) and sharing it with a friend, the same feeling you get when you and a friend are talking about what happened on Game of Thrones last night.

Lack of sales of a professionally edited, well-written book with a professional cover has less to do with its quality and more to do with the fact that nobody knows about it.

Why do you think production companies advertising new blockbuster movies have an advertising budget equal to the cost of the film's production? Tonight while you're on the sofa watching TV, make a note of what movie(s) you're seeing advertised over and over and over again. And then remember that there is a lot of luck involved, too. At the end of the day, this is an odd mixture of art mixed with business. Art is subjective and business (sales) is a numbers game. Which is why some movies flop despite everyone's best efforts (Disney's The Lone Ranger comes to mind; did you see it? I didn't.).

Focus on the writing, the love of the story, write at least half a dozen books, and then reassess.

Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.

Plus, in a few more years, things will get easier because
A) more people will be reading ebooks and
B) there will be fewer books crowding the marketplace after many hopeful writers realize this author gig thing is WORK, and they give up.

Until then, write for yourself, write for yourself, write for yourself.

And if you want to learn strategies and discover the experiences of 25 other self-published writers, check out my new nonfiction book below. A year's worth of author interviews all in one book. Only $2.99. Subsequent volumes to follow. Thanks.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Game of Thrones

Who here is a Game of Thrones fan (books or HBO series)?

Besides me, that is.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

10 Questions with Fantasy Novelist Jen Wylie (@jen_wylie)

This Author Spotlight
Fantasy Novelist

Jen Wylie

author of

Jen Wylie resides in rural Ontario, Canada with her two boys, an Australian shepherd and a disagreeable amount of wildlife. In a cosmic twist of fate, she dislikes the snow and cold.

Before settling down to raise a family, she attained a BA from Queens University and worked in retail and sales.

Thanks to her mother, she acquired a love of books at an early age and began writing in public school. She constantly has stories floating around in her head, and finds it amazing most people don’t. Jennifer writes various forms of fantasy, both novels and short stories.

1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?

I started writing when I was in public school. I was also a very avid reader from a young age, so I think all the fantasy books got my imagination going. I didn't look into publishing my writing until about 5 years ago.

I write because my head is full of stories, I need to get them out and I also enjoy sharing them with others J

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?

I love starting a new story, coming up with characters and plots and twists, making new worlds. Endings can be a trial… the characters don't like me to stop writing about them.

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

I don't start out with an outline, but I make notes as I go along and as I near the end I'll have a page with notes of things that need to happen, loose ends to tie up etc. No daily routine, I write when I can find the time (usually after the kids go to bed)

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

I'm rather partial to Sean Hayden (my fiancé <grins>) but really love to read indie and small press authors. There are a number of fantastic authors out there with amazing tales to share.

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

Inside J

6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

I find it makes for some interesting sentences when people don't use it.

7.What is your book Broken Aro about and how did it come to fruition?

Broken Aro (book 1 of The Broken Ones) is a YA fantasy, a bit epic and a bit dark, and with a little romance. It follows a young girl (Arowyn) whose city is attacked and she is captured by slavers. She goes on quite the journey, and makes a new family for herself. I loved writing this story as Aro is quite a strong female lead and though she goes through a lot of hardship, she keeps going, keeps fighting and doesn't lose hope. The book also puts a great deal of emphasis on the importance of family and friendship.

8.What’s your current writing project?

I'm currently working on book 3 in The Broken Ones and hoping to be finished soon!

9.What book(s) are you currently reading?

I'm actually not currently reading anything. Next on my to-read list is Warrior Everlasting by Wendy Knight. (Sadly I don't get a lot of time to read, and I've a very long to-read list)

10.Who or what inspires your writing?

I'm inspired by simple things, or strange things, common things for the most part. Music, the tune or lyrics often gets me thinking, or everyday conversations. My family and Sean are the most wonderful supporters, and Sean is always there to run ideas by or to brainstorm with if I get stuck.

My boys were especially helpful in coming up with wacky ideas for Tales of Ever, and are also harassing me to write more.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

Thanks so very much for having me! J I love to hear from readers so invite everyone to stop by my facebook author page or drop me an email!

All of my books are on Amazon

And a select few are available everywhere.

Thank you, Jen, for sharing your book. Let us know when the next installment is ready.

Be sure to visit Jen on her various social media site, join her mailing list, and grab a copy of Broken Aro at the link below.

My website:
Twitter: @jen_wylie

Broken Aro has 95 five-star reviews on Amazon. Check it out!