Tag Archives: Echelon Press

Me and Mary Kay…sorta

Our 10th Anniversary

Today I am celebrating my tenth wedding anniversary. A milestone, yes, but for me it is even more important. You see, I’m not the easiest person in the world to get along with or tolerate. Okay, in all fairness, I’m a much better person than I was 15 years ago.

Back in the day I was mean, stubborn, selfish, and all kinds of other nasty things. I have had countless friends come and go, with a very small number holding steady. I hae infuriated, pissed off, and offended more people than I can even count. I cared little about making connections with anyone. So why the glimpse into my sordid past?

As I said, today is my anniversary and my husband has earned a very special place in my heart. He is the one person who I have maintained a personal and positive relationship with for the longest consecutive period of time. I know that sounds weird, but I really have pissed off a lot of people.  It has not been easy for him, but hopefully he thinks it is worth it.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about other types of relationships. Being in business I’m tasked with finding ways to bring people close enough that they find value in me and my product. I don’t think enough people give serious consideration to relationships when trying to build their business’s reputation. For me it plays, and always has played, a very important, even crucial, role. After all, I am out there every day asking people to have faith in me and to spend their hard-earned money on my products. I really don’t take that lightly. In fact, the idea that readers might not like our books torments me to no end.

Some of you may be wondering what happened to change me so dramatically. In truth it was a couple of things. First and foremost was meeting my (now) husband. The time we have spent together (15 years in total) has truly made me want to be a better person than I was. He has made a point to find the good in me from the moment we met. He did not change me, knowing him made me want to change.

Mary Kay Ash

The other major influence in my life was the late Mary Kay Ash. You all probably know her from her internationally renowned cosmetics company. Over the last few years I have investigated and studied her company and her life with great enthusiasm. This remarkable woman literally started Mary Kay with almost nothing after having lost her husband. Along with her son, she worked from the bottom up to make the company one of the most well-known and successful.

The most important element to her success as a person and an entrepeneur was her ability to connect with people, as far as I can tell, nearly all people. Every day in her life was filled with getting to know others and going out of her way to make them feel important and valued. Rumor has it that she treated her Mary Kay representatives with the same respect as she did her friends and family. It is said that when a Mary Kay representative had a birthday, an anniversary, or even a tragedy, Mary Kay Ash would pick up the phone and call them herself.

The character of Mary Kay Ash has been an inspiration to me for a very long time. I strive to make my life as worthy as hers and I hope that in some way I leave a positive impression on every person I meet or talk to. After all, you can’t put a price or value on human life and happiness.

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All Depends on How You Look At It (Marc Vun Kannon)

This is my last blog tour stop before my latest novel, St. Martin’s Moon, becomes officially available, and I will be in South Carolina at their Book Festival in Columbia (May 14 – 15, 2011) on that happy day (Sunday, if you must know). And I hope you must, since I’d really like for you guys to be there to help me celebrate the official release of the world’s first Gothic SF novel. I invented the category, so I oughtta know. There are other SF novels written in the Gothic style, but they go the usual route of assimilating all the Gothic stuff into the SF trope of the day (it’s amazing what you can blame on biotech and some nanobots in a low-gravity environment). St. Martin’s Moon isn’t one of them.

I’ve spent literally years trying to figure out how to describe this book. I could do one-liners, what they call taglines. I could do two-liners, the sort of short description you’d find in a TV guide, what they call a logline, but don’t ask me why ‘cause I don’t know. I even came up with a good back-cover description. But anytime I get closer to the plot than that I get tangled in all the strings.

The reason for the confusion, I decided, was in the genre I was using to categorize the damn thing. Why would a mere genre category do that, you ask? How could it? Well, genres are a sort of shorthand, a kind of box we put stories into so that someone looking for a story of a particular type can find one easily. The problem comes when a story doesn’t really fit into any particular type. Then the shorthand becomes something of a straitjacket. One would think a novel with werewolves and ghosts in it would fit neatly into the heading of a paranormal. Since it took place on a lunar colony it clearly was futuristic, right?

Yeah, me too.

While the story does have werewolves in it the story really isn’t about them, it’s about the people who become them. How do they live with the curse? Where does the curse even come from? Why does the Moon matter, and a full Moon, at that? These are all questions that the main character, Joseph Marquand, Earth’s greatest werewolf hunter, would like to know the answers to, because he hates his job. Killing the wolf means killing the man, usually an innocent man. When his latest case involves a werewolf attack on the Moon itself, it drives these questions from his mind in favor of something more immediate, but not far, not far at all.

In short, the story is more futuristic than paranormal, and more SF than merely futuristic. SF looks for answers, takes for granted that there are answers, which gives it something in common with the mystery novel St. Martin’s Moon was originally conceived as. Except that SF doesn’t allow for ghosts. It could handle werewolves, I think, since they have a trigger and are stoppable. Ghosts somehow don’t seem to fit into the same bucket. There’s a reason for this, I think, and I don’t think science will ultimately be able to account for ghosts any more than they’ll make a truly AI computer. So SF is fair game, in my opinion, to have a few genuine ghosts appear in its otherwise unhaunted halls. If I could have worked in a dark and stormy night I would have, but hey, it’s a lunar colony we’re talking about here. A haunted one.

Like many writers, I started when a story came along and decided that I should write it. Don’t ask me why. Others followed, until now I’m afraid to go out of the house with a recorder or notebook in my hand. But I show them, I refuse to write the same story twice!

You can also check out his really cool Blog

Other things to read by Marc Vun Kannon:

Unbinding the Stone
A Warrior Made
Ex Libris
Steampunk Santa
Bite Deep
Chasing his own Tale

The Wrong Guy (Guest Blog: Claudia Whitsitt)

On a sunny afternoon about four years ago, I plopped myself on a sandy beach in La Jolla, California and played what if. What if I wrote a book about a turning point? What if I added mystery and suspense? What if I connected it to an event in my own life that I could access in the blink of an eye?

Many years ago, I attended Eastern Michigan University on the heels of the arrest of John Norman Collins, the chief suspect of The Michigan Murders. He was accused of murdering seven college co-eds at my university. Life was scary enough for a college freshman then—the Detroit Riots had shocked my neighborhood two years previous, the Vietnam War loomed in the background, and I was a frightened, naïve Catholic girl. Though the memories of these events, and the creative joy of fiction, The Wrong Guy was born.

The main character, Katie Hayes, is a lot like me, except prettier, and taller. She heads off to school armed with her rosary and her Nancy Drew mysteries. Her best friend, Janie, is the carbon copy of my college roommate—wild and crazy. Enter crisis and mystery. One girl is assaulted, another kidnapped. Even though the cops have the likely suspect behind bars, no one can help but wonder if they haven’t apprehended The Wrong Guy.

I had a ton of fun writing this coming of age mystery. I hope you have a ton of fun reading it.

$2.99 [OmniLit][Kindle][KindleUK][KindleGE][Nook][Smashwords] $2.99

Claudia Whitsitt, a seasoned special education teacher and the mother of five grown children, is a Michigan native and lover of both reading and writing. As a young girl, she was inspired by Nancy Drew mysteries. Her passion for mystery spurred the penning of her own mystery, The Wrong Guy, loosely based on her college years and the Michigan Murders. Claudia began her writing career five years ago. During that time, she has written two additional novels, Identity Issues, and Two of Me. Claudia was honored to have won the 2010 Hummingbird Review/Southern California Writer’s Conference contest with her essay, One Last Pearl. The essay appeared in the Summer/Fall edition of the Hummingbird Review. Claudia can be reached through her website, www.claudiawhitsitt.com.

How to Write Realistic Dialogue (Guest Blogger)

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Well written, realistic dialogue is one of the most useful tools at an author’s disposable. Nothing else can pull a reader from a story than unbelievable dialogue. Imagine a character like Mandy Moore’s in A Walk to Remember. Now picture that character cursing. A bum on the streets won’t use large, obscure words. Neither would a small child. Here are some tips for including authentic dialogue in your novels:

1. Go to the mall or other places where lots of people go. Sit on a bench and eavesdrop.

2. Create a character sketch. In order for your character’s dialogue to be true to the character, it must reflect the character’s flaws, weaknesses, strengths, and personality. A smoker character will not rant about the evils of the big bad tobacco companies.

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3. Large blocks of dialogue, similar to large blocks of description, are boring. Pepper some action throughout dialogue scenes. People often talk with hand gestures. Include movements and other actions.

4. Use swear words sparingly unless the character demands it. Some people hide behind them or use them for release. Other characters may only use them under highly stressful situations. And if you are writing a historical piece, look up the curse words of that time period. In Woman of Honor, my high fantasy romance novel, my characters sometimes yell, “God’s Teeth!” or “God’s Wounds!”

5. While using words appropriate to locale (some regions say soda, others pop), try to avoid dating your piece with slang.

6. If you are going to use accents, make certain that they are constant throughout the novel but not overbearing.

7. Once you write a dialogue scene, read it aloud. Does it flow? Does it make sense? Does it further the story and add details to the plot?

Links:
Website: http://www.NicoleZoltack.com
Blog: http://NicoleZoltack.blogspot.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Nicole.Zoltack
Facebook Fan Page: http://tinyurl.com/Zoltack-FB-Fanpage
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/scarlett9284
Twitter: http://twitter.com/NicoleZoltack
Email: Nicole.Zoltack@gmail.com



Insert YOUR Name Here

That’s right. I’m looking for the next round of guest bloggers for Life as a Publisher. If this is about my life, why am I bringing all these other people here? Simple. Everything in the world is part of my life and also because it’s my Blog and I can.

Here is what I would like to see on the blog:

  • Monday: Trash Talk (This is where we can all say exactly how we feel. If you’ve got a rant, tell us about it. Books, writing, mean people in bookstore lines, whatever, get it off your chest.)
  • Tuesday: Library Spotlights (I would love to have people (authors, readers, patrons) send posts on their favorite libraries. Librarians, this is yoru chance to get your library in the limelight!)
  • Wednesday: Topics for Writers (this would include anything that would interest writers or authors from craft to marketing)
  • Thursday: Bookstore Spotlights (This is where I would like to have posts on your favorite bookstores. If possible, please send pictures. Booksellers, feel free to spotlight your OWN store.)
  • Friday: New Book Releases (if you have a new book out, this is the day to announce it here.)
  • Saturday: Karen’s Kwips (I’ll post on these days.)
  • Sunday: Karen’s Kwips (I’ll post on these days.)

Signing up to be a guest blogger here is easy. A few simple steps.

  1. Check the schedule in the sidebar to make sure your date is not already taken.
  2. Send an email (echelonpress@gmail.com) that includes your Name, e-mail address, and the date you want to appear. Please make sure your topic works with the scheduled topic. Please place “GUEST BLOGGER REQUEST” in the subject line).
  3. Send me your articles/posts. These should be 250-300 words. I like to keep things short. Please try and get them to me at last 10 days in advance. I am slow enough on my own.

When you send your post, they should be as attachments. The email should include:

  1. The post.
  2. A photo of you and/or your book cover or something relating to what you are talking about. If you don’t include your choice of photos, you are bound to accept my choice of images.
  3. A list of any links you want included. Also include your social networking urls (please visit tinurl.com before inserting those 457 character urls.)

See, how easy is that? Now tell all your friends. Bring it on!

Emails should go to echelonpress@gmail.com

Reviews? Really?

Okay, another hot button for readers. I keep hearing how important reviews are when deciding what books to buy. How true is this?

As an author, I can tell you readers how difficult it is to get anyone to review a book or short story unless you have been published by one of the big 6 publishers in NY or have made it onto a best seller list.

How is a new author supposed to get the ball rolling when they hear the same thing every time they ask for a review. “We don’t review every book that is submitted.” What that really means is, “We have never heard of you so we aren’t going to waste our time.”

As a publisher, I have submitted hundreds of books to reviewers that have gone ignored. This is a HUGE expense to us as a business. I have queried so many Bloggers and reviewers and most of the time I get rejected. I have even offered FREE downloads to anyone who would read them, those have also been rejected.

So, whose reviews are most valuable? Whose opinion is the right one? What makes a good reviewer? Why don’t more readers post reveiws if they find them so important in their selection process?

I’ve got a new novella out and would love to get some reviews. Anyone want to review it? You can get more info at OmniLit.com

Stop Saying that, Damn it! (Rant)

Okay, I have held back long enough on this topic and now I am just going to speak my mind and get it off my chest.

Dear Librarians:

PLEASE STOP making generalized comments about publishers. I get that you are really mad at HarperCollins and MacMillan and whoever else is trying to screw you over with eBooks. There are MANY publishers of all sizes who are more than willing to work with you on selling you eBooks on fair terms.

For weeks now, there has been constant complaining and blogging about those FEW publishers who want to cheat you. How does this make sense? As you continue to spotlight them in your Blogs and tweets and so forth you continue to promote them and lead people who otherwise might not have sought them out right into their greedy little hands.

Why not focus your attention and energies on the publishers who are BEGGING to work with you? Why not work with your Boards to make it possible to order from organizations other than the Big publishers.

I BEG of you, please take all the negative energy you are expelling on the bad guys and get to know the rest of us. Some of us actually have great books, print and eBooks and we would LOVE to sell them to you so you can loan them to your patrons.

I’m just sayin’!