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Strategy And Business Plans for Authors With Johanna Rothman
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Let’s talk about storytelling. Or rather, let’s talk about the medium through which storytelling is told and perceived. This is such a fascinating topic I couldn’t resist writing about it.
What is your choice of medium when it comes to books? Paperback, an ebook, or audiobook? I have particular interest in how audiobooks affect our perception of a story. Just stop yourself and consider this one thing. Medium. According to Google medium is defined as the following:
1. An agency or means of doing something.
2. The intervening substance through which impressions are conveyed to the senses or a force acts on objects at a distance.
Both definitions are great, but I prefer the second one because it provides more insight into the topic. Some readers prefer the tactile and visual feedback of a book any day over a digital one. Others hail the ebook over any dinosaur book. I’ve always had trouble digesting books in physical form for some reason. But when the advent of the ebook was created I became a book addict.
Others prefer yet another medium of storytelling. The audiobook. People are listening to more and more audiobooks these days, including myself. Why? What affect does the audiobook have upon the reader? Or better yet, what affect does this medium have upon the listener?
The narrator and his or her performance is the medium through which the story is perceived. No two narrators are the same in skill, personality, voice, training or delivery. So in a sense, you’re getting a completely different medium with each and every narrator. Cool eh? I thought so. But it doesn’t end there.
According to Professor Mehrabian, only 7% of communication is verbal, and 93% nonverbal. Or, the nonverbal component would be 55% body language, and 38% tone of voice. There is some debate about this (of course), so we have to take into consideration other factors such as context, etc. I’ll spare you the boredom. What I’m getting at is the paralinguistic, or paralanguage part of communication that makes up 93%.
Writing to convey ‘what’s not said’ is extremely hard, but the best writers do it with much practice. What’s not said makes up a huge portion of communication, meaning and in understanding another person. This is critical in the context of storytelling when conveying a character properly.
They say that the nonverbal component is broken down into body langauage and tone of voice. Body language being 55% and tone of voice 38%. When you read a book the author has to convey this information adequately. All the nonverbal tells of communication must be rendered by the authors writing. Good writing does this well, but anything less is lacking a lot of useful information.
Now you throw in a narrator. I love narrators! We have to see the entire story through their eyes and skill amongst other things. These are what linguists call Paralinguistics, or paralanguage. Which basically means everything that isn’t verbal. According to the aforementioned statistics it means everything as far as understanding another person’s attitude, motive, mood, personality etc. All this must be skillfully conveyed through the narrator.
Author: Rachel Amphlett
Narrator: Alison Campbell
Length: 8 hours 27 minutes
Publisher: Saxon Publishing⎮2017
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural
Series: Detective Kay Hunter, Book 1
Release date: Oct. 2, 2017
Synopsis: “If you want to see your daughter alive again, listen carefully.”
When the body of a snatched schoolgirl is found in an abandoned biosciences building, the case is first treated as a kidnapping gone wrong.
But Detective Kay Hunter isn’t convinced, especially when a man is found dead with the ransom money still in his possession.
When a second schoolgirl is taken, Kay’s worst fears are realized.
With her career in jeopardy – desperate to conceal a disturbing secret, Kay’s hunt for the killer becomes a race against time before he claims another life.
For the killer, the game has only just begun….
Scared to Death is the first book in a new crime thriller series featuring Kay Hunter – a detective with a hidden past and an uncertain future….
If you like the Kim Stone series by Angela Marsons, Peter Robinson’s DCI Banks series and the Erika Foster series by Robert Bryndza, discover Rachel Amphlett’s new detective novels today.
Rachel Amphlett has found the secret to create a thriller crime series. When I listened to this audiobook I got the sense that everything gels well together. I’d say the author excels at portraying realistic crime scenes, fascinating plotting, with a unique killer. Which, in this crowded field is easier said than done. A very solid book and balanced writing.
Narrator Alison Campbell has intriguing style of narration. Her accent is great with the ability to create various character voices. Pacing is slower, yet lures you more into the story. Great job! I’m definitely looking forward continuing this series!
Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.
She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.
Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.
She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.
Author: Alec Birri
Narrator: Jonathan Keeble
Length: 6 hours 32 minutes
Publisher: Essential Music Limited⎮2018
Genre: Medical Thriller
Series: The Condition Trilogy, Book 1
Release date: Jan. 17, 2018
Synopsis: The first in a dystopian trilogy based on the author’s command of a top secret government unit.
What if all brain disorders were treatable? Few would lament the passing of dementia or autism, but what if the twisted mind of a sex offender or murderer could be cured too? Or how about a terrorist or maybe a political extremist? What if we could all be “corrected”?
It’s 1966, and RAF pilot Dan Stewart awakes from a coma following an aircraft accident into a world where nothing seems to make sense anymore. Not being able to recall the crash might be expected, but what about the rest of his life? And what’s stopping him from taking his medication? Is it brain damage that’s causing paranoia about the red pill, or is Dan right to think something sinister is going on?
His horrific injuries don’t make any sense either – a post-crash fire caused him to suffer almost 100% burns. How is it even possible to survive that? Are the hallucinations and strange dreams trying to tell him something? They are, and he’ll soon find out what, but not before his doctor’s sure the shock won’t kill him.
I loved this book. The writing combined with the excellent performance of narrator Jonathan Keeble made it great book. The Condition is a psychological medical thriller of its own kind. Author Alec Birri does an exceptional job of unraveling his plot, compelling point of view, and drawing headlong into the story. It seemed like one domino lead the next one, and so forth. Very entertaining with lots of suspense. Can’t wait to start book two!
What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
Horses for courses. It’s just a different experience. Having said that, it would worry me if no one read at all.
How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
Celebrate? I’m the original mister grumpy – the word doesn’t exist in my vocabulary! I carry on writing. There’s a running joke in the military, usually spouted by someone when morale is at its lowest: ‘Never mind, lads – the sooner this job is done, the sooner we can start another one.’ 😀
In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
I think a series works better than a stand-alone when it comes to the business side of things, as the first can be given away, but that’s not how Condition started out – when it became too big for one novel I split it into two and then, as the words mounted, three books. I’m 25k into my current work, and have no idea if the word count will end up being 40k or even 400k. I write the story and stop when it’s told.
What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Seek out danger. Nothing like a near-death experience for freeing the imagination! Seriously though, get out of your comfort zone. There’s a good reason why the likes of Frederick Forsyth have visited war zones or risked crossing deserts just as hostile. No money to do that? Then hang out with your local ambulance crews, paramedics, police and get the experience second-hand. Anything that brings you into contact with the uncomfortable.
Alec Birri served thirty years with the UK Armed Forces. He commanded an operational unit that experimented in new military capabilities classified at the highest level (Top Secret Strap 3) and it is this that forms the basis of his novels. Although semi-autobiographical, for national security and personal liberty reasons, the events and individuals portrayed have to be fiction but are still nonetheless in keeping with his experiences.
*Is Revived your first book?
*How do feel about writing your first book?
I feel… satisfied. In the beginning this book was just something to keep me busy. It turned into so much more than that. I fell in love with writing and creating this world and these amazing characters. Now, I can’t imagine my life without it. It was 2 years ago this month that I began writing Revived. There has been a lot of sacrifice, rejection, and hard work to get to this point but I wouldn’t change a thing. I just finished my second round of editing which means I’m so close to seeing it in print and no other word describes how I feel better than satisfied.
*How do you personally benefit from writing?
Writing is a distraction, an outlet to channel my imagination and creativity. Writing has seen me at my worst, and at my best. There’s no judgement or expectation and I thrive when I’m in that safe place. Some days I question my sanity, I created these characters from scratch and now I speak about them as if they’re real. Nothing like a little crazy to keep things interesting! But mostly, I write because I love it.
*Have you ever cried while writing?
Yes I have. I’m a very emotional person so there are many different reasons I’ve cried while writing. A song from my writing playlist that fits perfectly with a scene can make me tear up. Out of frustration—this happens more than I like to admit. I’m so attached to these characters that killing one of them is absolutely gut wrenching and cry-worthy for sure.
*What is the Imagination to you?
The imagination to me is the ability to step outside of yourself, to challenge the rules society has demanded we follow and embrace our creative side. The imagination allows us to be free. It gives us the ability to dream.
*Tell us about who Swayzi is.
Swayzi is someone you’ll root for, she’s relatable, loveable, and so unaware of how amazing she is. When you first meet her, she’s in an impossible situation. She has been given 2 months to live and a huge part of her wants to give up. You start with her at her absolute lowest and follow her on a journey of discovering her self-worth. She finds love, experiences betrayal and heartbreak, but the most important and defining part of the book, well—you’ll have to read it to find out!
*What does she want the most?
Swayzi loves her family more than anything and would do anything to protect them. I would say their safety is her first priority. Beyond that, what she wants most is to shed all the insecurities, and doubt, and embrace her fate on her terms.
*Who are Daylan and Tyler?
Tyler is and always will be my favourite character to write. He is without a doubt the heart of this story. A quote from the book describes him best: “Tyler was glaringly human. He would hold my hand during the scary parts of a horror movie, not for me, but for him. He felt pain, I could see it written all over his face when I was sick. He was constantly digging himself a hole, never saying the right thing at the right time. He was simply imperfect, flawed even, but that’s what made him—him.”
Daylan is quite the opposite of Tyler. He is eloquent and knows exactly who he is and what he wants. He is the epitome of tall, dark and handsome and of course, very mysterious. Daylan has answers to questions Swayzi didn’t even know she had. Tyler may be the heart of this story, but Daylan drives it.
*When is the publication date for Revived?
Publication date is not official yet but it will be August or September. There’s a ton happening behind the scenes right now, cover design, release date, and some exciting extras that will be announced very soon. Keep an eye on my social media!
Jenna Morland is the author of Revived published by Oftomes Publishing, set to release in 2018. Jenna is a Canadian born author, song writer, and mother of two that lives under the Northern Lights. Slytherin to the core, Jenna’s ambition to write her debut novel happened somewhere between training for a triathlon and putting her kids to bed. But it was her determination to follow through that landed her a publishing deal. Growing up, her wild imagination thrived off of reading and her most desired hobby was to let a book completely consume her. Unlike most writers, Jenna never wrote in a diary. She dreaded English class and she never dreamt that one day she would write a novel. Until she did.
A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.
Caitlin Hendrix has been a Narcotics detective for six months when the killer at the heart of all her childhood nightmares reemerges: the Prophet. An Unsub—what the FBI calls an unknown subject—the Prophet terrorized the Bay Area in the 1990s and nearly destroyed her father, the lead investigator on the case.
The Prophet’s cryptic messages and mind games drove Detective Mack Hendrix to the brink of madness, and Mack’s failure to solve the series of ritualized murders—eleven seemingly unconnected victims left with the ancient sign for Mercury etched into their flesh—was the final nail in the coffin for a once promising career.
Twenty years later, two bodies are found bearing the haunting signature of the Prophet. Caitlin Hendrix has never escaped the shadow of her father’s failure to protect their city. But now the ruthless madman is killing again and has set his sights on her, threatening to undermine the fragile barrier she rigidly maintains for her own protection, between relentless pursuit and dangerous obsession.
Determined to decipher his twisted messages and stop the carnage, Caitlin ignores her father’s warnings as she draws closer to the killer with each new gruesome murder. Is it a copycat, or can this really be the same Prophet who haunted her childhood? Will Caitlin avoid repeating her father’s mistakes and redeem her family name, or will chasing the Prophet drag her and everyone she loves into the depths of the abyss?
A Damn good thriller!
This is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and definitely the best crime fiction. Absolutely amazing. A must read. Caitlin Hendrix, a narcotics detective joins an investigation to catch one of the nations worst serial killers that her father failed to catch. In fact, her father Mack Hendrix now a retired cop, tries to persuade to stop investigating since it ruined his life nearly driving him insane.
I loved what Meg Gardiner has done with detective Caitlin Hendrix. She’s not necessarily an expert, but joins the homicide division due to her father’s connection to the case. Determined, focused, bold, not to mention brillant; she works with law enforcement to catch the UNSUB.
Meg Gardiner does a spectacular job creating the twisted M.O. of the serial killer, UNSUB. He was such a formidable opponent it made for a JUICY conflict. Meg crafts his motivations perfectly.
The suspense is so thick you can cut it with a steak knife. So if you like edge-of-your-seat thrillers, THIS IS IT. Look no further.
In the crowded arena of crime fictiob UNSUB is quite unique. Don’t miss it!!
Inspired by real-life serial killer Ted Bundy, an exhilarating thriller in which FBI profiler Caitlin Hendrix faces off against a charming, merciless serial killer
In southern Texas, on Saturday nights, women are disappearing. One vanishes from a movie theater. Another is ripped from her car at a stoplight. Another vanishes from her home while checking on her baby. Rookie FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix, newly assigned to the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, fears that a serial killer is roaming the dark roads outside Austin.
Caitlin and the FBI’s serial crime unit discover the first victim’s body in the woods. She’s laid out in a bloodstained, white baby-doll nightgown. A second victim in a white nightie lies deeper in the forest’s darkness. Both bodies are surrounded by Polaroid photos, stuck in the earth like headstones. Each photo pictures a woman in a white negligee, wrists slashed, suicide-style–posed like Snow White awaiting her prince’s kiss.
To track the UNSUB, Caitlin must get inside his mind. How is he selecting these women? Working with a legendary FBI profiler, Caitlin searches for a homology–that elusive point where character and action come together. She profiles a confident, meticulous killer who convinces his victims to lower their guard until he can overpower and take them in plain sight. He then reduces them to objects in a twisted fantasy–dolls for him to possess, control, and ultimately destroy. Caitlin’s profile leads the FBI to focus on one man: a charismatic, successful professional who easily gains people’s trust. But with only circumstantial evidence linking him to the murders, the police allow him to escape. As Saturday night approaches, Caitlin and the FBI enter a desperate game of cat and mouse, racing to capture the cunning predator before he claims more victims.
Meg Gardiner is the author of thirteen thrillers. UNSUB, her latest novel, features homicide detective Caitlin Hendrix. Don Winslow says, “Like The Silence of the Lambs, this novel scared the hell out of me. I dare you to try putting it down.” The novel has been bought for development as a TV series by CBS.
Meg was born in Oklahoma and raised in Santa Barbara, California. A graduate of Stanford Law School, she practiced law in Los Angeles and taught writing at the University of California Santa Barbara. She’s also a three time Jeopardy! champion. Meg lives in Austin, Texas.
She’s the author of the Evan Delaney series and the Jo Beckett novels. China Lake won the 2009 Edgar award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Paperback Original. The Dirty Secrets Club won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Procedural Novel of 2008.
Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty—an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and Uprooted, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts.
Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trades she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles and a reliable way to survive.
But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to question all she believes. For the warrior tells her an extraordinary tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling birds of prey are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass—a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.
In Daevabad, within gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.
After all, there is a reason they say to be careful what you wish for . . .
*Where are you originally from?
I’m from New Jersey originally (and proudly!) and have lived in New York City for about a decade.
I was briefly in Camden, NJ once, and have been in New York once. Greetings from Ohio!
*What influences early in life led you to become a writer?
I originally wanted to be a historian, but I’ve always been a bookworm and read widely since I was a child. I dabbled in fan-fiction a bit as a teenager, but The City of Brass was my first real effort at writing!
That’s amazing. Your writing is impeccable. I’m still reading this and definitely will be reviewing it.
*How did you develop a love for history?
I’ve loved history since I was pretty young; I was a fan of those big Eyewitness books on the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians and also used to just straight-up read encyclopedias. I narrowed in on the late antique/early medieval Islamic world while in high school, and that’s been my interest ever since.
I love what you’ve created with the City of Brass. Your knowledge and love for history bleeds through the pages pretty easily. I’ve never been exposed to that part of history so it feels like an adventure!
*Why did you choose to write in 18th century Cairo?
I pulled a lot of the details for the magical world from earlier history, particularly the Abbasid’s, but I wanted to start in 18th century Cairo for a few reasons.
1) I wanted to explore the history of medicine and there were a lot of developments at this time.
2) A lot of the book has to do with occupation and setting it at the start of Western colonialism in Egypt seemed appropriate, and
3) I knew a Napoleon reference in the first chapter would help orient some readers unfamiliar with the history!
Nice. Very interesting!
*What are the core elements of epic fantasy?
I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer that, but in my opinion, only that it be epic. I’m not much of a stickler for the rules. I’ve read palace intrigues set in cosmopolitan cities and journey tales across oceans, and I think they all work under the definition.
Good enough for me–and your book is EPIC.
*Tell us some things you enjoyed researching the City of Brass.
Scandals in the Abbasid court! Between jealous poets, scheming wazirs, and powerful queen mothers, it’s all a delight to read.
Scandals seem to be everywhere I’m not surprised.
*When is the next book of the trilogy due?
Fairly soon. Fingers crossed, we’ll have it out next year!
Awesome. I just added it to my Goodreads.
S. A. Chakraborty is a speculative fiction writer from New York City. Her debut, THE CITY OF BRASS, is the first book in an epic fantasy trilogy set in the 18th century Middle East and will be published in November 2017 by Harper Voyager. When not buried in books about Mughal portraiture and Omani history, S. A. enjoys hiking, knitting, and cooking unnecessarily complicated meals for her family. You can find her online at www.sachakraborty.com or on Twitter (@SChakrabs) where she likes to ramble about history, politics, and Islamic art.
This is an occasional post I’m doing to give a sneak peek about the books I’ve been reading and listening too recently. It really should be a weekly or bi-weekly post, but I haven’t got my act together quite yet. *Sigh*
Here’s some notable books from this month that has caught my eye. Ready? Here it goes!
King Severn Argentine’s fearsome reputation precedes him: usurper of the throne, killer of rightful heirs, ruthless punisher of traitors. Attempting to depose him, the Duke of Kiskaddon gambles…and loses. Now the duke must atone by handing over his young son, Owen, as the king’s hostage. And should his loyalty falter again, the boy will pay with his life.
Seeking allies and eluding Severn’s spies, Owen learns to survive in the court of Kingfountain. But when new evidence of his father’s betrayal threatens to seal his fate, Owen must win the vengeful king’s favor by proving his worth—through extraordinary means. And only one person can aid his desperate cause: a mysterious woman, dwelling in secrecy, who truly wields power over life, death, and destiny.
I’m thoroughly enjoying this series. The Queen’s Poisoner, book one of the series was utterly mesmerizing. I switched back and forth between reading and listening to the audiobook performed by the talented Kate Rudd. I’ll post the narrator performance on my other site at AudioSpy. Currently reading/listening to the second book, The Thief’s Daughter and it’s just as good!
The Nowhere Man is a legendary figure spoken about only in whispers. It’s said that when he’s reached by the truly desperate and deserving, the Nowhere Man can and will do anything to protect and save them.
But he’s no legend.
Evan Smoak is a man with skills, resources, and a personal mission to help those with nowhere else to turn. He’s also a man with a dangerous past. Chosen as a child, he was raised and trained as part of the off-the-books black box Orphan program, designed to create the perfect deniable intelligence assets—i.e. assassins. He was Orphan X. Evan broke with the program, using everything he learned to disappear.
Now, however, someone is on his tail. Someone with similar skills and training. Someone who knows Orphan X. Someone who is getting closer and closer. And will exploit Evan’s weakness—his work as The Nowhere Man—to find him and eliminate him. Grabbing the reader from the very first page, Orphan X is a masterful thriller, the first in Gregg Hurwitz’s electrifying new series featuring Evan Smoak.
Holy mackerel!! Reading this was literally like watching a movie unfold in my head. My first Gregg Hurwitz book didn’t disappoint one bit. The next book in the series is a short, Buy a Bullet and now I”m currently reading The Nowwhere Man.
Everyone thinks Emmy Dockery is crazy. Obsessed with finding the link between hundreds of unsolved cases, Emmy has taken leave from her job as an FBI researcher. Now all she has are the newspaper clippings that wallpaper her bedroom, and her recurring nightmares of an all-consuming fire.
Not even Emmy’s ex-boyfriend, field agent Harrison “Books” Bookman, will believe her that hundreds of kidnappings, rapes, and murders are all connected. That is, until Emmy finds a piece of evidence he can’t afford to ignore. More murders are reported by the day–and they’re all inexplicable. No motives, no murder weapons, no suspects. Could one person really be responsible for these unthinkable crimes?
Invisible is James Patterson’s scariest, most chilling stand-alone thriller yet.
I found this to be a very creative book for crime fiction. An FBI analyst gets mixed up in a string of mysterious lethal fires which turn out to be the heinous work of a serial killer. Amazing! Really enjoyed the originality in this one. Quite different from the typical serial killer in crime fiction.
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