Monthly Archives: November 2012

G G Collins Interviewed on Shaping Destiny

Collins Discusses Art & Writing

I’m delighted to take part in Destiny Allison’s “Women Artists and Writers.” Allison is running a series of interviews on her blog, “Shaping Destiny: A Quest for Meaning in Art and Life.”

Shaping Destiny
by Destiny Allison

Allison is an accomplished artist and writer. Because her questions are thoughtful, this was my first introspective interview since publishing my book. I appreciate being included in this look at women, art and writing, how we perceive our work and the world we work within.

To read the interview and check out Allison’s blog, art and book:

http://shapingdestinythebook.com/2012/11/27/author-g-g-collins/

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BLACK FRIDAY COUPON FOR “RELUCTANT MEDIUM”

Buy “Reluctant Medium” at $.99 beginning Black Friday through December 10, 2012 at Smashwords only.

Reluctant Medium
Available at Amazon
& Now Smashwords

Paranormal mystery, female sleuth, mild horror effects, humor.

Rachel Blackstone has a nose for news, but never dreamed she’d be a newsmaker. That all changes when she returns the dead, the wrong dead, using a Native American ceremony. That’s bad enough, but now she’s seeing other spirits. A strange lone wolf has appeared and things are going from bad to worse in the southwestern city of Santa Fe, New Mexico. She must discover her power or die trying.

Enter the coupon code prior to completing checkout at Smashwords:  WW77S

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/248836

See reviews here (just click on the tab above) or read at: http://www.shelfari.com/books/29578175/Reluctant-Medium/readers-reviews

 

Thanksgiving in the States

A National Holiday of Thanks 

President Abraham Lincoln first declared a holiday of thanksgiving in 1863. But it is that “First Thanksgiving” that took place in Plymouth, Massachusetts during the autumn of 1621 after the Pilgrims brought in their first harvest that Americans most often think of. Reports say it lasted three days and included 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans.

Depiction of First Thanksgiving
Public Domain

The Pilgrims, who were much like any new immigrants, had failed to bring enough supplies to grow what they needed and were helped by a Patuxet Native American named Squanto who taught them to fish and grow corn.  Massasoit, the Wampanoag leader, also donated food to the Pilgrims to help them through that first year in what to them was the New World.

Today, families gather in homes and restaurants to celebrate Thanksgiving. For many people, this is a four-day weekend and family members may travel long distances to be together. It is the biggest air travel weekend of the year in the US.

Thanksgiving Cornicopia
Public Domain

The traditional menu is roasted turkey or ham, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, various side dishes and pumpkin pie for dessert. Everyone gathers around the table and some will take the time for each person to say what they are thankful for. Often, grace (prayers) are said and then everyone enjoys the meal. For many, it’s football games the rest of the day or maybe a movie. Personally, after the meal, I like to take a walk or go to the cinema.

I’m thankful for a really good year, and for all of you who visit and follow my blog. You come from so many countries it’s almost unbelievable that all of you have found it.

Other countries have a day of thanksgiving too. Canada, Germany, Japan, Liberia,The Netherlands and Norfolk Island, among others, celebrate a day of thanksgiving.

Wherever you live, I hope you have many reasons to be grateful.

— G G Collins

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Returning the Dead

Rituals and Ceremonies to Recall the Departed

“Talking” with the dead. Various cultures use ceremony and ritual to “speak” with family and friends who have passed over. It goes by a variety of names. Some Asian cultures refer to it as spirit-calling, soul-calling or calling the soul of the dead. They can also be practiced to attract specific living people into your life. It has also been called communing with the guardian spirit. In Hispanic culture, the dead are celebrated each year on the Day of the Dead. This is a ritual growing in popularity, and why not celebrate those we have loved and lost?

Pahos Yarn & Stick
copyright G G Collins

My character, Rachel Blackstone, who became the Reluctant Medium, was mourning her father’s death as the story opened. She had not only lost her father, but he died under mysterious circumstances. Despite that, the police had not been able to determine how his accident had occurred. That left Rachel without knowing–with no facts to support or dispute a theory—an uncomfortable place for a fact-based reporter.

To this end, she decides to try a Native American ceremony to return the dead in the hope that she can ask her father what happened.

Completed pahos with Loop
copyright G G Collins

Craft a mask. I researched these ceremonies and simplified it for storytelling. The first step was to construct a mask and decorate it with items that had belonged to the deceased. Rachel used cuff links and a photo of her father and herself taken during a trip. You must create the mask yourself. While you are doing so you begin to think about the person and the issue you wish to talk about. This sets your mind on the direct path.

Pahos with Feather Added
copyright G G Collins

Prayer stick or pahos. She also wanted to make a pahos, or prayer stick. There are many ways to do this, but I chose to use yarn in the four directional colors or four colors of mankind: black, white, red and yellow. To craft a pahos, simply write a short prayer or message on a small piece of paper. Wrap and tape securely around the twig you have chosen. (Use a fallen branch or twig rather than cutting one from a tree.) Then takes lengths of each yarn color and begin wrapping them around the stick, covering the paper. You may be creative with this, but leave some yarn to fashion a hangar. Prayer sticks can be quite elaborate with beading, feathers and other objects. After completion, pahos are hung from a tree, or other outside location. This allows the prayer or wish to continually reach the Above Beings–or whatever name you choose to call your higher power. This is very personal and a private thing for each of us.

Setting the mood. Next, play some music that is conducive to relaxation. If you have a recording of Native American drumming, this is ideal, but any instrumental music that is played adagio will be fine. You may burn incense or sage. In my story I chose Dragon’s Blood incense as it is reputed helpful in these ceremonies. When all is ready, imagine that you are in a kiva, an underground chamber for Native American ceremonies. Close your eyes and wait for the outcome.

Pahos Hung in Tree
copyright G G Collins

The return. For most people, the person does not appear in a vision, although some report images resembling their loved one including outlines and abstract likeness. The reason for the ritual is to think intensely about the departed. That allows for memories to come flooding back. How would this person react to this problem or issue? What might they say? How would they advise you? Often, asking these questions can result in a solution or at least a feeling of letting go and moving forward.

For my character, since Reluctant Medium is fiction, it brought about significant change in her life. But for most people performing these ceremonies, the effect in remembering our loved one is soothing, reflective and inspiring.

— G G Collins

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Interview with G G Collins Crosses the Pond

UK’s Indie E-books Runs Interview 

Indie E-books is a great place to discover new indie authors and their books. They even offer a list of  indie friendly blogs to check out.

My thanks to them for featuring me in their interview series. Indie authors, please support the many friendly indie blogs and websites that take an interest in all things indie. They are the way out of obscurity and do it because they value the books and authors who go their own way.

To read the interview: http://indieebooks.wordpress.com/

Thank you Indie E-books!

Building a Book, Part II

Indie Publishers Go Their Own Way

by G G Collins

What happened to the easy life as a writer?  Despite my time at a traditional book publisher, I was unprepared for marketing and promoting my eBook Reluctant Medium. An eBook is a whole different animal.

A bricks and mortar book publisher will mail a handful of advance galleys to review media in the States such as Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, The New York Times and your local newspaper—if it still has a book page. And they may set up a couple local morning TV shows. After that, you’re usually on your own unless you’re one of the few chosen for an all-out book tour, something that becomes less and less common every year.

But surprise, most of these conventional review media won’t accept eBooks for review at all, but a couple will do it for a fee. With Kirkus, it’s a pricey fee!

Start here. That places the eBook author firmly at the starting line. Fortunately, the eBook world is quickly forming its own network of book review blogs, blog tours and book communities  stepping in to give the fledgling eBook author a leg up.

Goodreads-badge-read-reviewsHere are some book communities that will help you learn about marketing, promotions and getting reviews: Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com, Shelfari (Book must be book available at Amazon.) at http://www.shelfari.com and  Writers’ Café at http://www.kindleboards.com (If you published in Kindle format.) Amazon also has forums. Post only in the “Meet the Author” forums as the others are for readers. Don’t forget the forums in other countries where your book is selling. Again, look for the “Meet the Author” forums, then post on threads featuring books in the same language as your book.

Whichever book and author websites you decide to join, be certain to take advantage of their author pages as well as the book page. Complete both and link them. Yes, you’re going to be busy for awhile, but it’s worth the time to get your book out there.

Goodreads takes authors, whatever format they’ve chosen. Look for their threads on marketing and promoting, tagging (Members “tag” each others books on their product page.), indie publishing and blogging. You can announce events: free Amazon promotions, book signings, giveaways, and contests.

Whatever websites you use, haunt the forums looking for information you need to get your books in front of your audience. If you write thrillers, mysteries, romances, nonfiction self-help or spirituality, you’ll find a reading group.

Available at Smashwords

Bloggers to the rescue:Look for forums with members willing to do reviews and interviews. Bloggers are also members. Let them know which retailers carry your book:  Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. The reviewer can then place the review in those outlets.

Here are some bloggers where I’ve found interviews and reviews: Mallory Heart Reviews at http://archiestandwoodsreviewsandwritings.blogspot.com/; Kindle Book Promos at http://kindlebookpromos.luckycinda.com/; Chompasaurus at http://www.chompasaurusreviews.com/;  Paranormal Book Club at http://paranormal-bookclub.com/; and Indie eBooks in the UK at http://indieebooks.wordpress.com/. Google “book review bloggers,” and start looking for good matches to your genre.

Are you social? If you’re a member of Google+1, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, publicize your book under the guidelines of these social networks. Some have accounts that cater to authors or you might even set up an account in your character’s name. Just make certain you’re doing it according to their terms and conditions.

Seeing the world. Smashwords offers a premium catalog listing for those eBooks that qualify. This gets your book in places like Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor, Sony, Apple, Kobo and Library Direct. Being accepted in the premium catalog is important. Smashwords distribution reaches more countries than Amazon. It appears to be the road to world-wide distribution and it continues to extend its reach.

English: Photographic composition of Granmata ...

eReaders (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Acceptance depends on the way your manuscript is formatted. I took advantage of Smashwords list of formatters. (They also have a list of book cover artists.) First, I edited it again myself, then spent $50 to hire the formatter.

I chose Shelley Glasow Schadowsky at http://www.goodlifeguide.com.  The first time I uploaded the book, it failed to obtain acceptance, but Ms. Schadowsky made the necessary fixes and it’s now in the premium catalog.

It’s a blog. The other thing an author must do is build a blog. Two free places to get your start are Google’s Blogger and WordPress. I’ve read good things about both, so it’s just a matter of what you prefer. I chose WordPress and have been happy with it. There are many themes to choose from. You can find one that will match your personality or reflects the mood of your book.

Now, blogging is not all about promoting your book. In fact, writing posts that are related to your book, but not featuring your book, is the direction you want. For instance, I started my blog writing about the places where the “treasure hunt” in the storyline took place. And because I write about a medium, I added ghost stories about my locale. Since then, I’ve covered locations used in my book, talked about my characters, and enhanced the metaphysical aspects of the story.

Be sure to protect your writing with copyright notices. WordPress has one you can use on your blog. I use a copyright notice on all my photos as well.

Image representing Smashwords as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

For more in-depth help, here are two eBooks by Mark Coker, author and founder of Smashwords: Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success and Smashwords Book Marketing Guide. I’ve found these quite helpful. They are available at Smashwords, Amazon and other formats.

Go indie! When we choose the indie path, it’s indie all the way. Marketing and promoting an eBook feels like a monumental task at first, but just approach it like you did writing the book; one chapter at a time. The indie publisher writes, edits and formats the manuscript. Think of that as chapter one. This is followed by marketing and promotions, or chapter two. The final chapter is reaping the profits as your book and blog following grows.

From here we have to put on our writing hat and go to work on the next book. This can be a bit disorienting, but just plunge in. You’ve been making notes and doing research while marketing your book, so you’re ready; string those words.

This is rudimentary marketing and promotions for an eBook. Indies are learning these skills together as the market for eBooks continues to grow. I believe we are the face of new publishing, green publishing, with the potential to bring reading to people who haven’t been exposed to books in their lifetime.

With conventional publishers fading away, and eBooks exploding on the scene, we are pioneers—not in covered wagons, but pioneers exploring the technological frontier.

— G G Collins

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