Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Are you dreaming of traveling to Asia?

HI there! My name is Ami Blackwelder and I have worked as a teacher for eight years in Asia. I wanted to share some of my experiences with you so that you could consider if traveling as a teacher is right for you. Or perhaps you just wanted to take a vacation in the great Eastern Orient?

I taught a year in Korea and one thing I can say for sure is that the country is very exotic. The people and culture are very different from anything here in the states. They use their eyes to speak and many Korean women look like models. I made many friends who took me out to eat. Kimchi and Kimbop are two popular Korean dishes. The first is very spicy, while the later is like a vegetable sushi roll. There are many, many churches in Korea and the country is built vertically since the land is so small. This means everything is very TALL. They drive like mad, but once you get to known them you will discover a world hidden from tourists. The salary is about $2,000 a month, so if you are having a hard time finding work…perhaps Korea will help. Say hello - "An Yang ha say yo?" Which actually means something like "Are you feeling happy?"

I spent six years in Thailand. Thailand is warm and friendly. Very easy-going people who are often helpful. I loved my time in Thailand. Some of my best memories. Some of my best friends. Thailand is very affordable and buying property there is also frugal. There are islands  to visit and sunbathe on while Thais will offer massages, fresh corn and other goodies. Transportation is fun since you can go on motorbike or Baht-Bus, or an air-con bus, taxi, sky train if in Bangkok, and more. To say hello "Swadee Ca" or if a guy "Swadee Cup"  Thai salary is not as much as you'd make in Korea, maybe somewhere between $500-$1500 depending on where you work and your experience. You could work at an international school and make close to $4000 a month, but then your teaching credentials have to be up to par and you will be competing with many others.

I also travelled into Nepal, Tibet, Cambodia, North Vietnam, Japan, and China. One of the most beautiful landscapes was in Nepal/Tibet/North Vietnam. I took a tour bus from Tibet into Nepal. Very scenic route. As we passed waterfalls the bus began to rattle until stopping completely. We had to walk the rest of the way and down the side of a mountain to get into Nepal. The Nepali children climbed up the side of the mountain to help all us foreigners into the city of Katmandu. It was one of the coolest experiences I ever had. (And lived to tell;)

I would recommend visiting, if not working, in North Vietnam. Picturesque landscape and simple village people. I traveled with a village guide and saw some of the most interesting places. We walked hiking trails and off the beaten path a few times. We walked into a poor village/ school area. The area is called SAPA. This is very different from the main cities of Vietnam which are not that interesting to me.

Well, I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about the countries of Asia. Perhaps one day you will see them for yourself?

In the meantime, please check out my books at http://amiblackwelder.blogspot.com

I write with a unique-social voice and unusual, unpredictable plot twists.

BYE for now!


Monday, May 21, 2012

Author Etiquette-SC Book Fest

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the SC Book Festival along with several other bestselling authors to include Allison Hobbs (Brick and Scadalicious), Eric Jerome Dicky (Marvel Miniseries and  Chasing Destiny), Hanoch McCarty (Chicken Soup for the Soul), Kimberla Lawson Roby (The Reverend’s Wife), Zane (Sex Chronicles and Hot Box) and many more. These authors were not only Featured Presenters but some also had exhibitor spaces.  

 Me in the middle along with Strebor Books (an imprint of Simone and Schuster) authors Charmain and Allison Hobbs

The festival did a 180 degree turnaround from last year from the bigger names to the crowds. Upon the opening of the doors on Saturday readers flooded the event, bringing in their good spirits and of course their wallets. Within an hour my sales tripled from the previous year. Along with the readers came the inquiring authors. As most know I enjoy helping others, just not so much when I’m at an event selling books. This leads me to my actual blog topic—Author Etiquette.

As with anything there are rules one should follow when seeking advice from other authors or publishing companies at book festivals:

#1 No blocking the table! Unless you are purchasing a book do not block the booth from other readers. Step to the side. 

#2 Do not hand the author or publisher your book expecting them to look it over on the spot. Yes, we like meeting people but those booths are not free. We are there to sell books. No one has time to read your book and give you a critique. But, if you are to be sold bold as to do this please make sure you are handing them a quality product. Handing someone a non-edited, non-formatted, and poorly designed cover to boot is not making a good impression. 

#3 Do not bombard authors and publishers with questions and surely don’t pull out a form expecting them to go down your list of questions.  In fact festivals often have classes authors can attend regarding writing and publishing. Feel free to attend those classes and ask away. That’s why they have them. Also, most questions can be answered by looking at a publisher’s website.  Feel free to stop by the booth and take some marketing material.

#4 Know the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing before you assume and insult an author. Having a booth at an event and not a featured presenter does not mean an author is self-published nor has not reached bestselling status. It means the author knows about marketing and promoting their work.

#5 A good way to get some answers from an author is to actually purchase one of their books. Why would an author want to spend their time speaking with you if you don’t bother to even read their work? For all you know they may not be that good of an author and you don’t want their advice or in my case, I have a book that answers all your questions but you fail to purchase it. The Not So Common Sense Guide for Authors was written with you in mind. Tip: no author is going to give you all of their secrets. We worked hard to get where we are and are not going to just hand it over. 

 Me and one of my young adult readers

#6 If you are a fellow author vending the event don't get upset if your book is not selling as much as the authors around you. If you do, please refrain from trying to block their readers and making snide remarks. It’s best to sneak peeks and take note of what you can do better. If possible catch the author in-between customers and make small talk with them. Networking is acceptable, but if a reader walks up kindly step to the side.

#7 If you are going to approach other authors please be professional and use good hygiene. It’s a shame I have to say this but bathing is essential if you want to hold a conversation with me. I don’t have a very good poker face so my eyes starting to water and nose turning up has nothing to do with your characters untimely death. It’s the odor. 

The above mentioned are just a few of I often encounter while book touring and all were broken in SC. While I'm making fun due not I'm also being serious. It will get you a little closer to your goal. For more tips you may want to try The Not So Common Sense Guide for Authors and if you are serious about promoting your work try being an exhibitor yourself.  

Until Next Time,

Omegia Keeys
Award Winning Author
Publishing Liaison

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fiction Do's and Don'ts

Now that book touring has picked up for me again my posts have gotten far and few in between. I've held back because I didn't want to over-saturate my blog with how one should behave while signing books. Today my mind was in another space and I was allowed to write something else.

As I was catching up on all my emails from authors and my favorite blogs I came across a topic I touched on in The Not So Common Sense Guide for Authors. When writing fiction there are things authors should avoid. Overuse of Flashbacks is a big no no for me. Recently I was reading a book which had so many flashbacks I never knew when I was in the present mode. Then, to top it off the flashbacks really did nothing to move the story forward. After chapter five I gave up. 

For you aspiring authors I hope you take heed to the following.

How Not to Write Fiction: 3 Big Mistakes To Avoid
Books are enjoyable to read. However, they are not enjoyable if they are bogged down in description or when flashbacks prevent the story from moving forward and rob the readers of their ability to emotionally connect with the characters. Sadly, some authors, especially aspiring authors, get into these habits when writing fiction. The three biggest mistakes are author imposition, overuse of flashbacks and over description. 

Author Imposition

Author imposition is when the author uses his or her voice to tell the story. There is a time and place for author imposition, and that is when the novel follows the life of the author, told through the author's eyes. In stories like that, it is okay when the author imposes him or herself on the story narrative and dialogue. After all, he or she is the main character in the novel. However, when a book is completely fiction, the author needs to butt out and let the story write itself and the characters develop as they would in reality. 

"I told you so," Emily said emphatically. This sentence is a perfect example of author imposition. Readers can easily feel Emily's emotion when reading her words, "I told you so," on their own. The word 'emphatically' at the end of the sentence is the author's way of telling how Emily felt after she just expressed herself in the sentence.

The sentence is best be written as, "I told you so," Emily said. If a reader can't feel Emily's emotion based on those four words, then the author needs to go back to the drawing board. Bodily gestures and facial expressions are also excellent ways to convey a character's emotion.
Overuse of Flashbacks in Fiction

While flashbacks can help a story move forward, too many flashbacks can actually hinder the story and character development. Readers do not need to know about every character's life story. They don't even want to know about the main character's entire life story, unless the story revolves around the main character's life. Novels that begin with a character walking down a busy street, reminiscing about childhood memories does not tell readers anything about that character.

Over Description in Fiction

Description is central to fiction, but too much of it can severely hinder the beat of the story. Try reading this sentence: The tiny, furry, brown, kittens jumped onto the big, green, cashmere sofa. This adjective rich sentence is so easy to trip over. There is no reason for most of these adjectives.

The tiny, brown kittens jumped onto the big sofa. This sentence is concise and it gives the reader a clear image of the kittens jumping onto the sofa.

Over description robs a fiction book of its vivacity and personality, so avoid it.

When writing fiction, all authors should be aware of author imposition, flashbacks and description. They should use flashbacks only if the flashbacks serve to move the story forward and should be judicious in their descriptions of characters, events, building and streets.

Deanna Proach is the author of two books, Day of Revenge (Inkwater Press) and To be Maria (recently complete). She also writes for discounts.ca, a website that specializes in all kinds of discounts.

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

Until Next Time
O. Keeys

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Author Spotlight Lisa Rusczyk

Author Bio:

Lisa Rusczyk lives in North Alabama with her husband, stepson, and seven beautiful kitties. Her first novel, The Message, was written in 1999 and published in 2011 by Passionate Writer Publishing. Chasing the Dark was also published by Passionate Writer Publishing in 2010. The Blue Pen took five years to write and was originally published by Club Lighthouse Publishing. Now Lisa has self-published The Blue Pen. Her favorite things in life are cats, every one; spending time with her family and friends; watching movies; and drinking tea. She studied English with a concentration in Creative Writing, and Audio at The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences. She freelances as an editor for independent writers.

 What inspires you as a writer?
I love reading books, all kinds! Whenever I enjoy something, I have a desire to create it. I adore music, so I learned to play keys and guitar and sing. I wrote songs. I loved live shows, so I learned live sound. All my life, I’ve had my nose in a book, so I had to write. Now, I’m very interested in collecting gemstone rings, and last week ordered a bunch of materials to make them. I guess I just have a strong desire to create things I love in life.
 When did you have that ah ha moment when you knew you were a writer?
I think it was writing my second book Sam the Night Person, an urban fantasy novel. I wrote my first two books, Sam and The Message (scifi time travel) by hand in journals and I’ll tell ya, they were a mess. When I typed them into a word processor, I cleaned them up a ton. But with Sam I didn’t have an ending. When I typed all I’d written, I took a shower and the end came to me somewhere between shaving my legs and rinsing out the conditioner. I think that’s when I felt the thrill of making these supernatural characters behave like real people might. I knew I would write the rest of my life.
 What is your writing process?
It comes and goes. I’ve gone 5 years between novels, I’ve taken 5 years to write a book, like The Blue Pen, and it took a week to write Chasing the Dark. I won’t write on my novels unless I’m enjoying myself because if it’s not fun to write, who’s going to have fun reading these books? I usually read way back into the story before continuing on with one, even if I wrote in it the day before. I edit constantly while writing, too, and go back and make things consistent.
Tell us about your favorite character and why you chose to write about them?
My favorite character is Cleo from The Blue Pen. I love her story and how dramatic and word-driven she is. She has a spark of individuality and a way of loving life I admire.
What are you currently working on?
I have several partly written books. Do Not Go Quietly is a thriller about a sound guy who gets a death threat saying he’ll be dead in six days. From there, he is tormented by this mystery person. He had something mysterious happen to him as a kid and he can’t stand the feel of skin touching him, but he’s in love with Desi, a gorgeous musician who shares his affections. He’s been trying to keep the gloves off and hopes to touch her soon, but with the stalker after him, his old ways are coming back. He’s not just fighting to figure out who wants to kill him and why, but he’s struggling with a tormented past.
I’m about halfway through with that one. The Other World is about people living in a digital world while their bodies are taken care of in “tents” all over the globe. Orion, a boy of 8, gets epilepsy and cannot live in Allara, the digital world, and gets sent out to live in the “other world,” planet Earth, in a colonial-type place with other epileptics. Meanwhile, Marcus, in Allara, is a rebel and a mastermind programmer trying to, as he thinks of it, “free the minds of Allara” by unhooking everybody, and Orion is the key to doing it.
I also have a few others I’ve gotten some chapters written in, but haven’t revisited them in a while.
 Any upcoming events?
I have some interviews scheduled over the next few months. I’m in the process of making a new Web site and I’ll post everything coming up there.
 If you could be anyone you like, who would you be?
I would be Omegia Keeys! J/k I think it’d be cool to live as a hippie in the late 60s when things changed so much in the US. I’m also drawn to the Renaissance and Ancient Greece. I’d like to live in a time of great social, scientific and philosophical changes, and I think I live in one now with the Internet making global communication between individuals possible. It’s so fascinating to me to watch and be a part of. 
Omegia: Very funny Lisa. lol
Do you have any advice for new writers and something that a seasoned vet can learn?
For new writers, just get it down on paper or in your word processor and don’t worry about what it looks or sounds like. ALWAYS keep in mind you can change any single little letter at any time. Just write.
Seasoned vets? I guess I’d tell them to always keep in mind their younger days, those times when your ideas were all over the place, but incorporate those crazy ideas with your advanced writing skills.
Where can your followers find you?
I’m on twitter under LRusczyk, Facebook under Lisa Rusczyk, I have an indie editing site, http://www.hazardediting.blogspot.com, and a wordpress I’m setting up now, http://www.lisarusczyk.wordpress.com.
Any last words?
Believe in and love your work. Read tons of books. Generate ideas. Never feel bad about your writing if it’s not going the way you initially envisioned it. Let your book write itself sometimes. Allow your characters to breathe and live, and never give up. Dream big, and start small.

Thank you for stopping by Lisa. Some of Lisa Rusczyk's novels are listed below. Click the picture for more information. 

 Until Next Time

Omegia Keeys