To Succeed in Self-Publishing by Layered Pages

I will be sharing four key elements that I believe makes for a successful book that is self-published. There are so many wonderful and potentially wonderful stories out there that need help to succeed and as a book reviewer my aim is for that to happen.

1.      Editing: I have read so many books that were poorly edited or not edited at all. It is one of the most important aspects of publishing to have your book edited. Many writers say they don’t have the money for an editor. If you are a writer and want your book to succeed, then you must have an editor and be willing to put out the money to do so.

2.      Cover design:I believe it is important to have a good cover design to catch the reader’s eye. Yes, you will have to hire a graphic designer but it is well worth it to do so.

3.      Book Reviews: It is vital to use book reviewers instead of using just family and friends to review your book. You need someone (such as me) who will be objective and who will give you their honest opinion-putting your pride aside- is vital to make it succeed. Also, have your fellow authors review your book is a wonderful idea to.

4.      Marketing: Social Media is a great way to promote your book. There are so many options we have available to us. Book blogs, Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, IndieBRAG, Historical Novel Society and so on…Don’t limit your-self to just one site. Also, contact your local bookstores for book signings. That is a great way to promote.
Stephanie
Layered Pages

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Book Launch Party! The Twelfth Child by Bette Lee Crosby

TODAY’S THE DAY…The Book Launch Party is now in full swing for The Twelfth Child by Bette Lee Crosby – stop by my blog and learn how to join in the fun. Lots of prizes and giveaways – including a $25. Amazon Gift card. Check it out http://wp.me/pNOkn-r7

www.betteleecrosby.com

Stephanie

Interview with Author Sherry Jones

1. Please tell us about your novel, “Four Sisters, All Queens.”

“Four Sisters, All Queens” is the story of the lives and careers of four remarkable women, all sisters from the illustrious House of Savoy, daughters of the Count of Provence, who became queens of France, England, Germany, and Sicily. Told from alternating points of view of the four sisters, it provides the splendor and intrigues of four courts, each very different and yet, in terms of the frustrations and limitations on women’s power, all very much the same. And yet Marguerite, Eléonore, Sanchia, and Beatrice worked together to broker peace between England and France for the first time in 200 years. They were among the biggest celebrities of their time – more famous than the Kardashians! Beauty, wealth, adoration – they had it all, until a family dispute threatened to tear them apart.

2. How did you research the lives of the historical characters of your story?

I read as many books as I could find, plus perused the pipe rolls from the reign of Henry III. I had been to England and France, and recently returned to France for further research. I listened to music from the era and read the literature of the age, including the songs of the troubadours, which play a big role in the book, and the Arthurian legends.

3. What was your biggest research challenge?

Finding specific information about the women, which is usually the case. It’s a man’s world, and most of the contemporary chroniclers as well as the historical research and writing has focused on the men.


4. What is the most surprising thing you learned in writing Four Sisters, All Queens?

How little we have changed as human beings! Xenophobia swept England in the 13th century, spurring anti-immigration measures aimed, in particular, at the French.  Today, we still see widespread fear of, and resentment toward, “foreigners” who come to our own countries to live. Also, anti-Semitism was growing. I was very surprised to learn of the mysterious death of Floria, the wife of Richard of Cornwall’s Jewish employee, Abraham. What happened to her is still unknown, but what happened to him – the false confession he was forced to sign, denigrating the Jewish race – is atrocious. Islamophobia – and the Crusades, in which thousands of Muslims were killed out of greed which was justified by religious bigotry, ran rampant, as it does today. And women struggled then as now for power, personal as well as political, amid patriarchal attempts at infantilization and objectification.


5. What is your next book project?

I’m under contract with Simon & Schuster for a novel about Heloise and Abelard, the famous 12th-century Parisian lovers. It’s going to be an erotically charged love story and a feminist tale at once, for Heloise dared to live on her own terms and lost everything that mattered to her – but what she found, instead, may have been even more precious.


6. Who or what inspired you to become and author?

My love for reading, which started very young. By the second grade I knew I would be a writer someday.


7. Who is your favorite author and why?

I have many more than one! Eudora Welty, Alice Hoffman, Jane Smiley, Anne Patchett, Ellen Gilchrist, Rose Tremain, Hilary Mantel, Edith Wharton, Debra Magpie Earling, E.D.E.N. Southworth, Salman Rushdie, Rick Bass, Cecelia Holland. I love beautiful writing and stories that make me want to keep turning the pages. I especially appreciate literature written about women, for women.

8. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

In this age where e-publishing allows anyone to publish anything at any time, the temptation is great to put out your work before it’s ready. Resist that temptation. Remember: The first draft is always shit (Hemingway said this). The second draft usually is, too. Even the third draft may not be good enough yet. My advice is to read as much good writing as you can – “Garbage in, garbage out” – and find a really good freelance editor to help you polish your work. It’s well worth the money. And when you feel discouraged, remember this: the late, great John Gardner wrote that if your book is good, someone will publish it. This I believe to be true.

Bio:

Sherry Jones is perhaps best known for her controversial debut novels, “The Jewel of Medina” and
“The Sword of Medina,” international best sellers about the life of  A’isha bint Abi Bakr, the youngest wife of the Prophet Muhammad. Her new novel, “Four Sisters, All Queens” (Simon and Schuster/Gallery Books) tells of four sisters in 13th century Provence who became queens of France, England, Germany, and Italy. This tale of love, lust, intrigue, and sibling rivalry on a royal scale follows Jones’s recently released e-novella, “White Heart,” about the formidable French “White Queen” Blanche de Castille.
When she’s not working on her next book – about the famous 12th century French lovers Heloise and Abelard — Sherry is traveling the world as a speaker on topics including free speech, Islam, the middle ages, and women’s rights. In particular, Sherry aims to empower girls and women with her tales of extraordinary women in history.

Learn more about her and her books at http://authorsherryjones.com.
Thank you Sherry for this wonderful interview!
Stephanie

How I Review Books..

When I review a book I look for a number of things. Character, plot, style and editing. Is the character interesting, do they fulfill their purpose and are they believable. Is the story creative and interesting. How does the story flow and does the story end properly. I look at the mechanics of writing as well. The dialogue, description and if the story is true to its time and place. I look at the overall professional layout and the cover design. I think this is what makes for a good reviewer, professional one or not.

Stephanie

Interview with Author Elisabeth Storrs

1.      Please tell us about your novel The Wedding Shroud.

The Wedding Shroud is set in 406 BC.  To seal a tenuous truce, the young Roman Caecilia is wedded to Vel Mastarna, an Etruscan nobleman from the city of Veii. The fledgling Republic lies only twelve miles across the Tiber from its neighbour, but the cities are from opposing worlds so different are their customs and beliefs. Leaving behind a righteous society, Caecilia is determined to remain true to Roman virtues while living among the sinful Etruscans. Instead she finds herself tempted by a mystical, hedonistic culture which offers pleasure and independence to women as well as a chance to persuade the Gods to delay her destiny. Yet Mastarna and his people also hold dark secrets and, as war looms, Caecilia discovers that Fate is not so easy to control and that she must finally choose where her allegiance lies.

2.      Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

My aim was to explore how ancient societies treated women through the stories of a Roman maiden, Greek slave girl, Etruscan matron and Cretan courtesan. Caecilia comes from a time where women were second class citizens without the right to vote or hold property. Their primary purpose was to bear children to ensure the continuation of their husbands’ bloodline. Furthermore, women’s identities were defined by their relationship to men as either daughters or wives and they weren’t given the opportunity for education or social and sexual freedom.

The more I read about the lives of ancient women, the more I realised that gender inequality is still prevalent today and varies only by degree. Many rights that women of the western world take for granted such as education, suffrage, the ability to practise a profession and property ownership have only been acquired in relatively recent times. Certainly the concept of women being either ‘damn whores or god’s police’ is still held by many cultures. Caecilia comes from a society where ‘virtues’ are strictly defined and duty to family and State come before love. She is introduced to a ‘free’ society which challenges everything she has been taught to believe. This resonates with the divide between fundamentalism and liberalism that the modern world is facing. I hope my book makes people consider the concept of tolerance and prejudice in that context.

3.  How did you research the lives of the historical characters of your story?

The story of the war between Rome and Veii is chronicled by ancient historians such as Livy and Plutarch. My challenge was to take the bare bones of their telling of the conflict and give flesh to the story. And so I sat up reading history books into the night about the Etruscan and early Roman cultures. Most of these I borrowed from libraries but I couldn’t resist buying those ones which I found the most useful. I also had access to the JSTOR database which gave me access to dozens of articles in academic journals. Google Scholar was a great resource, too. Of course, the internet provided a plethora of information which I always tried to corroborate from a couple of sources.

4.  What are your goals as a writer?

I hope to continue to enjoy writing and never forget that this is far more important than marketing. I also want to improve my skills and always savour the pleasure of researching ancient cultures.

5.  What books have most influenced your life?

The Persian Boy by Mary Renault and The Aeneid by the Roman poet Virgil.

These books gave me an abiding sense of how history can teach us that emotions and human relationships never change even if ancient societies have different mores and beliefs. I don’t know if these authors influenced my life as such but they certainly inspired me to write historical fiction.

6.  What is your next book project?

I have recently finished the sequel to The Wedding Shroudand am in the process of editing it. Ultimately it will be a trilogy. The Wedding Shroud ends with war being declared between Rome and Veii. The sequel continues with Caecilia’s journey as the two enemy cities endure a ten year siege. I have also introduced two new female characters: a Roman grave whore who seeks to become the concubine of a general, as well as a young Etruscan artisan who comes to live in the House of Mastarna. All three women’s ability to cope in war is explored together with the lives of their men.

7.  What is your favorite Quote?

‘Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.’-Thomas Alva Edison

8.  What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Follow the three ‘P’s: perseverance, practice and passion. It took me four years to write the first version of The Wedding Shroud; another three years to completely rewrite it with a different style, voice and altered plot at the suggestion of an agent, and another three years of editing to reach a publishable standard. So never give up and always be prepared to ‘murder your darlings.’

Bio: Elisabeth Storrs has long had a passion for the history, myths and legends of the ancient world. She graduated from the University of Sydney in Arts Law, majoring in English and having studied Classics. She lives with her husband and two sons in Sydney, Australia and over the years has worked as a solicitor, corporate lawyer, senior manager and corporate governance consultant.

Stephanie’s review for The Wedding Shroud:

This fascinating story that takes in early Rome before they were the most powerful. It’s beautifully written, rich in detail with what life must have been like during those times. I don’t believe I’ve read about early Rome so this was the perfect book to start with. The plot is engrossing and the character building is inspiring. The author depicts Caecilia in a light to admire. She is a heroine I would like to read more about. One can tell Elisabeth did extensive research for this book. I hope there will be a sequel to this fabulous story.

Thank you Elisabeth for this lovely interview!

Stephanie

Betrayal by Michele Kallio

Interview with Michele Kallio-June 4th
When you read a story this good, you always wonder if the next book will compare.

Lydia a modern day women who lives in Canada with her boyfriend begins to experience dreams after her father’s death. Dreams of another time, place, and about a women whom she soon discovers her name, Elisabeth Beeton, a servant of Anne Boleyn during the time of King Henry VIII in sixteenth century England.

Lydia desperately wants to know why she is having these dreams and what they mean. Meanwhile her mother’s (who passed away) family who lives in England has been searching for her and makes contact. After receiving her mother’s journal from her aunt and uncle in England, Lydia comes to realize this might be the key to solve why she is having these dreams. While her relationship with her boyfriend hangs in the balance she goes to England to solve this mystery and to unite with her mother’s family.

The premise for this story is fascinating and the transition between present-day and the sixteenth century is masterfully done. The character building is excellent and the story leading up to Anne Boleyn execution is so believable, one might actually think these events could have happen this way. I highly recommend this novel to all who loves historical fiction with a contemporary flare.