Brown River Queen cover art

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Book Release Party!

Today, I'll be stepping out of the spotlight (you didn't know we had a spotlight? Well, we do, and it takes three trained monkeys to keep it aimed at me) to feature an interview with author Elyse Salpeter. Enjoy!

Why look, an author with a book!

Last week, I sent Elyse a series of questions carefully constructed to make it appear as if I have a rudimentary command of English. She kindly obliged by answering each, and consenting to have her responses posted here in the Board-certified, gluten-free pages of my blog.

But first, here are a few links to Elyse, and her books!

Elyse's Amazon Author page (includes links to all of her books!)

So who is this writing madwoman? What is she all about?

I give you the Official(tm) Elyse Salpeter Author Interview!

QUESTION from FRANK: Your new book, Flying to the Fire, is the latest installment in a series featuring a deaf protagonist. What led you to feature a deaf child as the hero of the series?

ANSWER from ELYSE: I’ve been asked this a lot and I have to say, when I first wrote Book #1, FLYING TO THE LIGHT, I had no intention of making any sort of statement by introducing a deaf child as the main character. It’s just that when I was developing the story, this young boy popped into my mind and I said to myself “what if he can’t speak and no one has any idea about the amazing secret he holds?” I was more concerned about his age. How no one would take this child seriously at the age of six, so his secret would be safe for awhile. In book #2 I move him to the age of thirteen because I really wanted him to be the driver of the story.

I didn’t want this child’s deafness to be construed as a disability and it was simply a part of who he is. I have the family all using sign language to communicate with him and I treat him very typically. 

QUESTION from FRANK: You've established a unique cosmology for Flying to the Light and Flying to the Fire. Both books are set in the world we know, in the present, but your young protagonist knows something about the afterlife we don’t. Without giving away too many spoilers, how did you come up with the plot twist that’s central to the books?
ANSWER from ELYSE: No one really knows what happens to us when we die. We think we might have an idea. We believe in faith and religion and spirituality concepts, but none of us actually has the answer. Unless you’re a complete agnostic that believes you’re worm food at the end of the day, most of us think there “something,” though I’m hard pressed to say what it is. 

I love the idea that good souls have somewhere to go and bad souls have some place where they do penance, or are simply tortured for eternity for their heinous crimes on earth! When I came up with the idea for the FLYING series, I thought to myself “what if our souls don’t necessarily go where we think they do?” I also liked the idea that this wasn’t a plot scenario that I’ve seen anywhere in the field, and death and the afterlife have been covered a lot. I think readers will enjoy this twist on the age-old question of “what happens to us when we die?” 

QUESTION from FRANKLet’s shift gears for a minute and talk about Elyse the author. Walk us through a typical day -- when do you write, how much do you try to write, and what’s the biggest obstacle you face trying to get all that done?

ANSWER from ELYSE: Ah, you see, when you said typical day and then discussed writing, that’s where my creative side gets skewed. You see, I never have set times to write. Between a full time job, married and with kids, I find my time to write to be a “plead, beg and steal” routine. A typical day is me turning on the computer in the morning and blasting out some social media promotions before I jump into the shower to get ready for work. Then, if I’ve dragged the laptop with me to work, I get two twenty minute sessions, on two different trains, to write. Sometimes I’m lucky and then can get some time in at lunch, and then also on the way home. 

Writing at night happens after the kids go to sleep, but by that time, I’m pretty much wiped out from my day. That said, when I’m deep into writing a new novel, I’ll negotiate with the family time for me to write and usually it involves me leaving the house in order to get the space and time I need. “Ideal” this is not. 

QUESTION from FRANK: The publishing industry. You’re a writer, so you’re a part of it. If you could change one thing about the business of writing itself, what would that be, and why?

ANSWER from ELYSE: I wish so many things. I wish there were more brick and mortar stores. I wish more publishing companies took on new writers. I wish it were easier to reach readers. I wish it were easier to get respected companies in the field to do reviews of self published work. I wish agents were more responsive and open to also taking on new writers. I wish it were easier to break into Hollywood. As you can see, I’m a big wisher. 

QUESTION from FRANK: What’s next for you? Got any new projects on the horizon you’d like to talk about? 

ANSWER from ELYSE: I do! I have a horror novel that I’m presently editing that I’m hoping to release for Halloween. It’s called THE MANNEQUINS and is about a film crew that disappears after breaking into a deserted mansion. After that I’ll start working on Book #3 in the FLYING series. The tentative title is called FLYING HOME. 

QUESTION from FRANK: Advice for aspiring authors -- it’s a Federal law that I ask this question in any blog interview. So, what’s worked for you, and what hasn’t, and what would you suggest new authors concentrate their efforts upon?

ANSWER from ELYSE: I would tell people to persevere. There are so many different levels of success. I know that now with five novels out I can be considered successful and I should be happy, but I’m not. I want to be able to do this full time and so I implore aspiring authors to keep writing, keep promoting and keep trying new things. With this ever changing social media and publishing landscape, who knows where the industry will be in ten years? Continue to keep writing and put out quality work and sales will come. I can’t tell you if you’ll be able to make a full time job out of it, but if you can reach a few people who enjoy your work, then you can certainly call yourself a success. 

Elyse is hosting a book launch for her new novel, Flying to the Fire. The official launch is August 30, but since you're a person of taste and no small wit, you can grab a copy right now by clicking your clicky little finger on this brightly-colored easy to use link

Thanks, Elyse, for joining us on the blog today!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Along Came a Spider

That's Millicent above, our resident Argiope aurantia (or, more commonly, the Black and Yellow Garden Spider). Millicent maintains a tidy two bedroom, two bath web above our box hedges, and is easily one of the best neighbors I've ever had (though not the first neighbor to subsist entirely on a diet of insects).

I'm careful to leave her web alone when I trim the hedges, because everyone deserves a place to live regardless of the number of their legs.

Reviews are Pouring In!

The most recent installment in the Markhat series was reviewed last week on Big Al's Books and Pals site.

I'm happy to report that The Five Faces garnered a 5 stars out of 5 rating, and the reviewer has nice things to say about not only this book but the series too:

Mr. Tuttle has a talent for developing his characters with dialog that I really appreciate. I love the banter and self-deprecating humor that he excels at. I also like the elements from our world that he weaves into his unique fantasy world of human characters along with wand-wavers, undead, trolls, banshees, soothsayers, and vampires.  I am not quite sure what to make of the slilth, but I like what he did with it at the end of the story. I am laughing right along with Stitches. I also have to laugh at the Brown River Bridge clown patrol, they add an interesting touch to Rannit’s unsavory population.

Which means I did exactly what I set out to do, this time.

You can read the entire review from the link below:

The Five Faces review on Big Al's Books and Pals

In other writing news, the new Mug and Meralda should go out for proofreading next week. Which puts the release of the book just a few weeks away!

Frank's Marketing Tips for Authors

If you read any online writing blogs or discussions, one of the first topics you'll encounter will be that of marketing your new book. There are mobs of new authors out there who appear to be convinced that the only thing standing between them and a stack of money high enough to climb and roll down is some uber-secret marketing plan.

Don't believe me? A cottage industry has sprung up overnight on Amazon alone, as hundreds of how-to books appear, each with titles like How to Make a Million Dollars Overnight Before You Even Finish That Pesky Novel or 100 Sure-Fire Tips and Tricks to Reach Best-Sellerdom and Quit Your Day Job and Show All Those Nobodies in the Crit Group That Grammar Doesn't Matter After All So Ha. 

I'd be a lot more impressed if these sure-fire can't-miss tell-all books weren't mostly written by people I've never heard of. I'd be even more impressed if many of them were longer than 15 pages, or contained fewer than half a dozen formatting and grammar errors on the first couple of pages. But hey, what's a fewe spellinging errorz between budding billionaires, right?

No marketing efforts can do more than temporarily boost sales of a bad book. And even good marketing plans can't propel goods books instantly into the sales stratosphere -- for every best-seller, I believe there are ten or a hundred equally good books languishing in the weeds, left behind out of caprice, not incompetence.

But of course there are actions and strategies any author can undertake to make the most of a fickle and ever-changing market. And since I'm a generous sort, I'll give my tricks and tips away for free (although donations are gladly accepted, after all, Millicent above needs a new central air unit).

Thus, I give you Frank's Marketing Tips and Tricks for Authors. Use them with care, lest ye summon down a furious plague of reviewers and movie producers!

Frank's Tips

1) Branding is crucial to the success of your marketing efforts. Not the kind of branding done to cattle in Westerns, though. Don't make that mistake no matter how many hits the YouTube video is likely to get.

2) Keep readers engaged with a series of high-profile crimes and arrests. Strive to have your booking photos featured on The Smoking Gun website at least once per quarter, and right before every new book release.

3) When using the Tweeter, maximize your content with lots of hashtags, abbreviations, and acronyms. HEY #AGHTY & CPHY @ASJESDF,#LOLOLOL SPDER/GHTY says what mere words can't.

4) Constant blatant self-promotion is ineffective and annoying, except when you do it. Automate Twits and book-face posts to remind readers to buy your new book every few minutes, or you'll be lost and forgotten by all.

5) Invite bloggers to blog on their blogs about your blog and then blog about their blog concerning your blog.

6) Google yourself. Pull the blinds down first, you pervert.

7) Always approach editors and agents from behind, while wearing cork-soled shoes, or they'll hear you coming and you'll struggle to force the chloroform-soaked rag over their mouth.

8) Book signings are a powerful way to reach and build an audience. Bookstore owners are busy people, so don't waste their time by asking permission before you set up a table and start signing. An attitude of quiet self-assurance and a pair of burly roadies named 'Big Mike' and 'Butcher-knife' are all you need to establish your presence.

9) Receiving a bad review is part of any author's life. But you're not any old author, so respond to a poor review with calm, professional mercenaries, who can be found for hire in the pages of Soldier of Fortune magazine.

There is a 10th tip, but it is so powerful and potentially dangerous I must wait and publish it in my own upcoming how-to book, which shall be entitled Writing For Big Bucks: How to Command Financial Mastery of the Publishing Industry With Only Two Small Ice Cubes, the Shinbones of a Hamster, and a 42-syllable Sanskrit Word Spoken Beneath a Total Eclipse, Part 1 (available in October for only $39.99).

Finally, the Inevitable Ice Bucket Challenge Video 

I leave you this week with a video.

I was challenged by my wife to undertake the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS research, and of course I agreed, because this is Mississippi in late August and a bucket of ice water poured over one's head is a thing devoutly to be wished for. 

There's another reason, too. My Mom died of ALS three years ago, and I believe I can say without reservation that I've never seen anything so cruel and so devastating as ALS. Every dollar raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge is a blow against the disease, and for me, that's a very good cause indeed.

Donations can be made via

Below is my video. Please note the appearance of the large fused ice-chunk, and the velocity at which it contacts my formidably sturdy skull.