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Friday, July 17, 2015

Author's Online Media Kit

Too many writers start thinking that all there is to being a successful author is to sit down with their computer or (yes, there are a few left out there) pen and pad of paper and record the words that will create the novel of the century. Only when they get to the point they seek a publisher do many begin to understand there is much more to it. Any publisher or agent these days wants to know what kind of platform an author has, how diverse is it and how much time is the author willing to assertively promote their published work.

Before the internet, writers were encouraged to put together media kits. These include the following:
  • Press releases
  • Sell sheets
  • Business cards
  • Bookmarks
  • Trading cards and other promotional giveaways (swag)

Online Media Kit for Family Secrets
These tools are still of value today. But, in this day of blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads, what may be of greater help to an author is an online media kit. For each book this would include:
  • Photo/video files:
    • Novel cover
    • Author photo
    • Nameplate, if you use one
    • Video book trailer
    • Blog tour banner or other banner
    • Pictures and links used in a Facebook party/event
  • Word/text documents:
    • Book summary/blurb
    • Tag line or hook (10-20 word teaser like you often find on a book cover)
    • Short excerpt
    • Long excerpt
    • Author biography - a short one and a long one
    • A Q&A either about your book topic, experience writing the book or from one of the character's point of view in relation to the plot of the book.
    • Author platform links (url links to author's website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
    • Purchase links (url links for all the venders where the author's book may be bought)
    • Script for a Facebook party/event


Zina Abbott Online Media Kit with kits for each novel

The text information may be saved on word documents, either using one document for each item or by saving them one after another like I did for my Family Search tag line, blurb and short excerpt (shown) and my longer blurb. Another page has my long and short bio.

How did I learn the value of compiling an online media kit? The hard way, of course! As I either initiated promotional efforts or was offered opportunities to feature my books on the blogs and Facebook pages of others, I found I was either duplicating work I had already compiled weeks or months earlier, or I was scrambling through my document and picture files searching for promotional information I knew I had on my computer -- somewhere. Either that, or I found myself going to my Amazon author page or my Barnes & Noble book page where I knew I could find my biography or book description.
Hyperlinked text connected to the internet
I was pleasantly surprised to discover it did not take as much time as I thought it might to get organized so that all this information is available in one place and I can easily access it by a click of the touch pad. Even my third party links could be copy and pasted from my word document to a blog post  -- and work! Now when I have an opportunity to feature one of my books, I can go straight to my file that holds the online media kit for that book and forward the information requested for my book promotion.

Next month I will offer a tutorial on how to link your urls (http:// addresses) to hyperlink your text so you can click on a descriptive word instead of the full hyperlinked web address.

Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. FamilySecrets was published by Fire Star Press, but she has other historical western novels published by Prairie Rose Publi. The author currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” 

Zina Abbott Author Links:
Website  |  Blog     |  Pinterest  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads


Monday, July 13, 2015

A Mother's Influence

I'm not much into confessions, at least I don't think I am, but I'll come clean about something. Even though I'd happily signed up to write a monthly blog for Fire Star and figured I'd have no trouble coming up with something to chat about, when I sat down in front of the computer yesterday, I had nothing, nothing I say.
Writer's block?
Oh who knows? I rather suspect it was a case of life getting in the way of creativity. Writing is hard work. All that business of creating a world peopled with living, breathing characters out of thin air. And that has to be done while the washing machine stops working and teenagers stay out past their curfew and give us grey hair.
These days I'm in a position familiar to millions of people. I'm parenting my parent. How easy it is to write that—parenting my parent. But as anyone who has been there knows, there's nothing easy about advocating for our aging parents and accepting that we have no choice but to slowly let go.
Just today I took my mother to her doctor for a regular checkup only there's nothing regular about it because she's getting weaker and more confused by the day. After listening to her heart and commenting that her heart murmur is becoming more pronounced, he looked me in the eye and said, "Just keep her comfortable." She's 96 and doesn't want to live to be 100. Thank goodness for a doctor who believes in, "Just keep her comfortable."
This is the loving single parent who raised my sister and me on her own, my biggest fan, the woman who encouraged my writing from the beginning. She doesn't understand the publishing world but we went to a New York city writers' conference together and she sat through workshops and told me I was as good a writer as Nora Roberts. She talked me into going into St. Patrick's Cathedral which was an awe-inspiring experience and we got kicked out of the Ritz Hotel for doing the tourist gawk. Nothing will ever take those memories from me.

Just today when I again told her about the Women Writing the West conference I'm going to in Oct., she asked what I expected to learn from it. I explained that I'll be running a workshop about the pros and cons of self-publishing, and she gave me that, "What language are you speaking?" look. Yes Mom, after all these years of writing, I've developed enough expertise about some subjects to run a workshop. I'd love to be able to take her to central Oregon with me, but the days of hanging out together at a conference are behind us, and I can't impress her with how much I know. She no longer grasps my world.
But we had those days, darn it, and I'll always have the memories.
One of my favorite pictures of her is one my sister had enlarged and I framed that show her, her mother, her sister, and a sister-in-law kicking up their heels like can-can dancers.
That's the mother I'm going to remember—the can-can dancer with the big smile, the mother who has read my historicals more times than either of us can count, the teacher who introduced me to the love of reading and from there to writing.
My biggest and best fan.    

Mother, you more than anyone else made me who I am.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

#NewRelease--CAPTURE THE NIGHT by Cheryl Pierson--Giveaway

Hi everyone! I’m so excited to finally see CAPTURE THE NIGHT coming out—it’s one of those stories that I have had in the back of my mind for years—in fact, the rough draft for it was written a several years ago and only just now edited for “public consumption”!

Everything I write is set in Texas or Oklahoma, and this was no exception. I had to figure out a way to get the Prime Minister of Great Britain to our “neck of the woods” and what better way to do that than to treat him to a rodeo? But, of course, he didn’t count on the rogue faction of the Irish Republican Army seeking him out in America for their own brand of vengeance!

That’s where our hero, Johnny Logan, and the heroine, Alexa Bailey, come in. Johnny is a 20-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, assigned undercover as extra security for the Prime Minister, Brendan Roberts. When a bloodbath erupts throughout the luxury hotel, Johnny is wounded and manages to get away through a serving door beside the kitchen.

Alexa Bailey, who has come to Dallas to celebrate her one-year divorce anniversary, has made an illicit trip to the rooftop to see the lights of Dallas at night. She seeks sanctuary in the equipment building on the rooftop, and that’s where she and Johnny meet—he stumbles in bleeding, and she (of course!) comes to his aid.

It isn’t long before they discover they are not alone in their temporary haven on the roof…but is the other occupant friend or foe?

The outcome for everyone involved hinges on the mercurial temper of Kieran McShane, the leader of the small army of IRA terrorists, and what he decides to do—culminating with a final showdown between Johnny and McShane high on the rooftop where the story begins—winner take all. Badly wounded, Johnny’s chances are slim—but there is no choice for him—and time is running out.

I hope you will enjoy reading CAPTURE THE NIGHT! 


Alexa Bailey intends to celebrate her one-year divorce milestone at the luxurious Riverwind Hotel in Dallas. Instead, she’s plunged into a deadly hostage situation at the hands of a rogue faction of the Irish Republican Army led by madman Kieran McShane. The roof of the hotel is her only escape from the seething danger below.

Johnny Logan is an undercover cop assigned to protect the visiting British Prime Minister. When McShane takes over the Riverwind, all hell breaks loose and Johnny is badly wounded before he manages to escape to the roof.

But the relative safety of the equipment building offers only temporary sanctuary for Johnny and Alexa, and they soon realize even in that remote haven, they’re not alone. With a small hostile army occupying the Riverwind, and the lives of the hostages hanging in the balance, the only thing they can do is try to keep McShane guessing until help comes.

Has love come too late for Alexa and Johnny? The clock is ticking, and time is running out.   In a wager that means life or death for them all, Johnny pits himself against McShane in a “winner-take-all” battle high above the city. Will he be able to save the handful of hostages who are depending on him to CAPTURE THE NIGHT?  

    Johnny lay very still, looking up at the night sky. The stars tumbled across the velvet darkness like diamonds tossed from some lucky gambler’s hand. Two hours, he thought, by the position of those stars, since Billings had died. Been pushed.
    Alexa’s arm came across his chest in a gentle caress, and he turned his head to kiss the back of her fingers near his shoulder. She wasn’t awake, he knew, but he wanted to show her every moment of tenderness allowed them on this, their last night together.
    He tried to force his mind to relax. He knew he needed to sleep. But hell, by dawn he may be dead. It seemed a waste to sleep these last hours away.
    “Are you awake?” Alexa whispered.
     He smiled, realizing how much he’d wanted her awake with him, wondering if he’d made it happen by the strength of his thoughts. He didn’t try to turn his head to look at her. Right now, he wasn’t sure he could. He was spent.
    “Yeah. Just thinking, Lex. Just wishing we had a way of—capturing this night and holding onto it forever—until it came out right for us.”
    He felt her smile against his shirt. “Johnny, I—I want you to know something.” She came up on her elbow, looking down at him. “I’m not sorry for being here—wrong place, wrong time I guess, most people would say. But it was the right time for me—for us.” She seemed almost shy, looking away from his gaze. “I was married all those years to a man I thought I knew. Thought I loved. But I never knew what love meant until twenty-four hours ago.” She shook her head, an ironic smile curving her full lips. “Twenty-four years I searched for it, Johnny. And in twenty-four hours, I found exactly what I’d missed—with you.” Her brow furrowed and she glanced at him, then looked away again, as if the bright mirror of her love in his eyes was too much to bear.
“I love you.” She gave a self-deprecatory chuckle. “And I feel like I’m sixteen again.” She moistened her lips, glancing up at him. “I have nothing to lose at this point by being completely honest, do I?”
Johnny’s mouth slanted upward. “Alexa…you have nothing to lose with me—ever.
    The wind teased her hair, blowing strands of it across her face. “I’ve never felt this way before. Earlier—when we—” she stopped, searching for the words she needed.
    “Honesty, Alexa…” Johnny murmured. “You can say anything to me.”
    She nodded. “I know.” She sighed. “It was…the first time I ever wanted anyone so much.”
    She lowered her head, a tear dropping to wet his shirt. “So, anyhow,” she sniffed, wiping her eyes as she tried to smile, “I wanted you to know that no matter what happens—I love you. I know, now, what that means. You showed me, Johnny.”
    His heart pounded against his chest. “Are you tryin’ to tell me something?”
    “We don’t know what’s going to happen. And, even if we do make it out of here alive, you may decide I’m not—what you want—”
    Johnny shook his head. “Stop it, Lex. I need you to be strong right now. For me, and with me. I know Richard hurt you, but you’ve got to battle through that.”
    He brought his hands up to cup her face, but she still wouldn’t look at him. “Know that I love you, whether it’s here or ten years from now. On this roof or—or in the grocery store’s frozen foods aisle.”
    She smiled.

    “I’ll never let you go, Alexa—never. So, you better get used to seeing my face every morning when you wake up.” He lifted her chin with a finger, leaning up to kiss her, ignoring the shot of fire that streaked through his side. She smiled, finally—a real smile—and it was all worth it. Then, she put her mouth to his, and he knew he’d do anything he had to do to keep her with him—once they got out of this.

Leave a comment and you will be entered in a drawing for a free ecopy of  CAPTURE THE NIGHT by Cheryl Pierson.

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