Back Porch Writer interview on Blog Post Radio with Kori Miller

March 12th, 2013 → 3:56 pm @

Check out this morning’s interview with Kori Miller on Back Porch Writer on Blog Post Radio:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/backporchwriter/2013/03/12/writing-a-mystery-with-robin-donovan

A huge thanks to Kori for her awesome interview!

 

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Another Great Author Fare Thanks To The Omaha Public Library!

February 20th, 2013 → 7:38 pm @

Last Saturday’s Author Fare at the Omaha Public Library was the best author networking event I’ve been to yet! I met authors, folks connected to libraries, a lovely woman with a radio show she’s willing to use to help promote authors, a student who is blogging about authors who use social media and a whole host of other very interesting folks, some of whom promise to be very beneficial to an author’s career.

Author Fare

Author Fare

As much as I enjoyed last year, when the library premiered the Author Fare event, it could not compare to the beneficial networking of this past Saturday.

I appreciate all of the folks at the library for pulling this event together! A special shout out to my WriteLife publisher Cindy Grady, for being instrumental in making this event happen and in supporting her authors so well!

I look forward to next year’s Author’s Fare – but I’m hopeful that the success of this event will inspire the library to host more author related events before then!

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FAQs on Authoring a Book: Getting Started – Part 2 Continued

January 28th, 2013 → 9:55 pm @

We’ve already addressed three of the four basic categories that new authors tend to fall into:  the I have an idea I’d like to share with the world group, typically consisting of business advice – an idea, the I have a story to tell group, often about overcoming adversity, and/or self-help advice and the I want to write a book and give my business, or personal brand, a boost folks. We’ve given these author-types some advice on the best way to get things started.

Let the creative juices flow!

Let the creative juices flow!

That leaves our fourth and final category, consisting of the I love to write and I’m pretty good so I should probably write a book folks. For them the subject of the book is often secondary to their desire or even need to express themselves in writing.

At the risk of seeming immodest, that’s where I place myself. As an English major and a former English teacher, I have always wanted to write a book and I’ve never been shy about sharing that fact. When I finally got around to actually writing a manuscript there were those who asked “why did you wait so long?” And the answer is simple. I envisioned pouring my heart into my life’s work and spending the next decade receiving one rejection after another from heartless publishers who would ignore and overlook my brilliance, thus shredding my very soul.

Getting to know a publisher gave me the courage to take a shot. Once I’d made the decision to finally write the damn thing – I hadn’t a clue of what to write. A chat with this publisher helped to get me focused.

“What do you love?” he asked.

“I love comedy.”

“Then write your comedy and show it to me,” he suggested.

That was it. Next challenge – decide what funny things to write about. As a lifelong aficionado of murder mysteries – both serious and comedic – the old adage “write what you know” seemed applicable.

Once my genre was set I sat down to write. The first three chapters virtually wrote themselves. I packaged these up and sent them to my “publisher acquaintance” to await his verdict.

A few weeks later confirmation arrived. My chapters were of enough interest to warrant finishing the book. It was a bittersweet moment that juxtaposed the thrill of having a publisher’s interest and the terror of being clueless as to how to write a whole book.

For me, the next step was to continue writing while simultaneously creating a writing process. There are some who would say my journey appears to have been backwards. But it’s what worked for me.

Here are a few pointers for those of you raring to go:

  1. The writing is so much fun! If it’s not, maybe you have the wrong topic (obviously if you’re writing about a somber subject it won’t be a laugh riot – but it should “feel good”).
  2. You need some kind of a process. Everyone asked me if I had an outline – I never did. I found that the writing just took its own twists and turns. What I did need, however, was a process to determine:
    1. How long before I start to write the ending: I decided to split the book into quarters – and not start writing the ending until the fourth quarter – that was an enormous help.
    2. How many pages does it need to be:  I did some checking on several books in the genre – and they were books that I enjoyed so I knew that the length did not prove to be an obstacle in the enjoyment of the work.
    3. How to determine how many instances of physical comedy should be included: Again, research other authors in the genre – try to focus on books you thought worked well and see how many individual times they used physical comedy.
    4. How to remember details so I could tie up loose ends: I kept a notebook with notes on every chapter. I chronicled when every character was introduced and when every plot turn occurred – it’s impossible to remember every detail – notes are a godsend. I also took notes on every character’s name – you’d be surprised how you can forget a character’s last name – or how you spelled their name.
    5. In my case, folks always ask me if I knew who the murderer was in the beginning. The answer is “no.” At times I thought I knew, but as things progress I changed my mind – several times. Letting the prose take you where it does is known as creativity – don’t try to jam your creativity into a pre-determined outline!
    6. Let the editors do their work! If you are self-published, make it your business to find some great editors and ask them to be ruthless. If you publish traditionally or collaboratively your publisher will take care of that for you. Remember, a suggested change by an editor is not a failure of your manuscript – if you let the creative juices flow there are bound to be mistakes or awkward areas. A great editor will honestly improve the quality of your end product – we don’t always see the flaws in our own creation – nor do friends and relatives!
    7. If all else fails, just write and see where it takes you! You can always turn it into a book later. The whole key to your success is to let yourself go! After that, process and editing (not to mention proofing) will clean things up and make you ready for “prime time!

Donovan heads Bozell Books, a division of Bozell designed to help authors and budding authors from inception through promotion of their published work. She has authored a novel entitled: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was a Bitch? www.rldonovan.com, and the second in her Donna Leigh Mysteries series is currently being published. Her next installment of FAQs on Authoring a Book will address the prospective author with confidence in their ability to write and how it impacts their process of “Getting Started.”

 

 

 

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FAQ’s on Authoring a Book: Getting Started-Part 2

January 14th, 2013 → 4:30 pm @

Lately I’ve been fielding a lot of questions from folks who are thinking they’d like to write a book. They typically fall into these four basic categories:  the I have an idea I’d like to share with the world group, the subject here often boils down to business advice – an idea, the I have a story to tell group, the subject is often one depicting how they or a loved one has overcome adversity, and/or self-help advice; then there are the I love to write and I’m pretty good so I should probably write a book folks, and for them the subject is often secondary; last and probably least we have the I want to write a book and give my business, or personal brand, a boost folks.

Want to Write a Book?

Want to Write a Book?

Getting started varies depending on which group you fall into.

In the first, second and fourth groups, you know what you want to write about but are often intimated by the task of organizing your information and doing the actual writing. For these folks, I recommend that you begin by vetting your idea or story carefully, i.e. make sure no one has beat you to it. That doesn’t mean that the topic has never been addressed in a book before, but it is imperative that your particular slant on the topic is fresh and not in danger of getting you busted for plagiarism.

Once you’re sure that your topic is a fresh perspective, you need to determine the goal of your book; what are you hoping the reader will take away? And what skills, if any, will your book help readers begin to develop?

Once clear on the objectives of your book, it’s time to create an outline. This exercise will begin to formulate your process. It will help you organize your information and make it manageable for the reader. As you contemplate the various facets of your idea, or story, and how to articulate it you will also begin to identify the various ways in which your idea can be applied or your story can be relevant to your public. You might even have examples of how it could, or already has worked for others. As you think these things through, your outline will bulk up, enhancing and guiding your content. The more thorough your outline the more it will begin to parallel the structure and content of your book. This will take a lot of the intimidation away from the writing process and the age old question: I have a great idea, but how will I be able to fill an entire book?

If the actual writing of the book is still a concern for you the best way to proceed is to start with your outline and fill in the details of each key point and sub-point. Just start writing and remember your first draft is never final; you will add and delete and move things around as you go back over your work.

Be sure to articulate yourself clearly and methodically in a linear fashion, i.e. keep things simple and easy to follow and don’t jump around because that confuses readers. Once you’ve written your first draft, make sure you have a first rate editor. Your editor will make the difference between a book that makes perfect sense only in your head and a book that readers will be able to follow. Your editor will also ensure that the rough edges are smoothed over. Remember, with you folks, it’s more about the idea than the prose articulating it. A good editor can turn a confusing and disjointed manuscript into a masterpiece.

And if the writing is just too painful – there are always ghost writers!

In our next post we’ll explore the I love to write and I’m pretty good so I should probably write a book folks!

Donovan heads Bozell Books, a division of Bozell designed to help authors and budding authors from inception through promotion of their published work. She has authored a novel entitled: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was a Bitch? www.rldonovan.com, and the second in her Donna Leigh Mysteries series is currently being published. Her next installment of FAQs on Authoring a Book will address the prospective author with confidence in their ability to write and how it impacts their process of “Getting Started.”

 

 

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FAQ’s on Authoring a Book: Writing, Publishing and Promoting – Part 1

December 20th, 2012 → 8:44 pm @

First Novel

First Novel

The origin of Bozell Books and Managing New Author Expectations:

The Bozell Books division was started as a direct result of my own personal need. I had just published my first book: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch?, and I hadn’t a clue as to how to promote it.  www.rldonovan.com.

 

I learned through glimpses of more experienced authors that promoting a book in this day and age takes an Herculean effort. I hasten to add that it has been something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember – and it has absolutely been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life! I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Promoting a book seemed so easy based on all the movies and TV shows depicting authors and their exciting careers. From my vantage point things looked dramatically different. In the movies and in TV, once your book is published you just sit back and let the world gather at your feet. Your publisher sets up reading/signing/speaking engagements and provides a stretch limo (complete with chilled champagne) to convey you from one glamorous event to the next.

Reality bore little resemblance to the glamour of fiction as the promotion of my book began. I felt extremely fortunate to have worked closely with an established author of Harlequin Romance novels before undertaking my own career as a novelist. At last count she has written and published 17 books and her painstaking experience in trying to promote them has helped to manage my own expectations.

I find that the most difficult part of helping a budding author is in trying to manage their expectations. There is at least a little part of all of us (myself included) that thinks “that’s you, but my work will be received differently.” It can happen, but it’s pretty rare.

The most difficult part of managing new author expectations is in getting the point across without going so far that it kills motivation. It’s a finely balanced art.

As challenging as it is to promote a book, the thrill of getting out into the public and sharing your work with new audiences is a rush like no other. A relative recently asked me in a somewhat sardonic tone “so, do you get the star treatment?” The first thought that flitted through my head was the backbreaking amount of work I was doing to promote the book; but my second thought took me right to that place where I’m in front of an audience comprised of folks that want to know any number of things about me and my book. “Yes,” I answered in all honesty, “there are times when I really do.”

Donovan heads Bozell Books, a division of Bozell designed to help authors and budding authors from inception through promotion of their published work. Her next installment of FAQs on Authoring a Book will address the age old challenge of “Getting Started.”

 

 

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THE NEXT BIG THING BLOG HOP

December 17th, 2012 → 7:34 pm @

There are the books everyone had heard about: Twilight, Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Gray. But what about all those books written by people you’ve never heard of? Some of them are treasures, just waiting to be found, and that’s what this blog hop is all about: the books you might not have heard about, but that you might end up loving.

This blog hop is like a game of tag. One author posts and tags five other authors who link back to their website the next week and tag five new authors. If you follow the blog hop long enough, you’re bound to find some books you’ll love! Maybe you’ll even discover a book that ends up being the next big thing.

I was tagged by Sally Deskins. You can learn more about her fascinating series Les Femmes Folles: The Women, 2012 on her website:  Les Femmes Folles: The Women, 2011. The blog hop includes ten questions to help you learn more about an author’s current work in progress, so here’s a little info about my current project:

1: What is the working title of your book?

I Didn’t Kill Her, But That May Have Been Short-Sighted.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

The positive feedback from my first Donna Leigh mystery: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? http://www.rldonovan.com/ and for the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmgkpYPi5q8

has really encouraged me to write a second and I’m even working on a third (I Don’t Know Why They Killed Him, He Wasn’t Really That Annoying) in the series.

The initial idea for the Donna Leigh Mystery series came from the fact that I’ve been an avid murder mystery buff since I was a kid; enjoying both dramatic and comedic treatments. With years of experience as a reader in the genre, I developed some pet peeves about certain types of plot treatments, e.g. it never failed to amaze me that brilliant and acclaimed women would invariably walk right into a killer’s trap with no means of defense and no back up. I felt many of the mechanisms used by authors were “easy” but didn’t always make sense or lend to the credibility of the plot.

In the Donna Leigh Mystery series I had the creative license to craft my plot in such a way as to be light and humorous, yet not completely out of the realm of possibility. My characters are not superhuman and recklessly heroic, they are normal people who behave in a normal and often excessively narcissistic (that may be redundant) way.    

3: What genre does your book fall under?

Cozy mystery – although there is a slightly higher propensity for realism in the Donna Leigh series than in some of the cozy mysteries.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

My protagontist, Donna Leigh is a tough one as many, including myself, identify her as me. To flatter myself I’ll say Meryl Streep or Glen Close could easily handle the role – I think Emma Thompson with a blond wig and an American accent would be brilliant!

My murder victim, BJ Thornton could be played by Shelley Duval – with a mass of long tight curls and a bad make-up job.

Detective Warren could be played by Eliza Coupe of Happy Endings fame. She has the beauty as well as the hard edged, obsessively focused characteristics of the lead detective.

Clovis Cordoba Seville, the totally narcissistic pain in the rear is custom-made for Angela Kinsey of The Office, who can be brilliantly self-involved as well as somewhat acerbic. A slightly younger Shelly Long would have been the perfect fit for Clovis, however she lacks the diminutive stature required.

And finally, Peg and Babs. Peg’s role could easily be handled by Better Midler, or Sherri Shepherd. That no nonsense “don’t get in my way and I’ll fix this” attitude they both exude would enable either to play Peg to perfection! Cathy Najimy as the consummate support person would serve well in the role of Babs as she quietly labors to support and sometimes correct Peg’s continual well-meaning meddling.  Debra Monk, Sherri Shepherd’s co-star in the Evanovich film One For The Money might also make an excellent, laid back, Babs.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A comedic romp through murder, mayhem and menopause that may change your viewpoint of menopausal women forever! 

6: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My book will be published by WriteLife, http://www.writelife.com/. They published the first Donna Leigh Mystery: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch?.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft?

Although the first draft of the premier Donna Leigh mystery took only three months to write, the second in the series took considerably longer – probably about a year all told. There are a few reasons why the second book took as long as it did. The first and most compelling reason is that I had to stop writing when book number one came back to me for edits. All systems were ‘go’ on book number one and nothing stood in the way of getting it finalized for publication.

The second reason had more to do with self-confidence. I wasn’t positive my first book would actually get published until the eleventh hour. On some level I feared my publisher coming back to me saying they’d changed their minds and it had been shelved. It was hard to motivate myself to finish that second book until I knew the first one was really happening!

The third reason my second book took so much longer than the first was that I genuinely enjoyed the writing process itself and I wanted to prolong the pleasure. I know I could have finished the second book and begun the third – but I really wanted to see that first book in print before embarking on a third.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

A lot of cozy mysteries are kind of sloppy and loose with the facts. They don’t try to create realistic characters that are outrageous – they go all the way to ridiculous.

Phyllis Richman has published The Washington Post Dining Guides and she also has a food-related series of cozy murder mysteries such as: The Butter Did It, Murder On The Gravy Train and Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Ham? Phyllis’ books are sophisticated yet funny and compelling. They portray a protagonist who’s cool, smart and edgy even though she’s closer to menopause than her coming out party.

9: Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Authors like Phyllis Richman, Janet Evanovich, JK Rowling, Agatha Christie and Pat Cornwall were an absolute inspiration to me. They all share a gift of engaging the reader and giving them an experience that transcends the simple story in some way. Often it’s a lesson in humankind – sometimes it’s about how to relax and not take oneself too seriously.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The Donna Leigh Mysteries are all about not taking others at face value and realizing that things are often different from how they appear. Some of the recurring themes are: older women really can be cool, women who aren’t skinny can be chic and desirable, living in Omaha is something many people choose to do, very capable people are not perfect, and intensely self-involved people do function at some level – just not the level they credit themselves for achieving.

The books are mysteries on multiple levels. Yes, people are murdered and those murders must be solved; but the characters and how and why they function are often mysteries in and of themselves since virtually any genuine account of people interacting often proves to be pretty strange – if we’re to be totally honest with ourselves.

Donna Leigh Mysteries are designed to make you laugh and take your mind off your troubles for a bit by illustrating the value of taking ourselves less seriously and laughing at ourselves once in awhile. Thanks for reading. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Here is a list of authors who will be joining the hop for week of December 24. I hope you’ll visit their blogs next week and learn more about their books. Maybe one of them will become your new favorite author!

1 Michelle Cohen Corasanti

Marcia Calhoun Forecki 

Barb Malek

 

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Thanks to SheWrites Writer for the Awesome Comment on my Book Trailer!

December 7th, 2012 → 6:10 pm @

Comment by Gabrielle Mazur 34 minutes ago
Delete Comment

Just watched your video. It looks great! Very professional looking. Sounds like a book I’d love to read 🙂 And love your doggies, I have an Old English Bulldog. He’s lying at my feet this very minute. I wish you all the success in the world!

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Thanks to Creative Juicer and Emily for the Interview!

October 23rd, 2012 → 5:08 pm @

Check out Emily’s interview here:

http://creativejuicer.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/creative-careerist-robin-l-donovan/

 

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Check out my book trailer

September 13th, 2012 → 6:47 pm @

My book trailer just went up on the WriteLife YouTube channel today. Check it out:

 

 

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A Huge Thanks to The Lit Coach for including me in her post: Blogs That Work and Why!

August 24th, 2012 → 4:27 pm @

Blogs That Work and Why

by | on August 23rd, 2012 | 4 comments
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Tuesday, I shared the Five Pillars of Effective Blogs as I shared with the LARARWA group this past weekend:

Compelling Content, Consistent Posts, Fresh Ideas, Engagement, and Share-ability

Today, I’d like share with you some of the blogs I discussed and why they work.

Yarnagogo – The blog that launched Knit Lit Romance author Rachael Herron’s career. Rachael shared with me that not only did her blog come before she scored an agent and a three book deal, it pretty much sealed the deal. Her agent and editorial team loved her authentic voice and how she connected with her audience.

Girlfriends Book Club – This collaborative blog featuring Women’s Fiction heavy hitters Ellen Meister, Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Marilyn Brant, Maggie Mar (who I had the great pleasure of meeting at the LARA event) and many more, is a prime example of great content, consistency, fresh ideas, robust engagement with the audience and a community of sharing between most involved on the blog.

I asked Ellen Meister about how the blog began and how they’ve found success as a popular blog. Here’s what she had this to say:

The Girlfriends Book Club blog rose from the ashes of The Girlfriends Cyber Circuit, which was a group of commercially published women authors who posted about each other’s books. That went on successfully for a number of years and eventually just burned itself out. Author Karin Gillespie deserves some kind of medal, because she not only ran the GCC but continues to coordinate and schedule the group blog.
 
It’s a tremendously effective way of reaching people, because there’s strength in numbers. With 40 writers as part of the group, the blog pulls from a vast network.
 
As it turns out, the majority the blog’s readers seem to be aspiring writers. Recognizing this, we post a lot of writing and marketing tips for aspiring authors. My most popular post was 20 Social Media Tips for Writers. Other favorite posts include 16 Tips for Writing Sexy Scenes, 18 Novelists Share Their Writing Routines and Girlfriends Share Tips on How to Be a Productive Writer.
 
As far as promoting our own books, it’s clear that the most popular posts are the ones that offer giveaways.
 
Importantly, the women in the group are tremendously supportive, and we help spread the word about each other’s posts with Tweets and Facebook status updates.
 

Menologues – Robin Donovan, author of Is it Still Murder Even if She Was a Bitch?, began blogging about menopause “because stumbling blindly through menopause is less funny than it sounds.” She wanted to reach a community of women who were going through what she was going through and it worked. Robin had a clearly defined audience, wrote specifically for them and soon, her blog was picked up by Vibrant Nation.

Twinfatuation – Twins expert and author Cheryl Lage has a world-wide audience, has written for an impressive array of national and local magazines, and ezines, has appeared on Martha Stewart Live Radio, has been called by The Today Show and so much more, mostly because of her blog. But like many bloggers who author books, she didn’t begin with a blog. Cheryl contacted me when I was a literary agent and she, a mother of adorable toddler twins and a writer with a great idea about a book for parents of twins and multiples. Cheryl’s story is very special to me and I was delighted to share it on literary agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog (another fabulous blog!). I encourage you to read the short post on how we started building her platform as a twin parenting expert before we sold her manuscript. You may see some of your questions and concerns answered in the robust comment thread.

A Walking Carnival – This has got to be my favorite slice of life blog ever. I like to say Deirdre Lewis, the creator of AWC, is the love child of Erma Bombeck and David Sedaris. A filmmaker and screenwriter by trade, Deirdre’s unique quirkiness shines through her blog as she takes you through her neighborhood in Echo Park, CA, to a dusty old camera shop, to an airport book store and to her father’s house. There is no post I don’t absolutely love. This blog is ALWAYS fresh, pretty consistent and I feel the content is spectacularly good. One of her latest posts is an all imagined dialog between two car mechanics – notice how the conversation reveals so much about the narrator. Deirdre is not repped by an agent, but it won’t be long before she is. She uses the blog to discover her voice and hone her craft. Works for me!

What blogs do you absolutely love and why? Share them below.

TLC

 

 

 

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Comments (4)

  1. Ellen Meister, August 23, 2012
    Thanks so much for another terrific and informative post, Erin. And of course, the shout-out for the Girlfriends Book Club blog is much appreciated! Here’s a recent update–the wonderful Maggie Marr is now at the helm. We’re so lucky to have people like Karin and Maggie to lead the way! Ellen Reply
    • TheLitCoach, August 24, 2012
      Ellen, thanks! I truly feel what you all contribute to the blog world, especially with regard to educating writers, is so valuable. I really enjoy the blog (and need to comment more often!) and am happy to refer writers to it. While I was speaking about GBC in front of the group, Maggie was in the audience. She smiled when I mentioned the name so I stopped and asked her if she knew of the blog. When she said she was ON the blog I nearly died! I was THRILLED to meet a GBC member. Reply
  2. Marilyn Brant, August 23, 2012
    Thanks so much for the shout out, Erin! I feel lucky to be part of the GBC because, as Ellen said, it’s such a tremendously supportive group of writers. I truly enjoy getting to read the posts of the other contributors and have found the readers to be really receptive to the diversity of topics and voice, too. Looking forward to checking out the other blogs you recommended!! Reply
  3. TheLitCoach, August 24, 2012
    Thanks, Marilyn. The GBC blog is so unique and really is a compelling example of how to collaborate with your fellow authors online successfully. Reply

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