book marketing

The Silver Coin

PhoenicianShipBook 3 of the Ancient Elements series is now in its final editing stage! This ship is one of the illustrations in the book by my wonderful illustrator, Marsha Ottum Owen. The book’s cover art is still in the development stage.We hope to publish by the end of June, or early July. If you’d like to be notified when it’s available, use this contact form. I can hardly wait! A 6th grade teacher at Kennedy Middle School recently read an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) to her class and sent me their comments. A sampling of some of their comments is below.

 

SC_coin.jpg My class LOVED reading about Samsuluna’s adventures and as a teacher, I loved that there was so much about the civilizations woven throughout the narrative! – Ms. Yeung, 6th grade teacher

The Silver Coin will take you on a roller coaster of emotions with your adrenaline racing as you and the character merge to becomeone.— Mahati

Amazing end to the series of The Elements. Many twists and turns that keep you forever on your toes. — Will

The Silver Coin, the last book in the trilogy of the Ancient Elements series, is a great ending book. The plot has amazing twists and readers will really enjoy it. Dr. Sontag didn’t disappoint in any book, letting students learn while having fun at the same time.— Diya 

This final book to the Ancient Elements series is a mix of romance, adventure, surprise, and history all perfectly measured and combined into a single book.—Sophia

An epic conclusion to the Ancient Elements series, with tinges of romance woven into the gripping plot.—Victor

Mystery on top of mystery, an aching thirst kept me awake at night, dying for more.— Rachel

It kept the whole class on the edge of their seats the whole time. —Sophia

Educational yet thrilling, The Silver Coin thrills the reader with twists and turns all ending in one grand finale. A terrific ending to the tale of Samsuluna.—Nitin  

Dr. Sontag does an amazing job of entertaining the reader with a very intriguing plot with lively characters and devious plots, while also putting ancient civilizations into the mix, putting it all together to make a very intricate story of three perspectives slowly coming together in a spark of adventure. This finale, The Silver Coin, for the Ancient Elements series sure will grab you and won’t let you go.—Shreyas 

Exciting, gripping, and edgy are just a few of the words that can be used to describe The Silver Coin. Dr. Sontag perfectly combines and contrasts adventure and mystery in this stunning end to her thrilling trilogy. —Riya 

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Author Visit to Kennedy Middle School

 
Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 2.46.53 AMLast week I spent a day and a half at Kennedy Middle School in Cupertino  sharing with their  6th grade students (500 of them in groups of 60 at a time!) about my Ancient Elements series of books, The Bronze Dagger, The Alabaster Jarand The Sliver Coin. They also got to see and touch my ancient artifacts. What a sharp and delightful group of students! In sharing about the writing process, I talked about how becoming a writer was always one of my dreams, and compared having a dream or a passion to the process of making a hard boiled egg.  After discussing the comparison, I asked students to put this quote from Carl Sandburg in their own words, “Nothing happens unless first a dream.” One 6th grader said, “It means that when you have a dream about something it’s usually beyond what you think you can do, but if you really want it, having a dream helps you push past the hard things to make it happen.” I then asked students to share some of their dreams. They included becoming one of the fastest runners, becoming an inventor, an engineer, a teacher, and a writer, among other dreams.

chasing_dreams_10-15One student came in wearing this top. She was delighted when she heard one of our topics was about having a dream. I was disappointed I couldn’t take her picture because of privacy issues, but she surprised me when I returned to the school the following day by bringing in the top and letting me take a picture of it without her in it!

 

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Stink Bomb

Stink Bomb

Today I’m interviewing one of my critique group members, Rick Crawford, a.k.a. Ricky Bruce. At last night’s critique group he handed me a copy of his newly released book, Stink Bomb. It’s always an exciting moment (kind of like a midwife?) when fellow-writers see their first copy of a book they helped critique. I decided to ask Rick a few questions to help you get to know this humorous and engaging author.

MS: Rick, tell us about your passion for writing.

Rick: I have a passion for writing children’s fiction chapter books for ages 6-12.

MS: What do you think qualifies you to be a children’s writer?

Rick: I hold a Master’s Degree in Education, Bachelor’s Degrees in Anthropology and Social Science, a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, and I am C-TEL/ CLAD Certified. I have taught in elementary school settings for over fifteen years in Santa Clara County. These life experiences have helped me discover my passion for writing, and to understand what children enjoy reading.

MS: Have you published others children’s books beside Stink Bomb?

Rick: Recently, I self-published a book about a kindergartner’s first day in school, called Ricky Robinson Braveheart. Following the publication of this book, I received a contract from Auntie M Children’s Books to publish Stink Bomb. In addition to writing children’s books, I also blog weekly at www.rickybruce.com. This blog, A Writer’s Diary, showcases my books and provides information for authors.

MS: Tell us more about Stink Bomb. What inspired you to write it?

Rick: It was a beautiful spring day and I was considering starting another story, having just completed my previous writing project. Bees were buzzing around flowers, a few flies were swarming, and beetles crawled in the dirt around me. The idea hit me. There I was in the back yard and it occurred to me that many insects exhibit heroic traits.

I thought, “What if bugs could be superheroes? How would they act? What would they do? What crazy things would they say?”

The casting began. I went to work looking for a villain. Every bug hates spiders and so do most people. Arac and Nid, giant spiders, were a logical choice as the villains. My mind turned to find a hero for my story. Superheroes hide until they are called upon to rescue the helpless. I spotted a rock in my yard and lifted it up. There it was—a beetle. An ordinary, inconspicuous beetle with super powers would provide the perfect hero for my new story.

MS: What did you enjoy most about writing Stink Bomb?

Rick: I enjoyed writing action scenes where the hero swooped in, said something pithy, and rescued the helpless. The scenes with Arac and Nid battling against Stink Bomb were my favorite parts for sure. Here’s a quote from the book to show you what I mean.

The black beetle spoke his plea one last time. “Someone, help!”

Grub could see Arac dragging the beetle across the ground by a rope of silk.

“Throw him up on the web,” Nid advised.

It took Arac only moments to wrap the beetle in silk and hoist him to his web. The beetle hung like a dangling apple waiting to be picked and eaten.

“Very creative,” Nid said to Arac.

“Why thank you. This is definitely my best work,” Arac replied.

A strange look came across Arac’s face followed by an odd silence, and then from nowhere a green sludge hit him like a rock. Grub shuddered from the force of the vibration, but continued watching.

“My eyes, my eyes! It hurts,” Arac yelled. He toppled over and spun in circles trying to ease the pain and scrape the ooze off his body.

“Move away from the bug. And I mean now!” Stink Bomb said smartly. He flew to land below the black beetle.

Nid crept toward Stink Bomb as quietly as he could, but his forward progress was halted by a noxious odor. Nid shrank back into the shadows, dizzy from the stench.

Grub moved back too, after catching a whiff.

“You saved me,” the beetle said.

“I’ve got your back!” Stink Bomb said, looking up at the beetle. “No worries. Slow moving snails need not be afraid. Stink Bomb is there by your shell. He is a friend to hard working ants and beetles like you.”

“You’re Stink Bomb?” the beetle asked.

MS: What do you think is one of the hardest things about writing a book?

Rick: Changing a part of the book you really like. From time to time, an editor or critique partner will give you advice that is very hard to act on. When I first got a publishing contract for Stink Bomb, I began working with an editor named Demi. She raved about the manuscript, but asked me to make a few changes. One big change required me to change the point of view character. This involved changing much of the plot of the story. Stink Bomb was the main character, but Demi wanted Grub to move into the starring role. This was painful because writers get attached to their characters, but Demi was right. Her idea involved Grub following Stink Bomb around Riverbank in order to help. Great advice, Demi!

MS: Any ideas on what you want to write about next?

Rick: I’ve wanted to write a sequel to Stink Bomb for some time. I even have a few ideas for the story. I’ve also just finished a story called Dot and Scribble Fall into Adventure, but the story that I’m currently writing is called Sucked into Cyberspace. This story is a mystery set in the future at a computer and technology school. The main character, Devon, goes to the school to find his missing father. The story integrates scenes within the classroom and scenes set in the virtual world. This book is really stretching my ability as it is written for an older audience. Add to that all the computer, technology, and physics I’ve adapted and you have a whole lot of research.

MS: Sounds like fun. I know I’ve critiqued a few of the chapters for it, and it’s definitely sucked me in! But back to your new release, how can readers purchase Stink Bomb?

Readers can purchase the book at:

Auntie M Children’s Books Publishing.
or
Barnes & Noble

RickPickMS: Rick is also available to do book signings, speak about education and learning, or share about writing fiction. You can contact him at rickrbc53065@gmail.com.

Categories: authors, book marketing, books, Uncategorized | Tags: | 1 Comment

Creating a Tagline

ImageOkay, I need your help. I was updating my Google profile, and found a space for “tagline.” New concept. Do I have a tagline? Should I? I researched Google “taglines” and here’s what I found.

As a writer, a tagline would help solidify my writing vision, and drive that vision for future books. According to writer and blogger Thomas A. Fowler, “Even if you don’t plan on using a tagline in your marketing, have one in the back of your mind to create consistent content in your approach.” Fowler’s tag line is, “Instill Hope.”

Author and blogger Jean Oram, says, “You read a good tagline and you immediately know what the author is about, what they write, the feeling you are going to get from their books and basically, exactly what you are in for.”

Robert Lee Brewer, an editor and content specialist, explains that a tagline, “defines who writers are to their target audience–to literary agents, editors, book buyers, and ultimately readers. That’s pretty important stuff. Second, a slogan defines who writers are to themselves. It might seem like common sense, but most writers can’t define themselves–especially in a way that explains their value–in fewer than 10 words. That’s why developing a slogan is a super important exercise.”

So I followed the advice of author Kristin Wallace and began to free-write as many words and phrases that described me as an author. Then I picked out my favorite ones and tried several variations. When Wallace tried this, she came up with “Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”. Wallace explains, “Those words are what my books are about. They have romance, lots of laughs and a spiritual element that isn’t too heavy-handed.”

My first attempt harvested, “Awakening Dreams of Adventure”. I write historical fiction, awakening past events so young readers in the present can experience and learn from the past in an adventurous way. I also came up with “Bringing the Past to Life”. Emotionally, I like what the first tagline does for me. Cognitively, the second one seems more obvious. What do you think? Any ideas?

Categories: book marketing, books, brand, brand statement, branding, taglines | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet.

This line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet works well for flowers, but not so much for author names, especially when it comes to book marketing!

ImageTake for example, The Cuckoo’s Calling, a crime fiction novel by Robert Galbraith, released April 2013. After it was revealed on July 14, 2013 that the book was written by J.K. Rowling under the pseudonym “Robert Galbraith”, the book surged from 4,709th to the 1st best-selling novel on Amazon. Rowling says she used a pseudonym for her newest release because, “It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name”. Clearly, when it comes to a reader’s book selection, the author’s name matters!

Like it or not, those of us hoping to turn our writing dreams into reality have to consciously build name brandingSmlrecognition for ourselves. One way to do this is to think about our “branding“. A brand is different than a platform. A platform is what we do to communicate our brand. Branding is what people expect when they hear our name attached to a book. Even those of us churning out our first novels need to ask ourselves the basic branding question: “What kind of an author image do I want to create for myself?”
velcroTheresa Meyers of Blue Moon Communications describes an author’s brand as “emotional Velcro”. She explains that emotional Velcro is achieved when readers love a certain writer’s stories and are moved by them. “This in turn leads readers to believe that they have formed a relationship of some type with that author and understand him or her. Because of this emotional attachment, they are willing to purchase a book written by this author simply because her name is on it.” How can our branding create this emotional attachment?
First, branding should create an image of an author and a product that is of high quality, and provides that that little “something special” that no one else can provide. Another part of our branding is the attitude that shines through in our platform development. Can readers tell that we’re willing to put in the hard work it takes to create and communicate our brand? This includes hammering out a brand statement, creating multiple, interconnected social media contact points such as a webpage, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts, as well as personalized contact with readers through interviews, speaking engagements, book signings, and teaching.
We may not have the name J.K. Rowling plastered on the front of our books, but the author name that does appear should create its own fragrant scent, inviting the reader to sit down and breathe in the adventure with us.
Categories: authors, book marketing, books, brand, brand statement, branding, Cuckoo's Calling, J.K. Rowling, platform, Romeo and Juliet, social media | 1 Comment

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That Ranch Life

A Donkumentary of City-Turned-Country Livin'

Blissful Scribbles

Musings through the journey of writing my first novel

ACFW - DFW CHAPTER a.k.a. DFW Ready Writers

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

Bay Area Writing Group

Northern California Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers

Letters to Noah

Spoken words are fleeting, but written words last beyond a lifetime.

Sontag Writing Dreams

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

marsha ottum owen

I make Children's Books

Under His Wings

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

Cathleen Armstrong

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

A Writer's Diary

Author, Educator, Consultant

That Ranch Life

A Donkumentary of City-Turned-Country Livin'

Blissful Scribbles

Musings through the journey of writing my first novel

ACFW - DFW CHAPTER a.k.a. DFW Ready Writers

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

Bay Area Writing Group

Northern California Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers

Letters to Noah

Spoken words are fleeting, but written words last beyond a lifetime.

Sontag Writing Dreams

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

marsha ottum owen

I make Children's Books

Under His Wings

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

Cathleen Armstrong

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." Carl Sandburg

A Writer's Diary

Author, Educator, Consultant