Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Author Interview with Jo Lindsell

Today I'm interviewing author Jo Lindsell, author of numerous articles and several non-fiction books including the popular Italian for Tourists which is available in ebook and pocketbook editions. Jo lives in Rome with her husband and toddler and continues to work on publicity on her own books, but also to help other authors to spread the word about their books. She has organized a big event each year called PROMO DAY. It's a FREE online international event for people in the writing industry. Loads of promotional opportunities on site! FREE workshops on a variety of topics by experts from the industry. You can also find more information about the event at the official blog.

I met Jo several months ago on Book Blogs and jumped at the chance to be able to interview her on my blog. Her road to publishing has been so different from my own.

How has being published changed your life?
It gives me more to promote :). In general being published hasn’t really changed my life. I was writing articles, poems etc... well before I was published anywhere. Being published just made me realise that what I write is of interest to others and not just for me.

When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
I’ve always loved to write. Even when I was little my favourite lessons at school were always the creative ones.

After a couple of years writing articles for the dental industry and then in the neurology department here in Rome, I decided it was time to start writing about things that interested me. I sent off my first article to an English language newspaper in Florence called ‘The Florentine’ and they printed it straight away. That gave me the confidence to start working on bigger projects.

What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
I came to Rome, Italy in 2001 with the intention of staying just 3 days. Well, days turned into months and then into years and I’m still here.

Over the years friends often asked me if I would write a short phrasebook for them, I so started putting together my first book ‘Italian for Tourists’. In the beginning I made it as an e-book but soon got lots of requests for a print version.

I decided that I wanted to learn as much about the industry as possible and the easiest way to do that for me was be in control of every aspect of the book. I choose to publish it using www.lulu.com because it was free to do, an easy to use site and gave an immediate online presence.

‘Italian for Tourists’ went from e-book to print version and then in 2009, pocket edition. The reason for this evolution was mainly driven by public request. Given it’s popularity I also wanted to design a better and more suited cover art. I took photos myself from around Rome and sketched a rough idea of what I wanted. My friend Burt Crismore then stepped in and put it all together. It was at this point that I got the ISBN for it and got listed on www.amazon.com
The whole process was a great learning experience and, for me, the perfect way to find my feet.

It sounds like you have published lots of different projects. Tell us a bit about your various publications.
Like I mentioned before, my first book was ‘Italian for Tourists’. After I married my Italian husband in 2006 I decided to write ‘A Guide to Weddings in Italy’. Italy can be a bit trickier in terms of documents than other countries. They also have many traditions and proverbs related to the event. As I’d researched for my own wedding, I decided to write the sort of guide that would have been helpful to me.

I’ve also published various e-books related to Italy and marketing. In addition to these is INSIDE.OUT, which is a collection of poems. This is probably the most personal piece I’ve published so far and therefore has a special place in my heart.

When I’m not working on books and e-books, I’m writing articles for websites, magazines and newspapers. I also manage various blogs including http://writersandauthors.blogspot.com, http://astheromansdo.blgospot.com and http://1sttimemums.blogspot.com

Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Honestly, not really. I love what I do. I’m always working on a variety of different projects so if I don’t feel like doing one, I work on another one.

I think it’s important to remember that not everyone’s tastes are the same. For every person that turns you down, there is another one out there that is more than happy to publish your work. Market to people interested in your genre and submit to the right places and you’ll have better success. As a writer, you create "


What is your writing schedule like?
My writing schedule depends on my two-year-old. I’m a mum first and everything else comes after. Being a writer-mum has taught me to make the most of any free time I get and made me realise just how much I can get done in a short period of time if I’m organised. You’d be surprised at how much you can write in just 10 minutes.

Luckily I’m a good multi-tasker and an addictive list maker. Having a list of tasks broken down into bite sized chunks really helps. I normally manage an hour or two in the afternoon while my son naps or happily plays with playdoh or draws next to me. This gives me time to get some marketing done, write a few articles or work on my books.

I also keep a notepad next to my bed as find a lot of ideas come to me late at night before I go to sleep.

What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
I could write a lot here but I’ll keep to the basics.

1) You will have to market your book however you decide to publish it so learning the basics in advance is a good idea. If your trying to publish with a traditional publisher a basic market plan might also help you close the deal.

2) Editing is just as important as what you write. Check, check and then check again. Get someone else to check for you too if possible.

3) Believe in yourself. You can’t expect others to if you don’t.

4) Explore different publishing options to find the route best suited to you and what you want.

Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Two people come straight to mind, Lea Schizas and Carolyn Howard Johnson. Lea because attending the Muse Online Writers Conference, that she organises, at the beginning of my career really helped me. I learnt loads about the industry and made some great contacts. This year I’ll be presenting my own workshop about social media at the conference in the week long forums.
Lea has always been available to offer advice and motivation and is a great example of another multi-tasker.

Carolyn is also connected with the Muse Conference and has worked with me during my PROMO DAY events over the years. I’ll be doing a Roman Writing Retreat with her in October 2010 too. Carolyn is a wiz at marketing and a lovely person to work with. We’re definitely on the same wave length and can see us continuing to work together in the future.

Which of your books is your favorite, and why?
‘Italian for Tourists: Pocket Edition’ because it’s been my learning curve. It’s grown with me.

Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
All my books and e-books can be found at www.lulu.com/jolinsdell. Both my books in print can also be found on www.amazon.com


How much research goes into your books?
Lots as non fiction needs to have correct information. As I write mainly about Italy, the fact that I live in Rome makes research easy though as I can use my first hand experience. I always get my husband to check it too.

What do you like reading these days?
I have quite varied tastes in books and will happily read most genres. I recently started writing book reviews for www.booksneeze.com and often review for other authors and publishing companies, which means I always have a good mix.

For my enjoyment, I tend to pick a good chick lit or a mystery but read more children’s books these days with my son :)

Who is your favorite author?
That’s a tough one. I love the classics and will happily read anything from Jane Austen to Oscar Wilde. I also like Dean Koontz and have read several of his titles, my favourite of which is ‘One door away from heaven’.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I love my writer's conference!

The past week has been a hectic one full of new friends, fun activities, great classes and major hustling. The annual LDStorymaker's conference was held in Provo on Friday and Saturday and it was bigger and better than ever. I can't remember exact numbers from last year, but it was around 260 attendees. This year it was 453--yes, you read that right, attendance nearly doubled this year (and it had gone up about a hundred last year).
Unfortunately, that meant that I never had a chance to find (never mind talk to) so many of the people I wanted to see, but I met a ton of new people who had never attended a writer's conference before, or had, at least, never attended this one.

Conferences always invigorate me and have me looking forward to the projects I've got lined up ahead of me, and this year was no exception. I spent several days preparing for the trip just getting things settled at home and baking a cake for the Author's Incognito party Friday night. Which is pictured below.
Turned out pretty cute, didn't it? I'd never done wood grain before, but it was easier than I expected. The entire thing is edible and all the decorations are made of fondant. The silver pearl dust was purchased here (and comes in lots of fun colors). I did this design because Cake Central is doing a Steam Punk cake contest this month and I wanted to try something that would at least marginally qualify. You can read the full set of directions here on my new cake blog.

At the conference we also got to see the finished music video that I spent a day filming last month. I was amazed, we seriously were there almost all day, yet the parts I was there for only took up about thirty seconds of the actual four-and-a-half-minute video. It was all in good fun though. I can't wait to see what they come up with for next year. They are doing a lyric contest for next year's video, so if you are a dab hand at writing lyrics (to something reasonably recent, and available on a Karaoke CD so they can dub different words to the music) you should totally submit something. I'm already mulling around some ideas. You can see this year's video below:


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A sweet treat

Just a note for you sweeties on the scavenger hunt. The word is CUP.

Book Review: "I'll Know You By Heart" by Kimberly Job

Kimberly Job (pronounced Jobe, not like that place you go to earn a paycheck everyday), is new to the publishing world--but you wouldn't know it from reading her first book. Kim has a deft hand with characterization and portraying emotion. You'll fall in love with her characters and feel the pain of their trials, rooting for them until the very end.

I'll Know You By Heart is a touching, well written story of a woman's struggle to break loose from her abusive husband and protect her kids. Along the way she finds hope and learns to trust and love again. You'll find yourself hooked right from the first paragraph.

The day Stephanie Roberts met Jared Wakefield, she didn't realize they'd met before. Running from an abusive marriage and trying to safeguard her children, she turns to Jared for support, but he needs more from her than she might be capable of giving. With her abusive husband looming in her past, the difficulties they must overcome to be together seem insurmountable.

Is it possible for love to conquer all? I'll Know You By Heart is a timeless romance that explores the possibility that relationships span the entire realm of eternity. A story about abuse, hardship, and betrayal, it is ultimately a story about the healing power of everlasting true love.

In addition to being a writer, Kim is a very busy mother of ten and is constantly on the run with sports and other school activities for her kids. I'm constantly amazed that she manages to keep up with her family and home, work, write, and not fall over from exhaustion! You can learn more about Kimberly and her books on her blog or website.

Yes, I did get a copy of the book for review. And yes, I have known Kim for a couple of years--she's in my critique group. But here's my disclaimer, FTC--this is a great book, and I would have said the same things even if I hadn't known her, and had to buy a copy of my own. =)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Book Review: "The Canticle Kingdom" by Michael D. Young

Michael Young is a newbie to the publishing scene, and his new book "The Canticle Kingdom" hit store shelves earlier this year. Michael is a recent graduate of BYU and is married with a little boy. I found this YA adventure story filled with action, danger, and surprises around every turn. The descriptions are beautiful and evocative. The story is written in two worlds with the story of the world inside the music box being peppered with scenes from the 1940s and the history of the box itself, which I found a bit distracting. Still this is a promising beginning for an inventive new author.

It seemed like ages since Kate's father went off to war, and she is eager to thank him for the beautiful German music box he sent for her birthday. But when it starts playing a strange, new melody and Kate vanishes into thin air, Captain Edison is willing to do anything to rescue his little girl.

When the Canticle Kingdom is attacked and the queen falls deathly ill, Joann, a young blacksmith's apprentice, learns a terrible secret - the kingdom is contained entirely within a music box in another world.. With the help pf his friends, Johann races to bring aid from that other world in an effort to stop the dark power that threatens to destroy them all.

Enter a beautiful world full of magic, danger, loyalty, and bravery in The Canticle Kingdom, and discover that even the most ordinary objects and people might be hiding something truly wonderful inside.

You can learn more about this author, read sample chapters, and check out the free music box melodies he has posted on his website.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Fun school visit in Emery County

Have you ever been a guest in someone's home when they served you a meal to which your inner thoughts cried "Please, please, please, don't be what I think that is?" but you eat it anyway?

That was the position I was in this morning. Because I had a speaking engagement at Canyon View Junior High in Huntington, Utah this morning, my husband and I drove to Orangeville last night and stayed over at his cousin's house. Lynn was a great host making sure everything we needed was handy, and when we got up this morning his mom was there feeding the kids while Lynn ran his daughter to school. I glanced at the table and saw a bowl of something that looked suspiciously like cooked oatmeal waiting on the table for me.
Now, you have to understand, there's nothing on this planet I hate as much as cooked oatmeal--it's the texture, I just can't stand it. I know, I know, you're probably thinking I'm a wimp, but I've never cared for the stuff since I was a kid--and I even tried it again a few years ago because I thought, hey, I've grown up a lot since then. I like lots of foods I didn't like much as a kid. But alas, I still hated the stuff.

Today I smiled, said thank you, and prepared to swallow each mouthful without chewing it. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was cracked wheat. (I know someone out there is going to see this and think that they'd far rather have oatmeal than cracked wheat!)

Catastrophe averted! My taste buds were much happier.
The school visit went well enough, if you discount the fact that I talked about as fast as a bullet train, and my microphone kept going out on me. The local television station was there recording the show, and didn't have the personal mic she usually has presenters wear in situations like this. I can just imagine what the sound is going to be like when they air it. I'm really glad that Canyon View and San Rafael junior highs arranged for me to go speak with their girls today though.

After the school visit we stopped at Bill's aunt's house (she fed us a yummy lunch too--what a sweetie!), and we headed home. I'm getting really excited about the release for "Rebound"--my bookmarks have arrived now and I think they're totally cute. The official count is four weeks until it's supposed to be in the warehouse, and hopefully only a week or two past that before it shows up in Costco (did I mention Costco agreed to do a test run of my books! Yay!).
I just sent my latest manuscript off to readers for a last round of critiques so I have a couple of weeks to breathe before they send them back, so my time between now and the LDS Storymaker's conference (Friday is the last chance to register!) will be spent getting my publicity stuff going. And playing with baby ducklings.
Did I mention before that I think ducklings are the cutest things ever? Yeah, aren't they cute?

Check back Wednesday for my review of rookie author Michael Young's new book, "The Canticle Kingdom."

Friday, April 9, 2010

Interview with Ida Mae Babbit

Usually I do an interview with book authors, but this time I thought it might be fun to do one with the main character in the story, and Tristi Pinkston was gracious enough to turn the limelight over to Ida Mae, the person Secret Sisters is all about (well, along with Arlette, Tansy, and Ren--we can't forget Ren).

Ida Mae, tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you lived in Omni? When did you become a Relief Society President, and what fun things have you been able to do in that capacity? (That is, normal RS types of things, not the fun adventures you discuss in your book.)

I have lived in Omni my entire married life. My husband, Henry, was a turkey farmer. I don’t know if you knew this, but Omni is the turkey capital of Utah. Folks down in Ephraim think they have the corner on the turkey market, but I think that’s because they advertise more than we do. Anyway, we came here as newlyweds, and I raised my children in the home where I still live.

I’ve been the Relief Society president for about six months, and I’ll admit, it’s been an adjustment. I’ve always been the kind who believed that if you want something done right, you should do it yourself, and delegating and working as a team is new to me. I’m sure I’ll adjust, in time.

As a Relief Society president, I’m on hand at all the births and deaths and everything in between. I would say that the most fun thing to do is visit the home where a new baby has been born. The least fun was helping Sally Eisenhower clean her bathroom after the sewage system broke down.

That does sound pretty awful! Definitely not as cool as cooing over a new baby. Now, I know a Wendy's sandwich wrapper played an important part of this story. If you had to select a favorite Wendy's sandwich, which would it be?

My very favorite is the Homestyle Chicken Fillet, with everything on it, extra onion and pickle. If you want to order that in a combo, it’s a #7. I’m also quite taken with the bacon and blue burger they’ve had on the menu recently, but that’s a limited time sandwich and I’m not sure how long it’s going to be around. And we don’t have a Wendy’s in Omni, so it’s hard for me to keep track.

I understand. We are, alas, Wendy's deficient in my hometown too. No wonder that was such an important clue! What were the three most important sleuthing lessons you picked up in this adventure?

1. Wear dark clothing, and whatever you do, don’t wear those silly sneakers with the flashing lights in the soles.

2. Carry a protein bar in your purse. You never know how long your stake-out will last, and you need to be in good shape, ready to tackle the miscreants at a moment’s notice.

3. Avoid sneezing at all costs. Pinch your nose, your nose bridge, or press a finger to your upper lip.


All very good advice. Especially the protein bar--A long boring stake-out is bound to seem all the longer if you're hungry. I understand you're conducting a sock drive right now. Tell us about it.

Well, it’s not really my sock drive – it’s Arlette’s, but since she won’t be here until 3:00 to pick me up so we can go decorate the church for the “Hooray! It’s Finally Spring!” party, I’ll tell you in her stead. She collects yarn all throughout the year, mostly donated by ladies who are cleaning out their closets, and she knits them into socks to give to the homeless shelter. She had the idea to encourage people to donate socks to their local shelters, or you can bring them to any one of Tristi Pinkston’s book signings and she’ll make the delivery. You can just buy socks, if you don’t happen to knit. You can read all about it in Arlette’s own words at our blog.

That's a great service Arlette does! And I understand people can read all about it on your Secret Sister's blog. Have you had other exciting mysteries to solve? Which one are you going to share with us next?

We have stumbled onto a few other mysteries. I do wish to make it very clear that these mysteries find us – we don’t necessarily go looking for trouble. I believe the next episode will be released in August, under the title, “Ida Mae Rides Again.” Really, it’s very flattering to have one’s own name as the title of a book.

How cool for you! I've never had my name in a book title. I have to ask, because I know you love treats as much as I do: What is your favorite kind of cake to serve at Relief Society events?

Well, my favorite kind and the kind we tend to serve aren’t always the same. I prefer German chocolate, but Arlette says it’s not safe to serve that, because we don’t know how many of the sisters wear dentures, and coconut is hard on dentures, and it’s not like we can ask the sisters to tell us who has real teeth and who doesn’t. Then Tansy had the idea of asking Ren to rig the door frame with a denture detector, like a metal detector, only for teeth. He was about to do it, too, but Arlette found out, and for once, she and I agree on something. So we generally serve regular chocolate cakes and white cakes. Pretty boring, if you ask me.

And do you prefer you cake with tea (herbal, of course), punch, or milk?

When we serve it at Relief Society, we generally have water. We are on a budget, you know. At home, I like my cake with milk. Truth be told, I prefer cookies to cake, but when you need a treat, you really can’t go wrong with nearly anything you pick.

Well, as long as you wouldn't turn a yummy piece of cake away, I guess I can't quibble over your preference of cookies. They are rather portable. And baked--it's hard to go wrong with most any baked good. Thanks for stopping by my blog today. Good luck with getting your story out, and with future editions of the Secret Sisters adventures.

Anyone who would like to read more about these terrific ladies, be sure to check out the blog Ida Mae, Arlette, and Tansy write, and you can also follow Ida Mae on Twitter as well.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Book review: "Secret Sisters" by Tristi Pinkston

Are you looking for a cozy mystery, something a bit wacky, fun, and entertaining? Look no further than Secret Sisters. Okay, I'm going to admit it right here--Tristi Pinkston is in my critique group, so I got to read this almost two years ago when she first wrote it--and we laughed ourselves silly every week.

This book is a satire--in fact, when Tristi brought her first chapter to our group, she said she knew it wasn't realistic (I mean, really, how many Relief Society presidents do you know who would sneak a camera into someone's home to find out what was really going on in their family? None that I've ever known.) That's part of the book's charm. It's zany, off the wall, hilarious, and thoroughly entertaining. I looked forward to each new week to find out what Ida Mae and her friends were going to do next (and since Tristi has worked her way up to book 5 in critique, I can tell you the rest of the series is going to be every bit as enjoyable.)

Here's the back cover blurb:

Ida Mae Babbitt, president of the Omni 2nd Ward Relief Society, didn't mean to become a spy. But when visiting teaching stats are low and she learns that one family under her care is in financial trouble, she'll do whatever it takes to make sure they have what they need. If that includes planting surveillance cameras in their home and watching them from a parked car in the woods, well, isn't that what any caring Relief Society president would do?

With the help of her counselors Arlette and Tansy, Ida Mae soon learns that there's more to the situation than meets the eye. It's all in a day's work for the Relief Society.

I really enjoyed the dialogue in this story and Tansy says the most off-the-wall things--you just have to love her. There is even an interesting theme or two nestled within the mystery. I whole-heartedly reccommend this book (and that has nothing at all to do with the fact that Tristi is my friend, or that she gave me a book to review.)

This book is still trickling into stores, but you can pick it up online at Amazon. You can learn more about these fun characters at their blog, or learn more about Tristi on her blog. Oh, and don't forget to join me Friday when I interview Ida Mae!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Counting down the weeks

I was looking at the calendar, and Rebound should be in the warehouse, and maybe even in my hot little hands in 5 weeks--which is totally exciting! We got the bookmarks ordered last week, and I'm looking forward to seeing them, and handing them out to people.

By the way, sweet edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense author, Anne Patrick interviewed me for her blog today. Go check it out here.

Some fun writing news last week: Costco is going to give Rebound a whirl--if it sells enough copies, in it's trial basis, they'll let me come do signings and things, which I'm totally excited about. I also set up a school visit in Emery County at Canyon View Junior High in Huntington on April 12th, which will be a lot of fun. they're busing the boys all to the other junior high in Feron, and the girls from Feron to Canyon view, so I'm totally excited to speak to the girls and get to meet a bunch of them.

In non-writing news, we had to replace our fridge last week when ours went out. Thankfully, we didn't lose much food, and we were able to make the trip north to find a new one the next day. Also, I took a cake to critique:

Nichole is in my critique group, and I couldn't take a cake the day of her launch party (for which I was very sad, even though I had a great trauma class at the hospital), so I brought it last week. There's a scene in the book where the characters are in the desert in an area where they were surrounded by boulders, so that's where this is. I was pretty happy with the cake as it gave me a chance to play with some ideas for her next cake (which is some in determinant amount of time in the future, as it still doesn't have a contract--but it will someday, because it's made of awesome!)

I also tried the lemon cinnamon cake flavor she said she liked so much in her interview here. It turned out great, so I thought I'd share it with you. But as I can't find my super secret book of recipes, I'll have to post it later this week (I know, I'm such a tease!)