Tag Archive for IndieAuthors

Kensington Day of the Book Fest Coming 4/26

Save 4/26 for Day of the Book

Save 4/26 for Day of the Book!

Ten years ago a simple sidewalk literary event debuted in Kensington, MD, with a handful of authors and barely enough visitors to fill a subway car.

On April 26, more than 80 authors and a record crowd of 5,000 will be on hand to celebrate the International Day of the Book Festival’s 10th anniversary.

I look forward as this year’s emcee to honoring the talent and tenacity of our authors and performers, and to rejoicing with all who still cherish the profound pleasure of reading.

The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. along Howard Avenue in Historic Kensington and will feature appearances by:

– Tim Tobin, author of, Your Leadership Story. Tobin explains how, by thinking of your career as a narrative – with a plot, characters, and an arc – you can become a more effective, insightful, and inspiring leader.

– Martin Goldsmith, author of Alex’s Wake: The Tragic Story of the St. Louis to Flee Nazi Germany and a Grandson’s Journey of Love and Remembrance.

– Chef Jonathan Bardzik, a Washington, D.C. cook and author whose culinary passion is exploring ingredients, techniques and flavors and sharing those adventures to help others find joy in their own kitchens.

– Major General Oleg Danilovich Kalugin, KGB (ret.), who will discuss his book: Spymaster: My Thirty-Two Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West.

Live music will fill the air courtesy of: The Nighthawks (root rock and blues); the Rock-A-Sonics (rockabilly, classic country, vintage rock ’n roll); and by Eli August and the Abandoned Buildings (chamber folk).

Festival founder Elisenda Sola-Sole says the celebration will include author readings, an open mic, activities for kids and adults, and “books, books books!”

All activities are free and will take place rivotril 2mg rain or shine along Howard Avenue in historic Old Town Kensington.

Come join us, and stay up to speed on the latest announcements here. 


10 Public Speaking Tips from a TED talker

Bank's Giugale talks TED

World Bank Group’s Marcelo Giugale talks TED

When it was over, the staff wanted to celebrate. Marcelo Giugale, however, wanted to debrief. After all, it isn’t every day that someone from the World Bank Group gives a TED talk.

On the other hand, Giugale, senior director of the WBG Global Practice on Macroeconomics and Fiscal Management, always likes to debrief.

It’s hard to calculate the time and effort that went into Giugale’s 10-and-a-half minute: “Putting a Face on Poverty.” Do you count the time he wrote and rewrote his remarks, sometimes agonizing over single words? Was “stupid” too much? Would “salivating” be misinterpreted?

Please click to continue reading.

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10 Steps to a Perfect Pitch: Free Webinar

Join me Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Join me Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Know one paying attention? Maybe it’s not your book; maybe it’s your pitch. Join me Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. EST for a free webinar on how to move toward the perfect pitch. You’ll leave with actionable steps you can put to immediate use, plus a few things to think about before you create – or recreate – your pitch. Oh, and don’t forget to bring your questions.

The webinar is free. Sign up here.

See you online Tuesday.



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Use the News & Seasons to Spur Book Sales

Use news and seasons to push sales

Use news and seasons to push sales

If people spoke about your book the way they spoke about the news and seasons, you’d be high atop the bestseller lists laughing down at the rest of us.

Put that last part aside and think about how much conversation takes place about headlines, weather and holidays.

Why not leverage all that chatter in your marketing? As a former newspaperman, I’m constantly trying to link my novels to the hottest front-page stories. For instance, when the political scene heats up, I tell readers that Bootlicker will take readers “where C-SPAN is never invited – to back rooms where deals are cut, futures are plotted, and where right and wrong are not so easily defined.”

Maybe your story ties in to a desperate health crisis, or looks at life from the point of view of an oppressed people.  Does your novel include a horrific weather event? An oppressive regime? An official charged with driving drunk? A construction accident? A gay marriage? All of these scenarios come from current headlines.

I’ve also got an eye on the calendar, and a forthcoming tag line I hope will attract some attention: Stick a boot in someone’s stocking this holiday season.”

Try this. It’s fun and effective. And if you’re already at it, please share your top hits.

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10 Ways to Hone Your Pitch

Authors in the bull pen; the pitch is moments away

Authors in the bull pen; the pitch is moments away

Imagine the bullpen overflowing with pitchers. Each will get a turn at the mound, but there’s no room for error. One mistake and it’s game over.

Welcome to Pitch Slam, biggest draw of the 2014 Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City. What’s it like knowing you have three minutes to make an agent fall for your story, or at least request a second date?

Three minutes. That’s 90 seconds for the pitch and 90 seconds for questions. Once three minutes passes, a bell sounds and your time is up. Those who linger beyond the deadline can expect an unfriendly tap from the on deck author.

As any relief pitcher will tell you, the work doesn’t begin when you walk on the field. The work begins well before, in this case by crafting and rehearsing the pitch, and knowing whom you’ll be facing before the game gets started.

That in mind, here are 10 tips to help you step it up, whether you’re pitching at a slam or chatting up an agent between innings at a ballgame. Credit for 5-10 go to Writer’s Digest’s Chuck Sambuchino.

1 – Make your first line your best line. It’s true – you only get one chance to make a great first impression. Great is subjective, so let’s say make the opener the best you can make it. Mine was:

Pretender is the story of a disgraced journalist who learns a startling secret about a racist U.S. senator that he once helped send to prison.

2 – Be concise. You have lots of competition, meaning that the agents need a quick, clear synopsis that highlights story, conflict and protagonist. In my hour-long session, 130 authors were pitching to 50 agents.

3 – Know the players. Besides a Google search, many of the conference agents are on Twitter. You can learn a lot by monitoring what they tweet, and then use the info to frame your pitch based on what most interests them.

4 – Practice your lines. You should know your pitch cold and deliver it with passion. Don’t expect excitement from the other side of the table if you’re not passionate about your work. That said, you should also be nimble enough to adjust on the fly if an agent wants to drill down on something specific.

5 – Be comfortable. Reading your pitch is a bad idea, no matter how nervous you feel. This is an amateur move that eliminates the possibility of good eye contact, one of the core principles of effective communication. Really, this is not optional. If you’re having trouble, go back to Tip 3.

6 – Think DVD. That is, think of the back of a DVD box, which tells the story without giving away the ending. Example: It’s about a great white shark that terrorizes a New England town.

7 – Don’t lead with a question. While the provocative question opener might work in some situations, agents are usually on overload. Don’t make them work too hard to figure out where your story is going.

8 – Be specific. Don’t say your novel is a humorous romp. Craft a pitch that draws a laugh. Or at least a smile. (Notice this applies to good writing as well.)

9 – A few more Sambuchino “don’ts:” Don’t sing your pitch. (Would you consider it?) Don’t talk about yourself in the third person. I’m Steve. Steve doesn’t like hunting. Don’t say your family loved your book. Don’t sit down, exhale, and say you’re looking for an agent.

10 – Remember the mission. The pitch is about the book, not you. If interested in the work, the agent will ask more about you. That’s the time to talk about the author.

If you reach that last hurdle, you’ve done well. Now’s the time to remember that you’re a writer capable of incredible storytelling. Don’t list your credentials; turn your resume into a story that’s as memorable as your work.

Wanted: Reader Questions!

Post a question on my Goodreads page!

Post a question on my Goodreads page!

One of my favorite parts of author events is Q & A. I’ve been asked about plot, process, writer’s block, character development, dialogue, inspiration, marketing, sex scenes and a lot more. I love when my answers ignite a conversation that sheds a little more light on issues that interest readers and my fellow writers. Goodreads, essentially Facebook for folks who want to talk. share and review books, has taken note and now offers members an easy way to ask questions online. If you have a question, please click on over to my author page and post it. I will respond within 24 hours. Promise.

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Free Webinar: Making Intimacy More Appealing

“Ready for round two?” she whispered. “You bet,” he said.sexscenes copy

Round two in this case is a repeat – by request – of my free webinar: “Sex Scenes: It Starts Between the Ears.”

This intimate conversation begins with a question: Which sells, sex or sexy? The short answer is, both sell. Some audiences are impatient, others prefer drawing a little tension-building romance and seduction. The act – and the writing of the act – are of course intensely personal. As with any form of writing, the more you practice, the better you get. But practice what, and how?

Join the webinar on Tuesday, July 1, at 7:30 p.m. for a look at the art of seducing your readers with scintillating prose that appeals to our most primal instincts.

The sign-up sheet is here.


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Today’s Authors and the Dazzle Factor

The “Writer’s Row” banner hanging from the rafters of the Javits Convention Center is misleading, for no writing gets done here.Row

Rather, this is where unknown authors at BookExpo America, the largest book industry show in North America, plant themselves (for a hefty fee) in hopes of attracting the attention of agents, publishers and readers.

The problem is that most writers prefer the laptop to the lectern, and, it seems, would just as soon pass on making the transition from creative writing to creative marketing. The New York Times asked insiders James Parker and Anna Holmes to weigh in, and both agreed authors in the digital age must get on board.

Says Parker, “Authors have to promote their books, and they have to be flashy about it.” Holmes adds, “Writers are prone to take themselves very seriously, which is fine, except it also means they sometimes find the self-promotional aspects of their craft distasteful, if not downright excruciating.”

Too bad, right? Just as there’s discretionary income, there’s also discretionary leisure time. Few have much of either these days. Which is why if an author wants someone to spend days or possibly weeks reading his book, he should be willing to meet face to face, explain the plot in 90 seconds or less, and do it with as much passion the 50th time as the first.

I suspect the reason authors don’t always like speaking in public has more to do with stage fright than anything else. As an author who also teaches presentation skills professionally, I know that anyone can move the bar with practice and constructive feedback. Practice what?

– A tight pitch that addresses every reader’s most important question: Why should I care enough to read your book?

– The answers to obvious questions, like, Where did the story come from? Who’s your favorite character? What’s your writing process?

– And of course some may need to practice appearing comfortable. Natural hand gestures, smiling and good eye contact will all make an author appear more confident, and thus keep an audience engaged.

I’m betting most who are gifted enough to write a novel are also capable of improving their public speaking skills, and possibly coming to enjoy recasting their 400 pages into the digestible bites that will persuade people to read all those words.

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5 Lessons Learned Working the BEA Info Booth

Learning on the job

Learning on the job

Message from Siri: 10 percent power remaining. A hunt begins throughout New York’s enormous Javits Convention Center. Nothing, nothing, and then finally, an outlet behind an unmanned information booth. I plug in, sit and wait, not realizing that from the other side, it appears I am the guy with the answers. I am no such thing. I am at BookExpo America as an author and blogger.

In 30 minutes, I was approached by some 50 BEA visitors looking for everything from bathrooms to an evening book auction. At first, I demurred. “Sorry, just charging.” Some smiled, some looked disappointed. So I switched it up. “I’m just charging my phone, but I’ve been here a few times. What are you looking for?” The difference was significant. Some takeaways:

1 – Even impatient New Yorkers appreciate a smile, candor and forthrightness. Authors meeting readers for the first time should not overlook the importance of open body language, getting to the point quickly, and, as the conversation goes on, finding common interests.

2 –Some people are less comfortable beginning any kind of dialogue with a stranger. Make them feel welcome by speaking first. “Bet you’re looking for the art auction,” I said when two women approached “my” booth, (and after I’d figured out where the thing was being held). They not only appreciated the directions, they also listened to a quick pitch about my novel and took a bookmark that describes the plot and lists my website.

3 – You’re not going to win over everyone. One guy had missed his flight and arrived late. Anyone could tell at a glance he was tense, out of patience, and probably hungry. The new word is hangry. He wanted info I didn’t have. I told him I was just charging. His eyes said I should have found somewhere else to power up. If I was manning the information booth, I should have answers.

4 – Some people are just the opposite, and it’s okay to have a little fun. “Where is the art auction?” another woman asked. “Where do you think it is?” I answered. A light came on. “You don’t work here,” she said. “Correct, I’m just charging up. But I’ve heard the auction is up that escalator and to the right.” Bottom line: stiff and formal is not memorable. Let your personality show.

5 – People meeting you for the first time will make a judgment in about 10 seconds. Make sure you’re approachable and try to be helpful. You’ll notice a huge difference when you look at things from their point of view. Somehow you become more interesting, which opens a door to discuss other topics. Which, by the way, helps the time pass much more agreeably while your phone is coming back to life.

I enjoyed my brief time as a BEA info man. Has anything similar ever happened to you?

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Happy Mother’s Day to the 1st Writing Instructor

For Mom, my first reading and writing instructor. Who was yours?

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