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Thursday, July 12, 2012

FirstTime published Author, Gailya Keller, Shares her Story about Her Book, The Secret of Smiley Woods

I am a first time author of the children’s book, The Secret of Smiley’s Woods.  I married my high school sweetheart when I was 17 and we are getting ready to celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary.  I have a wonderful 4 year old little boy who is the light of my life.  I am a bookkeeper by day and a writer by night, or midnight, or sitting at the stoplight.

Tell us about the genre of your work.

My published genre is children’s.  I am open to any direction which I feel led to create.

Why did you choose this genre?

I have always had the desire to create.  I am a huge reader and always seem to have a story line circling around in my head.  I was never able to figure out where to start to get what I had inside of me out.  I saw an advertisement for a children’s writing course and signed up for it.  My children’s book was derived from one of my first writing assignments.  Now that I am a mother, I seem to think and write more in that direction and genre naturally.

What are some of your books, stories that have been published?

At this moment, I have one children’s book, The Secret of Smiley’s Woods.

What ages do you direct your books?

The Secret of Smiley’s Woods is a 5 to 11 age group.  My next book, which has not entered production yet, will be a slightly older age group.

Can you tell us more about the book and where we may find it?

The Secret of Smiley’s Woods can be found online at my publishers website,,, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.  The ISBN is ISBN 978-1-61663-771-2

Do your books have a teaching objective?  If so, what is it?

I believe the book shows you to always believe in yourself.  You never know what you can accomplish when you find yourself in any situation until you try.  Also, never judge other people, you never know where and in who you will find a special friend.

How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?  

With Smiley’s Woods, the main character is Sarah.  At the time I started working on this, one of my very good friends was named Sarah.  As I was writing the story, her name kept coming to my mind and was the only name who seemed to feel right. 

How did you develop the character/s of your in each of your books (If you have more that one)?

 I know this sounds horribly cliché, the they seemed to develop themselves.  As I was attempting to figure out the direction of my story, they just grabbed me from inside and led me along and when it was complete, I just sat there, wow! 

Is there a unique character or a recurring character if you have more than one published or to be published book? 

My primary character in The Secret of Smiley’s Woods is Sarah along with her brother Peter and their cousin Jason.  In my second book, Jason gets to have his own adventure, and I hope to write a third which will allow Peter to have a little fun himself.  If all goes well, we may get to visit with Sarah again in Peter’s adventure. 

What is your favorite thing about your book/s?
We all have fears and when you are a child, those fears can be so huge.  I love the way Sarah is able to face a large obstacle and keep pushing forward and finds out just how strong she can be.  We all need just a little Sarah in us.

Is your book illustrated?  If so, would you tell us by whom, and if you worked with an illustrator, can you discuss that experience?

My book was illustrated by a wonderful lady, Rebecca Riffey, in my publisher’s illustration department.  It was fabulous and so exciting!  I spoke with her several times and she really understood my characters from the very beginning.  She was excited about my book and that made the journey feel more personal.  She really cared about my book and that made it so much easier handing over my vision to her and knowing she was taking it in the direction it needed to go which, I believe, really enriched my book.

How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?

There comes such a responsibility when creating for children.  You really have to be careful in the content of your writing.  Children are developing at such a rate and the world it getting so harsh.  When writing for children, we need to create a story which will lift them up and be safe for them to read and enjoy and it is bonus if you are able to provide a lesson which will help them as they grow.

Are there any problems in getting children’s’ books published? 

Right now the market is so saturated; I think it is hard to get any genre published but children’s is pretty hard.  I never knew how many children’s books were out there until I started writing myself and after becoming a mother.  It is amazing there are enough publishers for us all.

Why and when did you begin writing?

I began writing when I was in high school.  I actually still have those stories in my someday file.  I was blessed to have a very special teacher who encouraged us to follow creativity in any direction it took us.

What is your writing schedule?

At the moment, being a mother to a very active preschooler, it is whatever moment I can find quiet and paper or my computer and am still awake enough to get the words out.  I keep a notebook in my purse, van and bedroom so I am able to get that paragraph or thought out fast.

What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?

I have a second book at my publishers awaiting production.  It is following Jason, Sarah’s cousin as he embarks on his adventure.  I hope to start working on a third book which will allow Peter, Sarah’s brother to have and adventure also.

What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?

Get a good set of second eyes to edit your work.  Don’t be afraid of change…sometimes it can be a really good thing and help your piece of work.  Stick with it.  No matter what, if you want to write, never give up.  It may take years, but the right publisher or magazine will come along exactly when it is supposed to.  Always surround yourself with a supportive group of people in friends or family.  Only take anything negative someone may say to heart enough to get better or grow but never enough to give up on your dream.

What do you do when you are not writing?

 I read as much as possible.  I am also learning I am not too old to get around the equipment on the playground.  The sliding board is still a girl’s best friend!

What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?

I was at our neighborhood store and I saw a lady in there with her small daughter.  She pointed me out to her daughter as the “lady who had written her new book”.  The little girl looked at me with such awe, I felt 10 feet tall and pretty much floated out of the store.

Where can we learn more about you?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Getting to Know Internationally Published Author, Aman Kay, and His New Published Collection of Poetry, Wings of Time

Background Information on the Author
A product of a true melting-pot family, Aman Kay is a published author/poet on three continents in several languages.  The themes and motifs in his poetry and prose reflect his sincere love and regards for human race and its future challenges.  Although established in the circle of academic and scholarly endeavors (since the early 1990s he has been included in various Who’s Who volumes), Aman is much in touch with the world of an average citizen.  He spends plenty of time reading genre writers, watching popular movies, and participating in sports.  He is a serious NBA and NFL and international soccer (football) and tennis fan.  

Tell us about the genre of your work.

This particular book is a collection of my poetry.  These are like my children that I have been guarding for several decades.  The themes of my verses are the reflection of every person’s joy, prosperity, failure, heart-breaking experiences and the like. 

Why did you choose this genre?

A great Persian poet was once asked, “Why do you write poetry?”  He replied, “It’s like you ask an apple tree why your fruit is apple?”  Like him, I, too, do not know what really happens.  I live, I enjoy and I laugh; I suffer and I cry, and then when the time is right everything comes together and I have a new poem.  At the time of versifying my new production, I am merely a narrator who is simply acting as though he is taking dictation.

How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?

In addition to writing poetry, I write novels, analytical articles, and other types of non-fiction pieces.  Poetry, to me, is the ultimate refuge and savior.  I love and enjoy writing prose.  When I complete a poem, however, and I reread it a few days later (I hardly ever polish my original verses because I do not believe in artificial creation), I feel like I am closer to humankind and our unending common grounds.  My soul rests much easier at least for a while. 

What are some of your books, stories that have been published?

I cannot even come close to recalling the hundreds of poems and various pieces that I have published worldwide.  I have published several books in other languages, an out-of-print novel in English, and now I have Wings of Times published.

Can you tell us where we may find your newly released collection of poetry.

Where do you get your ideas for writing?

As I indicated earlier, for my poetry it is the idea and the poem that come to me sometime “in single spies” and sometime in battalions.”  For my analytical pieces, I always seek ideas from the original source, i. e., a film, a play, a short story, or a novel.  For my make-believe stories, I rely mainly on fictionalized true events.

What is your favorite thing about your book?

As a rule, I do not like to talk about myself or my books.  About this particular book of poetry, I want to think that I truly like it because there is nothing artificial about it.  Each poem is an honest reflection of all that has led to its production.

Why and when did you begin writing?  Is there any one person who had a big influence on you or encouraged you to write?

From elementary years, I developed a mysterious love affair with words and verbal expressions.  It was from those 3rd and 4th grade years that I started writing, but I used to hide my writings from others.  Like almost all other mothers, my late mom was the main source of motivation and inspiration.  Later on, I was fortunate enough to be encouraged by a variety of teachers, movie stars, writers, poets, and movie/theatre directors.  

What is your writing schedule?  What atmosphere do you need to write?

Unfortunately, as much as I do not want to admit it, I am not a considerably disciplined writer.   The more grey hair I get, the less motivated I am; nevertheless, I still find time to write.  Anywhere away from the home-office is the best atmosphere for me!  I’d love to take my laptop to a nearby park or on a cruise ship and write as I am exposed to nature and especially open water.

What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?

I am actually disciplining myself to complete two novels that are completed and need final touches.  I am working on a book that can be used as a supplementary book for upper high school and college students in their literature classes.  In this book I guide the potential readers through various stages and strategies of identifying essential components of elements of fiction and infer the hidden/implied points more confidently.  And of course I am usually writing more poems that may turn into another book in the future.

What kind of advice or tips do you have for someone who wants to write and be published?

Do not ever, ever try to be someone else.  Write what you know and what you enjoy.  Be mindful of your potential audiences, but never forget the late John Macdonal’s advice: Write to please yourself.  “When that happens, you will like the work too.”  Too, know your craft and be smart and wise enough to realize that you can always benefit from others.   Lastly, be patient.  In this amazingly competitive world, less and less great writers are being discovered in a short time.   

Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?

The only thing you should resent about your writing is that it takes time away from your reading!

What do you do when you are not writing?

Sports, movies, plays, traveling, and visiting my favorite restaurants are among the basic things I do when I am not writing.

Include anything else you may wish to add.

If you have been reading everything I have been saying to this point, I am truly grateful to you, dear reader.

What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?

Every moment is truly precious.  I have never been fascinated with the destination.  It’s the journey and its adventures that have been inspiring me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Christian Author, Lillian Prenner, Shares Her Mission and Her Book, Grandparenting with a Purpose: Effective Ways to Pray for your Grandchildren

Lillian, it is nice to have you as a guest author today.  Could you tell us a little about yourself and all the things you do?

Lillian Ann Penner is the author, speaker, National Prayer Coordinator for Christian Grandparenting Network: directing the Grandparents@Prayer groups and the annual Grandparents Day of Prayer, blogger, and a freelance writer. She and her husband, John have been married over 53 years and currently reside in Portland, OR. They have three married sons and twelve grandchildren, who are the love of their life.
Where we live in Portland, the flowers are gorgeous starting in April with the tulips. Portland. I love the flowering trees here and the beautiful flowers since we lived in the desert for 40 years and the flowering season was very short. We have a forest behind our townhouse and it is just lovely.

Lillian has been active in church ministry for over 50 years, led a mentoring ministry for women, participated in short term mission’s trip in Ukraine, and volunteered with several Christian ministries. Currently, she is involved in the leadership of a women’s Bible study and the 55+ group in her church. She blogs on several websites, as well as her own on at

Lillian loves to travel with her husband exploring new areas, taking pictures, reading fiction books, and have lunch with her friends.

Tell us about the genre of your work.

Challenge grandparents to model a standard of moral living in an immoral world and pray for their grandchildren growing up in a spiritual hostile climate.

Why did you choose this genre?

 I have a passion for my grandchildren growing up in this post-Christian environment.

How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?

My audience is to grandparents. I give them tools to pray intentionally for their grandchildren.

What are some of your books, stories that have been published?

I have several published articles and book reviews in newspapers and magazines. 
 My book is titled:

Grandparenting with a Purpose: Effective Ways to Pray for your Grandchildren

ISBN 978-1-6150-7611-6 Available on websites with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Crossbooks Publishing, and my website Published Nov. 2010.


 Maybe your grandchildren are living with you. Maybe they’re thousands of miles away. Their parents may be spiritually rebellious or simply neglectful of the family’s spiritual life, failing to make prayer and church attendance a regular part of their routine. But even if your grandchildren’s parents have established a strong Christian home, busy schedules, jobs, parenting, and all the distractions of today’s world conspire to distract or even destroy the family. How can you, as a grandparent, help?

God gives grandparents a sacred trust—an opportunity to imprint another generation with the message of his faithfulness. You can stand in the gap by being a godly example for your grandchildren and by praying for them. Even grandparents who already pray regularly for their grandchildren will discover creative suggestions for making the practice even more meaningful. From cell phones to photo prayer journals, you’ll find tools that work for you—and for your grandchildren.

The author provides specific examples of prayers to help you get started, such as alphabet prayers, prayers based on special scriptures, and prayers for certain holidays. You may even widen the circle, praying for other children in your life, for children who have parents in the military, and for the adults who influence your grandchildren. Regardless of how far away your grandchildren are, praying for them can bridge the distance between you and leave them with an inheritance more precious than gold. 

Where do you get your ideas for writing?

 I get my ideas from reading books, magazine articles, listening to grandparents, praying, and from my heavenly Father.

What is your favorite thing about your book?

The suggestions of how to pray intentionally.

Why and when did you begin writing? I started writing my thoughts about intentionally praying for my grandchildren about 8 years ago. I had developed a passion to pray for my grandchildren and I wanted to share it with others. I heard a speaker say, “If God has given you a passion for something He wants you to share it with others.” 

Is there any one person who had a big influence on you or encouraged you to write?  

An author friend, Helen Haidle who has written many books and been a book editor for a publisher was a great influenced me greatly. She encouraged me to participate in the annual Oregon Christian Writers coaching conference for several times, in addition to their one-day conferences. 

What is your writing schedule?  

Since I am writing weekly blogs for two websites, I write a several days a week. 

What atmosphere do you need to write?  

I like to sit in my recliner with my laptop in my living room with no distracting noises. 

What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?

 I would like to write some small booklets for grandparents with Suggestions to Pray for their grandchildren. 

What kind of advice or tips do you have for someone who wants to write and be published?

Go to coaching and writing conferences, network, and do research on the computer. There are many websites offering writing advice. 

Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers? 

You just have to learn and persevere. 

What do you do when you are not writing?  

I enjoy reading, traveling, and spending time with my children and grandchildren. 

Is there anything else you may wish to add. 

 I am amazed that God has used an ordinary farm girl from Oklahoma with very little college education to write a book and have a grandparenting ministry. I have always been involved in a ministry during my adult life. Now I am so grateful that God is giving me the opportunity to serve Him at the age of 74 sitting in my recliner with my laptop encouraging grandparents to pray for their grandchildren a they are growing up in a post-Christian culture.  

What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?

Becoming the National Prayer Coordinator for the Christian Grandparenting Network. Writing the book, Grandparenting with a Purpose: Effective Ways to Pray for your Grandchildren. Having an article published in the Significant Living Magazine.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Julie Weishaar Marketing Professional Shares How She can Help Authors and others in the Publishing World with Internet Marketing

Julie, can you tell us more about what you do, and how you can help authors and others in the publishing world? Let us begin with some basics by find out how long you have been doing this, and exactly what you do.  Then, let us find out how you can help authors and others in this field.

1) How long have you been in the marketing profession? Did you work for other companies before starting your own?

I have been in the marketing profession for as long as I have been in the business world. While raising my children, I owned my own companies and marketing is a natural and necessary function for any business owner. When I came back into the work force I ran a non-profit association for five years, then went into corporate marketing, and then onto owning my own business again. Anyone who has anything to promote has to market it. So the answer to your question “how long?” – more than 20 years.

2) How long have you had a website? How do you use it in promoting your business – what role does it play?

I created my first website as part of my learning process when I started New Horizons 123 2 1/2 years ago. It is actually funny to see my first attempt at my first website and compare it to where it is today. A company’s website is ESSENTIAL in promoting any business. The website is the central hub of a business. All the online activity they do to promote their brand should lead back to their website. All my online activity is geared towards bringing potential clients back to my website(s).

3) How has social media helped your business? Do you have any favorite social media sites?

Social media is about building relationships. People like to do business with people they know and trust, therefore getting them to know you and trust you is critical. I use social media extensively in my business and have been fortunate enough to have met some very helpful friends and clients via social media networking.

4) What do you consider your niche in your profession? How do you stand out from other professionals?

My niche is the small business owner who needs help promoting their brand. I stand out from my competition because of the relationships I have developed and because I use video marketing extensively in my consulting, and video IS the way of the future for communications and messaging. I not only help small businesses utilize video in their marketing, I also create videos for the businesses I consult for.

5) What would you suggest to a young person getting started in marketing?

That’s an easy answer – network, network, network :) They should also find out who the thought leaders are in the niche they want to be involved in, follow them, interact with them on social media platforms, and become a perpetual student! It is also important for the young person to realize that just because they read something online, doesn’t mean it is true. Check out the reputations/reviews of the sources of information to be sure you are following the “right” people.

6) How has blogging helped you in marketing your own business?

Blogging alone is like operating in a vacuum. In order for your blog/website/social media profile to have any value to you or anyone else, you have to network, network, network! Get your blog listed in blog directories, join blogging groups on different social media sites, interact, engage, share, learn, teach, and did I mention, network, network, and network? I have developed some extremely mutually beneficial relationships with other professionals in my niche that I met on blogs (mine and others), in blogging groups, and on social media networking sites.

 Some links to find out more about Julie and what she does professionally:


Julie has over 10 years corporate marketing management experience and now helps small business owners hone in on exactly what their business offerings are, who their target market is, and come up with creative ways to get their marketing message across to their target at the right time. Based in New York, but with an International target market, she also helps business owners learn how to use video as part of their overall marketing mix.

Branding with Video

Julie helps business owners strategically plan how to use videos online, increase their web presence, and promote their brand. Say it with Video! Julie has a passion for creating unique, engaging, descriptive,  and compelling videos and creates and uses videos for business profiles, blog post/articles, product demonstrations, messaging, and to showcase talent. Video branding/marketing is the way of the future as video is such a powerful marketing tool. She can create unique and memorable videos about your product or service that will make your brand stand out.

What is Video Marketing?

Branding with video through video ads, business profile videos, social media marketing, Youtube video marketing, video emails, video event marketing, and other video software technologies is the future of business. New Horizons 123 works with business owners to create videos for you or use the ones you already have and strategically integrate them into branding strategy that will drive traffic to your website and turn more leads into sales.

Marketing Consultant

Authors have a product to sell – that product is their book. Therefore, authors need to market their product by using the same best marketing practices any company uses when promoting their offerings. New Horizons 123 focuses on helping the small business owner (the author) utilize the power of video to increase brand (book) awareness, rank higher in the search engines, and make more sales.

Video is the best promotional tool for your book trailer.

Video is the MOST-EFFECTIVE vehicle to deliver your message – announcing to your potential readers that your book is available for purchase. Using video to promote your product (your book) has become an integral component of online advertising. Google loves video (great for online search) and people prefer to watch than read, so authors should take advantage of the power of video to supercharge their book promotion. Bring your book to life with a professional video book trailer

With the explosive popularity of sites such as YouTube (now considered the number two search engine online), Vimeo, and others – it’s time to embrace video and utilize the power of video to deliver your message to your potential readers. Creating unique, compelling, eye-catching video is the key in grabbing viewer’s attention! Present your readers with the opportunity to see and hear about your book via video.

What do you consider your niche in your profession? How do you stand out from other professionals?

My niche is the small business owner (in this case – the author) who needs help promoting their brand (book). I stand out from my competition because of the relationships I have developed and because I use video marketing extensively in my consulting, and video IS the way of the future for communications and messaging. I not only help small businesses utilize video in their marketing, I also create videos for the businesses I consult for.

What Makes a Good Video Book Trailer?

  • Descriptive of your book
  • Memorable
  • Engaging
  • Unique
  • Compelling

Why did you choose to be in video Marketing?

I love creating videos and “Saying it with Video”. Any message delivered in a video format that is engaging, entertaining, and compelling makes that message stand out. The fact that Google loves video and people would rather watch than read, is why messaging in video is so powerful. I have always been a creative person and creating videos for any kind of message, is a great way to channel these creative energies.

What are some of your video and marketing programs that you have developed?

I have created videos:

·       MyVideoTalk

I have my videos posted in the following places:

How do you come up with the visual portrayal of characters in you videos?
I search for an image, graphic, or animation that captures the essence of the message
Why and when did you begin?
Three years ago, I set out to create a short video for my dad’s surprise 80th birthday party. What started out as a little tribute to him ended up literally being an epic video dedication and appreciation of his life beginning from his birth until the present time. I included photos and music of his entire life, his career, and his family with music. The music reflected the period of time in his life that each section of the video focused on, including real life performances from his wife and children. There were also dedications from loved ones included in this video. When we showed the video at his party, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. I learned how to do things in creating this video that I had no idea how to do previously and enjoyed it so much, that I decided to incorporate video marketing in my small business marketing. The rest as they say – is history.

What is your working schedule?  Is this your fulltime profession, or do you do other things as well?

I don’t have a schedule – I work 24/7 when I am not spending time with family and friends. I love what I do and actually find creating videos a stress-reliever. I am involved in many projects that all revolve around video marketing. I just recently completed customizing a Key Leader Marketing System for MyVideoTalk. This is a custom recruiting, training, and retention system for independent reps and leaders in MyVideoTalk to help them promote the company and its products on the Internet.
Do you usually work directly with authors, or with the publishers, or other businesses?

I work directly with all my clients who want me to create a video for them. My clients range from Home Inspectors, to book authors, to flower shops, to pavement companies, to commercial product distributors, and more.

Is there something that writers should know about time and cost of book trailers?

The cost for a video book trailer is $499 and is totally customized for the client. The lead time is generally 3-5 business days and the Process is outlined here                                              

What things should an author know  when they are thinking about working with video marketing?

·       What type of video they would like

·       Music or voice?

·       If music, what type?

·       Main message of book

·       Other

What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to have their book to have a book trailer created? 

To put yourself in the shoes of your potential buyer. What would compel YOU to purchase your book after watching a video trailer about it? What are the most salient points you want to get across to the viewer?

Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to writers?
What “Made It” moments have you experienced.

·       The best “aha” is when the client says “I love it” J

·       Also when a client tells me that using video has added a whole new dimension to their business.

·       The best advice is always to put yourself in your prospective customer’s shoes and see what would impress/compel you enough to make the purchase.

How can authors or others in the publishing world get in touch with you?

Julie Weishaar