Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lynn McMonigal's New Release Summertime

Summertime, the latest novel by Lynn McMonigal, was just released on May 26, 2009. Set in Grass Lake, MI and New York City, Summertime is a tale of romance, heartache, and healing. McMonigal’s other novels include Forsaking the Call (December 2008) and The Ladies of Faith which is scheduled for publication later this year.

-The reviews on your most recent novel, Summertime, are fantastic including author Kim Smith’s , “Summertime, is a wonderfully uplifting story of love found, love lost, and how faith can see us through all things.” Can you tell us your inspiration for this story?

The inspiration was the song SUMMERTIME, by the New Kids on the Block. In the song, the guys sing about looking back at a long ago summer fling, thinking about the girl and wondering if she ever thinks about them. I thought about it, and thought, “What if she is hearing the song and wondering if he really thinks about her?” The story grew from there.

-Some writers work best when they are in a quiet room, others thrive while watching people in a crowded shopping mall. Where are you when your best writing seems to flow?

Oh, I wish I knew!! Honestly, I have been dealing with a terrible case of writer’s block. I’ve not been able to write much of ANYTHING since Mother’s Day. Most of my writing is done at home, locked in our home office, or at the local library. I love to go and write there! The building is 100 years old and was built with funds donated to Jackson by Andrew Carnegie. Sitting in there, it sometimes seems like I have slipped into a time warp. Love it!

- Living in Jackson, MI with your husband and your three sons, do you find local outlets where you can promote your writing? Do you recommend authors start locally or focus on international Internet communication to promote their work?

I am finding the local community to be very welcoming, very encouraging of my work. I’ve held book signings at local businesses—an independent bookstore and a coffee house—where I have been able to meet others in the community. Our local public access station even had me on their daily talk show. This past week, I was invited to share my work at a local church. The support has been really amazing!

I would recommend that authors use EVERY avenue they have to promote themselves and their work. It seems silly to ignore any possible venue where you can tell others about your work. I carry business cards with my website and book titles on them everywhere I go. Whenever I eat out I leave a card with the tip, and I drop them in the drive thru slot at the bank. Sometimes I even leave a card tucked inside a library book before I return the book!

Last weekend, I went to a yard sale where the woman had a lot of Christian CDs, DVDs, and novels for sale. When I chose what I wanted, I said, “I see that you like Christian novels. Can I give you one of my cards? You might be interested in seeing some of my work.” I don’t know that she will actually look me up, but it was worth a shot. My website is my email signature line, I’ve joined every social networking site I can, and post blog updates on Twitter regularly. There are so many options out there, and I try to take advantage of as much as I can.

-Where can we purchase your books? That is my website, and any books purchased there will be autographed before I send them out! You can also purchase from and

-What is one recordkeeping tip you can share with other writers? Something that has made the business side of your writing career easier to manage.

This is a very hard one for me. Recordkeeping is not my strong suit! I do have separate file folders for each of my books. I keep track of what I have spent and what I have earned for each title there. That helps me know where I am spending too much time and what areas of the promotion need more attention.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Interview with Christina Katz

Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform (Writer’s Digest Books). She started her platform “for fun” seven years ago and ended up on “Good Morning America.” Christina teaches e-courses on platform development and writing nonfiction for publication. Her students are published in national magazines and land agents and book deals.

Christina has been encouraging reluctant platform builders via her e-zines for five years, has written hundreds of articles for national, regional, and online publications, and is a monthly columnist for the Willamette Writer. A popular speaker at writing conferences, writing programs, libraries, and bookstores, she hosts the Northwest Author Series in Wilsonville, Oregon. She is also the author of Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (Writer’s Digest Books).

- What is a platform?

Long story short: Your platform communicates your expertise to others, and it works all the time so you don’t have to. Your platform includes your Web presence, any public speaking you do, the classes you teach, the media contacts you’ve established, the articles you’ve published, and any other means you currently have for making your name and your future books known to a viable readership. If others already recognize your expertise on a given topic or for a specific audience or both, then that is your platform.

A platform-strong writer is a writer with influence. Get Known explains in plain English, without buzzwords, how any writer can stand out from the crowd of other writers and get the book deal. The book clears an easy-to-follow path through a formerly confusing forest of ideas so any writer can do the necessary platform development they need to do.

- Why is platform development important for writers today?

Learning about and working on a solid platform plan gives writers an edge. Agents and editors have known this for years and have been looking for platform-strong writers and getting them book deals. But from the writer’s point-of-view, there has not been enough information on platform development to help unprepared writers put their best platform forward.

Now suddenly, there is a flood of information on platform, not all necessarily comprehensive, useful or well organized for folks who don’t have a platform yet. Writers can promote themselves in a gradual, grounded manner without feeling like they are selling out. I do it, I teach other writers to do it, I write about it on an ongoing basis, and I encourage all writers to heed the trend. And hopefully, I communicate how in a practical, step-by-step manner that can serve any writer. Because ultimately, before you actively begin promoting yourself, platform development is an inside job requiring concentration, thoughtfulness and a consideration of personal values.

- What is the key idea behind Get Known Before the Book Deal?

Getting known doesn’t take a lot of money, but it does take an in-depth understanding of platform, and then the investment of time, skills and consistent effort to build one. Marketing experience and technological expertise are also not necessary. I show how to avoid the biggest time and money-waster, which is not understanding who your platform is for and why – and hopefully save writers from the confusion and inertia that can result from either information overload or not taking the big picture into account before they jump into writing for traditional publication.
Often writers with weak platforms are over-confident that they can impress agents and editors, while others with decent platforms are under-confident or aren’t stressing their platform-strength enough. Writers have to wear so many hats these days, we can use all the help we can get. Platform development is a muscle, and the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Anyone can do it, but most don’t or won’t because they either don’t understand what is being asked for, or they haven’t overcome their own resistance to the idea. Get Known offers a concrete plan that can help any writer make gains in the rapidly changing and increasingly competitive publishing landscape.

- What are some common platform mistakes writers make?

· They don’t spend time clarifying who they are to others.
· They don’t zoom in specifically on what they offer.
· They confuse socializing with platform development.
· They think about themselves too much and their audience not enough.
· They don’t precisely articulate all they offer so others get it immediately.
· They don’t create a plan before they jump online.

I’ll stop there. Suffice it to say that many writers promise publishers they have the ability to make readers seek out and purchase their book. But when it comes time to demonstrate this ability, they can’t deliver.

My mission is to empower writers to be 100 percent responsible for their writing career success and stop looking to others to do their promotional work for them. Get Known shows writers of every stripe how to become the writer who can not only land a book deal, but also influence future readers to plunk down ten or twenty bucks to purchase their book. It all starts with a little preparation and planning. The rest unfolds from there.

Christina, Thank you for visiting Writers In Business today and for telling us about the importance of platforms.

Get Known Before the Book Deal is available through

You can visit Christina at

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Carma Haley Shoemaker, Writer

Coming to us from Mansfield, Ohio, Carma Haley Shoemaker is our featured writer this week. Shoemaker is the author of "A Cut Above," "Marriage vs Parenthood," "A Woman Alone," as well as hundreds of other articles, essays and poems in print and online. She is also the Senior Administrator & Moderator at, one of the oldest and largest online writing communities.
- You have been quoted saying you “can’t remember a time” when you didn’t write. Can you tell us about your first written piece? How old were you?

My first written piece was a poem I had written for my eighth grade English class. I was maybe 12 or 13 years old at the time. I had written many, many things before this, but nothing that I had shared with anyone. The assignment was to collect poems that "touched us, reached out to us, or stated something we felt or believed." The teacher stated if we couldn't find all the required poems we could write one or two of our own to include. Of course, I wrote and included two of my own even though I found all those required for the assignment.

After getting my graded assignment back, the teacher asked me if I would allow him to enter one of my poems into a contest for young poets. I don't even think I let him tell me everything about the contest before screaming out my answer! "Yes!! Enter it!" While I didn't win, I felt at that moment that if my teacher thought that I was good enough to enter a contest, then, well, maybe I was actually good enough. I still have that assignment paper book, even now. Every time I'll be looking through my papers and I run across it, I can't help but smile.

- Having graduated with a nursing degree from North Central State College, I like your statement about “being a nurse by trade and a writer by nature”. How much of what you write is based on inspiration?

Because of what I do, what I have done in my past work experience, as well as what I've seen, witnessed and the people I've had the pleasure to know, I find that I am inspired to write quite often -- usually on a daily basis. I may find myself jotting down notes on the back of a napkin while out to eat with my family after talking to them about someone I knew while working at the nursing home; I may type up a story in-between checking my email when a message I receive reminds me of a person I treated at the hospital; or I may sit at the dining room table, scribbling in my notebook after watching a movie that made me remember someone I lost long, long ago.

Do I think that a person is born a writer? Of course -- I think I was. However, even if a person wasn't born a writer that doesn't mean that they can't learn to love it, to want to live the life of a writer, to do it for a living, or learn to be a damn good one. No one is born knowing how to ride a bike, play football, bowl, type, or flip pancakes. You learn how to do these things by doing them, practicing them, and then doing them again. Then one day, before you know it, someone looks at you and says, "Hey! You're pretty good at [that]!" The same can be said for writing, too.

- As a busy mom of three, can you give us an example of how you structure your day or week in order to make time for writing?

The only good advice I can give for making time for writing, is: to make time for your writing. I know -- doesn't sound like that makes sense, does it? But if you think about it, just as one size blue jeans won't fit every person's body, one way of making time for your writing isn't going to work for every writer, either.

What worked for me was thinking of it just as if I was going to work outside my home. Depending on the time of year (whether it was summer break or the school year for he boys), I would have a set work schedule. During those set hours, I worked -- period. I didn't answer the phone (unless it was my husband or the school calling for one of my boys), I didn't answer the door, and I didn't run errands. Some days I was very productive and wrote like crazy. Other days, I was lucky if I wrote an opening line or an email. But I stuck to it.

Now while this worked for me, it might not work for someone else. They need to find something that will work for them. It doesn't matter what it is, as long as they are making time for their writing.
- I have been a member of for many years and have been impressed with the support and encouragement provided within the group. In your role as Senior Administrator, do you feel it is important to reach out to new member as well as support existing?

I can't express to you in the words I can offer here how important I feel it is to reach out to new members, as well as for the "veteran" members to continue to support each other. It is SO important.

There are writers out there who don't have support in any aspect in their life when it comes to their writing. They want to write -- it pains them they want it so badly. They do it in secret if they have to. They have tried to share it with their family and friends but have received feedback such as, "Why would you want to do something stupid like that?" or "You can't write -- you're not a real writer!" or maybe even, "Who do you think you are? J.K. Rowling?" Their efforts may be met with laughter, or anger, and it makes them feel that writing is not worth all of "this," so they quit, they don't write anymore.

Momwriters gives these writers a place to turn for support when no one else will support them. We offer them a place to say, "I want to write but my family says ..." and we listen, we hear them, and we know how they feel because more than one of the 1700+ of us have been there. We let them know that it is okay to write and that they CAN do it. We help them see that if they want to write -- if writing is what they really want to do -- then a nonsupportive family of friends who don't understand should not stop them.

We have all been "beginners" at one time in our lives and we all know how scary it is. By offering each other support, Momwriters helps to make the whole process a little less scary.

- As we wrap up our interview, I’d like to ask you to share something about the business side of your writing profession. What have you found to be helpful?

One of the things that I have found to be the most helpful in my writing career is the types of contacts I have made. I do a lot of medical and writing related to woman's issues, so naturally, I have made contacts in the medical field. By keeping in touch with these people, communicating them, keeping the lines open, and letting them know where I am writing needs, I am able to keep up to date on any new trends, phases, policy changes, latest crazes, etc. Often times, I get new leads and article ideas as a result. It's always a good idea to make contacts in the area of writing you specialize in, as you never know when one of these contacts can lead you in the direction of something very exciting and new.

You can visit Carma at her blog, . To learn more about Mom Writers, visit MomWriters.