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Monday, July 06, 2015


Eric Trant Launches his SciFi Thriller, Steps Blog Tour

....and giveaway!

Steps is a well-written science fiction novel you won’t want to put down. Following the Peacemaker family through their battle of survival will keep you on the edge of your seat as you wait to see what obstacle is next.

Society is falling to a ravaging virus, and the Peacemaker family is stranded in the mountains of Arkansas. Forced to band with a group of deserted soldiers, they battle to survive starvation, apocalyptic cataclysms, and a growing number of dangerously infected wanderers.

As their dwindling number struggles against ever-increasing odds, they realize they are not alone in the wilderness. A large creature is present in the hills, at first seen only as a fleeting shadow.

Now the family not only faces impending death from the unstoppable virus, they must also deal with the mysterious giant, whose footprints signify that he knows where they are.

Paperback: 218 Pages
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (May 21, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1937178684
ISBN-13: 978-1937178680
Twitter hashtag: # StepsTrant

Steps is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of Steps please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes this Friday, July 10th at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author: 

Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novels Wink and Steps from WiDo Publishing. He lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, two teenagers, a toddler, and an angel baby watching over them all. See more of Eric's work at:





-----Interview by Crystal J. Otto

WOW: First of all, thank you so much for touring with us again! It’s exciting to work with you again and I enjoyed arranging the tour for Steps as much as your first tour for Wink! You are an inspiration.

And speaking of inspiration, how or what inspired you to write and how have you been instrumental in encouraging others?

Eric: My biggest inspiration was my mother. She was a librarian and an English teacher with a love of reading that can be considered obsessive. Along with reading, my family on my mother's side is full of story-tellers, poets, songwriters and dreamers. So I suppose I come by it naturally. It's genetics.

As for encouraging others, I involve my children and wife in my stories. I encourage my daughter's artistic drawing, and she has a novel she will not let me read. My son is a drummer (I was a drummer, too), and has a passion for writing that may turn into something. My wife just likes to hear stories.
In general, I encourage people to live their life in such a way that they have a good story at the end. That's what it is about, in my opinion. You'd better have something good to say when that great granddaughter plops up onto your knee.

WOW: I certainly hope your daughter lets you read her novel sometime soon so you can help her with publishing. How exciting!

As we work on our writing and help others along, some of us turn to book clubs and writers groups. What is your take on them?

Eric: I interact socially with writers online, but not much in person. Nothing personal, I'm just not a tremendously social person. As for clubs and groups, I believe they can be used for good or for evil.

Be cautious of the advice you take. For instance, I ride a motorcycle. Lots of people give advice on how to ride, owing to having ridden for forty years or some such. Some of the advice starts out like this: Now listen here, sonny, I've been in seventeen wrecks, pins in both legs and half my right arm is metal. Let me tell you son, I know how to ride a motorcycle!

Well, no, you don't. You should have learned how not to wreck after that second or third trip to the hospital. I really don't want to take riding advice from someone who is full of pins and metal limbs, even if they have been riding for forty years.

So what I tell my kids is what I'll say here: Find someone who is doing what you want to do, and model yourself after them. If you can find that someone in a writer's group, have at. Otherwise, try memoirs, joining their social site or blog, or researching their life in some other way. Don't take advice from the guy who has written seventeen novels, not one of which has been published, who says, Listen here, sonny, I know how to write a novel!

Well, no, you don't.

Be careful and choosy with those groups.

WOW: That sounds like great advice for any of us, and after all we have such limited time and we need to be choosy with how we spend it. How do you manage your time and make sure your writing doesn’t get neglected? Do you have some advice for those of us who struggle with time management and our writing?

Eric: As a business owner, husband, and father of a toddler and two teenagers, I can say that time management is a crucial and critical skill that I constantly struggle with. The two biggest factors I have discovered are these: 1) How bad do you want it? 2) Does your family support it?

Pick your it. It may be weight loss. It may be a new career. It may be further collegiate study, a working blog, a novel, a short story, a memoir, a song, a particular picture you want to paint or digitally create. Whatever it is, you have to want it, and your family has to support it.

For me, my family supports my health goals, and so they support the time I sacrifice working out. In my part, I work out at home, and keep workouts generally short, such that I can meet my goals without sacrificing all my family time.

The same is true for writing. My wife and family respect my writing time (it is when I am wearing my writing hat), and in return, I agree not to spend all my free time writing. I also agree to prioritize, such that a doctor's appointment with my son comes before the writing, but the writing may displace a particular chore I was trying to avoid anyway, such as drilling in a concrete screw for my wife (which is a pain).

In the end, it is about balancing something you truly desire, against your family's support. Balance them both, respect them both, and set clear priorities. Sometimes writing will simply have to wait, but don't wait forever.

WOW: I could use an entire class on time management, but you seem to do it so well. Thanks for the great pointers!

Who is your favorite author?

Eric: Hands down, Ray Bradbury. It's been a while since I read through his stuff, but I have his full collection. I almost feel like I should capitalize pronoun references to Him, like that. His writing sweeps you away against your will, and is written in a cinematographic manner. You feel you are watching the story, rather than reading it. And he was truly human. Read his thoughts on writing in Zen in the Art of Writing, which should be required reading for anyone plunging into the art of writing.

In writing this, I paused and read some of his stuff. It is amazing how quickly I feel both humbled and encouraged. Humbled, because I know I cannot write like that. Encouraged, because his opinion is that anyone can. You just have to get past the foothills.

WOW: You’ve certainly gotten past the foothills Eric! Other authors can sometimes be our best inspiration. What is the first book you remember reading?

Eric: Where the Red Fern Grows. I read it in third grade. I had to go to the high school library to check it out. My mom was a fifth-grade teacher, and we always went to the library after school while she graded papers. It was a small school. The high school, junior high, and elementary were all in the same building. I don't recall how I came across the book, but I figure the librarian (I can see her face, but not her name...) recommended it. My brother read it, too. He was in second grade. Old Dan and Little Ann live on with us.

WOW: Boy, does that bring back memories; it’s been a long time. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Eric: Birth. I remember in kindergarten telling everyone I wanted to be a brain surgeon, a scuba diver, and a writer. I still never have scuba dived, though I did try for several years to enter medical school. I have a degree in Chemical Engineering, but the GPA suffered a little getting there. It's not bad, it just was not med-school worthy. I always wrote, though, and for my high school graduation gift, my aunt bought me a Brother word processor. Man, it was cool. I could type up and proof-read a whole page on this little green screen, insert a piece of paper, hit the Go! button, and it would slam out the page fully typed. The first story I submitted was to Playboy. Of course, it was not published, but I always thought that was a cool twist.

WOW: Playboy and you admit it? You’re a riot Eric! As for your Brother word processor, I still have mine and it saved me from having to use the computer lab during college (yes, I went to college when there was no such thing as WIFI and I didn’t even have a cell phone).

Changing the subject… Who has been most supportive during your writing journey?

Eric: My family. Without your family's support, you cannot proceed, at least not easily. You need balance, of course, but they respect and encourage my time spent writing stories, and are patient with me as I pitch out ideas to gauge their response. To celebrate my writing victories, we generally go out for a family dinner or plan a family vacation.

WOW: It’s awesome how your family is so involved and you celebrate together. On the flip side of that, how do you cope with rejection and what advice can you give to others who will undoubtedly be faced with a bad review or an unpublished novel?

Eric: Ah, rejection! I love rejection. Learn to embrace the suck. If you cannot get over being rejected, you are destined to fail. No overnight success occurred overnight, nor did it occur without copious rejections. You will be laughed at, ridiculed, shunned, and humiliated. That is simply part of the process of weeding out the weak and the timid. Think of it as the training that military special units go through, such as the Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, or any U.S. Marine (who were the original SEALs). They endure a brutal and rigorous bootcamp, followed by more brutality as they move deeper into the program. Only the strong survive.

I won't say writing is as hard as the stuff they endure, but I will say you should use them as inspiration. If they can withstand their training, their humiliation and suffering, surely you can take a couple of rejection letters. I mean, really, it's not like you have to run ten miles carrying a sixty-pound pack while someone is yelling how terrible you are.

Furthermore, celebrate your rejections. Expect the reject, and you will be all the more surprised when someone actually accepts and reads your work.

WOW: ‘Expect the Reject’ – it has quite the ring. Thank you for this great advice. What advice do you wish someone would have given you back in high school?

Eric: It doesn't matter. I would have ignored it.

I do wish I had read and studied the art of writing sooner. I made a study of it many years ago, and that study helped tremendously. Most writers believe you can simply start pecking and hope for the best. That is not true. Study the art. Read books on how to craft dialogue, create a plot, and maintain movement within a scene. Re-write books you loved to read. I personally re-wrote much of Bradbury's work, along with several Stephen King novels. I need to revisit this study, because it has been a while, and those skills need to be honed.

So my advice, which would have been ignored, would have been: Read up on writing, and copy some authors.

WOW: Speaking of high school, if you are anything like me it’s the songs you remember most. If you had to choose a song to go along with Steps, what would it be?

Eric: I actually listened to a song called "He's Frank" by Iggy Pop, over and over when I wrote Steps. I do this with songs. I find one that jives, and I use it to entrance me while I write. It put me in the mood. I have a short story about Frank that I will turn into a novel soon. That one is percolating...

WOW: What does it look like when you write? Are you an office guy with a computer, a coffee shop dude with a notebook, etc...? Hot cocoa, tea, or coffee? Give us a sneak peak into the eb and flow of your trade.

Eric: I write in a cloffice. What is a cloffice? It is a closet-office. My house is full of children, and so I carved out a small quiet nook in my closet and built a desk (a.k.a. cut some plywood and mounted it to the wall with cleats). I do have a very comfortable chair, and a fan, and plenty of quietude. Really, those are all the things that matter. Chair, fan, quiet...

WOW: Adorable! As a mom with a busy house, I can totally relate to your CLOFFICE!

So what’s next for you?

Eric: Next for me is my next book. I have a firm belief that the best way to succeed is to publish more books. While I have not produced as fast as I would like, I hope the quality of work will show through, and over time I can accumulate enough of a backlog to generate enough income to justify writing full-time.

WOW: That’s great news and it means we will be doing this again soon, so there’s no need to say goodbye. Thank you for your inspiration and your humor Eric!

----------Blog Tour Dates

Monday, July 6 (today) @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview and book giveaway!

Tuesday, July 7 @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Eric Trant makes a book blog tour stop at Choices as he writes a guest post for Madeline Sharples. The guest post is titled: "Part-Time Authors: How a Second Career Improves Your Writing" and you won't want to miss his insight into this topic as well as an opportunity to learn about and participate in a giveaway for your own copy of Trant's latest best seller Steps!

Wednesday, July 8 @ Katherine Hajer
Eric Trant authors today's guest post at the blog of Katherine Hajer as he speaks on "Exploring the World: Why Writers ~ Must ~ Get Off the Couch". Learn more about this topic as well as Trant's latest novel Steps.

Friday, July 10 @ Ava Louise
Eric Trant stops at the blog of fellow author Ava Louise. Don't miss Eric's guest post titled: "Bigotry in Writing Part I: How Much is Too Much? " and learn more about Eric's latest novel Steps.

Monday, July 13 @ Renee’s Pages
Here's a guest post we can all sink our teeth into (or not)..."Workout Fun: A Simple Trick to Spice Up Your Workout Routine" by Eric Trant. Eric visits the blog of WOW!'s own Renee Roberson as he shares his thoughts on workouts and his latest novel Steps. This is a blog stop you won't want to miss!

Tuesday, July 14th @ All Things Audry
Eric Trant offers reader of All Things Audry an insightful guest post titled: "OCD: How This Super Power Can Be Used for Good or Evil." Find out more about this and Trant's latest best seller Steps.

Wednesday, July 15 @ MC Simon
Join author MC Simon as she review the latest novel by Eric Trant. Learn more about Steps and find our for yourself why Eric Trant is a top selling author.

Thursday, July 16 @ I’d So Rather be Reading
Eric Trant stops at the I'd So Rather be Reading blog. Don't miss Eric's guest post titled: "Bigotry in Writing Part II: How Realistic are your Bigots?" and learn more about Eric's latest novel Steps.

Saturday, July 18 @ Hott Books
Don't miss the awesome topic of "Editing 101: Why I Never Argue with My Editor (or My Publisher)" by Eric Trant as he stops by Hott Books as part of his WOW! book blog tour. Hear from Eric and find out more about his latest novel Steps.

Monday, July 20 @ Create Write Now
Today's guest author at Create Write Now with Mari McCarthy is none other than Eric Trant. Find out more about Eric, his latest book Steps, and his guest topic today which is "Killing the Dream: Five Sure Ways to Never, Ever Achieve Your Long-Term Goals."

Tuesday, July 21 @ Lisa Haselton
Lisa Haselton reviews "Steps" by Eric Trant and will be giving away a copy to one lucky reader!

Wednesday, July 22 @ Kathy Pooler
Eric Trant will wow readers as he writes a guest post for Kathleen Pooler at Memoir Writer's Journey. Don't miss today's post titled: ""Bad Reviews: Why You Must Read Them (and How to Survive)". Learn about this and Trant's latest novel Steps!

Wednesday, July 23 @ Slay the Writer
Fellow author Trisha Slay reviews the latest novel by Eric Trant. Find out more about Trant and Steps and get in on the giveaway to win your own copy!

Thursday, July 24 @ Bring on Lemons
Eric Trant authors today's guest blog post at Bring on Lemons (the blog of Crystal Otto) and the topic is: "The Grinder: A Simple MS Word Automation That Will Clean Up Your Manuscript."

Monday, July 28 @ Selling Books
Join Eric Trant with a guest post titled "City Lights: Why it is Important to Turn Them Off" as he visits Cathy Stucker's Selling Books blog.

Keep up with blog stops and giveaways in real time by following us on Twitter @WOWBlogTour.

Get Involved! If you have a website or blog and would like to host one of our touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email us at


Enter to win a copy of Steps by Eric Trant! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget THIS Friday, July 10th!

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Saturday, July 04, 2015


Cover Design: Book Covers Need to Grab Your Reader’s Interest

Whether you are self-publishing or traditionally publishing, it pays to know something about cover design. Yes, I’m talking to you traditionally published authors out there, too. You may not design your book cover, but your teaching guide or other supplemental material will need a cover too and your work will be more effective if you understand something about cover design.

Fortunately, Chip Kidd loves to talk about his work. Kidd is an award winning designer who works for Randomhouse. Here are a few things I’ve learned watching his TED Talks (here and here).

Derive the cover from the text. We’ve all had this experience even if it wasn’t our book. You read the book and then take a long hard look at that cover. Seriously? That’s the cover for this book? The two have nothing to do with each other. A cover can’t just look snazzy. It has to be based on what’s inside.

Show or Tell. Your book cover can either show your reader what the book is about or tell them. To do both is insulting. In a photo essay, the cover design may feature a photo – showing something of the content. A text-based cover tells what the book is about. Try to show and tell and, in my not-so-humble opinion, you end up with something that looks like a primer.

Mystery vs Clarity. Your cover can snare your reader with a mystery, something that is intriguing but not entirely informative, or something that is almost sign-like in its clarity. A biography with a photo of the subject? Clarity. A tattered map of the city where the story is set? Mystery.

Go Beyond the Expected. Be as creative with your cover as you are with your content. Kidd tells about designing the cover for Naked by David Sedaris. The book is about a nudist colony and the dust cover features a pair of men’s briefs. Removing the dust cover, you might expect a nude male. Nope! Instead Kidd used an x-ray of the pelvic girdle.

Type 101. If you choose your type carefully, you make the word into a self-portrait. The example that Kidd gave was using a flowing script-like font for the word FANCY. You can do the same thing by choosing a font that looks like a stencil for the word MILITARY. Kidd also points out that is can be just as powerful to do the opposite, such as using an intricate script for the word PLAIN.

Simple Is Better. The example that Kidd gives is his design on the Jurassic Park cover. He based the design on a t-rex skeletal diagram, inking until he had detail but not so much that it muddied the illustration. Don't try to use every clever element in one cover.

Whether you are compiling materials for classroom use or actually designing the cover for your self-published book, you want to create something that makes readers want to find out more. Check out Kidd’s TED videos and his book (pictured above) to learn even more.


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Thursday, July 02, 2015


How to Revise a Novel

For NaNoWriMo 2012, I started writing a novel. After two and a half years of a start-and-stop writing process and two rounds of professional workshops – The Gettysburg Review Conference for Writers and The Kenyon Review Novel Workshop – I am pleased to say...drum roll please...I finally have the first full rough draft of the novel!

I have 245 glorious word document pages glowing on my laptop screen. But I’m not finished yet. I need to revise, which is where I believe the true craft of writing takes place.

I prefer the revision stage over the drafting stage because I like having a mold to work with, to bend and shape and chisel into a piece of art. But I know from working with hundreds of composition students that many people resent and recoil from this stage, especially when it’s with a piece of writing this long.

So I’d like to share with you my revision process. I revise differently with different pieces of writing, or even with the same piece of writing on different days, but it generally looks like the process outlined below. I don’t suggest you follow my process exactly, but I do believe it’s helpful to hear other writers’ processes so you can pick and choose what will work for you.

My Revision Process

Take a break. Admittedly, this is the hardest part of the process for me. If I finished a draft, then I’m on a roll and want to keep going. But I become too close to the manuscript. I need to give myself time and distance so I can return to it with fresh eyes. I put the manuscript aside for a few days, minimum.

Reread the manuscript from start to finish. During this reading, I am checking the logic of the story. Does it make sense? Does it flow? Do I use the character’s names consistently throughout the novel and not accidentally change Jane’s name to Jenna halfway through? Did Dannie’s baby, who was born in July, suddenly become 18 months old by February? Does the opening page or chapter set a precedent for the tone, style, and content for the rest of the story? Does the ending make sense with the preceding story, and does it leave the reader feeling satisfied without tying everything with a neat little bow?

Reread the manuscript from start to finish. Again. One of my writing weaknesses is showing the setting. I get so involved in my characters’ appearances, actions, and speech that I forget to fully create the world in which they live. So after I have everything in place and well-organized plot-wise, I will go through the story again and fill in the descriptors that make the setting come to life.

Reread the manuscript from start to finish. Round three. This is where the revision process turns into the editing process because I will now search more carefully for typos and the quality of the line-by-line writing. As much as possible, I eliminate passive voice and the overuse of “to be” verbs because they often make the writing clunky and weak. I pay attention to the rhythm of sentences: are there too many short, choppy sentences in a row for no reason? Why is this one sentence nearly a page long? Does the rhythm of the sentence match the pacing and action at that point of the story?

Give it to someone else to read. Even if I believe I have done a thorough job of revising and editing my manuscript, it is essential that I let someone else read it before I send it to an agent or a publisher. The story makes sense to ME, but that doesn’t guarantee it makes sense to everyone else. Other people bring new perspectives to the story and can help spot plot deficiencies or character flaws you may not have noticed on your own. Likewise, they may find some deep meaning in your story that you hadn’t noticed, which you can use when you pitch your story for publication.

Reread the manuscript AGAIN. This time, focus on the feedback from your reader(s) and decide what you’d like to revise based on the feedback. Learning to solicit the “right” kind of feedback and how to revise based on that feedback is a tricky process if you and/or your readers are unfamiliar with it, but that may be a post for a different day.

Were any of these steps helpful for you? What does your revision process look like?

Happy writing and revising!

Written by Anne Greenawalt, writer and writing instructor

Other Resources for Revising:
Writer’s Digest
Writer’s Digest Workshop
Huffington Post

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Wednesday, July 01, 2015


Book Review and Giveaway for Unlikely Allies by C.C. Koen

What happens when a single mom’s four-year-old daughter falls in love with Mr. Right and she doesn’t?

Maggie Tyson’s rule: no bad boys. Her incarcerated ex-husband broke her of that attraction. Needing to escape his threats and the scrutiny of the people in her hometown, Maggie relocates to New York City. Determined to not make the same mistakes, she has a mile-long list of dos and don’ts. Unfortunately, her daughter, Cecily, doesn’t like to follow them. When Cecily wanders away from her and right into Rick Stone’s office, Maggie knows he’s the exact type she’s been trying to avoid. Can she resist him or will she succumb to his willful charm?

Rick Stone’s rule: bed them don’t wed them. Running a multibillion dollar business doesn’t leave him with much time to do anything else, particularly with an overbearing grandfather breathing down his neck. But when a man works hard, he needs to play even harder. Voted America’s most eligible bachelor, Rick doesn’t have any problems getting women into his bed—except one.

Two auburn beauties stumble into his life.

One will break his heart.

The other—heal it.

Will he love or leave them?

Unlikely Allies is available in paperback and e-book at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

About the Author:

C.C. Koen writes contemporary romance with a twist. An avid reader who enjoys mystery and suspense, her stories will never be what you expect. Determined to find adventure in her dreams and life, she enjoys skydiving, sailing and any activity that challenges her. Teacher by day, romance writer at night produce an active imagination that comes to life in her writing.






Book Review of Unlikely Allies

By Renee Roberson

Rick Stone may be a high-powered executive, but it’s clear from his first encounter with 4-year-old Cecily Bryna Tyson that he has a soft spot for kids. The interactions between Rick and Cece brought a smile to my face time and time again. If only Rick and Cece’s mother felt the same way about each other. The terms “fire and ice” kept coming to mind as their story unfolded. Both characters are extremely stubborn and convinced that a romantic relationship has no place in their lives—but for very different reasons. Maggie is still recovering from a failed marriage that resulted in her ex-husband getting sent to prison, and although Rick definitely has a soft spot for children, he’d choose building his family’s empire and a string of endless one-night stands over settling down any day.

The author did a great job developing some fun characters for Unlikely Allies. Along with Cece, there’s Maggie’s spunky sister, Kat, and Matt, Maggie’s well-meaning boss at the security firm where she works. Matt also happens to be the best friend of Rick, and the two have the comfortable relationship of two guys who respect each other but also disagree quite often. Unlikely Allies also has its fair share of people you’ll detest, such as rich socialite Julia, who’ll do anything to marry Rick, and his fiery and crotchety grandfather, Horatio. Maggie is also studying to be a chef so all the scenes involving the creation of her culinary dishes added an interesting layer to the novel, while subtly creating the illusion that Maggie’s station in life was not quite good enough for someone like Rick Stone. However, I found Maggie to be hard working, admirable, and a darned good mother. She deals with the cards she’s handed with dignity and grace, which is part of why Rick finds himself so attracted to her. The two dodge the expected obstacles most couples in their situation face, with plenty of steamy sexual tension and innuendos thrown in. But in my opinion, it's the sweet and tender relationship between Cece and Rick that really steals the show in Unlikely Allies.

Paperback: 299 pages
Publisher: C.C. Koen (June 13, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0990872645
ISBN-13: 978-0990872641

*****Book Giveaway!*****

Enter the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win your own copy of Unlikely Allies.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Interview with Siena Milia, Fall 2014 Flash Fiction Runner Up

Siena Milia, a native of the California Bay Area, is a world traveler, award-winning photographer, and dedicated mother of three with one more on the way. In addition to writing short stories and poetry, Siena’s passion for literary fiction has translated into her work-in-progress, a novel set amid Iran’s Islamic revolution and its tumultuous aftermath. She currently lives with her family in Saudi Arabia. You can follow her work on twitter @sienamilia and on her blog or contact her at sienamilia[at]gmail[dot]com.

Read Siena's clever story Of Sound Mind and then come back here for an interview.

WOW: Congratulations on your winning entry, Siena! I thought I had it all figured out and then got a surprise at the end. I noticed on your blog that got the idea for "Of Sound Mind" from a writing prompt at Can you tell us a little more about that particular site?

Siena: A very good friend of mine, Laura Fredricks, founded as a platform for writers and readers to connect and share their work through daily writing prompts and story challenges. I began using Describli as a practice realm for short fiction--to stretch my literary mind into places I hadn’t ventured. This was where the story, Of Sound Mind originated, in one of these prompts, and from there, took on a life of its own. What I love most about the site is that other authors and readers can rate your work instantly and give you feedback. It is a great place to start writing or to take a break from a larger project.

WOW: It sounds like a great resource--I'm sure some of our readers will enjoy trying it out, too. Your bio mentions you are a world traveler, and you currently reside with your family in Saudi Arabia. What are some of your favorite places you've traveled? Have any of them influenced your writing?

Siena: Yes, we have been lucky enough to travel the world and live abroad in some rather unique places. We recently took our kids, all under the age of five, on a trip through Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. They rode elephants, met baby tigers, sailed the Mekong, and even saw Ho Chi Minh. We love to explore the world and experience cultures and traditions different from our own. One place we always recommend to friends is Myanmar. It is one of those beautiful, wonderfully mysterious places still relatively untouched by the outside world. Before we became parents, my husband and I lived in Tajikistan as students studying Persian. From there we traveled to Iran, a trip that not only changed me personally, but also became the inspiration for my current novel which takes place amid the 1979 Islamic revolution.

WOW: Can you tell us a little more about this novel? We want to know more!

Siena: Sometimes I say that the my novel is another one of my children. We have three small kids and another on the way--so that makes a full house! The book, and its topic are very important to me. I have spent years both experiencing and studying Iran’s historical and social intricacies and have come to appreciate and love the Persian people and culture. So much that has been written about Iran, and particularly about its revolution, is in the realm of memoir and nonfiction. I have set out to use the unique tools of fiction to open up Iran’s revolution to a western audience on a deeply personal level. The novel pries into the religious enigmas, social complexities, and revolutionary psychology that brought about and solidified the tumultuous rise of Islamic theocracy in Iran--told through the eyes of two young narrators.

WOW: It sounds very complex and intriguing. I'm curious--as an award-winning photographer, do you ever get ideas for your poetry and other pieces of fiction from the images you capture? If so, can you give us an example?

Siena: Actually, photography plays a large part in my creative process as a writer. There is the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words--I believe in this. Not a day goes by that I don’t reference my own photographs taken of the people and places that I write about. A photo can evoke as much emotion or raise as many questions as a good piece of descriptive writing. It can also serve as a jumping off point for inspiration. I often take pieces of a photo and weave that imagery into my novel, giving both nuance and authenticity. I also draw on the images that others have taken to enrich the reality and texture of my own writing. I think this is so valuable, especially when writing about a place where you don’t have immediate access to.

WOW: Do you also enjoy reading poetry as well as writing it? Who are some of your favorite published poets?

Siena: Currently I’m enjoying Ada Limon. I love the way she weaves a poetic story that keeps you riveted. I have a soft spot for books of poetry, but I also enjoy shorter pieces and I follow a number of poetry blogs that feature new poets. Sometimes you find really surprising pieces in the least expected places.

WOW: Thank you so much for joining us here today. I wish you continued success and inspiration in all your creative endeavors!

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Monday, June 29, 2015


Barbara Barth Launches her tour for A Dog Dreams of Paris: From Rescue Dog to Diva

& giveaway contest!

Like all people who share their lives with dogs, sometimes I wonder what they’re thinking about. Author Barbara Barth who shares her life with many dogs must have wondered also. And what she came up with turned into a simply charming book – A Dog Dreams of Paris: From Rescue Dog to Diva.

It all began when Barbara adopted April, a rescue dog who had a little trouble settling into a household that included five other dogs. She had trouble finding her place in the pack and preferred to sit quietly watching the other dogs and thinking about…what? April’s personality finally began to peek through during an Easter photo shoot for Barbara’s blog. She wore a vintage pink hat, complete with a large silk rose and was transformed from shy April to Miss April in Paris, a stylish canine. For a few months Miss April had her own blog, where she dreamed of visiting the City of Lights. That blog was the seed that blossomed into A Dog Dreams of Paris, a travel diary told from Miss April’s point of view during an imaginary trip to Paris. If, like Miss April, you dream of Paris don’t miss this unusual view.

Paperback: 52 pages
Publisher: Gilbert Street Press (May 5, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0983171556
ISBN-13: 978-0983171553

This book is available as a print book at Amazon as well as at your local independent bookstore.

Book Giveaway Contest:

To win a copy of A Dog Dreams of Paris: From Rescue Dog to Diva, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes this Friday, July 3 at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author:

Barbara Barth likes a lot of things: turquoise jewelry, surfing the 'net, and margaritas, to name a few. Then there are the dogs. As many as her house can hold! After her husband died she recorded the year that followed in a series of essays that became her memoir The Unfaithful Widow. She has also written a romance-suspense Danger in Her Words and edited the anthology A Cup of Christmas. When she isn't writing you can find her at the local thrift shops or pounding another nail into the wall to hang the paintings she can't resist. She published a romance novel Danger in her Words before one of her dogs, Miss April in Paris, insisted it was HER turn to write a memoir. Miss April in Paris now refers to Barbara as "my secretary."

Find out more about the author by visiting her online:
Twitter: @writerwithdogs

----- Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: Barbara, you're a favorite here at WOW. You've visited us with four different books--all in different genres--so it was no surprise to us that an author as prolific as you would take the step many writers are taking by starting your own publishing company. And we want to know all about it! First things first, what made you decide to start your own company?

Sometimes you learn by trial and error. In 2010, when I completed my memoir, The Unfaithful Widow, I used a vanity publisher. I had no idea what that term meant back then. I paid the company to design my book and they did a fine job of it. I thought that was self-publishing. I was thrilled to see my story in print. They followed my instructions for the interior of the book and designed the PDF exactly as I instructed. I paid the company extra for the privilege of using my own cover and had a friend design the cover PDF and submitted it to them. I used their ISBN.

As I learned more about publishing books, I wanted my memoir to be under my own ISBN and that is when my learning curve started. In order to do so with this company, I had to repurchase the program (expensive) and pay to have the changes made to use my own ISBN and then buy the PDF from them. I owned my story. They designed the book’s interior and they owned the PDF. It was a locked file that I could do nothing with. I did own my book cover PDF since they did not do that design work. The royalties from print on demand book sales were less than a dollar a book, and I got paid months after any sales. Plus, my wholesale price to buy books was expensive. They also designed the Kindle version, which I later realized had formatting errors. Luckily once they uploaded to Kindle, they were out of the loop with my e-book.

Needless to say, I discovered the error of my ways. I did not want to go this route again. I took a class, actually had the interior of my widow memoir reformatted, and was planning on closing out my account with the original publisher. Then The Unfaithful Widow placed as a finalist in the 2011 USA Best Book Awards and I decided to leave well enough alone. I would do something different with my next book. And Gilbert Street Press came out of that experience. My company is named after the street where I bought my first house. The logo is a tree with two dogs underneath it. Appropriate for me, with my crazy six-pack of dogs at home.

WOW: There are writers and there are business people. But as the owner of a publishing company you have to be both. Do you have business experience? How did you learn about the business details of publishing?

Barbara: I am still learning, although now I think I have a handle on things. CreateSpace with Amazon has made self-publishing so easy. While they offer free ISBN’s, if you use theirs, the book product description on Amazon will show CreateSpace as the publisher. I buy my own ISBN’s and bar codes from Bowker which makes Gilbert Street Press the publisher of record. I am more a creative person than a business person, but I love working with marketing. And I have the best book designer in the universe who takes my ideas and makes them a reality. My time is spent doing what I know and love – writing and marketing.

WOW: Are you a one woman shop or do you have employees? Do you hire out some portions to freelancers such as book cover design, etc.?

Barbara: My book designer is my sister. She is a one woman show with her company PD King Design. As a photographer her work has appeared on magazine covers and while living in the US Virgin Islands, she designed brochures for many businesses. Now in Florida, designing books and book covers seemed a natural turn of events. She is my go-to person with my books, but she also works with other authors. Pam has the experience and skills to create books and eBooks that reflect the author’s vision. A Dog Dreams of Paris is visually stunning because of her talent and patience. I thought white background and she saw Technicolor. We brainstormed the book over the phone and she met my unreasonable deadline. We had six weeks to pull it all together. I wanted April’s story on Amazon before I went in for hip replacement surgery.

WOW: What was the biggest surprise (good or bad) when you started Gilbert Street Press?

Barbara: It has all been good. I am fortunate to have my sister who does the technical side of designing and uploading the files to CreateSpace. I love that I am the publisher of record. I like the control of knowing my vision has been met with all aspects of my book. Right now I am just publishing my own work, which is uncomplicated. If I decide to open Gilbert Street Press to other authors, that will be a slightly different story.

WOW: What do you feel are the advantages of having your own publishing company? Any tips for writers thinking of starting their own publishing company?

Barbara: I am a very hands on person. My books are a total art project for me. And right or wrong, I am head strong and have a vision that I don’t want changed. Self-publishing gives me the control I like. It’s fun, it’s work, but in the end I have a product I am thrilled with. And if I am lucky, others will enjoy what I’ve produced. The best advice I could give anyone who wants to start their own publishing company is to do it with your heart and soul. Be sure your work is clean, edited, and can hold its own professionally with other self-publishers, for yourself, and more so if you take on a client.

WOW: Have you run into any bias against A Dog Dreams of Paris because you own the company that published it?

Barbara: Ahhh, that brings on the debate about self-publishing. The publishing industry is changing and self-publishing is a respected way to go now. Much different than when I wrote my memoir. I think the beauty of A Dog Dreams of Paris will be what stands out when you look at my book and I have my sister’s incredible work to thank for that.

WOW: Will Gilbert Street Press be strictly for your work or do you anticipate publishing other writer's work at some point?

Barbara: That is up for debate. I still have quite a few of my own ideas to produce!

WOW: What's next for you and Gilbert Street Press?

Barbara: My dog memoir. It is the book I’ve had on the back burner for several years. I’ve been writing snippets of it and posting on various blogs. I want to pull in all my essays and turn them into a fun book on living with six dogs. Whimsical, with photographs and my own illustrations. I hope to complete it this year.

WOW: What a coincidence, I'm reading another books about pets that will be touring with WOW in July: David Berner's There's a Hamster in the Dashboard. I can't wait to read yours! But I'm especially looking forward to the photos of your pack.

Barbara's pack! Bertha Barth, Miss April in Paris, Bray-boy, Annabelle, Rascal, and Chloe in her pink sweater.

----------Blog Tour Dates

Monday, June 29(today!) @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview with Barbara Barth and a chance to win A Dog Dreams of Paris: From Rescue Dog to Diva!

Tuesday, June 30 @ Bring on Lemons
Wondering what young readers have to say about A Dog Dreams of Paris? Stop by Bring on Lemons today to find out from our 8 year old reviewer!

Wednesday, July 1 @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews
Learn more about author Barbara Barth and her latest book, the tale of a trip to Paris told through an unusual viewpoint.

Friday, July 3 @ Deal Sharing Aunt
Check out a review of Barbara Barth's quirky book for dog/Paris/travel lovers: A Dog Dreams of Paris.

Monday, July 6 @ Frog on a Blog
Want to support your favorite charity? Why not write a book! Author Barbara Barth explains how writing and charity can go hand in hand.

Wednesday, July 8 @ Building Bookshelves
Where do dogs dream of going on vacation? Apparently, Paris! Don't miss a review of A Dog Dreams of Paris.

Thursday, July 9 @ Words by Webb
Who is your favorite canine literary character? Barbara Barth answers this and other quirky questions in a 5W interview.

Friday, July 10 @ Oh My Dog!
Don't miss your chance to win A Dog Dreams of Paris and learn more about author Barbara Barth in today's interview.

Tuesday, July 14 @ Writer with Dogs
Celebrate Bastille Day with Miss April of A Dog Dreams of Paris. Miss April will be giving us the lowdown on how Parisian dogs celebrate Bastille Day.

Wednesday, July 15 @ Hott Books
Are your kids looking for a fun read? Check out a review of A Dog Dreams of Paris and add it to the summer reading list.

Thursday, July 16 @ Margo Dill
Barbara Barth, the author of A Dog Dreams of Paris, writes about...guess what...dogs!

Friday, July 17 @ Renee's Pages
Stop by and find out what Renee has to say about Barbara Barth's A Dog Dreams of Paris.

Friday, July 24 @ MC Simon Writes
Stop by to find out what MC Simon writes about A Dog Dreams of Paris by Barbara Barth.

To view all our touring authors, check out our Events Calendar. Keep up with blog stops and giveaways in real time by following us on Twitter @WOWBlogTour.

Get Involved!
If you have a website or blog and would like to host one of our touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email us at

*****Book Giveaway Contest*****

Enter to win a copy of A Dog Dreams of Paris: From Rescue Dog to Diva! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget this Friday, July 3.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

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Sunday, June 28, 2015


Writers as Superheroes

Since I have a 12 year old son, superheroes (and their seemingly never ending supply of movies) occasionally sneak into our conversations. I am not a superhero expert but it seems one thing they all have in common is their
hidden identity. To most people they are one person: Clark Kent, newspaper reporter; Peter Parker, photographer; Bruce Banner, nuclear physicist. On the flip side they are Superman, Spiderman and The Hulk. Surprise!

Sometimes it feels like writers also have two identities. Most people know you as your everyday identity and when they learn you’re a writer they can’t believe it. “You write? But you’re a fill-in-the-blank.” Perhaps the surprise is not that we have a secret identity but that we’re actually living it. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that everyone has a secret identity: painter, antique car restorer, pastry chef, business owner but they don’t act on it. The surprise is not that we have secret identities but that we’re living them. Because somehow, if you want it bad enough, 24 hours is enough time to be two people!

Here are a few writers and their surprising professions:

Zane Grey –dentist

Harper Lee -- reservation clerk for eastern Airlines

Jordan Sonneblick – middle school teacher

Kathy M. Miller – cellist

Maria V. Snyder – environmental meteorologist

Jodi Webb – marketing assistant for a newspaper

So what is your everyday identity? Or have you made the leap to fulltime writer?
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