Sybil Baker, Author of The Life Plan, Launches her Blog Tour!

Monday, March 23, 2009
& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Sybil Baker spent twelve years teaching in South Korea prior to accepting a position as an assistant professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga after earning her MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. During her extensive travels throughout Asia, she became increasingly interested in the allure and alienation of American travelers and expatriates, and this has heavily influenced her writing. Her fiction and essays have appeared in numerous journals, including Upstreet, The Bitter Oleander, Paper Street, and Alehouse. Her essay on American expatriate literature appeared in AWP's The Writer's Chronicle in September 2005.

Learn more about Sybil by visiting her website: and her blog, An Ex-patriate's Musings on Writing, Teaching, and Travel.

Sybil has such a great trailer for her book, The Life Plan, that we had to share it with you here! Enjoy the trailer and the interview below, and be sure to comment to be entered in the book giveaway contest!

What would you do if your carefully planned life was falling apart?

Like many women, Kat Miller dreams of having a satisfying career, a loving family, and a house of her own. But Kat has taken things further than most, documenting her dreams in a "Life Plan," so that nothing will go wrong. Yet something has: Dan, her husband of five years. Kat suspects that Dan, recently unemployed, is spending more time in yoga class with his beautiful classmate than he is looking for a job. When Dan announces that he has enrolled in a massage course in Thailand, Kat is convinced she has to go with him to save her marriage.

From the offices of Washington, DC, to the gritty streets of Bangkok to the mountain region of Chiang Mai, from the serenity of ancient Buddhist ruins to the passion of the jungle to all-night beach parties, Kat narrates her quest to have it all, only to wonder if having it all is all there is.

Click here to read the first chapter of The Life Plan.

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Sybil's book, The Life Plan, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end.

We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment. Enjoy!

---------------- Interview by Joanne Stacey

WOW: Hi Sybil! We are so excited to have you join us for a blog tour for you new book The Life Plan. It is such a great book in all senses: it is funny, sad, and soul searching. How long did it take you to write The Life Plan?

Sybil: I wrote this novel when I was still living in South Korea. I started it in late 2004 and had a rough draft finished by October 2005. I worked on it off and on based on friends’ feedback and in between other projects until I submitted it to Casperian in September 2007.

WOW: I am always so interested in the writing process for successful authors. I've tried writing with an outline and writing without an outline and found that with an outline, my muse never wants to stay on track, and without one, I can't stay focused. Do you outline before you write?

Sybil: I did use a basic outline for this novel, as I'm "plot challenged." I wrote scenes and ideas on index cards. The book often deviated from the outline, especially the final third, which I rewrote after I got feedback from the editors at Casperian. I expect to deviate from outlines--they're a starting point rather than a final template.

WOW: I love the term "plot challenged!" But after reading your book, I would have never guessed that. Especially since you created such colorful characters. Do you complete full character sketches so you know what each one is like?

Sybil: Thanks! For this novel I did do character sketches of the main characters in the book. I've also met a lot of colorful people in my life and used composites of them to create my characters.

WOW: I'm sure that through your many travels you've met very interesting people to draw from! I love your main character, Kat Miller. She is someone I definitely can relate to on so many levels. How did you decide to write The Life Plan in first person as opposed to third person?

Sybil: My short stories are often darker than this novel, and I really wanted to write something with more humor in it. I thought a first person approach would allow me to create a stronger voice and use my character's sense of humor more authentically.

WOW: There definitely are some great laugh out loud moments in your book! What really drew me in though, are the rich descriptions. They are so well written, it seems it was really effortless for you to write them. Since you lived and traveled around Asia, did you have to do much research?

Sybil: I wish it had been effortless! If you read my blog from August to October you'll know how much I complained about the rewrites and edits I had to do for this novel. I rewrote this novel on many levels many times.

I've been to Thailand five or six times and used my own experience for some of the settings, but I also did a lot of research to fill in the hazy parts of my memory. I also wrote about a few places I hadn't visited, and had to do more research on those areas. I also interviewed friends who had also been to Thailand about their experiences. Research is much easier with the Internet though.

WOW: (laughs) Yes, the Internet. What would we do without it? Can you imagine going back to the system of library card catalogs and sitting in front of those huge microfiche machines, trying to find information? And, how much more difficult it would have been to find a publisher? How did you go about getting published?

Sybil: I'd just moved back to the States and had sent the manuscript out to a few agents with some nibbles and interest but no takers. I decided that instead of querying a new batch of agents I'd try a small press. I was lucky in that Casperian was one of the first small presses I queried, and they wrote back right away.

WOW: I've heard such good things about small presses. When you were looking at them, how did you decide to query Casperian Books?

Sybil: I loved Casperian's eclectic book list--they're open to a wide variety of fiction, and I liked that about them. Also, from their website they seemed well-organized and up front about their contract and what they could/could not do regarding publicity.

I've not been disappointed. It's been a joy working with Casperian and I'd recommend the press to anyone who thinks their work might mesh with their catalogue.

WOW: What a great endorsement for Casperian! Since every publisher is different, can you tell me what Casperian's publishing process is like?

Sybil: As I mentioned earlier, I talk about the different steps of the publishing process in more detail on my blog. Basically though, there is lots and lots of editing and proofreading. With Casperian the actual publishing of the book (cover design, etc.) was a collaborative effort, which I appreciated. Since then it's been marketing--setting up readings, giving out advanced review copies, blogging, etc.

WOW: I do love the cover of your book! I know some authors have no say in any of the artistic process, so I think it's wonderful that it was a collaborative effort. And speaking of marketing, how else will you promote your book?

Sybil: First, I have a great book trailer on YouTube that I'm hoping will help get the word out (see above).

Second, I'll be reading at any place that will take me! For March and April I'll be reading a lot in the Atlanta-Chattanooga-Knoxville area. I'll be in South Africa in May, but am planning on creating my own book tour for parts of June and all of July.

In addition to this blog tour, I hope to continue to host authors on my blog (, be a guest author on other blogs, and be active in the online community.

And finally, I've been very lucky to have a team helping me at little or no cost. My assistant, Katie Christie, has been a workhorse helping me plan and coordinate readings and other events. My husband, who happens to be an excellent web designer, maintains my website ( My friend Todd Bradley has his own production company and made my book trailer for free. A photographer Katie who took the author photos.

WOW: You are so together! I love the book trailer, and your blog. Best of luck to you with all your promotions! I know I enjoyed reading The Life Plan and really hope you have something new in the works so I have something to look forward to reading next.

Sybil: I'm in the final edits of a novel tentatively titled "Replay." Readers who enjoy The Life Plan will be interested in this new novel, which takes place in Washington, DC, Williamsburg, Virginia, and Los Angeles. Like The Life Plan, "Replay" has a female protagonist who is having relationship and career conflicts.

WOW: Sounds fantastic, Sybil! Maybe we'll get to see yet another book set in South Africa? Thanks a bunch for taking the time to share some insight with us as your blog tour begins. Do you have any parting gems for our WOW! readers?

Sybil: Thanks for your support of women writers by being such great readers. The best way to sell a book is by word of mouth--readers have the most power to help a book along. And if you're an aspiring writer, find your voice and keep writing.

Thanks so much for hosting me!

Want to join Sybil on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

MARCH 23, 2009 Monday
Sybil will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Sybil's book!

MARCH 25, 2009 Wednesday
Sybil will be stopping by Modern Single Momma to chat about developing a life plan. Not to miss!

MARCH 30, 2009 Monday
Sybil will be stopping by Bleeding Espresso to share her experiences about being an ex-pat--a subject both Sybil and blog owner Michelle Fabio have in common!

MARCH 31, 2009 Tuesday
Sybil will be stopping by Susan Johnston's blog The Urban Muse to share her best tips for organizing your writing time. I need to read this one!

APRIL 2, 2009 Thursday
Sybil will be stopping by Liz Lewis' blog Write To Travel to share her tips about travel writing--a subject both are passionate about.

APRIL 3, 2009 Friday
Sybil will be stopping by Mary Jo Campbell's blog, Writer Inspired, for an exclusive interview on novel writing!

APRIL 6, 2009 Monday
Sybil will be stopping by Joanne DeMaio's blog, Whole Latte Life, to share her thoughts on developing a life plan and fitting passion into your busy life. An inspiring and important topic!

APRIL 8, 2009 Wednesday
Sybil will be stopping by Cheryl Phillips' blog, The Daily Blonde, for a surprise post and book giveaway! Be sure to stop by and comment for a chance to win a copy of Sybil's book.

APRIL 9, 2009 Thursday
Sybil will be stopping by Anne-Marie Nichols' blog, A Mama's Rant, to share her expert writing advice on travel writing and how to get press rates!

APRIL 14, 2009 Tuesday
Sybil will be stopping by Allena Tapia's blog, GardenWall Publications, to share her expert writing advice on crafting a novel from your travels. Not to miss!

We also have several more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE.

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.

If you have a blog or website and would like to participate in Sybil Baker's blog tour, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at:

** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.

Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Sybil Baker's book, The Life Plan. Learn more about Sybil by visiting her website: and her blog, An Ex-patriate's Musings on Writing, Teaching, and Travel.


Anonymous said...

I'm adding this book to me "have to read" plan! Best of luck with the tour.

Johnnastein said...

Can't wait to read your book. I've also traveled extensively and been to Thailand and Chang Mai. Great inspiration for me! Thanks for sharing.

Margo Dill said...

Hi Sybil,
I love your book trailer. That is soooo cool, and it works as a marketing tool because it definitely makes people interested in buying/reading your book. What would you say, besides the book trailer, is the best marketing tool for you?
Margo Dill

Margay Leah Justice said...

This sounds like a book I could really get into. I know what it's like to have a plan for your life and to not have it go as expected.

Mary Cunningham said...

So many great tips and thoughts in this interview, I don't have enough room to comment!

The story sounds fascinating! I was interested to hear the two sides of outlining. I lean more toward WOW in that I like to let the characters dictate their next moves, but plotting out scenes obviously works for you, Sybil.

You're also the perfect example of networking. With your husband maintaining your website and friends creating book trailers, you can maximize promotion.

Much congrats and best wishes for your book release and tour!


Mayra Calvani said...

Thnaks for the great interview, Sybil! Like you, I'm also an author who has lived abroad for the past 20 years--5 in Istanbul and 15 in Belgium. These different cultures have had a great influence on my writing.

Nice trailer, BTW. Good luck with your tour!


Sybil said...

Hi Margo,
Thanks for your comments about the book trailer--a friend did that for me and I agree that he did a great job. I would say that the best marketing tool besides the book trailer are blog tours such as these--it's a great way to meet people and audiences you wouldn't normally have access to.

Sybil said...

Thanks everyone for your comments! My next stop on the blog tour will be about developing a "life plan" (or not), so Margay you may want to check that one out.

Mary, I agree that character-driven plotting works well and is actually not too different from a more structured plot. I think the main thing is to make sure you know your characters well, give them goals/wants, and obstacles. Thanks for commenting!

Mayra, great to meet another person who has lived abroad. My brother and his wife (who is Turkish) live in Ankara, so I've been to Turkey three or four times and love the country. I've never been to Belgium but hope to someday!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sybil,
Great interview! Looking forward to hosting you on April 3 at Writers Inspired. I also write dark fiction and would be interested in reading some of your short stories. Do you have a link on your blog to view these pieces?
~Mary Jo

Unknown said...

Hi Sybil,

Great interview! I really enjoyed the book trailer. I'll be sure to share it with my book club friends. We near Atlanta, so we hope to catch you. Life Plan is definitely going on our must read list! Good luck with the tour!

Sybil said...

Trig, I'd love to visit your book club if you read the book--I'm visiting a few others in the summer. Let me know when you plan on reading it and we can work out a date for me to meet.

Also, I'll be reading at the Blue Elephant in Decater this Wednesday at 7 pm. I'd love to meet you and your book club friends! Hope you can make it!

Sybil said...

Mary Jo,
Looking forward to visiting your blog as well on April 3rd. As for my short stories, none of them are online in their entirety, but you can read the beginning of one that came out this fall through Casperian book's website.

I also have information on the anthologies/journals my stores are in at my blog at
and my website at

Hill Country Hippie said...

Ooh! Got to get my hands on this book. Being a former ex-pat myself (Indonesia and Bahrain) as well as a writer and blogger, it sounds right up my alley. Loved the trailer - brought back great memories of life in Indonesia!

Anonymous said...

I loved the first chapter. It has me hooked! The trailer and the interview were very well done and as I have a book being released next March, I plan to follow your excellent lead. Thank you, Sybil, and the best of luck to you. I, for one, will be reading your book.

Kathleen in VA

Rachael said...

Hi Sybil,
In one of your interview responses you mentioned creating darker short stories and wanting to switch it up for this novel. Was it difficult to keep a more upbeat tone in your novel? Most of my stories end up darker than I originally set out and I was just wondering what you did to keep your novel more upbeat.

Anonymous said...


I loved your trailer for this book! It, along, with your interview revved up my excitement to read your story. I think most of us can relate to lives not going as we had planned.

Thanks for the tips!


Sybil said...

Hi Rachael,

Thanks for writing. Even though the novel is a comic novel, it is not always upbeat--the novel is about a marriage falling apart, so there is that "darker" element. I enjoyed trying to add humor to the novel because humor has helped me get through tough times. Whenever I felt the character was feelilng too sorry for herself, I tried to add external elements that forced her to not take herself so seriously. There's nothing wrong with "dark" either--so write what you enjoy.

Sybil said...

Ann, thanks for your comments. If you read the book, I'd love to see a review you on Amazon, Goodreads, or just send me a note on Facebook or my blog. I love to get reader feeback.

Anonymous said...

Sounds really interesting. It must be great to travel and incorporate what you learn into your stories.


Sybil said...

Hill Country Hippie--Glad to hear the novel reignited those great memories. I've been to Indonesia and loved the country. I hope you write about it some time.

Thanks Kathleen, let me know what you think of the book (and post on Amazon, etc.) after you read it--I love getting reader feedback

Colleen--it is great to use my travels for inspiration. I encourage everyone to use their environment as inspiration for their writing, where ever they live.

Unknown said...

Good morning, Sybil~

I loved the first chapter of your book, and the trailer was amazing! Kudos to the producers of it--great job.

After reading that little portion of Life Plan, I have to tell you I truly enjoy your character/protagonist Kat. She is intelligent, contemplative, and concerned about preserving her marriage, as well as plucky enough to sideline her well-thought-out life plan, suspend her career trajectory, and do something outside-the-box for her character--move to Asia with her quirky husband. I can hardly wait to read the rest of the book.

Regarding your comments on outlining, I too agree that outlining should be a jumping-off point, not a straitjacket. I do have a question for you, though. With all your personal cultural & travel experiences available to inform your writing, how do you know where to draw the line? Meaning, how do you arrive at the correct balance of cultural spice without dumping in the whole spice jar? Is there some sort of rule-of-thumb you use to guage whether or not you've overdone the cultural thing?

I enjoyed your interview at WOW as well, and hope all the best for you and your new book. ~Deb

LuAnn said...

I don't think it would be too difficult to go back to the old library card system. What I would miss are the great author interviews I read on the Internet!

Sybil said...

Thanks Deb for all your kind words! My friend made the book trailer & I agree he did a very professional job of it. I'm glad you like Kat from Chapter 1--she goes on quite an emotional and physical journey in the novel, I promise!

I think that culture and travel in writing are just parts used to tell the story--I think you make a good point not to let the fiction piece become a nonfiction travel/culture guide. I try to let the story guide me--if the scenic/cultural details don't add to the story, I try to leave them out. Thanks for you comments and hope this helps!

Unknown said...

I love the trailer. It's such a great way to get potential readers interested in the book. I just added this to my suggestion list for my book club. Are there any discussion questions available for "The Life Plan"?

My husband and I made a life plan shortly after we got married. Fortunately, our plans matched and with just a few bumps in the road, we've accomplished many of the items on the list.

Best of luck to you!

Anonymous said...

I got the email this morning, and before I knew it, I had inhaled the whole first chapter. I can't wait to read the rest...great trailer, too!! Best wishes!

Sybil said...

Dear Food,

Glad you loved the trailer! Please let me know if your book club is interested--I'm happy to meet with members online through Skype to chat about the book.

I do have some questions for readers on my website at
and hope to add more (without my answers) soon.

Glad to hear your life is working out well--best of luck and looking forward to hearing from you!

Sybil said...

Glad to hear you loved the first chapter--I hope you'll love the rest as well. Please contact me with your thoughts after you've read it. I love hearing from readers!

Anonymous said...

Am really enjoying the book!

Sybil said...

Since I've received a lot of comments about the book trailer, I thought I'd point you to a guest post by Todd Bradley, the guy who made my book trailer. The post is on making a book trailer:

Hope you enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

Sybil - I look forward to reading your book. I enjoyed the first chapter and appreciate your use of the internet for marketing - do you have plan to incorporate facebook or twitter on your book tour as well? All the best!

Sybil said...

Hi TeriO,
I am on Facebook, Goodreads, and My Space--feel free to friend me! Twitter is just not my thing although I guess a lot of authors do use it.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts on the novel on my blog, by email or Amazon. Hope you enjoy it!

Sybil said...

Thanks everyone for all your comments! I look forward to seeing you again on the blog tour!
Best, Sybil

iHanna said...

this is a great interview, I really enjoyed reading and getting all those yummy writing blog links too, nice! the only thing missing is a link to amazon to get the book... or add it to my wish list, always a first step when I read about books I'm interested in. :-)

Sybil said...

Here you go! Links:


Anonymous said...

Hi Sybil,

These book tours on blogs are great.

What would I do if my life were derailed?

Actually that happened to me in the nineties when my mother couldn't walk, went to the hospital, and I began my caregiving journey. For a while I thought I would write about it. Instead I am encouraging other caregivers to journal as I once did, using a book/tool I wrote called YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers. It contains encouragement, instructions, and over 200 sentence starts that will move anyone past writer's block. It also gives tips on what follows journaling.

I no longer think my life was derailed. Instead I think I switched tracks.

Your book intrigues me. Memoir often does. Would you be interested in a review that would appear on Writer Advice, If you see this and are interested, please write back. I'll try to use the address posted above as well.


B. Lynn Goodwin
Author of You Want Me to Do What? Journaling for Caregivers

WOW! said...

Hi Ladies,

Thank you for all your comments! I wrote all your names on a scrap of paper and put them in a bag and picked randomly. The winner of the book giveaway is...

Julie Hoerth!

Please email sybilbaker[at]hotmail[dot]com with your snail mail addy.

Congratulations! And enjoy the great read. :o)

Sybil said...

Thanks everyone for contributing and congratulations Julie!

Sybil said...

Dear Lynn--I did get your email and will write to you with the book info--thanks for offering a review!

Anonymous said...

Great book and excellent presentation!

Patong Hotels said...

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omega-3 said...

Hello Sybil. I like your book. It is very much interesting and I inspired to buy it after seeing your trailer. It was amazing trailer. I like that and so I bought the book. Well you did a great job. Thanks for sharing such nice post here. I like this site.

Sybil said...

Thanks Omega3 for your comments! I'm so happy you liked the book trailer too!

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