Venture Galleries http://venturegalleries.com Connecting Readers, Writers, and Books Sun, 05 Jul 2015 11:41:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A donkey’s looking at you from around every corner. http://venturegalleries.com/blog/a-donkeys-looking-at-you-from-around-every-corner/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/a-donkeys-looking-at-you-from-around-every-corner/#comments Sun, 05 Jul 2015 08:00:39 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=66101 I'm taking a shot of an artist's donkey staring down from a garden wall in the little town of Carrizozo, New Mexico. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford THE OLD ARTIST loved donkeys. Stubborn little critters, he said. He smiled. Defiant... Read more

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I'm taking a shot of an artist's donkey staring down from a garden wall in the little town of Carrizozo, New Mexico. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford

I’m taking a shot of an artist’s donkey staring down from a garden wall in the little town of Carrizozo, New Mexico. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford

THE OLD ARTIST loved donkeys.

Stubborn little critters, he said.

He smiled.

Defiant little critters, he said.

He looked down the empty streets of Carrizozo, New Mexico.

He waited for the donkeys.

The donkeys didn’t come around much anymore.

He missed them.

So he took his talent.

And he took his vision.

And he brought the donkeys back to town again.

He sculpts them.

He molds them.

And other artists have joined him.

If a street corner doesn’t have a donkey, they place one there.

Go ahead.

Walk the streets of Carrizozo.

I dare you.

Look for the donkeys.

They are everywhere.

On the sidewalks.

Hidden back in the alleys.

Guarding gates.

Staring down from ancient adobe walls.

Standing in doorways.

You can almost hear them laughing at you.

Do donkeys laugh?

Maybe.

I think they do in Carrizozo.

Why donkeys?

That’s the question I asked the old artist.

There was a smile in his eyes.

Perhaps it was a twinkle.

Why not?

That’s what his smile was telling me.

The donkey is fearless, he said.

He’s tough.

He’s a survivor.

And he told me this story.

A donkey had fallen down an old man’s well.

Deep well.

Narrow walls.

The donkey couldn’t climb out.

And the old man couldn’t pull him out.

The donkey was trapped.

The donkey brayed.

The old man cried.

The donkey would surely die.

There was only one thing left to do.

The old man picked up his shovel.

He would just go ahead and bury the donkey.

Get it over with.

Put the little critter out of its misery.

He spent all afternoon turning up one shovel full of dirt after another.

He tossed the dirt into the well.

It might take hours.

But it would all be over soon.

He listened for the donkey.

The donkey was no longer braying.

Maybe the donkey was already dead.

Sadly, the old man kept shoveling up dirt.

He kept throwing it into the well.

His muscles ached.

It didn’t matter.

He kept throwing dirt.

The day grew dark.

The afternoon was turning to night.

Down in the well, the donkey was working as well.

Each time a shovel full of dirt hit the ground, the donkey stamped it firm.

By dark, the well was full of dirt.

The donkey was on top.

By the light of the moon, the donkey walked out of well.

That’s why the old artist loves the donkey.

Stubborn little critters, he said.

Defiant little critters, he said.

“Are you the one who buried the donkey?” I asked.

He didn’t say yes.

He didn’t say no.

It happened a long time ago was all that he said.

Caleb Pirtle III is the author of Little Lies.

Little Lies Final Cover LL Mar 13

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Want your child to read more? http://venturegalleries.com/blog/want-your-child-to-read-more/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/want-your-child-to-read-more/#comments Sun, 05 Jul 2015 06:55:16 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=66024 Reading is one of the great pleasures a child can experience. Photograph: Teachers on Call ENCOURAGING YOUR CHILD to read doesn't have to be a difficult challenge. While some children may be more resistant to the idea of reading more than... Read more

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Reading is one of the great pleasures a child can experience. Photograph: Teachers on Call

Reading is one of the great pleasures a child can experience. Photograph: Teachers on Call

ENCOURAGING YOUR CHILD to read doesn’t have to be a difficult challenge. While some children may be more resistant to the idea of reading more than others, there are a variety of tips and techniques you can use to make reading seem just as fun and exciting as their other entertainment options.

A child who learns to read for pleasure, and not just because he is being forced to read for school, will tend to perform at a much higher level both in school and throughout the rest of his life.

Here are a few tips that as a smart parent, you can use to encourage your children to read more:

Make reading interactive

Tess Pajaron

Tess Pajaron

If your child is not yet speaking, you can read to them, pointing out interesting things about the story after it is over. You can let them point to the pictures while you name the items shown. Once your child begins speaking, they can help you with this.

Have them go back and identify certain parts of the story that they found exciting or wonderful. Ask them lots of questions about the story in order to really get their minds thinking about it. Let them ask you questions. By sharing your own feelings about the story with them, they will feel that it is a fun activity, not a quiz.

Let them draw their own illustrations

This tip works wonders to get your children thinking on more than one level about the stories they read. It’s great to use with children who aren’t yet writing, as well. The key is to provide your children with as many art supplies as possible: crayons, paint, glitter and glue, macaroni… Then ask them to draw their favorite part of the story.

Maybe their favorite character, or a particularly exciting scene. Then be sure to display their masterpieces where other members of the family can see them. When someone later asks them what their drawings are about, they can practice their own storytelling skills.

Read all the time

Just as with any activity that you are trying to master, you aren’t going to read one book and consider the job done. Until the reading habit is firmly established in them, you will want to read stories to them, let them read stories to you, and give them time to read stories on their own several times a day.

The more you can set up reading as a normal, routine part of their lives, the faster they will become avid readers.

Let your children see you reading for pleasure

This works particularly well if you establish private reading times throughout the day where everyone grabs their favorite story and finds their most comfortable seat and then enjoys their book on their own. You can share opposite ends of the couch as you read your book and your child reads theirs.

They’ll see you enjoying the experience and they’ll come to equate reading time with special family moments. After quiet reading time is over, you can come together again and share your stories. They can tell you what was in the story they just read and you can tell them about the story you were reading, leaving out any content that would be too mature for them, obviously.

Surround them with a wide variety of reading material

This is one of the most exciting times to be a reader. Between traditional paper books, comic books, graphic novels, and e-readers and other electronic means of storytelling, there is enough variety to keep them challenged and interested. While it is important to keep traditional paper books in abundant supply around the house, you can vary the reading experience for them by showing them the joy of all different types of stories.

Developing the desire in your child to read for their own pleasure will give them an added advantage in school. Children who read frequently are comfortable with having lots of new ideas and can process things much faster than their friends who don’t read.

Tess Pajaron is a book addict working at Open Colleges, one of Australia’s online educators. She’s a great travel lover and an experienced writer.

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No Way to Beat the Heat in a Mexico Winter http://venturegalleries.com/blog/no-way-to-beat-the-heat-in-a-mexico-winter/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/no-way-to-beat-the-heat-in-a-mexico-winter/#comments Sun, 05 Jul 2015 06:45:45 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=66059   WE ARE IN Rincon de Guayabitos, which is north of Puerto Vallarta, and it’s hot, hot, hot. 36⁰C (96.8⁰F) Real feel 41⁰C (105.8) Humidity 92%. We’re dripping as we head into town wearing the skimpiest dresses we own—the... Read more

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WE ARE IN Rincon de Guayabitos, which is north of Puerto Vallarta, and it’s hot, hot, hot. 36⁰C (96.8⁰F) Real feel 41⁰C (105.8) Humidity 92%.

We’re dripping as we head into town wearing the skimpiest dresses we own—the ones we got especially for this trip knowing, from experience, what we’d encounter. And it’s not just us sweltering. The residents comment on the heat too, clearly finding it difficult to deal with daily.

But, this morning we’re determined to check out the market.

market2During the winter, the town square is swarming with tourists eyeing and buying—tapestries, fabrics, jewelry. The artisans travel from town to town hoping to make enough money to carry them through the summer months.

Now the square is empty, but the stalls stretching for several blocks down the street are bustling with locals buying household goods, home remedies, spices, socks and underwear, toys, pirated DVDs, tools, and parts for almost anything you could think of—from blenders to stoves, to …

Vendors trundle their carts and wheelbarrows over the cobblestones hawking their wares—peanuts, candies, drinks, and fruit. Others carry their products such as carpets and toys on their backs.

And those clothes that you donate for poor countries? Yes, they are for sale too, along with new items in a multitude of colors and sizes.

How many of these vendors make sales? Will they have a profit today? Or tomorrow, in the next town? Or the day after that in yet another town?

In an attempt to escape from the heat, we try the ocean after a siesta. The water is as warm as a bath. We retreat to the shady corner of the pool. This water is even hotter, so it’s back inside to sit under the fans.

Why are we here at one of the worst times of the year temperature wise? Because seeing our friends and family again is worth the discomfort.

Darlene Jones is the author of Embattled.

Embattled jpg for Kindle

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Authors Showcase: Eagle’s Cry by Liz Godwin http://venturegalleries.com/blog/authors-showcase-eagles-cry-by-liz-godwin/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/authors-showcase-eagles-cry-by-liz-godwin/#comments Sun, 05 Jul 2015 06:40:59 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=66013   Liz Godwin, author of Eagle's Cry, a romance during the fighting of the Boer War in South Africa. The Book: Eagle's Cry The Author: Liz Godwin The Story: When Johanna van Zweel meets William the first day of January in 1900, she... Read more

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Liz Godwin, author of Eagle's Cry, a romance during the fighting of the Boer War in South Africa.

Liz Godwin, author of Eagle’s Cry, a romance during the fighting of the Boer War in South Africa.

The Book: Eagle’s Cry

The Author: Liz Godwin

The Story: When Johanna van Zweel meets William the first day of January in 1900, she doesn’t intend to fall in love and certainly not with an Australian. A foreigner, an uitlander, William and his mate Eddie have come to South Africa seeking to make their fortunes in gold.

With her parents away observing the Commando Law in the Orange Free State, Johanna is tasked with ensuring Eagle’s Nest, the family farm in Barberton, runs smoothly and efficiently to support her brothers and sisters, each of whom is a player in the arena of a cruel war.

At some point, she anticipates joining her parents for active duty in the war effort, becoming one of the fighting Boers. She is determined to save her homeland and her kin from the imperial onslaught. William, on the other hand, pledges allegiance to the British Empire.

Set in the tumultuous years of 1899 to 1902 in South Africa, this romance between Johanna and William, both on different sides of a great conflict, charts their personal, military, and political challenges. The desperate passion of Johanna and William seems to be an impossibility. Can their love survive as everything they believe in forces them apart?

About Liz Godwin:

Liz Godwin was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. She moved with her family to what is now Zimbabwe and was educated at Roosevelt High School in Harare.

She obtained a degree at Rhodes University. Godwin and her husband, Robert, now live in Jacksonville, Texas.

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Sunday Sampler: The Promise of Provence by Patricia Sands http://venturegalleries.com/blog/sunday-sampler-the-promise-of-provence-by-patricia-sands/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/sunday-sampler-the-promise-of-provence-by-patricia-sands/#comments Sun, 05 Jul 2015 06:35:01 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=66019 In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Venture Galleries has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Friday’s Sampler is an excerpt from The Promise of Provence... Read more

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TPOP_med copy

In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Venture Galleries has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Friday’s Sampler is an excerpt from The Promise of Provence by Patricia Sands. If you’re looking for a great romance that captures the beauty and emotion of France, this is the novel you want to read. As one reviewer said: One has to love a book that touches every emotion! I cried, I laughed and I got lost in all the descriptive Locations and felt like I was reading my own story. A great read!

The Story

On the evening of her twenty-second wedding anniversary, Katherine Price can’t wait to celebrate. But instead of receiving an anniversary card from her husband, she finds a note asking for a divorce.

Fifty-five and suddenly alone, Katherine begins the daunting task of starting over. She has her friends, her aging mother, and her career to occupy her, but the future seems to hold little promise—until, after a winter of heartbreak, Katherine is persuaded to try a home exchange holiday in the South of France.

In Provence, bright fields of flowers bloom below medieval hilltop villages with winding cobblestone streets. Charmed by the picturesque countryside, the breathtaking Côte d’Azur, and the enchantment-filled boulevards of Paris, Katherine feels life opening up once again.

Lavender perfumes the air, and chance encounters hint at romance and passion. But memories of heartbreak and betrayal linger—and her former life waits for her back home. Can she find the courage to begin again?

The Excerpt

Patricia Sands

Patricia Sands

Katherine awoke alone. She had been carefully covered with a light sheet and lay with the sun streaming in, feeling fulfilled and confused.

What the hell have I done?

But she knew what she had done. What they had done. The question was what would they do with it now?

Stretching slowly, she closed her eyes and luxuriated in the lingering memory of their lovemaking. A light smile played across her face. It’s still there. I’m not too old. That spark of excitement that ignited the fire … She felt her body move sensuously into the sheet as she recalled the bursts of pure pleasure that had surged right to her toes … time after time …

She thought about Andrea’s words at the airport, about not having to go home.

Trust Andrea to see past what is holding me back. She’s so calm and logical and willing to take risks. Everything she said is what I feel but can’t give myself permission to accept.

Philippe appeared in the doorway with fresh croissants. She could see he had even gone to Choopy’s to pick up her special café mocca.

Wearing a slightly abashed expression, he placed the tray on a side table and sat on the edge of the bed. Taking Katherine’s hand, he kissed it lightly on the back and the palm. With the back of her other hand she softly rubbed the light stubble on his cheek before pulling him to her for a brief but tender kiss.

“It was a beautiful night,” he murmured, his eyes and voice full of emotion. He spoke slowly, as if hearing the echo of each word and confirming his voice was expressing what his heart was feeling. “You are a most special woman, Katherine. I never thought I would meet someone like you.”
She put her fingers to his lips, as if afraid of what he might say next, while, she responded in close to a whisper, “It was so beautiful. Oh yes, it was. And you are special to me too. We have so much to think about, so much to work through—in our hearts, in our heads.”
Philippe nodded. “Oui, c’est vrai. It’s true …”

“I don’t want this to change the friendship we share. I’m leaving in just over two weeks—that’s the reality here. Can we just keep going and see where this takes us?”

He brought her a robe that was hanging by the shower. “I’ll take the tray to the rooftop and we can have a quick bite. Désolé, I must get back to work, but I will come back after we close up—if you like.”

“Of course I would like that.”

As she reached for the robe, their hands touched. It took only a second for Katherine to pull him to her, wordlessly stripping off his tee-shirt as he unzipped his jeans and kicked them aside. Their kisses were strong and fiery. Quickly he straddled her and felt her hips rise to meet him as they both groaned with pleasure. He hungrily kissed her neck, her hair. Katherine felt a hot streak course deep into her pelvis and she pushed him back, this time climbing on top of him.

All reserve was gone. She felt strong, sexy, desired, knowing what she wanted to give and to get.

Later, Philippe held her face for a long time as they lay together. Then he drew it to him. “You are beautiful,” he whispered, covering her cheeks, her nose, and her forehead with small kisses. “You are such a gift.”

Breakfast could wait.

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Writers hold these freedoms to be self evident. http://venturegalleries.com/blog/we-hold-these-freedoms-to-be-self-evident/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/we-hold-these-freedoms-to-be-self-evident/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 07:40:54 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=65998 WE ARE A NATION of freedoms. And I fear we take so many of them for granted. We celebrate July 4. We revere Independence Day. And as writers, we have the greatest freedoms of all. We can write when we want. We can write where... Read more

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WE ARE A NATION of freedoms.

And I fear we take so many of them for granted.

We celebrate July 4.

We revere Independence Day.

And as writers, we have the greatest freedoms of all.

We can write when we want.

We can write where we want.

We can write about who we want?

We can write about anything we want.

And nobody muzzles us, although at times we should muzzle ourselves.

Is it controversial?

No problem.

Controversy sells.

Is it too mysterious?

No problem.

Mysteries sell.

Is it too sexy?

No problem.

Sex sells.

Is the story laced with profanity?

No problem.

A lot of people love reading four letter words.

Smaller vocabulary.

Quicker reads.

Is the story out of this world?

No problem.

Science fiction sells.

Are there dragons and dinosaurs and a wizard or two?

No problem.

Our bookshelves are filled with fantasy.

So are our minds.

That’s how this business called writing gets started anyway.

Do we cherish red?

We do.

How about white?

We love it like life itself.

And blue?

We’re always dreaming about the wild blue yonder, looking for it, and never quite finding it.

Those are the colors that make America the nation it is.

We stand tall when we see the colors.

We salute the colors.

We are proud of the red, white, and blue.

But when we read, we often read grey.

All fifty shades of it.

That’s what freedom is all about.

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Lighting the Way for Nocturnal Athletes http://venturegalleries.com/blog/lighting-the-way-for-the-nocturnal-athlete/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/lighting-the-way-for-the-nocturnal-athlete/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 06:55:27 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=65989 THERE IS A LARGE GROUP of athletes who receive little attention in our sports crazed world, and I've been one of them for more than thirty-six years. Actually, I'm not talking about practitioners of a particular sport but rather athletes who... Read more

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BERT20

THERE IS A LARGE GROUP of athletes who receive little attention in our sports crazed world, and I’ve been one of them for more than thirty-six years.

Actually, I’m not talking about practitioners of a particular sport but rather athletes who practice their sport at a particular time – nighttime.

The good folks at Noxgear call that larger-than-you’d-think group, Nocturnal Athletes.

In 1979, I lived in Laurel, Mississippi, where I was the managing partner of an auto dealership.  A good portion of my day was spent smoking and worrying about the less than healthy state of the auto industry and, in particular, my dealership.  On July 1st, my Office Manager, who also smoked while worrying about our financial situation, suffered a heart attack that a few days later took her life.  We were the same age.  That woke me up.  Just after dark, on July 6th, 1979, I flipped my last ever cigarette into the gutter and hop-stepped into my first run.

Now, thirty-six years later, I still run.  I run about the same distance as I was running in 1980, 35 – 40 miles a week, only I’m slower than I was in those marathon days.  My conservative guess is that I’ve run well over 30,000 miles and almost every mile of it has been run at night.  I’ve had falls, near misses, and a couple of not-near-not-misses.

Bert Carson

Bert Carson

Early on, I discovered the need for a flashlight and, ever since making that discovery, I’ve been equipped with the smallest, brightest one available.  But that isn’t always enough to alert motorists to my presence.  I’ve had to dive off the road more times than I can count and, as I alluded to in the previous paragraph, I’ve been brushed twice by cars, both events were accompanied by shouts of “Sorry, I didn’t see you.”

Thanks to Simon Curran, Tom Walters, and Sarah Fredley, I’m convinced I’ll never hear that statement again.  Simon and Tom invented the Tracer360, the ultimate safety device for us nocturnal athletics, and their associate, Sarah Fredley, got me fitted with the right size in amazingly quick time.

Simon and Tom didn’t invent the Tracer360 for me – they just got tired of running into each other as they played with their Frisbee in the dark, but I knew when I spotted a Tracer360 in my local running store that they had, in fact, invented it for me.  Without so much as looking twice at the box, which was clearly marked with a large “S,” I headed for the house and waited for the sun to go down.  It finally did, and I strapped on my Tracer360, idly thinking as I did, that it would have been nice if they had made it a bit larger.

Seven miles later, still marveling at the fact that drivers saw and avoided me and still thinking it would help if it were a bit larger, I noticed the “S” on the package.  I emailed the help department with my sad story and got a faster than light response from Sarah Fredley.  I’ve never dealt with a more efficient customer service rep, and in seventy-two years, I’ve dealt with quite a few.  Within a hour, my new M/L belt was on the way to me.

I emailed Sarah to ask her if it would be all right if I wrote a blog about my Tracer360.  She wrote YES! so emphatically, I swear I heard it.  Then she added,

We would love to go ahead and extend a discount to your followers. Use: BERT20 on our site (www.noxgear.com) in order to save 20% on the Tracer360 or the Tracer360+! Please feel free to include that in your blog as well! I have attached a graphic for you if you would like to use it! I went ahead and made the discount good through October 31st, so hopefully some more people can benefit from the Tracer!

So, if you are a Nocturnal Athlete of any sort and would like to be seen, here is your chance to make that happen.

And, be safe running, skate boarding, Frisbee flying, bicycling, water skiing, bungee jumping, or what ever sport you practice at night.

Bert Carson is the author of Another Place Another Time.

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How do you build a successful author platform? http://venturegalleries.com/blog/how-do-you-build-a-successful-author-platform/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/how-do-you-build-a-successful-author-platform/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 06:50:29 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=65884 AS A WRITER, it is hard to know where to start when building your author platform. What to include, what numbers to shoot for in traffic, when to start working on it, and how it all connects can be bewildering. Before I started to build my own... Read more

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The-Curate-s-Brother-Book-Cover-blog

AS A WRITER, it is hard to know where to start when building your author platform. What to include, what numbers to shoot for in traffic, when to start working on it, and how it all connects can be bewildering. Before I started to build my own platform, I went to several lectures by successful authors and asked what they were doing to promote themselves and their books and what sort of numbers they had when they started to have successful sales.

It Starts With Your Blog

First, the time to start working on your author platform is now. Do not wait until you have a finished novel ready to upload onto Amazon. These venues will make your book available to sell, but they will do little to market your novel except to list it in their catalogs. Allow yourself at least a full year before your first work is complete to start getting your platform onto the internet.

The base of your platform is your blog. It is the first item in your platform that you should finish. Consider it your home base on the internet, the one place that you wish to funnel all the other aspects of your marketing to. Your website should contain the following elements: a biography with a photo of yourself, a list of clips that you’ve published or links to where your work can be purchased and finally, articles, story samples and other posts of interest. Whenever possible, give a hotlink to your published work so that potential readers can get an idea of your style of writing.

Wendy Van Camp

Wendy Van Camp

Through the blog, the readers get to know you as a writer and person, creating a better connection between you. On my blog, I write articles about the craft of writing, book reviews of science fiction, fantasy and classic novels that have inspired me as a writer and do short essays about subjects I enjoy commentating upon. Since I’m a science fiction, fantasy and historical fiction writer, I interview other authors in these genre. By coming to read about an author with similar work to mine, it gets my blog in their mind, and it tends to interest the readers to stick around for other posts. Hopefully, that interest will extend toward purchasing one of my stories on Amazon.

This is the base. This is the one basic thing that every writer should have. Not a static author page. Not a simple online portfolio, but a WordPress blog where you can interact with your readership and showcase your work. I recommend WordPress over other blog platforms because it is free to use and free to host when you first start. The only option you should pay for is your domain name and attach it to your blog. Later on, when you are more established, you can move your WordPress blog to a hosted account and acquire more bells and whistles for you platform, but when you are in the first year, your traffic will be low enough that it will not warrant the expenditure.

Reach Out and Touch Your Readers

Once your blog is in place, you need to reach out and market it. To do so, you need the following: A Facebook page devoted to you as a writer, a twitter account, and a google+ account. All of these accounts should be focused on you as a writer. You are building your name as your brand, attempting to make it recognizable, not selling a single book or story.

First open up your Facebook page. Mine is called No Wasted Ink on Facebook, the same as my website. WordPress can be set to automatically post a link to any blog post I create to this page, so promoting my blog on Facebook is no additional work on my part.

However, do not use your Facebook page as a place for your links alone, you need to make it interesting for your potential book customers to learn more about you as an author. I like to make small posts about what I am doing as a writer on mine. I write about the writing gatherings I attend, seminars that I go to or simply quotes from famous people that I like. I keep the subject focused on writing. I recommend using a Facebook page to make your reader contacts over having them as Facebook friends. You are limited to 5000 friends on your personal Facebook account, but you can have unlimited numbers of followers on a page.

Second, open up a twitter account that you will devote to your writing career. It should not be an account to make personal comments on. Keep all interactions on this account about writing, either answering tweets from followers or passing on tweets about writing that you find interesting. If you write in a specific genre, tweets related to that genre are also appropriate. Link your Facebook page so that all your Facebook posts are tweeted to your twitter account. It is also possible to set your WordPress blog to tweet each of your posts directly to twitter. Set up a chain so that both services are tweeted automatically.

Third, join Google+. This network is growing larger every day and the more people that are in your circles the better. WordPress will automatically post a link to your blog posts there and I recommend you take advantage of this feature. Just as you did on your Facebook page, leave comments about writing, related genre commentary and other posts related to your writing.

What Numbers Should I Have Before My First Novel Goes On Sale?

You should have the following base numbers in each area before you consider putting your first book on sale:

Facebook Page: 500 followers
Twitter: 10,000 followers
Wordpress: 500 followers
Google+: 500 followers

As you see, building your author platform takes a great deal of work. Writing and maintaining your blog is a part-time job. You will be marketing your work almost every day. Try to not let it overwhelm you. I check my blog, Facebook, google+ and twitter twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the evening.

Is all the work worth it?

I feel that putting your name as an author out is important, even if you do not have a book to offer yet. The readers will see your writing samples on your blog and get to know you. When your first book comes out, you might not be swamped with readers wanting to buy your book, but I suspect you will have far more than had you done nothing.

When I launched my first ebook The Curate’s Brother: A Jane Austen Variation of Persuasion, I did not have a marketing plan in place for my first ebook. I published a blog post announcing its launch and asked a few of my writing friends if they would be kind enough to interview me on their blogs. I also asked if I could join in a live reading series in my area and was accepted. I was astonished by the number of sales I had in the first three months after my book launch. It was not a blockbuster, but it was far more of a return than if I had published the story in an anthology or magazine. I credit these sales to my budding author platform and consistent blogging.

These steps are only the beginning in creating your author platform. However, before you publish your first ebook, this is enough to get started and to become comfortable with promoting yourself as a writer. Once you publish, there are more things that you can do to get the word out about your writing, but as they say, that is story for another time.

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Authors Showcase: The Master’s Key by Helen Hanson http://venturegalleries.com/blog/authors-showcase-the-masters-key-by-helen-hanson/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/authors-showcase-the-masters-key-by-helen-hanson/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 06:40:14 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=65986 The Book: The Master’s Key The Author: Helen Hanson The Story: Clint Masters returns from the clutch of disaster . . .  With his allies at the CIA, Clint battles a mysterious new threat targeting his company and the citizens of... Read more

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The Book: The Master’s Key

The Author: Helen Hanson

The Story: Clint Masters returns from the clutch of disaster . . . 

With his allies at the CIA, Clint battles a mysterious new threat targeting his company and the citizens of Boston who now live in fear. Under a gag order from his last confrontation, Clint can’t reveal the truth about the tragedies.

In spite of city-wide panic, Clint sees the terror attacks as personal. And he learns that not everyone at the CIA wants to catch the killer.

With public suspicion at redline, Clint must fight to survive. But can Clint capture the elusive and ruthless maniac? Or will he become the next victim? 

An espionage and suspense thriller with a techno bent, THE MASTERS’ KEY is set in Boston and DC.

About Helen Hanson:

Helen Hanson

Helen Hanson

Bestselling Kindle author Helen Hanson writes thrillers about desperate people with a high-tech bent.  Hackers. The CIA. Industry titans.  Guys on sailboats.  Mobsters. Their personal maelstroms pit them against unrelenting forces willing to kill. Throughout the journey, they try to find some truth, a little humor, and their humanity — from either end of the trigger.

While Helen writes about the power hungry, she genuinely mistrusts anyone who wants to rule the world.

Helen directed operations for high-tech manufacturers of semiconductors, video games, software, and computers. Her reluctant education behind the Redwood Curtain culminated in a B.S. in Business Administration with concentrated studies in Computer Science.  She also learned to play a mean game of hacky sack.

She is a licensed private pilot with a ticket for single-engine aircraft.  Helen and her husband spent their first anniversary with their flight instructor studying for the FAA practical. If you were a passenger on a 737 trying to land at SJC, she sends her most sincere apologies.  Really.

Born in fly-over country, Helen has lived on both coasts, near both borders, and at several locations in between. She lettered in tennis, worked as a machinist, and saw the Clash at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium sometime in the eighties.  She currently lives amid the bricks of Texas with her husband, son, a dog that composes music with squeaky toys, and another dog that’s too lazy to bother.

Review by Brooks Frederick:

The suspense builds right from the start in this new high tech thriller by “3 Lies” author Helen Hanson. Clint Masters finds himself the target of a campaign of destruction waged by his former partner and best friend, Todd Westerfield. Westerfield uses computer code and encryption information only known to him and Masters to frame his old friend in a series of technical mishaps leading to accidental deaths in the Boston area.

One of the great strengths of the book is its detail in the descriptions of high tech processes, from the way a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack can be mounted, to the ways corporations protect their systems, how people meet on the Darknet, and even paying with Bitcoin. Another world unfolds before our eyes, a world in which practically anything is possible, if you know which keys to press.

But the geeky stuff is leavened with snarky humor throughout as well. Laugh-out-loud situations and comments abound, even as the situation grows more and more desperate for Clint Masters.

The CIA is deeply involved too, and this is central to the story, but as in all the classic Le Carré or Baldacci thrillers, their support is anything but unconditional. Ultimately Masters has to battle the demons on his own, leading to a sensational, unforgettable finish. Anyone looking for a gripping high tech thriller set in today’s complicated world need look no further.

Review by cjisanaleut:

Wow! This book is a thriller! It puts you on the edge of your seat almost immediately and keeps you guessing all the way to the end. Ms. Hanson is a talented author and does an excellent job of grabbing your interest and hanging on.

From the beginning when Clint Master’s girlfriend is kidnapped and he is shocked to find not only her parents but her Supreme Court uncle are claiming she has simply made a sudden trip to CA to visit a non existent cousin, then when he visits her Uncle, he finds himself under arrest, then served with a restraining order, he realizes he is on his own. Beth requires dialysis treatments, and he knows time is limited.

Clint discovers that eight, of nine justices have had someone close to them kidnapped as well, he knows something important, more than ransom is going on. Clint gets involved with the CIA, while also dealing with a vindictive almost ex-wife, who shows up, announcing she is pregnant and wants to reconcile. Clint struggles to rescue Beth before it’s too late, while dealing with a growing suspicions that his best friend and business partner Todd may be somehow involved in the kidnapping and a possible traitor to his country.

Be certain to read the first book in this series 3 Lies first or it will be difficult to follow the plot.

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Saturday Sampler: Alibis and Amethysts by Sharon Pape http://venturegalleries.com/blog/saturday-sampler-alibis-and-amethysts-by-sharon-pape/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/saturday-sampler-alibis-and-amethysts-by-sharon-pape/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 06:35:11 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=65980 In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Venture Galleries has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Saturday’s Sampler is an excerpt from Alibis and... Read more

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In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Venture Galleries has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Saturday’s Sampler is an excerpt from Alibis and Amethysts by Sharon Pape. If you’re looking for a great cozy mystery set in Sedona, Arizona, this is the novel you don’t want to miss. As one reviewer said: Sharon Pape packs her stories with punch, the main mystery and another in the subplot the keeps going into the next installment.

The Story

Jaye Saylor is living her dream as the proud owner of Crystal Clear, a crystal and gemstone shop in the Red Rock area of Sedona, Arizona—a Mecca for tourists and new-age enthusiasts. And since tourists need sweets, Jaye gets to share her dream with her best friend, Sierra, who owns Cravings, a new local bakery.

But when the two friends discover the stone-cold body of a rival baker in Sierra’s backyard, that dream turns into a petrifying nightmare. With the police eager to pin the murder on the two women, Jaye and Sierra are forced to investigate on their own. Sedona is known as a place of powerful psychic energy, and the friends will have to contend with some unexpected forces to catch a hardened killer and make their innocence crystal clear…

The Excerpt

Sharon Pape

Sharon Pape

A busboy appeared to replace the empty basket of chips with a full one along with some fresh salsa. Quinn Finnegan came by right behind him to tell Jaye how glad he was to see her there. The man had restaurant savvy down pat. He made every patron feel as if he’d opened his doors specifically for them. Plus his kitchen served up great food at reasonable prices.

“Susana made some great fish tacos tonight,” he said. “Even better than Luisa’s,” he added in a discreet whisper.

“Who’s Susana?” Sierra asked.

“Luisa’s cousin; she’s filling in while my wife’s down in Mexico visiting her family.     Would you believe I ate ten of those tacos today?”

Jaye had no trouble believing it. Quinn was looking more like a red-haired Pillsbury Dough Boy every day. The shirt buttons over his ballooning waist were on the verge of popping like mini champagne corks. But in spite of Quinn’s glowing recommendation, when the waiter appeared to take their order, the two women passed on the tacos and ordered fajitas instead, chicken for Sierra, vegetable for Jaye.

“I don’t know how you do it,” Sierra said shaking her head.

Jaye loaded some salsa onto a tortilla chip. “What’s that?”

“Being a vegetarian for so many years without ever falling off the wagon. When I tried it, I didn’t make it past the first week.”

“Yeah, and I remember that week. You weren’t any fun at all. What was your name then?”

“Brooke,” Sierra said. “I figured if I was going to be a vegetarian, I should sound like I was in sync with nature.”

“Let’s see…by my count ‘Sierra’ is…number eight?”

“Legally I only changed my name five times,” Sierra said. “Besides, different stages in life call for different names. Of course you have to know your limitations. Personally, I could never pull off ‘Tiffany’ or ‘Lola.’ But with your looks – you could pull off just about any name – maybe even ‘Gertrude.’”

“Is that supposed to be a compliment?”

“Of course not,” Sierra smiled in bemusement, “dark hair, green eyes, heart-shaped face…seriously girl, why would anyone be complimenting you?” She took a moment to drain the last of her margarita. “You can’t tell me you’ve never wanted to change your name,” she pursued. When Sierra hooked into a subject it wasn’t easy to change the trajectory of the conversation.

“Actually, I did think about it once in our freshman year. You were calling yourself ‘Hannah’ at the time, because you thought it was a good, solid name; the name of someone who would work hard and have a high GPA. I guess I was intrigued by the concept of taking on a different persona– sort of like starting over.”

“You never told me that.” Sierra sounded surprised and a bit offended that her friend had been holding back.

Jaye shrugged. “It wasn’t worth mentioning. After all of two seconds I realized I could never do it. My name is the only thing I have left from my mom and dad.”

“Okay, I get it,” Sierra said. “But FYI – you shouldn’t play the ‘poor little orphan card’ too often.”

If those words had come from anyone else, Jaye would have immediately deleted that person from her list of friends, both on and off Facebook. But since they’d come from Sierra, she found herself laughing instead. “You’re rationing me?”

“I’m just looking out for you. You don’t want your material to lose its punch, do you?”

Jaye nearly choked on the chip she was nibbling. There was no way to predict what might come out of Sierra’s mouth at any given moment. She’d made Jaye so wary and uncomfortable when they’d first met that Jaye had considered asking for a different dorm assignment. But after a month of living together in close quarters, it had quickly become apparent that there was no one kinder or more compassionate then her eccentric roomy.

Dinner arrived, sizzling hot and smelling richly of peppers, onions and garlic. Conversation was suspended while they went about assembling their fajita wraps.

“I forgot to tell you –Peggy Kruger literally crashed into my cart in the supermarket yesterday,” Jaye said using her napkin to blot a drop of sauce that was working its way down her chin. “I guess I should be grateful we weren’t in our cars. She rounded the corner into the cereal aisle like she thought she was at Daytona. It took a while for my arms to stop vibrating from the impact. She got all flustered and started to apologize – until she realized it was my cart she’d hit. Goodbye apology, hello venomous glare.”

Sierra took her time chewing a mouthful. “I guess you’re guilty by association,” she said finally.

“A little over the top, don’t you think? I know you’re in competition with her, but everyone in business has to deal with that sooner or later. It’s called ‘capitalism.’”

“Change comes hard for some people,” Sierra said without rancor. “Peggy had the only bakery around here for almost twenty years. To her I’m the usurper of customers, the black hole of profits. And if I’m the devil incarnate, I guess she sees you as one of my handmaidens. What I don’t get is why she hasn’t tried to up her game to lure her customers back or to hold onto the ones she still has. From what I’m told, her line of baked goods has been exactly the same for two decades. Even she should be bored to death by now. Speaking of which,” she said, “you’re coming back to my house after dinner to try my new apricot Linzer tarts.”

“Have you ever considered framing an invitation in the form of a question?” Jaye asked with a laugh. “For example, ‘would you like to come over after dinner? I have a fabulous new dessert I’d like you to try.’”

“I like my way. It makes it harder for the invitee to refuse.”

“I guess I’ll take the rest of my dinner to go,” Jaye said with an exaggerated sigh, “since you’re apparently going to be force feeding me dessert.

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