Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Another Giveaway!

The Funky Monkey: Postcards from Mr. Pish: Children's Book Giveaway...: "My daughter loves the book, Postcards from Mr. Pish. The adorable jack russell terrier travels through the country in this fun journey. I ..."

Free Publicity through Bloggers and Contests

Any publicity is always good.  But FREE publicity - well, that's the stuff that dreams are made of for authors.

I have two contests running right now for my latest educational children's book titled "Postcards from Mr. Pish." I've recently discovered, which may not be news to some of you, that there is an ARMY of bloggers out there willing to review and host giveaways for books and/or products in return for a free sample. Some websites have not gotten me as much exposure as others, but every good review is a help!

These giveaways are simple.  You send the blogger a book, and they review it.  If you are willing to do a give-away, they will host it on their web-site.  If not, they'll post their review.  The give-away will give you the most exposure, because in order to enter, contestants need to do a number of things; they need to visit your web site, follow you on twitter, tweet the contest to their followers, subscribe to your newsletter, etc.  Basically, you're gaining exposure with each entry.  At the end of the give-away, the blogger provides you with the name and address of the winner, and it's your responsibility to send them their prize.

So, not only do you get a review, you get exposure, and you get your book into the hands of someone who wouldn't have otherwise known about it.  Not too shabby.

Here is a give-away I'm currently participating in:

Name of Contest: Postcards From Mr. Pish Giveaway on NetworkingWitches
Website of Contest Host:   http://networkingwitches.com/2010/10/101810-postcards-from-mr-pish-giveaway-usa-\canada/
Prizes: "Mr. Pish Prize Pack" including a book, the learning worksheet, some bookmarks and a letter from Mr Pish
Date contest begins: 10-2-10
Date contest ends: 10-18-10
Contest details: Visit KS Brooks' & Mr Pish's website and have a look around.  Post a note on the blog stating what you love about this story and the educational information that is with it. Additional entry information is available on the site. NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY

If you don't mind doing the work yourself, you can always host your own contest, but getting word out is a lot more difficult without the power of the bloggers' social networking base.  I have one of those going on now as well:

Name of Contest: Mr. Pish's Back to School Contest
Website of Contest Host: http://www.mrpish.com/contests.htm
Prizes: An educator's pack including one copy Postcards from Mr. Pish, one teacher-designed companion learning worksheet, a map of the United States, bookmarks for all the students, and a letter from Mr. Pish himself!
Date contest begins: 10-1-10
Date contest ends: 10-31-10
Contest details: Post your review of Postcards from Mr. Pish on Amazon.com, and let us know by sending an email to postcards(@)MrPish.com. Provide us with your name, email address and the date of your review. Once your review is verified, your email will be acknowledged and you will be entered to win a free Postcards from Mr. Pish educator's package for the school of your choice.

Getting word out is a lot of work, but in the end, every bit of exposure is a help.

copyright K.S. Brooks 2010

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Writer's Block

I get asked about writer's block a lot.  I'm not sure why.  Do I look like I have it?  Frankly, I have the opposite problem.  I fall asleep writing in my head, wake up in the middle of the night writing in my head, and woke up this morning and said "Solidarity!"  That is the word I've been trying to think of for two weeks.

When I used to get writer's block, it was because something besides writing was stopping me from doing what I needed to do.  And being ADHD didn't help either.  But that's another story entirely. 

If you are suffering from writer's block, I have one question for you:

Are you blocked from writing entirely, the project you're working on or just the specific scene?

If it's writing entirely or the project, do something completely distracting to get your mind off of it. Once your mind is clear, if you want to try diving back in, I recommend reading what you've already written. I almost always get sucked back in by tweaking things or editing or adding to what's already there.

If it's just a specific scene, you can skip it and write a different scene, which I do a lot. I never write in order. But then if it's the ONLY scene left to write, obviously, you need to get it done.  I recommend using music. Many years ago, my agent wanted me to rewrite a scene in Lust for Danger. I couldn't make myself do it. I stared at the screen for ages. It was a sexy scene in the back of a limousine, and I just wasn't in to it. (I was also annoyed with the agent for other reasons.) It was the only scene in the book that wasn't complete, and I had a deadline. So I put on "We'll be Together" by Sting, with its sexy beat (and, of course, Sting) and played it over and over maybe even thirty times, really loud, so I couldn't possibly escape the sound of it.  I continued playing it while I was writing until the scene was done. I let the music transport me. So, if you can, pick a song that reflects the mood of your scene and beat yourself with it until you get what you want. :)

I hope that helps!  And, as my high school English teacher Mr. Becker wrote in my yearbook, Write Write Write.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Postcards from Mr. Pish Book Trailer

I'm proud to release my first book trailer!  This is the trailer for Postcards from Mr. Pish.  I made it myself... according to industry experts, EVERY book should have a video trailer.  The original music, "Pish's Promenade," is by musical artist Chris Abbott.  I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

AHS grad writes children's book told through postcards from travelling dog

AHS grad writes children's book told through postcards from travelling dog

A good reporter is hard to find and Sara Brown did a great job on this article. It's always nerve-wracking waiting to see what's going to end up in print after an interview. It's a really nice feeling when the result is a well-written piece, free of misquotes, that gets the actual point(s) across.

Again, thanks and kudos to Sara Brown and The Andover Townsman.

p.s. - even if you have moved away, if you grew up in a town for an extended time, that town's paper can still serve as a source for press. "Local girl done good" is always a feel-good story, so don't sell yourself short by skipping them when you send out press releases. And it doesn't hurt to have a determined Mom going to bat for you either, no matter what your age. :) Keep writing!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Postcards from Mr. Pish Makes Learning about the U.S. and Canada Fun

Cambridge, Maryland, 24 May 2010 — Cambridge Books has just released Postcards from Mr. Pish, a new children’s book by K. S. Brooks. It is currently available on Amazon.com and will become available through bookstores and other online venues soon.

Postcards from Mr. Pish is a unique children’s book about an adorable Jack Russell Terrier as he travels cross-country. The book features full-color photographs, documenting Mr. Pish’s grand adventure in postcards which are written to entertain and teach children about the United States and Canada.

Teachers across the country are hailing Postcards from Mr. Pish as a valuable educational tool. Elementary School Teacher Lynn Drayzen comments “Kids...and adults...will learn important details about each state as they join Mr. Pish on his cross country travels.”

A portion of the profits from Postcards from Mr. Pish will benefit the Arbor Day Foundation’s Nature Explore program, a comprehensive, research-based initiative helping children and families develop a profound engagement with the natural world, where nature is an integral, joyful part of children’s daily learning.

More information about Postcards from Mr. Pish and author K. S. Brooks is available at http://www.mrpish.com/.


About K. S. Brooks
K.S. Brooks is an award winning novelist, photographer and poet, and author of two children’s books: The Mighty Oak and Me (2009), and Postcards from Mr. Pish (2010). Her articles, photographs, poetry, and blogs can be found in books, magazines, newspapers, galleries, and web sites worldwide. Book cover and other media images are available for download at http://www.ksbrooks.com/media.htm

About the Arbor Day Foundation
The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit conservation and education organization of over one million members, with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. More information on the Foundation and its programs can be found at arborday.org.

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Friday, May 7, 2010

Self Publishing = Self Promotion.

Okay, so ALL publishing avenues require authors to promote themselves unless they are extremely well-established.  An author in India who has self-published asked how to promote his new book.  Here are five hints/tips I gave him (that are very popular) that won't cost you anything:

#1 - Web site.  You really need to have some sort of a web site, even a free one, with a link or a way to purchase your book.  A short biography is always a nice thing to have there. 

#2 - Social Networking.  Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. - and they all should have a link to your web page and/or to a way to purchase your book.

#3 - Blogs.  If you don't have at least one blog already, get one. Yet again, make sure they have a link to your web page and/or a way to purchase your book.  If you are a non-fiction author, I strongly recommend blogging as much as possible to establish yourself as an "expert" in that field.

#4 - Newsletter.  Gather email addresses at book-signing events and through a simple form you can make on your web site.  Email your upcoming schedule, news about any awards, reviews or press coverage, etc. Sending it out once a quarter should be sufficient.  Again, include links to your web site.

#5 - Press Releases.  Make sure you write up a grabbing press release announcing the availability of your new book.  Also write one if your book wins an award, or gets a movie deal.  Email your press release to local papers and/or papers with interest in the story (if your book takes place in Minnesota, but you live in Florida - send the release to papers in both places).  There are free press-release distribution services on-line you should also use.  Don't forget to post the releases on your blog, and provide a link to that release through your newsletter, social networking pages and anywhere else you can find that's appropriate.

Of course, book signings in book stores and other venues are very important.  But the 5 items above don't require carrying books around, the cost of travel, etc., and if you are a struggling writer, that makes a difference. Other self-promotion tactics may vary depending on the subject of your book.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Don't Confuse Print-On-Demand with Self-Publishing

Some people use the terms Print-on-Demand (POD) interchangeably with Self-Publishing.  However, not all self-publishing is via POD and vice versa.  I think a more distinct differentiation needs to be made between self-publishing POD and being published by a publisher who uses POD.

While it is an uphill battle getting your self-published POD into stores, it is a completely different scenario when a reputable publisher backs you and uses POD. Many small publishers use POD as a way to economically access the print version market. There is no way many of these small publishers could afford to invest in a run of a few thousand paper books. POD is the only way they can compete. Good small publishers will make those POD books available through Amazon.com and distributors (like Baker & Taylor). The POD publisher covers all set-up costs involved with the print edition of the book. Since the book is only printed when someone orders it, POD is an environmentally-friendly technology - and writers can tout that when they are trying to get their books reviewed/featured in magazines.

Publishers who choose to use POD as their print platform also normally supply the cover artwork, as well as editing and galleys, at no charge. Many of these publishers primarily feature e-books, and they also cover the set-up fees associated with companies like BookSurge.  These are real publishers.

So, there is a huge difference between self-publishing with POD and going with a real and reputable publisher who uses POD to make your books available to those who want to hold a copy in their hands.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Speak My Language

Okay, so your manuscript takes place in Japan.  How many readers do you think will understand Japanese?  Even more importantly, how many of those readers do you think will have the patience to put up with a book written partially in another language?

Congratulations, you speak Japanese:  a difficult language.  Guess what?  Most of the rest of us don't understand it.  Oh, you knew that, so you put the translations in parentheses after each sentence?  Guess what?  Books don't use subtitles. 

A quick and easy way to alienate readers is to put dialogue in another language.  Okay, so let's say the story takes place in France.  You want the reader to know the main character can speak the language.  You can easily fix that by writing, "Your fly is unzipped," main character said flawlessly in French. The man replied in his native tongue, "Why are you looking at my crotch?"

Confusing the reader is a fatal mistake.  Alienating them by writing things they can't understand isn't much better.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Most Common Manuscript Mistakes

I received this question via email:  What are the most common mistakes writers make in manuscripts?

Here are the top :

1.  Repetitive word usage:  the same word and close derivations used multiple times in the same sentence and/or paragraph.

2.  Introducing a lot of characters at the same time but not describing any of them. 

3.  Repetitive sentence structure. 

4.  Including a prologue when one is not really necessary, serving only to confuse, bore or alienate the reader.

5.  Misuse of punctuation:  especially using semi-colons incorrectly.

6.  Excessive use of italics. 

7.  Word use consistency/inconsistency:  spelling/capitlaizing/hyphenating, etc. a word differently in numerous places.

8.  Sentences that run together.

9.  Using the same phrase to describe the same action every time.  (i.e. using "their lips locked" every time someone kisses)

10.  Misspellings.  With spellcheck, there is definitely no excuse for this!

BONUS:  A synopsis that doesn't aptly represent their manuscript.

Try to avoid these mistakes and you will have a much cleaner manuscript!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Quotation Confusion

I've noticed a lot of folks are confused about quotation marks when it comes to a new paragraph spoken by the same person.  Here's an easy way to remember the rule.  If one person is talking, stops, and then starts talking on a different subject, you have a quotation mark at both starts, but not at the stop in between.  Example:

   His words caught her off guard.  She was stunned, flattered, confused, and lusting simultaneously. She whispered, "Thank you.
   "Um, don't you need to get to a phone?"
   "Yes, I do," he replied.

The paragraph separates the two ideas, but the lack of the closed quotation shows that the same person is still speaking.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Be Consistent

Another bad habit I've noticed recently, exhibited even by published authors, is word inconsinstency. 

My favorite was in a manuscript where the author actually made up an invention, and its corresponding abbreviation and/or nickname.  Example:  Saab Version I would abbreviate to SVI.  The nomenclature then appeared a number of different times after introduction as both SVI and SV I. 

When it's your own invention, how embarrassing is that?

Would you go out in public with one black and one white sock on?  Don't leave discoveries like these to your editor, or even worse - to an agent or publisher. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

Repeating Words Repeatedly with Repetition

One of the most common errors I have noticed while editing manuscripts recently is repetitive word usage.  I am talking using the same word sometimes two and three times in the same sentence, and then again in the next sentence!

This is fine on your first draft, but by the time it goes out to an agent, or a publisher, that word should be "trimmed" down. 

Not convinced you do that?  Well, there are ways to find out.  If you use MSWord, go to Edit, Replace.  Type in the word you suspect is overused into "Find What" then type the same word in again with a space after it into "Replace With."  Click on the Replace All button.  THis will tell you how many instances of the word occur in your document, or the area you've highlighted.  You can click Edit/Undo Replace All after this activity to return all the instances to normal.

Another way to see if you do this is to read your writing outloud.  This slows you down and it is harder to skate over repetitive words, awkward sentences and things that don't flow well.

More on the most common issues next week.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Outlines for a First Draft

Today I received a discussion question about writing an outline for a first draft of a novel/story. I thought I would post my reply below.

I don't always do an outline to start, usually I get an idea for a scene and then write in a radius around it. When it gets to the point that I need structure, I will do an outline to organize it. My favorite tool is a big dry erase whiteboard. My action adventure novels go from country to country, so I like to write the chapter number, the day of the week, the country and the major events that occurred there. That helps me to control the flow of events better and not lose a day anywhere!

I know that's not exactly an outline, but it is a tool, and I hope it's helpful.

- Kat