Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Blog Train Begins!

Welcome to the Blog Train Scavenger Hunt, chugging from url to url. I hope you enjoy this brief stop at my blog. Somewhere on this page, you'll find a hidden word, plainly labeled, that is part of a famous saying...not too famous though, so you'll have to use some brain power to assemble all the words you find during your travels--there are 16, total. The hunt will end on September 13th, so you'll need to forward your final entry to mizging2003@yahoo.com by midnight on the 13th. All correct entries will be entered into a drawing, but you never know...you may be the only person who gets it right.

As soon as you finish perusing my site and find the word here, please get back on the train and visit Jannine Corti Petska at http://www.jcortipetska.com for your next word. Remember, although this is fun and there are prizes involved, we are all authors doing this as a promotion for our blog sites. We hope you will bookmark us and visit often. Thanks for joining the Blog Train and have a happy trip. Remember, you can be the winner of 16 wonderful downloads. :)

Love, War, Religion and Angels that Bite



Angel Venom is now available!

Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing
Release Date: August 2008
ISBN-10: 1-55404-600-9
ISBN-13: 978-1-55404-600-3
Available Formats: ebook, print


Nathanael rescues Madalyn from the horror of war when she is six, and sets the rhythm for their lives. Whenever Madalyn finds herself in trouble—which is too often—Nathanael bails her out. As they mature, this special bond deepens, and Nathanael becomes more than Madalyn’s protector. He is the man she will marry in a big church with all the trappings.

Though Nathanael loves Madalyn, he has dedicated his soul to the work of God. Missionaries are needed to bring God to the savage Fetis. Nathanael hopes to avert another bloodbath like the one that orphaned him and Madalyn.

Another sentient creature lives on Neworld, the last of his kind. He’s fascinated by the frail bipeds. Except for his six wings, they are physically identical, down to the jointed fingers. Could these bipeds be strong enough to bear his seed? Will his mighty race finally live again?





Excerpt:

By the time the colonists landed on the alien planet, (the secret word is: Quotations) it was already named Neworld, not original perhaps, but like most monikers, it was born from a collective mind. This colonization had been planned and executed for over fifty-six years. Some of the adolescents that stumbled off the ships had never seen earth. Their first experience with sky happened when they lifted their noses into the vibrant air. The ground was disturbingly silent beneath their feet. Hot wind ruffled the hairs on their arms.

No one would be returning to earth. The ships were designed to be broken down and reassembled as shelters. Within days, they were living in relative comfort tucked into a valley between a green sea and a blue desert.Standing in the metal portals of their new homes, they gazed across a land shaped by a subtle breath. The trees were yellow-gold as if kissed by the sun; the sea bottomless and filled with fish; the horizon a pale blue line, drawn in child’s chalk. Birds chattered in the ears of those first eager settlers, flapping their wings, saying, "Follow me! Follow me!" It was a land where anything was possible, but everything still steeped in faith of the probable. The earthmen claimed Neworld and slowly built homes while reclaiming their land legs.

Perched atop an outcropping of stone that hung over the valley like a shading hand, a creature watched this new hive with interest. The flimsy bipeds were intent on conquering his world, but he was more amused than concerned.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Birthday Eternal Press!







Today starts our week long birthday party at Eternal Press. Head over to the blog all week for fun or free stuff. Today starts off with a short trivia contest.

While you're there, check out "Barbegazi" my Coffee Break fantasy Short.

Barbegazi
Kim McDougall

Fantasy
Coffee Break: 8,500 words, $2.50
Heat level: 1 flame

Etien changes the day he faces the White Death. His body is broken, but his spirit awakes. When his family's curse manifests inside him, he leaves his birthright for the ice-encrusted mountains where he both fears and hopes to meet the mythical icemen, the Barbegazi.

A halfling has been hiding in the snow outside the Barbegazi village for days. Ethgel can feel his fear, though the others choose to ignore him. But Ethgel is tired of traditions that seclude her people in the remote reaches of the mountains. She longs to reach out to the frightened halfling but will he embrace the ways of the Barbegazi or will his human failings, his unending rage and fear, come between them?

Excerpt:

“I need to speak to my son alone,” said the Duke, in that commanding voice he used with everyone but his wife and his youngest daughter.

The girls continued giggling into the hallway. Etien’s mother let out one significant sob, and followed them. His father sat on the edge of his bed and rubbed his large hands on his knees.

He’s nervous, thought Etien. He had never seen his father ruffled, not in the face of death, not even when the Whennish army had squashed the legions and the Duke’s last chance to rule the six provinces as king.

But the thought of talking to me about marriage unmans him!

“How long have you been having night sweats?” he asked.

“Father, I’m not worried about getting married. Honestly.”

“I should think not. Lila will make an ideal wife and duchess. That’s not what this is about.”

“I didn’t know this was about anything,” said Etien. “I awoke a little sweaty, that’s all. Probably something I ate. I don’t know why everyone is making such a fuss.”

“You’ve only just recovered from last spring’s accident, son. People are worried, but it’s more than that.” He frowned and Etien was a little boy again about to receive a scolding for trying to mount his father’s warhorse.

“As my heir, I might have told you this sooner. I tell you now, hoping you will only need this information to pass on to your own son.”

Etien never before heard his father ramble.

“Our family, and your mother’s too, since she is cousin-kin, have for generations kept the secret of our. . .our curse. Certain Fabian children mature differently than others. I had hoped you were past the danger of the change, but no one really understands it.”

“The change?” asked Fabian. Dread prickled his flesh. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he remembered a whispered discussion overheard as a child. An uncle, or perhaps a cousin, gone or taken. As a child, he had only understood the adults’ anguish, but not its cause.

“The mountains are our blessing,” said the Duke. “They protect us from our enemies. They provide for us, but they are also our Lords, and they take whatever they see fit.”

“The White Death,” whispered Etien.

“That’s how it started, but not the worst of it,” said his father. “One of our ancestors, no one really knows his name, he survived the White Death, just as you did, but he sold his soul to the mountain in return for his life. The Barbegazi claimed him, and others in our family ever since.”

“The Barbegazi? Father! They’re just stories for the hearth-fire.” Etien loved those tales of the icemen who lived on the coldest mountain peaks, doling out mischief or help to weary travelers, as they saw fit.

“They’re not stories. Etien, I have seen the change myself. Your Mother’s brother was taken from us this way. It starts with night-sweats. Soon even the coolest days of autumn feel unbearably hot. The skin ages like leather. The feet swell. The heart slows and then life just melts away.”

“Father, you can’t be serious. You can’t mean. . .”

“I’m telling you, because you need to know. You are my heir. You will inherit this land, all its profits and its curses. Just promise me, son, if these night-sweats are more than a bad meal, do the manly thing. Don’t make me lock you up like a dog. Our family name must not be sullied.”

“I’m sure it’s nothing,” said Etien, feeling suddenly hot. The suggestion he might put his own welfare before that of his family offended him. His father covered his hands with his own, a mawkish gesture that Etien could not ever remember from his father.

“I hope that’s true. But tell me, son, when that avalanche bore down on you, did you, like our unnamed ancestor, pray to the White Death for mercy?”

Etien did not answer. He closed his eyes and pictured the avalanche and the icy angels riding it like the horse of fate. How could he tell his father that he had embraced that fate?

Monday, July 14, 2008

What the Heck is a Book Trailer Anyway!



Book trailers are the newest fad in book promotion and it is quickly becoming one of the most popular. What is a book trailer, you might ask, and why would anybody watch one?

Well, a book trailer is much like a movie trailer. It’s a short commercial with images, music, voice-over, sound effects and text that promotes a book. They are fun to make. After my first two trailers, I found myself addicted. I started watching trailers all over the place and comparing mine to others. Apart from the obvious YouTube, there are many sites to watch trailers. Author blogs and sites have them. They can be listed on some bookstore pages like Amazon. My favorite is Preview the Book which is a new site dedicated to just book trailers. I said they were becoming popular, didn’t I?

Where to start with a trailer

I have little film-making experience, but some marketing and retail expertise. These proved helpful when deciding what went into a trailer and what didn’t. I watched dozens of trailers on various sites and decided what worked for me and what didn’t. Many trailers are simply slide shows put to music. This can be effective, but I found if they dragged on longer than two minutes, my attention wavered. Likewise, loud or obnoxious music, while it may suit the theme of a book, turned me off completely. Also, I didn’t like the trailers that tried to tell a story. That, after all, is the purpose of the book. Instead, I liked trailers that offered up a mood, a feeling for the style of the book and only basic plot teasers.

Armed with these insights, I set out to make my own trailers. My first one was for an anthology. It was too long and perhaps a little slow. Thankfully the music I chose was delightful enough to keep viewers until the end. My second trailer was a huge success. I added clips of video bought at a photo sharing site. The music was dramatic and at under two minutes, the trailer was the perfect tease for my YA novella THE STONE BEACH.

After a couple of more trailers, people started to take notice and I began getting requests from other authors to make trailers
for their books. Since then I have made over a dozen trailers for everything from picture books to horror anthologies. Each one is unique and a little piece of literary fun. The response from viewers and authors has been overwhelmingly positive.

Do trailers sell books?

Authors ask me this all the time. The truth is, I really don’t know. The book trailer phenomenon is still relatively new, but I believe it is all about name branding. If a book was a product like a car, a Jeep, let’s say, the author would be the manufacturer, Chrysler. These big companies use name-branding all the time. Getting your name viewed by thousands of people can only be a good thing. Some authors fear that this smacks of commercialism, and they’re right. But more and more, authors need to be proactive in their own promotion. Publishers' advertising budgets have shrunk to nearly nothing and authors are looking at new and creative ways to promote.

Mary Deal, author of RIVER BONES and THE KA writes:

"I watch my Amazon stats faithfully and can tell when my books are being sold. Although we may never know the exact meanings of those fluctuations, after Kim's trailer for "River Bones" posted on the net and on my Web site, I saw my Amazon numbers go up and down quite often. I was thankful for the sales.
 
"Then she made a trailer for "The Ka." I again saw a spike in my Amazon statistics. I also checked Barnes and Noble and saw sales registering there. The second time my Amazon statistics showed excessive activity happened right after the trailer for "The Ka" was made public. I also checked the statistics for the number of visitors to my Web site. On both days that each trailer went public and for a few days thereafter, my Web site received quite a number of new visitors.
 
"That was confirmation enough for me that it was Kim's trailers that caused a surge in my book sales and Web site visitors. In addition to the books that had trailers made for them, increased activity showed on the hard cover of "River Bones" and on my older novel, "The Tropics." Kim's trailers not only brought attention to all my books, but to my Web site and to who I am.

The missing link

Geoff Nelder, author of EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEE, writes: To me a video trailer is more than an advertising tool for a novel, it is an extension of the imaginative artistic creation. The trailer is not a two-minute synopsis but an insight into the pull of the story. A writer has to hook the reader early in their novel, but the trailer is a multimedia hook taking the art into another dimension.

I have to agree with him. Really good trailers are more than just commercials. They are works of art unto themselves. I believe that book trailers are the link between literature and a multimedia revolution that will produce creations we can only dream about right now. I imagine ‘graphic’ novels of the best kind reproduced with video, artwork and music. I’m not talking about comic books, but novels recited in the old-fashioned oral tradition combined with video and audio and interactive elements.

As both online video streaming improves and audio podcasts become more popular maybe this is not such a farfetched dream.

Check out all my trailers at: Book Trailers
If you would like a trailer for your book please contact me at klchatel@verizon.net

I will be chatting with Suzanne Lieurance on BlogTalk Radio's Book Bites for Kids Wednesday July 16th at 2pm CST. We'll be discussing book trailers in more detail. Check out the site for the call in number and share your thoughts on book trailers.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Contest to Launch BARBEGAZI

For the launch of “Barbegazi, my fantasy adventure from Eternal Press, I’m sponsoring a contest. Everyone who buys a copy of the book between June 7th and July 7th 2008 (it’s only $2.50! A Coffee Break Short, perfect for busy schedules!) will be entered into a drawing to win one of three abominable snowmen ornaments. Each one is hand made using needle-felted wool by me. These are great for Christmas tree ornaments or gift toppers. Yes, I know it’s June, but abominable snowmen are funny any time of the year! Here is a sample of the Abominable Snowman ornament. Below, you will see another needle-felted "painting" of a Barbegazi.

"Barbegazi" can be purchased from Eternal Press. To kick off the contest I'll be chatting with readers and other EP authors on the Eternal Press Readers' Loop. Join me there June 7th between 9 and 10 am (EST)

Here is a blurb and for the story and a fun article about the Barbegazi. Don't forget to check out my awesome trailer for this book!

Barbegazi
Kim McDougall

Fantasy
Coffee Break: 8,500 words, $2.50

Etien changes the day he faces the White Death. His body is broken, but his spirit awakes. When his family's curse manifests inside him, he leaves his birthright for the ice-encrusted mountains where he both fears and hopes to meet the mythical icemen, the Barbegazi.

A halfling has been hiding in the snow outside the Barbegazi village for days. Ethgel can feel his fear, though the others choose to ignore him. But Ethgel is tired of traditions that seclude her people in the remote reaches of the mountains. She longs to reach out to the frightened halfling but will he embrace the ways of the Barbegazi or will his human failings, his unending rage and fear, come between them?


In the Background: Who are the Barbegazi?

The Barbegazi are a race of gnome-like people who live in the high reaches of the Alps. The name, Barbegazi, is a corruption of the French “Barbe Glacee”, which means beard of ice. Like most fairy-folk, stories surrounding the Barbegazi vary widely, but a few generalities link all the myths. First, is their miraculous feet. Big enough to be snowshoes, these feet can also used as skis and shovels. A Barbegazi can dig through ice and snow like a mole through soft ground.

Because of this digging skill, Barbegazi sightings are rare. A Barbegazi can dig himself in and out of deep snow within seconds, and only the most experienced tracker will ever know he was there.

Barbegazi don’t fear avalanches but instead, ride snow falls like surfers. Other than hunting, a Barbegazi spends most of his life playing in the snow. In fact, “snow tipping” is an art form to the Barbegazi. It requires much skill, dexterity and imagination to prod the snow croppings into the spectacular avalanches that the Barbegazi ride for sport.

Most legends describe the Barbegazi as short stocky people with long white hair and beards, that are covered in icicles. For many years, it was believed that they wore long coats of white fur, perhaps ermine, but recent evidence supports the theory that the white fur is actually the Barbegazi’s own pelt, and is perhaps the impetus behind the myths of the yeti, and other abominable snow monsters.

Another misconception is that the Barbegazi hibernate during the warmer months. Indeed, the summer sun is a hazard to the cold-loving people. The Barbegazi have a thin layer of frost on their skin above a thick layer of blubber to insulate them. The few Barbegazi who have been captured and brought down to more temperate climates have died within hours. The layer of frost melts first and then the Barbegazi appears to boil in his own skin, a horrible and painful death. Despite their loathing of warmer weather, the Barbegazi do not hibernate. Instead, they migrate to the highest reaches of the mountains, where the snow never melts. They live in shallow caves, but never venture too deep into warm heart of the mountain.

Though the Barbegazi have been known to help lost hikers, warn of impending avalanches or herd lost sheep after a blizzard, they are a shy race and do not welcome outsiders. They are excellent hunters and the most daring will venture down into the green forest to gather late fall berries. They can carve almost anything out of ice, and whittle icicles the way we might whittle a stick. Barbegazi ice horns sound much like an owl and can be heard for miles along the mountain summit. The Barbegazi use these horns to coordinate hunting and to communicate among clans.

This "In the Background" article appeared in the June 2008 Eternal Press Ezine. To subscribe to the ezine send an email request to ep.ezine@verizon.net.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing--Launch!



June is 'Book Reviewing' month at Blogcritics Magazine!

To promote the release of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, co-author Mayra Calvani will be interviewing 15+ reviewers and review editors during the month of June. Learn all about the business of book reviewing and what's in the mind of some of the most popular reviewers on the internet today. Some of the guests will include: Alex Moore from ForeWord Magazine, James Cox from Midwest Book Review, Irene Watson from Reader Views, Andrea Sisco from Armchair Interviews, Magdalena Ball from The Compulsive Reader, Sharyn McGinty from In The Library Reviews, Lea Schizas from Muse Book Reviews, Linda Baldwin from Road to Romance, Hilary Williamson from Book Loons, Judy Clark from Mostly Fiction, and many others!

To see the complete lineup, visit: The Slippery Book Review Blog.

Between June 1st and June 30th, stop by Blogcritics and leave a comment under the reviewer interviews for a chance to win a Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tour (coordinated by book marketing guru Dorothy Thompson), OR, as an alternative to a non-author winner, a $50 B&N gift certificate!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Community on Stand-By


Writing can be a lonely experience. Huddled in your office/family room/coffee shop with no one to talk to but the 'j' key that sticks on your keyboard. It can be an emotional and stressful business too. Rejection letters batter your ego and deadlines shatter your nerves. No one in your family quite understands the unique challenges of the publishing world. Your cat barely cracks an eye now when you talk to yourself.

This is the life of many writers, myself included before I made the giant leap of faith and joined my first online writers’ group. Since then, I have joined several critique groups, forums and guilds. Each offers a unique perspective and a different crowd, writing different genres and styles. Apart from the expected benefits of peer reviews, these groups have given me so much more.

Consider this: Two out of three of my recent publishing contracts are a direct result of contacts I made in writing groups. But wait! Like those TV ads that continually promise more and more…the benefits of writing groups don’t end there.

The real reason I set out to blog today was to thank the dozens of people who have helped me launch my new book “Rainbow Sheep.” I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of friends whom I have never met—people who have gone out of their way to be supportive and generous with their time for no personal gain. I feel privileged to be part of a community that helps one another and fosters such an ambience of support and confidence building.

I’m going to attempt to name some of the people who have been truly helpful, and I know I’ll forget someone, so I apologize in advance for that. I have had so much support for this book I want to thank everyone!

First I want to say thank you to the MuseMints, Susan Stephenson, Kathleen Bullock and Gloria Blanchard. These ladies have taken anything I can throw at them, dark or light and always found ways to be constructive and helpful. They often throw in a new market, technique or article that is always relevant. The Mints rule! Lea Schizas, founder of the Muse It Up Club also deserves a thank-you here. This dynamic lady is everywhere at once. Her fantastic Muse Online Conference is where I met my publisher Lynda Burch, from Guardian Angel Publishing. Lynda also needs to be thanked for her patience and support while I learned the ropes of picture-book making.

The Muse It Up Club is unique for its small mentoring groups, but it also has a great base for making friends and contacts. Through this group I met Suzanne Lieurance who interviewed me on Book Bites for kids in collaboration with her fabulous site “The National Writing for Children Center.” Donna McDine also reviewed Rainbow Sheep for this site and offered me a spot on her blog. I was touched by the thoughtful comments people left for me there. Other Musers offered reviews, interviews and blogs spots. I’d like to thank, Cheryl Malandrinos, Mayra Calvani, Elysabeth Eldering, Charlotte Braden, and Cynthia Reeg. And Jill McDougall, who let me use her creative ideas from “Become a Children’s Writer” to inspire children to write themselves.

Then there are the Zoetropers. This is an eclectic group of writers that I have been fortunate to know. The generosity of a Zoetroper knows no bounds. I would like to thank Shell Willbye and Kristi Stokes for offering to bring my book to local markets. Marilyn Peake, Rick Taubold and Julie Ann Shapiro for help with promotion, Melissa Palladino for her wonderful review and Sue Thurman for her unfailing faith in my project and for giving me the opportunity to bring it to a wider audience. Not to mention all the Zoetropers who bought my book for their children and grandchildren. Thank you!

Finally, I like to thank my friend Jim Selleck who always takes to time to read my stories, even when he’s near drowning in his own work. All these people (and those whose posts I read with enjoyment everyday) I “met” through writing groups. I hope one day to meet them in person at a conference or book signing, but even if I don’t, I feel fortunate to call them my friends.

This job is not so lonely after all. So tonight I’m going to set out an extra chair, pour two glasses of wine and salute you all!