Book Club Night with the Girls!

Valerie's Book Club

Valerie’s Book Club

If you are following my Facebook page or Twitter posts…er tweets, then you already know that Joe and I were invited to a local book club. They had graciously selected THE ALTERED I as one of their reads for this year and invited us to discuss it with them. First of all WOW! That was a huge gift in itself, what many an author dreams of, really. Of course I know the real star of the show is Joe. People love him. But, I got some nice praise as well.

Valerie was the perfect book club hostess. She introduced us to the group and expressed why she wanted The Altered I to be on the schedule for the year. She had met us last year when she called the publisher, LeRue Press directly to order more copies of the book as gifts for friends and family members. She had initially been given the book on loan, but wanted her own copy after reading it. The publisher (LeRue Press) mentioned that Joe and I could come in and meet with her and sign the books. We had a great time with her and she even brought a friend along.

Joe with April and Valerie at private book signing

Imagine my surprise when I got an email from LeRue Press saying that The Altered I was selected by Valerie’s book club and could we (me and Joe) be available to join the club to discuss parts of it? Of course!! My honor!

The ladies of this club are wonderful, intuitive, insightful, kind, and generous. We discussed the line-up for the year. Next month everyone is reading The Martian. This one is on my own TBR pile. Some of the ladies won’t see the movie until after they’ve read the book–I did see the movie, but didn’t give away any spoilers–I’m good that way. Everyone brings a dish, no one knows who is bringing what, but it is usually varied. I tasted a variety of healthy salads, my favorite little meatballs, which I don’t prepare anymore since my husband is now gluten-free, and some other main dish fare that was equally delicious. They joked that one time they all had brought salads, twelve of them, but all twelve were different, so it was fun. I learned a lot from this group–especially when planning my own book club–sharing, laughing and eating are all important factors.

The group of twelve members, was formed over eleven years ago, and has met continuously to discuss the next great read. Each submits a book they want to read for the year. My husband, Paul, asked them which was the first book they had read as a club and I was surprised (and delighted) to hear it was Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon. Since that first book they learned a lot, like not choosing a book over 800 pages long! I confided that as one of my favorite authors she had inspired me to want to write.

After some small talk everyone felt comfortable enough with each other to discuss Joe’s memoir The Altered I.


My heart was warmed each time there was a section from the book mentioned and the group collectively would recite parts from the text. I felt  joy sitting there listening to them tell Joe’s story. I really can’t describe it accurately, but, they knew him and his experiences from what they had read and it felt dear to me.

I was really happy that Joe was comfortable enough to express himself and tell his own story. Sometimes it just isn’t possible. But, with the love and respect directed toward him, he felt he was able to open up and tell his side. There were some unexpected emotions having Joe present. It’s one thing to read about someone’s tragic life story, and then quite another to have this person sitting at your dining room table! One of my friends said that the book club was in for a treat, but in actuality it was the other way around. I felt that this was a fine gift and it was privilege to be among them. These ladies spent their valuable time and money and invested it in a book I wrote. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

If interested in The Altered I Sample Pages

The Altered I is available in print and Kindle format from Amazon. In Kindle format at Amazon UK, as an e-book from Google Play books, and as a print book at

In Reno, NV as a print book: Sundance Books and Music, Grassroots Books, Buy Local (4001 S Virginia St, Reno, NV 89502 775-224-2242), and LeRue Press (775-356-1004).

In Carson City, NV as a print book, A to Zen Thrift and Gift , and Dog-Eared Books




Joe and I Meet Winston Churchill’s Secret Agent Max Ciampoli

Joe sitting with Max and Linda Ciampoli. Photo courtesy of Linda Ciampoli

Joe sitting with Max and Linda Ciampoli. Photo courtesy of Linda Ciampoli

Joe and I had the unique experience of meeting Mr. Ciampoli and his author wife Linda at a recent book signing event celebrating the sixth printing of their fantastic book at a local Reno bookstore Sundance Books and Music.

April, Linda and Max Ciampoli Churchill's Secret Agent

But really my first encounter with the Ciampoli’s begins a couple years prior to this fun event. As a member of the Historic Reno Preservation Society I had a chance meeting with my co-tour guide Anne Simone at a local Trader Joe’s parking lot. As we were standing there a petite, attractive woman who also knew Anne joined our conversation. I really can’t remember how it all transpired, but regardless Anne introduced us and Linda handed me her business card featuring the book cover of CHURCHILL’S SECRET AGENT. I recognized it at once because I had recently purchased it! I was excited to meet a local author who actually had a publishing agent and a book contract with one of the Big Five Publisher’s. I pocketed the card and went on my way.

Now fast forward to December 13, 2015 and Joe and I are invited to the book signing event! I found a couple of interviews on YouTube of the Ciampoli’s. You might want to check them out. Running time approximately 12 minutes each.

Linda Ciampoli sent me a couple of photos marking the event.


Part One


Part Two

The Web site: Churchill’s Secret Agent



Barnes and Noble


Thanks for checking out this blog and sharing with me a highlight of our year.


If interested in Joseph Kempler’s memoir…


Sundance Bookstore

Grassroots Books

Amazon paperback and Kindle

Amazon UK

Google Play books

How to be a Successful Writer

I had an interesting conversation today with a fellow author about writing and so forth. He said, “If you are a true writer, then writing is like being addicted to crack. You can’t wait to sit down and write what happens next. Each time I publish a short story or write a new book, I get a thrill of excitement. But, success is getting paid.”

Is that true? Does success mean getting paid for your writing? I’m not sure. I’m a published author. I have a contract with a small press and yes, I did receive an advance. But, my advance is in the low three figures (yes, you read it correctly) and I’m told most authors don’t even get that nowadays, so I should be counting my blessings. And I do! I’m so grateful. I even became a published author well within the five-year average of when most first-time writers get a publishing contract. I’m not complaining. I’ve also written a handful of short articles, and I got paid. Not anything to brag about though. If I thought I was successful just because I got paid, then my bar is set low.Writer Wordart

I need to raise that bar significantly if I’m going to get where I’ve aimed my sights.  Of course I want what every writer dreams of, that six-figure advance plus movie options, right? In order to see my dreams fulfilled I need to keep writing, because one book alone won’t take me there.

To me, success is in the process of writing. My friend, mentioned above, has written six books to date. I find that highly successful. I’m dealing with the emotions of starting another work-in-progress, so for me, writing a second book is a success. And I’d like to get paid for that one too.

Success is building a career book by book, connecting with readers, becoming well-liked and well-known. Not too much to ask for.

What is your secret to success as a writer?

See How to Make a Living as a Writer

Terri Farley From Idea to Published Book: Tips that Work: How to Write a Book Event

The Magic Of Horses

Terri Farley is the author of the beloved Phantom Stallion series and several Young Adult books. She has been traditionally published, so she has the experience and the know-how to give practical tips that work!

Tip #1: Write about what you know. What makes you, the author, different from everybody else? Why are you uniquely qualified to write this book? Terri would like us to think about our background, and what we know.

Tip #2: Write like an animal. Terri suggests we use our senses when we write. What does your character smell, or  hear (weird things?).  Use viewpoint, either first person or third person. All of our life experiences can be used as a writer. We store each memory in our brain cells.

My advice is to take them out of storage, clear away the moth balls and use them!

Tip #3: Create conflict.  Make your characters earn their happily-ever-after. Conflict keeps your story from becoming boring. Remember you still want those readers you started out with on page one to still be reading by the time they reach THE END. It’s OK to torture your characters a little bit.

Tip #4: Find a critique partner. This is someone who will read your story and offer suggestions. This person should be carefully picked. Someone who likes the genre in which you write. Someone who will give you valid feedback. Someone not afraid to hurt your feelings. You, as the author, need to be willing and ready to listen to the advice and apply it where it fits.

Tip #5: Enter contests specifically designed for you. This cuts your competition.  And if you placed in the contest, you will be building your platform, show that you are willing to work on your skills as a story-teller and have bragging rights.  Contests are especially good if you don’t have a publishing history.

Tip #6 Discover publishers who accept your genre. Check out The Writers Market at the library. Look up agents and publishers who are interested in the kind of stories you write. Write down their contact information. Send a proposal. A little research can give a big payoff.

For more about Terri Farley, you can check out her website at

I hope Terri’s tips helped you as much as they did me. What tips do you have for getting your book a first look by a publisher, or better yet, a readers eager hands? I loved to hear about it in the comments section below.

Matthew Bayan On Marketing: How to Write a Book Event

Wordle Cloud of the Internet Marketing Blog - ...

Matthew Bayan is a traditionally published and self-published author. His background is in sales and marketing. He had some really

good advice for us newbie authors who need to learn this very important aspect to publishing a book. First, Matt explained the difference between sales and marketing. There is a difference!

Sales is information that you know about: someone hands you money (every author’s dream) and you hand them your book. You know where that book is going, it is going to that customer.

Marketing is information that you send out, but you have no idea what happens to it. It is necessary, you must do it, but where it goes you don’t know. Matt used the analogy of fishing: bait the hook, cast the line, wait and see what happens.

Even before you put one word on paper, Matt suggests you develop a marketing plan. If it is fiction,know your genre. If it is nonfiction,  you need to clearly define what it is you want to say, who is your audience, and what are you providing. For example, when you walk into a book store (they do still exist!) look around, where on the shelves does your book go? You need to know this for your marketing plan to work. Keep it simple, don’t mix your genres, don’t re-invent the wheel, no revolutionary ideas. Writing is a business. Remember that word: business.

When a new author starts out every word is precious to him/her. Nothing must be cut from their great work of art. It’s literature! It’s precious! No editing! This is wrong thinking and it won’t sell books. Even Ernest Hemingway needed to make money to sell his books. He didn’t look at every word as precious, or literature that couldn’t be cut. “Write drunk; edit sober,” were Hemingway’s words. (quote my addition, not Matt’s.)

Next, we learned the Four P’s: or in Matt’s world, Five. They are:

  1. Product. For a writer the product is books, or articles, their writing. In order to improve the product feedback is necessary. You can do this by joining a critique group. Matt suggested his, High Sierra Writers. Now, of course feedback will probably come last, but depending on the feedback you receive, you can go back and change the product, or quality of the product. This, theoretically improves the sales of said product.
  2. Price. What is the cost to produce, print, distribute. These are important factors. Take for instance a known author versus an unknown author (me). The marketing plan will have a much bigger budget for the known entity. And if you are self-publishing you will have to foot the bill for all of the above.
  3. People. These would be agents, publishers, buying public, other writers. There are four sales you will have to make: A.) Query letter to agents. This gives them information about you and determines whether they will take you on as a client. B.) Query letter to publisher (either the agent does this, or you query a press that will take unsolicited queries). This will give the publisher information about you. Your image will convince the publisher to buy your book. C.) Publisher’s catalog. This is produced by the publisher, it comes out every quarter, for example: the spring line of books, summer line, fall line, winter line. This catalog goes to the bookseller’s or bookstores for them to peruse and make their book selections to sell in their stores. D.) Someone in a store or online sees the book, wants it and buys it.
  4. Place. Where will your book be sold? A bookstore, online, or a non-traditional place? Think outside the box. Matt related the sales technique of one of his friends. This friend wrote a book and in that book the hero rides a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He thought that people who ride Harley’s would probably be interested in his book, so he went to a Harley-Davidson motorcycle store and asked if they would sell his book there. Genius! Think about it. Where will your book fit in?
  5. Platform. In the publishing world platform is everything. This is how you help the agent or publisher sell your book. These days sales is teamwork. No one will just do it all for you, as an unknown author, you must help sell your own book. To think otherwise is erroneous. Can you do public speaking? If not, learn. Join Toastmasters or Business Networking International (BNI) or some other business networking group that helps train you to speak publicly.

Think about micro-marketing. This involves T.V. stations, radio stations. Line up interviews. Have a link to your book signing event. This works best on the same day as the interview. You can say, “Hey come on down today (insert time and place) to Grassroots Books (or, whatever bookstore of your choice) and meet the author!” Do these together: interview/book signing.

Matt recommends radio station interviews because they will typically have a longer interview time than television. This means more of a chance to “catch” that listener (remember the fishing analogy?) If you are petrified of public speaking and you just can’t do it, can you talk on the phone? Well, consider an interview by phone. It is super easy, and you can stay in your pajamas. The important thing is to put yourself out there, you just don’t know where you’ll end up.

Matthew Bayan has just released The Firecracker King, available in paperback and e-book format. You can learn more about Matthew Bayan on his website,

I hope you benefited from Matthew Bayan’s advice on marketing as much as I did. What are your marketing ideas? I would love to hear them, please share!

Pat Holland Conner On Writing: How to Write a Book Event

Personal Diary logo from BET

I had the recent pleasure of attending my first ever How to Write a Book seminar hosted by my publisher LeRue Press. I wouldn’t say I had low expectations, I didn’t have any expectations, but this was so awesome and informative that I just had to share what I learned with you.

Three guest speakers explained the various features of writing professionally. Pat Holland Conner started off the event. She explained the benefits of keeping a journal. I’ll be honest, ever since my mom found my personal diary written as an emotional teenager, I haven’t kept a journal. My sentiments were and have been: if you don’t want anyone to know what you are thinking, or doing, or writing about, don’t keep the evidence around in a diary!

My opinion has been changed. Pat went on to explain to us that by keeping a journal we are expressing the emperor/empress of our heart.  Through our writing we express who we are. Journal writing is the precursor to the book inside all of us.

Maybe we have a bad connotation of journal writing. Maybe it’s something our therapist recommended. So, we don’t want to do it. It’s silly. But, have you ever had something within you that you just had to get out? The journal allows you to process more about who you are. Don’t hold back, don’t be polite. These are your intimate thoughts, so who cares? You don’t have to use good grammar, you can even cuss (her recommendation, not mine!), embarrass yourself, be human.

Pat said each of us has an inner critic which can be a friend and a foe.  Then she asked, “Which will you follow to bring yourself into balance?”

Some helpful pointers when undertaking journal writing are:

  • Forget fear of self (shut up the inner critic)
  • Allow the commitment to write. This is the moment you become a writer
  • There is information in our dreams. Keep a tablet and pencil nearby, when you wake up write down the dream symbols. Pat assured us that we would go right back to sleep, however, I haven’t tested out her theory.

Why we should write in a journal:

  • Privacy with self (you will know yourself and become your own friend)
  • Our rich journal entries opens the door to the “higher self”
  • Write to enjoy (remember no punctuation, no editing)
  • Writing keeps our imagination pure (imagine= image in)
  • Honor past memories (first step to writing that memoir!)
  • Hones our senses: taste, touch, sight, sound, smell
  • First approach to healing

I enjoyed Pat’s perspective and I hope you gained something too.

Pat Holland Conner is the author of Doorways to Significance: Finding Peace, Power, and Passion available in paperback and eBook.