Day 2 of the WordCrafter “A Ghost and His Gold” Book Blog Tour: Meet Peiter Van Zyl

A Ghost and His Gold Book Blog Tour

Welcome to Day #2 of the WordCrafter A Ghost and His Gold Book Blog Tour. Yesterday Roberta Eaton Cheadle shared the origins of the story for this historical paranormal novel and I added my review of the book right here on Writing to be Read. Today we get a look at one of Cheadle’s characters, Boer, Pieter Van Zyl. Please join us as we snatch a glimpse into the author’s thoughts as she developed a character who represent one side of the Second Anglo Boer War in South Africa.

A Ghost and His Gold Give Away

Each stop on this five-day book blog tour will offer the opportunity to win a $10 Amazon gift voucher. (*Winners must be able to retrieve Amazon US gift vouchers.) Author Roberta  Eaton Cheadle will also give away 2 paperback copies of A Ghost and His Gold. All you have to do to enter is drop by each tour stop and leave a comment!

Guest Post by Roberta Eaton Cheadle: Pieter van Zyl characterisation 

Pieter van Zyl is a Boer living on his farm in Irene near Pretoria in the South African Republic when war between the British Empire and the two Boer republics breaks out. Although the historical sections of the book are narrated from the points of view of a British soldier stationed in Mafeking during the siege, Robert, and Pieter’s eldest daughter, Estelle, as well as Pieter, he is central to the backstory and background of the other ghosts as well as the main themes of the book which are human greed, the horror of war, the desire for control and power and, most importantly, the erosion and corruption of the human spirit and individual’s morals, and ethics, under conditions of continuous war, destruction, and death.  

Pieter’s late grandmother was English, and he is familiar with the ways of the British and more understanding of their characteristics and motivations that most of his peers.  

Pieter is highly intelligent and well read and, although he is ready to play his role in fighting for the independence of his country, he is pessimistic about the eventual outcome of this war in the face of his peers excited optimism for a quick victory. Pieter is an introverted loner who keeps his thoughts to himself having learned his opinions and views on many topics are not popular with his peers. Pieter is a peacemaker and does not like conflict in his life. This is apparent in his relationships with his wife, Marta, and oldest daughter, Estelle. Pieter is incapable of dealing with the conflict between the pair and taking positive action to control his wife’s resentment towards her unusual oldest child. 

The suffering and trauma that Pieter experiences during the war, in particular the loss of his farm and the confinement of his family in a concentration camp, wear down his abilities to tolerate and cope with his circumstances and his will to live is destroyed long before he dies.  

Photograph credit: http://www.theheritageportal.co.za/review/war-reporter-anglo-boer-war-through-eyes-burghers

Relevant extracts from A Ghost and His Gold 

Extract 1 

He believed he would be safer among family and friends, having quickly learned that being obligated to fight for your country did not necessarily translate into an eagerness to do so. The reluctance of some of the Burghers to take up arms surprised him, and he chuckled at some of the conversations he’d overheard.  

“I don’t want to go to war now,” said François Naude, “it’s spring and I need to be here to oversee the planting.”  

Pieter, who was waiting to collect his grocery order from the proprietor of the Irene General Store, hid a smile at this amusing comment.  

What does he think our government should do? Ask the British if they mind waiting for a more convenient time before we commence hostilities. 

Extract 2 

Grabbing his loaded Mauser rifle from its hooks on the wall near the door, he hesitates for a moment to admire its smooth and shiny wooden length. The feel of the gun in his hands gives him confidence; he is an excellent marksman.  

This gun brought me a lot of respect.  

His ability with a gun had been his saving grace when, as a young man, his peers had been mystified by his interest in books and writing and had liked to share their derogatory thoughts in that regard. 

Extract 3 

Willem was in high spirits. “This war will soon be over, Pieter. It’ll be the same as the last one. We’ll defend our borders against the invaders, and it will be over in three months. We’ll be home by harvest time.”  

Willem shared the sense of excitement and euphoria that many of his fellow countrymen were experiencing, but Pieter did not.  

War brings bloodshed, grief and tears. This time the British will probably send 36 many more soldiers. I think this war is going to be a much harder win.  

He had not shared his own thoughts with Willem. There was no point and he had learned many years ago to keep his unpopular opinions to himself. 

Extract 4 

Pieter stops talking and gazes into space. Memories assail his mind in a kaleidoscope of sounds, smells and visions.  

“At about midday, we saw a large cloud of dust coming our way. Having no idea how many horsemen there were, ten other Burghers, Willem and I quickly set up an ambush. As they drew closer, we could make out a mass of at least seven thousand horses and men. It was a hopeless situation and we prepared to withdraw, but the Khakis saw us and started shelling our position. My horse took fright at an exploding shell and bolted. I fell and broke two ribs, but luckily my horse is well trained, and he came back to me. Oom Willem hoisted me back onto my horse, and we were able to escape.”  

Marta’s pale face and the tension around her mouth and eyes suddenly register with Pieter.  

Is she upset because of my injury or because the Burghers ran away?  

“It was cowardly of you men to flee, you should have stayed and fought,” said Marta, her lip curled with contempt.  

How does she think I could have carried on fighting with broken ribs? She’s being ridiculous; if we’d carried on fighting, we would’ve all been killed. A handful of men couldn’t hold back such a significant force.  

Smiling wryly, he took a sip of water. “Maybe you are right, Marta, but I was in too much pain to influence that decision.” 

The Blurb 

After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summonses a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904.  

Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But, Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle?   

After discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lies in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death. As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behaviour towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened. 

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle 

I am a South African writer specialising in historical, paranormal and horror novels and short stories. I am an avid reader in these genres and my writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, the Bronte sisters, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.  

I was educated at the University of South Africa where I achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. I was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.  

I have worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and have written seven publications relating to investing in Africa. I have won several awards over my twenty year career in the category of Transactional Support Services. 

I have been published a number of anthologies and have two published YA books, While the Bombs Fell and Through the Nethergate. I have recently published my first adult novel called A Ghost and His Gold which is partly set in South Africa during the Second Anglo Boer War. 

Other books by Roberta Eaton Cheadle 

Through the Nethergate 

Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own. 

In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise. 

With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself. 

Follow Roberta Eaton Cheadle at: 

Website 

https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog 

https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Goodreads 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19631306.Roberta_Eaton_Cheadle

Facebook 

https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Amazon

Purchase Links:

TSL Publications (paperback) 

Lulu.com (ebook and paperback) 

Amazon  

https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Gold-Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/dp/1913294943 


Exciting Happenings for Writing to be Read and WordCrafter

2021 is off to a great start and today, I wanted to take a minute to update you on the really cool stuff scheduled on Writing to be Read in the coming months. I’ve talked about some of these new additions previously, but one or two have only come together recently and I can’t wait to share them.

Dark Origins

You’ll find Robbie Cheadle’s new series, “Dark Origins”, posted on the fourth Wednesday of each month, and the first post will be this coming Wednesday, January 27th. Robbie will be delving into the origins of nursery rhymes and fairy tales, which can be very dark indeed, so be sure and watch for it.

Jeff’s Game Reviews

Jeff Bowles already shared the first post in his new video game review series, “Jeff’s Game Reviews”, where shared his thoughts on Hitman 3. This series will post the fourth Friday of each month, and each post includes a link to the video version of the review.

WordCrafter Book Blog Tours

Last but not least, February will see the launch of WordCrafter Book Blog Tours. The first tour will be for the Spirits of the West western paranormal anthology. Later in the month, tours are scheduled for Arthur Rosch’s poetry and photography collection, Feral Tenderness, and Barbara Spencer’s first book in the Children of Zues trilogy, A Click of a Pebble. I do hope you’ll all join us in learning about these wonderful books and their authors. Tours include interviews, book reviews and informative posts by the authors. You’ll find the complete tour schedule, as well as instructions for scheduling your own book blog tour on the WordCrafter Book Blog Tours page.

Where Spirits Linger

I’d also like to remind everyone that there is still time to submit your story in the 2021 WordCrafter Paranormal Short Fiction Contest, and to have it included in the resulting anthology, Where Spirits Linger. See the full submission guidelines for details. There is a $5 entry fee, which you can pay with a button right on the contest post, and the winner receives a $25 Amazon Gift Card and guarenteed inclusion in the anthology. But don’t wait too long. The deadline is April 30th.

2020 was a pretty good year for Writing to be Read and WordCrafter, in spite of the unusual circumstances of the pandemic and the “new normal”, which isn’t normal at all. After all the lock downs and mask mandates and social distancing, I think everyone needs a little makeover, and this blog is no exception. Writing to be Read may be getting a facelift with new types of content which will change it’s appearance a little, but the end result is that the blog will be so much better for them. Jeff’s and Robbie’s new series, the WordCrafter Book Blog Tours, and this year’s contest and anthology, are all welcome improvements, and I for one, can’t wait.

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Looking Back on 2020 and Forward to 2021

2020 has been an difficult year for all of us as Covid 19 turned lives upside-down. Here at Writing to be Read and WordCrafter, we saw some great accomplishments, in spite of the fact that my genre theme schedule fell apart half-way through the year on the blog and content was a little more sporadic. I had to figure out how to adjust to my own “new normal”, which life changes brought my way, but they also led me to remember who I am. Now, I’ve analyzed and regrouped, and I’m ready to head into the new year with new ideas and projects.

WordCrafter’s 2020 Virtual Writing Conference

One of the biggest things for WordCrafter was the 2020 Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference back in April. We ended up with twenty-two distinguished authors, offering live stream and video lectures, and interactive workshops and discussion panels, with free content for the Facebook event and a Zoom platform for the interactive stuff. We had a good turn-out with only a few glitches, and we’re preparing to do it again in 2021.

WordCrafter Press releases in 2020:

Ask the Authors

In April, the Ask the Authors writing anthology was released after two years of compilation. This book is an ultimate writer’s reference with tips and advice from twenty-two authors, and it started right here, from a 2018 blog series of the same name. In November, the print edition of this book, (and all WordCrafter Press books), became available, as well.

Spirits of the West

The Spirits of the West western paranormal anthology resulted from the 2020 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, and was released in October. The winning story, “High Desert Rose”, was written by Enid Holden and is included in the anthology. The theme for the 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest was announced and WordCrafter Press is now taking submissions to be considered for next year’s anthology, Where Spirits Linger.

Hidden Secrets and Last Call

Two of my own books were also released. Last Call and Other Short Fiction is a collection of my short stories, and my paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, is now available in print on Amazon, but the digital edition can be purchased through other retailers. In the coming year, I will have a story in the Where Spirits Linger anthology, and I’m working on a new book, The Outlaw and the Rockstar which I hope will be ready to release before the end of 2021.

Raise the Tide

WordCrafter Press‘ first stand alone author’s book was released in December, Raise the Tide, a devotional book by James Richards. We also look forward in anticipation to adding the January release of a massive poetry collection by Arthur Rosch, Feral Tenderness, to this list.

Feral Tenderness

Writing to be Read 2020:

We had some great guests on Writing to be Read. On “Chatting with the Pros”, my author guests featured Diana Raab, Amy Cecil, Cherokee Parks, L. Deni Colter, and Kevin J. Anderson. I’m hoping to transform this blog series into a podcast, which can be accessed through the blog, in the coming year, and I hope you all will join me there. Other authors interviewed in 2020 included Mark & Kym Todd, Jade C. Jamison, and Alan Dean Foster. The most viewed interview was with erotic romance author Nicky F. Grant. Interviews fell by the wayside along with the genre themes, but I’m planning to bring back author interviews for 2021, and I’m working on a new blog segment, “The Authors’ Covid Coffee Clache”, which will address issues of the pandemic specific to authors.

Treasuring Poetry

Robbie Cheadle’s poet guests included Sally Cronin, Colleen Chesebro, Victoria Zigler, Sue Vincent, Annette Rochelle Aben, Christy Birmingham, Kevin Morris, Frank Prem, D. Avery, Geoff Le Pard, and Balroop Singh. Of course, each segment on “Treasuring Poetry” are filled with poetry examples and includes a review of the poet’s latest poetry collection.

Growing Bookworms

Robbie Cheadle’s “Growing Bookworms” has great ideas for promoting literacy in children. Topics discussed “Making Learning the Alphabet Fun“, “Reading and Mathematics“, obtaining a balance of parental approval, “Sir Chocolate and the Valentine Toffee Cupid“, the benefits of singing and rhyming verse for children, “Teaching Children to Read“, “Introducing Non-Fiction to Children“, “The Future of Education“, “The Great Roald Dahl“, “Chapter Books vs. Short Stories for Children“, “The Joy of Nursery Rhymes: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bat“, and “Incorporating Reading into Christmas Activities“. The post with the most views this year was a “Growing Bookworms” post from 2019, “Developing Imagination and Creativity Through Reading“, and in fact, it is also the post with the most all time views.

Words to Live By

On “Words to Live By”, Jeff Bowles offers up his thoughts on writing and life, and writing life. In 2020, he reflected on “The Creator in the Creative“, “The Kid in the Machine”, “Sex, Love, Warfare and Death“, “Fear, Creativity, and that Pesky Pandemic“, “Love in the Time of Covid“, “Be Here Now (Sanity for the Modern Writer), and”Creative Legacy“. The most viewed “Words to Live By” post was “The Big Chill“.

Mind Fields

With Art Rosch’s “Mind Fields”, you never know what the topic will be, but in 2020, they included “T.V. Addicts Annonymous“, “Nightmare with Tracphone“, “The Power of Villians in Story Telling“, “The Big Grief or Computer Wipe-Out“, “The Air in the Sky“, “Obsession: Craving Flashlights“, “Curvature: An Essay on Discernment“. The most view “Mind Fields” post was “Am I Real“.

Super Heroes and Supervillains

In May, Jeff Bowles took over the spotlight as he took over the Super Heroes and Super Villians theme, with a look at “The History and Evolution of Comic Books“, “The Rise of the Comic Book Film“, “DC Comics Gets Animated“, “D.C. Comics vs. Marvel – Rivalry and Inspiration“, and a celebratory posts for comic books and super heroes, “Look Up in the Sky!

Craft and Practice

Also in May, Jeff introduced a new blog series “Craft and Practice”, filled with great writing advice, which covered topics such as “The Revision Process“, “To Self-publish or Not to Self-publish“, “Writing for Catharthis“, “Story Synthesis: The Ultimate Tool in the Tool Kit“, “To Comma or Not to Comma“, “The Odds and Ends of Worldbuilding“, and “What’s the use of Trunk Novels“. The most viewed “Craft and Practice” post was “Should You Write Every Day?“.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews

Jeff’s Movie Reviews” covered The Invisible Man, Birds of Prey“, Hamilton on Disney+, Bill and Ted Face the Music, The Trial of the Chicago 7, The Queen’s Gambit, and The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. The most viewed movie review post was for 1917.

Arthur’s Visual Media Reviews

“Art’s Visual Media Reviews” covered Homeland, Better Call Saul, 13 Reasons Why, Just Mercy, 13 Reasons Why (the later seasons), a critique of Marvel movies, and The Secret: Dare to Dream, but the most viewed review was a life review in “My Life with Jazz“. Unfortunately, “Arthur’s Visual Media Reviews” will not be appearing in 2021, but Art’s “Mind Fields” will be appearing twice a month.

My book reviews included Missing: Murder Suspected: True Crime Stories Brought to Life, by Austin Stone On Being a Dictator, by Kevin J. Anderson and Martin L. Shoemaker; Saint, by Amy Cecil; Heat: Book 1, by Jade C. Jamison; Old One Eyed Pete, by Loretta Miles Toleffson; Death Wind, by Travis Heermann and Jim Pinto; Severed Wings, by Steven-Elliot Altman; X Marks the Spot, an anthology of pirate fantasy tales edited by Lisa Mangum; Indominable, by J.B. Garner; Echo One, by Mercedes Lacky, Denis K. Lee, Cody Martin, and Veronica Giguere; the audio edition of Shadow Blade, by Chris Barili; Love/Madness/Demon, by Jeff Bowles; In the Shadow of the Clouds, by Jordan Elizabeth; Keeper of the Winds, by Jenna Solitaire with Russle Davis; Inspirational Visions oracle cards, by Judy Mastrangelo; The Freedom Conspiracy by Nathan B. Dodge; Disappeared, by Lucienne Diver; Fool’s Gold Rush, by Tim Baker; Terminal Sequence, by Dan Alatorre; Gunslinger, by Edward J. Knight; and Clay House, by Jordan Elizabeth. The top viewed review was Hold Your Fire, an anthology edited by Lisa Mangum.

Judging the Spurs

I was also honored to be a judge for the Writers of America’s Spur Awards and I reviewed my top six picks, and the winner of the western romance category, The Yeggman’s Apprentice, by C.K. Crigger. These were the best of the best, and I was honored to be given the opportunity to read and review them.

WordCrafter Book Blog Tours

Also, in 2021 Writing to be Read will be a host for the WordCrafter Book Blog Tours, so we’ll be keeping you up to date on several new releases as they come out. Robbie Cheadle will bring us a new blog series on nursery rhymes and fairytales, “Dark Origins”, and I plan to bring in a new series, “Writer at Work”, which will talk about different issues that writers face. Subscribe to this blog with one of the buttons in the upper right-hand corner to be sure not to miss this great new content or the tried and true content of continuing series on Writing to be Read in the coming year.

Dark Origins

Happy New Year and Happy Writing!

From Writing to be Read and WordCrafter

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My Letter to Santa

Merry Christmas 2020

Dear Santa,

I want to start by telling you that I have been a very good girl this past year. I’ve done everything I was supposed to. I always wear a mask in public and I try to stay at least six feet away from anyone around me. That’s not always easy to do when you’re in a store with people shopping up and down the aisles, but I have done my best, ordering many things online and only going into public when absoloutly necessary. And I sanitize my hands, my wallet, any cards that I used and anything I purchased, after every place that I go.

I’ve tried to give back, through the 2020 WordCrafter Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference, which WordCrafter hosted in April, when Covid 19 first began to spread and we were all ordered to stay in our homes and we were all still trying to figure out and adjust to the “new normal”. It was a great event, with twenty-two authors offering instruction and advice in live lectures, interactive workshops and panel discussions, and we had a pretty good virtual turn-out, and it provided an opportunity for all of my fellow authors to interact, learn and socialize virtually, as they would have had all in-person events not been cancelled, so I feel like I may have done a good turn for my profession.

Also in April, WordCrafter Press released the Ask the Authors anthology. This anthology is a great writing reference, where authors and potential authors can turn to find writing advice from seventeen different authors, because we don’t all write in the same way. Thank goodness. In October, we had another release, Spirits of the West, which is the anthology resulting from the 2020 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest. More recently, these anthologies and all WordCrafter Press books are now available in print, which not only helps me, but all the other contributing authors with increased chance of sale.

In addition to publishing my short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, and my paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, WordCrafter also aided two new authors to bring their work into fruition. Pastor James Richards of the Christian Cable Ministries television program, Raise the Tide, just released his new devotional collection, Raise the Tide, and author Arthur Rosch will be releasing his massive volume of poetry and photgraphy, Feral Tenderness, in early January. I’ve got some great things cooking for next year, too, like the WordCrafter Book Blog Tours or The 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, but I guess it’s too early to count those as good deeds, since I haven’t done them yet.

In years past, I’ve asked you for many things, mostly tools which I can use in my writing. This past year, I’ve been collecting the equipment needed to move into the audio and video realms, and I’m hoping to create a podcast with paid subscriber content, to enhance the Writing to be Read blog, so this year you may be expecting me to ask for a new video camera, or the extra money I need to put the podcast together, but that’s not what I’m going to ask for.

The past year has been a rough one for me, I’ll admit. Due to various life circumstances, I found myself unable to complete my B.S. in Marketing, which would have been completed in the spring of this coming year. But, as I look around me, I see local business owners shutting down their doors, people out of work and homeless, people grieving at the loss of their loved ones, and I realize that this damn virous hasn’t really been kind to anyone. Although I’ve had to make many adaptions to function while governments strive to get it under control, it has effected many others more harshly than it has effected me. I still have my home, my business and my health, and I am thankful for that, but there are so many out there this year who don’t. There are many out there whose needs make my own feel small and trivial. Between the virous and all the wild fires and riots of 2020, there are many out there who have lost everything and are attempting to start to build again.

So, this year, Santa, I’m asking that you deliver to those folks whatever it is they need to fill this Christmas with hope and make things a little easier for them. I know that in the end, I’ll be okay. So, this year, take care of those less fortunate than I. I’m a survivor. I’ve got a plan. 😉

Merry Christmas, Santa!

Your Friend,

Kaye Lynne Booth, M.F.A.

P.S. I will still leave the regular milk and cookies out, if you just want to stop in for a bite on Christmas eve. That sleigh travel can be hungry work. I’ll leave a few ears of corn on the roof for the reindeer, too. 😉

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Wow! You Must Really “Like” Me

As authors and bloggers, we hear that we need to grow a following, or an author platform, and this is the digital measure of success. So, we write blog posts and posts promos in the hopes that readers will be drawn to our blogs and fall in love with them, and subscribe to them. Then we start counting “like” or other reactions on all of our social media sites, and when they start accruing, we tell ourselves, “Look! It’s working! Lots of people “like” my promos. My following is growing!”

But, I would argue that the number of “likes” we get on social is not a true and accurate measure of success, or even popularity, and it certainly isn’t any indication that we are moving any closer to increasing book sales, or blog visits. Think about it. Just because several people “liked” a promo on social media, doesn’t mean that any of those people clicked through to actually read the blog post or buy the book. In fact, I’d venture that the majority of “likes” on social media do not click through. They may be “liking” the promo, but they aren’t reading your work. They are probably a more accurate measure of promotional success, than they are the size of the reader following.

Of course, this isn’t the case with “likes” that appear on the blog site itself. Watching those numbers increase is a big deal, because they are an indication that people are reading your work. When the number of subscribers increase, that’s when you know that those folks who “liked” your posts, are truly finding your content of interest enough to come back and visit again. This is what bloggers strive for when trying to grow a following. (But alas, many of those followers may have subscribed may become inactive over time, letting email notifications go unopened.) Even with a large following, we are still challenged to keep readers engaged and entertained or informed. Growing a reader following is an unending process and you have to keep at it over time with quality content to maintain it.

So, why do we even bother with “likes” on social media? They may make us feel good, but do they have some other value? Are we all just striving to go viral because that’s the current measure of success on social media? The answer is that they do, indeed, have value, because they are a form of engagement with existing and potential readers. And engagement is the key to growing a solid following, with members who enjoy reading your writing and want to hear what you have to say, or the story that you have to tell.

Engagement is one of the major objectives that social media marketing is aimed at. Readers whom you engage with in some manner are more likely to subscribe to your blog or buy a book. Readers who do have engagement of some sort with a book’s author are also more likely to leave a review for that book. Favorable reviews increase the chances that someone else, previously unfamiliar with you or your work, will also buy your book.

So, as an author, don’t totally dismiss all those “likes” as unimportant, thinking that they don’t mean the ‘liker’ really likes you or your work, but instead make use of them as a chance to engage with the ‘liker’, even it is just to say thanks for “liking” my promo post. Encourage readers to click through and actually read the blog post, or buy the book in the promos, and be thankful for any engagement received.

And for heaven’s sake, be sure to reply back. Even giving a quick emoji is a form of response, and considered engagement, so take the time to reply or reach out to those people who “like” promos, engage with them, even if it’s obvious they haven’t clicked through. They will remember the next time they see one of your promos, so you’ve increased recognition and awareness, and maybe, just maybe they’ll subscribe to your blog or even buy a book.

And as readers and social media hounds, please click through and read the actual blog posts and leave a comment to clue the author in to the fact that you did. If you do buy a book, please take the time to leave a brief review to show support for the author. Being an author and getting our work out there is not easy, especially in the trying times we live in, so let’s lift each other up and support one another. Every author can’t be your favorite, but engagement and reviews are easy ways to support the ones who are.

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Become a WordCrafter Book Blog Tour Host

WordCrafter

Greetings fellow bloggers, authors and readers. I have exciting news to share with you. In 2021, WordCrafter will be offering affordable book blog tours to help create buzz for your books. During times when in person events can be hazardous to your health, book blog tours are a great way to get the news of your release out there, create reader awarenesss, and an opportunity to stir up reader engagement, all from the safety of your own home. WordCrafter Book Blog Tours will offer custom tour packages including combinations of author interviews, book reviews or author provided guest posts at reasonable rates that will make WordCrafter Book Blog Tours affordable, even for struggling authors.

I want the blogs on which tour posts are featured on to make WordCrafter Book Blog Tours something special. That’s why I’m reaching out to my fellow bloggers today, in search of those who would like to become tour hosts. Becoming a WordCrafter Book Blog Tour host is a great way to provide blog content for your blogs. The host bloggers will have access to the WCBBT schedule, and opportunity to sign up for the book tours of their choice, and also choose the type of content they want to post for their tour stop. If an author interview is selected, hosts will be responsible for providing interview questions. For book reviews and ARC copy will be provided and host will be responsible for reading and posting a review. Guest posts will be provided by WordCrafter, and all they need to do is post it. I still have openings for WCBBT hosts, so if you’re one of those special bloggers and you think your blog can give personality to WordCrafter Book Blog Tours, then I’d like you to become a part of the WCBBT team. Contact me at kayebooth@yahoo.com.

And I want to assure all Writing to be Read‘s loyal readers that the coming of WordCrafter Book Blog Tours will not interfere with the great content and regular blog series that you’ve all come to know and love. We’ll still continue to offer “Words to Live By”, “Growing Bookworms”, “Craft and Practice”, “Treasuring Poetry”, “Jeff’s Movie Reviews”, and “Mind Fields”. In fact, although it is too early to announce the changes for 2021, I can tell you that even more new blog series and exciting new content is in store. There are two ways that you can follow Writing to be Read: via email or via the WordPress Reader. Click the button of your choice in the top right corner, under the WordCrafter logo, to subscribe and keep updated on the great blog content to come.

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What’s in a Genre?

Genres

I’ve discussed genres a lot here on Writing to be Read. I’ve done monthly genre themes, with author interviews and reviews of books included in each one. We’ve covered nonfiction, romance, western, fantasy, science fiction, young adult fiction, children’s fiction, horror, crime fiction, mystery, women’s fiction, Christian fiction, comic books and graphic novels, and the list goes on. Some genres were easy to find authors to interview and books to review. Others were a bit harder. Likewise, some attracted more readers than others.

Fantasy

Recently, there hasn’t been so many author interviews. I hit a bump in the road and was unable to fulfill my interview and review commitments. Now, I’m ready to jump back in the saddle and get things rolling again. As I contemplate what 2021 will look like for Writing to be Read, I’m wondering wether to keep the genre themes, or explore different areas in the craft of writing, and I would like your feedback. Chances are, if you’re a reader of this blog, then you are also a writer. Leave a comment and let me know which genre(s) you like to write in. Which genre(s) do you like to read? Which would you like to learn more about? Or should I trash the genre themes and concentrate on some other aspect? Which one? Let me know your thoughts.

Romance

I suppose there was a time when genres were more cut and dried, but in this day and age, genres don’t always fall into clear categories. Just take a look at the plethora of categories Amazon has for you to list your book under. When Delilah was published, I got a shock. I had written a western with a female protagonist, who was tough and gritty and made her way in the man’s world of the old west. Her character’s flaw was a lack of trust, and in order to get what she truly needed from the story, she had to have a love interest, so there was a thread of romance woven into the tale. It wasn’t the main story line, but my publisher had picked up on it and listed it as a “Frontier Romance”. Is that what I wrote?

Horror & Dark Fiction

Actually, it may have been a smart choice, even though it wasn’t my original intention. When we re-published the third edition with the new cover, I asked that they list it as a straight western, but it hasn’t helped with sales. Genre has as much to do with marketing as it does with craft. Readers of frontier romanace are a different group from those who read classic westerns.

Christian Fiction

The first group are mostly female and the second are mostly male, and they are looking for different things out of their stories. The women want romance, the men want rugged adventure, and it seems that maybe they want it to come from a big, burly mountain man or a rowdy cowboy. Men who read westerns don’t have the buy-in for a tough female character, but women who read romance have no problem with a female who is tough and gritty having the adventure, as long as she lets her gentler, feminine side show enough to fall in love.

Western

When I was working toward my M.F.A. in creative writing, I was told it was imperative to know who you are writing for, to form a mental picture of your ideal reader in your mind. But, I take an eclectic approach to most things, and writing is no different. I’ve tried my hand at many genres, some more successfully than others, and it can be seen from the example above that different genres have different readers. For me, I found I need to write what is in my head, and then figure out who to market to.

Children’s & Yound Adult Fiction

With the first WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, in 2019, I chose to make the theme paranormal, because most people love a good ghost story. It got a good response and the Whispers of the Past anthology was born. Each entry had paranormal elements, and they were all the type of stories that would make readers think.

Whispers of the Past

For 2020, my thinking was that the old west has a lot of ghosts, and western was a genre I write in, so a western paranormal would be a natural combination, so that was the theme. But, just as not so many people read westerns, not so many authors write in the western genre, and I think I scared many possible entrants away. I had to convince author friends that they could write in the western genre just to get enough entries to create the Spirits of the West anthology, but it contains some very unique stories. Robbie Cheadle contributed two South African western paranormals, playing off South African history, but with western flavor, and Art Rosch contributed a science fiction western paranormal, of the likes you’ll not find anywhere else.

Spirits of the West

As with Writing to be Read, I’m looking toward the future for WordCrafter Press, and it’s time to think about the theme for the 2021 contest and anthology, but I’m at a loss. The paranormal theme worked well, and so did the western paranormal after I coerced some entries out of my author friends. But, one purpose for creating the WordCrafter Press contests and anthologies was to open up avenues to get your work published for new and aspiring authors, and another was to motivate established authors to think outside the box, or work outside their usual genres. It shouldn’t be a struggle to get entries, but it should still offer a challenge for the writer. So, I’m going to ask one more question of all of you. Please leave a comment to let me know, what genres of short fiction you would consider entering, were they the theme for a short fiction contest. i.e. “I would enter a short fiction contest if the theme were…”

Writing to be Read wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for you, my loyal readers. Some of you have stuck with me since the blog began, while others are new sign ons, but I appreciate you all. Please share your own thoughts on genres and help us carry on and move forward together. I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

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I Dropped the Ball, Waiting for the Splash

meepoohyaphoto130500027

I dropped the ball. I did. It’s true. Many of you may have noticed that posts by me have been virtually non-existant the past couple of months, including regularly scheduled book reviews, theme posts and author interviews, as well as my “Chatting with the Pros” monthly series. I’m sure you’ve all been in a spot at one time or another, when you’ve been completely overwhelmed by responsibilities and obligations. That has been me for the past few months. Me, I’m a go-getter. I set a goal and bulldog my way to it, when need be. I have a habit of taking on many projects simultaneously, but I also follow through on what I start.

But, circumstances often change and unforeseen burdens may be laid upon our shoulders when we least expect it, and we find ourselves juggling more than we can handle. Or at least, I have. Between work, school, my writing and promotions, and personal responsibilities, it seemed more than I could accomplish and something had to give. Actually,  I pushed it to the limit until just about everything gave and I was spinning my wheels and getting a lot of nothing done.

I may have dropped the ball, but I’m anticipating the results when it splashes. Sometimes a big splash just makes a mess that needs cleaning up, but a placed splash can water and nourish the surrounding vegetation. Certainly, the regular schedule for Writing to be Read has been disrupted, and the monthly genre themes have gone out the window. I know I have authors I was scheduled to interview who are probably wondering what happened, whom I need to contact. There is some mess to clean up here. But you see, a big splash can be a good thing.  That’s why I’m developing a plan, postponing graduation, and re-inventing, or at least making alterations to the WordCrafter brand, including Writing to be Read.

That’s where you come in. I need your help. As I consider various changes, I need to know how my readers would likely respond to them. Please take them time to respond to any or all of the following questions in the comments.

  • What types of posts do you enjoy most on Writing to be Read? Author interviews, commentaries, book reviews?
  • If I made Writing to be Read a paid blog plan, would readers be willing to help pay for the site on a donation basis? Would you be willing to subscribe for a small fee?
  • Would there be interest if I made the “Chatting with the Pros” series into a podcast? Or do you prefer written interviews such as those currently featured here?
  • Would you like to see more author and poet interviews? More book or screen reviews? A blog series on screenwriting?
  • Which monthly blog series is your favorite: “Chattting with the Pros”, “Words to Live By”, “Growing Bookworms”, “Jeff’s Movie Reviews”, “Craft and Practice”, “Treasuing Poetry”, “Mind Fields”, or “Arthur’s Visual Media Reviews”?

 

As you might guess from the above, there are changes coming for Writing to be Read and for WordCrafter. I’ve got a great team of bloggers, whom I can always count on, and their posts are all that has kept WtbR going these past few months. My thanks go out to Robbie Cheadle, Jeff Bowles and Art Rosch for providing great content and keeping things rolling during the absence of content from me. As always, you’ll be seeing the scheduled segments from the Writing to be Read team members, even if my posts may still be a little sketchy for a while. Stay tuned for updates and please, be patient. If I can make it all work together, I think it will be worth the wait.


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May: Superheroes & Supervillains

Superheros.Supervillains

In May, on Writing to be Read, our theme is Superheroes & Supervillains in celebration of comic books and comic universes, and all that it has evolved into over the years. Comic books aren’t really in my wheelhouse. I’m more of a Saturday morning cartoon type of gal, with Underdog and Mighty Mouse as my favorite heroes, and I still watch reruns of the original Batman series with Adam West and Burt Ward on ME TV.  But I wanted to run this theme because I think there is a little bit of superhero in every protagonist we write, and a little bit of supervillain in every adversary.

Because I’m not versed in the comic universes, I’m turning to others, who know comics and superheroes much better than I. Jeff Bowels is much younger and wiser in this area, and he will be offering us his expertise and insight on the evolution of the comic and its characters this month, as well as a look at the similarities and differences between the characters of the Marvel and DC universes. In addition, my “Chatting with the Pros” author guest this month is international bestselling author, Kevin J. Anderson, who also authored the book, Enemies and Allies. My supporting interview will be with comic author and novelist, Jason Henderson, who most recently authored Young Captain Nemo. Both of these authors appeared at the recent WordCrafter 2020 Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference and they know what it takes to create superheroes and supervillains in their own science fiction and fantasy writing. My review for The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows, by David Perlmutter posted last Friday, and I will also be reviewing Echo One: Tales From the Secret Chronicles anthology from WordFire Press. And don’t miss “Mind Fields” this month, where Art Rosch will give us a piece on the character development of villains.

Comics are based on serialized art, and Famous Funnies is considered by many to be the first comic book, coming out in 1933 and publishing until 1955. DC‘s Superman got his start in a comic strip, and he was the first character to wear a cape, setting the image for many of the superheroes that have followed. He made his debut in his own comic book in 1939, the same year that Marvel launched Timely Comics. Not long after, DC came out with Batman in Detective Comics #27, the most sought after comic among collectors and fans alike, and he and Superman both celebrated their 80th birthdays last year.

Other superhero characters followed, including Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Cyborg and Aquaman, who along with Batman and and Superman, came to be known as the Big Seven of DC’s Justice League, and Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four: Mister Fantastic, Invisible Girl (now Invisible Woman), Thing and Human Torch, and Marvel’s X-Men: Professor X, Cyclops, Iceman, Angel (later known as Archangel), Beast and Marvel Girl (a.k.a. Pheonix/Dark Pheonix). And let’s not forget Marvel’s Hulk, Spiderman, and Ironman, Wolverine, and DC’s Swamp Thing.

It’s interesting to see how the characters, and comics have evolved into other forms of media. While comic books remain popular, as the turnout for any Comicon can demonstrate, today we see comics and comic book characters in the form of graphic novels, and they’ve made the jump to visual media, first in television, and then in film. We’ve also seen the rise of the anti-hero, giving us characters such as Dead Pool, who are the epitome of the reluctant hero in every hero’s journey. (See my review of Dead Pool (2016) here.) Although superhero, (and anti-hero), movies had a lull in popularity during the 1980s and 90s, they’ve seen a rise during the 21st century and are big money at the box office today. Statista claims that the superhero movies of 2019 grossed 3.2 billion dollars in combined domestic revenue.

However, we can only weigh the strength and goodness of the superhero by the evilness and capabilities of the villains they face. DC wove the history behind how Batman’s first adversary came to become a supervillain, the notorious Joker. Just as superheroes evolve and change, so do supervillains, and the Joker is no exception. He has changed and evolved over the years, but not always on the same evolutionary time table as superheroes. (See Jeff Bowels’ review of  Joker from 2019.) But even with a supervillain, who is super-evil, there must always be a grain of humanity that makes them vulnerable. They weren’t just born evil. They have tragic histories that have twisted them into the super-evil, hard hearted villains that they are, and that makes them relatable on some level, even if we can’t bring ourselves to root for them and breath a sigh of relief when they meet their demise.

The heroes and villains in genre fiction may not have super powers or be invincible, but they do share certain qualities with the superheroes and supervillains of the comic book world, like altruism (for heroes), and selfishness and greed (for villains), and basic humanity (for all). They have a lot to teach us about making relatable heroes and villains we can love to hate. Please join us this month as we explore the world of comics, superheroes and supervillains, on Writing to be Read.

I shared above that my favorite comic superheroes as a kid were Mighty Mouse, Underdog and Batman. Let me know in the comments who your favorite superheroes or supervillains are, and why they are your favorite in the comments. Let’s talk superheroes and supervillains.


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Delving Into Creative Nonfiction in January

Creative nonfiction

Nonfiction is the stuff texts books are made of, the straight-out boring stuff that puts you to sleep, right? Not necessarily. Texts books don’t have to be boring. Nonfiction that is written creatively can capture the reader’s interest or immerse them into true life stories. From memoir, to self-help and how-to books, and yes, even text books can be highly entertaining.

True life circumstances and facts determine the story in nonfiction, yet nonfiction authors are faced with the same challenges as fiction authors to bring the characters and setting to life in the readers mind, or portray the information they wish to relate in a manner which readers can relate to. Both fiction and nonfiction authors strive to grab readers attention, now, in this digital age more so than ever before. But there are differences, as well.

To start off 2020, we’re going to delve into creative nonfiction in January. We have a pretty good sampling on the different forms that creative nonfiction might take. My author guest on “Chatting with the Pros” is bestselling author and memoirist, Diana Raab, who believes in the healing powers of writing. I will also be interviewing an author team, Mark Todd and Kym O’Connell Todd, who wrote Wild West Ghosts, one of the most informative and entertaining how-to books I’ve read. I will also be reviewing a true crime book, Missing: Murder Suspected, by Austin Stone, edited by his son Ed after his father’s passing, and a book on writing, On Being a Dictator, by Kevin J. Anderson and Martin Shoemaker. I do hope you will join us and help get Writing to be Read off to a good start for the year ahead.


For additional samplings of creative nonfiction see the following interviews and reviews:

Chatting with the Pros: Interview with Nonfiction Author Mark Shaw

Interview with author Mark Shaw

Interview with author B.Lynn Goodwin

Review: How I Sold 80,000 Books: Book Marketing for Authors by Alinka Rowkowski

Interview with multi-genre author Brenda Mohammed

Interview with nature author Susan J. Tweit

Review: How to Become a Published Author, by Mark Shaw

Review: The Well-Fed Writer, by Peter Bowerman

Review: Stress: How Stress Affects Your Life and How to Manage It, by Dr. Christine Rose

Review: Hack Your Reader’s Brain, by Jeff Gerke

Review: Horror 101: The Way Forward (Crystal Lake Publishing)

Review: Hollywood Game Plan, by Caro;e Kirschner

Review: Simplified Writing 101, by Erin Brown Conroy

Review: The Road Has Eyes, by Art Rosch

Review: The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, by Mark Shaw

Review: Denial of Justice, by Mark Shaw

Review: Courage in the Face of Evil, by Mark Shaw

Review: Letters of May, edited by Julie Alcin


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