1stNews from 1stBooks
December 19, 2003

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Table of Contents

Editor's Message

Do you think you've faced some difficult times? I'm sure you have. But when you read Dorie Mactino's story, it'll put things in perspective. In her folksy style, she'll tell you how she made a book out of her adventures, and how she and her family have promoted the book.

Pat Holt continues her "10 mistakes" series by tackling phony dialog.

Triumph Over Adversity Becomes a Book—and a Book Tour—in the "Purple Magic Schoolbus"

By Dorie Mactino, doriemactino@yahoo.com

Imagine moving over 2,000 miles, from a nice comfy city to a completely unfinished farmhouse in the middle of nowhere in rural Ontario, no electricity, a flooded basement, broken septic system, roof leaking, no running water and no heat. Instead of fighting rush hour, you're facing wolves, cougars and bears.

You have seven children, ages 2, 4, 5, 10, 13, 14 and 15; baby number eight on the way.

To make matters more interesting, your husband suddenly dies a few weeks later—and his life insurance just barely covers the burial. Would you have thrown in the towel?

The Goats In The Kitchen gang didn't. We won, against all odds! We learned how to do everything from mud up a wall to lay carpet and rewire our house. We learned how to build kitchen cupboards, how to keep a bear off the porch, how to deal with 150 baby chickens that arrive the same day we do, and what to do with five goats in the kitchen at 2 a.m.

When I wrote Goats in the Kitchen, the story of that experience, I needed to come up with some new, bright and innovative marketing ideas to promote our story.

In typical "tribal" fashion, the whole "gang" got in on it. We saved pennies to make dimes, and dimes to make dollars. After a few months, we saved enough to buy an old school bus. A couple more months of scrounging around and we turned this bus into an unusual tour-bus—a home away from home. From the youngest to the oldest crew member, everybody had fun helping. For the final touch, we collected leftover cans of car paint, ranging from bright red and ivory to blue, which we stewed together into a lovely shade of purple.

Mother Author and six of her nine children are traveling all across the U.S.A. and parts of Canada promoting the book. The unique marketing aspect is the entire family is involved. We believe that getting our family's story out there will help a lot of other people to persevere and gain the courage to overcome their own problems. So we offer talks and book readings to churches, libraries, schools, colleges and other groups. I've also made contact with some book-reader clubs, which purchased the book. We've all been on radio and in newspapers. We've even participated in a parade—and afterwards, the bus was a much sought-after attraction at the fair, which helped sell a number of books. Instead of candy along the parade route we passed out business cards. My kids told people, "if you love our bus, you'll love our story." We had so many people come onto the bus during the fair that I completely lost track after a while. Unfortunately we had only 50 books on board; we probably could have easily quadrupled the number of copies sold.

Of course, I've given numerous talks about never throwing in the towel, giving in, or giving up.

All this publicity has a huge ripple effect, as I am seeing emails streaming in almost daily, and my son (now 19), who is at home babysitting "the mansion," is getting a lot of curious visits.

Want the magic purple school bus to stop by? Just contact Dorie Mactino, author of Goats In The Kitchen via email at themagicpurpleschoolbus@yahoo.com or doriemactino@yahoo.com. Learn more about Goats in the Kitchen at http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/12768.

10 Mistakes Writers Don't See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do), Part 4

Phony Dialogue

Be careful of using dialogue to advance the plot. Readers can tell when characters talk about things they already know, or when the speakers appear to be having a conversation for our benefit. You simply don't want one character to imply or say to the other, "Tell me again, Bruce: What are we doing next?"

Avoid words that are fashionable in conversation. Ann Packer's characters are so trendy the reader recoils. "What's up with that?" I said. "Is this a thing [love affair]?" "We both smiled." "What is it with him?" I said. "I mean, really." Her book is only a few years old, and already it's dated.

Dialogue offers glimpses into characters the author can't provide through description. Hidden wit, thoughtful observations, a shy revelation, a charming side all come out in dialogue, so the characters show us what the author can't tell us. But if dialogue helps the author distinguish each character, it also nails the culprit who's promoting a hidden agenda by speaking out of character.

An unfortunate pattern, the dialogue in Three Junes, begins to sound like the author's version of Noel Coward, with characters coming across as fey, acerbic, witty, superior, puckish, diffident. Pretty soon the credibility of the entire novel is shot. You owe it to each character's unique nature to make every one of them an original.

Don't tell me because Julia Glass won the National Book Award you can get away with lack of credibility in dialogue. Setting your own high standards and sticking to them—being proud of having them is the mark of a pro. Be one, write like one, and don't cheat.

Pat Holt, for 16 years the Book Review Editor and Critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, is a manuscript consultant. To learn more about her Manuscript Express critique service, please visit http://holtuncensored.com/manu_express.html. This article is serialized with permission and originally appeared in Holt Uncensored, Pat's newsletter covering the publishing world. To subscribe, please send a message to pat@holtuncensored.com?subject=SubscribeHoltUncensored

News From the Publishing World

2004 Independent Publishers Book Awards (a.k.a. the IPPYs). 55 categories, deadline: Apr. 15, 2004; entry fee: $60 before Nov. 15; $65, Nov. 16-Jan. 15; $70, Jan. 16-Apr. 15, 2004. Details at http://www.independentpublisher.com/ipaward.lasso

ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards. Deadline: Jan. 15, 2004. Entry fee: $50. Details at https://www.forewordmagazine.com/photos/botya2003.pdf

Success Profiles: Patrick Keku and Tunde Akingbade are National Superstars in Nigeria

High-level government dignitaries attend the book launch party, the most important news outlets in the country cover your event; major corporations lend their endorsement.

It sounds like a fairy tale, but it's the result of a carefully crafted campaign by Patrick Keku and Tunde Akingbade, co-authors of three books covering security and safety in Nigeria: Traveler's Guide To Living in Nigeria-Security and Travel Tips http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/18482, Dangerous Days and Savage Nights-Countering the Menace of Armed Robbery in Nigeria http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/18485, and Industrial Security in Nigeria-Prospects and Challenges for the 21st Century http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/18484

Their hard work paid off when Young Arabamen, the police commissioner, and Titi Anibaba, Director of Environmental Services for the state of Lagos, Nigeria, attended their launch event, held Friday, December 12, at a Sheraton Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria. The event master of ceremonies was Professor Isaac Alademo, the president of Nigeria's Institute for Security, University of Lagos.

The two authors created a month-long publicity blitz leading up to the event, which got mentions in several of the most prominent newspapers and radio stations in the country. And they got endorsements from influential people in the security field, including Halliburton's country manager for Nigeria as well as several others. Their speech to the Lagos State Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors—where they told other authors to publish in the US via 1stBooks—was so well received that they have already been invited back for a return appearance next March.

Our congratulations to both men for taking a dry topic like travel security and parlaying it into this level of recognition. Also, our sincere thanks for spreading the word to an entire country about how 1stBooks can help authors achieve their dreams.

Seasonal and Topical

Very Active Real Estate and Financing Market (Note: The extra space is not a mistake—it's an attempt to make sure your email provider's auto filters don't kick this entire newsletter into the trash, because the "M" word is a major trigger word.)

* "Winning the Mort gage Game: Beat the Bankers & Get Rich Doing It" by Mark Barnes http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/19680.

* "Mort gage Sense" by Rick Murrian http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/15195.

* "The Real Story of the Bible (Facing the Fury of Evil): A Physicist's View" by Waldo Richard Widell http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/4095 ("They made it possible for you to find your way from dust to eternal life. Who were they and how did they do it?")


Dear 1stBooks,

Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the, "Newsletter." I always read it and have found helpful hints on promoting my book, "Reflections from My Heart."

I belong to several organizations and have been guest speaker on how I started in poetry and have done book signings. I belong to American Business Women's Association, Fullerton Ebell, a Federated Women's Club and Fullerton Civic Light Guild and have my books on sale at a dress shop that I manage. I also belong to the Red Hat Society.

Edythe Ve Del

Dear 1stBooks,

I have deleted the info from many of the other self-publishing companies, but do enjoy reading your newsletters, from which I generally glean some useful tidbits... and as a professor of English, I enjoy the little riffs on writing.

Betty Krasne

News from 1stBooks

In Full Color—Your Next Book!

Whether you’re an established author, an emerging writer, or just want to tell your story, now you can give your book the attention it deserves with color. 1stBooks now offers comprehensive full-color book printing. Our standard features include: up to 50 Color Images, 50 Image Manipulations, 2 CD Galleys, 2 Hours of Design Time, Perfect Binding and Distribution to more than 25,000 Bookstores.

For more information, please contact your Author Services Representative or download the brochure at http://www.1stbooks.com/cgi-bin/1stgetfile?pb_full-color_book_printing.pdf

About 1stBooks

Based in Bloomington, Ind., 1stBooks was established in 1997 to fulfill the dreams of authors who wanted to have their books published while retaining all rights and control of content. 1stBooks titles are available in traditional hard copy format at more than 25,000 retail outlets worldwide, on the Internet via BarnesAndNoble.com, Amazon.com, and Borders.com and through the 1stBooks online store.

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