Sunday, May 31, 2015

Book Signings-Not for the Faint of Heart

Most authors have probably had the dream of a table in a bookstore, filled with their books, and a long line of breathless fans waiting, with tomes in hand, for their autograph. As an author with five self-published books, who has done several book signings, I have to say I am still waiting for the long line of folks. But book signings can be fun and they are a good way to let your local community know what you have available.
I'll do my best. I've had several book signings for my self-published books, and I've also sold them at booths. Here are a few things I have learned along the way.
  • Think carefully about where you want to have the signing. Is it a good place with lots of foot traffic? Time of day and weather play a huge factor as well.
  • Think outside the box. Book stores aren't always the best places to have book signings. Think about it; the people coming in probably don't know who you are, and you are surrounded by your competition. See if there's a coffee shop or cafe who would let you set up a little table. Craft shows have always been good for me. If it's a picture book, why not approach a bounce-house or child-related place? A book about outdoor adventures? Perhaps a hunting supply store. Locally owned businesses are usually pretty open.
  • Approach the business owner during a time of day when business is slow. Let them know what you are going to do to publicize the event and bring more customers into their business. Never assume they will do the marketing. And never promise a huge crowd of people, just that you will do your best. Always agree on what percentage of sales, if any, the business owner is going to want, and if the customers are going to pay you or at the register (this is more important at book stores). Ask what you need to bring as far as table/chair etc. 
  • Don't spend too much money on ANYTHING. Bring 20-30 more books than you have set aside for family and friends who have promised to come. Put a few posters around town and create a flyer with a book excerpt and a QR code for people to find out more about the book. Maybe bring a candy dish, or something inexpensive to hand out to kids (fruit snacks work great!) Maybe a cheap tablecloth and a nice Sharpie fine point to sign with. I repeat, do not spend a ton of money! Your book should be the star of the table, anyway.
  • Don't plan to be there too long. Make your book signing 2-4 hours, and leave a few books behind at the business or flyers letting customers who arrive too late know where they can purchase copies.
  • Always bring information on where people can get Kindle books. Some customers only want Kindle books and you might get a sale or two by offering an easy way for them to find it.
  • Engage. Don't just sit behind the table writing your next book. Make eye contact. Comment about something they have purchased. Ask them what their favorite kinds of books are.
Don't be too disappointed if you don't sell 50 copies in one day. You never know, one customer you connect with might purchase 10 more copies later for friends and family members. The most important things are the connections. And having fun.
Do you have any tips for book signings? I would love to hear about them in the comments! 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Book Review: :Leandra's Enchanted Flute

As a writer and fan of Middle Grade fiction, I fond myself to be pretty picky when it comes to books geared toward this age group. But Katy Huth Jones has it right in this book.
Lee Ann has been fighting cancer, the same disease that took the life of her mother. She's won one battle, but is unsure if she's beaten the disease for good.
Lee Ann loves to play the flute, and she loves birds. She is taken on an amazing journey by a Carolina wren who's been singing outside her window.

I love the magical world Katy Huth Jones has created, and her amazing bird heroes that join Lee Ann (now Leandra) on her journey. I love how music is used to defeat evil. I've read hundreds of books, and it takes a lot to really touch me, but I was in tears at the end of this story.

I recommend Leandra's Magic Flute to everyone, but especially people who have dealt with long-term illnesses and their caregivers.
You can order this book on Kindle here:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sneak Peek Chapter Excerpt from "The River Girl's Song"

As many of you know, my Christian Historical Fiction Novella, The River Girl's Song, will be released May 20th! 
In honor of the release, I wanted to share a short section of the story. If you would like a copy, you can find out how to pre-order a paperback OR Kindle copy on my website.

Here's the section:

The river . The hem of Zillia’s filthy skirts tangled around her feet and tripped her up while she ran down the bluff. “Orrie, I’m coming.” She reached the edge of the river and pushed through tangles of vines and brush. Orrie’s footprints dug deep into the sand, then disappeared into the water.
“Orrie!” she screamed.
Sticks and logs had gathered together in the depths of the river over time and formed an island. Orrie’s tiny face peeped out of the branches. He stood up and waved. “Zilly, duckies.”
“How on earth?” How could a two-year-old child reach the center of the river? She ran along the bank, searching for a way across. A log jutted out to the island. Orrie must have crawled over, using it for a bridge. Murky water lapped and tugged at the pile of sticks. The river was unusually high and swift for this time of year.
What if Orrie had been swept away? She couldn’t harbor such a terrible thought. He’s fine. I just have to figure out how to get him back on the shore. The log was too shaky to hold her weight.  Papa had taught her how to swim, but it had been years since she’d been in deep water.
A few steps in, and the water already reached her waist. River mud tugged at bare toes with each movement. Closer. The water lapped against her chest and the current pulled at her dress like witches’ fingers. Why hadn’t she taken off her clothes? Her brittle, cracked corset dug into her ribs. 
 Orrie grinned and held up a ball of yellow fluff. “Duckies!”
 Indignant quacks came from the mother duck. She flapped her wings and swam in circles around the island.
 Finally, Zillia reached the pile of sticks. She stretched out her arms, but couldn’t touch her brother. “Orrie, please come to me. The ducks are in their nest, and we need to go to our house.” She pointed to the mother duck. “See? She’s scared of us. We should go away so she can take care of her babies.”
 Orrie frowned. “My ducky.” He pulled the duckling close to his chest. The tiny bird opened and closed its bill and squirmed to get away.
 “Come on, Orrie.” If she tugged on the logs, she risked pulling the whole island apart. “You’re going to hurt it. Maybe we can buy a little ducky next time we’re in town. Would you like that?”
“My ducky.” Orrie stomped a foot and almost lost his balance.
How can someone so cute be so much trouble? Zillia pulled herself closer and reached for Orrie’s ankle. “You get over here right now!”
He scooted out of the way, laughing.
Her thoughts raced. What could she do? “I’ll give you a peppermint stick,” she promised.
Orrie’s face lit up. “Okay, Zilly.” He placed the duckling back into the nest, where it settled down among its siblings.
“All right, now come over here.” Zillia tugged on his sleeve. She finally managed to pull him into the water.
“Cold!” he squealed and struggled to get away.
Zillia fought to hold him in one arm while she moved back towards the shore. “Just a little ways, then we’ll go home and get dry clothes.”
Half way to the shore, her feet slid out from under her. She screamed and scrambled, but could not regain her hold on the rocks. In an instant she and Orrie were swept into the current. Orrie somehow managed to hang on to her neck while she kicked and struggled toward another log.
Fingers slipped across the moss then held. Coughing and gasping, she clung to the wood and the little boy. Her toes felt for a surface, but this area was too deep for her to reach the bottom.
“Zilly, Zilly!” Orrie’s tiny chin stuck out above the waves and he gasped for air.
“Hold on, Orrie. Hold on to me.”
“Help!” she called out, though it seemed a futile plea. “God, if you’re listening, please help us!”
Her fingers were becoming numb as the current tugged on them. Orrie’s hands gripped her neck so tight she thought he’d choke the life out of her.
What if she was being punished for lying? But Orrie didn’t do anything wrong. “God, I’m sorry. Please help us. Please!”
“Zillia!” a faint voce floated from the bank. “Zillia, I’m here! I’m coming down!”
She turned her head just enough to see Wylder burst through the trees along the riverbank. He pulled out a long section of thick, rope-like grapevine. His knife glinted in the sun and the vine snaked out on the ground.
“Grab this!” He threw it out to her. The vine splashed into the water close by and floated up to the surface, in easy reach.
 With what hand? “Orrie, you have to hug me tighter.”
Orrie’s grip tightened as Zillia let go of the log. Her scrambling fingers reached for the vine, and she caught it. There. She wrapped the thick vine around her arm.
Wylder tugged on the other side, and peace flooded through her soul. Only a few yards over, and once more Zillia’s feet dug into the mud. The vine slid from her fingers, and she scooped Orrie into her arms.
Wylder waded in to help them to shore.
What a blessed relief to feel powdery sand beneath her toes. Zillia sank to the ground. “Thank you, God,” she whispered over and over, hugging Orrie close.
Her brother squirmed and tried to get away. “Zillie’s wet.” 
 Wylder laughed. “You’ll be fine. In this heat both of you will be dry before we get to the house.” He pried Orrie from Zillia’s arms and held his hand out to her.
“Thank you.” Her shaking fingers closed around his wrist and she pulled up to stand.
He drew her close and let her lean on him on the way up the hill. 

Excerpt from The River Girl's Song, Copyright Angela Castillo 2015

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Creating a Book Trailer

If you are an author with a book in the works, chances are you have considered creating a book trailer. You might be wondering if it's worth the time and effort, and if you are tech-savvy enough to create one.
There are several good reasons to consider creating a trailer.

  • A book trailer provides yet another media outlet to share your book
  • It generates interest for pre-orders
  • It's a good way to develop description. 
  • You can embed your video on most web sites and blogs.
If you decide to take a shot at creating your own book trailer, you will need a good slideshow program. I used Adobe Elements 8. I would have used Adobe Premier 12, but it crashed both of my computers, 8 is easier to use, but Premier 12 has more options and creates a better product in the end. Please note: This is not a tutorial on how to actually create the slideshow with your program. Each program will be different and you should consult that program's guide.
You will also need to join Youtube and create your own channel. This is free and only takes a few moments.

  1. Write down what you want your trailer to convey. Think of it as a back of the book blurb mixed with movie trailer. What emotions do you want to invoke? How can you get people interested in reading? 
  2. Choose the music you want for your trailer. This isn't as easy as you might think. You can't just grab a song from the top 20 chart to use, you risk getting your video banned from Youtube. I found this site for free music: but be sure you check the license information for each song. At the very least, you should give the artist credit at the end of the slideshow.
  3. Choose the photos you want to place with each line of text. You can use your book cover, photos you have personally taken, or photos with Creative Commons licenses. This is a good resource: Again, always check for licenses and give credit where credit is due.
  4. Make sure you always include where to purchase the book and information on when the book will be out.
  5. Play your slideshow through several times to check for clarity and flow. Make sure each slide lasts long enough for relevant text to be read. 
  6. Add tags to your Youtube video relevant to the book, such a genre and subject.
  7. Share your trailer! Post on Facebook, your blog, website, and forums!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Lands of Ash by H.L. Burke... Cover Reveal!

Super excited to reveal the cover for my good friend, H.L. Burke's new book, Lands of Ash.

I met H.L. on Scribophile, and we've been reading each other's stuff ever since. I always look forward to reading her new books.
Those of you familiar with H.L.'s work know she usually keeps with lighter-hearted fairy tale type stories, but as this cover suggests, Lands of Ash is a bit more intense... but every bit as good as her other work. 

After decades of Elemental Invasions, the once flourishing Kingdom of Forra has been reduced to ruins. A band of survivors pulls together in one last attempt to defend their homes and families as the Elementals make a push to wipe them out completely.

About H.L. Burke:

Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

She self-published her four part fantasy/romance series "The Scholar and the Dragon," followed by YA Steampunk Fantasy Beggar Magic, and a children's chapter book. She is now working on an epic fantasy trilogy.

Author Links:
Follow H. L. Burke on her website
and Goodreads

Keep watching the blog to find out the release date for Lands of Ash. In the meantime, if you haven't read H.L.'s other books and you enjoy fantasy (and a few dragons), you should upload some of her other books to tide you over. 

Pre-order "Lands of Ash" here: