Thursday, February 9, 2012

A novel approach ~ Engaging Readers Beyond the Book

What do readers want? Ultimately, I think they want the story to continue, given that it's a good story. So what do readers expect in the future of storytelling, now that there's so much competition to be a source of entertainment ? We know that it all starts with content; the creation of the really good story.  Oh, but what wonderful and entertaining ways we can build on that with the technology available today... and in the years to come.

What do I think is amazing storytelling? The ability to expand a storyworld and share all the stories within the story in wonderfully entertaining ways on multiple platforms. It takes a special team to create powerful storytelling extensions for authors and AMAZING storyworld experiences for readers! Be a part of the excitement here (link at the bottom of this post) and see what Radiator Transmedia , a cutting edge company based out of Atlanta, GA has created for author Kay Hooper's bestselling Bishop/SCU Series.

Here is a behind-the-scenes peek into a storyworld... through music. And haven't we always related -  all of us - to music at some point?
New York Times bestselling author Kay Hooper, in response to the creation of LIFELINE, the new song Radiator Transmedia produced exclusively for her Bishop Series, says
“Writers live inside their own heads while working on a story, and I know that for myself I’m always surprised when a reader sends me a note that makes it clear the story I wrote or character I created were things that reader experienced differently than I did. But we’re all unique, of course, and it would be unreasonable of me to expect every reader to “get” my stories and characters, and understand and feel about them exactly as I do myself. Reading is an individual, very personal experience, after all.
That was one reason I was so blown away when I heard the song “Lifeline,” written specifically for the Bishop/SCU series and even more specifically about Diana and her haunting “gray time.” The songwriters got it. The singer got it. They understood and found their way into a unique, alien world I created, inhabited it and made it real, and I find that remarkable. When I listen to the song, I get goosebumps, and I feel Diana’s anxieties and fears as she finds her way through the otherworldly place she’s sent to by her psychic abilities.

I think it’s a wonderful song on its own; as part of the world of Bishop and his Special Crimes Unit, it’s rather amazing. I hope you feel the same.”
Check out LIFELINE today, enjoy and share with a friend… if you're a Bishop fan, remember all the energy and emotions of Diana in Bishop’s world, as told through music. If you're a music lover as well as a reader, you're the best test for this type of cross promotion...

Welcome to the future of storytelling.

Listen HERE to  Lifeline by RadiatorTransmedia

Monday, July 11, 2011

Defining Moments

Someone asked me a question not too long ago that really had me thinking.

"Has a book ever truly changed you?"

At first, I wanted to say that, of course, every book had changed me. But that wouldn't be exactly truthful. True, there were books in my youth that shaped me... inspired me. I've enjoyed many, many hours with many, many books -  I've traveled to distant lands, met remarkable characters and luxuriated in soaking up every one of these stories. I love to read. Anyone who knows me, KNOWS THAT.
I've been immensely entertained countless numbers of times and though I love, absolutely love, being carried into each storyworld and feeling all the emotions that go along with a story well told, not all the books that I read enter my veins.
All of the stories that I've been fortunate enough to read - and then recommend to others - were truly appreciated for their own worth in our private time together. A handful of them stayed with me afterwards, lingering for days, weeks.... months.   But had any book truly changed me?

Two had.

It was the quick answer in my mind. Two books had made me sit up, look around, and think 
"...Wait. What?..."
Two brought defining thoughts of "What shall I do - what can I do - with this information?"

Every person is different. Readers are fond of particular styles or particular voices, certain elements or preferred storyworlds. No one agrees on everything, right? Right?
Well, not usually.
I think there are some stories, though - that have the muscle to defeat the odds. They cross boundaries and jump age gaps and elbow their way into every reader's heart or mind,, regardless of their core reading preferences. Because what some books say really truly matter - even in a fictional storyworld.
And that's because their message - the point of their story - is very important.

Here, let me share.

Hats off to my good friends Michael Buchanan, Diane Lang, Jason Winn and Christopher Rivera,  to Sleeping Bear Press and Tin Roof Films - just for starters.
They impressed me to no end with their combined efforts to send out a powerful message and the way they chose to do it  - so that it would be well received by both kids and adults. They did this by putting the focus on a couple of real-life issues that are all too often taken way too lightly and delivering it in an interesting book for middle graders. Here is a book that should be required reading in middle grade school systems... it will make a difference... actually IT HAS made huge differences in countless lives of children.

It started as a conversation between two writers and a stranger who wanted to share a story. The story of being bullied.   The story became a book.  The book touched a man's heart.  It became a script. Then a movie. It happened quickly once the story was revealed. Because it had amazing content. Because the timing was perfect. Because it chronicles a young boy's journey inside the halls of today's so-secret world of high school, exposing subtle ways in which we, the adults (parents and teachers), are failing our children - and how they, our children, are harming themselves - and others. Readers and those who've seen the film are all left feeling that they had a role in the story. They were the victim. They were - or had been -the bully.  Or they were the one looking the other way. Whatever the role, they all feel one other thing... that they should DO something.  Read this story, then share it and the message it contains with young people, parents and teachers...  witness for yourself how powerful it is...  it will change your life and theirs.
               The Fat Boy Chronicles

Here's the inside scoop, the behind the scenes info on the impact this story had in my hometown...  it was amazing!

Then there is the book my friend,  Willliam Forstchen,  blessed us with a couple of years ago.
Mr. Forstchen is a Professor at Montreat College in North Carolina. He received his doctorate from Purdue University with specializations in Military History, the American Civil War and the History of Technology. He is the author of more than forty books - all wonderfully written - but I must say,
this one - One Second After .... Holy Cow - what an eye-opening read!
                                                             One Second After
Not only is Mr. Forstchen a wonderful story teller, but an amazing historian as well. His way of weaving in historical similarities (and even movie recollections) that everyone can relate to only add to the impact of his story ~ a story about survival that draws us in and steals our breath. A story that describes a landscape, a shattered world, that none of us want to imagine... but we do. 
I found myself turning back to particular passages time and again and thinking, "oh-my-god... who's prepared for this?"or "Oh, he's right - THAT is the way it would happen."  This story offers the combined experience of reading a wonderful, beautifully written novel  - while sitting through a sort of final exam that is preparing you for a life changing catastrophic event... instructing you on the ways to fight for your community, your family and your life.
It changed the way I looked at things.  It made me THINK.   It'll make you think, too.
My only question is how long will it be before you go out and stock up on things like canned food, kerosene lamps, flashlights and batteries and medical supplies? How long before you make little changes in your home ... just in case.

Oh, one last thing - you can find these guys on Facebook, GoodReads, Twitter... and you'll find me following all of them!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hot weather - and how to take advantage of it.

Sitting outside for only 20 minutes and almost getting burned makes me yearn for Spring again. It also makes my now shorter sunbathing reading time all the more precious. I tend to use this time now as my "quick study" time - opting for business, new tech or current trend titles. That way I'm inspired rather than disappointed when my short little 20 minute break is over...  just slip in a bookmark and leave it on the porch 'til next time.

I've found a couple of really interesting books that I'll recommend to any individual, who like me, has little time to spare and a desire to grow and learn in every precious waking minute.

Take for instance, the following (
The Success Gurus: 17 Lessons in Greatness from the Best Minds in Business
The Success Gurus: 17 Lessons in Greatness from the Best Minds in Business
- it's not available until August but I got my hands on a copy and have really enjoyed reading it. I honestly don't know of a business person who would not benefit from the stories it contains. It's available to pre-order (or find out more about it's contents) now through the link above.

Then there's
 The Geocaching Handbook, 2nd: The Guide for Family Friendly, High-Tech Treasure Hunting
The Geocaching Handbook, 2nd Edition: The Guide for Family Friendly, High-Tech Treasure Hunting 
( , which came out a couple of months ago.
I've heard some really neat stories from friends about their experiences so I wanted to know a bit more.
This "new" type of treasure hunting has actually been going on for about a decade and invloves the use of GPS. Here's a cool book that tells you everything you need to know on how to get started - or how to become an expert at it if you're already out there hunting!

*And even better, this book is available as an ebook - just use the link above and select Google ebook.
It's easy.
(I mean, how cool is it that you can read this book and use the gps nav on the same device, WHILE treasure hunting on the beach, in the woods or a canyon??
A great example of using new tech and beginning a fun family tradition at the same time.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

I heart Hart.

Monday. The day after Mother's Day.
Hope all you mothers out there enjoyed it as much as I did.
I had such a nice weekend with family and kids and I feel so blessed. My oldest son gave me a card that made me cry. In a good way. We spent time outdoors, went out to eat, snuggled up and watched movies ~ AND I had time to read ~ which makes for a great weekend anytime.

This weekend I finished the arc of IRON HOUSE by John Hart, which hits shelves this summer.
Iron House

Let me tell you why I read this particular book.

We get boxes of advance reading copies into the store each month. I often find myself with a backlog of books lying about due to having the desire to read SO many of them. The upside of that is that there is always something within reach to read, no matter where I am - and always enough to spread out among the bookstore staff.  The downside of that is  ...well, ok  ... there's really isn't a downside! It's probably one of the best benefits of being in the book biz.
Recently, my store manager recommended I read one of the books that she had received. It happens this way every once in awhile - usually when I'm already behind and trying to finish three or four other books -when something absolutely jumps out to us about a certain book. All the other stories go on the back burner for a bit if a book can hook me in it's first page. That's what happened when Val put John Hart's book in my hand.

The reasons I immediately started reading it?
1) A North Carolina author - yay!
2) Cover blurbs from Jeffery Deaver AND Patricia Cornwell
3) The author's picture.
(ok ... I have to admit that one. The man looks intense. It made me want to read his story)
4) He hooked me on the first page.

Now I'm extremely happy to report that not one time - not in the 420+ pages of this book - was I disappointed.  (The retail hardcover copy has approx 350 pages)
I instantly bonded with the characters and wanted to learn about their storyworld.  I immediately felt passion, sympathy and curiosity. Mr. Hart stirred up all the right responses to make me want to sit myself down and READ.  It was an absolutely amazing novel and one I will personally guarantee.
I heart Hart!

Val reviewed it on Goodreads, saying "An intricate story of loss, courage, redemption, and love, juxtaposed against a story of violence, greed, and cruelty, Iron House is a must read - an absolutely stunning story of family, the ties that bind, and the power of the past."   Well, there you go.

If you like conflict - you'll  like this story.
If you like loyalty and mobsters - you'll like this story.
If you like suspense and good literature that puts you deep in North Carolina - you'll like this story.
John Hart - where have you been? (or where have I been?)

Now, if you know me, you know that I'm determined to find out more about his work after an experience like this. 
And I was thrilled to learn that this is his fourth novel -  can't wait to order up the backlist.
                The King of Lies

Down River    AND

Available as ebooks!

I found  an excerpt of one of his novels here:
I also found an interesting interview here:

Want to learn more about IRON HOUSE?

Spread the word about Mr. Hart and keep him on your radar.   I know I will.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Well, it's about time.

That's what a friend of mine said when I told her that I thought I would start blogging. So often I've found myself answering emails or calls for reading recommendations that I simply decided it would be easier if I compile a list of sure-bets... better yet - BLOG about them! I guess my friend thinks if I'm writing all my opinions and reading recommendations down for the whole world to see, then she wouldn't have to lend me her ear as often. Little did she know...
I went on to ask her of the things that interest her within the blogs that she follows. "That's easy - they give me the inside scoop on what interests me...great stories and new technology. They introduce me to today's new creators and their creations - just like you do when I come into your store. These are people online that I can connect with anytime, people I feel a likeness with... that I trust, too... even if I haven't met them. They know how to get my attention and they write interesting stuff.  I mean, for instance..."
She rambled on and on, saying a whole lot of other things but I don't think you'd find our conversation interesting enough to keep you reading my blog soooo...

Suffice it to say, I'm ready to start. There are people lost among the reading choices facing them from the shelves. Folks who have no idea of the HOURS of entertainment awaiting them once they "pick up" a new story teller or find a new series with an amazing storyworld!
I want to share:
As many reading recommendations as possible through this blog... Check
Some behind-the-author-scenes, little known story facts and off the public radar info. Check.
My knowledge about the newest of the hot new authors. Check.
Who's doing what in the content creating world. Check.
Promote great content to needy readers. Check. Check. CHECK.

There are many authors I can talk about here - and really, really hard to choose who to begin my very first blog with - but I think I'll start with Lauren Oliver, a lovely young lady whom I met a couple of years ago in NY on the sidewalk outside our hotel. She made quite an impression on me then and continues to do so. She'd just sold her first book, literally, that day.  She was so excited and promised to send me an advanced copy as soon as it went to print. And she did.

It was BEFORE I FALL  - I read it - and was totally blown away. She had written a wonderful young adult book (which I immediately saw would cross the lines of popular fiction) about a girl who would live her last day over and over... and over. Think Groundhog Day, but forget the laughs. Hers was a serious story about coming to terms with one's life - while immersing the reader into the world of your everyday, ordinary teenager and all the angst that goes with it, she pulled off a truly remarkable study of youth. BEFORE I FALL was published by Harper in 2010 and put young Oliver on the map.

Then - THEN - she released DELIRIUM in Feb 2011 (another Harper title).

In DELIRIUM, Oliver creates a world in which love is a sickness and the government enforces immunizations upon every person at a certain age. But what if you become "infected" before it's time for your shots - and the whole world is against you? Here folks, is a modern day Romeo and Juliet kind of story... a definite must-read and a 2011 Staff Pick at Fireside. *Take a peek at my first review of this book on             __________________
Delirium (Delirium, #1)Delirium by Lauren Oliver

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lauren Oliver. Remember her name because you'll be hearing it a lot. Fresh on the heels of 'BEFORE I FALL', Lauren delivers 'DELIRIUM'. Totally different and dare I say, even better (and I loved BIF). Think futuristic Romeo and Juliet... forbidden love and extreme government control. Yummy!

I am strongly suspicious that Ms. Oliver has a secret way to see inside the hearts and minds of 16-18 year olds and she certainly places the reader there with her words, in both BIF and in DELIRIUM.

This is an incredible, emotionally charged story that holds together well and steals your breath in the final pages.
Lovely writing from a fresh new voice in fiction ~ one I plan to follow.

Recommended for teen fantasy readers, high school and educator book clubs, romance fans and for any adult who wants to remember what it felt like to be young and in love... that FIRST time.
*(I heard a rumor that this might be Book #1 in a trilogy - wouldn't that be GREAT?!) Update!! YES - Delirium IS the first of three!!  More info here! 

I feel certain that Ms. Oliver is here to stay ~ she's definitely got my attention! She has AMAZING story-telling abilities and creates both refreshing and thought-provoking story worlds, drawing in readers of every age and keeping the suspense in place through the final pages in both of these books. Here's a quick link to the ebook versions - ready for immediate download!

Make a note, here's someone to watch.  I'm anxious to see just what Ms. Oliver has up her sleeve next... and I promise, as soon as I know - I'll spread the word!