Friday, February 27, 2015

Book Review: Authorpreneur by Nina Amir

If there's one thing I've realized over the past few years, it's that writing a book is only one way to earn income, and unless you're a New York Times bestseller, it doesn't necessarily pay enough to earn a living. That's where the practical advice of Nina Amir comes in--in her new book, Authorpreneur: How To Build a Business Around a Book, she painstakingly leads writers through the process of creating products and additional streams of income all tied back into the books that you create either traditionally or by self-publishing.


Like most of us, Nina Amir says she started out with the dream of just being an author. It didn't take long for her to realize she could capitalize on the information she had already researched and created by building a business tied to her books.

I personally am focused write now on finishing revisions on two YA and one MG novels, but when the times comes, I am well aware I'll have to create products and services related to those books in order to bring in extra money. While reading Authorpreneur, my mind kept wandering back to a non-fiction book proposal I wrote several years ago and pitched to exactly one agent before getting a polite rejection letter and putting in a drawer. At the time, I wasn't aware of all the self-publishing options out there. Now I realize I could produce the idea into an e-book, especially since I've already put together a mock syllabus for a related online class.

After reading Authorpreneur, I soon realized the sky's the limit--it all depends on how passionate and organized you are about you book's topic. An author has the ability to create e-books, workbooks, templates, spreadsheets, bonus material, podcasts, videos, workshops, classes, telesiminars, webinars,   speaking engagements, and so much more.

For example,  I've often wondered how some writing coaches and consultants create websites with "members only" subscriptions, and this is one of Nina's areas of expertise. She guides the reader on the best services to use and how to set up the sites based on your particular needs/wants, as well as creating mailing lists.

While the information in this book is mostly geared toward those who write non-fiction, I did find a few gems that fiction writers can also use wisely, such as this one:

"If you write fiction, you have to be creative," says Nina. "Think about crossing over into nonfiction and creating an area of expertise related to the themes and subjects in your novel."

Thanks to Authorpreneur, when my publishing dream becomes a reality, I'll be well-prepared to make the most out of my expertise and content. That's a beautiful thing.

About the Book:

You’re happiest when you’re writing. It’s what you’ve been put on this Earth to do, and you hope to one day make a living from your books. But you've probably realized how difficult it is to earn enough from book sales alone. In fact, most authors, even some New York Times bestsellers, end up having to take on outside work in order to make ends meet.

If you must do other work, why not have it be work that supports and relates to what you love—your books?

If you want to earn a living as an author, you have to think beyond your book. Not only that, think like someone who is more than an author. Think like an entrepreneur. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, just the fact that you’re writing books means you have what it takes to become an authorpreneur.

About Nina Amir:

Nina Amir, the bestselling author of How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual, is a speaker, a blogger, and an author, book, and blog-to-book coach. Known as the Inspiration to Creation Coach, she helps creative people combine their passion and purpose so they move from idea to inspired action and positively and meaningfully impact the world as writers, bloggers, authorpreneurs, and blogpreneurs. Some of Nina's clients have sold 300,000+ copies of their books, landed deals with major publishing houses and created thriving businesses around their books. She is the founder of National Nonfiction Writing Month, aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge, and the Nonfiction Writers' University.

Find out More About Nina:


Nina is giving away one copy of her book in a tour-wide giveaway through WOW! Women on Writing. Enter to win a copy by entering the Rafflecopter form below:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Review: God and Other Men: Religion, Romance, and the Search for Self-Love

I first became acquainted with Cape House Books last year when I organized a blog tour for journalist and author Lorraine Ash, in support of her spiritual memoir, Self and Soul. When Lorraine contacted me to tell me about Myrna Smith's book, God and Other Men, also published by Cape House, I had no doubt it would be as compelling and intelligently written as Self and Soul.

About God and Other Men:
On the February night her husband left, Myrna Smith felt the old demons of abandonment stir her soul. In God and Other Men, she takes us on an earnest but circuitous walk toward enlightenment, from adventures at a Japanese zendo and with Indian saints to a backwoods medium and a new lover. Eventually she glimpses the holy grail of self-acceptance but not at all in a way she expected.

About the Author:
Myrna J. Smith, EdD, is a retired professor of English and comparative religions who continues to travel and explore the world's spiritual traditions. God and Other Men is her first book.

First of all, I love the concept of God and Other Men, and think Smith did a great job organizing the narrative. Instead of being simply a story of one woman's life per se, told from childhood to the present, she begins the memoir by describing how her quest for spiritual comfort began after her marriage of 17 years dissolved. She recognizes the patterns in her life--during the times when she was fulfilled romantically, such as when she met her beloved partner Charlie, her study of religion would take a back seat. 

What endeared me most about Myrna is that she recognized her personal demons (feelings of abandonment, fear of being alone, the need to boost her self-esteem by excelling academically) and searched the meaning behind spiritual texts and her own patterns of behavior as way to better understand herself and try to improve her life. So many times those insecurities can take hold and send us down a dark and destructive path. Myrna's path was to travel to India and study under the great spiritual leaders there. She's still traveling at the age of 74-- in fact, she just returned from a month-long trip to Asia.

Myrna's strength and resiliency is something to admire in this book. She describes her feelings of inadequacy without wallowing, and she approaches her study of religions with a clear head and inquisitive mind. She embraces her international travels even when they don't always turn out as planned (she picked up intestinal parasites on her first trip to India and suffered physically for years after). Readers learn about the conflicting messages of religion she picked up from both her parents and grandmother and how she set out to explore the mystical and mysterious religions of others, such as that of her friend Ravi. I enjoyed reading about her experience with Buddhism, gurus, Christian Science, and meditation, among other experiences. I loved that she didn't just accept the traditions and customs of each religion as being the right fit for her . . . she asked questions, trusted her gut instincts and searched for the way each experience could become more enlightened, even when it pushed her out of her comfort zone. As she told herself, "You want a spiritual discipline. You can't find that by reading books. You have to have the experience."

One of the chapters focuses on the text A Course in Miracles, which is described as "a self-study spiritual thought system." I asked Myrna about how she first discovered it and here's what she had to say:

One summer after my divorce I went to Edgar Cayce’s home base in Virginia Beach for a seminar on Finding Your Soul’s Purpose. My father, who had talked so much about Edgar Cayce all of his adult life, wished he could go. I went partly to tell him what it was like and partly as a step in my own spiritual search. Several people there talked about A Course in Miracles (ACIM) as being important for spiritual seekers. I believe it was that fall Ravi gave me copies of all three of the initial publication, noting that it sounded too much like the Bible for him.

I tried to read it on my own, but it was too difficult. A month after my partner Charlie died, I began taking classes at the Open Center in New York and later to Roscoe, New York, where the late Dr. Kenneth Wapnack, the most famous teacher of ACIM, had a center.

By the time I came to ACIM I had already studied both Hinduism and Buddhism, and had come to believe the later had “the truth.” The language of ACIM is Christian, narrated by Jesus, through a channel. The thought system it presents is close to Buddhism, but is theistic, an important asset for me. 

ACIM’s process for forgiveness, different from how it is ordinarily understood, as well as its guide for relationships, have changed my life significantly.

Myrna Smith with a Buddhist guide in Bagan, Myanmar, January 2015

Paperback: 240 pages

Genre: Spiritual Memoir

Publisher: Cape House Books (October 23, 2014)


ISBN-13: 978-1939129048

God and Other Men
is available in paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CreateSpace, and Indie Bound.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Book Review: The Search for the Stone of Excalibur

Author Fiona Ingram knows how to get a reader hooked. After reaching the exciting conclusion to The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first book in her Chronicles of the Stone Series, I turned the page to find an excerpt from Book 2: The Search for the Stone of Excalibur. Of course I couldn't resist taking a peek, so I was immediately transported on Justin and Adam's adventure in their quest to find The Scroll of the Ancients and the second Stone of Power in Oxford and Scotland.

About The Search for the Stone of Excalibur:

Continuing the adventure that began in Egypt a few months prior in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, cousins Adam and Justin Sinclair are hot on the trail of the second Stone of Power, one of seven ancient stones lost centuries ago. This stone might be embedded in the hilt of a newly discovered sword that archaeologists believe belonged to King Arthur: Excalibur.

However, their long-standing enemy, Dr. Khalid, is following them as they travel to Scotland to investigate an old castle. Little do they know there is another deadly force, the Eaters of Poison, who have their own mission to complete. Time is running out as the confluence of the planets draws closer. Can Justin and Adam find the second Stone of Power and survive? And why did Aunt Isabel send a girl with them?

Join Justin and Adam as they search not only for the second Stone of Power, but also for the Scroll of the Ancients, a mysterious document that holds important clues to the Seven Stones of Power. As their adventure unfolds, they learn many things and face dangers that make even their perils in Egypt look tame. And how annoying for them that their tag-along companion, Kim, seems to have such good ideas when they are stumped.

About Fiona Ingram:
Fiona Ingram was born and educated in South Africa, and has worked as a full-time journalist and editor. Her interest in ancient history, mystery, and legends, and her enjoyment of travel resulted in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series—The Chronicles of the Stone. This was inspired by a family trip the author took with her mom and two young nephews aged ten and twelve at the time. The book began as a short story for her nephews and grew from there. The Search for the Stone of Excalibur is a treat for young King Arthur fans. Fiona is busy with Book 3 entitled The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper, set in Mexico.

While writing The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, Fiona fostered (and later adopted) a young African child from a disadvantaged background. Her daughter became the inspiration for the little heroine, Kim, in The Search for the Stone of Excalibur. Interestingly, the fictional character’s background and social problems are reflected in the book as Kim learns to deal with life. Fiona’s experiences in teaching her daughter to read and to enjoy books also inspired many of her articles on child literacy and getting kids to love reading.

Book Review:
One of the things I liked the most about The Secret of the Sacred Scarab was the unique cast of characters, and readers are introduced to even more in The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, including Kim, a young African girl Aunt Isabel sends to England with Justin and Adam while she heads to off to France to care for the injured James Kinniard. Then there's the lovable Ink Blott, his adoptive father Humphrey Biddle, and fussy (but endearing!) academic Archibald Curran. Middle-grade readers will love reading a story centered around the mysterious King Arthur and his infamous sword.

The supernatural powers Adam discovered in the first book are explained in greater detail in The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, and Ingram maintains her knack for creating creepy villains, including the return of the contemptible Dr. Khalid. From their first appearance, I was chomping at the bit to find out who the Eaters of the Poison were and how they factored into the quest. As usual, the descriptive and sensory details of the setting placed me smack in the middle of the action and perilous situations and made me longing for my own Straithairn Castle to visit. As a bonus, there's some great reading material at the end of the book on King Arthur, which should please any young history buffs wanting to know more. And of course, don't forget the teaser for the next book in the series, The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Seeking Hosts for Upcoming Blog Tours

Spring is turning out to be a busy time for author blog tours at WOW! Women on Writing. From non-fiction books to historical romance, there's plenty to attract bloggers looking for quality content and books to review. Please look over the tour information below and e-mail me at renee AT wow-womenonwritingdotcom if you are interested in hosting one (or more!) of the authors. In return, you will receive a copy of the book to read, review or giveaway to readers, as well as your blog's mention on our e-blast that goes out to 30,000 subscribers.

You are Invited!

Author Myrna J. Smith Launches her Blog Tour for God and Other Men: Religion, Romance, and the Search for Self-Love

Dates: Feb. 16 - March 13

About the Book:

Myrna Smith opens her story one Sunday night when she returns home from a ski weekend with her three children. While she was on the slopes, her husband had moved out. That had been the plan.

Yet her story, though it encompasses her divorce, is much larger. Ultimately, Smith sets out to love herself, to find an inner place where she can rest and grow.

In this search-for-the-holy-grail memoir, Smith traces her travels toward enlightenment as a middle-aged American woman with a wry humor and heartfelt longing. On the journey she discovers spiritual fulfillment doesn’t come easily, or all at once. For her, it is quite elusive.

The quest really started, she realizes, in her childhood on an Oregon farm where she and her older sister were once “converted” in their father’s pea patch by two young Bible summer school teachers barely out of their teens. The school was part of the tiny church their mother attended while their father stayed home, read Edgar Cayce books, and mused on reincarnation.

Later, drawn by the mysticism of the Hindus, Smith’s journey leads to Bangalore where she touches the robes of Sai Baba, the Indian saint. Back home in New Jersey, she finds herself in a country farm- house getting prescriptions channeled through a medium for every- thing from her back woes and diarrhea to an obsession with money.

She also writes of the demons that surface during a years-long love affair with her beloved Charlie and what A Course in Miracles stirred within her.

Smith’s story is one of adventure and effort that, in the end, reveals three simple yet essential truths that are both the journey and the destination.

Publisher: Cape House Books

About Myrna J. Smith:

Myrna J. Smith, EdD, is a retired professor of English and comparative religions who continues to travel and explore the world’s spiritual traditions. God and Other Men is her first book.

Praise for God and Other Men: Religion, Romance, and the Search for Self-Love:

“Never has Myrna J. Smith accept- ed trite or dubious solutions to her soul’s deepest yearnings. The result is a lifetime of tested and practiced wisdom, culled from all the great philosophical traditions of the world and the hard-won lessons of her own heart. This book tells the whole tale in language that never veers from the elegant.”

—Elizabeth Gilbert
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

“My Princeton Theological Semi- nary education can’t hold a candle to this exploration of the world’s religions and paranormal sources of spiritual truth.”

—the Rev. Dr. Susan Alloway
Presbyterian Church (USA)

Available Dates: Feb. 17, 20, 23, 24, 26, 27,

March 2, 3, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12

Guest Post Topics:

Writing Topics

• Writing from the Mature Point of View
  • How Reading Spiritual Texts and Stories Influence My Writing

Non-Writing Topics

• Being in the presence of love: Zdenko Arsenijvevic could heal and perceive unseen color, but his best aspect was the love that emanated from him to his students and clients.

• Living with an Indian guru: Tapoguna Maharaj led an ordinary life but was not at the whims of the body. (Smith lives in his ashram lived for two months in India.

• Studying with Kenneth Wapnack: The late Kenneth Wapnack, the foremost teacher of A Course in Miracles, worked with the scribe of the Course and helped bring it into print. Smith took classes with him over two years, and was amazed by his compassion while never moving away from the difficult principles of the Course, mainly that we are never a victim.

• Traveling alone or in groups: Smith has traveled to India five times, three times by herself. She will be spending two weeks alone in Vietnam in January. Smith has also gone in partially organized small groups to Indonesia and Thailand, and to China on a regular tour.

• Traveling and/or taking classes when you're in your 70's. Smith is 74 and is taking a five-week trip to Asia, mostly on her own, although she will be traveling with one person the first two weeks.

Myrna is also available for interviews.

Author M. Shannon Hernandez Launches Her Blog Tour for Breaking the Silence: My Final 40 Days a Public School Teacher

Dates: March 9 through April 3

About Breaking the Silence:

America’s public school system is broken and M. Shannon Hernandez knows why, firsthand. After fifteen years in the teaching profession, three gut-wrenching realizations forced her to recognize that she must leave the career she loved so dearly. She knew that if she continued to work for a failing system, she would also continue to lose a little piece of her heart and soul every day.

You are invited into Hernandez’s classroom for the final forty days of her teaching career to understand the urgent need for school reform, clearly demonstrated in each story. You’ll witness the intelligence, vulnerability, and humanity of her students, and the challenges teachers like Hernandez face as they navigate the dangerous waters between advocating for and meeting students’ needs, and disconnected education policy.

This book is not only a love letter to her students, her fellow teachers, and to the reformed public school system she envisions, but also a heartfelt message of hope, encouragement, and self-empowerment for those who feel they are stuck in soul-sucking careers. It is an essential read for each citizen who is seeking a life comprised of more purpose and happiness, as well as parents, teachers, administrators, and policymakers who know our nation’s education system is in desperate need of an overhaul.

About the Author:

M. Shannon Hernandez is the founder of The Writing Whisperer, and her mission is to help heart-centered entrepreneurs and heart-centered authors find their brand voices, share their unique stories, gain more visibility, establish themselves as experts, and create authentic marketing messages, all through the use of smart content strategy and engaging copywriting. The Writing Whisperer was named one of Top 100 Websites for Writers by The Write Life in both 2014 and 2015, and Shannon has been featured as a content strategy and copywriting expert on many prominent podcasts and websites. She is a leading voice in the world of authentic business writing and heart-centered education reform, and she writes regularly for The Huffington Post. Shannon’s memoir, Breaking the Silence, chronicles her exit out of public education, after 15 years, and provides readers an intimate view of her journey to business ownership, finding happiness, and reinvention.

Guest Post Topics:

Education related:

Love: The Missing Ingredient in Public Education Reform

Why Student-Centered Public Education Reform Must Become THE Priority

Changing Lives Across the Country, One Page at a Time OR Chaining Lives Across the Country, One Podcast at a Time

Writing related:

Reinvent Your Life—One Journal Entry at a Time

How Becoming an Author Made Me a Better Person

How to Write a Memoir that Creates a Movement OR How to Write a World-Changing Memoir

5 Signs You Should Invest in a Memoir Writing Coach

Reinvention (of life/career) related:

Having the Courage to Live a Truly Audacious Life

From School Teacher to Business Owner—In 4 Months Flat

How My Life Improved After 15 Days of Saying “No”

Behind the Scenes of a Heart-Centered Entrepreneur

Available Dates:

March 10, 11, 12, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31

April 1, 2, 3

Shannon is also available for interviews.

Author Karen Mann Launches Her Blog Tour for Historical Romance Novel, The Woman of LaMancha

Dates: March 16 through April 10

About The Woman of La Mancha:

The Woman of La Mancha, a companion book to Don Quixote, tells the woman’s story of Don Quixote by recounting the story of the girl he called Dulcinea, the woman he loved from afar.

It’s 1583. An eleven-year-old girl wakes in the back of a cart. She has lost her memory and is taken in by a kindly farm family in La Mancha. She adopts the name Aldonza. She doesn’t speak for quite some time. Once she speaks, there is a family member who is jealous of her and causes a good deal of trouble, even causing her to be forced to leave La Mancha in tragic circumstances. Having to create a new life in a new location and still unaware of her birth family, she adopts the name Dulcinea and moves in the circles of nobility. While seeking her identity, she becomes the consort of wealthy men, finds reason to disguise herself as a man, and leans herbal healing to help others.

There is a parallel story of a young man, Don Christopher, a knight of King Philip and the betrothed of the girl, who sets off on with a young squire, Sancho, to find the girl. Christopher’s adventures takes them across Spain and forces him to grow up. Does he continue the quest to find his betrothed or marry another and break the contract with the king.

Both young people have many experiences and grow up before the readers’ eyes. Floating in and out of each other’s paths as they travel around Spain, will they eventually find each other and be together?

About the Author:
Karen Mann is the Administrative Director of the brief-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program at Spalding University in Louisville ( of which she is also the co-founder. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in various anthologies. Her second book, The Saved Man: The First Century, is available as an ebook on Amazon. After having lived in Indiana most of her life, she now lives in California.

Guest Post Topics:

Research for an Historical Novel: How to Begin and End
Writing about Places You’ve Never Been
What Does Don Quixote Tell Us About Modern Times?
The Fun Part of Revision
Using a Spreadsheet to Keep Track of Your Characters
Find Yourself a Writing Community
Low-residency VS. Traditional MFA in Writing
Got an Idea for a Novel? How to Get Started
Homeschooling: A Literature Course for Middle Grades
Available Dates:

March 17, 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31

April 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9 ,10

Author D.A. Russell Launches His Blog Tour for Lifting the Curtain: The Disgrace We Call Urban High School Education (2nd Edition)
Dates: March 23 - April 17

About the Book:

The 2nd edition of the acclaimed look at today's failed education system -- with dozens of teacher submissions from across the USA and nine new chapters! Both KIRKUS and CLARION praise this important book "...from the unique perspective of a classroom teacher" that shows the real problems that have destroyed the education of our children. Few parents or legislators have any chance of seeing the real state of education in our urban schools. It is a shameful disaster -- unlike anything that we, as parents, experienced just 15-20 years ago. The real problems stay largely unseen, because career DoE bureaucrats and school administration are extremely good at hiding their failed policies behind the curtain of the school entryway. In Lifting the Curtain, Russell provides a detailed look at urban high school education from inside the classroom, including three years of research, and the first ever major survey of what students and teachers think of the educational system. If we want a real solution for our children, then for once we must focus on the real problems, the ones carefully hidden behind the educational curtain.

About D.A. Russell:

D. A. Russell has spent the last ten years as a math teacher in one of the urban high schools that is the subject of Lifting the Curtain. He is an honors graduate of Dartmouth College, and has his master’s degree from Simon School, where he was valedictorian of his class. Russell is a decorated Vietnam veteran. He has two children that he treasures, and four grandchildren. His son is a police officer who served in the US Army in Afghanistan, earning a Bronze Star for valor. His daughter is a lawyer and his most passionate fan and honorary literary agent. Russell has a passion for children that dominates his life. He has taught and coached children for decades. Few things are more important in Russell’s view than to cherish the children who are our real treasures in this world. He is a contributor for education matters to the Huffington Post, and runs a personal blog at: dedicated to letting teacher voices be heard in the real problems with education.

Available Dates: 
March 24, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31

April 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17




Guest Post Topics:
  • Standardized testing focus in schools
  • The value of PDPs
  • Bullying and intimidation by school administrators
  • Specific DoE mandates that undermine the ability to teach
  • Duties of teachers not related to the curricula
  • The loss of arts and elective courses in schools
  • The pressure to pass children
  • Qualifications and management experience of school administrators
Russell is also available for interviews.