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The Stories Behind Our Books, an interview with Lois W. Stern


The Stories Behind Our Books

What Is Your Back Story?

Guest post by Lois W. Stern

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basLois. you have been a guest blogger here several times before, but as a quick intro, I’ll just say that you are an author, editor, presenter, marketer and innovator. Your title for this blog post really grabbed my attention. You are inviting our readers to tell their back stories. So please explain. What exactly do you mean by back stories?

lois_charli3_lite_blueBette, as authors we work so hard to polish our stories to perfection, often working for years before our manuscripts go to press. Hopefully, our readers enjoy the fruits of our labors; but as a presenter, I find that my audiences often find my back stories particularly compelling. So I share little back stories about what propelled me to begin my Tales2Inspire project. Why it was important to me to do this. How I went about the process. What challenges I faced along the way. If I had any cheering squad of supporters or any naysayers of non-support, and how they affected me as I pursued my dreams.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basSo now it seems you are inviting other authors to share the back stories to their books?

 

lois_charli3_lite_blueYes, that’s right Bette. And I’m hoping that we can select a number of their stories to appear right here on this blog. Does that work for you?

 

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basLove that idea, Lois. Let’s go for it! For those of you who don’t know Lois yet, she is the creator of Tales2Inspire, an ‘Authors Helping Authors’ project/contest. Suppose you tell us a bit about the back story to your Tales2Inspire books. For openers, what propelled you to begin this project?

lois_charli3_lite_blueActually, my first full length book had nothing to do with inspiring stories, Bette. Its title, Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery, was a ground-breaker in many ways. (It even merited a few paragraphs on a front page of the Sunday Style section of the NY Times.) I secured a contract with a NYC agent, but despite a lot of publisher interest, ultimately they all turned it down. Why? Word was that I didn’t have a strong enough platform, and I didn’t even know the meaning of that word at the time!) That’s just the first part of my back story, the wake-up call to the state of traditional publishing today and my search for alternate paths to publication.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basWow, Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery sounds about as far from inspirational stories as you can get! How did that transition happen?

lois_charli3_lite_blueActually, it wasn’t a transition at all, Bette, just another side to my personality. I always loved inspiring stories, was drawn to them with an almost magnetic force. I even started a column for a New York webzine that I titled Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives several years before writing Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery. I have a passion for sharing uplifting stories about good people and wonderful happenings because we rarely read about them. It seems that stories of heinous crimes and violence dominate the news.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basWe sure could use more uplifting stories in today’s world, so I understand your passion for writing inspiring stories. But why did you open up Tales2Inspire to other authors and turn it into a contest?

lois_charli3_lite_blueGood question, Bette, and the one I’m asked most often. After my letdown experience with traditional publishing, I began to think, this must be happening to many other authors, talented authors who are never given a chance because they lack that elusive author platform. That’s when I began to envision creating an alternate path for all of us, seeking ways to help strengthen our opportunities for discovery and name recognition.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basIt sounds like initiating this Tales2Inspire contest was just a seed of an idea in 2012. My guess is that you never dreamed it would grow in such strength and numbers as it has.

lois_charli3_lite_blueYou are absolutely right, Bette. Tales2Inspire is like a dream come true for me. I have self-published five Tales2Inspire books filled with amazing stories from an incredibly talented group of authors.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basI bet readers would be interested in the back story to how you spread the word? Did you meet any naysayers along the way?

lois_charli3_lite_blueI sure did! I first introduced Tales2Inspire on some of the LinkedIn writers’ groups, and ran into a few skeptics who challenged me every step of the way. I can think of one person whose comments were so nasty that I felt like bopping him over the head. But when that happens, you really have to take a deep breath and step back. It would be the kiss-of-death to become confrontational and feed into that negativity. So I would say something like, “I’m so sorry about the misunderstanding. Let me give you a little more information to help allay some of your concerns.”

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basIt takes a lot of diplomacy when your back is pushed to the wall. What about supporters? Can you name anyone in particular?

lois_charli3_lite_blueYes, Dan Poynter, an extremely successful self-published author and author advocate, whose newsletter had a subscription base of many hundreds of thousands. I had met Dan at several writer conferences. When I spoke to him about my project, he encouraged me to write up a blurb for his newsletter. What a difference that made! The spread was enormous. I have received winning stories from South Africa, Australia, England, Canada and from across the United States, all because of Dan. And having information about Tales2Inspire appear in his newsletters certainly gave my project an air of legitimacy.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basSounds like Dan is the guardian angel every author hopes for!

 

 

lois_charli3_lite_blueYou’re right, Bette, but unfortunately now we have to use the past tense. Dan passed on several months ago, but his legacy lives on.

 

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basBeautifully put, Lois. I think readers might like the back story to why you call Tales2Inspire a project as well as a contest.

lois_charli3_lite_blueI work feverishly to find new and innovative ways to strengthen my winning authors’ platforms, to give them many diverse opportunities for discovery. And I involve them in the judging phase of this contest. It’s all explained on my website at www.tales2inspire.com.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basFinally, I think our readers would be interested in your answer to this one front story question. What is the theme of your next contest and what are the entry criteria.

lois_charli3_lite_blueThis theme of this next contest is ‘inspiring animal stories’, subtitled Stories in Feathers and Fur. It’s underway right now and for any of your readers who are interested, or simply faintly curious, all the guidelines and submission details appear on my website at www.tales2inspire.com. And I guess I should mention that it is FREE. There are no submission fees to enter this contest.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basThank you, Lois, for a fascinating interview.

And now, readers, we’d love to hear from you. How about sending us the back stories to your books.

lois_charli3_lite_blueMy pleasure, Bette.

Before I say goodbye, I would like to offer your readers a gift —a FREE sampler of Tales2Inspire published stories. Just click on http://tales2inspire.com/?page_id=804 and it will be yours!

 

 My Author Links:

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

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THE TANGRAM ZOO & WORD PUZZLES TOO!


The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too! was written and illustrated by Bette A. Stevens (1st Edition published by Windswept House, Mt. Desert, ME in 1997) as an educational  resource to use in her classroom. Kids, teachers and families are still raving about this book.

“Awesome and Creative!” ~ S.B.

“These were fun, so I wish there had been more pages.”
~ Ocean Breeze

“The animal shapes are fun and the riddles are great too.
Don’t worry the answers are in the book so you will
not get stuck trying to figure them out.”

~ David M. Howard, author

“A great tutoring resource. I would highly recommend
it as a teaching aid for parents or tutors.

~ Charles Bray, educator and author

For hours of creative learning at home
and in the classroom, visit
THE TANGRAM ZOO and WORD PUZZLES TOO!

Kids will learn how to make their own tangrams

  • Solve tangram puzzles
  • Solve rhyming riddles
  • Create their own creatures & riddles
    to add to THE ZOO…

TZ Flamingo Pages

TZ Cover BW

 

 

  • Get the kids out of that boredom slump with THE TANGRAM ZOO by Bette A. Stevens—a great resource for home or school. Puzzles, poetry, reading, research, writing & projects too! (ages 5–adult)
  • Looking for some Classroom or Family Fun with the kids or grandkids? Need some quality together time on a rainy or snowy day?
  • Solve 18 puzzles and riddles, make your own tangram puzzle pieces; then write your own riddles and add your creatures to THE ZOO!
    Solutions and project ideas included.

Visit THE TANGRAM ZOO AND WORD PUZZLES TOO! written and illustrated by Maine author/illustrator. Paperback only $6.99 for hours of creative learning and hands-on fun. Get your copy at YOUR AMAZON today!

4Books BW Border BAS

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

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Author Sherri Rabinowitz: Finding My Path to Memoir


Author Sherri Rabinowitz has just released her first non-fiction book entitled Entering My Second Half. Today, you’ll get to meet my multi-talented friend, find out how she stepped out of her fiction-writing-comfort-zone to write a memoir, and then you’ll read a humorous excerpt from her latest book. I couldn’t keep from smiling at Sherri’s charming retelling of an unexpected meeting with Mr. Garner (that’s right—Hollywood celebrity James Garner) at Universal Studios, where employees got around the lot via golf carts, when Sherri was 16 years old. I clicked over to Amazon and downloaded a copy of Sherri’s new book to my kindle. I know you’ll enjoy today’s excerpt. ~ Bette A. Stevens http://www.4writersandreaders.com

Finding My Path to Memoir

Guest post by Sherri Rabinowitz

10409783_803245753049352_3893712058043773424_nWhen I was about to hit 50 years old it seemed like I was heading straight for a brick wall. I could feel so many things changing in my life. It felt like the end of the world. So I did what I usually do when I have issues, I wrote in my journal and tried to figure out what was going on in my pointed little head.

The first thing I did was write two columns on a piece of paper, the good things I have done in my life and the bad. The first piece of good news was that my good column was far longer than my bad. Whew! But then as I read all I had done, the places I have been, the people I have met, what I had accomplished I thought, this might make a good book.

At first I was thinking of fictional and I did use some bits of it in one or two of my books; but as I continued writing in my diary, I thought it would be good therapy to write a memoir. I had never written non-fiction and I was (I still am, really) scared out of my wits to tackle non-fiction. I am a fiction writer after all, what on Earth did I know about non-fiction?

But it is my life and who is an expert on my life? Just me. I also thought about the fact that I have tackled other things that I was scared of—acting, writing, hosting a radio show…. none of these things came easily to me. I am, believe it or not, a shy person who continues to do what I do because of a weird drive that is within me. So I thought this would be another challenge, another adventure.

Well this little adventure took four years to write and it was not easy. Whole chunks were put in and taken out. I had to worry about things I never really worried about when writing fiction so it was not an easy transition but it was ultimately satisfying, I am proud of my life and my story. My biggest hope is that some of the lessons I learned will help others, and inspired them to try new and scary things too.

Read an excerpt

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from ENTERING MY SECOND HALF by Sherri Rabinowitz

Over the hill came my hero in a golf cart. To my astonishment it was none other than James Garner. “What are you doing here all alone?”

I quietly explained it to him. He told me to get in the golf cart. I was 16 years old, but I looked like I was 13. I was often asked on the tour if I was old enough to be working there and where are my parents?  I think Mr. Garner thought I was younger than I actually was, but he insisted that I get into the golf cart so he could take me back to civilization. To me, he was Rockford and Maverick, so I did what I was told.

We chatted amicably about school, my ambitions, the little theater and how excited I was to meet him. He was sweet, friendly and to be frank—quite fatherly. I think he had children my age and probably felt protective of anyone my age.  He really reminded me of my Dad so I trusted him. We got to the toll booth, which was my base, and he said I should stay in the cart.

Then he went into the tollbooth and really gave it to my boss: How dare he leave a child out in the middle of nowhere? How could you leave her there without a car or walkie-talkie? Anything could have happened to her. It was quite loud because I could clearly hear him in his cart.

My boss said they didn’t have walkie-talkies and that I was just sixteen and didn’t have a car yet. But Mr. Garner was not accepting that. He said that it was dangerous; he said he didn’t want anyone up there without a car or a means of communication.

Then he came out to me and said I wasn’t in trouble. That I would only be assigned to jobs in the parking lot or in the studio. I thanked him and then I meekly came into the toll booth.

Ross, my boss, smiled and told me, “It’s not your fault.”  And from that day on I was assigned crowd control inside the tour. Thank you Mr. Garner.

Years later, James Garner was at the Universal Sheraton. I worked and lived near there so I went to the gym at the Sheraton. He was promoting the new Rockford Files. (A young Renee O’Connor co- starred in one of them) I went up to him and asked for an autograph. And I asked if he remembered me. He said that I looked familiar. I told him about the story and he smiled replying, “That sounds like me. Well you grew up to be a lovely young woman.” I blushed, and said thank you. Then I was on cloud nine for about a week.
###

full cover of my bookTake a “Look Inside” ENTERING MY SECOND HALF at http://www.amazon.com/Entering-Second-Half-Sherri-Rabinowitz-ebook/dp/B015T985JO/

Other books by Sherri Rabinowitz

  • Murder Inc. —Alex Bennett led a double life. She was known the world over as the highly successful founder of a toy software company. But she was also the head of the infamous Murder, Inc. A situation she didn’t want but felt an obligation to fulfill.
  • Fantasy Time Inc.—Readers follow Anne on a trip to the pre-Civil War South with her client, Heather, who wants to be Scarlett O’Hara, the belle of the ball. But Anne warns her, she cannot alter the past, or it will alter the time line, and that is against the rules. But when Anne meets Morgan, will she break those rules herself? Or is the dashing man, her destiny?
  • Different Is Beautiful—Sherri Rabinowitz and Anja Gruber have found a unique way to encourage self-esteem in little ones while helping them develop a sense of appreciation and respect for everyone and everything in the world around them. A portion of the profits from this book will go to Anti-Bullying Charities.

Find Sherri Rabinowitz

Dear Readers,

Thank you for stopping by for a visit today. Sherri and I look forward to reading your comments on today’s post.

Happy reading and writing,

Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

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861. The pen is the tongue of the mind.~Miguel de Cervantes


Write on! ~ Bette A. Stevens http://www.4writersandreaders.com

Sacred Touches

Keep a diary and
one day it’ll keep you.
~Mae West

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It is necessary to write, if the days are not
to slip emptily by. How else, indeed,
to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?
For the moment passes, it is forgotten;
the mood is gone; life itself is gone.
That is where the writer scores over his fellows:
he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.
~Vita Sackville-West

However we go about the process, I believe those of us who write do find it necessary to do so. Perhaps, it’s because “clapping the net over the butterfly of the moment” helps define who we are for ourselves before “life itself is gone” and perhaps to help us know how who and what we are matters in the world. Whatever the reason, as tired as I am, I felt the need to put my fingers…

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Writing Advice From Stephen King


If you haven’t read ON WRITING by Stephen King, you’re not only missing out on a great story, you’re missing some great advice as well. Happy Reading & Writing! :) Bette A. Stevens at http://www.4writersandreaders.com

Jens Thoughts

I found this and absolutely had to share!

Stephen

Keep writing!

Until Next Time…

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A Day Away, Plus a Poem for May by Bette A. Stevens


Moose Point & Poem 2015 basClick on the photo to enlarge

An Author’s Day Away

How does this Central Maine writer like to kickback and relax? A day trip to the coast is most welcome every now and then. And, it’s bound to be inspiring.

The forecast was perfect—60s and sunny with a coastal spring breeze. We packed the car (jackets/coffee/snacks) and headed south along The Moosehead Trail (Route 7 from Newport to Belfast), then east over Head of Tide Road to meet Route 1, where we drove north to Searsport to enjoy one of our favorite spots—Moose Point State Park. This coastal gem is the perfect spot to savor an afternoon picnic, revel in the views of Penobscot Bay, climb its rock-bound shore and trek the trails through an awe spruce forest. Ah, the magic of Maine!

Thanks for hopping on board, friends. What’s your favorite spot to enjoy on a day away?

~ Bette A. Stevens

Back to Bette’s Blog

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685. Man is a knot into which relationships are tied. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


Why MUST we tell our stories? ~ Bette A. Stevens http://www.4writersandreaders.com

Sacred Touches

Someone to tell it to
is one of the fundamental
needs of human beings.
~Miles Franklin

Screen shot 2015-03-27 at 9.51.20 PM

Have you ever pondered why we, any of us, blog? Or write books? Or pen poetry? Or compose music? Or draw? Or paint? I have and I think the quote above by Miles Franklin hits the proverbial nail squarely on the head. We, who pour out our lives or thoughts or passions or joys or hurts or whatever in some way, do in fact appear to have some compelling and fundamental need to do so. Emily Dickinson added another aspect to this idea when she described it, “as a shelter to speak” to some trusted other in her life. Like her, many of us, I believe, find not only great comfort but also a kind of self-soothing safety when we, individually or collectively, find ways to express ourselves to those we come to trust and…

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Top Writing Tools of Famous Authors


For me it’s my laptop + assorted gel pens and highlighters. HOW ABOUT YOU? ~ Bette A. Stevens

Nicholas C. Rossis

My secret weapon is using a two screen layout for my PC. This allows me to work on the story on one monitor, while researching on the other. If you’re curious as to what writing tools great authors prefer, you may refer to the excellent infographic below, which was prepared by Robert Morris and the lovely people over at NinjaEssays.com. So, what is your favorite tool?

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

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Writespiration #32


Writespiration #32.

Here’s what I think.  How about you?

LOVE Inspiration Challenge

Nothing Better than Love

Love is an ice cream sundae on a summer’s day—
Vanilla ice cream topped with hot fudge, walnuts, whipped cream and a cherry.
Love is grandchildren squealing with delight as they say,
“Mmmmm. I love you, Grandma!”

~ Bette A. Stevens

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Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers


Awesome advice from one of the greats! ~ Bette A. Stevens

Jens Thoughts

CA: Premiere Of Paramounts' Remake Of "The Manchurian Candidate" - ArrivalsWant to know what Stephen King says about writing?

1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”

2. Don’t use passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”

3. Avoid adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend.”

4. Avoid adverbs, especially after “he said” and “she said.”

5. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar. “The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story.”

6. The magic is in you. “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.”

7. Read, read, read. ”If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time…

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