All posts by sharonledwith

World War Reads for Tweens…

November is a month of change, remembering, and gratitude. Beginning with leaves departing from their branches to leave the skeletal remains of the tree behind, to celebrating All Saints Day on November 1st, followed by Remembrance Day or Veteran’s Day on November 11th, and ending with American families giving thanks for food, family, and football on Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday of November. What prompted me to write this post was the fact that many of the war veterans from the two World Wars have passed on. Oh, there’s plenty of movies out there depicting the hell our soldiers and the civilians went through during those horrific wars, but many are not that kid friendly. This got me to thinking: What books have been written to teach our children about what people went through during those two world wars? So, I did a little digging and came up with these six gems for tweens:

charlie-wilcoxCharlie Wilcox by Sharon E. McKay

Charlie Wilcox, a Newfoundlander, is interested in one thing only: going to sea, just like his father and uncles. He’ll make his family proud. His parents have different plans for him, however: they want him to go to university. Humiliated, Charlie sets out to prove he can measure up to the men in his family, and stows away on a sealing ship. It’s only when they are far out to sea, and he is discovered, that he realizes he’s on a troopship bound for France!

Alone in Europe, he manages as best he can. He finds a regiment of fellow Newfoundlanders, and because he’s too young to fight he works as a stretcher bearer instead. The trenches along the front lines of the Somme are no place for anyone, but especially for a kid, and it’s very hard not to be afraid. Especially on the morning of July 1, 1916, when Charlie’s friends are ordered out of their trenches and over the top, and the German guns are waiting for them…

War Horse by Michael Morpurgowar_horse

In 1914, Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges toward the enemy, witnessing the horror of the battles in France. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey’s courage touches the soldiers around him and he is able to find warmth and hope. But his heart aches for Albert, the farmer’s son he left behind. Will he ever see his true master again?

nightflyersNight Flyers (Mysteries Through Time) by Elizabeth McDavid Jones

In 1918, caring for her family’s homing pigeons while her father is away fighting in World War I, twelve-year-old Pam comes to suspect that a mysterious stranger in her small North Carolina town is a German spy.

 

 

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boynebook_cover

Berlin, 1942: When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

hero-on-a-bicycleHero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes

Florence, Italy, 1944: The city is under heavy Nazi occupation, but for thirteen-year-old Paolo, war is a long and boring wait. Too young to fight for the resistance, yet desperate for action and adventure, he sneaks out each night to ride his bicycle along the darkened city streets. For Paolo, the risk is thrilling.

But when he is accosted by Partisans―covert members of the anti-Nazi movement―thrilling quickly becomes dangerous as Paolo and his family are thrust into a terrifying and impossible situation. Finally at the center of the action, Paolo must figure out once and for all whether he has what it takes to truly be a hero.

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s the-diary-of-anne-frankremarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit.

In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annex” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death.

In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

Those are only a smattering of what books are out there on World War One and World War Two for tweens. Some of these books I’ve heard of, others I haven’t. Some have even been made into movies. I don’t think this generation will ever know what the veterans and victims of the two world wars went through, but by creating an emotional response in a young reader, it’s a step in the right direction to connect them with the brave men and women who served and sacrificed during those terrible wars.

tkdscover500Here’s a peek at the newest book in my young adult time travel adventure series, The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, set in Amsterdam during World War Two…

Fourteen year-old Jordan Jensen always considered himself a team player on and off the field, until the second Timekeeper mission lands him in Amsterdam during World War Two. Pulled into the world of espionage, torture, and intolerance, Jordan and the rest of the Timekeepers have no choice but to do whatever they can to stay one step ahead of the Nazis in order to find and protect a mysterious book.

With the help of the Dutch Resistance, an eccentric baron, Nordic runes, and an ancient volume originating from Atlantis, Jordan must learn that it takes true teamwork, trust, and sacrifice to keep time safe from the evils of fascism. Can Jordan find the hero within to conquer the darkness surrounding the Timekeepers? If he doesn’t, then the terrible truth of what the Nazis did will never see the light of day.

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel adventure series, THE Sharon Ledwith HeadshotLAST TIMEKEEPERS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercise, and anything arcane. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, and GOODREADS. Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

Tackling Titillating Taglines…

Hit your readers hard with a great tagline
Hit your readers hard with a great tagline

You need to hit readers hard, blindside them with an awesome tagline in order to grab their attention. I cannot overestimate the importance of this. Your tagline, blurb and excerpt are the most important sales tools you have for your book. Choose them wisely.

Every author wants people to read their book, right? Well, they aren’t going to find your book unless you put it out there and MAKE them want to read it. Throwing away your tagline and blurb is just like taking your book and throwing it off a bridge in the hopes that someone will fish it out of the ocean, find it, and think it’s great. So let’s go over developing a tagline that will make readers care enough to pick up your book and purchase it.

A tagline is—or should be—one of the simplest things to create. A tagline is—plain and simply—a one sentence summation of the theme of your book. Something quick and catchy. If you’re moving on through publishing by attending conferences and conventions, a tagline is similar to what is called an elevator pitch. What you want to do is to catch a reader’s—or an agent’s or an editor’s—attention with a one-sentence description.

Remember, a PITCH and a TAGLINE are two different things. A PITCH is to get someone to buy your book with the intent to publish it. A TAGLINE is to get someone anonymous, in a bookstore or online, to buy your book to READ it. So your tagline should be about your BOOK.

Here’s the tagline for the first book in my middle grade/young adult time travel series, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis:

“Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.”

Is it the best tagline ever? Nope, probably not. But it tells the reader exactly what the theme of the book is. Look at the points it covers—what it tells you about the book. What does that tagline cover?

Children. Keys. Future. Hope. Past.

That’s the purpose of a tagline and how to make it work for you. Therefore—homework lesson number one. Sit down and READ your book. You may think you know what it’s about, but if you’re a writer like me—you don’t. READ IT. As you read, jot down notes to yourself. One. Word. Notes. Hit the high points of your book. What themes, what high points do you think sell your book? No—even simpler: what tags or key words are IN your book? Because those are what will sell your book. Readers don’t always know what they’re looking for in something to read. Your tagline will give them clues.

A few examples of great taglines:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – It takes a graveyard to raise a child.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner – Remember. Survive. Run.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson – Two lives are bridged – and nothing will be the same.

Do you see what all of these taglines have in common? They titillated enough readers to become bestsellers.

So that’s your first job after your book is written. To sit down and read your book, and to pull a tagline from it. And this is where the elevator pitch and the tagline come together. In an elevator pitch, you’ve got maybe thirty seconds to gain the interest of an editor or an agent—just as long as it takes the elevator to get to their floor. With a reader, you have your book cover and one sentence—just one sentence—to convince them to click through and read more. You cannot afford to throw that chance away. So a tagline that’s trite or vague or boring cannot be an option.

Here’s a sneak peek at the tagline for the next book in my time travel series, The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret set to be released on October 17th 2016:

“Only a true hero can shine the light in humanity’s darkest time.”

Sharon Ledwith HeadshotSharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercise, and anything arcane. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, and GOODREADS. Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

Engineering Exciting Excerpts…

image:self-editing.net
image:self-editing.net

The task of engineering exciting excerpts is actually easy for a writer. You’ve already written it.  Now you just have to find it. An excerpt is typically 500 words, and for a short story about 200-250 words. The advice I have is general—pick an excerpt from the first third of your book. Told you it was easy! Although very rarely does that mean that you need to copy and paste the first five hundred words of your story and call it a day. For a short story? Yes—that’s exactly what you do. But not a novel.

Why, you ask?  Well, that’s inherent in the differences between long and short fiction. A successful short story begins with a strong hook. In order to sell a short story, you have to pull the reader in from the very first sentence. With a novel, the creation of the story comes along with a more deliberate pace. With a novel, you want to select a scene that sets up the story and above all makes the reader want to read MORE.

In other words—a cliff hanger.

Say you’re writing a young adult romance novel. A good choice for any YA romance novel excerpt is a scene between the heroine and the hero. A first meeting, perhaps. A confrontation. The moment when the heroine first realizes that there’s something different about this guy.

Say you’re writing a middle grade fantasy novel. Pick a scene that jump starts the action. A fight. The moment when the hero realizes that he or she has a purpose to fulfill. The moment when everything changes.

Once you’ve decided on a scene, the real skill comes into play. You need to pick the moment of that scene where the reader absolutely has to know what happens next. And if the reader wants to know, what does he or she have to do? Buy the book. Which is, of course, the point.

So that’s the kind of scene you want to choose for your excerpt.  And here’s another little hint, too—if you DON’T have a moment like this in your book, then you have some work to do. Every good story should have a moment like this—several in fact. That’s how you want to end a chapter, a POV section. That’s a real cliffhanger—the excerpt, the paragraph, the SENTENCE that forces the reader to turn the page. The moment that the reader thinks, “Well, one more chapter won’t hurt. I’ll just read a little while longer.” That moment is the holy grail for every story in existence. This is how writers should approach every excerpt they choose.

And one last thing—wait to pick your excerpt until an editor has gone through it with you and cleaned it up. The absolute worst thing that can happen here is for spelling and grammar errors to make it through to publication. Your excerpt, like your blurb is part of your sales strategy. You can’t sell a car if the engine doesn’t work, right?  Well, technique—grammar, spelling, structure—is the writer’s engine.  It doesn’t matter how great your story is, it’s not going to run unless those techniques are there and sharp.

Sharon Ledwith HeadshotSharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercise, and anything arcane. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, TUMBLR, and GOODREADS. Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

Blurb Blinging 101…

blingBlurbs. Stop groaning. You know you need one to help promote and market your book. And if you do up a blurb correctly, have an eye-catching cover, and wrote a great story, then you’ve done your job. The blurb is one of the most important marketing tools in getting your book ready for publication. In fact, you’ve already got a version of your blurb done—the synopsis in your query letter is essentially the same thing as a blurb. Here again, though, there are some significant differences. With a query letter, you’re relating the entire plot. With a blurb, you want to entice the reader—to get them engaged with your story so they can come along as you unravel the plot for them. So here again—while the forms look very similar, their purpose is quite different.

Here’s a surefire method to develop a quick, cohesive blurb. THINK THREE PARAGRAPHS. In the FIRST paragraph, introduce your main character. Now in the SECOND paragraph, introduce your secondary character— a BFF, love interest or antagonist—and the conflict. Remember, the conflict is what drives your plot.

Then in the THIRD paragraph, you bring it all together. This is where you pose a question to the reader—maybe not a straight out QUESTION but a rhetorical one. You want to give the reader a sense of urgency regarding the plot—what will happen if the characters’ attempt to resolve the plot fails. In other words, what the stakes are.

The blurb in its entirety tells its own little story—and that’s what keeps people buying and reading this book. You want to set up the protagonist, the conflict, the obstacles to resolving that conflict and to give the reader a sense of the risks involved in failure. What you’ve done is to create a microcosm—a tiny example of what your book—the macrocosm—is.

Writing a successful blurb is a test of any writer’s skills. It’s darn hard to filter down sixty thousand words into five hundred. But this is a skill a successful writer must learn to do. Throughout your career, whether this is your lone book or the first of hundreds, whether you stay in independent publishing or whether you move on to the Big Six, you MUST LEARN to write effective taglines and blurbs that work. That sell. Your. Book.

Below is the blurb to the prequel of my time travel series, Legend of the Timekeepers, just re-released on August 1st through Mirror World Publishing. Although I didn’t use three paragraphs, I used all the information stated above. Let me know what you think:

Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.

Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.

Intriguing? I hope so! If you’re an author how do you go about creating blurbs? And if legendofthetimekeepers-200you’re a reader, what blurbs have caused you to make that book purchase? Love to hear your comments! Cheers!

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercise, and anything arcane. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, TUMBLR, and GOODREADS. Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

Reverse Engineering for Book Marketing…

Remember that kid who decided to take apart a toy just to see how it worked? And then, surprise…that same kid couldn’t figure out how to put it back together again. We authors can sure learn something from that one kid. We can learn how to use reverse engineering to figure out why readers buy our books. Think about it. Kids take something (computer, radio controlled car, Barbie dolls) apart to see how it works, get to the guts of what makes that thing go, run, fly, burp. So why shouldn’t authors be able to take apart the sale that lured readers to buy the book in the first place?

The first question you should ask yourself is: Why did you purchase insert name of book? Was it because it was your friend’s book? Perhaps a suggestion? Or a book you learned about through a review? Was it an emotional purchase? Or was the book part of Oprah’s book club? I want you to chase down the sale and figure out what made you buy that certain book. Got it? Good.

Now once you do this kind of ‘reverse engineering’ you can build a profile for the sale. You get to see how a sale is built. You get to know how the book market works. That’s when you can develop a marketing strategy for your own books. Get it? Great.

A lot of times you’ll find the answer is word of mouth via the social media, or a friend suggested the book (or wrote it), or they passed by a bookstore window and the cover caught their eye. Even Oprah has the golden touch. Dig deep, and find the reason for that sale. Then, apply this newfound knowledge, and develop your own book marketing strategy. Doing my own reverse engineering, I’ve found the following six points may help boost your book sales:

If it doesn’t work, fix it. Let’s face it—some sales strategies work better than others. The trick is to reassess what you’ve been doing. If you’re not producing the sales you’d like to see for a certain book, then chances are you need to correct and fine-tune your methods. For some authors this may mean retooling their blurb or tagline or change the cover. For others, it could be giving their website or blog a fresh new look.

Listen and learn. A number of things factor into book sales. One of the most important is your target audience—who you are writing for. Ask yourself, how are you fulfilling your readers’ needs? What do you need to do to continually hook their attention? For starters, you have to be willing to walk that extra mile by getting to know and understand your readers. You do this through social networks (Facebook, Twitter), workshops, book signings, school and library visits, book clubs, and online communities such as Goodreads.

Show enthusiasm. Enthusiasm builds bridges. Panic tears them down. One thing an author has going for them is their unique voice. You use it in your books, so use it to sell them. Readers know when an author resonates with them. Be invested enough in yourself, as an author, to give your readers a fantastic story they’ll never want to end. Then write another one.

Sell yourself, on yourself. The power of positive thinking works wonders. Motivation builders such as podcasts, CDs or self-help books can help reinforce the super salesperson in you. Be specific with your goals and rewards, such as if you send out ten review requests in a day, book a pedicure or lunch with a friend. Write notes reminding yourself that you are a ‘Bestselling author’ and ‘You can do it’, then leave them around your desk. After all, seeing is believing.

Create a sales plan to suit each book. Every book you write is one of a kind. Sales tactics for one book may not work for the second book. That’s when you get creative and take chances. Giveaways are always a fan favorite. Experiment with each book until you get a sales formula that works for you. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes help, so if you can afford it, hire a publicist or a marketing consultant. The bigger the investment, the bigger the payoff.

You give, you receive. “What goes around comes around”. This is a hard adage for a lot of authors to relate to, but it is nevertheless a vitally important point. And it’s a no-brainer. I tend to share a lot of useful information that could help my author peeps with their sales or marketing strategies. This comes naturally to me. Pass along opportunity when you can. It’s a wise investment—one that any author will never regret making.

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST Sharon Ledwith HeadshotTIMEKEEPERS, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercise, and anything arcane. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, TUMBLR, and GOODREADS. Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.