Monday, September 19, 2016

HEART STOPPER by Tamara Narayan

Please help me give a huge shoutout to Tamara Narayan and her new novel Heart Stopper. It's an honour to have you as my guest today, Tamara. Congratulations on your new book. 

From fellow blogger, Diana Wilder, at ...about myself, by myself...This is not sledgehammer blood or gore, but the sort of tantalizing, slowly building tension that will send you groping for another pillow and eyeing your alarm clock to see if you might be able to read to the end and not be too impaired in the morning at work.

Heart Stopper and Other Stories
By Tamara Narayan

One collection, four stories, 171 pages of suspense...

Heart Stopper: The disappearance of random household items baffles Dallas Radner and his eleven-year-old daughter, Tessa. Ten plastic bags, nine ballpoint pens . . . what's next? This odd countdown should end on November 1, The Day of the Dead. That's also Tessa's birthday and the one-year anniversary of her surgery, the day her heart stopped on the operating table.

Dallas almost lost Tessa once. On November 1, one thing will vanish forever. Will it be his daughter?

Detour: Fed up with her abusive boyfriend, coed Chloe Langley takes off in a borrowed car for the safety of home. She'll never make it.

One Step Away: Acrophobia has ruined Darryl James's marriage and stolen his son. To get Andrew back, Darryl undergoes desensitization therapy. Just as success is within his grasp, a relapse occurs with shocking consequences.

Monitor: Perched on a mountain with a view to die for, Laura and Paul Alderson have it all: new house, new baby, and new challenges. But urgent whispers from the baby monitor about her infant son and the garage threaten to turn Laura's American dream into a nightmare.

Available on Amazon ($2.99)

Author Blog:

From doling out movie popcorn to flinging smelt to penguins, Tamara Narayan’s career took the “road less traveled”. It veered off into a land of integrals and other strange things while she taught college level math, but these days she’s cruising the fiction highway. In addition to the Heart Stopper collection, her short story Scrying The Plane is in the IWSG anthology, Parallels: Felix Was Here. Find her at

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Ask PZM: Sept '16 - INKITT

Q: Can you share your meeting in Berlin at the book site Inkitt?

Inkitt is a relatively new website started by people who believe that there is a better way than the current process for writers to submit their manuscripts first to agents and then, if lucky enough to obtain an agent, for the agents to submit to publishers.

Here is the account of my meeting:

I was in Berlin on vacation at the end of August and my hotel turned out to be two blocks from the Inkitt office in the Mitte area (formerly East Berlin).  Because I had been in email contact with Inkitt founder and CEO Ali Albazaz, I emailed him about meeting.  And he responded that Barbara Ivusic (Inkitt’s Author's Growth Manager) and Marvin Wey (Inkitt’s Head of Marketing) would like to meet with me.

During our subsequent talk Marvin and Barbara explained Inkitt’s novel contests and how winning these can lead to a publishing deal with Inkitt.  

Marvin and Barbara also shared their concern that writers sometimes think there is a catch to an Inkitt publishing deal when there is no catch.  Here in general terms is how Inkitt works:

Inkitt is the publisher for the book, providing 50% royalties rather than the usual 5 to 10% royalties of other publishers.  Inkitt promotes the published book, and if the book does well, Inkitt then in an agent role takes the book to A-list publishers.
What was especially interesting to me is that Inkitt uses data in story contests to determine a story’s popularity with readers.  This system has replaced reviews or voting to better determine reader engagement.  I did have some questions about whether writers could “game” the system, and I was satisfied with the assurance that Inkitt data is attuned to spotting “gaming.”

(I was also assured that writers keep their own copyrights when entering the contests, yet, as with every place you may submit your writing, please read the small print about copyright at the time you upload any of your material.)

Personally I have had two chapters of my fantasy story ROAD TO ZANZICA on Inkitt for some time because stories not submitted to a contest can also be posted on the site.  Yet in order to submit to an Inkitt contest, the entire story must be uploaded and then designated for a specific contest. 

Besides being complete, a story submitted to an Inkitt contest must be approximately 40,000 words or more.  Self-published stories are also eligible for contest submission. And if a writer has problems uploading a Word doc to the Inkitt site, the manuscript can be sent to for upload (although after the upload you need to check that everything is okay).

Now there is a required marketing role for writers who enter these contests as writers must strive to get 100 people to read the contest submission.  (Inkitt provides tips to writers for promoting their contest entries.)  Then Inkitt’s data analyzes reader engagement with the submitted story.

The current novel contest began August 29 and runs to October 2.

Here is part of the contest information:

The three winners of the StoryPeak Novel Contest will be determined by Inkitt based on how their novels perform amongst their readership. All authors will be given 100 copies of their novel to distribute to their readers. Authors have a dashboard where they can see how many people have “reserved” their novel and the current level of their readers’ satisfaction.

I just entered this contest with my spy thriller CIA Fall Guy, and I have 100 copies to give away for download to readers who like spy thrillers and will read the (short) book before October 2.  If you’d like to be one of the 100 readers (or if not please share with people who do like spy thrillers) – here is the link to my spy thriller CIA FALL GUY on Inkitt for the current novel contest – (Note that the downloadable contest reader copies are for online reading.)

(Note that after you have downloaded one of the 100 copies of a contest entry you can either bookmark the story link or click on "Add to Reading List."  Then the next time you return to the Inkitt site you can access the story via "My Reading Lists" in your profile.  At the moment stories must be read online on the Inkitt site.) 

And you can read more about this contest in general at  (this is NOT an affiliate link) and about the Inkitt’s publishing program at 
In conclusion, I do think it makes sense for writers to support new platforms that are trying out different publishing avenues.  And using digital marketing to reach people who might want to read books is what Amazon does, so we can do this too!

Phyllis with the staff of Inkitt at the company office in Berlin

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) blogs on book-related topics at and her fiction ebooks on Amazon can be read for free via a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription at and her nonfiction ebooks on Amazon can be read for free via Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription at

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

IWSG: September News and Question

It’s time for another group posting of the IWSG: Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month and encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

IWSG is the brainchild of our noble Ninja Captain and leader Alex J. Cavanaugh

Our hashtag is @IWSG

The awesome co-hosts today are:

Announcing the 2016 IWSG Anthology Contest!

Eligibility: Any member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is encouraged to enter – blogging or Facebook member. The story must be previously unpublished. Entry is free.

Word count: 5000-6000

Genre: Fantasy

Theme: Hero Lost. It could be about a hero turned villain, a villain's redemption, a hero's lack of confidence, a hero's lack of smarts, etc. It can be about any kind of hero including superheroes, mythological heroes, unexpected or unlikely heroes, or a whole new kind of hero. This theme has plenty of scope and we’re open to pretty much anything along these lines. No erotica, R-rated language, or graphic violence.

Deadline: November 1st 2016

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted, previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details and if you are part of the Blogging or Facebook IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

We’re excited to see the creativity and enthusiasm that’s such a part of this group put into action. So don your creative caps and start writing. And spread the word!

Our amazing judges this year:

Elizabeth S. Craig writes cozy mystery series for Penguin Random House, Midnight Ink, and independently. She curates links on Twitter as @elizabethscraig that are later shared in the free search engine

Richard Harland finished his first novel in 1993 and resigned a university lectureship to become a full-time writer. With seventeen fantasy, SF and horror novels published since, he went international with his steampunk fantasies, Worldshaker, Liberator and Song of the Slums. He has won six Aurealis Awards and the A. Bertram Chandler Award in Australia, the Tam Tam Je Bouquine Award in France. Writing Tips

Laura Maisano has an MA in Technical writing and is a Senior Editor at Anaiah Press for their YA/NA Christian Fiction. She’s excited to release her debut YA Urban Fantasy SCHISM, and she’s finishing up the sequel UNITY.

Russell C. Connor has been writing horror since the age of 5, and has been in the self-publishing industry for a decade. He has published 8 novels and 4 novellas in both paperback and eBook, including the Box Office of Terror Trilogy and "Whitney," an epic horror novel about hurricane survivors fighting a washed-ashore sea monster. He also designs books for clients and assists them with self-publishing endeavors.

Dawn Frederick is the founder of Red Sofa Literary, previously of Sebastian Literary Agency, and she brings a broad knowledge of the book business to the table—with multiple years of experience as a bookseller in the independent, chain, and specialty stores; sales, marketing, & book development at a YA publisher, a published nonfiction author, and an agent associate literary agent at Sebastian Literary Agency.

Michelle L. Johnson is a literary agent, the founder of Inklings Literary Agency and has a business administration background in addition to a lifetime of working with books (sales, editing, and writing) and authors (marketing, promoting, event planning), and also has been a script/story consultant for an independent film.

Ion Newcombe is the editor and publisher of AntipodeanSF, Australia's longest running online speculative fiction magazine, regularly issued since January 1998. His qualifications and employment range from horticulture through electronics into literature and communications.

Author, Public Speaker, and Executive Producer, Lynn Tincher was born just outside of Louisville, Kentucky in the beautiful city of La Grange. She has written four books, with the fifth one currently in the making. Her first book, Afterthoughts was optioned for movie production by Kilted Pictures and Dancing Forward Productions in Los Angeles. It is currently in pre-production with plans to shoot in Louisville, Kentucky very soon.

September’s question of the month - How do you find the time to write in your busy day? 

Not so well. ..

Honestly, the past few months have been a nightmare. I put my back out. I started getting horrible toothaches accompanied by earaches, to the point I had to apply ice followed by hot compresses. July and half of August were spent trying to revive my Macbook Pro. He hung in there as long as he could, but 2 weeks ago he finally succumb to his ailments and died. I'm now running my 2008 iMac, which is also on its last legs. It keeps kicking me out of the window I'm working in for no reason. I'll be adding a comment to someone's blog, working on a ms, or creating a post when suddenly the screen jumps to the previous one, obliterating what I've written. Two times while I was going over the final draft for Mâtowak, MS Word froze, and I lost all my edits, and had to start over. 

As of today, I'm almost ready for my book tour and finished the final edits on Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries. Mâtowak is due for release the same day as the deadline for the anthology contest, which is also my granddaughter's 3rd birthday. The plan was that once the house sold, I'd be in New Brunswick for her birthday with my spanking new iMac. 

We nearly had the house sold August 2nd. The buyers had a reality check the morning they were going to put in an offer, and backed out. Living on a lake in the middle of nowhere is a lifestyle that must be considered thoroughly. They realized at the last moment that they weren't ready. (sniffles) 

What else? 

Oh, that toothache turned into an abscess, and I had an emergency root canal done last week. For 48 hours, it felt as if a mac-truck had slammed into my mouth. 

But none of that matters. Today is a new day, and I'm excited about the endless possibilities. I'm pain-free, wearing a back brace, and there's a new book on the horizon. (happy tears)  I'll get back to writing soon, I'm sure.

How about you?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ask PZM: AudioBooks, Writers' Conferences, Screenwriting tips

Q: Do you recommend having audiobooks besides ebooks for self-published books?

This is an excellent question for which I do not have an answer as I personally have not yet tried creating audiobooks for any of my books or ebooks.

Yet I may be missing the boat.

In the Wall Street Journal print edition of July 22, 2016, the article “The Fastest-Growing Format in Publishing: Audiobooks” by Jennifer Maloney had the subhead: “Smartphones and multitasking have stoked an explosion in audiobooks. Publishers, spotting a juggernaut, are expanding their offerings and enlisting star narrators.”

The article begins:

“The digital revolution that flummoxed the music, movie and publishing industries has given rise to a surprising winner: the audiobook.

“Audiobooks are the fastest-growing format in the book business today. Sales in the U.S. and Canada jumped 21% in 2015 from the previous year, according to the Audio Publishers Association. The format fits neatly in the sweet spot of changing technology and changing behavior. Carrying around a pocket-size entertainment center stuffed with games, news, music, videos and books has conditioned people to seek out constant entertainment, whether walking to a meeting or sitting in a doctor’s office. For more multitasking book-lovers, audiobooks are the answer.”

What does this mean for self-publishing authors?

First, if star narrators are important to sales, can we afford to hire these narrators? Yes, there are freelance sites that have good rates for hiring audiobook narrators, but will these probably unknown narrators help us sell our audiobooks?

If we cannot afford star narrators, will we be able to get enough traction to make the effort of creating and promoting audiobooks worth our time and money?

And are audiobook sales up across all categories, or are there categories that do exceptionally well as audiobooks and categories that do exceptionally poorly as audiobooks?

Clearly each individual author needs to do specific research before making his or her own decisions about audiobooks, yet it is definitely an area on which we all should keep an eye.

If any of you reading this post have audiobooks for your own books, please share some of your experiences in the comments below.

Q. Is it important to attend writers’ conferences?

Another good question to which I do not have an answer now.

Years ago I attended several writers’ conferences, especially when I was the founding president of the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and these conferences can be very motivating. They can also be a good way to learn about the current publishing industry and to meet agents who are acquiring new clients.

Yet nowadays, with so many online ways to learn about the publishing industry as well as to “meet” agents, perhaps these conferences are not that necessary to a writing career.

Of course, it also depends on your time and money resources. If you have the time and money to attend writers’ conferences, do you research on which conferences would be the best for your genre(s) and goals, then pack your suitcase.

If, though, you feel you have better places to spend your writing resources (time and money), do not beat yourself up for not attending writers’ conferences. (Only beat yourself up if you’re a writer and you’re not writing!)

Q. Any new tips for screenwriters?

I have been experimenting with paying for the opportunity to pitch both feature film screenplays and TV pilot scripts through the site and I have been frustrated with the restrictions, including the two-page written pitch limit. (There is usually an oral pitch paid option besides the written pitch paid option.)

Now I have found a new site – – that has a unique option for paying for pitches (although there is still the two-page written pitch limitation).

Instead of paying one fee for one submitted pitch, you can pay one fee for up to three submitted pitches. You submit the loglines, pitches, and scripts of all three. Then the person to whom you are pitching chooses from the loglines as to which two-page pitch to read. Then he or she can move on to read that script if interested.

I have done two of these 3-for-1 pitches so far and have been surprised that both people chose the pitch for TV pilot SOLOMON’S JUSTICE rather than one of my other pitches. This unintended feedback can be very valuable even though both people passed on reading the TV pilot script.

Yes, it takes a commitment of time and money to test some of these options, and the results will vary. But you can try these at home!

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) blogs on book-related topics at and her fiction ebooks on Amazon can be read for free via a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription at and her nonfiction ebooks on Amazon can be read for free via Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription at

Monday, August 8, 2016

News and Writing Tips

Phyllis Zimbler Miller will be guest hosting on August 10 on Ask PZM. Phyllis will discussing audiobooks, writers' conferences, and tips for screenwriters. Hope you can stop by. 

Today, I'm over at the IWSG blog with a small dose of encouragement. Love to see you there. 

I found the tips below among some of my old notes. Not sure where they came from, but they seemed worth mentioning. 

Stories are about a character wanting something because they've lost something. Loss lies behind most desires. Five questions to ask your protagonist:
  1. What have you lost?
  2. What have you gained?
  3. How has it changed you?
  4. How have you survived?
  5. What do you long for now?

I understand how busy you all are, so I've turned off comments. Next time...