Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal

I'm very glad to be hosting Shobhan on the first day of her virtual blog tour with Promo 101 Virtual Tours. She has a writing style that I think you will like and she isn't afraid to tackle the hot button topics. Read on to learn more about Shobhan Bantwal and The Forbidden Daughter.
What inspired the book?

A deep interest in women’s issues combined with the love of fiction inspired me to write a book about gender-based abortions in India. I had an opportunity to bring awareness to the issue by weaving it into a story of romance, intrigue and drama.

What makes this book special to you?

It allows me to voice my opinion on a social issue in a highly creative way. If I had written a non-fiction book on the subject, it would have been boring for me to write and very few people would have read it. A novel is a way to reach a broader audience.

What makes this a book that other people MUST read and WHY?

Many Americans, although aware of the general societal patterns of other countries, very rarely know about the more subtle social issues, both good as well as bad. THE FORBIDDEN DAUGHTER will provide them a rare glimpse into a culture that remains very private about certain negative elements.

What sparks your creativity? Any tips to help others spark their own creativity?

Daily newspaper and TV stories are a great source of creativity. For some odd reason, driving on the highway seems to trigger it for me, but sitting in front of a computer makes my creativity plunge to zero.

What has been the biggest stumbling block in your writing? Can you share some tips to help others get past similar problems?

My biggest stumbling block is my lack of computer savvy, which hinders my ability to use the Internet to optimum capability. Amazon optimization, blogging, chat room discussions, etc. are not something I can utilize for promoting my book mainly because of my inability to use technology.

What do you think motivates people to become authors? What motivated you to get into this unusual industry?

I believe people become authors because of their deep love for expressing their ideas and opinions to others. It is a way of communicating, by being a storyteller and narrator. For myself, my motivation was to acquire a hobby that would keep my mind alert and provide an outlet for my active imagination and creativity. When I took up creative writing, I had not really dreamed of being a published author, but as I wrote more and more, my ambitions expanded.

Tell me about the most unusual things you have done to promote any books?

I honestly wish I could think of something unusual to do, “outside the box” as they say, but so far I have done only the most traditional things.

FICTION - If there is a setting, tell us how you decided on that setting and what you did to create a complete and vivid setting for your readers?

I like a small town atmosphere, like the kind I grew up in, so I created a fictitious small town that is very similar to the town I was raised in. It made the visualization much easier, without having to struggle to build a new one. The descriptions came easily and the culture of course is latent to me, so that was not an issue.

FICTION - What inspires you about the hero or heroine in your book? What makes them memorable for the reader? What motivates the hero and/or heroine? You can include information about both if you want.

Both my hero and heroine are people of strong convictions and generous natures, and they act on them without regard for tradition or personal gain. I find that very inspiring. Their strength and ability to fight and survive, and even win in the face of adversity is what makes them memorable. The main motivator for my heroine is the need to protect her children at any cost. The hero is motivated by his inherent desire to be the ideal doctor – help people in trouble.

FICTION - Is there a villain or something that causes friction in your story? Tell us about what or who it is and how that contributes to the story. Any details about conflict and friction is good information to know.

The obstetrician who first suggests an abortion and later resorts to more serious crime is the one who first introduces friction in THE FORBIDDEN DAUGHTER. There are secondary villains who augment the main villain’s deeds with their in their own twisted way. They all serve to add tons of friction that lends plenty of action and drama to my story.

For more information about Shobhan Bantwal’s virtual tour, visit –

The Forbidden Daughter can be ordered at:

You can visit Shobhan Bantwal at her website –

Saturday, September 13, 2008

In Detail with Susan Wingate

We kick off Susan Wingate's virtual book tour with her visit In Detail with Nikki Leigh. Let's see what Susan wants to share with us...

Tell us the book title and your author name.

The title of my latest release is “Bobby’s Diner” and I’ve used my real name as the author name. I’ve used my real name because I’m not trying to identify myself with any one genre at this stage. If I, say, take off on a tangent and decide to write erotica, I may at that point use a pseudonym but until then, I’ll continue to write under my real name.

What inspired the book?

I dreamt the first sequence, the one where Georgette, the main character and narrator of the story, arrives in the fictional town of Sunnydale, Arizona. The actual dream sequence is the one of her hitching a ride with the skanky truck driver and then her walking the rest of the way into town.

What makes this book special to you?

This book is special to me for a number of reasons, most of which because the title character, Bobby, is designed (physically anyway) after my husband, Bob. Note the similarity in names? Ha! It’s a special book also because it’s my second novel. Sometimes I think the second novel can be a little more daunting than the first because you say to yourself, “Okay. Was that first one a fluke or can I write another one?” Plus, for me, I had help on my first. Close to the end of my first novel, “Of the Law,” Michael Collins began mentoring me. I give credit to him for helping me with the completion of my first novel. I don’t think I could’ve done it without him. He made me think of writing as a job, not a hobby.

What makes this a book that other people MUST read and WHY?

Well, this story is about tolerance and one woman’s yearning to find a place for herself in this world. I think both themes are universal, quite profound and astonishingly relevant in today’s world.

What people NEED to read this book and WHY?

You know, I wrote this book with a very intentional light voice because of its profound theme. Any person other than Georgette telling the story just wouldn’t have worked. She’s this sweet gentle soul who can talk to just about anyone – young or old, man or woman, rich or poor – she seems to be quite the chameleon and is why the story is successful. So, to answer your question, I think the story is intended for any person who wants to hear its message.

What sparks your creativity? Any tips to help others spark their own creativity?

I love answering questions about writing. My answer to this question in particular might be of interest to writers who sit in front of their computer or typewriter or pad of paper (whatever) and find it tough to start knocking out words. What I do is this, I like to bandy around with poetry in the morning to oil my writing muscles. Poetry gets to the nuts and bolts of writing, by its very nature. It doesn’t have time to screw around. So, before I get into my story du jour I write a few poems. But then sometimes if something comes to me whether in a dream or other creative state of consciousness – you know it’s like hearing a doorbell go off in your head – then I get it down to paper. It can happen anywhere too which can be very inconvenient like when you’re driving the car. That’s a real pain in the butt because you have three choices: to let the idea go, to stop driving or to scrawl it out on whatever you can find with one hand while you’re cruising down the road with the other – it’s a real pain indeed.

What has been the biggest stumbling block in your writing? Can you share some tips to help others get past similar problems?

Patience. That’s my biggest problem. Oh, sure, I could say I have an almost compulsive tendency to, oh, I don’t know, end sentences with dangling prepositions, say. But, honestly, anyone can learn to write – I believe that with all my heart. What we have to do is to get out of our own way. Patience is not one of my virtues, unfortunately. I want everything to happen right away and in this industry, well, that’s just never going to be. So, if I begin to feel impatient about some submission or something, I just start writing something new and try to forget about whatever I was being impatient about. Is that a run-on sentence… oops. Maybe another stumbling block – just kidding. But, patience or the lack thereof is my problem. I’d have to say I could use a bit of meditation for learning patience.

What do you think motivates people to become authors? What motivated you to get into this unusual industry?

Boy, you’re right there, it IS an unusual industry, isn’t it? Okay, I’ll talk to the first part of this question – what motivates others to write? Well, statistically, “they” say that approximately 85% of people, um, everywhere want to write a story or have a book inside them. I don’t know how “they” come up with that statistic. I can’t imagine “they” are interviewing every living being on the planet so all I can do is answer this question based on what I’ve observed. When I teach writing classes, my students seem to want to tell either wildly imaginative stories that are derived from their creative well or they want to tell a story that actually happened to them. So, I believe from a long time ago, I’m talking caveman times, people have been telling stories “around the proverbial campfire” in one form or another. It’s what we do. Think about it, even in the Old Testament, we had to have a rule instructing us not to lie, for goodness sake. I think it’s borne in us to tell stories.

Now, another aspect to this question is my observation of others who are not writing students and who know I’m a writer or find out that I am upon meeting me. Inevitably, most people tell me they have a “great idea for a novel”. Sometimes they even go so far as to say, “You can use it if you want.” Isn’t that generous? People just love stories - to tell stories and to hear stories and to read stories.

Tell me about the most unusual things you have done to promote any books?

I’m not sure if this quite fits but it’s really the only unusual thing I’ve done to promote myself as a writer. I wanted to teach writing at a workshop and part of the process was to make available your current titles. Well, at the time, I had not a one! So, to get the application to them in time, I made something up and then created a book after the fact with my short stories, essays and poems. That book actually sells quite well and is called “Ravings of a Mad Gentlewoman.” You can find it on I got it printed and marketed before the due date on books for that particular conference. Isn’t that naughty of me? Oh well, you do what you must in this crazy industry. Self-promotion is a HUGE part of it. I believe it was James Patterson who was a marketing man before he became the world-renown author he is today. He had the promotional smarts working for him well before he made his move into writing.

FICTION - If there is a setting, tell us how you decided on that setting and what you did to create a complete and vivid setting for your readers?

Of course there’s the diner where most of the action occurs and making a vivid setting there was accomplished by adding the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures found within a diner. But, the desert - its desolation and heat, its unique flora and fauna - is most prevalent in the opening scene making it more vivid by contrasting it between cooler climates.

FICTION - What inspires you about the hero or heroine in your book? What makes them memorable for the reader? What motivates the hero and/or heroine? You can include information about both if you want.

Georgette is human. She’s afraid and damaged goods. She’s honest with others but then lies to herself. She’s good with a touch of bad. She’s just a fully-rounded person who is trying to make a go of her life, trying to keep her head above it all under some extreme circumstances. I think she’s a great person.

FICTION - Is there a villain or something that causes friction in your story? Tell us about what or who it is and how that contributes to the story. Any details about conflict and friction is good information to know.

It’s always easiest to write when there’s a clear-cut villain but there is no one clear-cut villain in “Bobby’s Diner.” Georgette is pitted against Bobby’s ex-wife, Vanessa, and their daughter, Roberta, but I can’t talk about them as if they were bad or acted badly in order to hurt Georgette. They, too, are just trying to live in a small town with the widow of Bobby. They’re all acting accordingly feeling embarrassed and hurt, humiliated and jealous – the way anyone else in the same situation would act. It’s a method of pitting good against good. I think pitting good against evil makes it easy for the reader to figure out what will happen. In this story, we’re usually taken off-course and diverted to some other part of the characters’ lives. Or, at least, I hope that’s what happens for the reader. Another more express point about conflict and friction is that it’s the scenes and situations that create the conflict as well as the characters in them. The inherent conflict in “Bobby’s Diner” is both women, Georgette and Vanessa, are left with half the interest in Bobby’s Diner to run together. Now, if ever a story built immediate conflict into it, I believe this is one does.

Thank you, Nikki, for hosting this interview. What a wonderful blog and fabulous list of books and writers you have. Kudos! –Susan Wingate.

For more information -

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For more information about Susan Wingate’s virtual book tour and her full schedule at

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"Ask Nikki Leigh" - Answering Your Promotional Questions

I've thought it would be fun to be an advise columnist for years. But, I would have to do that under an unknown identity :) Today, it hit me that it might be fun to add a promotional advise column to my Muze's Musings blog. So, I want to extend an invitation to people to send me their questions about writing, publishing and especially promoting. Once I start getting regular questions, I'll feature one or two on my radio show - Book Promo 101 - Write, Publish and Promote. Seems like that could all work together.

So, I invite you to send me your writing, publishing and promoting questions. But, I need to give you give you two warnings -

1 - I reserve the right to chose which ones to answer - and when to answer them
2 - I reserve the right to give you an honest answer - I should mention that I can sometimes be blunt, but I will make every effort to be kind and I will make an effort to make all the answers helpful.

The good news - I will leave the comment option on my blog and I invite others to share their thoughts. If the Ask Nikki idea really takes off, I'll move it to another blog. For now, the questions and answers will be posted at and please submit your questions to That is the address for your questions. I look forward to hearing what people want to learn more about.

Nikki Leigh --- Send questions to ----

Book Promo 101 -
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Nikki Leigh Promotional Services -

Monday, September 1, 2008

Lillian Brummet - Before She Was Published

Dave and Lillian met and married 17 years ago in Kelowna, BC – the southwestern province of Canada, located just North of the US State of Washington.
Sadly the couple are unable to have children, but they have always had several cats and dogs that they adopt from the SPCA to continually share their home. Gardening is the Brummet’s hobby of choice and you can often find them playing in the dirt.

“I grew up in a broken home; my mother was married 4 times and 2 of those men found me too attractive, unfortunately. Sadly there were no rule books at the time to help families deal with situations like this and I found myself on my own and on the street at the age of 13 -1/2. I stayed out of the government system by working the same jobs I always had up to then, such as working for nurseries and babysitting and yard chores and the like while going to public school. Soon, though, I found out how different I was from others at school and I just didn’t fit in anymore. So I stopped going to public school for a few years. At age 15 I was caught living on my own and was taken to a foster home where I was given the option of working part time, having some independence still, but going back to school to get my grade 10. Which I did, but when I soon was on my own again by choice this time, more due to my discomfiture with family activities and bonding than anything else. At 19 I went back to school and eventually received a university level of grade 12 (meaning some of the highest available courses in maths, sciences, etc). Eventually I took several other college courses that lead to a career in the field of hospitality management in my mid-twenties. On the side, I helped run my mother’s market garden and my husbands drum teaching business. To say I was on over-achiever is not an exaggeration. I had this drive in me to not let the past be forever torturing me and holding me back.

When I was growing up, teachers often commented on my writing ability - and honestly, English was one of the few classes that kept me going to school when I was first on my own. I used poetry as a healing tool, a way to get the pain out where I could examine it. Eventually, prodding from friends lead me to enter a contest and then another and another… I never did win a grand prize, but my work did appear in five hardcover anthology books and several publications throughout North America. I also had the honor of attaining "Editor's Choice Award for outstanding Achievement in Poetry", not once – but twice. These small achievements and praises gave me some confidence in the quality of my work.

But what prompted me to write as a career began with a bad car accident – a three-car pile-up and I was in the middle. After a year of full-time physiotherapy, followed by a year of trying to get back to operating my business and continuing therapy, I realized I was never going to be able to continue that work full-time.

At that point Dave and I were feeling like our lives were going the wrong direction. I knew that with the injuries received from the car accident, I was not able to continue to run my business and having a full-time job elsewhere was not looking like a possibility due to chronic pain issues. I mean, we worked hard for our careers and to have it just taken away like that was really shocking – of course, I’m grateful for it now. At the time, however, I looked back at my life in disgust because I felt all my efforts, work, pain… it was all for nothing. No one would notice and no lasting benefit was left behind. I questioned why I survived the life I had only to have these things happen – and I questioned the value of my life. This was the trigger that helped me realize that I just couldn’t live like that any longer. Dave and I had several heart-to-heart discussions about the meaning of our lives, what was important to us and how we mean to use the time we are given. I even wrote a short poem about it:


Locomotion keeps me moving through the confusing compulsive waves of life.
And, lost in this rush, I consume and exhaust myself for the unknown.
Feeling awfully tired, I pause - and look in at my routines in disgust.
And a desperate yearning to escape beyond the maze, and into self-sufficiency arises.

Right around this time, my husband was taking a writing course and I began taking it alongside of him. Soon, our submissions were accepted and sold and a free-lance career began, which later developed into our career as authors.

We embarked on a freelance writing career in 1998, and began publishing our column “Trash Talk” in 1999. Although we stopped writing this column at the end of 2006, it continues to be picked up by publications around the world. This column was developed into our first book Trash Talk (2004), which we soon followed up with a collection of my poetry in the book Towards Understanding (2005). Our most recent book is Purple Snowflake Marketing, which was released in 2007 – we are excited to announce that this author’s marketing plan guide will be released as a 2nd edition in late 2008 with just under 200 additional resources and information for authors to use in their promotion plan.

We also write articles dealing with gardening, yard, pets and outdoor adventures. Dave is the editor, proofreader, photographer, graphic designer, diagram and image creator and website managing half of our co-writing relationship. While I do the research, data entry (typing), office work, handle most of the marketing and interacting with publishers and media. We work very well as a team for live marketing endeavors from interviews to book events – with Dave being the speaker while I am the assistant, events go quite smoothly.”

In Detail with Ageless Sages Publishing

Although this is about a book, it’s more about the book’s design with elders in mind. I certainly can get these questions answered from the author and/or illustrator if you wish, but I wonder if you’d consider my answers as the publisher of Picture Books for Elders and Adults™?

Tell us the book title and your author name.

"Lavender Ladies" written by Beth Miller, Art work by Laura Harper, published by Publishing, Picture Books for Elders and Adults™.

What inspired the (concept for this type of) book ?

After spending time with elders doing various activities, I was impressed with how they responded to children’s picture books, though fully aware they were geared to children. Beth Miller suggested there might be more dignity in sharing picture books with adult-pertinent content.

What makes this book special to you?

I was deeply effected by how the elder developmental stage of life focused more on decline and less on a continuation of the cycle of life. The idea that we can offer something to elders which respects this phase of life was extremely appealing to me.

What makes this a book that other people MUST read and WHY?

Lavender Ladies presents the cycles of life in a poignant and gracious way. And although this is geared to elders, I’ve presented this to various age groups with exciting results. Kids are excited to contemplate the upcoming stages; teens love that their stage is depicted with eloquence; middle aged (women in particular) people resonate with the roles they play in life; elders love the reflection and idea that transitioning from this life is natural and that they can and do leave an important legacy.

What people NEED to read this book and WHY?

People work with elders can share this book with elders as a means of deeper connection. Elders can read this on their own or with others as a reflection piece and as a way to reminisce and tell others about their life experiences. Spiritual teachers who embrace the cycles of human existence will find this a valuable tool.

What sparks your creativity? Any tips to help others spark their own creativity?

Although I did not write this book, the idea for this new literary genre was sparked by following my passion: interacting with elders; having conversations with others about the deeper meaning of our time here on earth; spending time engaged in activities that elicit memories and feelings.

What do you think motivates people to become authors? What motivated you to get into this unusual industry?

I do think some people are born authors (the author of Lavender Ladies has been writing since she was very young and had an innate interest in writing stories), and others are eager to tell a story, share their wisdom, be part of the evolution of life that writing can support.

My particular interest in the publishing industry was very specific and focused. Until Picture Books for Elders and Adults™, publishing wasn’t even a blip on the screen for me! This feels more like a calling than an occupation.

Tell me about the most unusual things you have done to promote any books?

I’m not sure this is unusual, but I have been sending copies of the book to celebrities who either have publicly expressed that they have elders in their lives or that they are advocates for elders in one form or another. My intent is to find a celebrity spokesperson for this mission!

If there's anything else you would like to share, this is the time and place.

The effect that this has on elders is nothing short of profound. I’ve seen people who barely engage in much of anything suddenly come to life! People have memories sparked from their past, they settle into an acceptance of their future. It’s as if just knowing that someone understands this as a distinct, specific and continuing time of life (as opposed to just seeing at the end) they can enjoy life more.

You can view a slideshow version of the book here: