Thursday, December 30, 2010

5 Marketing Reminders for 2011: Basic and Simple

Wow, the countdown's just upon us, another year come and gone. But, with the New Year pushing its way in, it's time to go over a few marketing reminders.

Having yearly, monthly, and/or weekly marketing goals are crucial to achieving success. With goals, you know where you’re heading and can work toward that end.

Marketing goals can be considered a marketing plan, and it will have a number of steps or goals that must be set in motion and accomplished.

Whether you’re trying to sell a product or services, five of the bare basic marketing strategies are:

1. Create an online presence and platform

Creating an online presence and platform can be initiated by creating a website or blog. First though, you’ll need to be sure of your niche because the site name and content should reflect your area of expertise is.

Remember, plan first. Choose a site name that will grow with you. Using an children's author as an example, if you choose a site name, Picture Books with [Your Name], you’ve limited yourself. What if your next book is for young adults?

Some authors create sites with the name of their book. This is a good strategy for pure focus on that one book, but again, what happens when more books become available. Will you create a site for each of your books?

While you can do this, you will be stretching yourself thin and diluting your main focus: you as the author of multiple books.

Leave room to grow; it’s always advisable to use your name as the site’s name.

In addition, with today’s gone-in-a-second attention span, it’s a good idea to keep your site simple. Sites that take a few seconds or more to load may cause you to lose potential buyers.

2. Increase visibility

Writing content for your readers/visitors is the way to increase visibility. The word is: Content is King. Provide interesting, informative, and/or entertaining content that will prompt the reader to come back.

Also, be sure your content is pertinent to your site, and keep your site and content focused on your platform.

3 Draw traffic to your site

To draw traffic to your site, promote your posts by using social media. You can also do article marketing which will increase your visibility reach.

Another strategy is to offer your readers free gifts, such as an e-book relevant to your niche. This will help to increase your usefulness to the reader.

This is considered organic marketing; it funnels traffic back to your site with valuable content and free offers.

4 Have effective call-to-actions

Your site must have call-to-action keywords that will motivate readers to visit and click on your links. Keywords to use include:

•    Get your Free gift now for subscribing
•    Subscribe to our Newsletter
•    Free e-book to offer on your own site
•    Buy Now
•    Sign up
•    Don’t hesitate, take advantage of our expert services
•    Be sure to Bookmark this site

You get the idea, motivate the reader to want what you’re offering and give him/her a CLEAR and VISIBLE call-to-action. Make it as simple as possible for the visitor to buy what you’re offering.

5. Develop a relationship with your readers

It’s been noted that only 1% of first time visitors will buy a product. Usually, only after developing a relationship through your newsletter, information, and offers will your potential customer or client click on the BUY NOW button.

While it will take some time and effort to implement and maintain these strategies, it will be worth it in the long run. Think of it as a long-term investment.

Happy marketing in 2011!

P.S. This post was written the end of 2011, but it's still pertinent. The five strategies mentioned are still valid in 2014!

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MORE ON MARKETING

Book Marketing – 3 Reasons Why Editing Should Come Before Self-Publishing
Great Headline and Pitch Formula

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NEED HELP WITH YOUR ONLINE PLATFORM?

Check out Platform Building with Content Marketing

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Lucky Baseball by Suzanne Lieurance

Title: The Lucky Baseball: My Story in a Japanese-American Internment Camp
Author: Suzanne Lieurance
Publisher: Enslow Publishers, Inc.
ISBN: 13: 978-0-7660-3311-5
Reviewed by: Karen Cioffi


The Lucky Baseball brings WWII history to life in an engaging and enlightening middle-grade story.

On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the United States military base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The surprise attack shocked Americans and a deep fear that Japan would launch a full scale attack on American home land grew. President Franklin Roosevelt immediately entered the United States into WWII.

Out of the growing fear, bordering on hysteria, that the American borders were at risk, in February 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. The Lucky Baseball is a fictional account, through the eyes of a 12-year-old boy, of what Executive Order 9066 meant for Japanese-Americans.

Harry Yakamoto was an average American boy: he had friends, went to school, and loved baseball. Only, he was of Japanese descent. Living in California during the 1940s, people were prejudice against the Japanese – just for prejudice’s sake. So, the ‘real’ American boys wouldn’t let Harry or his best friend play on their baseball teams.

Then, Japan attacked the United States. Japanese and people of Japanese descent were ordered to leave their homes, businesses, and all belongings, except what they could carry. They were moved to internment camps for their protection, so they were told. But, the camps were fenced in and had military guards to keep the Japanese from leaving.

These camps became Harry’s, and many other Japanese-Americans, new home for three years. And, The Lucky Baseball, through a descriptive and engaging story, tells of the living conditions, personal losses, and unconscionable treatment endured by Harry, his family, his friends, and others.

But, amidst the hardship, baseball became a favorite past time for the children, boys and girls alike. While at home, Harry couldn’t be on a baseball team, but in the camp he was the Captain of a team. Ball playing provided a tidbit of normalcy in an otherwise unnatural environment.

Suzanne Lieurance brings the 1940s to the reader. She allows children to feel, see, smell, hear, and even taste the conditions within the internment camps. “I forced myself to climb out from under the warm covers. I wiped a layer of sandy dirt from my face with the back of my hand. My bed was covered with a layer of this dirt, too. In fact, the whole room was dusted with a mixture of dirt and sand, white as flour.”

Another passage describes the intolerable cold that the refugees had to endure, “She [the grandmother] wrapped up in one more of the army blankets. We were both wearing our winter coats. She shivered.” That was a description of the conditions inside the housing units, which consisted of individual barracks, each divided into six units/rooms with half-fast partitions separating families.

The author also shows the human spirit and its ability to survive and prosper.

I am a huge fan of historical fiction adventures for children. It’s the perfect way to bring history to children in a format that they will find interesting, entertaining, and informative. Lieurance, focusing on baseball and a boy growing up, did a wonderful job doing this with The Lucky Baseball.

Along with a wonderful and very informative story, the author includes “The Real History Behind the Story” at the end of the book. It’s full of facts about WWII, Executive Order 9066, the camps, and baseball in regard to the Japanese-Americans.



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Other Reviews You may Find of Interest:

The Power of the Penny
Book Review – When Teachers Talk

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NEED HELP WITH YOUR CHILDREN'S WRITING PROJECT?

I can help. Check out: http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Think Twice Before Taking Your Husband Shopping With You

Here is a very funny article I came upon, and the timing is excellent. Unfortunately, I don't know the author, so if anyone recognizes it please let me know; I'd love to give credit where credit is due!
While it's not about writing, it is funny and shows how words can make you laugh



WHY WOMEN SHOULDN'T TAKE MEN SHOPPING
By Unknown Author

After I retired, my wife insisted that I accompany her on her trips to Target.  Unfortunately, like most men, I found shopping boring and preferred to get in and get out. Equally unfortunate, my wife is like most women -  she loves to browse. Yesterday my dear wife received the following letter from the local Target.

Dear Mrs. Samuel,

Over the past six months, your husband has caused quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and have been forced to ban both of you from the store. Our complaints against your husband, Mr. Samuel, are listed below and are documented by our video surveillance cameras.

1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in other people's carts when they weren't looking.

2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

3. July 7: He made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the women's restroom.

4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official voice, “Code 3 in Housewares. Get on it right away.” This caused the employee to leave her assigned station and receive a reprimand from her Supervisor that in turn resulted with a union grievance, causing management to lose time and costing the company money.

5. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and tried to put a bag of M&Ms on layaway.

6. August 14: Moved a 'CAUTION - WET FLOOR' sign to a carpeted area.

7. August 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told the children shoppers he'd invite them in if they would bring pillows and blankets from the bedding department to which twenty children obliged.

8. August 23: When a clerk asked if they could help him he began crying and screamed, 'Why can't you people just leave me alone?' EMTs were called.

9. September 4: Looked right into the security camera and used it as a mirror while he picked his nose.

10. September 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, he asked the clerk where the antidepressants were.

11. October 3: Darted around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the 'Mission Impossible' theme.

12. October 6: In the auto department, he practiced his 'Madonna look' by using different sizes of funnels.

13. October 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed through, yelled 'PICK ME! PICK ME!'

14. October 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumed a fetal position and screamed 'OH NO! IT'S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!' And last, but not least:

15. October 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited awhile, then yelled very loudly, 'Hey! There's no toilet paper in here.' One of the clerks passed out.

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I hope you found this as funny as I did. My situation doesn't apply here though, my husband is a shopper.

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Writing articles you may find interesting:

Striving to Be a Better Writer by Writing More
Finding Age Appropriate Words When Writing for Children

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NEED HELP WITH YOUR WRITING PROJECT?

I can help. Check out: http://karencioffifreelancewriter.com

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Review of How the Moon Regained Her Shape

Title: How the Moon Regained Her Shape
Author: Janet Ruth Heller
Illustrator: Ben Hodson
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9764943-4-8 (hardcover)
ISBN: 978-1-934359-02-0 (pbk.)
Reviewer: Karen Cioffi


Folktales, also known as tall tales, and folklore, are stories specific to a country or region. They are usually short stories dealing with everyday life that come from oral tradition that is passed from generation to generation. Most often these tales involve animals, heavenly objects, and other non-human entities that possess human characteristics.

There is Mexican folklore, Irish folklore, Chinese folklore, and many other countries that have tales unique to their area. There is also American folklore. And, there is folklore that comes from each of the 50 states. Janet Ruth Heller created a wonderful children’s picture book based on a specific American Indian folktale.

How the Moon Regained Her Shape tells an enchanting story of the moon being ridiculed by the sun. The sun claimed that the moon was of no use, compared to the sun who was essential to growing crops for the people on earth.

Prior to this encounter, the moon would “dance across the sky, laughing as she twirled her skirts.” But, after, the moon became sullen, tormented, and “began to shrink until she was just a sliver of her former self.”

Fortunately, a comet befriended the moon and told the moon to seek out “a woman on earth named Round Arms.” The moon did as the comet suggested. Round Arms showed the moon all the help the moon gave to the people and creatures on earth – this allowed the moon to see her true worth. The knowledge and encouragement Round Arms provided gave the moon the confidence to regain “her strength and fullness.” And, it also provided a blanket of security that helped her overcome any future insults hurled her way.

Along with a fanciful story focusing on bullying and self-esteem, the illustrations are full page, vivid, and outstanding. To top it off, Heller includes a learning guide that offers information on moon phases, Native American names for each of the full moons, and a “How to Deal with Bullies” page.

Unfortunately, bullying is a prevalent issue in today’s world, especially with internet abuse. There is an urgent need to find strategies to curtail bullying, and also help victims cope. How the Moon Regained Her Shape will be a valuable tool in the effort to help children cope by helping them understand that words are only words, they do not define us. 

Teachers and parents will find How the Moon Regained Her Shape a great resource in broaching the topic of bullying. And, children will absolutely love the story and vivid full page illustrations.

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Other Reviews You May Like:

Ruthie and Hippo’s Fat Behind – Book Review
Book Review – What is Electricity and Magnetism?

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NEED HELP WITH YOUR WRITING PROJECT?

I can help. Check out: http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Characters or Story - Which Comes First?

A number of articles about writing for children, and other genres suggest knowing your characters inside and out before beginning the story. In fact, information suggests that the author build the story around the characters once they are fully developed. While this is good advice, and many experienced authors recommend this technique, there are some authors who occasionally watch their characters unveil themselves right before their eyes.

This is such an interesting method of writing. Your character introduces himself and gradually reveals bits and pieces, and blossoms as the story moves along. Sometimes a story doesn’t begin with this intent, it just happens. This is known as the seat-of-you-pants method of writing.

You do need to be careful with this method though, you may lose track of all the bits and pieces that make up the character. So, a good way to keep track of those quirky telltale marks, expressions, behavior patterns, and physical features is to note them on a separate page or character card as they become unveiled. You wouldn’t want your character to have brown eyes in one chapter and blue eyes in another - unless of course, it’s a science fiction or paranormal and part of the storyline.

So, is there a right or wrong answer to the question of which comes first, characters or story? That depends on the writer.

While it may be important to know your characters, and even have a family and background established for them, even if they are not used in the story, you can also become acquainted as you go along. As your story develops you may find out if the character is fearful in certain situations, or if he is heroic. Sometimes it’s impossible to know this about a person, let alone a character, until circumstances create the possibility of the question.

It is one’s environment and circumstances that help develop his or her characteristics, fears, hopes, and so on. The same holds true for your character.

Using an example: How would a child who never saw a mouse before react to one? There’s no way to answer that question until it happens. So, having the story help develop the character can be a useful tool. But, again, be sure to keep track of all the new features your character unveils along the way.

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Related Articles:

8 Steps to Take Before Submitting Your Manuscript
Writing with Focus

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NEED HELP WITH YOUR WRITING PROJECT?

I can help. Check out: http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com

Sunday, December 12, 2010

On the Go with Children's Author Suzanne Lieurance

Thank you for joining me today for Day 5 of the 6-day virtual tour for my middle grade historical novel The Lucky Baseball: My Story in a Japanese-American Internment Camp.

This year I've noticed that many schools have very limited funds available to pay visiting authors. For that reason, I am now offering Authors Visits via Skpe, which are much less expensive than my in-person visits. I even offer 15-minute introductory Author visits for school and homeschooling organizations via Skype that are free. During these free sessions, I talk to students about the writer's life and answer any of their questions about my books (since these sessions are so short, I ask that teachers submit their students' questions to me in advance via email).

I love to talk with students, teachers, and other readers about The Lucky Baseball. It was one of my favorite books to write. I offer longer Author Visits - both through Skype and in-person - via my website at Suzanne Lieurance that focus on the book and I do charge for these visits. The time I have available for in-person Author visits is fairly limited right now since I am also a writing coach and the host of a radio show - Book Bites for Kids - 3 afternoons a week. I try to book visits about 3 to 6 months in advance. I also like to speak at writer's conferences and I do that a few times each year.

I'm planning to travel to Italy next summer to present a week-long writing workshop called Have the Time of Your Life, Write the Book of Your Dreams. More information about this is available online at http://www.toscanaamericana.com/lieurancewriting.html

Right now, I'm spending most of my time working on two new books. Once I finish writing both of these books I'll probably do more author visits and speak at more conferences. I have another book that will come out next year (it is already written), and I hope to make more author visits and give presentations at conferences based on it.

Keep up with me and my writing at my author website at www.suzannelieurance.com and also at my coaching site at www.workingwriterscoach.com.

*****


I read The Lucky Baseball and loved it. Providing historical information in the format of fiction stories for children is a great way to help children learn about and embrace history. Suzanne's The Lucky Baseball is a wonderful story that brings the hardships endured by the Japanese Americans during WWII to light through the eyes of a boy who loves baseball.







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MORE BOOK REVIEWS

Early American Poetry – Beauty in Words
Walking Through Walls Review by Margo Dill

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NEED HELP WITH YOUR WRITING PROJECT?

I can help. Check out: http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The 7 Deadly Sins of Online Networking by Dana Lynn Smith

I have a valuable guest article from marketing expert Dana Lynn Smith for you social networking authors.


The 7 Deadly Sins of Online Networking
 By Dana Lynn Smith

Online networking is a wonderful way to meet people who share your interests, develop relationships with peers and potential customers, and ultimately increase book sales.

But there's sometimes a fine line between letting your contacts know about your book and being overly promotional. If you're too passive, you may not get much benefit from networking, but if you're too agressive you may turn people off.

Here are seven common mistakes that authors make in online networking, along with tips on how to avoid them:

1. No book information or website links on social network profiles.

I'm amazed at how many authors don't even mention their books on their social profiles, or make it easy for people to find information about the book.

On your Facebook profile, include the name of your book and a link to your book sales page in the little information box located just beneath your photo. You also include a link to your website in the web links section below that, and add more details in the "Bio" section on the "Info" tab of your profile.

On Twitter, be sure to mention your book in the description on your profile page. You only have 160 characters to work with, so if you have several books you could say something like "author of four romantic suspense novels."

On LinkedIn, take full advantage of the "title" field.  This space is designed for job titles, but you can use it to showcase your expertise and status as an author. For example: "Parenting expert and author of "Raising Happy Kids in a Crazy World."  Your title will appear along with your photo any place that you interact on LinkedIn. Be sure to include a link to your book's sales page and your website in the web links section of your profile.

See this article for tips on choosing the best photo to use on your social networks.

2. Not mentioning your book in your status updates.

It's fine to talk about your book in the status updates that you post on social networks, as long as that's not your main focus and you're not too pushy. Be sure to intersperse your book messages with other types of messages (personal notes, tips, links to helpful resources, thoughts on a new book you just read, etc.)

I recommend that no more than 10% to 20% of your status updates be promotional or self-serving. No one wants to read a constant stream of "buy my book" messages. 

One way to talk about your book without seeming too promotional is to discuss your marketing activities. Here are some examples:

•    I just received the preliminary cover designs for my new book – what do you think of these?
•    Today I'm contacting bookstores about setting up signings for my new novel, BOOKTITLE. It's available at www.booktitle.com.
•    I'm so excited! Just received word that my book, BOOKTITLE, has received an award . . .
•    I just scheduled a radio interview on KWTX to discuss tips from my book, BOOKTITLE. www.booktitle.com
•    Today I launched the redesign of my website for BOOKTITLE – what do you think? www.booktitle.com
And you can always mention events and special promotions:
•    If you're in the Seattle area, please join me at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday at . . . for a free presentation based on my book, BOOKTITLE. www.booktitle.com
•    The Kindle version of BOOKTITLE has just been released! You can find it at www.booktitle.com. If you don't have a Kindle, remember you can download the Kindle app and read ebooks right from your computer.
•    Monday Madness Sale! Spread the word -- today only, all of my parenting books are on sale for 30% off. Go to www.booktitle.com to order.

3. Sending blank friend requests on social networks.

About 90% of the network friend requests that I receive have no introduction at all, and most of the others have generic notes like "let's be friends." The trouble is, I don't know who most of these people are.
Don't make this mistake when you send friend invitations. Be sure to introduce yourself—tell the other person who you are and why you want to connect. What interests do you share in common? If you know something specific about the person, say so. On Facebook and many other networks, you can click the "add a personal message" button in the "add as a friend" box, and type in a personalized greeting.

4. Posting promotional messages on other people's profiles or pages.

It's just bad manners to post promotional messages on other people's social network profiles or pages, especially those of your competitors. I delete any such posts from my own pages.

You usually have more leeway in posting messages on group pages. You can get a feel for the group's etiquette by observing that others are doing, but usually it's acceptable to make a wall post introducing yourself and your book, and also to share good news or resources with the group occassionally (see #2 above for ideas).

On my Savvy Book Marketing group on Facebook, I encourage authors to introduce themselves and their books (and post their book covers), but I don't allow repeated blatant promotional messages.

5. Getting too personal.

It's great to tell your online friends something about your interests, but if you're using social networks for business, you probably shouldn't be discussing your health issues, your mother-in-law, or your kid's problems. (Too much information!) It's also a good idea to be cautious about posting things like the dates you are gone on vacation.

If you actively use your Facebook profile to network with family and friends, you might want to reserve your profile for personal use and use your fan page for business. See this article to learn more about fan pages.

6. Sending sales pitches to new people that you meet.

It's nice to do a wall post or send a message to new friends with a greeting (great to meet you, have a wonderful day), a compliment (your website is really terrific) or a note about something that you have in common. You can even invite them to visit your website, if you're subtle about it and include other things in the message. Just be careful that your message doesn't come across as a sales pitch – that's not the way to make a good impression on a new contact.

7. Abusing direct messages.

Many social networks let you send messages to your contacts or members of groups that you belong to. Unfortunately, some people abuse this feature.

On Facebook, the use of direct messages to send promotional pitches has become so prevalent that many people simply tune out their messages. On LinkedIn, someone in a group that I belong to sent me several sales pitches for her products by direct message. I've never heard of this woman and she's not on my list of connections.

If you use direct messages, do so sparingly and be cautious about annoying people – remember that they can "unfriend" you if they get tired of hearing from you. One way to use direct messages is to send a newsletter type of message that contains some helpful tips or resources, along with a link to your book at the end. You can also use direct messages occasionally to announce "news" such as your book launch. 

Remember the golden rule of networking: treat others as you would like to be treated.
Want to learn more about promoting through social networks? Check out The Savvy Book Marketer's Guide to Successful Social Marketing.

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Dana Lynn Smith is a book marketing coach and author of the Savvy Book Marketer Guides. For more tips, visit her book marketing blog and get a copy of the Top Book Marketing Tips ebook when you sign up for her free book marketing newsletter.

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Related Articles:

Your Author Online Platform and Social Networks – Blog Page Views and Twitter Followers
Book Marketing – 3 Reasons Why Editing Should Come Before Self-Publishing

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FOR HELP WITH YOUR ONLINE MARKETING PLATFORM
Visit Platform Building with Content Marketing

Monday, December 6, 2010

Discussing Stolen with Vivian Gilbert Zabel

Children . . . what’s more precious to a parent and family? And, what could be more terrifying and heart wrenching than to have them torn from their foundation, their home . . . from you?

I have the great pleasure of being part of Vivian Gilbert Zabel’s book tour for Stolen. Along with featuring Vivian today, I also did a review of her amazing story; the link is below.


For those who aren’t aware of Vivian, here’s a bit about this award winning author:

Zabel has won several awards with her writing, including first place with her mystery/suspense Midnight Hours. She taught English and writing for nearly 30 years and edited newspapers, yearbooks, and literary magazines sporadically for 45. After retirement, she produced a collection of short stories with Holly Jahangiri, Hidden Lies and Other Stories; a collection of poetry with seven other poets located in the United States and Canada, Walking the Earth: Life’s Perspectives in Poetry; three young adult books, The Base Stealers, Case of the Missing Coach, Prairie Dog Cowboy; and two novels: Midnight Hours and Stolen.

A wife for nearly 49 years, the mother of three living children, grandmother of ten grandchildren, and great-grandmother of five, Zabel believes family and faith are most important, and that belief finds its way in most of her writing. Her characters come from people she observes or reads about mixed with her imagination. Plots take a gain of an idea and combine with a massive dosage of “what if.”

Stolen, based on a true story, tells of the inconceivable: a father steals his children from their mother. I asked Vivian eight questions regarding the writing of Stolen, and her answers were candid and touching.



Discussing Stolen with Vivian Zabel

1. Vivian, I know this book took a number of years to make it to publication, and I know in part why, but do you think you would have published it had your grandchildren not been found?

I think I would have found a way to publish it no matter whether Faris and Yasmeen had been found, or rather they found us, or not. The trip may have been harder is all. The story had to be told.

2. Being the subject matter is so personal and heart wrenching, were you able to say all you wanted to? Or, were some of the emotions just too difficult to convey? Or, certain details better left out?

I couldn’t put everything into the book. For example, I didn’t have Gramps or Bob say, “If I ever see that piece of trash again, I’ll have one of my black outs and run over him.” Plus, there is no way to express the anguish we all felt.  I did feel as if part of my heart had been ripped out. How do I describe that so that another person could really “feel” the pain?

Also, some details couldn’t be used, even if the story were greatly fictionalized.

3. Did you use an outline or did you seat-of-the-pants it? Why did you choose that method, or did it just happen?

I don’t outline. By the time I put pen to paper (as I did with Stolen) or my fingers on the keyboard, the “movie” has already run in my head until everything is as real as if the words were already written. I could tell you now the plot of Betrayal, the sequel to Stolen, even though I haven’t written anything yet.

4. For those who know what your story is about, the title, Stolen, gives goose bumps. Was that always the title?

Yes, that was the title from the very beginning. The whole story deals with so much being “stolen” from the people involved once the children were taken. Of course the main character of the novel, Torri, had many parts stolen from her life.

5. Is much of the story exactly what happened, or is there a good deal of pure fiction in the story?

The emotions are exactly as happened and some events. Dreams that caused us to awaken crying and screaming, running to an empty room. Time when we hysterically cried together, in person or over the phone. A missing picture that caused a mother to rail at life. The agony that caused us to bend over and try to hold ourselves together because we felt the seams of our beings separating. Refusing to clean pencil scribbling off a wall because a little girl had written, “I love you. I love you” over and over. We couldn’t read the words, but she said that’s what the scribbles said.

However, much of the actual plot is fiction. Torri is a mixture of my daughter, some of me, and a lot of my vivid imagination. Gram and Gloria have some of my characteristics and my mother’s, but no one in real life was drugged. My grandchildren were shipped from this country, but to the Middle East. Their father sent them and stayed in the U.S. Of course we didn’t know that until they had been gone for over 12 years.

6. What take-away value do you hope readers will find in Stolen?

I hope people realize that even when we think we can’t go on, that with faith, the love of others, and pure determination we can.

I’ve had people suggest I write my life story, but I don’t think anyone would believe it or would want to believe it. However, I’ve learned that most things are possible if we believe and trust and build.

7. Do you think you will ever write a sequel to Stolen, an adjusting, pick up the pieces, and move forward story.

As I mentioned earlier, the sequel already has a title – Betrayal. It will take time to write, even though it’s already in my head. People might be surprised once they read the sequel. I have a way of not writing what is expected.

8. There is a quote from Fredrich Nietzsche: "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

I don't agree with this philosophy. I think excessive stress and responsibility weakens our immune systems, leaving us open to an array of illnesses. I know you also suffer with a chronic illness, what is your opinion on Nietzsche’s statement?

I believe the idea is ludicrous. Yes, we often become stronger in some ways, at least those who can endure trauma and experiences that might actually cause someone else to give up or even to die. However, that doesn’t mean we become stronger in all ways. My love for my God and my family is stronger, but my body isn’t. Stress has undermined me physically in many ways. My faith and my determination (actually pure stubbornness) are all that keep me going much of the time. Perhaps the idea really comes down to how strong we are before we experience that which doesn’t kill us, strong emotionally and mentally more than physically.


Vivian, thank you so much for taking the time to discuss Stolen with us.


Here is a bit more about the writing of Stolen, taken from the Press Release:

The emotion, frustration, and helplessness she felt when two grandchildren were taken by their father led Zabel to write Stolen. She said, “I took the overpowering feelings that were drowning me and gave them to the main character in the book.” She added that the emotions remained, but they became manageable.

Zabel also stated that it took ten years for the novel to see print. “It took three years to write, four more to proof and edit (with six editors going over and through it time after time), and the last three to prepare for publication.” Most books take considerably less time, but according to the author, this one simply wouldn’t “finish” until after her grandchildren rejoined the family, twelve years after they were taken.

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Stolen is a heart-wrenching story about the inconceivable, and take it from me you’ll be anxiously turning each page. The novel is available at the 4RV Publishing website.

Be sure to order your copy today!


You'll find review of Stolen at:
http://www.karencioffiwritingandmarketing.com/2010/11/sneak-peak-at-stolen-by-vivian-zabel.html

Links for Stolen:

Stolen (ISBN is 978-0-9825886-4-2) is through bookstores, Amazon, Barnes and Noble online, and everywhere else books can be found.

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