Author Archives: Laine Cunningham

About Laine Cunningham

Laine Cunningham is an award-winning author, ghostwriter, and publishing consultant who has been quoted on CNN Money, MSNBC.com, FoxNews.com, and other national and international media. Her novels interweave social, cultural, historical, political and spiritual movements that have occurred within different groups and at different times. These elements engage readers in discussions of how similar forces have changed or are changing the contemporary world…and what might lie in our future. When individuals recognize how large issues build over time from multiple small steps, they recognize that everyone can foment change through their choices and their decisions. Her work has won multiple national awards, including the Hackney Literary Award and the James Jones Literary Society fellowship. In past years, the Hackney Award was received by Horton Foote and William Styron, placing her in the ranks of Pulitzer Prize-winning authors. She has received dozens of fellowships and residency slots from programs like the Jerome Foundation, the Vermont Studio Center, the New York Mills Cultural Center, Wildacres Center for the Humanities, Arte Studio Ginestrelle in Assisi, Italy, the TAKT Kunstprojektraum in Berlin, Germany, Fusion Art in Turin, Italy and The Hambidge Center. Her nonfiction books include "Writing While Female or Black or Gay: Diverse Voices in Publishing," which includes tips on re-engineering the publishing industry with grassroots actions. She is also the author of the travel memoir "Woman Alone: A Six-Month Journey Through the Australian Outback" and a series of Zen and Wisdom books combining unique inspirational text with beautiful photos.

Going Hybrid

A great look at the realities of hybrid publishing.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

35 miles per bale

On Tuesday, we talked about publishers soliciting authors in the guise of a publication offer.

That’s not a book deal. That’s a (slick) commercial for their services.

But for some authors, “hybrid” publishing works. Could it be right for you?

Old-school vanity publishers know their terrible reputations, and many have rebranded as “hybrid.” They charge authors a “contribution” that pays their costs and a healthy profit margin. They don’t care if your book sells—they already made their money. You may end up with cartons of unsold books, text badly or not-at-all edited, dreadful covers, crappy page design.

True hybrid presses offer a legitimate package of publishing services. It costs more than self-publishing—they still profit before selling your book—but you’re not doing it all yourself. Hybrids can provide a smoother publication process, bookstore placement, reviews, and some of the legitimacy of an imprint.

Is hybrid right for…

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The Art of Appraisal Wins Gold

Art of Appraisal

I’ve written on this blog before about Dr. Barbara Culp, an experienced educator who has written an exceptional series for anyone involved in education. Her books target teachers, parents, students, administrators, and superintendents. Dr. Culp is unstoppable in her dedication!

Now one of her books, The Art of Appraisal from leading educational publisher Rowman & Littlefield, has received a gold award. The award comes from the Nonfiction Authors Association, and is provided for excellence in nonfiction works. Here’s the description from R&L’s website:

The Art of Appraisal saves time and boosts performance with effective tools and a streamlined process.
With a few detailed comments, an appraisal can correct weak habits, boost midlevel professionals, and launch excellent teachers into greatness. The Art of Appraisal allows administrators to reap the greatest benefits by creating clarity and efficiency in the process.
First, a binary feedback structure ruled by four performance tiers is described. Then, ten key areas of teacher responsibility are defined. Each task is further parsed into four subcategories. Evaluations become faster and easier, and the feedback becomes exponentially more profound.
Nonfiction-Award-04.2.3-Gold-150Rich with real-world examples and comments about different performance ratings, The Art of Appraisal clarifies and distills the evaluation process. Supplemental chapters are packed with practical comments that can be pasted into evaluations. This structured, step-by-step system was developed by Dr. Culp, an educational professional with over forty years of experience.
An invaluable tool for administrators and the teachers they evaluate, The Art of Appraisal allows a school’s most effective tool to be used in the most efficient manner.

 

Read more about Dr. Culp’s motivation here, and about her first six titles here. Hear directly from this sterling professional in the author interview here.

Have you read any of these books, or given them as gifts to your school or a special educator you respect? Let me know about your experiences!

Latest from Children’s Author Wendy Gilhula

PBHaBQCoverLast November, I interviewed children’s author Wendy Gilhula about her work. Here’s a link to the interview to refresh your memory. At the time, she was celebrating the release of her first picture book, Pika Bunny and the Thunderstorm. 

I blogged about that, too, here, calling it the Cutest Dual-language Picture Book! The work was published as separate editions in English and Spanish, with another edition in English and Spanish.

Now her second book is out. Pika Bunny Has a Big Question is available just in time for Wendy to be featured by her publisher at Book Expo of America (BEA). That’s big news for any author. It’s even better for Wendy’s fans, because she’ll be at her publisher’s booth signing copies.

The second book is already available in English. The dual-language edition is in the works and will be available soon. Meanwhile, worksheets based on Pika’s adventures are available for free at Wendy’s website. They are really, really cute! And they are also available in English and Spanish.

When I wished Wendy good luck, I told her I hoped she sold a ton of books at BEA. Then I asked, “How many Pika Bunnies are in a ton?”

Her answer: “There are about 5,333 Pika Bunnies in a ton.”

Let’s help her sell a ton of Pika Bunnies, and encourage literacy and multilingual abilities in kids!

Fiction Southeast – “Why Is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?”

Just wanted to share this most recent publication, an amusing essay about the foibles of the writing life. Other artists might find themselves in these anecdotes, as well!

Here’s the opening, followed by a link to the full essay:

The life of an author can be peculiar. Certain experiences ought to be grand events accompanied by trumpets and elephants, or at least a little snowfall of confetti and cake served up by your bestie. Moments like winning an award. Or signing with an agent. Or plunging into a writing career possessed by a passion that surely will mulch any obstacle in the wood chipper of artistic devotion.

Sometimes, however, you fall down the rabbit hole and discover that the Duchess’ baby has turned into a pig. The first two weeks of my writing career, for example, were spent curled up under my dining room table.

Source: Fiction Southeast – “Why Is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?”

Dr. Culp, Author and Educator, in the News

Culp ParentsHere’s another update on a client who has published seven titles through a leading educational publishing house.

You’ve seen a few of Dr. Barbara Culp’s educational titles on this blog before. Now she is receiving coverage from other sources, including this article in Voyage ATL. 

The interview touches on her motivation for writing all of the books. As an educator with over forty years of experience, she found that retirement didn’t suit her very well. There was still too much to be done to help parents, teachers, principals, and students. Culp Teachers

So she started writing books targeting all the different groups involved with K-12 education. She even wrote a book for school superintendents. The “words of wisdom” style series has tips and truly heartfelt advice that can empower while turning up the heat on passion.

Vintage Knowledge for Principals has all 5-star reviews on Amazon. Students who reviewed Choice Knowledge for Students called the book “awesome!” What more could an author…or a reader…want?

Check out all Dr. Culp’s titles at Rowman & Littlefield, on Amazon, or ask your indie bookseller for a copy today! The best thing about Dr. Culp’s work is that she is also working to bring students to their maximum academic potential through the tutorial service she founded. You can visit Amyra, the tutorial company, at their website.

Keep up the great work, Dr. Culp! And I’ll keep readers informed of new books from this talented, warm, and caring author as they are released.

Culp Students

Free Short Graphic Stories

For several months, I have been delighted and moved by the short graphic stories produced by artists and author Dasha Ziborova. Once a month, she produces a graphic story about a part of her life, something that spurred her thoughts, or a fiction…usually one that is moving and funny at the same time!

To check out her stories for yourself, go to her page on RealTimeInInk. There you can get a glimpse of the kind of artwork she produces. You can also follow the link embedded in the page to sign up for the subscription yourself.

Here’s how she describes her work:

Real Time In Ink is a series of graphic stories by artist and author Dasha Ziborova. It covers a broad range of topics from people, places, parenting, art, music, cats, food, travel, to occasional politics and scary crazy Russians.
https://www.realtimeinink.com

Dasha Ziborova is a graphic novelist, picture book illustrator and a muralist. She was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and came to New York in 1991. Since then Dasha illustrated five children’s picture books including the award-winning Crispin the Terrible published by Callaway Editions, and In English, of Course and The Numbers Dance by Gingerbread House. She is currently working on developing short graphic stories about New York and it’s inhabitants.
https://www.ziborova.com

Author Interview: Mark Noce

Mark NoceLast week, I posted a book review for the second title in a historical series by Mark Noce. The first two titles are Between Two Fires and Dark Winds Rising. Both feature Queen Branwen of Wales, an original empowered woman!

Today the author has been kind enough to answer a few questions. So, here we go!

MC: Hi Laine, and thanks so much for having me here!

How would your advice for new writers differ from advice you would offer writers who have been in the game for a while?

Hmm. My advice would be…don’t take too much advice. I’m not saying that there isn’t a lot of good advice out there, but it’s crucial for each author to find what works for them, and what doesn’t. Experiment, trying things, learn the hard way. It’s what I do. Try writer’s conferences, creative writing groups, online forums, and see what speaks to you.

As for the writing itself, I adhere to Ray Bradbury’s advice to write a lot and often, otherwise, “if you only write a few things, you’re doomed.”

When you take a break from writing, is it a full and total break or is your mind constantly parsing the world for fodder? What does that parsing look like? How does it make you feel as an artist? As a human being?

I dream about writing (seriously I do), so I’m not sure that I ever really do take a break. Writers are readers, so if you feel you need a break, make sure to plug your time with as much reading as you can. It’s grist for the mill, and there’s so much good stuff out there to enjoy. Writing’s work, but it’s fun too. So long as you keep it fun, you won’t want a break from it.

From your perspective as an author, what do you feel is the biggest challenge to the publishing industry today? Is there a way to solve that challenge?

There are plenty of challenges, but it wouldn’t be worthwhile if it was easy either. One of the big challenges is simply getting your message heard through all the white noise that fills everyone’s everyday lives. When you promote a book or even get your novel into someone’s hands you probably still don’t have their full attention, i.e. the TV is on, they’re multitasking at work, their kids are interrupting them, etc. All you can really do is try to connect with them right from the get go with those first few lines so that they make the conscious choice to dive into your story. It’s part skill, part luck, part faith.

What books are you currently reading?

Everything! There’s nothing I won’t read. I try to read about 3-4 books a week (and during the summer I try to reread some of my favorites). I’ve been diving into history books lately, fiction and nonfiction. Stuff by James Jones, George Orwell, and even Katharine Hepburn (yes, you read that last part right).

Which authors do you think are underappreciated in the current market, and why? (The authors do not have to be living.)

It’s difficult to say, as you never know what books are being loved in people’s homes across the world, but aren’t bestsellers. I’m a big Lawrence Durrell fan, so if you haven’t read Justine or any of the Alexandrian quartet, you’re in for a treat.

Which new writers do you find most interesting, and why?

One book that really blew me away this year was Cherie Reich’s stories entitled People of Foxwick. If you enjoy fantasy, check it out. When I read it, I was shocked that a major press hadn’t picked it up yet, it’s that good.

Finding the discipline to keep writing can be tough. Which “get writing” techniques are most effective for you?

Everyone is different. If you do something 60 days in a row though, it typically becomes a habit. Then you simply do it without thinking. Also, it’s key to develop your own regimen. For me, I write on weekdays, but give myself weekends off to read and absorb life. By Monday I’m always chomping at the bit to get writing again.

Dark Winds RisingCan you give us a sneak peek into your current project?

Sure, I’ve got lots. The sequel in my Queen Branwen series, Dark Winds Rising, came out this month, but I’ve got two manuscripts for two different series already with my agent. One is set during the Viking age and another in WWII London. They both feature female protagonists, and I’m really excited to get these out there with publishers.

Do feel free to tell me anything else you think people should know about you, the book, the writing lifestyle, or your process.

I love writing, especially historical fiction. I work by day as a tech writer in Silicon Valley, and when I’m not writing, I’m with my wife raising my kids. My little redheads are great, but looking after them makes writing and the corporate world look easy by comparison. 😉

I hope you enjoy Dark Winds Rising, and I look forward to connecting with all of you. Please feel free to drop me a line at marknoce.com any time. Thanks!