Category Archives: Uncategorized

Author Interview: Dr. Barbara Culp

As mentioned in last week’s post about great books for the back-to-school season, now we’re going to hear directly from Dr. Barbara Culp herself.

Culp Teachers

Dr. Culp started out as a preschool teacher before teaching at the elementary and middle school levels. The area superintendent promoted her until she became the principal of one of the largest elementary schools in Georgia.

After retiring, she found that education was a field she could never leave. She returned to work as a field supervisor of aspiring teachers before founding a tutorial service. The books she has written allow her to reach out to everyone who is focused on academic excellence.

More than four decades of experience have been distilled into this series. Each of the comprehensive books targets teachers, principals, superintendents, parents, and students with thoughtful, relevant advice. Readers empower themselves with wisdom from an educator who has been where they want to go.

She kindly took a break from her busy schedule to answer a few questions for this blog.

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

To a new writer, I would say it takes time to fine tune your writing skills. Don’t give up, because your passion and purpose will take you places you never dreamed of.

To a seasoned writer, I would say you owe it to your voice in the world to mentor others who have a calling on their lives to write.

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?

For me, my mind is constantly at work searching within and without looking for more thoughts and information to fill the void with respect to the project I’m currently working on. It resembles an outline or table of contents; it is part of the whole that inspires more.

It makes me feel that I have something of value to add to the big picture of reading and writing and, as an artist, I am challenged to always put my best foot forward.

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?

I think the greatest challenge to publishers is to get people reading again. In a world where technology rules, reading a book seems to be the last thing people want to do.

I hate to offer this suggestion, but the right incentives usually motivate people to doing things they might not do on their own…so, hide messages in books that lead to monetary rewards/incentives or put books on audio to be listened to as we travel to and from.

What books are you currently reading?

I am currently reading the Bible and The Moses Code.

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

I think James Baldwin was an underappreciated Black author during his time, and that was one of the reasons why he left America and moved to France. If he were living today, his novels would probably be bestsellers as he had a tendency to speak about human sexuality as it exists in the world today.

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

Michelle Alexander is a new author, civil rights attorney, and Professor of Law at Ohio State University who wrote a book titled The New Jim Crow. She spotlights racism based on her insight as a civil rights lawyer. In her book, she helps us to see the imbalance in our justice system when it comes to race in America.

Culp Principals

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

Believe it or not, I believe I write best when I am bored or depressed. When I am feeling low, I can write my way back to a place of happiness, self-acceptance and self-reliance. The ideas, words, and thoughts seems to just flow.

Can you give us a sneak peek into your current project?

Again, my next project is school/workplace related, and it centers on building highly effective and efficient operating teams in support of greater student success.

 

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Scammers Break The Kindle Store

This is an issue that everyone who uses Amazon–to buy anything from toilet paper to books and gardening equipment–needs to know about.

David Gaughran

On Friday, a book jumped to the #1 spot on Amazon, out of nowhere; it quickly became obvious that the author had used a clickfarm to gatecrash the charts.

The Kindle Store is officially broken.

This is not the first time this has happened and Amazon’s continued inaction is increasingly baffling. Last Sunday, a clickfarmed title also hit #1 in the Kindle Store. And Amazon took no action.

Over the last six weeks, one particularly brazen author has put four separate titles in the Top 10, and Amazon did nothing whatsoever. There are many such examples.

I wrote at the start of June about how scammers were taking over Amazon’s free charts. That post led to a phone conversation with KDP’s Executive Customer Relations.

Repeated assurances were given that the entire leadership team at Amazon was taking the scammer problem very seriously indeed. But it was also stressed that the…

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Books by a Blotter Friend

Just discovered this link to two videos posted by The Blotter literary magazine. Thanks, Blotter gang!

Check out their mag after you look at the videos. PDFs of all their back issues are available online. Happy reading!

POST:

Our good friend LAINE CUNNINGHAM has a couple of novels out & about:  Seven Sisters and The Family Made of Dust.  Here are trailers for them:

Source: Books by a Blotter Friend

Free Books for Blog Giveaways

One of my books has just been reissued in a new interior format. Seven Sisters is a self-help book that touches on parenting, love, friendship, and other elements of life within a community.

The original version has a full-color interior featuring Australian Aboriginal dot-dot style artwork on every page. These types of paintings told stories, frequently ones that were important to spiritual growth.

To new version has a black-and-white interior so that the print price point is lower than the gift version. To celebrate the new edition, I am offering copies of the original, full-color gift version to any blogger who wants to host a giveaway.

There is a limited number of print copies on hand but it is possible to provide two copies to blogs with large followings. Just connect with me by leaving a comment on this blog, or email me directly through either Writer’s Resource or my author website.

Let’s get your readers reading something for free!

Guest Blogging Webinar

This instructor is great! Check out her webinar for the best advice on guest blogging.

Guest Blogging: My Favorite Self-Promotion Method for Writers

There’s one last chance to attend a guest blogging webinar in 2016. This session will take place on 29 November 2016 at 6pm GMT.

In this free one hour seminar, Laurie Garrison, PhD will talk about why guest blogging is a fantastic way for writers to get their work in front of new audiences. She’ll show you how to use some free online tools to find good sites to write for and share some brainstorming techniques for coming up with angles to interest new audiences. In summary, this is what the webinar will cover:

  • What guest blogging is and why you should do it.
  • Finding websites that are worth writing for in terms of content and traffic.
  • Brainstorming angles for reaching new audiences.

At the end of the session, Laurie will tell you about her newly launched Online Self Promotion Course and there will be an opportunity for you to ask questions about it. She will also make a special offer for those who want to go on to do the course.

Laurie would like to use two or three attendees’ work as examples in the webinar. If selected, you will receive some additional advice in terms of websites to pitch to and angles to use, which will be specific to you and your writing. You’ll receive instructions on how to submit your work for consideration after signing up for the webinar below.

This webinar will take place on Tuesday, 29 November from 6-7pm(ish) GMT.

Sign up here.

Book Review: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Book Review: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

January 2016 Penguin Random House

What a beautiful and spare book. This latest from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Strout knocked me off my chair!

When a woman goes into the hospital for a long stay to combat an illness the doctors cannot pinpoint, she is separated from the family she has built: her husband and children continue with their lives while her life stays in limbo.

In this strange, liminal space between the healthy world and the world that tends to sickness, Lucy considers her life. She records it in a memoir or journal; we’re never quite sure whether what we’re reading is intended for publication or if she will hold these thoughts only for herself.

And the review intermingles her childhood under an uncaring and sometimes cruel mother and father with the family she has built. We discover early on that the friend who brings her children to visit will eventually be the woman her husband selects. He, meanwhile, doesn’t visit her at the hospital, another form of cruelty and neglect she grapples with during these months.

At some point, her mother quite unexpectedly appears for a visit. For five days, her mother sits next to her hospital bed, always refusing the cot the nurses offer to sleep sitting up on the chair. It is a mournful waiting, much like a wake, and brings things to the surface that Lucy has never faced.

She faces them now but not through clashes with her mother. Instead she considers them carefully, shifting between a criticism of her own writing through what she learned during a writing workshop and how the author who conducted the workshop responded to her work and that of others.

By the time she leaves the hospital, Lucy has lost quite a bit. But she has found herself.

Truly a touching and quiet novel that you’ll speed through…and think about long after turning the last page.

For another contemporary novel about family relationships, try The Family Made of Dust.

5 stars!

I received an ARC from the publisher so that I could write this review.

Book Review: Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets

February 2016 Berkley

If you’re not familiar with this title and you like strong female protagonists, you should be. Especially since the book divides the lead role between two equally tenacious individuals, and because neither of them are perfect.

Interested yet? Then pick up Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets. The author has made some interesting choices here, so if you’re a writer and read to see how others do their jobs, you’ll want to get this book, too.

Readers will find chapters that alternate between following Amy Raye, a woman who gets lost in the woods, and Pru, an archaeological law enforcement ranger who has been trained–and who has trained her dog–in search and rescue techniques.

When Amy Raye goes missing during an elk hunt, Pru is called in to help. What follows is a long search (I won’t say for how long because that might spoil the read for some) on Pru’s part and a battle for survival on Amy Raye’s part. Bears, cougars, snow, starvation…all the usual issues present for both women.

What isn’t as usual is the history both women bring to their individual struggles. Pru was left a single mom when a casual affair ended before she knew she had become pregnant. Amy Raye has different difficulties that revolve around men and a childhood spent growing up on a farm.

As the search continues, both women look deeply into their pasts. They try to fit themselves into the lives they have built, looking always for some sort of redemption. Their goals are never guaranteed, and not until the very last chapter do readers discover whether they succeed or fail.

The interesting choices made by the author include making Amy Raye a hunter…hunting is generally frowned upon–sometimes quite strongly–in America, and having a woman take on the role potentially means that some readers will dislike her from the start…or simply not pick up the book.

A second is Amy Raye’s history, which she struggles with even in the midst of struggling to survive. I can’t reveal that but let’s say it’s not anything a woman is “allowed” or encouraged to do, unlike men who tend to get away with the same behaviors quite easily.

Finally, the author has loaded in quite a bit of technical information. It was wearying after a bit (for me, anyway) to learn the exact types, weights, and other specifications of the equipment each woman used. It really dragged the pace.

However, I can also defend the author’s choice. Since the characters are women, readers might need more of that information to be convinced that both of these women know what the hell they’re doing. We all know that women in fiction are not as respected as male characters, so the author might have needed to compensate by loading in much more than she might have given a different story.

All in all, however, this is a strong presentation of a story that will captivate readers…even if they don’t like hunting, even if they have never set foot in the wilderness.

If you love strong female leads, try Beloved: A Sensual Noir Thriller, which features a female FBI agent.

4 stars!

I received a copy from the publisher so that I could write this review.