Tech Talk with Ron Estrada

During the month of August, we’ll be posting interviews during our popular Saturday segment, Tech Talk. We’ll speak with editors, photographers, and other people who help writers become the best they can be in their chosen field. 

This is our last segment and we’re ending on a high-tech note. Author Ron Estrada shares with us how he uses Periscope to make his video blogs. Watch as he gives us a writing update using Periscope.

Ron Estrada is the author of Young Adult novels NOW I KNEW YOU and ANGEL ‘N ME, the first two books in his Cherry Hill series. He is also co-host of the Teen Writers Publish! podcast, teaching teens, young and old, how to write, publish, and market their novels. He’s a regular contributor to the Novel Rocket and My Book Therapy websites, as well as a regular columnist for Women2Women Michigan, a print magazine for which he is the only male columnist.

Tech Talk with Brian Knack

home-office-336377__180During the month of August, we’ll be posting interviews during our popular Saturday segment, Tech Talk. We’ll speak with editors, photographers, and other people who help writers become the best they can be in their chosen field. 

Stay tuned each Saturday for a new interview!

Today, we’re talking with Brian Knack about self-publishing. Brian recently launched Authorpreneur University  to help other authors successfully realize their publishing dreams. I’ll let him tell you about it:

Why did you start helping authors?

They asked me. When I started self-publishing, I had to learn everything for myself. I’d look online and read and watch whatever resource I could find. About 4 years ago, a friend asked me about writing a book. I told him what I knew and he asked me to help him publish one. I helped him through the process and within a few months, he self-published his first book.

Since then I have helped several other people self-publish their books and have recently started Authorpreneur University separate from my personal author blog, to get the word out and help as many as I possibly can.

You said, “My mission is to help you take your idea and turn it into a business, a book or both, and to be successful at it.”–How do you accomplish that?,

Most authors think that once they publish, that’s it. It’s not. Your book is a business and like every other business, you need a business plan before you do anything else. One thing I’m stressing is for authors to see their books as a business and start to create a business plan before they publish. Part of that business plan is understanding your target market and knowing who they are. It’s a little more in-depth than just saying people who read.

The second thing I am stressing is building a following (a platform) with an author blog before you publish. This way, once you have your business plan fleshed out and your book is ready to launch, you have a large list of people who are already willing to buy it. Not only does this help your pocket book but it will also help your book move up the Amazon list and help your confidence.

I also know that there are authors who still want that traditional publishing deal. With that in mind, I have written a number of blog posts on helping authors find, approach and land a literary agent. It’s not as in-depth as I’d like and I plan on doing more in this area.

I notice you blog. What topics do your blog posts cover?

Well, I have recently separated my personal author blog from Authorpreneur University. There were just too many things I wanted to talk about personally (Faith, Family, Politics, Love, Relationships and whatever else comes to mind) that can tend to be controversial. I thought it best to create a separate business site.

On Authorpreneur University, I try to stick to 4 main topics; Publishing, Writing, Marketing and Platform Building. Starting early next year I’ll be posting regularly once or twice a month. There will also be a podcast to go along with the blog post. Everything I talk about will fit into one of those 4 main topics.

Share three pieces of wisdom with a new author.

There is no such thing as writers block. It’s nothing more than an excuse not to write. Just write even if it’s merely random thoughts… WRITE! Some of my best stuff has come from a slew of weird gibberish.

DO NOT OBSESS OVER OTHER PEOPLE’S OPINIONS. They are merely their opinions based on their personal preferences. Critics don’t matter and neither do publishers or editors. The only opinions that matter are yours and those of your readers. That’s it.

If you want to sell books build real, genuine relationships with your readers. Be you and connect with them as you, not so and so the “Published Author.”

Where can we contact you?

The easiest way to contact me is through my e-mail ( or by the contact form on my blog.

You can also find me on Twitter – @brianlknack, on my Facebook page at Brian Knack and on Goodreads

Brian’s Bio:



I was born and raised in a small Hamlet in upstate NY called White Sulphur Springs. I was raised by my paternal grandparents from 18 months on and grew up on a dairy farm. My wife and I recently moved into a beautiful house in Simpsonville, SC.

I am the author of I’m Born Again, Now What? A New Believer’s Guide to Walking with Christ [Paperback] & [Kindle Edition], W.A.R. Devotional and Study Guide and most recently, the sci-fi adventure, Destiny – Book 1 of The Legacy Series [Kindle Edition]. I have been blogging since 2010.

I offer Cover Design, Formatting and Book Video Trailer Services through Authorpreneur University.

Readers – Purchase a service from Brian and mention you saw this interview on Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My! and he will give you a 25% discount.

Storms in Serenity by Fay Lamb

Fay TeachingToday, my close friend, Fay Lamb, joins us to talk about her newest release, Storms in Serenity. Let’s start at the beginning.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

Fay:  When I say that I have always wanted to write, I mean that my earliest memories are of story. As a child, I told stories. I had children in the neighborhood act out plays. As a teenager in high school, classmates knew me as a writer. I believe I still hold the record for the most English credits by one student. My handwriting is atrocious because I spent hours as a teenager writing stories in notebooks. One of my friends shares that passion, and we wrote together or worked on telling a story. She’d start and stop at a point, and I would pick up. I would have rather been doing something story related than to have breathed back then. I carried the desire into my early twenties where it only grew more important to me as I realized that if God placed this yearning for story in me, I had a responsibility to give Him my all.

I wrote stories in notebooks also. How about now? 

Do you write every day? What does your typical writing day look like?

Fay: I do write every day. I have to confess that it isn’t always fiction. I wear a lot of hats: bookkeeper, housekeeper, wife, mother, writer, editor … I sometimes have to pull away from my fiction until I can get the roles balanced enough for me to put on my writer’s cap. But when I do settle down to a story, I tend to write daily, and when it is finished, I’ll edit daily as well.

You’re so disciplined! Does this carry over to marketing as well?

What’s your favorite marketing strategy?

Fay: One in which I don’t have to market. Only kidding. I’ve struggled with marketing, but I still work at it. My publisher has a great marketing team. I’m a member of that team along with each of Write Integrity Press authors. We work at sharing each other’s promotions and trying to stay away from the dreaded self-promotions. I like working with others and helping others, and I do that with the promotions of not only the Write Integrity authors but of other authors whose work I consider worthwhile. It doesn’t seem so much like marketing if you’re posting interviews with other authors. Likewise, I have The Tactical Editor blog in which I share everything from editing advice, to writing advice, and even encouragement.

With that said, I guess my favorite type of promotion is actually away from the computer. I teach at conferences. I’m always antsy while trying to prepare for the workshop or classes, but God seems to put it all in place. I’m not a great speaker, but I hope that my passion for fiction pours out when I talk about it.

I’ve been in your classes, and you’re a better speaker than you think 🙂 You have a lot on your plate.

Tell us what project you’re currently working on.

Fay: I have a couple of projects right now. I am a managing editor for a new magazine that premiers in June. Imaginate is a place where artists of all genres can share their imaginations with readers.

Novel-wise, I’m writing the next book in the Amazing Grace series, Everybody’s Broken. It’s a romantic suspense that centers around the brokenness caused by one man’s death and what he was to those who knew him and loved him best. His murder has his widow and their two boys on the run where they end up in his hometown with his family that he never told her he had.

Sounds like another exciting story! Last question. 

Have you ever had an interesting experience connected with being an author?

Fay: I fondly recall the 2010 American Christian Writers Conference. From about 1999 to 2003, I had stopped writing with an intent to publish. I’d had an agent, whom I will not name, hurt me badly with something he said, and I sunk into a deep writer’s depression. When I came out of it in 2003, I was still very much unhappy with this particular agent, but I had determined that I was going to prove him wrong. So I began to study the craft, and in 2010 with my first finished novel in years, I was up for the Genesis award at ACFW.

That’s when the Lord started working on my heart. In particularly, He challenged me about my bitterness toward the agent. I knew that when I attended ACFW that year, this agent would be there, and God was prompting me to talk to him.
I didn’t want to do that. He could stay in his corner, and I’d stay in mine.
God didn’t leave me alone about that. So, I challenged God to really show me that I needed to talk to the guy.
I drove to Indianapolis that year, and I was so excited. I was going to catch up with a dear friend. Well, that friend knew about my problems with the agent because she was there when he devastated me with his words. Dear friend rushes to my car before I can give my key to the valet. She whispers to me that the agent I so want to avoid is in the car behind me.
No one has ever declared me pliable. I have a strong will, and like He did with Peter, God has to keep confirming what He wants me to do. I prayed and asked God to clarify His intent.
Mr. Agent follows me into the hotel, and is standing in line behind me.
Not to be outdone by Peter, I need that third clarification. I refuse to even look at the man behind me.
The next day, I meet up with my wonderful writing mentor for lunch, and I’m compelled to tell her the back story about me and Mr. Agent. She sits back in her seat and informs me that he’s her agent, and I really need to talk to him.
I’m not about to tell God that I need another bit of encouragement to do His will. That evening I step into the agent panel. I sit through the entire session. I sit through the long line waiting to talk to Mr. Agent until finally we’re the only two people in the room.
I take a deep breath, and I walk up to him. “You may not remember me, but you really hurt my feelings many years ago.”
Of course he didn’t remember me, but he looks stricken. “Oh no, what did I say to you?”
I told him his exact words–the ones that bitterness had etched onto my heart.
He actually winced and mentions a very famous author that he allowed to get away from his representation. He declares, “What do I really know?” Then he said, “I’m so sorry.”
It wasn’t until that moment I realized that God didn’t have me there for his apology to me, and I blurted out, “No. You don’t understand. I want to thank you. What you said to me back then hurt me, but I hurt myself even more. You were right, and if I’d taken the hurt back then and used it to prove you wrong, I would have realized I had so much to learn before seeking representation, and I wouldn’t have lost four years to self-pity.”
As I was leaving, I turned around to him, and my parting words were, “I’m still too afraid to meet with you at the conference, but would you consider allowing me to send you my most recent manuscript?”
What was he going to do after that, tell me no? Instead, he tells me to be sure to write in the query letter that I’m the one who shamed him at the ACFW Conference.
I’m not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I was too frightened to ask.
Wow. God certainly has a way of working all things to good. Thanks, Fay, for stopping in today! If you’d like to win an autographed copy of Storms in Serenity, please leave a comment and we’ll enter you into the drawing.

Storms in SerenityStorms in Serenity Cover

A hurricane is barreling toward Serenity Key, but the town is already dealing with another storm brewing on the island, and it has nothing to do with atmospheric pressure. Jake New has a secret he’s guarded for thirty years, and a spiritual tempest is about to lay it bare.

When the daughter he has never met is reported missing, apparently the victim of a hideous crime, and the lives of others he loves begin to unravel, Jake learns that the sins he thought so personal weren’t so private after all. The consequences are wreaking havoc in ways he never dreamed possible.

God is the only one Who can calm the storms, but can Jake and Serenity Key survive until He does?

Fay Lamb is an author, editor, and writing coach. Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on three romance novellas: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, A Ruby Christmas, A Dozen Apologies, and the newest adventure The Love Boat Bachelor. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Storms in Serenity (release February 2015), is the first novel in her Serenity Key series.

Future releases from Fay are: Everybody’s Broken and Frozen Notes, Books 3 and 4 of Amazing Grace and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor. And, yes, there’s one more: Goodreads.

What Does it Cost to Self-Publish a Book?

**Disclaimer-all sites that I discuss in this piece are pulled from random google searches. I have not used any of these services and claim no knowledge about their services. I use them strictly for you to get an idea of cost.



Self-publishing or Indie publishing has garnered a lot of attention lately and for good reason. It is now possible to publish high-quality books yourself. There is a plethora of editors, cover designers, and people who will format the book and help you market it. The question is how much will all this cost?

You’ve written a novel and want to make it the best that you can. What are some services and prices offered?


Bubble Cow. Yes, the name intrigued me so I went there. For a line edit, an overview, and an eBook cover design, they charge $17 for every thousand words.

The Book Butchers. The tagline was good. Go to the site to see it. 6 cents a word gives you their best service which includes overview, edits, grammar checks, eBook formatting, etc.

I googled Christian editor and found Where the Map Ends. Jeff Gerke offers a full edit for 5 cents a word.


WordZworth Their basic text service is $1.98 per page.

Go Published Their formatting runs from $100 to $120 on a novel.

Cover Design

Alpha Advertising They offer packages for book cover design from $449 to $949.

99 Designs Their design run from $299 to $1199.


Okay, when it came to prices from a publicist I couldn’t google a particular price. Most said to contact them and they would see what your needs and budget would allow. The one marketer who had a price for premiere marketing advice and help quoted $7500 to $25,000.


So how much will it cost to self-publish a book? Whatever you are willing to put into it. If you are serious about self-publishing, I would read self-published books, find covers, formatting, and editing that looks professional and check into them.

Research. Research. Research.

That would be the key. How many of you who have self-published spent too much money? Had a good experience? Share what you’ve learned with us…

To Self Publish or not to Self Publish: That is the Question

Betty Boyd 1By Betty Boyd

I am currently working on my first book, one full of inspirational stories about women of all ages. I’ve been studying, researching, and reading various blogs and books on the subject of self-publishing.

In the beginning, self-publishing was seen as a piranha in the publishing world. Who in their right mind would want to go through all that aggravation?

The answer is I would.

I want to be able to have a certain control over my product. I understand that I will have to complete a manuscript, have it edited, get a cover design, market the book, and ultimately publish it on a site such as Amazon, I-books, or others.

There are pitfalls to legacy publishing, but even more in self-publishing.  I’m up to the challenge. I feel a sense of purpose as I go into the unknown world of self-publishing. For me, this is the best test to see if I have what it takes to actually follow through, and commit myself totally and completely to what might lay ahead.

Self-publishing will be an eye-opening experience. I’m afraid of what I’ll have to undertake, but relish the learning process that will come from self-publishing my own book. This experience will help me grow, though I will make mistakes.

The question is to self-publish rather than not to self-publish. How were the first authors published? I’m following in the footsteps of other authors. Once I get my book published, I can truly call myself an author and not just a writer.

This book will begin my legacy into the world of being an author. Self-publishing is the conduit that will enable me to achieve this dream I have had for a very long time.

1964: Year of Political Change

lbj50 years. Everything has changed, yet much remains the same. How does 1964 compare to 2014?

In 1964, John F. Kennedy was dead.

He had been assassinated on November 22, 1963, and Lyndon B. Johnson had been given the title of Commander-in-Chief. American involvement in Vietnam has escalated as well as the internal conflict of racial discrimination. Presidential elections would be held in November. Thus began a year of political change and unrest in the United States of America.


January 3rd-Barry Goldwater announces his candidacy for president of the United States.

March 16th-President Johnson submits a proposal to Congress to fight poverty. He helped establish federal programs still in use today, including food stamps, Head Start, Medicare and Medicaid.

May 12th-First publicized instance of “draft card” burning, protesting Vietnam.

May 22nd-Lyndon B. Johnson delivers a speech calling for the end of racial injustice and poverty, outlining his plans for the next four years.

martin luther kingJune 21st-Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, three civil rights workers for Freedom Summer, a program to educate and register African Americans to vote, go missing in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

July 2nd-President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.

July 16th-Black teenager, James Powell, is killed in Harlem, NY by an off-duty white police officer. Peaceful demonstrations escalate into violence for six days causing over $1 million in damages.

August 7th-Congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, allowing President Johnson to launch war against North Vietnam without a formal declaration of war from Congress.

October 1st-Student activists at the University of California at Berkeley begin to protest perceived violations of their First Amendment rights, setting up a model that inspires other student activism around the country.

October 27th-Ronald Reagan launches his political career.

November 3rd-President Johnson wins a landslide victory over Goldwater.

All this in the span of 365 days. When we look back, we see it as a pivitol year of change. In fifty years, what will the next generation say about 2014?


social mediaSocial Media. This powerful tool has changed the face of politics forever. Little is hidden and all is heard through the mediums of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, You Tube, and many others.

January 28-President Obama delivers his State of the Union Address focusing on the country’s environmental policies, jobs, and immigration reform. Special attention is drawn to his willingness to circumvent the decisions of Congress, which critics believe would overstep his power and undermine the system of checks and balances.

Same-sex marriage is being ruled on throughout the country, with mixed results as to whether it is constitutional or not.

February 24-The Obama Administration proposes to reduce the military budget and shrink the army to levels not seen since prior to World War II.

April 3-Governor Phil Bryant of Mississippi signs a bill that will allow individuals and businesses to deny service to anyone if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.

April 23-Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia signs the Safe Carry Protection Act, expanding the right to openly carry firearms in more public locations such as churches, government buildings, and bars.gun

June 25-The Supreme Court, in a rare unanimous ruling, declares that police must obtain a warrant in order to search through a phone or digital device. Also, the 10th Circuit Federal Appeals Court rules against Utah’s same-sex marriage ban, becoming the first appeals court to rule in favor of same-sex unions.

July 8th-Washington becomes the second state to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana, following Colorado.

The year has not ended and I only chose facts within the United States. What of the Israeli-Gaza conflict? With ten wars and eight serious conflicts happening in our world, the next generation is sure to remember the political change and unrest in 2014, possibly as much as the year called 1964.


Confessions of a Story Plotter by Jennifer Slattery

manuscriptAfter nine months of research, angsting, typing, deleting, and typing some more, I’d reached the end. It was my first real, full-length novel. (I say that because everything I’d written prior deserved to land in one place—the trash.) But this one? This one actually had a cohesive plot. More than that, I loved the story and felt as if God had birthed it in my heart and carried it through to resolution.

Grinning, I printed it out and brought it to my husband. “Would you like to read this?”

My handsome, railroader husband stared at the 300+ pages, his eyebrows shooting upward. “All of it?”

“Yep. Please?”

Based on his rapidly fluctuating facial expressions, a thousand thoughts flew through his mind. Apparently, Luke 9:23 rose to the surface: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”MeandSteve

Those married to a writer understand this. Those unpolished, noncohesive manuscripts are the cross they must bear—not only bear, but read, from eye-glossing beginning to migraine-producing end. Then they must find a way to tell their love the brutal truths that will help them grow.

Truths  like:

Your timeline’s messed up.

You never closed that plot thread.

Can someone really single-handedly save two-hundred orphans from certain death?

Those were the types of truths my husband told me. In my write-as-I-go fashion, I’d made a mess of pretty near everything due to an unplanned (also known as nonexistent) time-line. Fixing it wouldn’t be easy.

In fact, midway through, I began to wonder if it’d be easier to simply toss the manuscript and start over. I didn’t, but this experience did change the way I wrote my second novel.

Because of that frustrating experience, my inner plotter emerged, and it’s remained ever since.

brain-explosion stagePlotting begins with the same bones all stories do: an intriguing idea, scene, or character that won’t leave your brain. From here, I normally focus on one character. I determine her lie (I always start with my female characters for some reason), the thing she believes about herself that hinders her from living fully in God’s grace.

Then, I determine her goal, which is usually closely tied to her lie. This is where it gets interesting. Because her goal is based on her lie, when God’s truth replaces her lie, she very well may begin pursuing an entirely new goal. Because I write missional romance, which focuses on characters’ divine calling and their realization and pursuit of that, I will usually also pray over a social issue I believe my character is passionate about.

One they probably aren’t even aware of yet.

Rather, it’s more of a hidden passion, one God crafted into them but their lie, distractions, and false ambitions have kept it hidden from them.

At this stage, a great deal of research and brainstorming is done. Then comes the plotting, which I’ll share more next Monday.

What about you? Do you plot your stories or do you prefer to write as you go? What are some key elements that you include in every novel? What does your pre-writing brainstorming look like?

If you want to see the results of my plotting, you check out my debut novel, currently available for preorder at 26% percent off! If you plan to buy the novel, now’s a great time.  Here’s the purchase link:

Here’s the blurb:

BeyondIDocoverBeyond I Do

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadow’s encounter with a woman, her child, and their abuser sparks a passion that threatens her engagement. Will seeing beyond the present unite her and her fiancé or tear them apart?

Raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignites a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Jennifer Slattery is a missional romance novelist with New Hope Publishers. She writes and edits for Christ to the World Ministries, is a regular contributor to, Internet Cafe Devotions,Inspy Romance, and Jewels of Encouragement,  and manages the social media for Takin’ it to the Streets, a ministry that serves Omaha’s working poor and homeless. She’s placed in numerous writing contests and her work has appeared in numerous compilations, magazines, and e-zines.  Visit her devotional blog,JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud, her editing services website, WordsThatKeep, or connect with her onFacebook or Twitter.