Thursday, September 27, 2012

Today is the official launch date for the paperback of Never Gone!

My blog ramble has also begun. The first two stops garnered some wonderful discussion. At Laura Pauling's blog, I discussed romance plots in "Repulsion, Attraction, Connection: Romance Is More than Hotness." Angela Felsted interviewed me, asking "How autobiographical is Never Gone?" Tomorrow I'll announce more upcoming stops on the ramble, including giveaways!

So what is this book I'm launching? Read on to learn more.


Days after her father’s death, fifteen-year-old Dani Deane begins seeing him all around New York — wading through discarded sketches in her room, roaming the halls at church, socializing at his post-funeral reception. Is grief making her crazy? Or could her dad really be lingering between this world and the next, trying to contact her?

Dani desperately longs for his help. Without him keeping the peace, Dani’s relationship with her mother is deteriorating fast. Soon Mum ships her off to rural England with Dad’s relatives for a visit that Dani fears will become a permanent stay. But she won’t let her arty, urban life slip away without a fight, especially when daily phone calls with her lab partner Theo become her lifeline.

To find her way home, Dani must somehow reconnect with Mum. But as she seeks advice from relatives and insights from old letters, she uncovers family secrets that shake her to the core. Convinced that Dad’s ghost alone can help her, she sets out on a dangerous journey to contact him one last time.


"Never Gone is a ghost story for a new generation – a twisty journey through a young girl's battle with death, grief, and the discovery of family secrets that threaten to undo her world. Garver tackles difficult subjects with depth and grace, weaving the complexities of faith with the complexities of growing up." --Heidi Willis, author of Some Kind of Normal



Add it on Goodreads. Like my author page on Facebook.
The e-book is available at Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, KoboSmashwords
The paperback is available at CreateSpace, Amazon

Share this post using the buttons and you will be automatically entered to win: 

your choice of
~ebook of of Never Gone
~ebook of The Emotion Thesaurus
~paperback of Poetry Pact vol. 1
~paperback of my favorite novel, The Wonder Worker by Susan Howatch

Let me know in the comments where you shared, on the off chance Blogger doesn't properly track the data. Thanks!
Thursday, September 27, 2012 Laurel Garver
Today is the official launch date for the paperback of Never Gone!

My blog ramble has also begun. The first two stops garnered some wonderful discussion. At Laura Pauling's blog, I discussed romance plots in "Repulsion, Attraction, Connection: Romance Is More than Hotness." Angela Felsted interviewed me, asking "How autobiographical is Never Gone?" Tomorrow I'll announce more upcoming stops on the ramble, including giveaways!

So what is this book I'm launching? Read on to learn more.


Days after her father’s death, fifteen-year-old Dani Deane begins seeing him all around New York — wading through discarded sketches in her room, roaming the halls at church, socializing at his post-funeral reception. Is grief making her crazy? Or could her dad really be lingering between this world and the next, trying to contact her?

Dani desperately longs for his help. Without him keeping the peace, Dani’s relationship with her mother is deteriorating fast. Soon Mum ships her off to rural England with Dad’s relatives for a visit that Dani fears will become a permanent stay. But she won’t let her arty, urban life slip away without a fight, especially when daily phone calls with her lab partner Theo become her lifeline.

To find her way home, Dani must somehow reconnect with Mum. But as she seeks advice from relatives and insights from old letters, she uncovers family secrets that shake her to the core. Convinced that Dad’s ghost alone can help her, she sets out on a dangerous journey to contact him one last time.


"Never Gone is a ghost story for a new generation – a twisty journey through a young girl's battle with death, grief, and the discovery of family secrets that threaten to undo her world. Garver tackles difficult subjects with depth and grace, weaving the complexities of faith with the complexities of growing up." --Heidi Willis, author of Some Kind of Normal



Add it on Goodreads. Like my author page on Facebook.
The e-book is available at Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, KoboSmashwords
The paperback is available at CreateSpace, Amazon

Share this post using the buttons and you will be automatically entered to win: 

your choice of
~ebook of of Never Gone
~ebook of The Emotion Thesaurus
~paperback of Poetry Pact vol. 1
~paperback of my favorite novel, The Wonder Worker by Susan Howatch

Let me know in the comments where you shared, on the off chance Blogger doesn't properly track the data. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Once I made the decision to self-publish Never Gone, a funny thing happened. I became completely paralyzed by the sheer volume of what I needed to do.

When I think back to my life in high school, I can't believe how I juggled band, choir, art club, school newspaper, honors classes, a part-time job, and scribbling stories every spare moment. College wasn't much different, though theater, music ministry, and literary magazine were my passions of choice. I never pulled an all-nighter in college and still graduated magna cum laude. After college, I worked full time, went to grad school, did freelance graphic design projects, and served as editor and publisher of an international literary magazine, About Such Things.

I used to be a high energy person, so why the paralysis at this phase of life?

I'd become irrationally afraid. About setting up my business wrong. About getting bad feedback that makes the story wrong. About my title choice and cover design ideas. About failing in a huge, public way.

A funny thing about listening to fear--it takes away your power to contradict it.

Getting into better headspace about the project came when I let voices other than the voice of fear really sink in. I went back and reread notes from the three groups of people who'd critiqued over the years. Sure they pointed out weaknesses, but they also had a lot of immensely encouraging things to say--that it's an important story, that it's moving, that it kept them up late reading. Friends and family alike kept asking how the book project was coming along, wanting to know when they could get their hands on it. Even my daughter was itching for this book to come to fruition.

When you're in the presence of other writers, it can be easy to forget what an extreme act of bravery it is to create worlds, characters, stories and put them out for public consumption. Non-writers are always amazed by it. I think in our circles we're only beginning to talk about the reality of fear when we create. Alex's Insecure Writers Support Group is one such place, and I'm always encouraged by folks' posts.

See, bravery isn't a lack of fear, it's a willingness to move forward in hope despite the fear. There are still moments when the voice of fear picks up on my doubts and shouts them at me. But I turn away and listen to the voices of hope instead.

Because hope energizes. Hope keeps on trying. Hope is patient. Hope believes.

= = =

Blog Ramble News

See my interview with Anglea Felsted at My Poetry and Prose Place, discussing how my life experiences do and don't show up in my novel Never Gone.

= = =

Have you wrestled with fear? How do you tune into the voice of hope instead?
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 Laurel Garver
Once I made the decision to self-publish Never Gone, a funny thing happened. I became completely paralyzed by the sheer volume of what I needed to do.

When I think back to my life in high school, I can't believe how I juggled band, choir, art club, school newspaper, honors classes, a part-time job, and scribbling stories every spare moment. College wasn't much different, though theater, music ministry, and literary magazine were my passions of choice. I never pulled an all-nighter in college and still graduated magna cum laude. After college, I worked full time, went to grad school, did freelance graphic design projects, and served as editor and publisher of an international literary magazine, About Such Things.

I used to be a high energy person, so why the paralysis at this phase of life?

I'd become irrationally afraid. About setting up my business wrong. About getting bad feedback that makes the story wrong. About my title choice and cover design ideas. About failing in a huge, public way.

A funny thing about listening to fear--it takes away your power to contradict it.

Getting into better headspace about the project came when I let voices other than the voice of fear really sink in. I went back and reread notes from the three groups of people who'd critiqued over the years. Sure they pointed out weaknesses, but they also had a lot of immensely encouraging things to say--that it's an important story, that it's moving, that it kept them up late reading. Friends and family alike kept asking how the book project was coming along, wanting to know when they could get their hands on it. Even my daughter was itching for this book to come to fruition.

When you're in the presence of other writers, it can be easy to forget what an extreme act of bravery it is to create worlds, characters, stories and put them out for public consumption. Non-writers are always amazed by it. I think in our circles we're only beginning to talk about the reality of fear when we create. Alex's Insecure Writers Support Group is one such place, and I'm always encouraged by folks' posts.

See, bravery isn't a lack of fear, it's a willingness to move forward in hope despite the fear. There are still moments when the voice of fear picks up on my doubts and shouts them at me. But I turn away and listen to the voices of hope instead.

Because hope energizes. Hope keeps on trying. Hope is patient. Hope believes.

= = =

Blog Ramble News

See my interview with Anglea Felsted at My Poetry and Prose Place, discussing how my life experiences do and don't show up in my novel Never Gone.

= = =

Have you wrestled with fear? How do you tune into the voice of hope instead?

Monday, September 24, 2012

I'm over at Laura Pauling's blog today, talking about "Attraction, Repulsion, Connection: Romance is More than Hotness" and a little about Never Gone's romantic subplot. It's my first blog ramble visit, so please come say hello. Or debate my viewpoint about what makes truly memorable romantic plots (hint: it's not great hair).

Meanwhile, I've signed up for a blog hop for the first time in, er... a pretty darned long time. And because of that I've lost some great opportunities to meet amazing people.

So when I heard about the Follow-Swap Blog Hop, I thought it seemed just the ticket. The purpose of the hop is simply to meet people, read a post they consider one of their best and make new connections. Click on the grid of smileys over in the sidebar for more information.

And if you're joining me from the hop and my link was wonky, I shared one of my "editor-on-call" posts about how to avoid shifting tenses. Yes, I have more recent helpful posts too. Click the "editor-on-call" label.   And thanks for visiting!

Do you even take a peek at your stats, just to see what posts resonate with readers? I quite surprised by the posts that get the most page views: my National Poetry Month spotlight on concrete poems, the photos of my hubby's Dr. Who snowflakes, my deep analyses of Neville Longbottom and Severus Snape, my explanation of why I struggle to write autobiographical work.

Old friends, which of my posts have you enjoyed most? The grammar/useage posts? The deep characterization posts? My analytical posts? My Harry Potter posts? Some other category? 

New friends, what do you look for in blogs you follow?

Monday, September 24, 2012 Laurel Garver
I'm over at Laura Pauling's blog today, talking about "Attraction, Repulsion, Connection: Romance is More than Hotness" and a little about Never Gone's romantic subplot. It's my first blog ramble visit, so please come say hello. Or debate my viewpoint about what makes truly memorable romantic plots (hint: it's not great hair).

Meanwhile, I've signed up for a blog hop for the first time in, er... a pretty darned long time. And because of that I've lost some great opportunities to meet amazing people.

So when I heard about the Follow-Swap Blog Hop, I thought it seemed just the ticket. The purpose of the hop is simply to meet people, read a post they consider one of their best and make new connections. Click on the grid of smileys over in the sidebar for more information.

And if you're joining me from the hop and my link was wonky, I shared one of my "editor-on-call" posts about how to avoid shifting tenses. Yes, I have more recent helpful posts too. Click the "editor-on-call" label.   And thanks for visiting!

Do you even take a peek at your stats, just to see what posts resonate with readers? I quite surprised by the posts that get the most page views: my National Poetry Month spotlight on concrete poems, the photos of my hubby's Dr. Who snowflakes, my deep analyses of Neville Longbottom and Severus Snape, my explanation of why I struggle to write autobiographical work.

Old friends, which of my posts have you enjoyed most? The grammar/useage posts? The deep characterization posts? My analytical posts? My Harry Potter posts? Some other category? 

New friends, what do you look for in blogs you follow?

Friday, September 21, 2012

It's the 75th anniversary of the publication of this book:


Houghton Mifflin Harcourt just released this special anniversary edition with Tolkien's originial cover. You've gotta love this product description:

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.

If you've never tried any Tolkien, I urge you to pick up The Hobbit. It's wickedly funny, full of great character interactions, adventure and unexpected heroes. It's much faster paced than LoTR, and loads fewer pages to get the complete story.

In honor of The Hobbit's anniversary, I'm participating in The Hobbit Second Breakfast, in which we share our love of good food and good friends in true hobbit style. Since you friends are scattered across the globe, today's treats will have to be virtual and a feast for the eyes and imagination.

On the menu today:
Crisp waffles with fruit. (Just don't expect me to share the red raspberries.)

photo by DannySan, Flickr Creative Commons

A succulent, savory omlette, chock-full of veggie goodness and cheese.

photo by ukanda, Flickr Creative Commons

To make that toast on the side even better, your choice of spreads and preserves:

photo by KRebaud, Flickr Creative Commons

Juice in any flavor that you fancy. I'm torn between mango and kiwi...

photo by BaboMike, Flickr Creative Commons
And for the caffeine addicts, your choice of coffee or tea.

photo by fred pipes, Flickr Creative Commons

Stop and sit a spell. Tell me a story. When were you called on an unexpected adventure like Bilbo? Ever face a nemesis and outwit him or her? Ever take an awesome road trip with friends? Ever discover a hidden treasure?
Friday, September 21, 2012 Laurel Garver
It's the 75th anniversary of the publication of this book:


Houghton Mifflin Harcourt just released this special anniversary edition with Tolkien's originial cover. You've gotta love this product description:

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.

If you've never tried any Tolkien, I urge you to pick up The Hobbit. It's wickedly funny, full of great character interactions, adventure and unexpected heroes. It's much faster paced than LoTR, and loads fewer pages to get the complete story.

In honor of The Hobbit's anniversary, I'm participating in The Hobbit Second Breakfast, in which we share our love of good food and good friends in true hobbit style. Since you friends are scattered across the globe, today's treats will have to be virtual and a feast for the eyes and imagination.

On the menu today:
Crisp waffles with fruit. (Just don't expect me to share the red raspberries.)

photo by DannySan, Flickr Creative Commons

A succulent, savory omlette, chock-full of veggie goodness and cheese.

photo by ukanda, Flickr Creative Commons

To make that toast on the side even better, your choice of spreads and preserves:

photo by KRebaud, Flickr Creative Commons

Juice in any flavor that you fancy. I'm torn between mango and kiwi...

photo by BaboMike, Flickr Creative Commons
And for the caffeine addicts, your choice of coffee or tea.

photo by fred pipes, Flickr Creative Commons

Stop and sit a spell. Tell me a story. When were you called on an unexpected adventure like Bilbo? Ever face a nemesis and outwit him or her? Ever take an awesome road trip with friends? Ever discover a hidden treasure?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

When I heard about The Hobbit Second Breakfast from my blogging pal Deniz, I knew I had to be all in. You might remember that I refer to my daughter as "Hobbit Girl" because she has curly hair, loves to build dens for herself and, of course, eat all day long. One of her first words was "Frodo" (she toddled in after a nap while we were watching one of the LoTR DVDs). I can't count how many times she has watched The Two Towers in particular. She adores Gimli, and is super excited about meeting more dwarves in the film version of The Hobbit, releasing this year. My family has watched so many of the DVD extras of the LoTR series, I feel like Richard Taylor is my personal friend. I can do a pretty good Kiwi accent now, too.

So what is The Hobbit Second Breakfast? A celebration of the 75th anniversary of the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Participants are urged to have a very hobbity meal tomorrow morning.

Take a look at the poster below. Can you guess what's not quite right about the event?


Ahem, yes, the meal served at 11 a.m. is elevensies. Tsk, tsk. 

So when is "second breakfast"? I'd place it at roughly 8:30 to 9 a.m. That assumes an agricultural lifestyle, in which one rises at dawn, has first breakfast, cares for the animals, then comes in and has second breakfast.

I'll be celebrating with a big, virtual breakfast for you. Come on by to tell me about a favorite a.m. treat, or how Tolkien's fictional world has made an impact on your life.

When do you think "second breakfast" occurs? If you could pick one of Tolkien's cultures to live in, which would you choose?

Thursday, September 20, 2012 Laurel Garver
When I heard about The Hobbit Second Breakfast from my blogging pal Deniz, I knew I had to be all in. You might remember that I refer to my daughter as "Hobbit Girl" because she has curly hair, loves to build dens for herself and, of course, eat all day long. One of her first words was "Frodo" (she toddled in after a nap while we were watching one of the LoTR DVDs). I can't count how many times she has watched The Two Towers in particular. She adores Gimli, and is super excited about meeting more dwarves in the film version of The Hobbit, releasing this year. My family has watched so many of the DVD extras of the LoTR series, I feel like Richard Taylor is my personal friend. I can do a pretty good Kiwi accent now, too.

So what is The Hobbit Second Breakfast? A celebration of the 75th anniversary of the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Participants are urged to have a very hobbity meal tomorrow morning.

Take a look at the poster below. Can you guess what's not quite right about the event?


Ahem, yes, the meal served at 11 a.m. is elevensies. Tsk, tsk. 

So when is "second breakfast"? I'd place it at roughly 8:30 to 9 a.m. That assumes an agricultural lifestyle, in which one rises at dawn, has first breakfast, cares for the animals, then comes in and has second breakfast.

I'll be celebrating with a big, virtual breakfast for you. Come on by to tell me about a favorite a.m. treat, or how Tolkien's fictional world has made an impact on your life.

When do you think "second breakfast" occurs? If you could pick one of Tolkien's cultures to live in, which would you choose?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Today I'm talking with Sophia Stone, author of The Mormon Diaries. Stone's story fascinated me because a couple of my favorite books, Searching for God Knows What (Donald Miller) and Traveling Mercies (Anne Lamott) are in the same genre--spiritual memoir.

I expected, in a story of growing up in--and away from--Mormonism to be a bit more like a 20/20 expose. Because that's how our culture tends to treat organizations like the LDS church. I certainly didn't expect to get such an intimate, personal look at the emotional side of growing up in this faith tradition, or the excruciating pain inflicted when one tries to part from it.

This book is an intensely personal, never polemical story of Stone's struggles to grasp promised spiritual rewards that remain always out of reach. It's smart and tender-hearted, beautifully written and absolutely riveting. I found it deeply satisying to watch Stone change from timid pleaser to a brave voice in the wilderness who won't be silenced any longer. And yet her abiding desire to truly know God remains a steady pulse throughout.

I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who's ever struggled to be "good enough" for God's love.

I think the trailer captures well just how emotional this memoir is:



Author Q&A with Sophia Stone

Thanks for joining me today, Sophia.

How has writing about your faith struggles helped you?

There’s a saying that writing is cheaper than therapy, and I can attest to that. There’s no time limit on how long I can type away on my keyboard when I’m having a bad day. I don’t have to worry about the paper judging me. Plus, it’s helped me to put things in perspective.

What are the best ways to support someone going through a faith crisis? 

The most important thing is to listen. Don’t distance yourself. Don’t shy away. Don’t give advice, and definitely don’t judge. Just be a friend. Period. Sometimes it really is that simple.

How has your change in beliefs affected your marriage and children?

I think it has benefited my children in a number of ways. First, by showing them that goodness isn’t based on legalistic rules, they are more accepting of themselves and others. Second, by helping them see that there isn’t one right way to be a decent human being, they are able to think the best of people. Third, by opening up to other ideas and spiritual philosophies, they are more open as well.

As for my marriage, my change in beliefs has brought to light problems I’d been ignoring for years. Things having to do with power dynamics, issues with inflexibility, and some fundamental disagreements in parenting styles between my husband and I. My marriage has suffered and I worry about it often. But I also know that without the insights I have now, the relationship would continue to grow more unbalanced and necessary change would never occur.

I’m crossing my fingers and holding out hope in the marriage department.

Who should read your book?

Anyone who wants to better understand how religions indoctrinate children, how they can unite and separate families, how they can bring peace and turmoil at the same time. Anyone who wants a more personal understanding of how it feels to grow up in a legalistic religion that values trust and obedience more highly than free thought, or anyone who wants to understand Mormonism.

Please don’t misread that to mean my book is factually perfect. It’s not. It is based on my experience, and everyone’s reality is different. But I stand by my claim that people who leave Mormonism are often in an isolating place. It’s hard for an orthodox believer to understand why anyone would leave. It’s hard for those who’ve never been in a fundamentalist religion to understand why leaving one is such a big deal. To both these groups, I’d say, “Please read this!” Understanding is vital.

= = =

Brought up in a religious home, Sophia believes the only way to have a forever family is by following church leaders and obediently choosing the right. She goes to the right school, marries the right man in the right place, and does the right thing by staying home to raise her children. But when she starts asking questions about grace, love, and the nature of God, she realizes her spiritual struggles could rip her family apart.

Available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble.

Follow Sophia on Twitter at @ask_a_mormon.

Have you been through a crisis of faith or some life event that isolated you? What helped you through it?


Wednesday, September 19, 2012 Laurel Garver
Today I'm talking with Sophia Stone, author of The Mormon Diaries. Stone's story fascinated me because a couple of my favorite books, Searching for God Knows What (Donald Miller) and Traveling Mercies (Anne Lamott) are in the same genre--spiritual memoir.

I expected, in a story of growing up in--and away from--Mormonism to be a bit more like a 20/20 expose. Because that's how our culture tends to treat organizations like the LDS church. I certainly didn't expect to get such an intimate, personal look at the emotional side of growing up in this faith tradition, or the excruciating pain inflicted when one tries to part from it.

This book is an intensely personal, never polemical story of Stone's struggles to grasp promised spiritual rewards that remain always out of reach. It's smart and tender-hearted, beautifully written and absolutely riveting. I found it deeply satisying to watch Stone change from timid pleaser to a brave voice in the wilderness who won't be silenced any longer. And yet her abiding desire to truly know God remains a steady pulse throughout.

I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who's ever struggled to be "good enough" for God's love.

I think the trailer captures well just how emotional this memoir is:



Author Q&A with Sophia Stone

Thanks for joining me today, Sophia.

How has writing about your faith struggles helped you?

There’s a saying that writing is cheaper than therapy, and I can attest to that. There’s no time limit on how long I can type away on my keyboard when I’m having a bad day. I don’t have to worry about the paper judging me. Plus, it’s helped me to put things in perspective.

What are the best ways to support someone going through a faith crisis? 

The most important thing is to listen. Don’t distance yourself. Don’t shy away. Don’t give advice, and definitely don’t judge. Just be a friend. Period. Sometimes it really is that simple.

How has your change in beliefs affected your marriage and children?

I think it has benefited my children in a number of ways. First, by showing them that goodness isn’t based on legalistic rules, they are more accepting of themselves and others. Second, by helping them see that there isn’t one right way to be a decent human being, they are able to think the best of people. Third, by opening up to other ideas and spiritual philosophies, they are more open as well.

As for my marriage, my change in beliefs has brought to light problems I’d been ignoring for years. Things having to do with power dynamics, issues with inflexibility, and some fundamental disagreements in parenting styles between my husband and I. My marriage has suffered and I worry about it often. But I also know that without the insights I have now, the relationship would continue to grow more unbalanced and necessary change would never occur.

I’m crossing my fingers and holding out hope in the marriage department.

Who should read your book?

Anyone who wants to better understand how religions indoctrinate children, how they can unite and separate families, how they can bring peace and turmoil at the same time. Anyone who wants a more personal understanding of how it feels to grow up in a legalistic religion that values trust and obedience more highly than free thought, or anyone who wants to understand Mormonism.

Please don’t misread that to mean my book is factually perfect. It’s not. It is based on my experience, and everyone’s reality is different. But I stand by my claim that people who leave Mormonism are often in an isolating place. It’s hard for an orthodox believer to understand why anyone would leave. It’s hard for those who’ve never been in a fundamentalist religion to understand why leaving one is such a big deal. To both these groups, I’d say, “Please read this!” Understanding is vital.

= = =

Brought up in a religious home, Sophia believes the only way to have a forever family is by following church leaders and obediently choosing the right. She goes to the right school, marries the right man in the right place, and does the right thing by staying home to raise her children. But when she starts asking questions about grace, love, and the nature of God, she realizes her spiritual struggles could rip her family apart.

Available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble.

Follow Sophia on Twitter at @ask_a_mormon.

Have you been through a crisis of faith or some life event that isolated you? What helped you through it?


Monday, September 17, 2012

As the marketplace for reading material becomes increasingly crowded, authors are finding that brief videos can be an excellent way to introduce a story to readers.

First, I'd like to share the one I created for my novel. Then I’ll explain some of my process, as well as my thoughts what I believe works and doesn’t work in developing a book trailer (especially on a limited budget).


Plan

Determine the overall tone of your book. Is it light and humorous? Mysterious? Action-packed? This will guide all other decisions about the script, images and music.

Develop a script for the trailer that gives readers a taste of what’s in the book. Vague, hype-driven sound-bites might be de rigueur in  film marketing, but they don’t tend to convince readers to pick up a book. The most effective trailers cover some key points of the main story arc.

Try to be specific enough, yet leave some unanswered questions. In my trailer, I give three images that are very story-specific, but aren’t explained: a sorrel pony, discarded mannequin parts and an axe. That such an odd combination of things play into the climax adds intrigue. Readers want to know why they’re there. Nothing but reading my book will answer that question.

Get feedback on your script before you invest a lot of time hunting for images or footage. Chances are your critique partners will tell you to trim it considerably.

Think twice about doing a live-action trailer. Sure, they’re impressive. But they feel like a bait-and-switch to readers, who’ll end up disappointed when your book can’t actually deliver what a completely different medium promised. A book is written content. Fear not the use of still images and text. These will give readers a better sense of your story. And they’re loads cheaper to produce.

Consider how much you want to cement character looks in your readers’ heads. No offense to Rupert Grint, but he’s not really how I pictured Ron Weasley. I like the fictional Ron in my head far more than actor whose face is now burned in my brain. Readers like books because they give that power--to imagine characters how they want. Silhouettes, back view and interestingly cropped images are all good ways to bring characters in without cementing their looks.

Build

Finding images to work with your script can be a long, slow process. Give yourself several weeks to poke away at it.

Be vigilant about copyright with images. You can use your own photos/footage or hire someone who will sell you rights. If you search online, purchase rights from a royalty-free site, seek Creative Commons attribution license work from places like Flickr, or try my favorite, morguefile, which is all free-use, no attribution. (A “morge file,” my illustrator friend tells me, is where pro artists trunk things created for a project but not used). If your license requires attribution, be sure to add “credits” to your script.

Music is, of course, another consideration. Use only what you can obtain rights to. There are loads of sites offering royalty-free music. This means you don’t continue paying for every use--it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re totally free. Many have a one-time fee to obtain rights for your project. For totally free music, look for “attribution license” music, in which you can use pieces as long as you list the composer/performer in the credits. The composer for my trailer is Kevin MacLeod of the site incompetech.

Try out your script with any music you’re considering. Chances are you’ll need to do some tweaking to get everything to fit. Storyboarding with Word printouts can be a quick and easy way to test whether the music will work well with your images.

There are many software options for putting together quality videos. Much of the freeware out there doesn’t have a ton of functionality, though. But before you rush off and plunk down big bucks for software, let me let you in on a little secret. You can turn PowerPoint presentations into video. The newest version of PP has that conversion capability. If you already have familiarity with PP, it offers a wide variety of effects and functions, and pretty good control, especially if you use text.

Remember that a trailer is just one piece of a marketing plan, so budget accordingly. I spent weeks of time creating mine, but no money at all. The images and music were free. I used software I already owned, plus some freeware to help embed the music.

Do you think book trailers are helpful for marketing? What do you think makes one effective?
Monday, September 17, 2012 Laurel Garver
As the marketplace for reading material becomes increasingly crowded, authors are finding that brief videos can be an excellent way to introduce a story to readers.

First, I'd like to share the one I created for my novel. Then I’ll explain some of my process, as well as my thoughts what I believe works and doesn’t work in developing a book trailer (especially on a limited budget).


Plan

Determine the overall tone of your book. Is it light and humorous? Mysterious? Action-packed? This will guide all other decisions about the script, images and music.

Develop a script for the trailer that gives readers a taste of what’s in the book. Vague, hype-driven sound-bites might be de rigueur in  film marketing, but they don’t tend to convince readers to pick up a book. The most effective trailers cover some key points of the main story arc.

Try to be specific enough, yet leave some unanswered questions. In my trailer, I give three images that are very story-specific, but aren’t explained: a sorrel pony, discarded mannequin parts and an axe. That such an odd combination of things play into the climax adds intrigue. Readers want to know why they’re there. Nothing but reading my book will answer that question.

Get feedback on your script before you invest a lot of time hunting for images or footage. Chances are your critique partners will tell you to trim it considerably.

Think twice about doing a live-action trailer. Sure, they’re impressive. But they feel like a bait-and-switch to readers, who’ll end up disappointed when your book can’t actually deliver what a completely different medium promised. A book is written content. Fear not the use of still images and text. These will give readers a better sense of your story. And they’re loads cheaper to produce.

Consider how much you want to cement character looks in your readers’ heads. No offense to Rupert Grint, but he’s not really how I pictured Ron Weasley. I like the fictional Ron in my head far more than actor whose face is now burned in my brain. Readers like books because they give that power--to imagine characters how they want. Silhouettes, back view and interestingly cropped images are all good ways to bring characters in without cementing their looks.

Build

Finding images to work with your script can be a long, slow process. Give yourself several weeks to poke away at it.

Be vigilant about copyright with images. You can use your own photos/footage or hire someone who will sell you rights. If you search online, purchase rights from a royalty-free site, seek Creative Commons attribution license work from places like Flickr, or try my favorite, morguefile, which is all free-use, no attribution. (A “morge file,” my illustrator friend tells me, is where pro artists trunk things created for a project but not used). If your license requires attribution, be sure to add “credits” to your script.

Music is, of course, another consideration. Use only what you can obtain rights to. There are loads of sites offering royalty-free music. This means you don’t continue paying for every use--it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re totally free. Many have a one-time fee to obtain rights for your project. For totally free music, look for “attribution license” music, in which you can use pieces as long as you list the composer/performer in the credits. The composer for my trailer is Kevin MacLeod of the site incompetech.

Try out your script with any music you’re considering. Chances are you’ll need to do some tweaking to get everything to fit. Storyboarding with Word printouts can be a quick and easy way to test whether the music will work well with your images.

There are many software options for putting together quality videos. Much of the freeware out there doesn’t have a ton of functionality, though. But before you rush off and plunk down big bucks for software, let me let you in on a little secret. You can turn PowerPoint presentations into video. The newest version of PP has that conversion capability. If you already have familiarity with PP, it offers a wide variety of effects and functions, and pretty good control, especially if you use text.

Remember that a trailer is just one piece of a marketing plan, so budget accordingly. I spent weeks of time creating mine, but no money at all. The images and music were free. I used software I already owned, plus some freeware to help embed the music.

Do you think book trailers are helpful for marketing? What do you think makes one effective?
I'm not here today, I'm over at Rabble Writers, sharing tips on making book trailers.

Come on over to learn what goes into planning, how to avoid "bait and switch" marketing, where to find low-cost or free images and music, how to avoid getting sued for copyright infringement, and much more.

Host a rambler
If you're interested in hosting a stop in my blog ramble for Never Gone, please use the form HERE I'll make ebooks available for giveaways and provide content unique for your blog if you wish.

What do you think of book trailers? What, in your opinion, makes one effective?
Monday, September 17, 2012 Laurel Garver
I'm not here today, I'm over at Rabble Writers, sharing tips on making book trailers.

Come on over to learn what goes into planning, how to avoid "bait and switch" marketing, where to find low-cost or free images and music, how to avoid getting sued for copyright infringement, and much more.

Host a rambler
If you're interested in hosting a stop in my blog ramble for Never Gone, please use the form HERE I'll make ebooks available for giveaways and provide content unique for your blog if you wish.

What do you think of book trailers? What, in your opinion, makes one effective?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012



For your viewing pleasure, the book trailer for Never Gone.

In a future post, I'll share a bit about how I built it from the script up, and explain some of the technical aspects of how this was created.

HUGE thanks go to my husband, who was able to take my rather static concept and make it sing!

Let me know what you think. Did this pique your interest in the book?
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 Laurel Garver


For your viewing pleasure, the book trailer for Never Gone.

In a future post, I'll share a bit about how I built it from the script up, and explain some of the technical aspects of how this was created.

HUGE thanks go to my husband, who was able to take my rather static concept and make it sing!

Let me know what you think. Did this pique your interest in the book?

Monday, September 10, 2012

image source: morguefile.com
The past five days have been wonderfully, horridly busy. I at last had in hand all the requisite files to produce ebook versions of my novel.  There was no reason to not barrel ahead and get my book on sales channels. And then a funny thing happened.

I started thinking like a traditionally published writer. Having total panic attacks that I hadn't built buzz properly, that I'd put my book out into the world when only one of my early reviewers had even finished it. Horrors. I read that so-and-so had daily guest posts for six weeks and alarms are screeching in my head that omigosh I have to plan everything NOW. Have to come out of the gates fast in order to not fail.

Um, no, I don't. And anyone else who self-publishes, you don't either. Traditional publishing might apply pressure to sell well in just a few months, but self-published books stay available for years. No one will yank your title if you sell only 50 copies in the first six months. Going slower might enable you more time to keep producing new work and actually get a little sleep too. You have years to build an audience, so take the time to have meaningful interactions with readers, rather than blitz-and-run.

As a book consumer, I find it wearying to hear the same message over and over blitz style.  I'm much more won by a few quality posts of the non-hype variety. I've seen some authors do well with chart rush projects, but burn through their contacts too quickly to keep any kind of steady interest in their books. Your mileage, as one of my CPs says,  may vary.

It was in corresponding with her that I remembered a promise I'd made myself when I started on this journey. A promise that I would do what felt right for me and not succumb to this-or-that marketing trend of the moment.

As much as I'm excited to share my story with readers far and wide, I don't plan a blitz approach. It would make me crazy and make you sick of me. I hope only to share posts here and there, as folks are willing to have me. Posts with unique content. About the grief process, about research, about setting, about third-culture kids, about ghosts, about perceiving versus judging, about father-daughter relationships, about mannequins and the uncanny, or about another topic that interests you.

If you'd like me to visit you during my ramble, please to use the form here.

What do you think of the current marketing blitz approach? As a reader and book buyer, how much does buzz sway you? What promises have you made to yourself about your writing or publishing approach?
Monday, September 10, 2012 Laurel Garver
image source: morguefile.com
The past five days have been wonderfully, horridly busy. I at last had in hand all the requisite files to produce ebook versions of my novel.  There was no reason to not barrel ahead and get my book on sales channels. And then a funny thing happened.

I started thinking like a traditionally published writer. Having total panic attacks that I hadn't built buzz properly, that I'd put my book out into the world when only one of my early reviewers had even finished it. Horrors. I read that so-and-so had daily guest posts for six weeks and alarms are screeching in my head that omigosh I have to plan everything NOW. Have to come out of the gates fast in order to not fail.

Um, no, I don't. And anyone else who self-publishes, you don't either. Traditional publishing might apply pressure to sell well in just a few months, but self-published books stay available for years. No one will yank your title if you sell only 50 copies in the first six months. Going slower might enable you more time to keep producing new work and actually get a little sleep too. You have years to build an audience, so take the time to have meaningful interactions with readers, rather than blitz-and-run.

As a book consumer, I find it wearying to hear the same message over and over blitz style.  I'm much more won by a few quality posts of the non-hype variety. I've seen some authors do well with chart rush projects, but burn through their contacts too quickly to keep any kind of steady interest in their books. Your mileage, as one of my CPs says,  may vary.

It was in corresponding with her that I remembered a promise I'd made myself when I started on this journey. A promise that I would do what felt right for me and not succumb to this-or-that marketing trend of the moment.

As much as I'm excited to share my story with readers far and wide, I don't plan a blitz approach. It would make me crazy and make you sick of me. I hope only to share posts here and there, as folks are willing to have me. Posts with unique content. About the grief process, about research, about setting, about third-culture kids, about ghosts, about perceiving versus judging, about father-daughter relationships, about mannequins and the uncanny, or about another topic that interests you.

If you'd like me to visit you during my ramble, please to use the form here.

What do you think of the current marketing blitz approach? As a reader and book buyer, how much does buzz sway you? What promises have you made to yourself about your writing or publishing approach?

Friday, September 07, 2012

The Kindle edition of NEVER GONE is now available from Amazon US and Amazon UK and through Amazon's other EU sites as well. The Nook edition is available through B&N. Woot!

The official release date for the paperback is 9/27.

Would you like to help me spread the word? Click on the form below and let me know how you'd like to participate.





In other news, I at last got the share buttons functioning on this blog, so my posts are tweetable etc. right from this site. Apparently the CSS needed a bit of tweaking for the widget to appear.

Have a great weekend, friends! Any special plans?

Friday, September 07, 2012 Laurel Garver
The Kindle edition of NEVER GONE is now available from Amazon US and Amazon UK and through Amazon's other EU sites as well. The Nook edition is available through B&N. Woot!

The official release date for the paperback is 9/27.

Would you like to help me spread the word? Click on the form below and let me know how you'd like to participate.





In other news, I at last got the share buttons functioning on this blog, so my posts are tweetable etc. right from this site. Apparently the CSS needed a bit of tweaking for the widget to appear.

Have a great weekend, friends! Any special plans?

Thursday, September 06, 2012


So here it is, my lovely cover.

This is very much a group effort. The concept is mine. I wanted a clean, minimalist look with custom art that reflected my protagonist's two great loves--pencil drawing and her dad--yet hinted at the grief-oriented content.

Thankfully I have a very talented husband who was able to create this wonderful sketch of my protagonist's father, Graham the photographer. From there, the sketch went to an actual photographer, my friend's cousin, Whitney Levin. She had a laugh about how strange it was to photograph a photographer. Very meta. The shoot was done in August with a green leaf. Deep green.

That's when the real magic happened. I turned over the photograph (purchased all rights, something I'd recommend for the most flexibility) to my designer friend Ruth. She worked in book design before becoming a homeschooling mom, a thorough pro. She was able to autumn-ize the leaf and give me wonderful typography that manages to keep minimalist from being boring.

So what's NEVER GONE about? Grief, ghosts, and God.

Here's my official product description:

Days after her father’s death, fifteen-year-old Dani Deane begins seeing him all around New York — wading through discarded sketches in her room, roaming the halls at church, socializing at his post-funeral reception. Is grief making her crazy? Or could her dad really be lingering between this world and the next, trying to contact her?

Dani desperately longs for his help. Without him keeping the peace, Dani’s relationship with her mother is deteriorating fast. Soon Mum ships her off to rural England with Dad’s relatives for a visit that Dani fears will become a permanent stay. But she won’t let her arty, urban life slip away without a fight, especially when daily phone calls with her lab partner Theo become her lifeline.

To find her way home, Dani must somehow reconnect with Mum. But as she seeks advice from relatives and insights from old letters, she uncovers family secrets that shake her to the core. Convinced that Dad’s ghost alone can help her, she sets out on a dangerous journey to contact him one last time.

For ages 14+, YA edgy inspirational

= = =

You can add it to your to-read shelf on Goodreads today. The ebook will be available in a matter of days, the paperback by my official release date, September 27.

Stay tuned for more news about blog tours and other festivities.

What do you think? 


Thursday, September 06, 2012 Laurel Garver

So here it is, my lovely cover.

This is very much a group effort. The concept is mine. I wanted a clean, minimalist look with custom art that reflected my protagonist's two great loves--pencil drawing and her dad--yet hinted at the grief-oriented content.

Thankfully I have a very talented husband who was able to create this wonderful sketch of my protagonist's father, Graham the photographer. From there, the sketch went to an actual photographer, my friend's cousin, Whitney Levin. She had a laugh about how strange it was to photograph a photographer. Very meta. The shoot was done in August with a green leaf. Deep green.

That's when the real magic happened. I turned over the photograph (purchased all rights, something I'd recommend for the most flexibility) to my designer friend Ruth. She worked in book design before becoming a homeschooling mom, a thorough pro. She was able to autumn-ize the leaf and give me wonderful typography that manages to keep minimalist from being boring.

So what's NEVER GONE about? Grief, ghosts, and God.

Here's my official product description:

Days after her father’s death, fifteen-year-old Dani Deane begins seeing him all around New York — wading through discarded sketches in her room, roaming the halls at church, socializing at his post-funeral reception. Is grief making her crazy? Or could her dad really be lingering between this world and the next, trying to contact her?

Dani desperately longs for his help. Without him keeping the peace, Dani’s relationship with her mother is deteriorating fast. Soon Mum ships her off to rural England with Dad’s relatives for a visit that Dani fears will become a permanent stay. But she won’t let her arty, urban life slip away without a fight, especially when daily phone calls with her lab partner Theo become her lifeline.

To find her way home, Dani must somehow reconnect with Mum. But as she seeks advice from relatives and insights from old letters, she uncovers family secrets that shake her to the core. Convinced that Dad’s ghost alone can help her, she sets out on a dangerous journey to contact him one last time.

For ages 14+, YA edgy inspirational

= = =

You can add it to your to-read shelf on Goodreads today. The ebook will be available in a matter of days, the paperback by my official release date, September 27.

Stay tuned for more news about blog tours and other festivities.

What do you think? 


Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Most of the time, when things don't happen on schedule, our natural reaction is annoyance. Stupid obstacle! Rubbish delay!

Taking on the publisher hat in addition to the writer hat has really challenged my attitude about delays. Doing things right is better than doing things fast. I can't tell you how many times in the processes of setting up my small business and preparing NEVER GONE for publication that delays have proven beneficial. I ended up delving into new social media to relieve the itch of waiting for my photographer to get back from vacation and my cover designer to take needed time to do color enhancements. I found and fixed some wonky ebook formatting while waiting for some early reviewers to tell me what format they preferred to read in.

I continue to wait to have the final cover files to do a reveal, and I'm pretty sure the wait will be for the good in some way.

So stay tuned. I'll soon share the look and a description of my "book baby"...when the time is right.

How have you been stretched in your writing life? Have you experienced times when your patience has paid off in unexpected ways?
Tuesday, September 04, 2012 Laurel Garver
Most of the time, when things don't happen on schedule, our natural reaction is annoyance. Stupid obstacle! Rubbish delay!

Taking on the publisher hat in addition to the writer hat has really challenged my attitude about delays. Doing things right is better than doing things fast. I can't tell you how many times in the processes of setting up my small business and preparing NEVER GONE for publication that delays have proven beneficial. I ended up delving into new social media to relieve the itch of waiting for my photographer to get back from vacation and my cover designer to take needed time to do color enhancements. I found and fixed some wonky ebook formatting while waiting for some early reviewers to tell me what format they preferred to read in.

I continue to wait to have the final cover files to do a reveal, and I'm pretty sure the wait will be for the good in some way.

So stay tuned. I'll soon share the look and a description of my "book baby"...when the time is right.

How have you been stretched in your writing life? Have you experienced times when your patience has paid off in unexpected ways?