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Issue # 4: June 11, 2002
Publisher: Mind Like Water, Inc.

Welcome to another issue of the Mind Like Water Monthly. In our feature article, I talk about the very thing we are doing right here - sending a newsletter. This issue also profiles two more ebook authors. The theme is science fiction, which is one of my favorite genres. As a bonus to you and a way to thank a past advertiser, we've included an additional interview, which I'm sure you'll enjoy.

If you have been interviewed by Diane (our editor) or me, please be patient. The interview will appear in an upcoming issue. For the rest of you, we again invite you to contact us if you wish to be profiled in the Mind Like Water Monthly.

Have a great summer!

Best regards,

Michael Williams

Table of Contents
1. Feature Article: Newsletters
2. eBook Author Interviews:
    a. Kate Saundby, Nublis Chronicles
    b. A. C. Ellis, Soldier of 'Tween
3. Tip of the Month
4. Bonus eBook Author Interview: Connie Gotsch, A Mouth Full of Shell

Feature Article: Newsletters
One of the best ways to build a community and to interact with clients, club members, associates or fellow hobbyists is to implement an opt-in newsletter. Your newsletter should be focused on a single theme. For example, the Mind Like Water Monthly is dedicated to helping the ebook community. That is our theme. Authors, your theme may be yourself. Another alternative may be a topic that you've written about, such as investing, science fiction or narcissism. The key is to not only write about what you know and love, but what can help or entertain your niche audience.

First, start out simple and build a list of opt-in readers by providing a form on your web site (see our form at www.mindlikewater.com) for visitors to enter their email addresses. You can also manually build a list by simply contacting friends, customers and other like-minded individuals by email.

Next, compile your list electronically using a database such as Access or a spreadsheet like Excel or Lotus 123. 

Now you're ready to design the newsletter and write the copy. Make sure you include a way for your readers to unsubscribe to your newsletter. You'll also need to decide if you're going to use plain text, to guarantee that 100 percent of your readers can view your newsletter, or if you're going to use HTML. If you choose to send HTML only, you'll need to find out who can accept that format and who can't.

You'll also need to decide how to distribute your newsletter. There are really three options: (1) do it yourself, (2) use a service or (3) purchase email distribution software. 

1. For the do-it-yourselfer using Outlook, visit this link: http://www.mindlikewater.com/marketing/outlook_newsletters.html.

2. An alternative to this process is to use a service to do much of the hard work, so that you can concentrate on great content and building trust. These services will even take care of the hard part of managing subscribers and unsubscribers. For more information, check out the following services:

3. Finally, one of the best ways to manage an email newsletter is to use email distribution software that takes care of the drudgery of maintaining the list, handles bounced emails, interfaces with a database, provides autoresponder technology and automates many of the tasks. The added benefit is that you own the software for one fee, not a monthly or per user fee.

We use and recommend Gammadyne Mailer (see our sponsor below).

For more information on creating newsletters, visit the following link: http://www.mindlikewater.com/marketing/newsletters.html, or contact me directly at geoguy@mindlikewater.com.

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eBook Author Interview: Kate Saundby, Nublis Chronicles
Michael: Wow! I did some searching around for Kate Saundby ebooks and I found quite a few: Dark Angel, The Artemesian Mandate, The Orion Property, Fortune's Hostage, A Circle of Arcs, The Spirit Dogs of Sirius, Aase's Daughter, Wages of Deception and the Nublis Chronicles. You appear to be quite a prolific writer. Tell us about yourself and what inspires you to write.

Kate: An only child, I've been writing every day since I first learned to read -- at about five and a half -- and my vivid imagination has been getting me into trouble ever since. Starting with my evacuation from WWII London at the age of 18 months, I spent my early life in boarding schools -- and between times with whoever would have me -- while my bitterly divorced parents wrangled over my custody. Not a promising beginning, I'll admit, but great fodder for a writer.

Since I was moved around so much and was invariably on the outside looking in, I devoured books by the carload and became a somewhat cynical but fascinated observer of the human condition. My first fiction attempt was at the age of fifteen -- a dreadful, historical romance. After I grew up and married and moved to the States, I became a civic activist. My daily essays about this, that and the other gave way to 25 years worth of political op-ed pieces for various newspapers.

In the mid-1990s I got hurt on the job and wasn't sure I'd ever work again. Alone for twelve hours a day and thoroughly entangled with the legal system over my worker's compensation claim, I had been following the O. J. Simpson criminal trial. When I heard the verdict, that did it. I yelled at the TV, "They shouldn't have sequestered the jury! They should have sequestered the judge!" and that inspired my first novel, The Wages of Justice.

Michael: What's your best selling ebook and why? What's your personal favorite and why?

Kate: To date my two bestsellers are The Wages of Justice and my standalone historical time travel A Circle of Arcs.

Julian, the classic alpha male protagonist of Wages of Justice, is my readers' favorite character hands down, and A Circle of Arcs is a complete departure from my previous style. The protagonist of Arcs is based on an actual and very controversial 15th century historical figure who, in my opinion, got a bum rap. Even more demonized by historians than Richard III, he has fascinated me since I first encountered him in Shaw's St. Joan school. Given his earlier history and associations, the later accusations against him and his lurid confession made no sense to me. As I began to delve into his life and times, I became increasingly intrigued and convinced of his innocence and am presently working on my second novel about him. 

My personal favorites are the third and fifth novels in my Nublis Chronicles series, The Wages of Greed and Dark Angel, respectively. In each the protagonist is less than perfect -- especially Felix of Dark Angel -- and both prevail over incredibly difficult circumstances. There's probably more of me in Felix than any of my other characters and he's my personal favorite.

Michael: You seem to be doing quite well with science fiction. Do you have a loyal following?

Kate: Judging by my rating on Fictionwise's series list, it would seem so. Actually, my stories are more cross-genre than science fiction because they contain romance and fantasy elements and would be equally at home in any of those categories.

Michael: I am interested in knowing the evolution of one of your books. In other words, briefly take us through the whole process from idea to marketplace. What lessons have you learned?

Kate: Woo! That is a very complicated question.

As a writer, I tend to be somewhat disorganized, and while I always have an overall outline in my head when I start a book, the characters invariably get away from me and take over.

For example, Julian in The Wages of Justice started out as a supporting character. Except he wasn't having any of that, and by chapter three he had literally elbowed his way to center stage. Since he was extremely complex and my original main characters were more than a mite insipid, I said "Okay, you win," and from then on was simply along for the ride. Gilles of A Circle of Arcs was more tricky because he was a real person and I was having to blend actual historical events and people with fictional ones. The main protagonist of Arcs is a strong female who rescues Gilles rather than the other way around, and I have been told that my story's pace and unpredictability are its main attractions.

There's a saying in small business that you should be your first and best customer. In other words, if you won't buy the product why should anyone else? From the marketplace point of view, it's essential to grab the reader in the first paragraph, suspend their belief and then hold on to their attention. In other words, the story has to "move."

All new writers start out incredibly wordy and one of the most important things I've learned along the way is to cut, cut, then cut again. An invariable tweaker, I prune out anything which detracts from the advancement of the plot. Even though this isn't the easiest thing to do with a series, I try to keep my backgrounds and descriptions as minimal as possible to the point that my editors are always making me go back and write fill-in scenes. Keeping faith with my readers is of paramount importance and I try to remember that my primary purpose is to entertain. Personally, I don't like endings that are downers -- life is grim enough as it is -- and my readers seem to agree. 

Michael: You mentioned that you are now with your fourth publisher. Without naming names, can you tell us what to look for in a publisher and what to avoid?

Kate: My first three publishers were authors and they tried to wear both hats at the same time. While this may appear ideal, I've come to the conclusion that it's just not possible. Something's got to give and this is precisely why they ran into trouble. While their original intentions may have been good, they lacked the requisite background and/or training to start and maintain a viable publishing operation. Their writer's egos got in the way of whatever business sense they might have possessed and it wasn't long before they began competing with their own authors to the detriment of both.

The only publisher/author I know of who's been consistently successful at avoiding this conflict of interest is Hard Shell Word Factory's Mary Wolf. However, she's not the exception who proves the rule because she reportedly gave up writing in order to concentrate on being a publisher.

Their protestations notwithstanding, every author secretly believes he or she is Ernest Hemingway, Shakespeare and Tolstoy rolled up into one. We invest so much of ourselves in our work we tend to view any critique or criticism as a personal attack. While some may hide this response better than others, we're all guilty and, whether we realize it or not, our subjective attitude -- call it defensiveness if you will -- colors our reactions to other authors' work. Shameless literary exhibitionists, our fondest dream is to be published and we'll do just about anything to achieve that goal. Our second fondest dream is to garner as many good reviews as possible and no matter how successful some of us may be, the quickest way to our hearts is to praise something we've written -- the more extravagant the better. In other words, an author's ego is huge and incredibly fragile. Unfortunately, this is as true of a bad writer as a good one, or maybe even more so, and therein lies the rub.

A publisher has to be the exact opposite. They're looking for something to sell, period, and they must above all be objective. Therefore, my fourth time around, I went looking for a publisher who was not an author, had a concern with quality control and the requisite business experience and background, recognized the necessity of good, hard-nosed editing, and was primarily marketing-oriented. My present publisher, Deron Douglas of Double Dragon Publishing, met all those criteria and then some, and he's done more for my titles in four months than my previous three publishers did in as many years.

-- Kate Saundby

eBook Author Interview: A. C. Ellis, Soldier of 'Tween
Michael: What is the market like for science fiction ebooks?

A. C.: Right now, it seems romance is the place to be in ebooks. I believe science fiction is running a distant second. But that's about the way it is with paper books, as well. 

Michael: What inspires you to write science fiction? Do you like any other genres?

A. C.: I read quite a bit of sf - the scientific puzzle, the WOW factor. Always have. I read more of it when I was younger, so naturally when I started writing, that's what I wrote.

Over the past ten years or so, I have read quite a few mystery and suspense novels. I recently finished my first mystery/suspense novel; I'm trying to market it right now.

Michael: I tell my kids the great thing about science fiction is that if you can imagine something, it will probably come true some day. What do you think of that philosophy? Have I been watching a little too much Star Trek?

A. C.: Well, I'm not sure about that philosophy. I mean, to a certain level, sure, anything based on the laws of the universe as we know them is possible. But then, you have to think that the laws of the universe "as we know them" are continually changing. Before the 1920s, we would have thought anything in the Einsteinian universe laughable. So, who knows what the future will bring?

Michael: Soldier of 'Tween sounds like an intriguing title. How did you come up with that name? While you're at it, what's the book about?

A. C.: I knew I wanted to write a military sf story. But not one with all the hardware you read today. A story a bit retro, harkening back to the sf of the '50s and '60s. And with a touch of the new physics involved.

The book is about Five-Red. To quote from the blurb at my web page:

"As the most gifted battle unit in the army of the Confraternity of Sentient Races, Five-Red is entitled to the best: the best bunk, the best food, and the best pleasure units 'Tween has to offer. And that is as it should be. After all, he's being groomed for the position of Fifth Division Commander.

"But on campaign planet Bravo-335 he discovers a piece of alien technology that turns his life upside down. That strange artifact holds the thoughts of a supposedly unthinking beast, the very race the Confraternity's army has been sent out to exterminate. And suddenly Five-Red knows someone - or something - is eliminating intelligent races."

Michael: Tell our readers a little about other projects you have going on.

A. C.: I'm currently working on an sf book with the working title of The Peripheral Man, about a thief and the interplanetary adventure generated by his final job. I'm also working on the next book in the suspense/mystery series.

Michael: What's your prediction on the future of ebooks? When will they become mainstream? Do you have any other predictions, advice or musings?

A. C.: I think in the next five or six years ebooks will take off. They will never replace paper books, but then they never should. They will be just another way to read.

-- A. C. Ellis
author of Worldmaker and Soldier of 'Tween

Why advertise in the Mind Like Water Monthly?

Online newsletters tend to narrowly focus their content to meet the needs and capture the loyalty of a very specific readership ... giving you the perfect opportunity to get your ad in front of your best potential customers! If you would like more information about advertising with us, please send an email to geoguy@mindlikewater.com.

Tip of the Month
When it comes to email, remember that the written word is the written word, regardless of the medium it is presented on. In other words, be careful with being too informal when you correspond with others. An email is really no different than a paper letter, and you will be judged by every word you write.

Bonus eBook Author Interview: Connie Gotsch, A Mouth Full of Shell
Michael: Briefly tell me about your ebook, A Mouth Full of Shell.

Connie: A Mouth Full of Shell is about a young woman, Betsy, who gets caught in a vicious political game inherent in her job situation. If she doesn't defend herself, she will be fired through no fault of her own. Betsy has had some bad experiences trying to use anti-discrimination laws, and doesn't feel that a fight is worth it. Her boyfriend, Todd, encourages her to fight. He has used the law successfully to win a battle, but it wasn't concerning discrimination. Todd had a renter who wouldn't pay up. Easy to document, easy to take to court. In the ensuing story, a couple of other people cross paths with Betsy, and with their support she begins to feel she should at least take a shot at defending herself. At the same time, Todd is harassed by an ex girlfriend. She is related to every powerful person in the small town where the hero and heroine, both university professors, are living. When Todd tries to get a restraining order, the judge refuses it. Now Todd begins to see life from Betsy's eyes. Someone can be perfectly morally right, and the laws won't help them. Betsy challenges the people tormenting her, and because they really have no reason to pester her, they back down. She learns from that to take a step in Todd's direction and fight if necessary. He learns that he can't always do that. Sometimes you have to use subterfuge and cunning to survive in this world. They conclude both ways are correct at the proper moment for each of them.

Michael: Are you trying to teach us a lesson or just entertain?

Connie: Well, I guess there's a little lesson there: don't give up, do what you have to do to survive, there are many ways to solve a problem. It's mostly a story that gathers some of the crazy characters I've met on my ramblings around the United States. It's a chronicle at least from one woman's viewpoint of what can still happen to women and the mind set we have to break in order to have what is ours as rightfully as it is anyone else's. A lot of women have told me that they either lived part of this story or knew someone who did.

Michael: Would you consider writing a form of therapy? If so, explain.

Connie: Oh, no, not really. There really isn't much to explain. I enjoy writing, and it's relaxing and yet a challenge to make characters come alive. But does it teach me something about myself? Probably not.

Michael: What type of audience did you have in mind?

Connie: I had a general adult audience in mind. This is about a woman and women's issues, but men who have read it have liked it as well.

Michael: Do you have any secrets to promoting your books that you can share with us?

Connie: Well, I'm just learning about how to do that, so no, not really. I think just getting the book out there as much as you can. Every time I've had a local reading I've sold a book or two. People need to know an author's out there. So a shotgun approach, I guess. Try different things. 

-- Connie Gosh
Author of A Mouth Full of Shell
"In this thrilling tale of inner courage, university politics and gossip jeopardize Dr. Betsy Craig's job and personal relationships. Betsy feels as though she's bitten into life's hard boiled egg and gotten only a mouth full of shell. To spit back at her powerful attackers terrifies her, even when the man she loves encourages her to fight. Will Betsy find the courage to do it?"
http://www.DLSIJpress.com (download $4.95; paperback $21.50)
Also available at http://www.Amazon.com
Autographed copy available at http://www.authorsden.com.

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