Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Next Adventure: Book Reading & Signing for the Alzheimer's Association

This may sound strange, but when I published "Blue Hydrangeas" I didn't consider caregivers as my primary market.  I'd written a novel about Alzheimer's, yes, but it was a love story, too, and I thought my readers would be those looking for a different kind of love story, something real, without overt sexuality, a clean read. And many of the readers who review the book and send me messages about their experience reading it are of that sort.  Then there are the caregivers, who surprise and humble me with their warm response to the novel, sharing their own heartbreaking experiences caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia.  It seems the story means a lot to them.  One even wrote: "This story is my story too."  That comment blew me away.  

So it is with great pleasure that I will speak at the Hudson Valley/Rockland/Westchester Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association's conference "Facing Alzheimer's Disease: Improving Quality of Life" on Monday, April 28, at Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown, NY.  I've been asked to read from my book and a book signing will follow.  A portion of the proceeds will benefit this chapter.  I'm the last speaker, following Dr. John Zeisel, president and co-founder of Hearthstone Alzheimer's Care, who will start the conference with a presentation on "Hopeful Aging." Dr. Rebecca Rooney, psychologist, will then speak on "Emotional Aspects of Caregiving."  It's a privilege and an honor for me to be included in this fine company.  

If you'd like to attend the conference, or know of a caregiver who could benefit from this event, please visit the chapter's website to register.  Registration fees are $15 for family, $30 for professionals.  

To learn more about the Alzheimer's Association visit this link.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Authors Supporting Our Troops 2014 Will Send 1200+ Books to US Troops Serving in Kuwait and Afghanistan

photo by Elizabeth Constantopoulos
I recently joined more than 150 indie and small press published authors in an effort to send more than 1200 personally signed books to US soldiers serving in Kuwait and Afghanistan.  "Authors Supporting our Troops 2014" was started by horror and military author Armand Rosamilia from Jacksonville, Florida. Rosamilia is the author of "Football Espionage" and "Zombie Football".  I connected with him after a fellow author posted about the project on Facebook. 

Reading offers an escape from the routine of military life, and books are in scarce supply for many of our troops.  I've been doing a lot of research on women in the military, coming home, and wounded warriors for my novel-in-progress  "Swim Season", which features an Army nurse who comes home from Afghanistan suffering from PTSD and drug addiction.  This is a small but helpful way for me to give back to those who make sacrifices to serve our country. 

Rosamilia, known locally as a radio personality at Surf 1700 AM Radio, says each day he receives three to five packages from authors containing books, and will continue to collect books for another month. "More than 500 authors have asked for the mailing address, so I expect many more books."

Rosamilia says personal contacts referred him to the soldiers selected to receive the books.  "We'll be shipping to five soldiers overseas in hostile territories, and we're looking for at least three more."  The soldiers will receive three to five boxes of signed books to pass out to his or her unit.  

The cost of shipping such a heavy load is tremendous.  People are purchasing T-shirts and donating money via PayPal to help raise the funds. You don't have to be an author to help in this cause.  Every dollar counts.  To find out what you can do please visit the website.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Blue Hydrangeas Wins IndieReCon's Best Indie Novel Award

There are a lot of book awards to be won, and as an indie author it's unlikely I'll win any of them.  The biggest and the best are off limits. No one knows my name.  I don't have the support of a big publishing house to push the nomination or pay the hefty entrance fees. So it is with great happiness that I announce "Blue Hydrangeas" has won IndieReCon's first ever Best Indie Novel Award.  The first thrill was in being nominated by a fan. And yes, once I knew I was in the running I did run a promotional campaign to spread the word, telling everyone in my social media world to vote for me.  So many people came to my support, casting votes, sharing the info and website with friends and family via email, Twitter, and Facebook. So many believe in this book, and take time to read it and write wonderful reviews, to contact me to let me know how much it means to them.  I am humbled by this experience.  I never thought I'd win a book award, and here it is.   Best part is the prize - a professional book cover design and professional e-book formatting for my next novel, "Swim Season."  It's funny -  I started on this journey alone, but over the last year I have met so many wonderful, talented people who have taught me so much, helped me when I needed it, and pushed me along.   What I've really learned is that indie doesn't mean alone.  Thanks to everyone who helped me get this far.  I look forward to the future of our journey. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Blue Hydrangeas is Nominated for IndieRecon's Best Indie Novel and Best Indie Cover Awards

I'm excited to announce Blue Hydrangeas was recently nominated for its first awards: IndieReCon's Best Indie Novel and Best Adult Cover. The contest, part of IndieReCon's second free online writer's conference for independent authors and publishers, runs Monday, February 24 at 7:00 a.m. through 7:00 p.m.Thursday, February 27th. Please vote here for Best Novel and here for Best Cover.

IndieReCon is an exciting conference that will reach independent authors and publishers around the world through blog and vlog posts, webinars, and live chats on Facebook, Twitter, and their website. It's an innovative way to run a conference and a great example of how the internet and social media drive indie publishing.

The contest is open to any book that was self-published or small-press published prior to 2014 in the categories Adult, Children, and Non-Fiction. All books are nominated by fans of the IndieReCon web site and fans and visitors vote on the entries. The books with the most votes win. Prizes will be awarded February 28.

IndieReCon presenters include keynote speakers Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath, who will host a 2-hour chat on "The Evolving Indie Industry and Standing out in the Pile." Representatives from Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, and Goodreads will offer programs on how to write fast, trying your hand at serials, working with other authors to maximize your marketing efforts, and much more. There are also giveaways, including two KOBO eReaders and e-books donated by conference presenters and attendees, including mine

Founded by indie authors S.R. Johannes and Ali Cross, the conference attracted more than 12,000 visitors last year, and this year's promises to attract many more. It runs Tuesday, February 25 through Thursday, February 27, from 10 am - 10pm EST times. Sponsors include The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), Kobo, Author Marketing Club, BiblioCrunch, IndieReader, Shelf Unbound, Author Ad Network, and The Indelibles.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A New Adventure: My Interview on The International Writers Association Podcast

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to Robert J. Moore of the International Writers Association Podcast. We touched on many topics, including my childhood memories of visiting the public library and my unquenchable thirst for books. We also talked about my college days when I worked as a reporter for several New England newspapers and how this affected my future efforts to become a novelist.  And we discussed my attempts  to traditionally publish my first novel, Blue Hydrangeas, before going the indie route. To listen in, go to The International Writers Association Podcast Episode 42 - Marianne Sciucco.   I start at 22:32. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Next Adventure: Creating an Audiobook

A few years ago, I made a personal challenge to read 100 books in 12 months.  I succeeded, but only because I added audiobooks to my bookshelves.  I was driving around a lot in those days, going to doctor appointments and physical therapy, and figured listening to a book during my travels would boost the number of books I'd read.  It turned out to be addictive.  I always have a book on my iPhone to plug into when I'm taking a long trip, working out, cooking, or doing house and garden work.  I'll even listen to a story when floating in my pool or lounging on the beach.  Most times are a good time to listen to a great read, and it beats channel surfing on the radio.  

So, it is with great pleasure that I embark on my next adventure in publishing: creating an audiobook of Blue Hydrangeas with actor Elinor Bell and ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange, an Amazon company.)  ACX is a marketplace where professional authors, agents, publishers, and other rights holders can connect with professional narrators, engineers, recording studios, and other producers capable of producing a finished audiobook, as well as with audiobook publishers. With ACX, I am in control of my project, choosing my producer/narrator, the time frame for the project, where it will be sold, even the royalty structure.

More than twenty producers/narrators auditioned for Blue Hydrangeas.  I chose Elinor Bell because of her professional approach to the audition and because I liked her voice and the way she read the sample script.  I was looking for a mature reader, without any regional accent, and someone who appreciated the story of Jack and Sara.  Elinor met all of my criteria and more.  We had a lovely discussion on the phone to finalize details of our contract and I learned she has first-hand knowledge of dementia as her mother suffered with it.  She also loved the book, which is very important to me as the author. Elinor has extensive experience on stage, in film, and in commercials, voiceover, and audiobook narration.  She also swims and sings (mezzo soprano), which are talents I greatly admire. 

Production has started and I am waiting for Elinor to deliver the first fifteen minutes of the book, which should be a good indicator of what I can expect for the remainder.  We will work closely together throughout the process, communicating chapter to chapter, with her recording and me reviewing and revising as we move along.  Our goal is to finish within sixty days. 

Once complete, the audiobook will be available for digital download on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.  I chose an exclusive distribution option, which guarantees the book will be for sale on these three sites at a minimum, as opposed to the non-exclusive distribution option, where I would be able to distribute the audiobook to any additional retailers, in digital and/or physical format, on my own.  Since these three leading digital retailers reach the vast majority of audiobook buyers, I felt comfortable going the exclusive route.

I will write about this project as it progresses.  Please follow this adventure in publishing.  Sign up to receive emails on blog updates or join my mailing list by emailing mariannesciucco@gmail.com.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Join Me in The Mad Reviewer Read and Review Challenge

I've heard it hundreds of times: If you want to be a great writer you must be a great reader.  

I've always been an avid reader, often jockeying 3-4 titles at the same time, so this year I accepted a challenge from The Mad Reviewer, a book reviewing blog, to read and review a minimum of 26 titles. This makes me a Slightly Sane Reviewer, as opposed to a Crazy Reviewer, who takes on 52 titles, or a Mad Reviewer who tackles 104.  If you're concerned about time constraints and commitments but still want to get in the game, you can be a Sane Reviewer and sign on for just 12 books.  I settled on 26 to give myself a little wiggle room, because I'll also be writing my own novel and revising another and may not have time to read more. The reviews can be posted on the venue of my choice, i.e. my blog, Amazon, Goodreads, Library Thing, iBooks, Nook, or wherever else I choose to post. At the end of the year, if I meet my goal I'll be entered into a drawing to win some great prizes (more books!) 

Care to join me?  Serving as a reviewer is an excellent way to learn about the structure of a novel, how story works (or doesn't), and hone your own writing skills.  And don't worry - you don't have to be especially bookish to comment on an author's work. All we're looking for is your honest opinion, praise when deserved, and criticism when needed.  All we ask for is some kindness because we have feelings, too.  You'll also be helping fellow readers, because they appreciate reviews that steer them to books they'll enjoy, which helps them to use their reading hours wisely and productively. 

My first review is up, Tara R. Alemany's,  "The Best is Yet to Come."  You can follow my progress here, under the "What I'm Reading" tab.  Let me know if you've also accepted the challenge.  I'd like to follow your reviews, too.  Happy reading and reviewing!