Monday, July 28, 2008

Transcript: Authors Provide Writing Wisdom & Laughs at Athena Isle Writers Meeting July 23

July 30 Athena Isle Writers meeting with Janet & Greta PodleskiGuests at the July 30 Athena Isle Writers Meeting in Second Life were the sisters/authors of the funny and best-selling cooking and nutritional health books Looneyspoons, Crazy Plates, and most recently, Eat, Shrink & Be Merry! -- Janet and Greta Podleski. They, along with their publicist Kendra Peavy, were the humans operating the avatar JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski at the meeting, hosted by Alas Zerbino, co-owner of Story Mountain Center for Writers on Athena Isle.

Following is the text-chat transcript of the hour-long session:

[2008/07/23 12:01] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: hello!
[2008/07/23 12:01] KrisBott Gears: Hi!
[2008/07/23 12:01] Alas Zerbino: Hi JanetAndGreta!
[2008/07/23 12:01] Alas Zerbino: Welcome, and have a seat
[2008/07/23 12:01] Annesh Perl: Will we be using voice?
[2008/07/23 12:01] Alas Zerbino: Just right-click your mouse with the cursor on the chair...
[2008/07/23 12:01] Alas Zerbino: and then choose "sit here"
[2008/07/23 12:02] Annesh Perl: Thanks KrisBott
[2008/07/23 12:02] Alas Zerbino: Annesh -- no, we don't use voice at these meetings -- after all, we're writers! :)
[2008/07/23 12:02] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: hello everyone!
[2008/07/23 12:02] KrisBott Gears: hi, how are you JanetAndGreta
[2008/07/23 12:03] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: wonderful, thank you
[2008/07/23 12:03] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: how is everyone else doing?
[2008/07/23 12:03] Annesh Perl: Yes good to see you
[2008/07/23 12:03] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: we're very happy to be here
[2008/07/23 12:03] Alas Zerbino: I know it's time to get started -- there are some others who I expect to come, but may be hung up or late
[2008/07/23 12:03] KrisBott Gears: Very well, thanks
[2008/07/23 12:03] Alas Zerbino: So, I'll give my little spiel first....

[2008/07/23 12:03] Alas Zerbino: Welcome to this Athena Isle Writers meeting at the Story Mountain Center for Writers on Athena Isle.
[2008/07/23 12:03] Alas Zerbino: I invite you to touch one of the Story Mountain signs inside or out for a detailed notecard about Story Mountain and our plans for it.
[2008/07/23 12:04] Alas Zerbino: For more details about our guests, touch the poster hanging over the fireplace.
[2008/07/23 12:04] Alas Zerbino: And for information about coming Athena Isle Writers guests, as well as where to find transcripts of previous meetings, click the burgundy-and-white sign by the staircase.

[2008/07/23 12:04] Alas Zerbino: Now for the “ground rules” for this meeting-- :)
[2008/07/23 12:04] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: thanks - we'll be sure to check it out!
[2008/07/23 12:04] Alas Zerbino: Wonderful!
[2008/07/23 12:04] Alas Zerbino: All communication will be in text chat. I’ll introduce the speakers and turn the “mic” over to them for opening comments.
[2008/07/23 12:04] Alas Zerbino: At any time after that, just jump in with questions or comments.
[2008/07/23 12:05] Alas Zerbino: But: please type QUESTION (in full caps) in front of your question. It’s a lot easier to keep track of which questions still need answering when the chat lines start flying off the window!
[2008/07/23 12:05] Alas Zerbino: Today, although there’s only one avatar sitting there, she’s actually representing two sisters from Canada who have an incredible story to tell about their journey to success as authors of three best-selling cookbooks
[2008/07/23 12:05] Alas Zerbino: Greta and Janet Podleski were so certain that the book they were cooking up – LOONEYSPOONS – would of value to eaters (i.e., all of us) that they overcame immense obstacles to get it published. They have since published two more cookbooks, CRAZY PLATES and their latest EAT, SHRINK & BE MERRY!
[2008/07/23 12:05] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: what an introduction, thank you!
[2008/07/23 12:05] Alas Zerbino: After going deep into debt to complete LOONEYSPOONS, their manuscript was rejected by all the publishers who received it. But they held to their dream and ended up publishing it themselves, with the help of another best-selling Canadian author.
[2008/07/23 12:06] Alas Zerbino: The result? Their sales broke all records for self-published books, and suddenly publishers were calling them, offering to “take it off their hands.”

[2008/07/23 12:06] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: hello everyone
[2008/07/23 12:06] Annesh Perl: Hello and Wow very impressive
[2008/07/23 12:06] KrisBott Gears: yes
[2008/07/23 12:06] Alas Zerbino: Welcome, JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski! We’re excited to hear how you achieved such success.
[2008/07/23 12:06] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: thank you very much, everyone
[2008/07/23 12:07] Alas Zerbino: So, tell us a little of your story....

[2008/07/23 12:07] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: well, it was a long road..
[2008/07/23 12:07] Annesh Perl: sounds like it
[2008/07/23 12:07] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: Why did you decide to self-publish “Looneyspoons”?
[2008/07/23 12:07] Annesh Perl: QUESTION: How many rejections did you get before deciding?
[2008/07/23 12:07] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: We'd been turned down by 18 publishers – ouch! But we put so much of ourselves into what we had created that we had to make one more major leap.
[2008/07/23 12:08] KrisBott Gears: wow
[2008/07/23 12:08] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: It was incredible – our first run of 10,000 books sold out in only two weeks. Since then, we've sold over 850,000 copies.
[2008/07/23 12:08] Annesh Perl: QUESTION: How did you go about the marketing?
[2008/07/23 12:08] Annesh Perl: QUESTION: How did you sell that first batch of books?
[2008/07/23 12:09] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: We did just about every radio program and television show available at the time in Canada. And word of mouth really helped us. The book was new, different and people appreciated that about it. And really, we just got people to eat the food – they loved it.
[2008/07/23 12:09] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: We truly believed that we had something new and different to share with people and we'd sacrificed so much that we weren't going to give up. We were determined. That’s the key, be determined and continue to believe in yourself.
[2008/07/23 12:09] Annesh Perl: QUESTION: Did you have to pay for the radio shows and tv?
[2008/07/23 12:10] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: No - it was a matter of reaching out and getting on the shows
[2008/07/23 12:10] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: we were very lucky - when people turned us down, we just asked them to taste the food

[2008/07/23 12:10] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: After "Looneyspoons" became a huge success, you had plenty of offers from the “big” publishing houses. Why did you decide to continue self-publishing?
[2008/07/23 12:10] Annesh Perl: QUESTION: Did you have a website people could go to for purchasing?
[2008/07/23 12:11] Annesh Perl: Alas good question
[2008/07/23 12:11] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: That's true. But when you have such success on your own (with a team of four people), you realize that no one can market it as well as you can. But you have to be prepared – it is a full time job.
[2008/07/23 12:11] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Also, publishing houses represent so many books at one time . . . and maybe have two in-house publicists . . . so they can't dedicate the time and effort to our books like we could and still do.
[2008/07/23 12:11] KrisBott Gears: QUESTION: Oh, do you mind if I take pictures? For Athena Isle blog and possibly blog about my Athena Isle activities
[2008/07/23 12:12] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: yes - even now we still have a Web site
[2008/07/23 12:12] Alas Zerbino: Oh, that would be great, Kris!
[2008/07/23 12:12] KrisBott Gears: cool
[2008/07/23 12:12] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: of course
[2008/07/23 12:12] KrisBott Gears: thx, great
[2008/07/23 12:12] Alas Zerbino: I've heard so many authors say that about, they can market better than a big publishing firm.
[2008/07/23 12:13] Annesh Perl: QUESTION: So do you think your sales are higher going it alone rather than a pub house?
[2008/07/23 12:13] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: nobody represents us better than us because of our passion
[2008/07/23 12:13] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: When you were broke, in debt, and hearing a huge “NO” from the New York publishers, what kept you going? What tips or tricks worked for you?
[2008/07/23 12:13] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: and familarity with the product
[2008/07/23 12:13] KrisBott Gears: QUESTION: When you say eat the food, do you mean you marketed actual food along with the book?
[2008/07/23 12:14] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: crying and a lot of wine!
[2008/07/23 12:14] Annesh Perl: QUESTION: How long did it take you to complete your first manuscript to book form, editing and all
[2008/07/23 12:14] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: just kidding

[2008/07/23 12:14] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: We truly believed that we had something new and different to share with people and we'd sacrificed so much that we weren't going to give up. We were determined. That’s the key, be determined and continue to believe in yourself.
[2008/07/23 12:14] Alas Zerbino: LOL
[2008/07/23 12:14] Alas Zerbino: Determination. Persistence. I've heard those words used a lot by published authors.
[2008/07/23 12:15] Annesh Perl: Yes I don't see any other way it is possible
[2008/07/23 12:15] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: yes, of course
[2008/07/23 12:15] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: you need both
[2008/07/23 12:15] Annesh Perl: I have to develop re-determination
[2008/07/23 12:15] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION from Annesh: How long did it take to write the first book?
[2008/07/23 12:15] Annesh Perl: Re-Persistence
[2008/07/23 12:15] Alas Zerbino: Welcome DanielDe!
[2008/07/23 12:15] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: one year
[2008/07/23 12:15] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: full-time
[2008/07/23 12:15] Alas Zerbino: Come have a seat, just right click on the empty chair!
[2008/07/23 12:16] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: we quit our jobs and dedicated at least 60 hours a week to the project
[2008/07/23 12:16] Alas Zerbino: WOW!

[2008/07/23 12:16] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: The idea of combining cooking and comedy – “pans and puns,” as you say – was radical at the time. What made you think it would work?
[2008/07/23 12:17] Alas Zerbino: /welcome, DanielDe -- jump in with questions anytime -- just preface them with QUESTION.
[2008/07/23 12:17] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: people love to eat
[2008/07/23 12:17] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: and love comedy
[2008/07/23 12:17] Alas Zerbino: very true!
[2008/07/23 12:17] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: but, they also take dieting very seriously
[2008/07/23 12:18] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: we wanted to introduce a happier and healthier element
[2008/07/23 12:18] Annesh Perl: COMMENT: Your persistence and determination also came from the need to make money. I have always learned that the writers who actually make a living at their writing are an extremely small percentage. You are lucky.
[2008/07/23 12:18] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: Have you been comics all your lives?
[2008/07/23 12:18] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: we are very lucky
[2008/07/23 12:19] Alas Zerbino: (because you are sooooo funny in your writing!)
[2008/07/23 12:19] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: and, as corny as this sounds, we love going to work every single day
[2008/07/23 12:19] Alas Zerbino: that's just fabulous!!
[2008/07/23 12:19] Annesh Perl: That's not corny at all
[2008/07/23 12:19] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: we grew up with 4 other siblings - and shared one bathroom amoungst 6 sisters
[2008/07/23 12:19] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: we had to learn to laugh!
[2008/07/23 12:20] KrisBott Gears: that must explain your persistence also lol
[2008/07/23 12:20] Alas Zerbino: LOL! I'll bet -- I had 5 sisters also!
[2008/07/23 12:20] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: haha - persistance for the first shower!
[2008/07/23 12:20] Alas Zerbino: (plus 4 brothers)
[2008/07/23 12:20] KrisBott Gears: woohoo
[2008/07/23 12:20] Alas Zerbino: A large family does teach you about persistence, eh? lol
[2008/07/23 12:20] KrisBott Gears: that's a long wait for the shower
[2008/07/23 12:20] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: it certainly does!
[2008/07/23 12:20] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: haha

The avatar representing authors Janet & Greta Podleski[2008/07/23 12:21] KrisBott Gears: QUESTION: how did you two decide to become writers then?
[2008/07/23 12:21] Alas Zerbino: Good question,KrisBott
[2008/07/23 12:21] Annesh Perl: QUESTION: How much practice and schooling in writing did you have before you embarked on this project?
[2008/07/23 12:21] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: it was borne out of need
[2008/07/23 12:21] KrisBott Gears: QUESTION: was writing the calling or the topic?
[2008/07/23 12:21] Alas Zerbino: /another good question, Annesh!
[2008/07/23 12:22] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: we really wanted to help people to eat more healthfully anfd the most effective way to speard the word was through a book
[2008/07/23 12:22] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: especially one that made people laugh
[2008/07/23 12:22] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: that being said, we never could have imagined this level of success.
[2008/07/23 12:22] Annesh Perl: QUESTION: Just to reiterate, so your passion was not writing, it is what you wrote about
[2008/07/23 12:22] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: We still shake our heads!
[2008/07/23 12:23] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: a mixture of the two - janet has always loved writing.
[2008/07/23 12:23] KrisBott Gears: and that writing seemed the best medium
[2008/07/23 12:23] Annesh Perl: QUESTION: Have you become more passionate about the craft of writing? - ah
[2008/07/23 12:23] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: and focused on it in University
[2008/07/23 12:24] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: yes - absolutely, in fact we have ended up reading a huge amount about writing and keep learning more
[2008/07/23 12:24] Alas Zerbino: You MUST read "Our Story" on their website:
[2008/07/23 12:24] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: thank you
[2008/07/23 12:24] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: yes, please do read it!

[2008/07/23 12:24] KrisBott Gears: QUESTION: So we've been talking about your first book, right? How does that experience compare with the experience with the current book?
[2008/07/23 12:25] KrisBott Gears: will read that
[2008/07/23 12:25] Alas Zerbino: It's so funny and you'll see what great writers they are, too!
[2008/07/23 12:25] Annesh Perl: Good question
[2008/07/23 12:25] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: our third book, Eat, Shrink & Be Merry was truly a labor of love
[2008/07/23 12:25] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: again, I know this sounds corny, but we put everything we had into that book.
[2008/07/23 12:26] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: it took 2 years of full-time writing and we spent 100,000 dollars on production before we even went to print
[2008/07/23 12:26] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: we gave it everything we had.
[2008/07/23 12:26] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: We really love what we do.
[2008/07/23 12:27] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: It's like they say -- your level of belief in yourself, your passion, is so related to the results?
[2008/07/23 12:27] KrisBott Gears: QUESTION: was any part of it easier than the first time?
[2008/07/23 12:27] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: yes - it would have been easier to give up in the beginning and we almost did a couple of times!
[2008/07/23 12:28] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Yes, getting distribution in the book stores and getting media was a lot easier this time around because people have already heard of us

[2008/07/23 12:29] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: In addition to the three cookbooks, you also write a monthly column for Readers Digest, have a TV show, and have your meal kits . . . how did all that come about?
[2008/07/23 12:29] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Wow - let's break this down
[2008/07/23 12:29] Alas Zerbino: please do -- lol
[2008/07/23 12:29] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: The President of Readers Digest saw us give a speech once
[2008/07/23 12:30] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: He asked if we would get involved with the magazine.
[2008/07/23 12:30] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: We started out only writing a few pages a month for the Canadian version - that quickly jumped to 10 pages a month.
[2008/07/23 12:30] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Now, we are also writing for "Taste of Home" in the US starting next month
[2008/07/23 12:31] Alas Zerbino: Fabulous!
[2008/07/23 12:31] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: The TV show . . .
[2008/07/23 12:31] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: We had a number of producer approach us over the years, but never had an idea we though would really stand out
[2008/07/23 12:32] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Then 2 years ago, Greta came up with the idea of taking on people's favorite dishes that are typically unhealthy and putting our healthy spin on it
[2008/07/23 12:32] Annesh Perl: Great
[2008/07/23 12:32] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: The show airs on Food Network Canada now -- as we type we are in NYC to meet with A&E
[2008/07/23 12:32] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Frozen Foods...
[2008/07/23 12:33] Alas Zerbino: Great -- so it might be distributed in the States sometime soon?
[2008/07/23 12:33] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: It's such a long story . . . we'll need a Third Life to get into that one!
[2008/07/23 12:33] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: lol
[2008/07/23 12:33] Alas Zerbino: LOL
[2008/07/23 12:33] Annesh Perl: LOL
[2008/07/23 12:33] Alas Zerbino: OK, you can pass.... :)
[2008/07/23 12:34] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: We're hoping the show will be on one of the major US cable stations in the next few months - very exciting. You can check out clips from the show at
[2008/07/23 12:34] Alas Zerbino: I did -- wanted more!!
[2008/07/23 12:34] KrisBott Gears: nice

[2008/07/23 12:34] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: Do you think authors in general should look to the other media for publicity, expanding their audience, and so on?
[2008/07/23 12:35] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Yes! It's all about engaging the public anyway you can do that is great . . . well, not ANY way
[2008/07/23 12:35] Alas Zerbino: LOL
[2008/07/23 12:35] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: There is so much noise out there right now that rising above it takes a lot of hard work.
[2008/07/23 12:35] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Probably even more than writing the book!
[2008/07/23 12:36] KrisBott Gears: so true
[2008/07/23 12:36] Alas Zerbino: Agreed! Last week's guest had some great ideas on using Web 2.0 to rise above that "noise"
[2008/07/23 12:36] Alas Zerbino: Promotion is a lot harder for me than writing is, that's for sure!
[2008/07/23 12:36] Annesh Perl: Web 2.0? You'll have to share about that at some point Alas maybe later we can get info
[2008/07/23 12:37] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Yes - there are so many tools out there right now. With Web 2.0, it's very important to stay in the spirit on the communities - you have to reach out to help people, not sell to them
[2008/07/23 12:37] Alas Zerbino: You can read the transcript at
[2008/07/23 12:37] Alas Zerbino: (from last week)
[2008/07/23 12:37] Annesh Perl: Thanks Alas
[2008/07/23 12:37] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Web 2.0 provides an excellent viral component these days

[2008/07/23 12:38] Alas Zerbino: That makes sense, JanetAndGreta -- and I get the impression you two do a lot of reaching out to help.
[2008/07/23 12:38] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: I do, but Janet is way too self absorbed!
[2008/07/23 12:38] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: KIDDING!
[2008/07/23 12:38] Alas Zerbino: ROFL!!!
[2008/07/23 12:39] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: We really just want to get to the community and help people
[2008/07/23 12:39] Alas Zerbino: (It's so funny having a 2-in-1 avatar!!!)
[2008/07/23 12:39] Annesh Perl: Yes it is
[2008/07/23 12:39] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: That has been our biggest mission and has always driven us
[2008/07/23 12:39] KrisBott Gears: QUESTION: why did you decide to have one avatar?
[2008/07/23 12:39] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: I won't touch that one!
[2008/07/23 12:40] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: We couldn't figure out the software . . . not that sharp~
[2008/07/23 12:40] KrisBott Gears: lol
[2008/07/23 12:40] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: plus, this way we can share clothes
[2008/07/23 12:40] Alas Zerbino: Kris, their assistant Kendra and I came up with that solution.
[2008/07/23 12:40] Alas Zerbino: We all thought it would be easier for everyone!
[2008/07/23 12:40] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Publicist!
[2008/07/23 12:40] Alas Zerbino: Oh, sorry!
[2008/07/23 12:41] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: You have offended her! JK
[2008/07/23 12:41] Alas Zerbino: Whatever her title, she's great to work with.
[2008/07/23 12:41] KrisBott Gears: lol interesting idea in a few ways, not being in two places at once exactly, but being able to pick up for the other person, share duties or something like that
[2008/07/23 12:41] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: She's blushing - don't say that! She'll charge us more!
[2008/07/23 12:41] Alas Zerbino: Oh, Kendra, please accept my apologies . . . I"m sorta new to this job.
[2008/07/23 12:41] Alas Zerbino: Well, she's worth whatever you pay her, in my not-so-humble opinion!
[2008/07/23 12:41] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: She'll consider it . . .
[2008/07/23 12:42] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: OK, forgiven :)
[2008/07/23 12:42] KrisBott Gears: It's like one of those movies where the twins stand in for each other and you don't know who is there at a given time
[2008/07/23 12:42] Alas Zerbino: whew . . . thanks!
[2008/07/23 12:42] Alas Zerbino: I know!
[2008/07/23 12:42] KrisBott Gears: funny
[2008/07/23 12:42] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Very "Full House" of us
[2008/07/23 12:42] KrisBott Gears: lol

Janet & Greta Podleski's avatar (center) answers questions via text chat

[2008/07/23 12:42] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: What advice, inspiration, or wisdom to you have for writers who are still striving for publication (in addition to persistence)?
[2008/07/23 12:43] Alas Zerbino: (you can break that one down, too, if you want --lol)
[2008/07/23 12:43] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: A lot of it is a numbers game. You really do need to get a lot of packages out there. Most of them will fall through, but you only need one positve response
[2008/07/23 12:44] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: It's key to master the art of bugging people without really BUGGING them, if you know what I mean.
[2008/07/23 12:44] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Stand by your message and what you do.
[2008/07/23 12:45] Alas Zerbino: Develop a VERY thick skin, eh?
[2008/07/23 12:45] KrisBott Gears: QUESTION: But you two have declined big publishers yes? So a strategy might be to self-publish and then hope to be courted?
[2008/07/23 12:45] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Yes, rejection is a big part of this game
[2008/07/23 12:45] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Maybe even worse than rejections, is being ignored all together
[2008/07/23 12:45] KrisBott Gears: QUESTION: any publishers we might know of who you've turned down?
[2008/07/23 12:45] Annesh Perl: QUESTION: Do you suggest getting a website and generating interest prior to going to publishers?
[2008/07/23 12:46] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Agreed, but self-publishing requires a lot of time and effort
[2008/07/23 12:46] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Although it is very possible to do well that way, it must be your full-time focus
[2008/07/23 12:46] Annesh Perl: Like being a publishing house I suppose

[2008/07/23 12:47] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: A Web site is very good idea, but to really build a buzz it has to be dynamic, not static.
[2008/07/23 12:47] Alas Zerbino: /for the record: Kendra is Kendra Peavy, Account Manager, RLMpr in NY :)
[2008/07/23 12:47] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: It can't be a brouchure, but instead must provide constantly updated information.
[2008/07/23 12:47] KrisBott Gears: MySpace and Facebook might be good ideas for generating buzz?
[2008/07/23 12:48] KrisBott Gears: sorry QUESTION: Do writers use MySpace?
[2008/07/23 12:48] Annesh Perl: QUESTION: Dynamic vs. Static? (I'm not too proud to say, huh?)
[2008/07/23 12:48] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Yes, but they are complimentary pieces. On their own they won't get anything done - they need to mesh with your efforts
[2008/07/23 12:48] Alas Zerbino: LOL -- good for you,Annesh!
[2008/07/23 12:48] Annesh Perl: Well when you're not face to face . . . it's easier
[2008/07/23 12:48] Alas Zerbino: :)
[2008/07/23 12:49] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: It can't just be the same site day after day (static) it has to have new information each day, otherwise the buzz will die out
[2008/07/23 12:49] Annesh Perl: Ah ha thanks for clarifying
[2008/07/23 12:49] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: You have to make it dynamic
[2008/07/23 12:49] Alas Zerbino: Often a blog is what helps there, right?
[2008/07/23 12:49] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Kendra just charged me $20 for that!
[2008/07/23 12:49] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Just kidding!
[2008/07/23 12:49] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: LOL
[2008/07/23 12:49] Alas Zerbino: LMAO!!!
[2008/07/23 12:50] Alas Zerbino: Like writing a blog can keep a site dynamic?
[2008/07/23 12:50] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Yes
[2008/07/23 12:50] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: You got it!

[2008/07/23 12:50] Alas Zerbino: You two have a fun blog to read (not that I'm surprised)
[2008/07/23 12:50] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Thank you very much.
[2008/07/23 12:50] Alas Zerbino: You're welcome.
[2008/07/23 12:51] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: We put a lot in to everything we do
[2008/07/23 12:51] Alas Zerbino: I discovered there your books have been informally "adopted" by Weight Watchers -- which is a real blessing for everyone involved, I'd guess.
[2008/07/23 12:52] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: Did that connection start happening with your first book?
[2008/07/23 12:52] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Yes. That has been a huge part of our successs, and, interestingly, something we have nothing do with and can take no credit for
[2008/07/23 12:52] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Funny how that worked out!
[2008/07/23 12:52] Alas Zerbino: Serendipity . . . I've heard that counts almost as much as persistence!
[2008/07/23 12:53] KrisBott Gears: Weight Watchers, huge
[2008/07/23 12:53] KrisBott Gears: no pun intended
[2008/07/23 12:53] Alas Zerbino: LOL
[2008/07/23 12:53] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Very true - we had small number of readers latch on early and spread the gospel
[2008/07/23 12:53] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: LOL
[2008/07/23 12:53] Annesh Perl: Little bit of luck then too
[2008/07/23 12:53] Alas Zerbino: but you had to take the first, hardest steps before the serendipitous happened, too!

[2008/07/23 12:53] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: If you had to do it all over again, what, if anything, would you do differently in terms of the writing/publishing process?
[2008/07/23 12:55] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Good question, we wouldn't do anything differently because even out not-so-successful moves have been alot of fun!
[2008/07/23 12:55] Alas Zerbino: Wow! That's great to be able to make that statement!!
[2008/07/23 12:56] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: We stand by it! It has been a great ride.
[2008/07/23 12:56] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Even the bumpy parts!
[2008/07/23 12:56] Alas Zerbino: Very awesome!
[2008/07/23 12:56] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Janet had to sell her wedding dress and car!
[2008/07/23 12:56] Alas Zerbino: Oh dear!
[2008/07/23 12:56] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: They needed to be upgraded anyway!
[2008/07/23 12:56] Annesh Perl: Wow
[2008/07/23 12:56] Annesh Perl: LOL
[2008/07/23 12:56] Alas Zerbino: LOL
[2008/07/23 12:57] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: We had a garage sale - we were in major debt at one point
[2008/07/23 12:57] KrisBott Gears: hmm, I should try that
[2008/07/23 12:57] Alas Zerbino: me too, Kris . . .
[2008/07/23 12:57] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: We were trading recipes with credit collectors not so long ago
[2008/07/23 12:57] KrisBott Gears: that's hilarious
[2008/07/23 12:57] Alas Zerbino: Wow!

[2008/07/23 12:58] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: Do you do any other kinds of writing (I guess that's for the Janet half!)?
[2008/07/23 12:58] Alas Zerbino: . . . or is it all related to food and nutrition?
[2008/07/23 12:59] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: We do a lot of blog writing at the Web site (
[2008/07/23 12:59] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: It's light and funny!
[2008/07/23 12:59] Alas Zerbino: Definitely funny! I have had some great laughs from reading your website!
[2008/07/23 13:00] Alas Zerbino: Well, our hour is almost up, already!
[2008/07/23 13:00] Alas Zerbino: Any final comments or questions?
[2008/07/23 13:00] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Goodness, the time flew by!
[2008/07/23 13:00] KrisBott Gears: Just thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us!
[2008/07/23 13:00] Alas Zerbino: I know -- SL time is about 4x faster than in first life!
[2008/07/23 13:00] KrisBott Gears: Very inspiring!
[2008/07/23 13:01] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Thank you, everyone!
[2008/07/23 13:01] Annesh Perl: Thank you so much
[2008/07/23 13:01] Annesh Perl: It was great of you to offer your time
[2008/07/23 13:01] Alas Zerbino: Yes! I will become the little choo-choo train (little engine that could) with my writing!
[2008/07/23 13:01] Annesh Perl: Do we have a tip jar for them?
[2008/07/23 13:01] KrisBott Gears: Congratulations on your well-deserved success!
[2008/07/23 13:01] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: We had a great time and we liked the way our avatar's hair doesn't frizz in this humidity!
[2008/07/23 13:01] Alas Zerbino: LOL
[2008/07/23 13:01] KrisBott Gears: lol yes!!
[2008/07/23 13:01] Alas Zerbino: I don't have a tip jar, but you can tip them directly by opening their profile.
[2008/07/23 13:01] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Thanks for your questions
[2008/07/23 13:02] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Alas, a woman after our own hearts!
[2008/07/23 13:02] Alas Zerbino: LOL
[2008/07/23 13:02] Annesh Perl: Will you ever be on for anything else JanetAndGreta?
[2008/07/23 13:02] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: We hope so!
[2008/07/23 13:02] Alas Zerbino: Great! It gets easier every time you log in, too!
[2008/07/23 13:02] Annesh Perl: Well there ya go then
[2008/07/23 13:02] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Thanks everyone!
[2008/07/23 13:03] Annesh Perl: Thank you
[2008/07/23 13:03] Alas Zerbino: Well, I hope to have the transcript up this week (it tends to get more hits than people here)
[2008/07/23 13:03] KrisBott Gears: OK, I'm off, thanks again so much and very nice to meet everyone.

[2008/07/23 13:03] Alas Zerbino: and Next Wednesday, July 30, our guest at the Athena Isle Writers meeting will be L. A. Banks, the author of The Vampire Huntress Series of novels and more than 20 other books. She received the 2008 Essence Storyteller of the Year—largely for the popular Vampire series--and has written crime/suspense, women’s fiction, and romance novels as well. See her website at:
[2008/07/23 13:03] KrisBott Gears: cool!
[2008/07/23 13:03] Annesh Perl: Wow!

[2008/07/23 13:03] Alas Zerbino: Thank you so VERY much, you two!!!
[2008/07/23 13:03] Alas Zerbino: It's been great talking with you and Kendra!
[2008/07/23 13:03] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: Yes
[2008/07/23 13:04] JanetAndGretaPodleski Szczepanski: She says thanks as well.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Prolific Novelist & Essence Storyteller of the Year L.A. Banks to Talk About Writing at July 30 Athena Isle Writers Meeting

L. A. Banks, author of the popular Vampire HuntressTM series of novels and recipient of the 2008 Essence Storyteller of the Year award, will be the guest speaker at the Athena Isle Writers meeting on Wednesday, July 30, at 12 noon SLT (Pacific time), at Story Mountain Center for Writers in Second Life.

Banks, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton undergraduate program, and received a Master's in Fine Arts from Temple University, has written more than 30 novels and contributed to 10 novellas, thus far, in multiple genres under various pseudonyms.

As a writer, she mysteriously shape-shifts between the genres of romance, women's fiction, crime/suspense thrillers, and of course, paranormal lore. One never knows how or when this enigma will appear . . . her forms are many, her secrets of crossing genres vast, and she does this with her teenaged daughter and her black Lab from some remote, undisclosed lair in Philadelphia.

Her Vampire Huntress series has become so popular among young adults that a Teacher's Curriculum Guide for the first two books has been created. The Office of Accelerated Learning, School District of Philadelphia, developed the guide as a result of numerous requests from educators nationwide who wanted to know how to harness the fantastic positive energy young people had as avid fans of the series. Given that the major themes in the Vampire Huntress legend were in alignment with the themes that many educators wanted to promote, these educators said they were also looking for ways to standardize a teaching methodology around the body of literature.

She also writes crime/suspense novels as Leslie Esdaile Banks, of which the most recent is No Trust; the Soul Food TV series novels as Leslie E. Banks; and women's fiction, romance (most recently Better Than), and motivational non-fiction as Leslie Esdaile.

L.A. Banks' newest book is Bite the Bullet, a Crimson Moon Novel, to be released in October 2008 by St. Martin's Press/Griffin.

Come meet L.A. Banks and learn more about her successful writing career next Wednesday, July 30, at 12 noon SLT at the Story Mountain Center for Writers on Athena Isle.

The meeting is free and open, and all SL residents are invited to attend.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Transcript: Author Shares Tips for Book Promotion: Locally and Globally (i.e., the Web) at July 16 Athena Isle Writers Meeting

Photobucket[2008/07/16 12:09] Alas Zerbino: Today we’re delighted to have as our guest an author who can help us with what I suspect all of us want: success as writers.
[2008/07/16 12:10] Alas Zerbino: Elizabeth Yarnell was rejected by a stack of publishers before independently publishing what became her best-selling, award-winning first book: GLORIOUS ONE-POT MEALS.
[2008/07/16 12:10] Alas Zerbino: As a one-woman show, she knew it was up to her to make her book a success, so she learned how to be her own publicist.
[2008/07/16 12:10] Alas Zerbino: After selling more than 10,000 copies of Glorious One-Pot Meals, Elizabeth’s book was picked up by an imprint of Random House.
[2008/07/16 12:10] Alas Zerbino: Now, she shares her publicity expertise through workshops, seminars, as a publicity coach, and on her Web site “Recipes for Publicity: Cooking up strategies to get yourself noticed by the media and online communities.”
[2008/07/16 12:10] Alas Zerbino: Her Second Life avatar’s name is Elizabethy Bookmite.
[2008/07/16 12:10] Alas Zerbino: Welcome, Elizabethy! We’re all ears!
[2008/07/16 12:11] Elizabethy Bookmite: Thanks, Alas!
[2008/07/16 12:11] Mariuch Pinazzo: It's tough selling books. I published my first book last years
[2008/07/16 12:11] Elizabethy Bookmite: what kind of book, Mariuch?
[2008/07/16 12:11] Mariuch Pinazzo: Fiction Novel.
[2008/07/16 12:11] Elizabethy Bookmite: ooohhh!
[2008/07/16 12:11] Alas Zerbino: cool
[2008/07/16 12:12] Elizabethy Bookmite: and how is it doing?
[2008/07/16 12:12] Elle Connaught: Cool
[2008/07/16 12:12] Mariuch Pinazzo: About a young Woman considering becoming a nun.
[2008/07/16 12:12] Alas Zerbino: oh my -- that sounds good
[2008/07/16 12:12] Elizabethy Bookmite: Who published it?
[2008/07/16 12:12] Mariuch Pinazzo: I get great reviews. I print and publish it myself.
[2008/07/16 12:13] Elizabethy Bookmite: good for you!
[2008/07/16 12:13] Elizabethy Bookmite: that's what I did initially, too!
[2008/07/16 12:13] Alas Zerbino: Then you've come to the best possible event today!
[2008/07/16 12:13] Mariuch Pinazzo: Not through a POD or Vanity Press.
[2008/07/16 12:13] Elizabethy Bookmite: Good choice not to go with POD
[2008/07/16 12:13] Elizabethy Bookmite: If anyone is considering this, please talk to me first
[2008/07/16 12:13] Alas Zerbino: Hi Chrysalis! Have a seat!
[2008/07/16 12:13] Elle Connaught: Is POD, print on demand?
[2008/07/16 12:14] Elizabethy Bookmite: Yes.
[2008/07/16 12:14] Mariuch Pinazzo: Yes
[2008/07/16 12:14] Elizabethy Bookmite: The pros are that you can do super small print runs -- like even 1 copy
[2008/07/16 12:14] Mariuch Pinazzo: Lots of scams in that arena
[2008/07/16 12:14] Elizabethy Bookmite: But there are many cons, like the scams
[2008/07/16 12:14] Elizabethy Bookmite: and
[2008/07/16 12:14] Elizabethy Bookmite: Amazon just announced that they will stop accepting POD books
[2008/07/16 12:14] Elizabethy Bookmite: except by their own POD source
[2008/07/16 12:14] Alas Zerbino: oh wow! I didn't know that!
[2008/07/16 12:15] Elizabethy Bookmite: Lightening Source
[2008/07/16 12:15] Elizabethy Bookmite: Yep
[2008/07/16 12:15] Elizabethy Bookmite: A lot of people are crying about this
[2008/07/16 12:15] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: So tell us how YOU did it!!
[2008/07/16 12:15] Mariuch Pinazzo: I do better selling author autographed on my own.
[2008/07/16 12:15] Chrysalis Solomon: As for me I'm just here to learn.
[2008/07/16 12:15] Elizabethy Bookmite: Like Mariuch, I also independently published
[2008/07/16 12:15] Elizabethy Bookmite: Hi Chrysalis! Welcome!
[2008/07/16 12:16] Elizabethy Bookmite: When you do it all yourself
[2008/07/16 12:16] Elizabethy Bookmite: you contract out the designer, the editor, printer, etc.
[2008/07/16 12:16] Elizabethy Bookmite: The hard part is getting your book out there
[2008/07/16 12:16] Elizabethy Bookmite: You spend all this time writing and then birthing a book
[2008/07/16 12:17] Elizabethy Bookmite: and then no one knows about it!
[2008/07/16 12:17] Elizabethy Bookmite: That's why I made publicity my focus
[2008/07/16 12:17] Mariuch Pinazzo: I belong to IBPA they've been helpful. It's non-profit association for writers
[2008/07/16 12:17] Elizabethy Bookmite: Yes, they're great!
[2008/07/16 12:17] Elizabethy Bookmite: You should also know about SPAN
[2008/07/16 12:17] Elizabethy Bookmite: Self Publishers Assoc of north amer., I think
[2008/07/16 12:18] Elizabethy Bookmite: Both of these groups can be very helpful
[2008/07/16 12:18] Elizabethy Bookmite: and they publish fantastic newsletters full of useful info


[2008/07/16 12:18] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: How does someone get started with your “recipes for success”? (What are the ingredients they have to gather?)
[2008/07/16 12:18] Chrysalis Solomon: I'm guessing IBPA = indy book publisher's assn?
[2008/07/16 12:18] Elizabethy Bookmite: The basic things an author needs to generate publicity...
[2008/07/16 12:18] Elizabethy Bookmite: Yes, Chrysalis, that's right
[2008/07/16 12:18] Mariuch Pinazzo: Independent Book Publishers Association
[2008/07/16 12:19] Elizabethy Bookmite: are the right URLs--
[2008/07/16 12:19] Elizabethy Bookmite: the title of your book
[2008/07/16 12:19] Elizabethy Bookmite: your name
[2008/07/16 12:19] Mariuch Pinazzo: Very grounded with their advice
[2008/07/16 12:19] Elizabethy Bookmite: misspellings of both
[2008/07/16 12:19] Elizabethy Bookmite: and any other URLs that make sense for your topic
[2008/07/16 12:20] Elizabethy Bookmite: You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find you
[2008/07/16 12:20] Alas Zerbino: Makes sense!
[2008/07/16 12:20] Chrysalis Solomon: you might want to buy more than just the .coms also
[2008/07/16 12:20] Elizabethy Bookmite: I always recommend having a separate book site and a site about you as the author
[2008/07/16 12:20] Elizabethy Bookmite: Actually, Chrysalis, I think the .coms are usually enough
[2008/07/16 12:21] Chrysalis Solomon: they are enough, until you get big -- Narnia just had to sue a little kid over
[2008/07/16 12:21] Elizabethy Bookmite: really?
[2008/07/16 12:21] Elizabethy Bookmite: Interesting.
[2008/07/16 12:21] Elizabethy Bookmite: You want to make sure your sites are media-friendly
[2008/07/16 12:21] Chrysalis Solomon: problem is once your name is a hot brand, people go reg your names in order to get traffic from people who "accidentally" found them (because they SEO'd your brand)
[2008/07/16 12:22] Elizabethy Bookmite: I think that prob will happen no matter what
[2008/07/16 12:22] Alas Zerbino: /chrysalis, you can click on the poster above the fireplace for more information about Elizabeth Yarnell (you weren't here for the intro)
[2008/07/16 12:22] Chrysalis Solomon: Yep it does. I'll sh'up for a bit now ;)
[2008/07/16 12:22] Chrysalis Solomon: Thanks Alas
[2008/07/16 12:22] Elizabethy Bookmite: Chrysalis, we DO love your input!!
[2008/07/16 12:22] Alas Zerbino: Feel free to jump in whenever you want!
[2008/07/16 12:23] Chrysalis Solomon: ;) I usually do :)
[2008/07/16 12:23] Mariuch Pinazzo: Have to run. Great meeting you.
[2008/07/16 12:23] Elizabethy Bookmite: Mariuch, what are you doing for publicity?
[2008/07/16 12:23] Alas Zerbino: Only rule is that when you ask a question of our guest, please preface it with QUESTION so we can keep track of it better. :)
[2008/07/16 12:24] Chrysalis Solomon: /nod
[2008/07/16 12:24] Mariuch Pinazzo: I'm on Amazon. Lot's of local stuff. You need to be recognized locally first.
[2008/07/16 12:24] Elizabethy Bookmite: The hardest part about selling a book is getting your name out there, I think
[2008/07/16 12:24] Elizabethy Bookmite: Local stuff is great! I always suggest that route!
[2008/07/16 12:24] Mariuch Pinazzo: Book signings, odd and unusual things like speaking engagements.
[2008/07/16 12:25] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: Examples of local stuff?
[2008/07/16 12:25] Elizabethy Bookmite: Local newspapers, local tv
[2008/07/16 12:25] Elizabethy Bookmite: local radio
[2008/07/16 12:25] Elizabethy Bookmite: local magazines (like city mags)
[2008/07/16 12:25] Elizabethy Bookmite: it's often easier to get in locally
[2008/07/16 12:25] Elizabethy Bookmite: because they like local stories
[2008/07/16 12:25] Alas Zerbino: right!
[2008/07/16 12:25] Elle Connaught: QUESTION: Did you just start calling stations and papers?
[2008/07/16 12:26] Elizabethy Bookmite: Then you can use these local stories to net larger press.
[2008/07/16 12:26] Mariuch Pinazzo: Lectures at libraries, churches, youth gather where I get to speak about at topic.
[2008/07/16 12:26] Elizabethy Bookmite: Speaking is a great way to get the word out about your book!
[2008/07/16 12:26] Elizabethy Bookmite: Elle: Yes, you can call, but I like to email
[2008/07/16 12:26] Mariuch Pinazzo: Contract and develop friends in the press. Build relationships with them
[2008/07/16 12:26] Elizabethy Bookmite: keep your eyes open for opportunities
[2008/07/16 12:27] Mariuch Pinazzo: Have to run. Thanks.
[2008/07/16 12:27] Elizabethy Bookmite: my local paper was looking for a food writer, and I applied
[2008/07/16 12:27] Elizabethy Bookmite: Thanks for coming by Mariuch!
[2008/07/16 12:27] Elizabethy Bookmite: best of luck with your book!
[2008/07/16 12:27] Alas Zerbino: Thanks for coming, Mariuch! Be sure to take a notecard & check out the writers groups!
[2008/07/16 12:27] Alas Zerbino: And I'll be checking out your book, too!
[2008/07/16 12:27] Elizabethy Bookmite: Mariuch: what's the title?
[2008/07/16 12:28] Elizabethy Bookmite: Elle: sometimes reporters get annoyed by phone calls
[2008/07/16 12:28] Elizabethy Bookmite: For a while, faxing was good, but not really anymore.
[2008/07/16 12:28] Elle Connaught nods and listens.
[2008/07/16 12:28] Alas Zerbino: The Postulant -- Maurcich's book.
[2008/07/16 12:28] Elizabethy Bookmite: Cool. Thanks!
[2008/07/16 12:29] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: Why are you encouraging authors to look to Web 2.0 to promote their books?
[2008/07/16 12:29] Elizabethy Bookmite: Web 2.0 allows you to get in front of people who wouldn't normally see you
[2008/07/16 12:29] Elizabethy Bookmite: The ones who come to your booksignings already know who you are
[2008/07/16 12:29] Elizabethy Bookmite: But on the web, you can help people find you who may not even have been looking for a book
[2008/07/16 12:30] Elizabethy Bookmite: For instance
[2008/07/16 12:30] Elizabethy Bookmite: Mariuch's book is about a nun
[2008/07/16 12:30] Elizabethy Bookmite: He could join Facebook groups (or Myspace, etc.)
[2008/07/16 12:30] Elizabethy Bookmite: about Catholicism
[2008/07/16 12:30] Elizabethy Bookmite: or look for groups for people considering taking the vow
[2008/07/16 12:31] Elizabethy Bookmite: They might be interested in his book
[2008/07/16 12:31] Elizabethy Bookmite: even though they had no idea it was out there
[2008/07/16 12:31] Alas Zerbino: I see!!
[2008/07/16 12:31] Chrysalis Solomon: QUESTION: Do you recommend explicitly providing marketing material on the chance that it goes viral? e.g. making a promotional "poster" (graphic) and explicitly giving permission to repost it
[2008/07/16 12:32] Elizabethy Bookmite: No, I really don't
[2008/07/16 12:32] Elizabethy Bookmite: While it's great if something goes viral
[2008/07/16 12:32] Elizabethy Bookmite: it's more likely that people will shun explicit marketing material
[2008/07/16 12:32] Elizabethy Bookmite: You'll have better luck if they just get to know you and become interested that way
[2008/07/16 12:33] Elizabethy Bookmite: Web 2.0 communities are very anti-spam!
[2008/07/16 12:33] Elizabethy Bookmite: And they often don't like to be directly marketed to.
[2008/07/16 12:33] Elizabethy Bookmite: For example,
[2008/07/16 12:33] Chrysalis Solomon: sure. I was thinking distributed only at your profile or blog, not something that you go pasting into other people's forums.
[2008/07/16 12:33] Elizabethy Bookmite: Yes, of course, you should have marketing info at your own sites!
[2008/07/16 12:33] Elizabethy Bookmite: But be careful on blogs!
[2008/07/16 12:34] Elizabethy Bookmite: Just yesterday I visited a blog by a top natural health guru
[2008/07/16 12:34] Elizabethy Bookmite: and there was a heated discussion
[2008/07/16 12:34] Elizabethy Bookmite: on how people felt about his marketing his own product
[2008/07/16 12:34] Elizabethy Bookmite: so heavily on that post
[2008/07/16 12:34] Elizabethy Bookmite: The consensus seemed to be that people wanted to see more than just him pushing his own products!
[2008/07/16 12:35] Elizabethy Bookmite: Others argued that he deserved to make money, just like everyone else.
[2008/07/16 12:35] Alas Zerbino: so you have to offer something of value on your blog, as well?
[2008/07/16 12:35] Elizabethy Bookmite: YES!
[2008/07/16 12:35] Elizabethy Bookmite: Exactly.
[2008/07/16 12:35] Alas Zerbino: Makes total sense!
[2008/07/16 12:35] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: There’s a plethora of social networking sites on the Web – how do you choose the ones to focus on, and why?
[2008/07/16 12:35] Elizabethy Bookmite: And it helps if you review and rec products other than yours as well
[2008/07/16 12:36] Elizabethy Bookmite: Alas: it will depend on your product
[2008/07/16 12:36] Elle Connaught: The extra material seems like a reason to keep checking your blog too.
[2008/07/16 12:36] Elizabethy Bookmite: If you can tie your product into a how-to article
[2008/07/16 12:36] Elizabethy Bookmite: like Mariuch could write a "how to become a nun" article
[2008/07/16 12:37] Alas Zerbino: Right! Like Elizabeth's blog, which is full of great info:
[2008/07/16 12:37] Elizabethy Bookmite: then you can post it on a content sharing site like Hubpages
[2008/07/16 12:37] Elizabethy Bookmite: and send traffic your way through that
[2008/07/16 12:37] Chrysalis Solomon: And make side income at the same time.
[2008/07/16 12:37] Elizabethy Bookmite: YES!
[2008/07/16 12:37] Elizabethy Bookmite: Since hub pages lets you put your adsense account in there
[2008/07/16 12:38] Elizabethy Bookmite: Elle, you're right about keeping interest in your blog with lots of varied info
[2008/07/16 12:38] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: What is Hub pages about?
[2008/07/16 12:38] Elizabethy Bookmite: Personally, I believe that EVERY author should blog
[2008/07/16 12:38] Elizabethy Bookmite: Hub pages is content sharing site
[2008/07/16 12:38] Elizabethy Bookmite: where you can post info for others about your expertise
[2008/07/16 12:39] Elizabethy Bookmite: like a how-to article
[2008/07/16 12:39] Alas Zerbino: Like ezine articles?
[2008/07/16 12:39] Elizabethy Bookmite: Yes, but ezine articles is really for others to use the pieces on their sites
[2008/07/16 12:39] Elizabethy Bookmite: while hubpages is purely informational
[2008/07/16 12:39] Alas Zerbino: Oh, I see!
[2008/07/16 12:39] Elizabethy Bookmite: Google loves hubpages
[2008/07/16 12:40] Alas Zerbino: :)
[2008/07/16 12:40] Elizabethy Bookmite: so if you were to post your nun article up there
[2008/07/16 12:40] Elizabethy Bookmite: chances are it would come up first before your actual website
[2008/07/16 12:40] Alas Zerbino: Hub Pages:
[2008/07/16 12:40] Elizabethy Bookmite: and then people would find you
[2008/07/16 12:40] Elizabethy Bookmite: Other web 2.0 opps
[2008/07/16 12:40] Elizabethy Bookmite: might be something like this
[2008/07/16 12:40] Alas Zerbino: That's great to hear -- I'd never heard of that site
[2008/07/16 12:41] Chrysalis Solomon: Similar scenarios include Suite101 and AssociatedContent - also both fairly well-loved by Google
[2008/07/16 12:41] Elizabethy Bookmite: appearing here in SL introduces me to all of you
[2008/07/16 12:41] Alas Zerbino: Yes!
[2008/07/16 12:41] Elizabethy Bookmite: Chrysalis: thanks for bringing those up!
[2008/07/16 12:41] Chrysalis Solomon: /nod
[2008/07/16 12:41] Elizabethy Bookmite: There are lots of content sharing sites now
[2008/07/16 12:41] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: Do you have a sense of the possibilities in Second Life for writers?
[2008/07/16 12:42] Elizabethy Bookmite: I thought last week's meeting about WeBook was very interesting
[2008/07/16 12:42] Elizabethy Bookmite: and that might be a good application for SL:
[2008/07/16 12:42] Elizabethy Bookmite: a collaborative writing venue
[2008/07/16 12:42] Alas Zerbino: Suite 101: Associated Content:
[2008/07/16 12:43] Chrysalis Solomon: Those two run their own ads which means you make less, but you don't have to be your own ad manager.
[2008/07/16 12:43] Alas Zerbino: There are quite a few authors who are active in SL, giving readings and workshops as well as offering their books for sale.
[2008/07/16 12:43] Elizabethy Bookmite: That is great!
[2008/07/16 12:43] Alas Zerbino: Thanks for the info, Chrysalis!
[2008/07/16 12:43] Elizabethy Bookmite: I didn't know that.
[2008/07/16 12:43] Elizabethy Bookmite: Are the readings well attended?
[2008/07/16 12:44] Alas Zerbino: Some are. I think it depends on how long the author's been active in SL...
[2008/07/16 12:44] Alas Zerbino: how big an inworld following they've developed.
[2008/07/16 12:44] Elizabethy Bookmite: That could be a valid way to get publicity
[2008/07/16 12:44] Elizabethy Bookmite: if people then went to your site, or to buy your book, etc.
[2008/07/16 12:44] Alas Zerbino: Some authors in here I can think of off-hand: Barry Levinson, Diana Hunter,
[2008/07/16 12:45] Elizabethy Bookmite: very cool!
[2008/07/16 12:45] Alas Zerbino: Linda Kay Silva...
[2008/07/16 12:45] Alas Zerbino: Andrew Todhunter
[2008/07/16 12:45] Elizabethy Bookmite: Elle, as an aspiring writer, do you have any questions?
[2008/07/16 12:45] Elle Connaught: No, I'm just listening and writing down notes. This is very helpful.
[2008/07/16 12:46] Elizabethy Bookmite: My next book is due out in January
[2008/07/16 12:46] Elizabethy Bookmite: and I am already starting to lay the publicity groundwork
[2008/07/16 12:46] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: getting back to the websites -- sounds like a writer had to put up quite a few sites?
[2008/07/16 12:46] Elizabethy Bookmite: You need a lot of URLs, but really only a book site and an author site
[2008/07/16 12:47] Elle Connaught: QUESTION: Could you say more about the self-publishing when you get a chance? About how that is done and whether you'd recommend it for all genres?
[2008/07/16 12:47] Elizabethy Bookmite: the other URLs are parked
[2008/07/16 12:47] Alas Zerbino: Ah -- redirecting!
[2008/07/16 12:47] Elizabethy Bookmite: Yes, self pub
[2008/07/16 12:47] Elizabethy Bookmite: we like to call it "independently published"
[2008/07/16 12:47] Elizabethy Bookmite: sounds better!
[2008/07/16 12:47] Elizabethy Bookmite: For me, it was a great choice
[2008/07/16 12:47] Chrysalis Solomon: oh who cares about the semantics, what are we a bunch of writers?
[2008/07/16 12:47] Chrysalis Solomon: ;)
[2008/07/16 12:48] Alas Zerbino: lol
[2008/07/16 12:48] Elizabethy Bookmite: even though I really fought against it.
[2008/07/16 12:48] Elizabethy Bookmite: Chrysalis: LOL!
[2008/07/16 12:48] Alas Zerbino: But you became incredibly successful going that route!
[2008/07/16 12:48] Elle Connaught laughs.
[2008/07/16 12:48] Elizabethy Bookmite: Because it gives you COMPLETE control.
[2008/07/16 12:48] Elizabethy Bookmite: Yes, it worked wll for me
[2008/07/16 12:48] Elizabethy Bookmite: because I took publicity seriously
[2008/07/16 12:48] Elizabethy Bookmite: But most indep pub writers end up with a garage full of books
[2008/07/16 12:49] Alas Zerbino: /aside: there's a SL group called Associated Content that is connected to that website
[2008/07/16 12:49] Elizabethy Bookmite: because they don't realize how to promote them
[2008/07/16 12:49] Elizabethy Bookmite: The key is knowing that
[2008/07/16 12:49] Chrysalis Solomon: Alas: Sweet good info, thanks
[2008/07/16 12:49] Elizabethy Bookmite: the media doesn't want to promote your book
[2008/07/16 12:49] Alas Zerbino: yw, C
[2008/07/16 12:49] Elizabethy Bookmite: They want to know what info YOU as the author of a book
[2008/07/16 12:49] Elizabethy Bookmite: can provide for their audience.
[2008/07/16 12:50] Elizabethy Bookmite: If you can develop a good platform, then you can get a lot of attention.
[2008/07/16 12:50] Elizabethy Bookmite: And sell a lot of books.
[2008/07/16 12:50] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: What are some examples of how you're "laying the groundwork"?
[2008/07/16 12:50] Elizabethy Bookmite: Writing many, MANY articles on my topic
[2008/07/16 12:50] Elizabethy Bookmite: that link back to my site
[2008/07/16 12:51] Elizabethy Bookmite: and draw people in who have many different interests.
[2008/07/16 12:51] Alas Zerbino: A lot of work!
[2008/07/16 12:51] Elizabethy Bookmite: And posting them everywhere from my blog
[2008/07/16 12:51] Elizabethy Bookmite: to ezine articles, to hubpages, etc.
[2008/07/16 12:51] Elizabethy Bookmite: Yes, a lot of work
[2008/07/16 12:51] Elizabethy Bookmite: esp b/c google will penalize you for duplicate content
[2008/07/16 12:51] Elizabethy Bookmite: so each one has to be original
[2008/07/16 12:51] Chrysalis Solomon: /nod
[2008/07/16 12:52] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: You found great success as a “one-woman show” in selling your book. Why did you decide to share those success strategies with others?
[2008/07/16 12:52] Elizabethy Bookmite: I spend most of my days writing this stuff
[2008/07/16 12:52] Elizabethy Bookmite: Just because I did well doesn't preclude others from doing well, too!
[2008/07/16 12:52] Elizabethy Bookmite: :)
[2008/07/16 12:52] Chrysalis Solomon: It gives the public a "try before you buy" feel when really you're just disguising your advertising
[2008/07/16 12:52] Elizabethy Bookmite: Chysalis: not really
[2008/07/16 12:53] Chrysalis Solomon: I didn't mean that negatively :)
[2008/07/16 12:53] Elizabethy Bookmite: I might write articles on vitamin D when my book is about healthy cooking
[2008/07/16 12:53] Chrysalis Solomon: ohhhh
[2008/07/16 12:53] Elizabethy Bookmite: No, I didn't take it negatively!
[2008/07/16 12:53] Elle Connaught: It seems like you could offer genuinely valuable information.
[2008/07/16 12:53] Elizabethy Bookmite: I'm talking about bringing in new readers who might not be looking for a cookbook
[2008/07/16 12:53] Elizabethy Bookmite: Thanks, Elle!
[2008/07/16 12:54] Elizabethy Bookmite: I"ve spent a lot of time learning all this myself
[2008/07/16 12:54] Elizabethy Bookmite: and feel like I have a lot of info to share!
[2008/07/16 12:54] Alas Zerbino: I think that sharing wisdom and knowledge to help others is awesome....
[2008/07/16 12:54] Alas Zerbino: ...and it helps EVERYONE.
[2008/07/16 12:54] Chrysalis Solomon: /nod
[2008/07/16 12:54] Elizabethy Bookmite: Yes, I don't believe in keeping secrets
[2008/07/16 12:54] Alas Zerbino: That's one of the lessons I've learned from Web 2.0, anyway.
[2008/07/16 12:54] Elle Connaught: QUESTION: For articles on things like nutrition, is there the expectation that you have a professional background in that area?
[2008/07/16 12:55] Elizabethy Bookmite: Elle, people want to learn from an expert
[2008/07/16 12:55] Elizabethy Bookmite: they want to know that you know more than they do
[2008/07/16 12:55] Elizabethy Bookmite: so that they can learn from you

[2008/07/16 12:55] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming book?
[2008/07/16 12:55] Elizabethy Bookmite: I think Web 2.0 is about community, connection, and information
[2008/07/16 12:55] Alas Zerbino: Absolutely!
[2008/07/16 12:56] Elizabethy Bookmite: Alas: the new book is an updated and expanded version of the first book
[2008/07/16 12:56] Elle Connaught: QUESTION: So, writing about nutrition is harder if you don't have the degrees etc? I don't know your background.
[2008/07/16 12:56] Elizabethy Bookmite: I really feel like the content of the first book needs a bigger audience.
[2008/07/16 12:56] Elizabethy Bookmite: Elle: you might not need a degree, but it helps
[2008/07/16 12:56] Alas Zerbino: (I loved the idea of the One-Pot Meals, but your book is out of print, so I'm glad you're updating it!)
[2008/07/16 12:56] Elizabethy Bookmite: I'm a Certified nutritional Consulant and Natural Health Professional
[2008/07/16 12:57] Elizabethy Bookmite: Yes, Random House made me take my orig book off the market
[2008/07/16 12:57] Elizabethy Bookmite: I still have ebooks available, though
[2008/07/16 12:57] Elizabethy Bookmite: and free recipes and videos on my site
[2008/07/16 12:57] Elizabethy Bookmite: Elle: there's lots of ways to make yourself an expert
[2008/07/16 12:58] Chrysalis Solomon: QUESTION: I'd like to hear how ebooks are doing for you, how significant a part of your offering do you make of them?
[2008/07/16 12:58] Elizabethy Bookmite: you can host workshops, write articles, etc.
[2008/07/16 12:58] Elizabethy Bookmite: Chrysalis: My ebook sales go up and down
[2008/07/16 12:58] Alas Zerbino: Elizabeth's one-pot meals site:
[2008/07/16 12:58] Elizabethy Bookmite: But I do get questions from people overseas who prefer ebooks
[2008/07/16 12:58] Elizabethy Bookmite: and, I like to use my ebooks to target niche audiences
[2008/07/16 12:59] Elizabethy Bookmite: that are too small to hit with a regular book
[2008/07/16 12:59] Chrysalis Solomon: /nod
[2008/07/16 12:59] Elizabethy Bookmite: For me, that means: Glorious One-Pot Kids meals
[2008/07/16 12:59] Elizabethy Bookmite: Glorious One-Pot Zucchini-lovers Meals, etc.
[2008/07/16 12:59] Elizabethy Bookmite: This summer I'll have out
[2008/07/16 12:59] Elizabethy Bookmite: Glorious One-Pot Kosher Meals
[2008/07/16 12:59] Elizabethy Bookmite: Glorious One-Pot Vegetarian Meals
[2008/07/16 12:59] Elizabethy Bookmite: See what I mean?
[2008/07/16 13:00] Chrysalis Solomon: /nod
[2008/07/16 13:00] Elle Connaught: Oh what a good idea
[2008/07/16 13:00] Elizabethy Bookmite: Now I can target the vegetarians online
[2008/07/16 13:00] Alas Zerbino: So all those add-ons are really enriching your total offerings -- and thus total income, it sounds like.
[2008/07/16 13:00] Elizabethy Bookmite: whereas they might not have been that interested in just one-pot meals
[2008/07/16 13:00] Elizabethy Bookmite: Yes, it's all about expanding your lines of income! :)
[2008/07/16 13:00] Alas Zerbino: Well, I can't believe it, but our hour's up already.
[2008/07/16 13:00] Chrysalis Solomon: Arrrgh
[2008/07/16 13:01] Alas Zerbino: You can stay here as long as you want
[2008/07/16 13:01] Alas Zerbino: but one of my jobs is timekeeper! :)
[2008/07/16 13:01] Chrysalis Solomon: I'm glad I came, Elizabethy your comments were good stuff :)
[2008/07/16 13:01] Elizabethy Bookmite: This has been fun!
[2008/07/16 13:01] Elle Connaught: Thank you for coming to talk with us Elizabethy!
[2008/07/16 13:01] Alas Zerbino: It's been wonderful!
[2008/07/16 13:01] Elizabethy Bookmite: Thanks for coming to the meeting!
[2008/07/16 13:01] Alas Zerbino: Thanks you so much, Elizabeth!!
[2008/07/16 13:01] Elizabethy Bookmite: And Alas, thanks for having me!
[2008/07/16 13:01] Alas Zerbino: Next Wednesday, July 23, our guests at the Athena Isle Writers meeting will be Janet & Greta Podleski, the “sister act” that wrote the bestselling cookbooks, "Looneyspoons," "Crazy Plates" (a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Cookbook Awards) and their latest, "Eat, Shrink & Be Merry!" They are also monthly columnists for Canada's No. 1 magazine, Reader's Digest, and were voted into "Canada’s Top 40 Under 40" in 2000. The sisters and their inspirational, self-publishing success story have been featured on dozens of national TV programs, as well as on hundreds of radio shows, and in magazines and newspapers across North America. Their website:
[2008/07/16 13:02] Chrysalis Solomon: Elizabeth, if you have time, how important in retrospect would you say it has been for your continued stable income, to have diversified into ebooks and article sites like you did?
[2008/07/16 13:02] Alas Zerbino: It was my real pleasure, Elizabethy!!
[2008/07/16 13:02] Elizabethy Bookmite: Sure, Chrysalis
[2008/07/16 13:02] Alas Zerbino: I learned a lot from you ... as well as from perusing your websites earlier!
[2008/07/16 13:02] Alas Zerbino: I encourage everyone to check them out -- great models for what we writers need to do!
[2008/07/16 13:02] Chrysalis Solomon: Alas: Thanks for organizing this
[2008/07/16 13:03] Alas Zerbino: Thank YOU for coming, Chrysalis!
[2008/07/16 13:03] Elle Connaught: Yes, thanks for this, Alas :)
[2008/07/16 13:03] Alas Zerbino: And thanks so much Elle -- great to see you here!
[2008/07/16 13:03] Alas Zerbino: And Mariuch -- thanks for coming and for your information!
[2008/07/16 13:03] Elizabethy Bookmite: Hang on Chrysalis, and I'll answer when we're done
[2008/07/16 13:03] Chrysalis Solomon: Yep
[2008/07/16 13:03] Alas Zerbino: So, we're officially done, but stay as long as you want!
[2008/07/16 13:03] Elizabethy Bookmite: Thanks, Alas!!
[2008/07/16 13:04] Elizabethy Bookmite: Chrysalis: At the minimum, having e-books boosted my fee per sale on my site
[2008/07/16 13:04] Elizabethy Bookmite: people would buy a regular book and then a few ebooks, too
[2008/07/16 13:04] Elizabethy Bookmite: now that I don't have a regular book until Jan
[2008/07/16 13:04] Elizabethy Bookmite: at least I still have something to sell :)
[2008/07/16 13:05] Chrysalis Solomon: So when Random House hit you with that need to take your book off shelves, your ebooks and whatnot suddenly became your meat and potatos?
[2008/07/16 13:05] Elizabethy Bookmite: In terms of diversifying your products
[2008/07/16 13:05] Chrysalis Solomon: Yet another reason to indy-publish :)
[2008/07/16 13:06] Elizabethy Bookmite: I always recommend people should create information products to sell
[2008/07/16 13:06] Elizabethy Bookmite: they are fairly easy and cheap to create
[2008/07/16 13:06] Elizabethy Bookmite: and you can keep selling them over and over
[2008/07/16 13:06] Elizabethy Bookmite: and you don't have to warehouse them in your garage!!
[2008/07/16 13:06] Chrysalis Solomon: Yep most word processors can save as a PDF now, including some good free ones.
[2008/07/16 13:06] Elizabethy Bookmite: Yes, that's really all you need
[2008/07/16 13:06] Elizabethy Bookmite: although
[2008/07/16 13:07] Elizabethy Bookmite: a good product might be an online course
[2008/07/16 13:07] Elizabethy Bookmite: delivered by autoresponder
[2008/07/16 13:07] Elizabethy Bookmite: that is set up through your shopping cart
[2008/07/16 13:07] Elizabethy Bookmite: There are tons of different info products
[2008/07/16 13:07] Alas Zerbino: Elizabethy, I have a quick question, when you get a chance -- if you don't mind.
[2008/07/16 13:07] Elizabethy Bookmite: yes, Alas?
[2008/07/16 13:08] Alas Zerbino: When you link to another blog or website on your own site, do you send that other site a note saying you've linked to it?
[2008/07/16 13:08] Elizabethy Bookmite: It's a good idea to do a trackback, so they know
[2008/07/16 13:08] Elizabethy Bookmite: however, if they're signed up for Google Alerts they should know anyway
[2008/07/16 13:08] Alas Zerbino: Thanks!
[2008/07/16 13:09] Elizabethy Bookmite: A good policy is to try to comment directly on other people's blogs
[2008/07/16 13:09] Chrysalis Solomon: Yeah I haven't used Google Webmaster Tools yet, that's my industry and I didn't even know that :)
[2008/07/16 13:09] Elizabethy Bookmite: when they write about stuff you like
[2008/07/16 13:09] Elizabethy Bookmite: LOVE Google Alerts!
[2008/07/16 13:09] Elizabethy Bookmite: And it's free!
[2008/07/16 13:09] Elizabethy Bookmite: Also love google analytics
[2008/07/16 13:09] Elizabethy Bookmite: Everyone should use both of those
[2008/07/16 13:09] Alas Zerbino: yes, -- analytics is great!
[2008/07/16 13:10] Elizabethy Bookmite: Any other questions I can answer while I'm here?
[2008/07/16 13:10] Elizabethy Bookmite: Great.
[2008/07/16 13:10] Alas Zerbino: You've been so wonderful! Thank you so much!
[2008/07/16 13:10] Elizabethy Bookmite: The last thing I want to say is, Alas: I love your dress!
[2008/07/16 13:10] Chrysalis Solomon: I think we could keep you busy as long as you wanted to stick around LOL
[2008/07/16 13:10] Alas Zerbino: Oh, thanks!!
[2008/07/16 13:11] Alas Zerbino: :)
[2008/07/16 13:11] Elizabethy Bookmite: Unfortunately, I've got to go pick up my kiddies at preschool soon
[2008/07/16 13:11] Chrysalis Solomon: :)
[2008/07/16 13:11] Elle Connaught: Thanks again everyone :)
[2008/07/16 13:11] Chrysalis Solomon: Thanks again Elizabeth and Alas
[2008/07/16 13:11] Elizabethy Bookmite: Hope to see you all again in SL or outworld!

Note from Alas: The Athena Isle Writers meetings are always informative and fun! Check one out sometime! Also, if you're interested in more about the Second Life writing community, check out my blog,

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sisters Who "Mix Pots & Pans With Pens & Puns" Will Discuss Their Writing Success at July 23 Athena Isle Writers Meeting

Janet and Greta Podleski, who make up the sister act that wrote the bestselling cookbooks
Looneyspoons, Crazy Plates (a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Cookbook Awards) and their latest, Eat, Shrink & Be Merry!, will be the guest speakers at the Athena Isle Writers Meeting on Wednesday, July 23, at 12 p.m. SLT (Pacific time).

PhotobucketAs they write in the introduction to Eat, Shrink & Be Merry!, "Whether you're trying to change your eating habits, lose weight, launch a new career, or even become a better parent, the journey we're about to describe will show you that, when you dream big, set goals, work hard, refuse to quit, and let passion be your guide, just about anything is possible."

Janet and Greta are also monthly columnists for Canada's No. 1 magazine, Reader's Digest, and were voted into Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2000. The sisters and their inspirational, self-publishing success story have been featured on dozens of national TV programs such as The Today Show, CNN, Canada A.M., and QVC, as well as on hundreds of radio shows, and in magazines and newspapers across North America.

Although Janet is not quite as handy in the kitchen as Greta (read: huge klutz), she brings many other talents to the table. A year-2000 inductee into Carleton University’s Sports Hall of Fame (for soccer and basketball), Janet’s fitness knowledge is only surpassed by her ability to endlessly create annoying puns. In addition to a B.A. in Psychology, she has also earned a degree as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. Originally from St. Thomas, Ontario, Janet and her Jack Russell Terrier, Lacey Lou, live in Ottawa.

Greta’s love of cooking began in her childhood after receiving an Easy-Bake Oven as a birthday gift. By age 12, she was preparing 3-course dinners for her 5 older sisters and her parents, using a real oven. Originally from St. Thomas, Ontario, Greta and her food-obsessed dog, Lexi, live in a 150-year-old farmhouse in rural Kitchener.

Come meet the Podleski sisters and hear their story next Wednesday, July 23, at 12 noon SLT at the Story Mountain Center for Writers on Athena Isle.

The meeting is free and open, and all SL residents are invited to attend.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Guest Melissa Jones Discusses Revolutionary Writing/Publishing Website

Melissa Jones as her avatar Mojobot Helendale (yellow robot, back to camera) talks about at Athena Isle Writers meeting July 9, 2008

[2008/07/09 12:07] Alas Zerbino: First of all: Welcome to the kick-off of Athena Isle Writers in our new meeting location! Before we get started, I want to briefly introduce the Story Mountain Center for Writers on Athena Isle.
[2008/07/09 12:08] Alas Zerbino: It’s the brainchild of myself and SL resident Clarissa Tolsen. This is our first “official” event. Alas Zerbino: I invite you to touch one of the Story Mountain signs for a detailed notecard about Story Mountain and our plans for it.
[2008/07/09 12:08] Alas Zerbino: Feel free to talk to me after the meeting if you have questions or suggestions.
[2008/07/09 12:08] Alas Zerbino: Also, for details about our guest speaker, touch the poster hanging over the fireplace.
[2008/07/09 12:08] Alas Zerbino: Now for the “ground rules” for this meeting-- :)
[2008/07/09 12:08] Alas Zerbino: All communication will be in text chat.
[2008/07/09 12:09] Alas Zerbino: I’ll introduce the speaker and turn the “mic” over to her for opening comments.
[2008/07/09 12:09] Alas Zerbino: At any time after that, just jump in with questions. BUT: please type QUESTION (in full caps) in front of your question for our guest.
[2008/07/09 12:09] Alas Zerbino: It’s a lot easier to keep track of which questions still need answering when the chat lines start flying off the window!

[2008/07/09 12:10] Alas Zerbino: We’ve got a truly exciting topic today: what is this revolutionary online publishing/writing venture called (
[2008/07/09 12:10] Alas Zerbino: Melissa Jones, content manager for WEbook, is here to share the excitement.
[2008/07/09 12:10] Alas Zerbino: She also wrote two of the chapters in’s first novel: PANDORA, published earlier this year.
[2008/07/09 12:10] Alas Zerbino: Her Second Life avatar’s name is Mojobot Helendale.
[2008/07/09 12:10] Alas Zerbino: Welcome, Melissa/Mojobot! Tell us about WEbook.
[2008/07/09 12:11] Mojobot Helendale: Hi, everyone! Thanks for coming.
[2008/07/09 12:11] Mojobot Helendale: As Alas said, I work for, a start-up, internet-based publisher.
[2008/07/09 12:11] Mojobot Helendale: WEbook was the brainchild of Itai Kohavi, author and entrepreneur.
[2008/07/09 12:12] Mojobot Helendale: After writing his first novel,
[2008/07/09 12:13] Mojobot Helendale: Itai wondered if there might be a less lonely way for writers to work, and WEbook was born.
[2008/07/09 12:13] Mojobot Helendale: We're trying to combine the best aspects of social networking, digital media, crowd-sourcing, and American-Idol-style talent discovery...
[2008/07/09 12:14] Mojobot Helendale: to both create great content on our site...
[2008/07/09 12:14] Mojobot Helendale: and to select the very best content for publication as real, live paper books. (And some other kinds of books, too.)
[2008/07/09 12:14] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: How did you get involved?
[2008/07/09 12:15] Mojobot Helendale: Pandora was WEbook's first novel -- it was written by 17 authors and 17 other contributors...
[2008/07/09 12:15] Mojobot Helendale: I found out about WEbook through the listserv of Columbia University's MFA writing program...
[2008/07/09 12:15] Mojobot Helendale: They were looking for writers to test out their collaborative writing platform, and I signed on.
[2008/07/09 12:16] Alas Zerbino: and the test obviously worked out!
[2008/07/09 12:16] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: What are the most exciting results you’ve seen so far?
[2008/07/09 12:16] Mojobot Helendale: Yes -- we wrote Pandora in about 6 months, edited it in another 3, and then I got involved with helping the website grow beyond the initial test group
[2008/07/09 12:17] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, alas: We started with a handful of projects started by our staff in April, and we now have literally thousands of writing projects in progress on the site...
[2008/07/09 12:18] Raina Anatra: QUESTION: What was the collaborative process many writers on a fiction project?
[2008/07/09 12:18] Mojobot Helendale: There's a tremendous amount of energy around finding other writers and readers to help improve work.
[2008/07/09 12:18] Alas Zerbino: /good question, Raina
[2008/07/09 12:18] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, Raina: A collaborative novel is really tough...
[2008/07/09 12:18] Mojobot Helendale: and we've since moved more towards non-fiction, anthologies of stories, and stuff like that...
[2008/07/09 12:19] Mojobot Helendale: It took a lot of coordination and patience to keep the whole group of 34 focused on Pandora...
[2008/07/09 12:19] Alas Zerbino: I'll bet!!
[2008/07/09 12:19] Mojobot Helendale: We divided the chapters, and wrote them out of sequence from a synopsis.
[2008/07/09 12:19] Mojobot Helendale: (Please excuse typos.)
[2008/07/09 12:19] Raina Anatra: I can only imagine! I collaborated once on a screenplay with one other person, and even that was difficult.
[2008/07/09 12:20] Elizabethy Bookmite: QUESTION: Is the novel plotted out in advance? By whom?
[2008/07/09 12:20] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, Elizabeth: The original idea for the novel came from Itai the company's founder...
[2008/07/09 12:20] Mojobot Helendale: There was a rough synopsis, and we refined it as a group as we went.
[2008/07/09 12:21] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: How did it compare to “writing in isolation”?
[2008/07/09 12:21] Mojobot Helendale: Today on WEbook, a writer can start a project and invite other writers, and it's up to him/her how much they want to plot in advance.
[2008/07/09 12:21] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, Alas: A totally different bag, with benefits and drawbacks...
[2008/07/09 12:22] Mojobot Helendale: I was pushed to imagine scenes I would never write on my own...
[2008/07/09 12:22] Mojobot Helendale: And the deadlines were VERY motivating.
[2008/07/09 12:22] Alas Zerbino: I'll bet!
[2008/07/09 12:22] Elizabethy Bookmite: QUESTION: You collaborate in virtual meetings? You say you refined it as a group?
[2008/07/09 12:22] Mojobot Helendale: But you have to develop a lot of ego-control.
[2008/07/09 12:22] Alas Zerbino: lol
[2008/07/09 12:22] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: Why should writers be interested in WEbook? What can it offer them?
[2008/07/09 12:23] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, Elizabeth: There was a lot of back-and-forth in chats and forums.
[2008/07/09 12:23] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, Alas: WEbook is a great way to get published without going through the traditional publishing "machine."
[2008/07/09 12:23] Mojobot Helendale: Our publishing decisions are based on community voting.
[2008/07/09 12:24]Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: Some people have said that picking a book to publish via popular vote will end up “dumbing down” the writing. What do you think about that?
[2008/07/09 12:24] Mojobot Helendale: So it's a wonderful way for relatively unknown writers to build up an audience and leverage that into publication.
[2008/07/09 12:24] Alas Zerbino: a writer's dream!
[2008/07/09 12:24] Elizabethy Bookmite: QUESTION: Does every contributing writer get a byline?
[2008/07/09 12:25] Raina Anatra: QUESTION: How does the community work? How do they see the works?
[2008/07/09 12:25] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, Alas: Two things: 1. WEbook doesn't totally abdicate its role as editor and publisher.
[2008/07/09 12:25]Alas Zerbino: ahhhh..... good
[2008/07/09 12:25] Mojobot Helendale: We are committed to quality work, and we think community votes help us find that work.
[2008/07/09 12:25] Alas Zerbino: makes sense!
[2008/07/09 12:25] Mojobot Helendale: 2. We've seen that writers are pretty good at spotting good writing!
[2008/07/09 12:26] Alas Zerbino: :)
[2008/07/09 12:26] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, Elizabeth: A byline and royalties.
[2008/07/09 12:27] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, Raina: All the projects are displayed on WEbook's homepage. Users find projects they're interested in, and they can read, review, and, in some cases, contribute written submissions.
[2008/07/09 12:27] Mojobot Helendale: You can either get involved with a project in progress, or start your own.
[2008/07/09 12:27] Alas Zerbino: /the website is quite amazing:
[2008/07/09 12:28] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: How many books does WEbook plan to publish this year? What genres?
[2008/07/09 12:28] Raina Anatra: I can't wait to look around! Do you often get writers who want to work together coming to your site?
[2008/07/09 12:28] Mojobot Helendale: The big thing we're working on now is better sorting and personalization -- since we have thousands of projects, we're working on ways to make it easier to find the RIGHT projects.
[2008/07/09 12:29] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, Alas: We expect to publish 6-12 books, in a variety of genres.
[2008/07/09 12:29] Alas Zerbino: super!
[2008/07/09 12:29]Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: What about the issue of “first publication rights”? If a WEbook author makes her project “public,” is it then “published” in terms of copyright law so that publishers who only buy unpublished manuscripts would not buy the work?
[2008/07/09 12:30] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, Raina: We see a lot of writers who are interested in working together!
[2008/07/09 12:30] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, Alas: Nope...
[2008/07/09 12:30] Mojobot Helendale: Publishing a work on the site doesn't affect the author's ability to publish elsewhere...
[2008/07/09 12:31] Elizabethy Bookmite: QUESTION: By published, do you mean printed? or e-books? or just posted?
[2008/07/09 12:31] Mojobot Helendale: Our website is more of a "work space" than a publication portal...
[2008/07/09 12:31] Mojobot Helendale: Once we decide to publish something as a book (and right now we're doing paper books)...
[2008/07/09 12:31] Alas Zerbino: That's terrific, Mojobot. I know some writers who were concerned about that.
[2008/07/09 12:31] Mojobot Helendale: We offer writers a publishing contract...
[2008/07/09 12:32] Alas Zerbino: yes!
[2008/07/09 12:32] Mojobot Helendale: Until a contract is signed, the writer retains full control over the work.
[2008/07/09 12:32] Alas Zerbino: just like in "traditional" publishing.
[2008/07/09 12:32] Mojobot Helendale: Exactly, Alas. One of our few similarities with the "big Guys."
[2008/07/09 12:33] Alas Zerbino: lol
[2008/07/09 12:33] Mojobot Helendale: Any other questions?
[2008/07/09 12:34] Alas Zerbino: So, to follow up on Elizabethy's question, having something published involves a contract and distribution....
[2008/07/09 12:34] Raina Anatra: QUESTION: For those projects that you don't end up publishing, do you know what kind of success they've had elsewhere??
[2008/07/09 12:34] Alas Zerbino: while work in progress is not considered published because only members can see it, and only if the writer wants them to?
[2008/07/09 12:35] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, Raina. We're really too young to know that. We've only been open to the public since April. And we're running our first voting cycle now.
[2008/07/09 12:35] Mojobot Helendale: Alas: That's not quite true...
[2008/07/09 12:35] Raina Anatra: LOL! Makes sense! Unless you can predict the future:)
[2008/07/09 12:36] Mojobot Helendale: Oh, yes it is, if by "members" you mean WEbook writers...
[2008/07/09 12:36] Mojobot Helendale: (I don't think of them as members for some reason.)
[2008/07/09 12:36] Alas Zerbino: that's what I mean -- you have to sign up for an account, right?
[2008/07/09 12:36] Alas Zerbino: (I didn't try to read any projects before signing up, so I don't know...)
[2008/07/09 12:36] Mojobot Helendale: Yes, work on the site is only visible to registered site users, and writers can also choose to make their work private so only they or a handful of invited friends can view it.
[2008/07/09 12:37] Alas Zerbino: "members" doesn't fit at all, does it? *grins sheepishly*
[2008/07/09 12:37] Raina Anatra: QUESTION: Is there a charge to be a member? Can anyone in the world join?
[2008/07/09 12:38] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, Raina: No charge. Anyone over 13 is welcome to join -- under 18 with the permission of a guardian, of course.
[2008/07/09 12:38] Raina Anatra: Free is always good...LOL!

Photobucket[2008/07/09 12:39] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: You’ve had literary fiction published in some pretty highly respected journals... have you heard any feedback from the “literary elite” about WEbook?
[2008/07/09 12:39] Mojobot Helendale: Can I get a quick show of hands -- how many fiction writers are in the group? Non-fiction? Poetry?
[2008/07/09 12:40] Devorah Corvale: fiction and poetry myself
[2008/07/09 12:40] Elizabethy Bookmite: non-fiction here.
[2008/07/09 12:40] Alas Zerbino: mostly fiction; some poetry; some nonfiction
[2008/07/09 12:40] Raina Anatra: Fiction, screenplays here
[2008/07/09 12:40] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, Alas: That's a very interesting question...
[2008/07/09 12:40] Mojobot Helendale: ...The response is mixed, depending on people's openness to change...
[2008/07/09 12:40] Mojobot Helendale: Is that diplomatic enough for you? :-)
[2008/07/09 12:41] Alas Zerbino: LOL
[2008/07/09 12:41] Alas Zerbino: I get it! Not surprised!!
[2008/07/09 12:41] Elizabethy Bookmite: lol
[2008/07/09 12:41] Alas Zerbino: change is always change..... :)
[2008/07/09 12:41] Mojobot Helendale: Some established writers and publishers seem to feel that giving more power the "the people" is a bad thing...
[2008/07/09 12:42] Mojobot Helendale: Others find it really exciting.
[2008/07/09 12:42] Mojobot Helendale: Personally, I think there's enough room in the literary landscape for us all.
[2008/07/09 12:42] Alas Zerbino: Yes, I support that notion wholeheartedly!
[2008/07/09 12:42] Elizabethy Bookmite: hear, hear!
[2008/07/09 12:42] Raina Anatra: It feels to me like opening new alternatives like your site only expands the landscape...kind of like Second Life!
[2008/07/09 12:43] Devorah Corvale: yes, too much is controlled by the big publishers
[2008/07/09 12:43] Alas Zerbino: yes, Raina -- just what I was thinking
[2008/07/09 12:43] Mojobot Helendale: Good analogy, Raina!
[2008/07/09 12:43] Alas Zerbino: The fact that it was started by a writer gives it a lot of credibility, too
[2008/07/09 12:43] Raina Anatra: It still frustrates me no end that anything done online is still seen like the step-child of "real" publishing, but I've seen some of the most amazing works online...
[2008/07/09 12:44] Mojobot Helendale: Raina, I think that impression will change A LOT with time.
[2008/07/09 12:44] Raina Anatra: Woo-hoo!
[2008/07/09 12:44] Mojobot Helendale: It's already changed so much in the past few years...
[2008/07/09 12:44] Mojobot Helendale: There are lots of online journals that are considered perfectly "respectable" places to publish nowadays.
[2008/07/09 12:45] Elizabethy Bookmite: good point
[2008/07/09 12:45] Mojobot Helendale: And online journalism is replacing print journalism as we speak!
[2008/07/09 12:45] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: Do you think this will take off, with other publishing companies going this route?
[2008/07/09 12:45] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER Alas: I do think publishing companies are in need of a shake up...
[2008/07/09 12:46] Alas Zerbino: LOL
[2008/07/09 12:46] Mojobot Helendale: ...and I can definitely imagine a world where publishers use models more like WEbook to help guide their publishing decisions.
[2008/07/09 12:46] Devorah Corvale: is there any other company like yours on the market?
[2008/07/09 12:47] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, Devorah: Not exactly, as far as I know...
[2008/07/09 12:47] Mojobot Helendale: There are other places to write online...
[2008/07/09 12:48] Mojobot Helendale: and there are a few paper publishers that have a community-based online submission process...
[2008/07/09 12:48] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: You talked about the voting cycle. How does that work?
[2008/07/09 12:48] Devorah Corvale: thank you for your time today. I must leave. Work calls!
[2008/07/09 12:48] Raina Anatra: Bye Devorah!
[2008/07/09 12:48] Mojobot Helendale: But I haven't seen anyone else doing quite what we do.
[2008/07/09 12:48] Mojobot Helendale: Bye, Devorah!
[2008/07/09 12:49] Alas Zerbino: Thanks, Devorah. The transcript will be up on the Athena Isle Writers Blog later this week...
[2008/07/09 12:49] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, Alas: When a project leader decides a book is finished he or she can submit it for voting and publication...
[2008/07/09 12:49] Mojobot Helendale: We're accepting submissions of book-length manuscripts now through July 17...
[2008/07/09 12:50] Raina Anatra: QUESTION: How many cycles will you have during a year?
[2008/07/09 12:50] Mojobot Helendale: Starting July 18, WEbookers will vote on the projects in contention...
[2008/07/09 12:50] Mojobot Helendale: WEbook will review the highest-voted submissions and choose our published books from that pool.
[2008/07/09 12:50] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, Raina. For the first year, we anticipate running about 4 voting cycles.
[2008/07/09 12:51] Mojobot Helendale: We may end up doing more as the site grows.
[2008/07/09 12:51] Alas Zerbino: One thing I really liked about WEbook is that it was started by WRITERS, not programmers who had a nifty idea. So the initial group of very talented writers kind of set a standard, I think.
[2008/07/09 12:51] Raina Anatra: That appeals to me too...
[2008/07/09 12:52] Mojobot Helendale: That's a good point. Our "test group"-- the people who wrote Pandora -- are all very serious writers, and our feedback really guided the development of the company from its infancy.
[2008/07/09 12:53] Mojobot Helendale: a lot of those writers have stuck around and form a core of great readers, reviewers, and writers on the site today!
[2008/07/09 12:53] Alas Zerbino: I was impressed by that, Mojobot.
[2008/07/09 12:54] Alas Zerbino: QUESTION: You also write the blog for WEbook -- how do you like doing that?
[2008/07/09 12:54] Mojobot Helendale: ANSWER, Alas: I'm so glad you asked...


[2008/07/09 12:54] Mojobot Helendale: The blog is hands down my favorite part of the job. I love it. (I'm a writer – of course I love it.)
[2008/07/09 12:54] Alas Zerbino: lol -- of course!
[2008/07/09 12:55] Alas Zerbino: WEbook’s blog (
[2008/07/09 12:55] Mojobot Helendale: Speaking of the blog...
[2008/07/09 12:55] Raina Anatra: Thanks, Alas, I'm going to check that out, too.
[2008/07/09 12:55] Alas Zerbino: I enjoyed reading it -- and that usually means the author enjoys writing it
[2008/07/09 12:55] Mojobot Helendale: I have a regular feature called WEbook Writing Wisdom...
[2008/07/09 12:56] Mojobot Helendale: and I'm always looking for guest submissions...
[2008/07/09 12:56] Mojobot Helendale: You can check out the blog to familiarize yourself with the kinds of tips I like...
[2008/07/09 12:56] Alas Zerbino: That's good to know -- there are a lot of writers in SL.
[2008/07/09 12:56] Mojobot Helendale: and e-mail me at if you have good ideas.
[2008/07/09 12:56] Elizabethy Bookmite: You'll probably hear from me at some point, then :)
[2008/07/09 12:56] Mojobot Helendale: Fantastic!
[2008/07/09 12:57] Alas Zerbino: By the way, everyone, Elizabethy is our guest for next week!
[2008/07/09 12:57] Alas Zerbino: I'm delighted she was able to join us this week, too.
[2008/07/09 12:57] Raina Anatra: Great, it's nice to meet you in advance, Elizabethy!
[2008/07/09 12:57] Elizabethy Bookmite: I hope you all come back and join us then as well!
[2008/07/09 12:57] Alas Zerbino: and what a great segue to a wrap up...

[2008/07/09 12:57] Alas Zerbino: Next Wednesday, July 16, our guest at the Athena Isle Writers meeting will be author Elizabeth Yarnell, who was rejected by a stack of publishers before independently publishing what became her best-selling, award-winning first book: GLORIOUS ONE-POT MEALS. She will talk about how authors can develop strategies to get free publicity and gain the attention of the media and online communities. Check out her blog at
[2008/07/09 12:58] Raina Anatra: Wonderful!
[2008/07/09 12:58] Alas Zerbino: Mojobot, our hour is coming to an end. Is there anything more you'd like to tell us as writers about writing and/or WEbook?
[2008/07/09 12:58] Elizabethy Bookmite: I'm looking forward to it!
[2008/07/09 12:58] JA Thespian: Alas, Thank you for inviting me. I enjoyed this experience
[2008/07/09 12:59] Mojobot Helendale: I'd encourage you all to make a special trip between July 18 and August 1 to vote!
[2008/07/09 12:59] Raina Anatra: Thank you, Mojobot...just hearing about your site has triggered a few juicy ideas in my head!
[2008/07/09 12:59] Alas Zerbino: You're welcome, JA!
[2008/07/09 12:59] Alas Zerbino: Yes, it's extremely exciting!
[2008/07/09 12:59] Elizabethy Bookmite: Thanks, Mojobot! This has been very interesting.
[2008/07/09 13:00] Alas Zerbino: The transcript of this session will be placed on the Athena Iles writers blog later this week:
[2008/07/09 13:00] Mojobot Helendale: Thanks to all for coming! It was great meeting you.
[2008/07/09 13:00] Liadona Rau: Thank you!
[2008/07/09 13:00] JA Thespian: Nice meeting you all.
[2008/07/09 13:00] Alas Zerbino: Oh, we're so pleased you came -- your information was terrific!
[2008/07/09 13:00] Alas Zerbino: Thank you so much!!
[2008/07/09 13:01] Mojobot Helendale: bye!
[2008/07/09 13:01] Alas Zerbino: and for the writers who were out in the sun today, the transcript will be great.