Bonnie Latino

Bonnie Bartel Latino

 

Bonnie LatinoBonnie B. Latino – Your Gift to Me
Bonnie’s Website
Your Gift to Me on Amazon 

 

 

 

 

Today I get to introduce you to the last member of this delightful triad of authors. Although, really, you’ve already met her in the introduction. Bonnie’s personality sparkles on the page in every bit of writing she does. I’m almost sad to finish these interviews, because I’ve enjoyed reading even the emails this woman writes. I’ll let her introduce herself.

Bonnie: I am a journalist and former freelance columnist for Stars and Stripes newspaper in Europe. I’ve won national writing awards for fiction and narrative non-fiction. I am also a licensed Lay Eucharistic Minister in the Episcopal Church.

I met my co-author, Bob Vale, in an online military forum. We have been writing together professionally for over a decade, sharing by-lines on opinion-editorial columns for city newspapers. “Your Gift to Me” (Think: “Top Gun” meets “Steel Magnolias”) is our debut novel.

I am married to retired Air Force Colonel Tom Latino.

Deleyna: Tell us about your road to publication? Why did you choose to go indie? http://amzn.to/NUHtAc

Bonnie: I never expected to have to self-publish. We had a darling literary agent, Tris Coburn, who had been Clive Cussler’s (among others) at Simon and Schuster before starting his literary agency several years ago.

Ultimately, I believe “Your Gift to Me” was too pro-military, too patriotic, and too spiritual for traditional publishing, but too liberal for Christian publishers.

Deleyna: I can see that it didn’t fit into a traditional mold. It is a wonderful book, one of the reasons I say this indie movement is so wonderful for readers.

Why did you choose to go with Amazon Select?

Bonnie: In 2010, the vertebrae in my neck collapsed, crushing the nerves in my right arm. I had neurosurgery and couldn’t hold anything heavier than a paper plate for three weeks. I had always been a BOOK person. No eReader for me–ever! However, using a Kindle during my recovery, I experienced the total seduction of the medium. There is also a lot to be said for instant gratification especially for those who live in small towns with no bookstores.

After studying everything I could find on POD publishing and reading lots of eBooks on the topic, I had come to the conclusion that going with Amazon, and Amazon-KDP Select in particular, made sense for “Your Gift to Me.” Forget the cliché elephant in the room — Amazon is a pride of lions — verrry smart, perceptive lions who are King of the Jungle that is contemporary publishing. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Around the same time, I read a blog post in which Phyllis Zimbler Millergold medal had come to the same conclusion. What she said made sense and reinforced my belief that going with Amazon KDP-Select was right for “Your Gift to Me.”

Deleyna: You’ve been having some success of late. Your book has been Amazon’s Top Rated #1 in War Fiction, Contemporary Romance and Romance for months. It also won a 2012 Gold Medal Award from the Military Writers Society of America. What do you attribute this success to OTHER than that it is simply a wonderful book (which it is)?

Bonnie: In the spirit of fair disclosure, last week we slipped to #2 in Top Rated Romance — and thank you very much! My guess is a big part of the initial success has been because “Your Gift to Me” appeals to both genders, readers who want entertainment and substance in their leisure reading. Although it’s a military-themed novel, it appeals to many civilian readers. I think being extremely active on social media for three years before publication was key. We also gave away a Kindle Fire to promote our launch the eBook free day on Amazon on July 4.

As the (free) download ticker kept clicking that day, I saw Amazon’s raw power to very quickly get a book into the hands of readers who would otherwise never have heard of “Your Gift to Me” and who would hopefully generate positive word of mouth buzz. We’ve also given away a lot of books to media, print and electronic. We also sent copies of the book to authors and experts who were generous enough to give our book a cover endorsement. I am a firm believer that writers must show gratitude to those who have provided support. I write snail mail notes to almost everyone who has reviewed “Your Gift to Me” for newspapers and websites. I try to comment on every Amazon review, whether or not it’s a five-star. Finally, we made time to enter book award contests—filling out endless paperwork, mailing books, and paying fees. Unless we enter, none of us can win! 

Deleyna: You’ve put a lot of work into marketing. I have to admit, I hadn’t anticipated enjoying military fiction as much as I

Bob Vale
Bob Vale

enjoyed the books you three have written. You’ve converted me to the genre.

 

You took working together to a new level by working with a co-author. I was impressed because your book has a consistent author’s voice throughout, despite having been written by two authors.

Bonnie: Bob and I worked hard to construct a strong story. Then, with his blessings, I did the final edit on each sentence to insure our manuscript didn’t read as schizophrenic. Ironically, Bob wrote much of the lyrical aspects; I wrote most of the hard-charging military scenes. Bob writes because he can—and I think he’s the finest writer I know. He’s also much quicker than I. However, I write because I am compelled—I think that’s why Kathy, Phyllis, and I get along so well, we are all driven to write.

Deleyna: I once heard Thomas Kinkaid say that if you could do anything other than art, you should, because a true artist can’t.

You’ve used Hawaii as a luscious backdrop, including the scenery as a character in many ways. Have you lived in Hawaii? Was this a conscious choice or one that just felt right?

Bonnie: My husband was stationed at Hickam Air Force Base near Honolulu when Bob and I began writing “Your Gift to Me.” (Bob was in New Jersey.)

Hawaii was the natural choice for this type of story. It is a healing place for those who are open to the spirit. It’s sensual; it’s seductive, but it’s also close to sacred for those who allow themselves to see beyond the sheer beauty of place.

Deleyna: That’s it. That’s where I’m going for vacation this year. (grin) Is there anything else you’d like to say about your book?

Bonnie: Yes, please. Bob Vale and his wife Janice have been married for nearly 35 years. Tom and I have been married even longer. Had either Janice or Tom said, “You’re not going to write a book with someone you met online,” this novel would never have happened. Janice Vale and Tom Latino not only support our unique writing partnership, they are the thermal updrafts that lift our flight of words. “Your Gift to Me” is dedicated to them.

Deleyna: What’s your favorite book ever?

Bonnie: “In the Sanctuary of Outcasts” by Neil White.

Deleyna: You do realize that I’m now going to have to go and read that book, right?

Here’s the teaser for Bonnie’s book.

“Your Gift to Me” shares the same subtle, but central, theme of the healing powers of love and laughter to triumph over grief found in “Top Gun” and “Steel Magnolias.” Set primarily in Hawaii, the novel will appeal to men and women who require entertainment and substance in their leisure reading. “Your Gift to Me” won a 2012 Gold Medal Award from the Military Writers Society of America.

Nearly ten years after Emily Ann Meade’s husband died in a fiery Special Operations helicopter crash in the Gulf War, grief continues to follow her like a second skin shadow. Still single and emotionally guarded, she clings to her vow never to get involved with another man committed to a dangerous profession … until she meets charismatic F-16 Viper pilot, Colonel Ted Foley. Although she is attracted to Ted, he is assigned to a fighter wing in Japan that has recently lost two pilots in unexplained air crashes.

Ted finds the elusive Emily to be like smoke–smoke that surrounds and envelopes him, but that he can’t quite grasp. He is intrigued by the first woman who has made him feel alive since his wife died of breast cancer.

Allowing her mind to wander through fields of dreams on which she can’t afford the emotional mortgage, Emily lowers her barriers and discovers Ted’s greatest virtue: he makes the ordinary feel sublime. Healing in shared confidences solidifies their relationship.

As Emily becomes the vivacious woman she was before her husband’s death devastated her spirit, her worst fear resurfaces. Ted’s squadron suffers a third mysterious F-16 crash. Terrified that his life could be in danger, and she will be left to suffer the emotional consequences, she pushes him away . . . again. Their relationship shatters.

Emily must find a path through her emotional minefields or risk never discovering that she is rejecting the only type of man to whom she is genuinely attracted, a man who leads by example and from the front — and that man’s life could be in danger!

Ultimately Ted and Emily discover that grief, like joy, is finite, but love is infinite.

——————

An update: “Your Gift to Me” has just won a silver medal for Inspirational Fiction in the Stars and Flags Book Awards at Branson, Mo’s annual Veterans Week.

On their Amazon KDP-Select Free Day on November 11, the triad did fantastic. Their books ranked #2, #3 and #5 in Bestseller Free – War Fiction. Phyllis ranked #1 in Jewish Fiction/Literature. YGTM ranked in both Romance and Contemporary Romance, Genre Fiction and Fiction/War. All three books transitioned to Amazon’s Best Seller list the next day.

Way to go, ladies!

 

 

Phyllis

Phyllis Zimbler Miller

Phyllis

Phyllis Zimbler Miller – Mrs. Lieutenant
Phyllis’ Website
Mrs. Lieutenant on Amazon

 

 

 

Today I’m welcoming Phyllis Zimbler Miller. I’m excited to share her wisdom and expertise with you! I’ve asked Phyllis to share some links to her own blog in this article because I think she has some valuable information to offer my readers who are also writers.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books and ebooks, including the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist MRS. LIEUTENANT. The novel is based on Phyllis’ experiences as a new Mrs. Lieutenant in the spring of 1970 during the Vietnam War and tells the story from the point of view of four new U.S. Army officers’ wives.

Phyllis is also the co-founder of the Internet marketing company www.MillerMosaicLLC.com and she blogs at www.millermosaicllc.com/blog and www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com

Deleyna: Tell us about your road to publication for these novels? Why did you choose to go indie? What has your experience been like?

Phyllis: MRS. LIEUTENANT took a torturous road to publication. Since 1970 I have wanted to tell this story of women’s social history during the very specific time period of the Vietnam War. About 20 years later two women film producers optioned the story and then told me to write a book. By the time I had written the first draft of a novel, they had moved on to other projects.

Then came 20 years of writing and rewriting and rejection after rejection saying that readers wouldn’t be interested in the story. I hired a book consultant to help me figure out what changes needed to be made, and I made those.

Finally I decided for my 60th birthday to self publish thanks to POD (no books needed to be stored in my garage), and I used BookSurge, which was owned by Amazon and eventually merged into CreateSpace. It was at the same time that I entered the manuscript into the Amazon contest. Having the novel named a semifinalist certainly vindicated my feeling that there was a market for this story!

Deleyna: Why did you choose to go with Amazon Select? What has your experience been with them?

Phyllis: When my novel was self-published in April of 2008 Kindle was only a few months old (November 2007). I hired someone to convert MRS. LIEUTENANT to the Kindle format, but very few people had Kindle ereaders then.

While MRS. LIEUTENANT got great reader reviews, the book couldn’t be carried in the military PX stores (because POD books aren’t returnable) and the book price required by BookSurge at that time was way too high for an unknown fiction author. (Now CreateSpace lets you choose your own price within certain parameters.)

Then more recently I started self publishing additional ebooks. I had these manuscripts professionally converted and put on Smashwords and Barnes & Noble. But I soon realized that I couldn’t spend the time to get reviews on all these places.

Amazon’s KDP Select (requires exclusivity of the ebook but not the physical book for 90-day periods) came along in November/December 2011. I started reading about this option.

As a marketing person in addition to an author, I studied what the KDP Select opportunity could mean. And I became convinced that here was the answer to my frustration at not having the time to promote on all the major book selling sites.

In addition, here was the chance for a second life for MRS. LIEUTENANT. (See my blog post “KDP Select: MRS. LIEUTENANT Gets Second Chance.”)

After experimenting with KDP Select with spy story ebook CIA FALL GUY and book marketing ebook TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON AND FACEBOOK, I took the ebook of MRS. LIEUTENANT off all other sites (yes, this took time and effort) and made it a KDP Select ebook.

Now I spend my book marketing time focused on only one book seller – Amazon – and this is a huge advantage for me!

Mrs-Lieutenant-book-cover-big-cropped-180hDeleyna: I noticed that you wrote the book in present tense. What made you choose that tense? (It was very effective, by the way.) Did you find it hard to work with?

Phyllis: I originally started out writing in past tense (and my other fiction books are in past tense). But past tense didn’t feel right to me for this story. I tried present tense and it seemed to work well. And once I got into the flow of using present tense, it wasn’t any harder to use than past tense.

Deleyna: Your book has been out the longest. Do you find that there is a time element to the discovery of your book? (Other authors on my blog have reported 12 – 18 months before discovery – your experience may vary because of your other books and your marketing savvy! I’d like to include that aspect.)

Phyllis: Self publishing MRS. LIEUTENANT 4 ½ years ago was not an advantage because of the required high price of the paperback and the low number of people reading on a Kindle. (Now there are free Kindle apps for many other electronic devices but this wasn’t true back in 2008.)

As time went on, I realized there would be an advantage to having more books available on Kindle. I looked at unpublished material I had and set out to publish that material.

It was at this point that I learned how I could lose control of my own ebook on Amazon if the ebook converter did not upload to my own KDP account. I got back an ebook of mine that I had lost control of and had my business partner Yael K. Miller teach me how to do my own ebook conversions. (See blog post “How I Convert My Manuscripts Into Ebooks.”)

Now Yael does the covers for my ebooks (the MRS. LIEUTENANT cover was done by BookSurge although we are thinking of doing a new cover) and I do the conversions. And I love the ability to make changes myself!

The truth is that book marketing is a time-consuming commitment over the long haul. Thanks to Amazon, books can be available for much longer than most books are available in a bookstore. But we as authors have to continually work at getting our books in front of prospective readers, plus we have to make it easy for people to buy and read our books. (KDP Select ebooks can be borrowed for free by Amazon Prime members who have a Kindle.)

Deleyna: I’ve also found the process of converting to mobi seems to be getting easier as the industry develops.

I loved the multi-cultural aspect of your book. This is a topic that is dear to my heart. How did you do your research? Each of these women felt so genuine and was treated with so much respect.

Phyllis: The multicultural part was exactly why for the past 40 years I have wanted to tell this story (long before the word “multicultural” was in vogue). The characters are composed of pieces of real people I met while a Mrs. Lieutenant, and it was their stories that I wanted to tell.

I purposely created fictional characters to protect the innocent, but the characters are very “true to life.” I saved all my original documents from the two years my husband served on active duty so I had original research at hand. (I am now planning to write a book about being stationed in Germany as part of an occupying force only 25 years after the end of WWII.)

Deleyna: Anything else you’d like to add about your book and the writing process?

Phyllis: I often write scenes of a book in my head so that, when I sit down at my computer, I already know what I am going to write. And I am always thankful for my computer because I started out as a journalist on a manual typewriter!

Because of my journalism training, I write quickly and then rewrite. I actually like the revision process because I love “smoothing out” what I have written.

Deleyna: I haven’t gotten to the point where I enjoy rewriting yet, but I hear you about starting out on a manual typewriter. I love my computer.

Thank you for joining me today, Phyllis! Tomorrow we’ll chat with Kathleen M. Rodgers, another member of your triad of military writers.

Here’s the teaser for Phyllis’ book:

This is a war story — one featuring army wives.

In the spring of 1970 – right after the Kent State National Guard shootings and President Nixon’s two-month incursion into Cambodia – four newly married young women come together at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, when their husbands go on active duty as officers in the U.S. Army.

Different as these four women are, they have one thing in common: Their overwhelming fear that, right after these nine weeks of training, their husbands could be shipped out to Vietnam – and they could become war widows.

Sharon is a Northern Jewish anti-war protester who fell in love with an ROTC cadet; Kim is a Southern Baptist whose husband is intensely jealous; Donna is a Puerto Rican who grew up in an enlisted man’s family; and Wendy is a Southern black whose parents have sheltered her from the brutal reality of racism in America.

Read the war story MRS. LIEUTENANT to discover what happens as these women overcome their prejudices, reveal their darkest secrets, and are initiated into their new lives as army officers’ wives during the turbulent Vietnam War period.