Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Interview with Kimberly Burnham, PhD and featured author in Pearls of Wisdom, 30 Inspirational Ideas to Live Your Best Life Now.

I met Kimberly through Facebook on a writer's page. She's one of many authors in a new book Pearls of Wisdom. This book caught my interest because of this collaboration. 

Many intelligent, giving, understanding, honest, and expressive people have come together to help others learn from their most helpful lessons in life.

Kimberly's 5 word description of her chapter touched me. "Beauty comes from our experiences." I believe this to be true. No matter your beginning, no matter where you are now, your experiences mold and change you. If you can see the beauty in each one, you will grow.

Below are the questions I asked her:

1.    What one word would you say to someone who is stuck in a holding pattern in her/his life?


By connecting we can better appreciate the ways others can support our journey and shine a light on our path, making it easier for us to find our way. At the same time, one of the best ways to get "unstuck" is to share our gifts and knowledge with others.

2.    What would you say to writers, who are always on their computer writing?

As I write my stories, I see my life in a fresh way. I see what I have learned from different experiences. I see what I have to share that can inspire others. I see the patterns emerge. Writing about your experiences is so important, as is sharing your talents and learning, but ultimately you must have experiences.

You must observe your world as you live the experiences. You must connect with the beauty in yourself, in others, in the natural world. 

Brain research has shown that simply noticing natural patterns improves our brain, our eyes and ultimately our life. Fractals are patterns in nature and in mathematics. A tree is a fractal, with a branching pattern. Seeing and understanding the pattern can help you heal more quickly even after surgery.

Get out and enjoy the patterns in nature, in your experiences and in your relationships. Then write about them and share your experience with others.

3.    Did you use an editor to help you with your writing?

I am very fortunate to work on this book with the editors at Hierophant Publishing, which is associated with Hampton Roads Publishing Company. Even before I submit material I have my personal editor, Chandler Tyrrell at Wordstream, whom I love, do some editing. 

Having someone, preferably more than one person, with some distance from the experience and your writing is a key element in good writing.

4.    Describe this book in 5 words.

Beauty comes from our experiences.

5.    Describe your chapter in this book in 5 words.

Recognizing the pattern heals us.

My Pearls of Wisdom chapter title is: Fractals: Seeing the Patterns in Our Existence.

6.    Were you involved in the publishing side of this work? If yes, what did you learn about publishing in today's market?

This is a relatively new model where authors are asked to exchange the book price of fifty books for 100 physical books to be sold and distributed as we wish, coaching calls, membership in a creative supportive group of leaders, sharing of the book pages with Jack Canfield and other inspirational thought leaders, a bio and website link at the end of each of our chapters which will be seen by tens of thousands, perhaps millions of readers. 

I have learned so much, not about the actual publishing process for the physical book, but more about how to share my story in a more impactful way.  This has enabled me to reach a much bigger audience with my message that our ability to observe, engage and respond to the world around us is a key component in our enjoyment and success in life.

7.    What form of media has helped launch the most interest in this book? Twitter? Facebook? Book signings? Email? Mailings?

For Pearls of Wisdom, published April 1, 2012, Facebook is the hub for author activities including Twitter and Linkedin posts, book signings at Barnes and Noble as well as independent bookstores, a live teleconference, email and virtual blog tour. 

My favorite is book signings because I have a chance to talk directly to readers. 

There will be more information about the virtual blog tour and teleconference featuring Janet Bray Attwood, Asia Voight and other gifted thought leaders  at <>

8.    What is the one life's lesson you learned in childhood that has helped you the most in your adult life?

The value of education. When I was six-years-old, my family moved from Los Angeles, CA to Bogota, Colombia, where I attended an international school. On my way to school I walked through a barrio, where children my age lived in shelters built from cardboard and tin. Even at that age I understood how lucky I was to have the opportunity to go to school. 

I also learned from watching my father buy books and uniforms for some of the neighborhood children that sometimes it only takes a relatively small amount of money to change the course of a child's life. I observed my father pay for sewing classes for our maid and understood that her life would be better with the new knowledge and skills that education brings.

Last year, memories and emotions welled up inside of me as I listened to Cynthia Kersey talk about The Unstoppable Foundation's goal of educating children worldwide, contributing to raising them out of poverty. <>

She commented on how doable this goal is with the monetary equivalent of the what Americans spend on ice cream in a year. I will continue to buy ice cream (coconut is my favorite) but I donated much more than I spend on ice cream to the Unstoppable Foundation.

9. What other books or articles have you written?

Last year I published a Messenger Mini Book entitled, Our Fractal Nature, A Journey of Self-Discovery and Connection. I also worked as a freelance journalist for 10 years publishing over 1000 articles. 

I would go to parties and people would say, "Oh you are a journalist. Where might I have read your writing?" I would laugh, make a face, and say, "I write for agricultural trade publications, so unless you are a cucumber grower, a tomato packer, an apple wholesaler or a vegetable marketer, you probably haven't read any of my work."

I did learn a tremendous amount about how fruits and vegetables are picked, packed, transported and sold in the United States. My most amusing credit is a cover photo on Onion World, a high gloss monthly magazine for onion growers worldwide.

10. Why do you think people respond to your writing in such a positive way?

Both clinically (I have a PhD in Integrative Medicine), in my writing and when I speak to groups, I think my greatest gift is being able to take many seemingly separate pieces of information, find the pattern and tell people how they can use knowledge and skills to create a higher quality of life as well as walk, talk and feel better.

11. When you get a bad review, what do you do to move beyond it?

I have a pretty healthy level of self-confidence. Growing up overseas, I have seen so many different people with unique points of view that I understand not everyone is going to get me. I am mostly okay with that. It also helps that I am surrounded by supportive family and friends. It has been an amazing journey getting to know the other authors.

12. What outdoor activities do you enjoy?

I have a large back yard garden. The weather has been so unusual this year that in mid February we planted snow peas, spinach and lettuces. We are taking a risk planting so early in Connecticut but if we are lucky we will have a nice crop of leafy greens by the end of March and if we are not then we have only wasted $10 on seeds.

The most unusual thing I grow in my garden is bright red amaranth, which is a gluten-free grain. The leaves can be eaten like spinach, raw in salads and cooked when larger. I also grow lemon cucumbers, which taste about the same as a regular cucumber but they are round and yellow.  I lived in Japan for a few years in the 1980's and have put in some Nashi, Japanese pear trees, which don't yet produce much fruit, but I am ever hopeful. Planting a tree is a sign of trusting in the future.

Trees are also fractal in nature, which relates to my book chapter about how solving puzzles and noticing the patterns stimulate healing in our brains. Sunflower seeds are arranged in a Fibonacci pattern (a specialized fractal), which means that the outer seed circle is made up of the same number of seeds as the addition of the next two inner circles. For example the outer circle might have 55 seeds and the next smaller circles would be 34, 21, 13, 8, 5, 3, ... The value is that this arrangement provides space for the most seeds in the smallest area. It is efficient. Our DNA also has a Golden Ratio or Fibonacci pattern, allowing for the most information coding in the smallest amount of space.

13. What is the oddest or funniest thing a fan has sent to you?

I shared my Mini Book, Our Fractal Nature, A Journey of Self-Discovery and Connection with a client at a Virginia clinic where I consult and the next time I saw her she gave me a pair of wool socks with fine copper wire in them. 
They are very comfortable and apparently have a grounding effect. 

At the same clinic, Integrative Manual Therapy in Norfolk, Virginia, another client gave me a copy of Oliver Sack's book, Migraine after I shared with her how I eliminated my migraines after ten plus years of six or so severe migraines with visual aura each year.

14. What one word best describes you?


15. How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?

Set a higher standard for your nervous system function. Search for answers everywhere, including in my books and writing until you have the level of brain clarity you want, until you can move flexibly and comfortably, until you can communicate creatively, until you have the quality of life you want. Never settle for less healing than you are capable of. Notice the patterns in your life. Enjoy the ways you are similar to me. Learn from the ways in which we are different. Enjoy life and share my message with your loved ones.

16. What things are 'must haves' on your desk?

I have a heart chakra green postcard on my desk. In white lettering it says, "Do what you love. No excuses." I also have a red and gold Mont Blanc ball point pen, which I bought duty-free on a Lufthansa flight back from seeing a client in Munich, Germany.  I feel that "life is too short to use crummy pens."

17. We often hear that the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” – how does that proverb apply to the 30 authors in this book?

My chapter, Fractals: Seeing the Patterns in Our Existence discusses how exploring and solving puzzles, learning new things, finding the ways in which we are connected literally makes our brain healthier.

A puzzle is a perfect example of the "whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Each of the 30 authors are a puzzle piece, each contributing a unique perspective. When all the pieces are read together, the beauty of the whole image comes together becomes clear. The whole book is more inspirational, more transformative than the sum of the wisdom in each of the chapters.

18.       What is your most central and compelling “pearl of wisdom”?

Life is an exhilarating, fascinating and beautiful puzzle, how you observe your world, respond to people and solve the challenges determines the quality of your life.

Learn how to improve your relationships within yourself, to your family and friends as well as to the natural world with Kimberly Burnham, The Nerve Whisperer at <>

Thank You,

Kimberly Burnham, PhD
The Nerve Whisperer

Author of Our Fractal Nature, a Journey of Self-Discovery and Connection and featured author in Pearls of Wisdom, 30 Inspirational Ideas to Live Your Best Life, Now! and Pebbles in the Pond, Transforming the World One Person at a Time.

  Kimberly Burnham is featured in two anthologies coming up Spring, 2012. Below are both of the interviews.

Embrace the inspiration in this book. Live your best life…now!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Interview with Phil Ammendolia: Entrepreneur and Forward Thinker

I met Phil through a facebook group for writers. His story drew me in right away. I wanted to learn more about him and how he became a success. I wanted to know what made Phil so confident in himself. How did he brand himself? What made him go after his dreams and succeed. 

Phil's facebook page is filled with pictures of him living his dreams. He's a lucky man, but luck had nothing to do with it. Read on to learn how Phil turned something he loved as a hobby into a profitable career he enjoys. 

Writers - pay close attention to what he's learned about marketing yourself, branding yourself, and faking the confidence that gets you in the door.

Below are the questions I asked him:

1.    You bought the rights to a book: The Lazy Man's Way to Riches. Why did you do this?

When I was 17 years old I saw an ad in the Sunday Parade Magazine from a millionaire offering to tell you his “secrets.” Whether it was the recklessness or naiveté of youth, I sent in my hard-earned cash and anxiously awaited the arrival of Joe Karbo’s The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches. I read it from cover-to-cover. Actually, it was more like I devoured it. It totally changed the way I thought. I’ve re-read it every few years since and it’s been a constant companion.

36 years later, I’ve had the coolest life a guy could ask for. I turned a boyhood hobby into an amazing and profitable career. I travel the globe staying in 5 star hotels, attend really cool events and work with a group of amazing people in an industry I love. I’ve earned “Sales Representative of the Year” honors. Fox Racing awarded me a Rolex for achievement as a director. I reintroduced the Bell Helmet brand to the motorcycle industry and increased sales by 11X in three years. When I was a teenager, my walls were covered with posters of my heroes. Today, many of those people are my friends. Last year, I had dinner in Shanghai with 15-time GP World Champion, Giacomo Agostini and we visited again in Milan, Italy a few months later. Evel Knievel was a friend of mine. Several years ago he invited me to his “Evel Knievel Day’s” event in Butte, Montana, and I was able to give him what would be his last custom painted helmet, courtesy of Bell Helmets. Thanks to lessons I learned from Joe Karbo, I’ve been a key contributor in building some of the coolest brands in the Action Sports Industry, like Fox Racing, Bell Helmets, and Alpinestars. Considering I started my career dusting oil cans, it’s amazing.

Sincerely, this isn’t intended to brag. When I look back at my career, it’s actually humbling and I’m comfortable that none of it would have happened if I hadn’t read that book.

Joe Karbo passed away in 1980 and I remember feeling a sense of loss when I heard the news. I knew that a friend of Joe’s, Richard G. Nixon, had bought the rights several years later, but I lost track of it over the last 10 years. Last year as I did my occasional re-read I started wondering what had happened to the book. I did some research (and had a few amazing coincidences) and found that Richard had passed away in 2007. I contacted his estate, met with his very kind widow and worked out a licensing agreement.

The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches had a profound effect on my life. It has had a positive impact on an amazing number of people, (Joe sold 2.7 million copies direct, without a publisher), and I have stacks of testimonial letters written by everyday people who have had uncanny success after reading it. I felt compelled to be a part of the history of the book, keep the information available and keep the spirit of Joe and Richard alive. I chose to apply the techniques to my career, but when applied properly they work equally as well for people starting or building a business, athletes, scholars or anyone who sets their mind to anything worth doing. I’m a firm believer this material will increase a person’s potential for success and I’m compelled to share it.

2.    What was your hobby as a child and do you still enjoy it today?

When I was four, my oldest brother took me for a ride on his Vespa scooter. I was terrified and hooked. To this day, if it has two wheels I love it. If it has two wheels and a motor, I love it even more. I still ride a variety of bikes on the street, in the dirt and occasionally on a racetrack. Aside from my family and friends, nothing gives me as much adrenaline-packed enjoyment.

3.    Are you planning to write you own story next? If no, what's stopping you?

For me, it’s not really about that. Of course people need to know enough about me to have some faith in what I say, but in my mind it’s more about them. I want to help. It’s my dream to rekindle the entrepreneurial spirit in America and offer people ideas, step-by-step tactics and support to help them achieve their dreams.

4.    You talk about branding. Writers must brand themselves. What would your recommendations be for a newbie writer?

First and foremost, be yourself and be true to your vision.

Next, write what people want to read. Know your target audience and listen to them.

What do you do if your message is one that you feel strongly about and know people really need to hear, but nobody is looking for it? Camouflage it. Make it look like something they want to read.

I’m not suggesting that you be devious. Instead, let me give you an example. When I talk to people who are building businesses, one thing I hear over and over again is that people aren’t comfortable making videos. Thanks to YouTube, properly done video marketing is one of the most important and most effective things you can do to build a following. No one searches for “How to make a video presentation.” But, because my audience tells me they need this skill, I feel obliged to address it. If I call it, “How to make a video presentation,” no one will read or watch it. But if I camouflage it and include it under a “How to make money,” story I’ll offer something that’s needed (because I’ve listened to my audience), and I’ve wrapped it in a package I know they’ll want to open.

Finally, realize that in today’s world, it’s marketing that will make or break you and branding is one part of that. Find or create something that makes you stand out. If you see Guy Kawasaki’s butterfly, you know it’s him. Seth Godin promotes his bald head and glasses. Mari Smith uses her booming personality, big smile, turquoise and bling. They use every avenue of online marketing. They are all brilliant writers. Even more, they’re brilliant marketers.

Write. Market. Market. Market. Write. Put your message in the right places. Use social media, blogs, and websites properly. No one cares if the lunch line is too long at your local burrito stand. Only, and I repeat ONLY post what your audience cares about. The beauty of being a writer is that you can write to your heart’s content while building a warehouse of marketing tools.

5.    Books that touch people so deeply, as this one touched you, are rare. What spoke to you that kept you thinking about it all these years?

Joe learned by doing and he speaks from that point of view. This isn’t a theoretical study. He DID it. He’s real and he comes across that way. And, his material works. The better I’ve been about applying it, the better it has worked for me. When you see the testimonials, you’ll know I’m not alone in feeling that way.

6.    What 5 words describe your training courses?

Practical. Real. Easy. Understandable. Step-by-step.

7.    What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?

5:30 most mornings, thanks to my dogs, Rocky and Bruno.

I eat a variety of good foods. Some days it’s fruit, sometimes wholegrain cereal and other days, eggs. I typically only have one cup a day, but I am guilty of being a coffee snob and brew mine in an espresso percolator I bought in East Berlin.

8.    How do you go about buying the rights of a book?

In my case, it came down to my love for the material. When I approached Richard’s widow, I was sincere in my desire to keep this material available. I knew it was important to her and I wanted to work out something that was good for both of us.

I consulted an intellectual properties attorney, did some research and had several heart-to-heart talks to find a win-win solution for all involved.

9.    Why would an author sell her/his rights to their work?

Perhaps the work has run its course through the traditional marketing channels or maybe it’s never found an audience. Though I encourage authors to learn to market, some just don’t want to do it. If a marketer can build a following it’s possible that the author would get a lot more than they would if they let the material sit. And they can work out an agreement to get ongoing royalties.

I mentioned that Joe sold his book directly, without the aid of a publisher and sold 2.7 million copies. I’m pretty willing to bet that the percentage he kept was greater than it would have been through a publisher. Would you agree? 

In today’s online and print-on-demand world, this is easier than it’s ever been (not that it’s easy). But if you don’t know how to market, your work could be forever lost. Authors do have to be realistic if they head down this path, but if it’s the right deal, it might make sense.

10. Will you be changing the jacket cover to better suit today's market?

That’s a great question. The original covers have a certain nostalgia and a recognition factor, but they are dated. I’m getting books converted to e-formatting right now and plan to survey. It’s up to my audience. What’s your vote?

11. How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?

By telling me how I can help them. What would they want to learn about marketing, branding, or building their business? What’s frustrating them? What do they want help with?

12. Will your courses be taught online or must people come to a school?


13. When you get negative feedback, what do you do to keep moving forward?

There are two types of negative feedback; constructive and hurtful. If it’s hurtful I dismiss it totally and completely. Period. If it’s constructive, I’m actually excited. I want to deliver what my audience wants. There’s no better way to do that than to have them tell you.

This is not suggesting that you compromise on your message or your vision. But it’s a lot easier to have an impact on the world if you have people listening to you. They’ll listen if you write what they want to read. Wrap your important messages within that framework. As your following grows you earn the right to deliver more and more of your own special message.

14. Who is your biggest cheerleader?

No question about it, my wife, Laura. She’s amazing.

15. What one piece of advice has stuck with you about achieving your goals?

I’d have to say that it’s the fact that most elderly people have more regret over what they didn’t try than they do over having tried and failed. 

Evel Knievel said, “You’re not a failure if you fall. You’re a failure if you don’t try to stand up again.”

16. Where does your confidence come from?

Here’s a little secret that might be helpful to anyone trying to gain a foothold. Confidence? It’s just an act. Among even the most successful of my friends, we all agree, no matter how many things you’ve accomplished, each time a new challenge arises there’s a little voice inside that asks, “Was I just lucky last time?”

I think the trick is to act confident. That act creates the reality. I did follow Jack Canfield’s advice from The Success Principles and wrote down 100 things I’ve been successful at achieving. As well as academic, sports and business successes, the list includes things like learning to walk and learning to ride a bike. As I wrote it I did find that it helped to see how many things, big and small that I have accomplished. On rare occasion, I’ll pull it out and review it.

No matter who you are, if you think about it long enough, you’ll remember a time when you succeeded. My main thought in this regard has always been, “If I did it once, I can do it again.”

17. What type of bike do you ride?

If I’m touring with my wife, we ride a Harley-Davidson Road Glide. If it’s just me, I ride my Moto Guzzi 1200. If I’m adventure riding, it’s a Kawasaki 650. For the dirt, I have several Honda’s, including a vintage 1973 Honda Elsinore CR250M MX.

Was that too much of an answer? (not at all:-)

18. What does PM x PI = LD stand for? Did you use this formula to achieve your goals?

That formula is something I thought of when I was considering how to best help people who want to start their own business in today’s world. It stands for “The power of your mind times the power of the Internet equals the life of your dreams.” Most people are far more creative than they’ll give themselves credit, and that creativity can be developed even further. Take a great idea and properly use the power that the Internet offers and you have a better potential for success than at any time in human history. And it really doesn’t matter what type of business you’re in.

As you consider your dream business, don’t forget to consider your dream life. One without the other is worse than worthless.

19. What is your favorite quote?

One of the first things you’re taught when you’re learning to ride a dirt bike or mountain bike is that “you go where you look.” If you look at the big boulder, you’ll ride right into it. If you look at the clear path, you’ll head there. So, you learn to look where you want to go. 

As I’ve observed life, I’ve seen that same law applies to virtually every endeavor. How many times have you dropped a piece of toast butter side down on your carpet and thought, “I knew I was going to do that?” So, the rule is, “You go where you look.” I’d modify it to say, “You go where you think; every time, all the time.”

20. What one word best describes you?


21. What are you reading right now?

Just finishing John Assaraf’s The Answer and starting Mari Smith’s The New Relationship Marketing.

22. How can my readers find your book? Do you have a website?

You'll find his blog there too!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Interview with Oli Hille: Author of “Creating the Perfect Lifestyle”

  I met Oli through Facebook. I read an article that he'd written about his new book, Creating the Perfect Lifestyle. Obviously this is not a children's lit book, but I wonder. If we begin to raise our children with the understanding that they have the power to live the life they want, wouldn't that be wonderful?

It all starts with you! I believe in Oli. I believe he's going to help lots of people discover what's already inside them. And I believe that if this new, happy, believe in yourself attitude trickles down to our kids, then the world will be a better place!

Below are the questions I asked him:

1.    Why did Creating the Perfect Lifestyle need to be written?
In the mid nineties I was working long and brutal hours for a big corporation. At the same time I was building a real estate portfolio and sleeping only 6 hours a night. I got so stressed I had to go and see a doctor who told me I had to change the way I was living.

A few months later that I woke up and had a revelation:

"Life is not about working your butt off for someone else, life is for living and life is about Lifestyle."

So I decided to create the life I wanted. And I decided to study people who have been very successful in life.

What I found was that creating the life of your dreams is possible, and it is strategies and a formula anyone can apply to their lives.

That is the basis of my book. I want to show people the steps they can take to create a fantastic life for themselves and the people around them.

Since I had my “Lifestyle Revelation” I set out to create the life I wanted. I started with a clean slate and I followed my passions. There is a great saying:

“It’s not work if you love what you do.”

So I set about creating a life that enabled me to do all of the things I was passionate about and that gave me time for:

My spiritual life
Time for my community
Time for giving to charities

-         All the things I never had time for before.
-         And an income that allows you to live the way you want to.

And I found that if you set your mind to it, you can achieve a really wonderful life.

After I found that there are steps anyone can take, I wanted to tell people.

And just like you, I want to make the world a better place. So I decided to write a book so that everyone had a blueprint for creating their perfect lifestyle.

2.    What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?

I thought about passing on this question because it didn't seem relevant and then I realized perhaps it is. I generally get up early between 6am and 7am.

I start my day by planning it and prioritizing my main tasks.

I am very conscious of what I eat. My breakfast is almost always fresh fruit with a few pieces of high cocoa dark chocolate.

3.    Who is the target audience for this book?
Initially I thought one specific target was 17-25 year-olds who really need to know this stuff before they start out, but Google analytics tells me that most of the visitors to my website <>  are between 40 and 55, and I get most of my feedback from people 30-55. I also get older people who buy it for their children. And I had a top Amazon reviewer read it, give me a five star review, and then require his three young adult children to read it!

So I guess anyone who knows they are not living the life of their dreams – and wants to find out how they can.

4.    How did you write this book? Use an outline? Just pen to paper? Research?

I started with every topic I wanted to write a chapter on. Then I added to that topic list as I went along. I wrote in cafes a lot - pen to paper! I also did a lot of research and I interviewed successful people. It took me seven years to research and write it.

5.    How many rejections did you get before you became a #1 Amazon bestseller?

I never submitted it to a publisher so fortunately I never got rejected! I am an absolute advocate for completely forgetting traditional publishing - it is a dying business model and it does not benefit 99% of authors.

In fact I am so certain that self publishing is the only way forward for 2012 that I have a book coming out on February 25th "How to Become an Amazon #1 Bestselling Author - and Make Money!". I have spent the last two years researching how to successfully launch a book online and how to get the best out of Amazon's system. The book will be an absolute must for authors. Please register for the launch here: <>

6.    Did you take any writing classes? Would you recommend any to a newbie writer?
No I didn't, but I spent 6 1/2 years at university and that taught me to write non-fiction. For fiction I would definitely recommend writing classes.

7.    Ever wanted to give up on this writing career? If so, why did you keep going?
I never wanted to give up, but I was VERY frustrated with traditional publishing and the thought that I had to spend months finding an agent, and sending my manuscripts everywhere. And then even if I was successful, knowing that all the middle men were going to take 90% of the cover price of the book. Thankfully Amazon came along and levelled the playing field. I have never looked back!

8.    What is the funniest thing that has happened to you since you've been published?

When I became a bestseller I was on the National 6 o'clock news and on National radio and newspaper. It's not funny in a "ha ha" way, but it is funny when strangers comment on seeing or hearing you in the media.

9.    Describe your book in 5 words.

YOUR Fantastic Lifestyle - it's time!

10. Did you hire an editor for this book? If yes, how did it help you? If no, would you use one for your next book?

Yes, an editor is absolutely critical if you want to produce an excellent book. As an author you get too close to your work and you do not see areas that need fixing and you stop seeing the grammatical errors. 

Traditional publishers require authors to rewrite their books until the editor is happy - that is how they get excellent books to the public. As self published authors we MUST do the same. And the editor has to be someone who does it for a job and does not know you.

11. Who is your biggest cheerleader?

I have been very blessed to have a core group of nearly 300 people in my "Inner Circle" who have helped me with advice, comments and promoting the book to others. Without them my book would not have been successful.

12. Please explain the Law of Attraction.

I have a whole chapter in my book on the Law of Attraction - and it is not what people would expect. It is my strong belief that the Law of Attraction is actually a spiritual principle that has been around since God invented it! We just call it the Law of Attraction now. You can read my thoughts on my webpage <>  - I recommend people read it!

13. What are you reading right now?
Actually my reading has suffered since I starting writing more! I have a really tight deadline of February 25th for the launch of my book "How to Become an Amazon #1 Bestselling Author - and Make Money!".

However I am reading a brilliant book by John Steinbeck "Journal of a Novel". I am also reading the book of Joshua in the bible.

14. What other hobbies do you enjoy besides writing?
Not really hobbies but my faith and my family are the most important things in the world to me.

I love reading of course, and exercise, and just hanging out with friends.

15. Why do you think your book is worth reading?

It is easier for me to point you to the 46 Amazon "5 star" reviews to see why other people rave about it. Honestly some of the things people say are very humbling:

16. If someone said to you, "Your book changed my life." What would they be referring to?

Well there are 65 chapters in the book and it is 266 pages long, so they could be referring to any number of pieces of advice. 

I have been very blessed in that a lot of people have told me how much they have benefited from the book - and as an author that is just wonderful. People should especially read the chapter “Before you Die – Read This!”

17. How do you handle a bad review?

I knew I would get bad reviews, it comes with the territory especially because I do not hide my faith. So I honestly try to think about the book from that readers point of view and think about how I could have added value to their life in the book. It doesn't get me down. I guess that is partly because the good reviews so hugely dwarf the bad reviews.

18. How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?
Here is the truth. I actually want it to be the other way around. I want YOUR readers to become an even bigger success in their lives. 

I have dropped the price of my book from $8.97 to $4.97 as a test, so I would love your blog readers to grab the book at this price. If they read it and it radically improves their life, perhaps they will leave a review and it will be a win - win for us both!

19. What one word describes you?


20. What is your favorite lifestyle tip you've received?
"Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you."

21. How can people see all nine books you have for sale on Amazon?

Simply go to: <>  - it lists all of my books and their prices. A number of the books are only 99 cents!

22. Where can people go to get your book “Creating the Perfect Lifestyle” for $4.97? <>

PLEASE NOTE: You do not need an Ebook reader or  a Kindle to read the book! Amazon gives you the free software so you can read the book on your computer, or your phone!

Thank you!

Oli Hille
Amazon #1 Bestselling Author

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Branding: Writers You Need This!

Branding yourself as a writer, whether you write for adults or children, is a career enhancer, and one that most writers ignore. 

I first learned about it in a class at Writer's Boot Camp (WBC), Santa Monica. Our teacher explained that, "you, the writer, should be able to go to a workshop or conference and be remembered by others there." 

  • Are you memorable? 
  • Do writers come up to you at other workshops and say they saw you before?
  • Do writers email you after conferences to keep in touch?
  • Do writers find you on SCBWI or facebook?
  • Do you gather more followers for your blog?
  • If not, why? 

The number one reason is - You are not branding yourself. 

To understand branding better, close your eyes. Can you picture your favorite writer? What are they wearing? How do they sound? Eye wear? Hats? A certain necklace? A cane? Do they have a mustache? Is their hair always the same? How about approachability? Are they comfortable with others? Do they speak a lot or stay quiet?

These are all things that can help to brand you. Another way of seeing it is to search your favorite authors websites. Do they always wear that same hat? Do they always smile or frown? Do they have a special pen or notepad with them? Is their a feeling from the website that you get? Is it serious? Silly? Hopeful?

My teacher at WBC had us do an exercise that helped me to better understand branding. He told us to list the top 10 things that made us who we were. 

Here are mine:
  1. Grandfather: Legs were amputated due to diabetes. He was strong, so strong.
  2. Lifeguard: I have many stories about being a lifeguard and they all changed my life. 
  3. Firefighter: Going through hazmat training and fire school was intimidating because I was the only girl at our firehouse. Even though I was quite young when I started (15), I still felt the awkwardness of boys vs. girls. 
  4. Sister Rivalry: My sister and I still have an estranged relationship and it's been this way since middle school. Of course this molded my views of sisterhood and family.
  5. Elephants: Working with the PGH zoo elephants was an amazing experience. 
  6. My husband: We married young (22 & 23), and we've been very lucky to have grown up together. 
  7. Blueberry Farm in Big Beaver: Growing up on a small blueberry farm was fun and infuriating at the same time.
  8. Acting: I acted for about 12 years - theatre, commercials, TV. 
  9. Monkey attack: My husband and I had two monkeys during our dating period. One of them attacked me. I never got into a real fight until that monkey!
  10. Moving away: Lived most of my life in Pgh, then moved to LA, then to SF.
These ten things become a way to brand myself when meeting new writers at a conference. Can you pick out the ones that might make someone be able to remember me? If I had a conversation with you, and the elephant story came up, would you remember that?

Using stories from your past is a great way to brand yourself. Remember to pick your most interesting, not everyday story. People will remember you. I even have #7 as my twitter intro. I grew up on a small blueberry in a town called Big Beaver. It's memorable. 

The next way to brand yourself is with clothing. It's easy and can be fun. Do you have a lucky hat? Shirt? Tie? Do you like to wear jackets? Bright colors? 

When I go to a conference I wear a hat at least one of the days I am there, and usually more often. I've chosen one that I think is memorable, without being ridiculous. You can go the clown route if you like, but that's more gimmick than branding. And beware of meat-dresses too. You don't want to go too far!

Simple clothing/accessory choices:
  • hats
  • scarfs
  • special necklace
  • special tie
  • bow tie
  • brightly colored briefcase or bag
  • wearing polka-dots or stripes 
  • glasses
  • ripped jeans
  • dress pants that are unique to you
  • an interesting good luck charm or pen
  • specific business cards
Play around with your wardrobe. Start to put together your "writing wardrobe style". Think about what you write. Are you a MG/YA writer? Do you write dark or light? Or are you a PB/CHP writer? Do you write light and airy, funny, happy? You can tailor your wardrobe to your writing style. 

I write MG/YA, usually on the dark, adventure, fantasy side. I like to darken my make-up, wear my hat low over my eyes, and style my clothes in blacks and grays. 

If I was work shopping one of my PB's - I would wear bright colors young kids love. I might even add a fun necklace with a Disney character or sparkly shoes kids would want to look at. 

Branding does not begin in end with your personal style. You need to brand your career. What genre do you write? What plots do you write well? Are you a dark writer or light and airy? Do you write fantasy or history? 

I know many writers write in all genres, but there is one that you are most passionate about. If you are a newbie, brand yourself there. Once you make it, you can tell everyone that you can write all genres. But if you say that now, it sounds like you lack focus. Pick one and stick with it for now.

That means, read in your chosen genre only. Write in that genre only. Twitter about that genre only. Blog about that genre more than others....keep your brand building. That way on the Internet as well as in person people get a good sense of who you are as a writer. When people know who you are, they are more apt to promote you.

Example 1:

Newbie Writer: "Do you know anyone who might want to point me in the right direction for my book?"

Workshop leader: "What do you write?"

Newbie Writer: "I don't know. Everything I guess."

Workshop leader: "Check the site, I'm sure you'll find someone you'll like."

Example 2:

Newbie Writer: "Do you know anyone who might want to point me in the right direction for my book?"

Workshop leader: "What do you write?"

Newbie Writer: "I write MG, action, adventure, fantasy."

Workshop leader: "I know someone perfect for you, and she's here. Her name's Angie Azur."

Do you see the difference in the help? Do you see how the second writer will get a better introduction than the first one? And because I've branded myself as a MG/action/adventure/fantasy writer, I get the connection too.

So the next time you pack for a conference, brand yourself with the right wardrobe, and accessories, and stories so that you will be remembered. Good luck!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Interview with Marcy Collier: Children's Writer

I met Marcy at a writer's critique group in PA a few years ago. I remember being utterly overwhelmed with the talent in that group, nervous about reading my work, and worried about critiquing any of theirs. 

Marcy helped me to get over my fears and show my work with confidence, and to take criticism, understanding that it would only make my work better. 

Marcy also had a very interesting novel she'd been working on. Back then it was only in the first few chapters, but already it had strong characters and a strong plot. 

I recently reconnected with Marcy through facebook, and learned that her novel is in revision and she's getting ready to query agents. I'm sure you'll be reading about her positive publishing outcome in the next year to come.

Below are the questions I asked her:

1.    What genre(s) do you write? 

I write YA, but I’ve also published non-fiction magazine articles for the children’s market.

2.    What's the one reason you write? 

I love using my imagination to create stories and develop characters that skip along the right side of my brain.

3.    What's the most embarrassing thing that happened to you as a kid? 

I can remember taking swimming lessons in grade school. I made a wrong turn and walked into the boys changing area. I ran into one boy I knew, (fully dressed) and I ran out completely embarrassed.

4.    Are there any classes you would recommend to newbie writers? 

SCBWI offers some great sessions to newbies at conferences and workshops. Writer’s Market and some other publications host webinars that can be helpful to new writers. Go to your library or bookstore and read books on writing and in your genre.

5.    Where was your latest publication? Title? 

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Mistake” in Hopscotch for Girls Magazine

6.    Describe the novel you are working on in 5 words. 

Gifted, snarky, truthful, choices, survival.

7.    What's the funniest line you ever overheard? Going to use it in a book? 

The other day my 5-year-old asked me to join The National Potato Brother’s Club. To join the club, you have to wear underwear on your head and eat cookies and brownies. I loved that and could see fitting it into a book someday.

8.    What was it like working in television? Do you miss it? 

Working in television was a lot of fun. Every day brought a new adventure. But journalistic writing is quite different than fiction writing. Freelancing has allowed me to write the stories I want to write.

9.    You are the editor of the SCBWI Western PA's newsletter. What does that entail? 

We put out a quarterly online newsletter, The Golden Penn. I solicit articles from other members that will encourage or help writers and illustrators to hone their craft. 

I also make sure the latest news for our region and the industry is reported in the publication. Once I edit all of the material, I send it off to our talented illustrator (ChrisAnn) to do the layout and find the artwork for each issue. A lot of people come together to help make each issue a success.

10. Would you recommend SCBWI to newbies? If so, why? 

I would definitely recommend SCBWI to both writers and illustrators. SCBWI is instrumental in educating both newcomers and established professionals in the field of children’s writing. It is also a great way to connect and network with other writers, illustrators and industry professionals.

11. You are a contributing writer for Route 19 Writers. What do you write for that blog? What subjects does it cover? 

The Route 19 blog is made up of children’s writers who live in and around Route 19 near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We try to establish a theme each month and write about the craft of writing, book reviews, industry news and anything that is kidlit related.  

12. Working with such a published group of writers, how does it help your writing? 

It’s great working with seasoned writers who have been in the business for a while. We all seem to have our own unique strengths in writing and critiquing. When we meet in person, each member brings valuable advice and feedback. Their advice has helped me to polish my own writing.

13. Ever wanted to quit this career called writing? If so, why did you not give up? 

We all have bad days. You work and work and work on a manuscript then beat yourself up thinking it will never be good enough to send out to an editor or agent. But because I am so passionate about writing, I don’t think I could ever quit. I love it too much, even on those tough revision days.

14. Where do your story ideas come from? Do you start with an outline or just let your fingers fly on the keys? 

When I have a story idea, I jot it down in an ideas file in my computer. I probably have way too many ideas that will never become stories. It’s when a story idea stays with me and percolates in my head for a while that I know I have to get it down on paper. 

I always know the beginning and the end of a novel when I start. It would probably save me time if I outlined first, but I enjoy the excitement of watching each new scene unfold.

15. What does your writing space look like? Anything that MUST be on your desk? 

(see pic) Coffee!

17. What one word describes you? 


18. How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success? 

You can follow my blog ( <> ), follow me on twitter @marcycollier and hopefully buy my book one day.
19. What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast? 

I try to get up around 5:30 a.m. and write before my kids get up for school. I eat breakfast around 7:30 a.m. and usually have an egg and cheese sandwich on a gluten-free English muffin.

20. Have you submitted your novel yet? If no, why? If so, what feedback have you gotten? 

I have not submitted my novel yet. I am revising the last half of the novel and hope to submit it to agents soon. 

I met a lot of great agents at the Rutgers One-On-One conference in October, but want the novel to be as perfect as I can get it before I begin the querying process. 

I have received a lot of helpful feedback from my critique group, a few beta readers and from my mentor at Rutgers.

21. Query letters: what do you think about them? Needed? Tough to write? 

Query letters are tough to write. I have attended many conferences over the last year to try to get to know agents better and get a feel for the type of manuscript they want. 

Whenever I fall in love with a book, or find a novel where the writing style is similar to mine, I always check the acknowledgments to find out who agented the book. 

Query letters are important because if done correctly, they will show the agent or editor that you've done your homework and are submitting to them because you think your writing might be a good fit. It also gives them a quick preview of your credentials as a writer and a snapshot of your manuscript.