Saturday, August 19, 2017

A New Member for 4RV Books: Turning Mountains into Molehills

     Yvonne M. Morgan's memoir, Turning Mountains into Molehills, has  made its  appearance. Yvonne's story follows a path from personal devastation to personal triumph through God's call to mission and serving others through ministry. Her fears, disappointments, and heartaches are all detailed in this adventure about how God's calling beckons her to continue on her mission no matter what troubles arise. Ultimately, God shows her how to turn her mountains into molehills.

         Pre-publication reviews found in the book are copied below:

There is a universal truth in Yvonne Morgan’s unique story that reminds all of us that we don’t really create our lives, but that we are called by life. The discovery of purpose is not found inside us, but serving in the world around us. This story will cause anyone who feels lost in their lives to trust God and look for the direction He is leading to living beyond one’s self. -- Dr. Robyn Goggs, Associate Minister, Women and Mission, Church of the Servant

Every pastor should read this book. It will encourage and inspire you to deeper trust in the work God is doing in your leaders. Yvonne's journey is a tremendous example of how God honors obedience and transforms fear into confidence. As her pastor for a season, it was a true joy to watch God at work and an honor to join her and Bill in their ministry. -- The Rev. Dr. Tom Herrick, Executive Director, Titus Institute for Church Planting

Turning Mountains to Molehills is an honest and beautifully written account of obedience in answering Gods call, then moving out of the way in faith as He takes care of the details. -- Lynn Bouterse, Short-Term Ministries, Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders

     Copies of Turning Mountains into Molehills can be purchased from the 4RV Online Book Store as well as, B&N. com, and through brick and mortar stores.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Promote Your Book, No, Promote Yourself


Promote Your Book Yourself

         Before authors promote a book, they should promote themselves. Of course, if a writer hasn't promoted herself yet, doing so can occur after the book, but promotion should first be about the author. Before writers have books to promote, they need to build an interest in themselves. Allow me to share some of the tips the sources, listed below the article, mixed with a few ideas and thoughts of my own.
         Often writers wait too late to promote themselves. Joan Steward says authors should become "experts" and build a personal base before promoting a book. Nonfiction writers have a built-in topic about which to write articles or present workshops: the theme or sub-themes of the future nonfiction book. However, fiction writers can also be experts, if they have researched information for their books correctly. For example, research for a book dealing with kidnapped children can create an author who is an expert on the aftereffects of being kidnapped on the children and families; what steps to take to find kidnapped children; or how to survive being kidnapped or having a child kidnapped.

         Authors who have studied and developed their own writing expertise can share their knowledge of writing and become an expert on writing. But, that expert level should probably come after proving through being published that they know the subject. To gain more knowledge about writing, a person can attend classes, workshops, and conferences about writing. He/she can read articles and books about writing, keeping the knowledge that usable and deleting the rest.

         Another way authors can promote themselves and create themselves as experts is to create cheat sheets and checklists. Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound, states the following: "Readers love chunks of information they can digest easily in just a minute or two. That's why they're wild about cheat sheets and checklists. These powerful one-page PDFs are like digital crow bars that can pry an email address out of a website visitor faster than any other lead magnet you might offer." She goes on to say:

                   Checklist/cheat sheets can be released before the book for promotion or used in a the appendix of a book or both. These lists don’t have to be about serious topics. Be helpful and have fun.

Five examples:
                   1. Create a checklist of advice from your main character on how to overcome a challenge or solve a problem mentioned in the book.
                   2. Offer a cheat sheet for tourists who want to visit the city, state, region or country where your novel takes place. If your book is about Venice, your cheat sheet could be titled, “Favorite Foodie Hideaways to Explore in Venice.”
                   3. Do your sci-fi characters have their own language? Create a cheat sheet of words and their definitions.
                   4. Create a checklist of “7 Most Romantic Places to Propose” that ties into your romance novel.
                   5. Does your children’s book include a fairy as one of the main characters? Create a cheat sheet of “What the 5 Most Famous Fairies Can Teach Your Child.” (The Tooth Fairy, Tinkerbell, etc.)

         Include a short blurb about your book at the end, with a link to the sales page.

         Writers need to become familiar names on social media, familiar in a good way. They can post encouraging comments on other people's blogs, social media posts, etc. They can post reviews of other authors' books on their blogs and the other authors' blogs. Posting bits of information on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and other media helps to build interest in the writer and in his/her topic. The more readers are interested in a writer as a person, the more they will be interested in reading the writer's book.

         Every writer needs a blog and a website and have an account on Facebook and Twitter. Some like to have accounts on other social media, also. However, accounts, websites, and blogs should be started before a book is released. If an author hasn't become active in social media, he/she should immediately begin.

         I hope to share more tips about promoting and marketing in the future.

Sources: Joan Steward, The Publicity Hound [blog and various email Tips of the Week]; Brian Feinblum [The Writer, September 2017, page 16-19,
“Promotional Pitfalls”]; 

Kirkus Reviews []; Author Unlimited [];
Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Writing – What Areas are You Strong In? Weak In?

By Karen Cioffi

Writing is such a unique journey for each and every writer.

Some find it easy to meld their chapters, one into another. Others find it easy to get just the right ending, with some kind of twist or surprise that gives it a great edge.

There are also other authors who find it easy to jump right into a story, writing a grabbing beginning.

No matter what aspect of the story, there will be some writers who can breeze though it effortlessly while others may struggle. That’s the nature of writing.

I find it relatively easy to start a story. I can create a beginning that jumps into the action, which is what most stories, especially children’s stories need.

But…yep, there’s a BUT… I often found it difficult to end my stories. I have no idea why. I can start it, bring it along toward an ending, but, then I fizzled out. My endings were initially weak and definitely lacking.

I first noticed my weak spot when I submitted a chapter book to 4RV Publishing. I pitched the story to the publisher during an online writers’ conference. The publisher allowed me to submit a synopsis and the first three chapters, which was also a bit lacking, but that’s another story.

The editor who read the chapters and synopsis liked the storyline, but was confused about my ending in the synopsis. As I mentioned above I have trouble with my endings. Aside from that, the editor recommended the publisher request the manuscript so they could look it over. They did advise I edit it first and work on the ending. I created an entirely new ending and sent it to a professional editor to be reviewed . . . and edited.

It’s funny, but I think there are at times some form of inspiration that can take us where we don’t usually tread...that helps us overcome our obstacles or mountains and take us beyond what we think we’re capable of.

In the case of my story, Walking Through Walls, I came up with a pretty good ending that tied everything together and afforded a surprise. I worked on this story for around two years and finally when it counted, I found the right path for the story to take.

We writers must pay attention to our writing weak spots and work on them. I was fortunate that an editor and publisher looked beyond my weak points and gave me the opportunity to improve my story. This is not always the case.

So, what’s a writer to do?

Well, the very basics are simple:

1. Make sure you’re a part of a critique group with new and experienced writers. The critique members may be able to help you over the hurdles. At the very least, they’ll catch a number of mistakes in everything from structure to grammar that you missed.

2. If you have to, write a few different scenarios in the section you’re having trouble with, to help you open up. And, if you’re still having trouble with your story, put it away for at least a week, preferably more, and then go back to it. It’s almost like magic; you’ll see it differently, with a newness and awareness. And, listen when inspiration comes knocking!

3. Read a lot of quality books in the genre you’re writing and even copy sections of them word-by-word. Make sure to include recently published books by top publishers. This is a trick to get your brain to think and write ‘good writing.’ Just be sure to only do this for practice purposes. Never, ever use someone’s work as your own – that’s plagiarism.

4. Practice your writing – hone your craft. I’ve gotten better at my endings through working and practice. This is why there’s a saying, “practice makes perfect.” Well, if not perfect, at least much better!

5. If nothing else works, hire a developmental editor or ghostwriter to help rewrite the sections you’re having difficulty with.

So, the tips of the day: Pay attention to where your writing weak spots are and work on them. You have options to help you get your story right.

And, listen when inspiration comes knocking!

So, back to the title of the post: What's your writing forte?

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning author, children’s ghostwriter, and online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing. For must-know writing and marketing tips, get free access to The Writing World.

You can connect with Karen at:

Monday, July 31, 2017

4RV Author Events Successful

vehoae and Jodi

     July 29, 2017, four 4RV authors meet the public at Serendipity during Krazy Days and signed books purchased. Taking the 2 PM - 5 PM shift were vehoae and Jodi Heaton Hrust, pictured to the left. 

     The 10 AM - 2 PM shift was manned by Kathleen Gibbs and Wayne Harris-Wyrick, pictured below.

     According to the authors, most customers mentioned reading about 4RV in the Edmond paper. All were interested in our books and the fact that we were located in Edmond, .

      A few books were sold, but considering our shopletts are just now becoming known in the area, we were pleased with the outcome. 

Kathleen and Wayne

     Another author, Kena Sosa, was part of an author event in Carrollton, Texas, the same day. I haven't any photos to share, but the bookstore informed me that the event went well.

     July 15, Jodi, Wayne, and vehoae signed books and visited with customers at The Market at Quail Springs.

        The two shopletts are the two places where 4RV books can be found. We try to rotate some of our titles, giving new releases a chance to be found locally.

NOTE:        The 4RV website is being updated with a new template. Everything can still be found, but we need to do some tweaking to make everything neat and tidy. After Aidana WillowRaven and I finish, we will begin updating the 4RV Online Bookstore site.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

4RV Makes Front Page of Newspaper

The 4RV Shop-lett at Serendipity Market, Edmond, OK

        4RV not only has two shop-letts, one at The Market at Quail Springs, Oklahoma City, and one at Serendipity Market, Edmond, but the company also has made the front page of the Edmond Sun. Paul Fairchild interviewed owner Vivian Zabel and authors Wayne Harris-Wyrick and Charles Suddeth by phone before putting the information gained through the interviews and from the 4RV website into a well-written article, copied below, which appeared on the front page of the Midweek edition.

Area book publisher fills gap between major, vanity publishers

Edmond resident Vivian Zabel, a professional writer for almost five decades, loves to tell stories. Ten years ago she branched out. Today she tells other peoples’ stories, as well. Her small, award-winning publishing company, 4RV Publishing, is one of the best kept business secrets in Oklahoma.

”We are a small, traditional publisher that produces quality books for all ages,” said Zabel.

4RV looks for authors who fall through the cracks at major publishing houses, victims of a cost-cutting war being fought at those companies, Zabel said. With margins in the industry shrinking, larger publishers tend to focus solely on marquis authors. She finds gems in their throw-aways.

“There needs to be something between the major publishers who won’t accept anything and the vanity or self-publishing entities,” she said. “Ten years ago, I made the decision that maybe I could help fill that gap.”

Despite 4RV’s small size, it offers all of the services of a larger publishing house, separating it from other smaller publishers. Authors do not pay for editing, illustration, color art, formatting or other needs.

A big part of Zabel’s strategy is giving authors a lot of attention in sales and production.

“A major publisher puts a book out for six weeks,” she said, “then takes it off the shelves. We leave it out there as long as the author is with us. We don’t put a time limit on it. It may be six years or 16 years, however long they’re with us. That book will be available to be sold.”

Major publishers lock authors out of the production process, she said. It’s not uncommon for an author to be excluded from the illustrating, editing or cover art procedures. 4RV gives authors input on both, attracting writers who are tired of the way big publishers operate.

“Since we’re a traditional publishing company, we don’t request or require that manuscripts be through an agent,” Zabel said. “I think we’ve only had two that came through agents. Everything else is directly from the authors.”

4RV also anonymously evaluates manuscript submissions. Race, creed, color and gender don’t enter the equation. Neither does an author’s sales history. The process is so carefully anonymous that Zabel has had a couple of her own submissions rejected from 4RV. The company only wants quality.

“It’s the only way to keep the company honest because we want it to be universally open for anybody that meets our standards,” she said. “Good writing is good writing.”

A great-grandmother, Zabel does impose a few restrictions on submissions. Excessive violence and profanity are off limits. But her rules aren’t getting in the way of attracting — and keeping — authors.

“In 10 years we’ve released at least 115 books. Of those, we still have about 100 that are still under contract,” she said. “Our contracts aren’t long-lasting like a lot of other publishers’ contracts. Most of our authors choose to stay with us.”

Authors like the agility and speed with which 4RV books works. They also like the laser-like focus on quality.

“Like all writers, I submitted to multiple publishing houses. 4RV was very quick to respond. They do a thorough editing of every book they accept. I think it’s very critical to make sure it’s the best product that it can be,” said Wayne Harris-Wyrick, writer of four 4RV titles.

4RV keeps its production process lean by handling everything from soup to nuts in electronic communications. There are no physical offices.

“We have email. We have different ways that we can store files on Google Drive. We can put all of our files together and look at them and share them and go on,” Zabel said. “The only thing physical is when the books are actually shipped and there they are. Real, live books.”

Sales are largely electronic, as well, she said, adding that Barnes & Noble charges for shelf space, increasing sales costs with low to no promotion. But while readers might not find 4RV on the shelves of the bookselling giant, they can order titles from the stores.

4RV uses one of the industry’s largest companies — Ingram — to handle printing and distribution. Ingram ensures that titles are available on Amazon and available for order by brick and mortar stores. It also allows Zabel to print titles on an as-needed basis, wiping out warehousing costs.

Zabel’s  company's small, agile size allows her to move books through the publication process faster than larger publishers. It’s a process that can take up to seven years at bigger publishing houses. Zabel has shaved that time to a matter of months, giving 4RV crucial chances to recoup its investments quickly.

“Publication happened quicker for me than other friends of mine that publish at other publishing houses. Kabam! I guess that’s because it’s a small publishing house and they focus on the authors that they have,” Harris-Wyrick said.

Zabel is not getting wildly rich, but her strategies work. She’s had four books do sales in the thousands, she said. But due to her cost-cutting efforts, it doesn’t take a best-seller to be profitable.
Her focus on quality rewards 4RV in other ways. She’s had roughly 20 books garner major awards, including Literary Classics Awards, Oklahoma Book Awards, and Mom’s Choice Awards for some of her children’s books.

Zabel is always on the hunt for new ideas. In June she published Spearfinger, a first-of-its-kind offering. A Native American legend, the story is told in both English and Cherokee. 4RV created that niche from scratch with no competitors on the field.

“What I really hope is that enough Cherokee kids will get interested in the book and get interested in the language and keep speaking Cherokee,” said author Charles Suddeth.

Zabel does make books physically available for Edmond residents. 4RV titles are available at Serendipity and The Market at Quail Springs. A book signing is scheduled at Serendipity July 29.

“We really have been one of the best kept secrets in Oklahoma and especially in Edmond. Nobody realizes who we are here and they’re surprised to find out we are not just another typical independent book publisher,” said Zabel.

     Everyone within driving distance of Edmond is invited to the Meet the Authors event July 29 at Serendipity Market, 917 E. Danforth, next door to Pickles (between Boulevard and Bryant). Wayne Harris-Wyrick and Kathleen Gibbs will be autographing their books from 10 AM - 2 PM. At 2 PM, Jodi Heaton Hurst and vehoae will be signing until 5 PM.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

5 4RV Authors Have Signings in 2 Events July 29 - revised

      4RV Publishing's second Meet the Authors in July will be July 29 at Serendipity Market, Edmond. As part of Edmond, Oklahoma's annual Krazy Days, the book signing is one of the events and special happenings at Serendipity. The four authors participating will sign books in two shifts: 10 AM - 2 PM and 2 PM - 5 PM.

      For the first shift, Wayne Harris-Wyrick will have three of his releases: If You Swallow that Seed ... illustrated by Matthew Hughes; Why Am I Me illustrated by Stephen Macquignon;  and Kimmy Finds Her Key illustrated by Liz Warren. Partnering during the same time will be Kathleen Gibbs, author of Journey of the Cheyenne Warrior.

     During the second shift, the author who writes under the name vehoae will be signing her nonfiction book that many colleges have on reading lists, Conscience: Breaching Social Amnesia, which examines the treatment of indigenous peoples of North American from European leaders to the beginning of the United States. Also participating from 2 PM - 5 PM will be Jodi Heaton Hurst. Her book Merry Tilda: A Winter Fairy Tale was illustrated by Jeanne Conway.

      Other pre-signed books will also be available during the hours the authors will be: 10 AM - 5 PM.

      Kena Sosa will be part of the Kids' Book Day at Kinodunitya Bookstore, Carorrollton, Texas. 

     Kena has two books released by 4RV: Kindertransport, cover shown in the upper left corner, illustrated by Jeanne Conway; and Rey Antonio and Rey Feo, a English/Spanish bilingual book, illustrated by Jessica McClure. Kindertransport is the story of a Jewish family and a young girl in Poland as the Nazis take control and the beginning of the Holocaust.

     Hopefully, many people will take advantage of a chance to meet and visit wth these authors, and examine their books at both events and other 4RV books at the Serendipity Market in Edmond, Oklahoma.


          4RV books can be found through most online bookstores and physical bookstores. The publisher also has an online bookstore. Books by these authors and the other nearly 100 authors can be found there,

Saturday, July 15, 2017

One July 4RV Meet the Authors Down, One to Go


     Since 4RV Publishing has a shop-lett at The Market at Quail Springs, three authors attended the first Meet the Author event July 15, 2017: Jodi Heaton Hurst, the author of Merry Tilda: A Winter Fairy Tale; Wayne Harris-Wyrick, author of Why Am I Me?, Kimmy Finds Her Key, If You Swallow that Seed ..., and others; and vehoae, author of Conscience: Breaching Social Amnesia and a fiction novel to bed released in 2018. 

Jodi Heaton Hurst signed the book for her first customer
     The 4RV Shop-lett (the display of books at The Market) is located right outside the area where The Market set up the table for the book
signing. The hosts were friendly, helpful, and welcomed us to return. 

     The Market at Quail Springs is located west of Quail Springs Mall in north Oklahoma City.

     Considering the lack of extensive promotion, the authors enjoyed the number of people who came by and visited. 

     The second Meet the Author event for July will  be held at Serendipity Market, 917 E Danforth Rd, Edmond, Oklahoma 73034.  Four authors will be participating at that event: the three who took part in Meet the Author at The Market plus Kathleen Gibbs, the author of Journey of the Cheyenne Warrior.  Other books signed by authors not able to attend will also be available.