Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Meet Catharine Bramkamp, Author of the Real Estate Diva Mysteries

I'm so excited today to introduce Catharine Bramkamp, author of "In Good Faith," which is book three in her series the Real Estate Diva Mysteries. Welcome, Catharine!

Tell us a little about your background and something interesting about yourself or one of your characters.

In Good Faith began in 2000. I worked as the marketing department for the Sonoma County United Way and feeling burned out.  So I wrote a long short story chronicling the antics of the world’s worst non-profit.   What did I hate most about the non-profit world?  I put that in the story. What did I hate about volunteers?  I put that in the story. I knew how much I hated the way board members treated the staff like servants.  I put that in the story too.  And I finished up with the worst thing (or two) that can happen to a non-profit. 

Sure, I felt better, but where to put this story? (It was at least more sophisticated than a rant.)  It would be years later, after I left the non-profit world and became embroiled in the real estate industry (where the very worst thing that can happen, happens daily) that a new character emerged and the Real Estate Diva Mysteries were created.   The bad non-profit story merged into a murder plot for the third book and I finally had a full story. 

What is one of your favorite books and why?

My favorite books are the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. I fell in love with Amelia Peabody and in love with the descriptions and adventures in mid – nineteenth century Egypt.  I love reoccurring characters and I love Egypt!  It was because of these books that I’ve traveled to Egypt twice now.  Standing in the Valley of the Kings where Amelia stood, was the thrill of a life time.

Why did you decide to write this book?

In Good Faith is the third in a series of books: the Real Estate Diva Mysteries.  The main character, Allison Little, the Real Estate Diva in question, started speaking to me while I was still a real estate agent with Century 21. I read a line in one of the books I was studying – for my brokers license – and it read:  death revokes the offer.  Really?  It was at that point that Allison Little, real estate diva, started to talk to me, and she does not stop until I write down her story. I’m working on the sixth book right now (wrote the first 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo) and she still hasn’t stopped talking!

What was your experience like with self-publishing?

The best feature about self-publishing is that it’s so fast.  As soon the final edits are returned from your editor and your cover comes back from your graphic artists, you can publish, there is no queue, there is not waiting.  Write Life took almost three years to publish  In Good Faith   from acceptance through excruciating (hard copy, no one has heard of track changes) edits and then months and months of “being in the queue”.  Controlling the process yourself is far easier and I have to say, probably more satisfying.

How have you marketed your book?

I am working on creating a blog tour for the book.  I am lucky I get to discuss the book on my weekly podcast, Newbie Writers Podcast.  I am sending off press releases to local papers as well as working social media – my own blog, Facebook, twitter and linked in.  I attend about four conferences a year and so that too is an opportunity to promote the book.  I considered skywriting, but it’s almost as ethereal as Twitter and Twitter is free.

What advice would you give to other authors?

Many people say that they like the validation of an “outside” or “larger” press.  And there is some legitimacy to that. Big publishers deliver bragging rights.  Small niche publishers deliver exposure to their  loyal readers. But no matter who publishes your book, you will still need to do the promotional work – and for most writers, that’s the most difficult part of publication.
My advice?  Write the book you love, be the writer you’ve always wanted to be.  Then find the publisher who fits your style and purposes.

Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.

I found another body.
She was murdered.
This was an even less pleasant experience than both times before. The fact that I have found three bodies in the course of my lifetime must be more than a coincidence. But there was no context to make sense of it. I didn’t even want meaning at this juncture. What I wanted then and now is quick closure and a nice glass of Shiraz. And tranquilizers.
 What did I think when I flung open that bedroom door? Some options were; horror, revulsion, sickness, shock, but no, my first thought was, I do not need this. 
My second thought was perhaps I should switch from selling million dollar homes to only selling inexpensive condos. Nothing happens during a condo purchase. First- time home buyers purchase condos. And first-time homebuyers are too busy working to pay their new mortgage to indulge in mayhem and murder.
For instance, the only thing my client, Owen Spenser, a first time homebuyer, inspires is aggravation, but not murder. Although, our last conversation brought me dangerously close to the latter.

Where can readers find you and your book?

My pod cast is free on iTunes, Newbie Writers Pod cast.
For my monthly newsletter -  drop me a line at

Thank you, Catharine! Your book series sounds wonderful and it's been a pleasure getting to know you!

--KSR Writer

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Finding the "Write" Kind of Work Online

Many fiction writers are also freelance writers, and it's amazing how much that industry has changed, just like the publishing industry has. Years ago, the only way to find freelance work was through traditional networking methods. Now there are several web sites that act as brokers for clients and contractors.

I recently stumbled across, which is a job board for all types of freelance professionals in the areas of writing, IT, sales, marketing, finance, design and law. Contractors create a profile and clients post projects they need completed. The client provides a job description and budget, and the contractors submit bids for the project. Jobs are open for bids for up to two weeks, and then the client may choose one of the bids to accept.

There are more than 1,700 writing-related jobs currently posted on They are divided into categories from proofing to blogging to ghost writing. I created a profile and found a short-term project I thought was interesting. A week later I was awarded the job! ensures secure financial payment from the client upon completion of the project. I was amazed and excited at how easy the site was to use. It's interesting to see how many clients have used an online site to find freelancers.

There are other similar sites for freelancers, such as and As with any online transaction, it's a good idea to do your due diligence. Make sure it's a reputable site, and check the reviews posted for any client/project you consider.

I found it encouraging that so many people are in need of a good creative writer. Whether it's for magazine articles, blogs, short ebooks or full-length novels, having the opportunity to write for somone else is a great way to keep your skills sharp and earn a little extra money in the process--something all writers can use more more of!

I'd love to hear if you have used an online site for freelance work and what your experience was like!

--KSR Writer

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Meet Historical Fiction Author Lisa Buie-Collard

Today I'm excited to introduce a wonderful historical fiction author, Lisa Buie-Collard, author of Evangeline's Miracle. I really enjoyed reading this book and you can too--Lisa will be giving away a free copy to one lucky person who leaves a comment! Welcome, Lisa!

Tell us a little about your background and something interesting about yourself.

I'm a mother, wife, sister, and daughter, have waited tables, been a dental assistant, teacher, journalist, gardener and architectural administrative assistant. I’ve traveled in Europe, New Zealand, and the US. I speak French and English fluently with a little Spanish on the side. I grew up in Florida, married, (my husband was raised in France), lived four years in Georgia before we moved to Texas for eighteen years. It was there that my wonderful son and daughter were born. For the moment my husband and I once again find ourselves in Georgia. I’ve been writing more or less full time for almost fourteen years. I write almost every day. I market online almost every day. I try and do at least one ‘book signing/reading a month. I do take off from time to time, but realize if I’m not out there selling Evangeline, no one else is doing it for me. The trials of being self employed!

Evangeline has some of me in her, but most of my inspiration for her came from my mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Miracle came from a vision I had of her husband, Janko. He’s the one who showed himself to me at a piano concert and started this whole thing. I truly felt connected to this story from the moment I saw him. I felt I was a computer who received a large download from I don’t know where. This story was gifted to me. Maybe my grandmother approved and helped from beyond; maybe someone else’s grandmother lived this or a similar story and helped. Wherever it came from, I am thankful I was the recipient.

What is one of your favorite books and why?

One of the many of my favorite books is Anne McCaffrey’s book of short stories “Get Off the Unicorn,” particularly the story “Finder’s Keeper.” The way the story is written (from the viewpoint of a young boy with a special gift and how to keep that gift from ruining his life instead of benefiting it), is a perfect example of how I would like to write. I am nowhere near Ms. McCaffrey’s level, but her work inspires me always to try and write better. She is one of the few authors I will read over and over again.

Why did you decide to write this book?

At first it was that the story came to me during a piano concert and I loved the tidbit I received so much I wanted to write it all. During the process I realized it was so much more than just two love stories gone wrong. It was about finding ones roots, discovering the value of family, the meaning of unconditional love, the meaning of a parent’s love for their children. It was about tragedy and how that changes a person and/or family, how loss can affect more than just the one it happens to. My own grandmother and great grandmother had similar issues; loss, abandonment, abuse. These issues changed how my mother was raised and how she raised us. I felt I wasn’t the only one out there who had this kind of story in my family’s history. I thought there were folks out there who could identify with Evangeline and her discoveries.

What was your experience like with self-publishing?

Hard! I want the novel to be the best it can be. I’ve learned SO much about what it means to deliver a quality product. The second run is about to be printed and it will be much better than the first because I know now what to do and what not to do. I would caution folks to do the three “R’s”: Research Research Research on publishing companies before you lay down your dollar.

How have you marketed your book?

Marketing is a necessary evil! I market and publicize mostly through contact sales and online social marketing. It takes more of my time than actual writing which is very difficult since the writing part of my job is what I enjoy most. Book signing/readings can be helpful and I love meeting folks and answering questions live (Also helps recharge my batteries! I spend so much time alone that being amongst my readers or prospective readers helps fill the ‘lonely’ void). I would advise setting up a truly professional table and practice reading out loud for hours before reading in front of others. Also blogs and blog hop giveaways are wonderful tools as well as fun ways to connect with your readers.

What advice would you give to other authors?

First: for those looking at Indy publishing: When you believe in your story, your abilities and your-self, invest in your dream. Write not only the best story you can but hire a professional editor. And pay to have the inside and outside of your novel formatted properly. There are SO many “Self Published” books out there that aren’t up to snuff. Maybe the story is good but getting past the bad writing, multiple typos, and structure that limps is too difficult to ask from anyone who doesn’t know you! If you are serious about writing and gaining a readership beyond your friends and family, if you want to possibly be picked up by a ‘traditional’ publishing house, be professional and invest. SP titles have an uphill climb because there are so many out there that are NOT professional. Pay to have the ebook formatted properly as well.

Second: Don’t give up. Only you can make it happen. Sounds trite but the truth is, if you don’t invest sweat equity in your idea/story no one else will do it for you, not a big publisher, not a little one.

Third: Make use of blogs, especially “blog hops”. That’s what they’re there for. Go online and research (there’s that word again) reader blogs. Readers are your friends and hopefully customers!

 Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.
The music left no room for other thought. It was easy to lose myself in it, a blessing. Until a shimmering vision appeared upon the stage with Mr. Feltsman. I gasped. Who would dare interrupt a piano concert in such a way? I glanced at Christian. His attention to the pianist was complete. He paid no heed to the woman who stood just to one side and a little behind Mr. Feltsman. Her golden dress reminded me of another time, perhaps the time of the music, which was of the late 1800s, or an even earlier time. How this could be part of the concert? It made no sense.

     The woman did nothing but stand behind the pianist, her eyes downcast, her hands folded together in front of her voluminous iridescent gown; her sad face serene, as if, she too, were lost in the music and its magic. I watched her unwavering form throughout the entire piece until soft lighting upon the stage caught and sparkled upon a single tear resting on her smooth cheek.

     Tears pricked my own eyes and I blinked against the unaccustomed sharpness. Pity welled within me. This woman was a wonderful actress, for that's what she had to be. She portrayed someone bereft of hope, yet hoping still. In her sad countenance shown all the misery of love unrequited, the ravages of demanding of oneself the impossible, the triumph of never giving up, no matter all was lost.

     Such quiet yet fierce passion I had never seen, much less experienced. I couldn’t breathe by the time Mr. Feltsman played the last note before intermission. Jolted from my reverie, the woman disappeared as Mr. Feltsman’s fingers left the keyboard. Gone. She did not walk off. She did not leave with the pianist. She had quite literally disappeared by the time he raised to his feet.

     I wasn’t sure if I could watch the second half of the concert. Why was I so upset about this?     When I rejoined Christian, talking with a friend, he searched my face for an instant, handed me a glass of water and welcomed me with his usual grace into the conversation. I felt as if I watched myself from a video camera high up in a corner somewhere. I smiled, spoke pleasant nothings, drank my water, and told myself over and over and over to breathe. I shivered as the lights dimmed, announcing the second half of the program. I set my empty glass on a white napkin-covered tray, told myself to pull it together while Christian guided me back into the auditorium. His large hand warm on the small of my back made me feel better.

     But as we sat down my head swam in dizzy patterns, my palms began to sweat. I didn't want to see the ghostly lady again or feel her desperate anguish. Her emotion, so silent, so intense, had fed upon me and I, irrationally, feared if it did so again it would leave me nothing but a corpse. “Christian, can we go?” I couldn’t believe I said it out loud.

     “Now Evie? In the middle?” Christian looked at me like I’d lost my mind. He was right, of course. This was beyond silly.

     “No, of course not.”  

     The bright lights dimmed, illuminating the stage with soft light. Vladimir Feltsman returned, repeated his bow, the seating and the wait, his fingers poised for an instant. I closed my eyes, determined to just listen. The music enthralled me and I drank it in as though it could slake my unease. I relaxed for the first time since I’d seen the stricken lady, and smiled. She was nothing but a fanciful apparition caused by the rich tones and passion of the piano.

     I dared not open my eyes. But against my will, I did. She was there. Spellbound now, caught in the trap of her quiet pain I couldn't drag my eyes away. I was no longer afraid, couldn't be, in front of her sorrow. A deep pity welled within me for her. What was her story? Who was she? Where did she come from and why could no one else see her?

     When the last note sounded through the auditorium I waited for the pianist to stand, for the woman to disappear. I stared at her knowing it would happen in an instant. Holding my breath as Vladimir Feltsman rose from his seat, the ghostly woman suddenly opened her eyes, stared into mine and revealed the hell of the damned as she whispered in my head, demanding, “Come to me, Evangeline. Come to me!”          
(Edited version)
Where can readers find you and your book?

Information about me and/or Evangeline’s Miracle can be found online at these sites:

Thanks, Lisa! It's wonderful being able to get to know the person behind the story! And don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Evangeline's Miracle!

--KSR Writer

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book Lover's Holiday Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to the three winners of the Book Lover's Holiday Giveaway Hop! Amy D., Jessica M. and Meagan M. will each receive a free download for the children's iPad app "Magic Story Factory!" Thank you to everyone who participated! I will be doing yet another giveaway hop in January with new prizes! You won't want to miss it!

--KSR Writer

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Giveaway Hop: Win a Children's Story App for iPad

I'm so excited to be participating in another blog giveaway hop! I decided to do something a little different this time. I'm giving away THREE promo codes to download the iPad app "Magic Story Factory." This is a really fun app for kids ages 3+ that helps them create their own interactive e-book!

Does your child love pretending to be a pirate, a princess or even a circus performer? Then they'll love creating stories about them too! Magic Story Factory helps kids create an illustrated story and turn it into an interactive ebook!

Your child can choose a hero, a setting, a beginning, middle and ending, creating a brand new story each time. Colorful, fun illustrations make it easy for even little ones to navigate.

Once it's finished, your child has the option of having the story read back to them by a professional narrator or having you read it to them. Interactive graphics, lively music and humorous endings will leave kids laughing and wanting more!

To enter, make sure you are a follower of this blog and then fill out the form below. This hop runs from Dec. 2-6th and the winners will be announced on Dec. 7th.

Thank you to I Am A Reader Not A Writer and to Kid Lit Frenzy for co-hosting this blog hop. Be sure to check out all the other participating blogs listed below!

--KSR Writer