entertainment

Characterization in the Book Marketing Process

 

Every writer knows how effective characterization is during the writing process but who has ever tried to use it during the marketing process?

I have recently been playing around with the idea of continuing characterization into the marketing process.  Using characterization during the marketing process allows fans to learn more about my characters’ lovable personalities.

One way that I do this is by creating make-believe identities for the characters using Pinterest.  Each of my main characters have a Pinterest board that includes what they like to do or like to wear or like to eat.  This allows fans to gain more insight into the personalities of the characters in my books — things that I can’t explain during the story because it would serve as TMI or “too much information.”  Creating a Pinterest board for them allows the characters to have personalities of their own and creates an interactive experience between the characters and the readers.  The characters “share” their favorite things which allows for fans to engage with the characters.  This interactive experience works well because Pinterest is not only digital display board but also a social media marketing tool that is able to lead followers to the boards I’ve created and eventually to the website I have listed on the Pinterest page and finally to my book sales page which is the ultimate end goal.

Below is an example of how one of my Pinterest boards looks for my character Anwar.  You can also click here to see more samples on my Pinterest page.

From the cover image above and the image below, a reader can discern that this character is into historical topics, particularly those related to Turkey.  I also created a blurb about the character which also includes his zodiac sign and other things about him that the book may not readily reveal.

 

Another way that I use characterization during the book marketing process is by creating a blog for my characters in which they are given voices.  I am essentially still the writer behind the character but so that fans have more variety from my blog, I allow my characters to speak about things that interest them.  These things are usually an extension of the issues associated with the character within the book.  Below are sample bio pages for the characters that reveal what they write about in the blog.

Also, below is a sample of a portion of a blog for one of my character’s, Matthew Larken who is a chef in the book and therefore writes blog articles about food.

 

 

As writing and publishing continues to change, so will the marketing strategies associated with book marketing.  It is no longer enough to be able to tell readers “Read my book because it is so good!”  That’s been everyone’s spiel for many years.   Social media is making visual interpretation much easier for just about every market and the writing industry too will become much more visual as it pertains to the marketing process.

What do you think about this technique and what other techniques are you using to encourage book marketing?  Share your thoughts in the comments section.  Also, join my Facebook group where we discuss and exchange information about book marketing.

Enslavement and Rebellion of Zanj People of Iraq

Zanj, Public Domain Image {{PD-1923}} – published anywhere before 1923 and public domain in the U.S.

‘Written’ by Ali Rahman, Blog Contributor

 

If you have already read The Vital Sacrifice, then you already know a bit about my lineage.  My mother, Fatimah, was Arab and my father, Malik, was a Zanj both of whom resided in Egypt.  As you may have read, my father, who was a statesman heavily involved in the politics of his day, taught me a lot when I was a youth; but, one thing that he did not discuss with me is our Zanj ancestry.  I later found out that it was because it was a part of his past that he wanted to forget because his people weren’t esteemed in East African or middle-eastern societies.  After the Zanj rebellion in Iraq and their diaspora throughout nearby lands, nations that they settled in often regarded them as second-class citizens.  Thus, this inferiority complex plagued my father and may have been why he kept this part of my past from me.  Therefore, I decided to learn more about this part of my ancestry for myself and share what I found with you.

For many centuries, this land now known as Iraq was referred to as Mesopotamia, the land between two rivers.  This area of the world has been known for many great civilizations that have arisen here including the Sumerians, the Akkadians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, and the Persians.   This region is often referred to as the cradle of civilization because it is believed that this is where the original garden of Eden was and where agriculture and writing flourished. By the 7th century, Arabs defeated the Persians and established their rule under the Abbasid empire.  Their empire spread far and wide usually taking over by force or simply by conversion to the Islamic faith.

As this empire spread, it left much slave labor in its wake.  There were many nationalities of slaves taken under the Abbasid rule but one group of slaves in particular that were enslaved in the area now known as Iraq was Bantu-speaking people from East Africa which became known as the Zanj.  The Zanj were taken from various parts of East Africa to Iraq primarily to work in the salt mines but also performed many other roles which included growing cotton, ‘working’ in harems, and being for forcefully changed into eunuchs to protect harems.  Apparently this slave labor became too much for the Zanj people so they staged a series of rebellions in the region with the last one resulting in long-term success — a little over a decade — through the use of guerrilla warfare.  Ali ibn Muhammad, led the insurrection but he was eventually killed and the rebellion was eventually put down.  This rebellion crippled not only crippled the economy of the region but also was the beginning of the end for the Abbasid empire who became entrenched in civil war and infighting from that point on.

I’m not certain what happened to the enslaved after the insurrection because not much was recorded about the rebellion or its aftermath; but, at some point, my father’s people eventually made their way back to East Africa – Egypt to be precise.  Apparently my father felt like a second-class citizen due to his lineage and sought to pull himself up in Egyptian society by acquiring education and working as a top adviser for the Sultan.  Fortunately, he and his bloodline were able to move away from Iraq and make a new life for themselves in other nearby regions.  For those that remain in Iraq today, I can’t say the same.  There are many decedents of Zanj who reside there that are disgruntled with the discrimination in Iraq – the same type of discrimination that my father fought so hard to protect me from.

 

More links to this topic

Will Iraqi Blacks Win Justice?

Black Iraqis

Black Iraqis claim discrimination

Black Iraqis In Basra Face Racism

 

Are you familiar with the plight of former Zanj and present-day Black Iraqis in the region? Join the conversation by leaving a reply below or join the private discussion by becoming a member on LE Blog’s Facebook group.

Click here, to follow Ali Rahman on Pinterest.

 

 


 

Disclaimer:   These blog articles are attributed to characters found in the novel, The Vital Sacrifice, and this blog is a fictitious representation of the characters in the book speaking on what interests them based on their role in the novel.  These blog articles are post-publication characterizations and are meant to entertain niche audiences who may be interested in purchasing or have already purchased this novel.

Dim Mak – The Touch that Kills

Image courtesy of Dreamstime

 

“Written” by Chi Khan

If you have already read The Vital Sacrifice, then you already know that it mentions the concept of Dim Mak. But you may be wondering “what is Dim Mak?”  Well here, I will explain it to the best of my ability.

So a long, long, long time ago, in lands now known to us as Asia, masters created martial arts.  You have to keep in mind that mankind didn’t have a lot of protections against the forces of nature in the way that we do now, so fighting off a wild animal or even your neighbor who was trying to steal from you or kill you was a real threat, daily.  Of course there were rudimentary weapons and possibly even remarkable swords at the time but no one was always ready for sneak attacks.  Therefore, hand-to-hand combat was a real skill that could ward off an attacker at a moment’s notice.  This type of combat most certainly arose out of necessity but as time went on, like with all things, humans went on to perfect it into an art form.

Today, there are many forms of martial arts designed to kick your opponents ass at a moment’s notice.  I have witnessed many types and have even performed many of them myself over the years.  But many practitioners aren’t just concerned with the self-defense of martial arts.  Many, including myself, love to delve deeply into the spiritual essence of fighting that goes beyond the physical.

Some might disagree with me when I say that fighting goes beyond our physical interpretation and extends inwardly into our life force flowing within often known as Chi.  This word — which is my first name by the way — describes the energy that flows within.  You are not just a walking, living, breathing meat-suit.  There are two dimensions of the self and it is that inward energy that is often neglected even among us fighters.  The physical is slow, it is cumbersome; chi is quick, it is effortless.  Imagine the duality of the inner and the outer working together in harmony.  I tell you, you will witness an almost indestructible fighter.

I say all of this to lay the foundation for explaining Dim Mak.  It is described as a “touch of death” in which the fighter delivers a series of seemingly effortless blows to specific regions of the opponent’s body which are meant to kill.  You may have witnessed such a technique in the popular film Kill Bill 2.  They refer to it as the five point palm exploding heart technique in which is believed to be what legends are made of.  This Hollywood interpretation of the technique is over the top, but a simple explanation of Dim Mak is as follows:

 

“Dim Mak was developed from eastern medicine that is thought to heal the body, or specifically the organs, through manipulating acupoints along meridians on the body. The thought is, if manipulating these acupoints in a specific order can heal an organ, then doing the reverse order will harm the organ. That’s it, it was supposedly developed out of a theory that was never truly tested successfully.”

 

In essence, Dim Mak is the opposite of the healing technique of acupressure and in theory a combination of touch points will lead to death of the opponent.

I will admit that it is quite laughable to believe that poking people in certain areas of the body will kill them, but I will leave this for debate among the skeptics and the believers.  But chi or life force flowing through the body is a real thing and if you think its not, restrict any part of the body using a rubber band, something tight, or even laying improperly on a body part for a few hours and you will sense a numbing sensation and in some instances, that portion of the body may start turning blue or black.  This is an interruption of energy, or chi, in the body and whenever the flow of energy stops or is restricted, it will ultimately result in pain or even death.

So, Dim Mak may not cause instant death in the way that we see it portrayed in Hollywood films; but, there are pressure points that if hit with enough force can knock a person out for sure.  Keep in mind that just as a concussion can lead to death, it shouldn’t be to hard to believe that there is a martial arts technique that could possibly deliver a lethal blow to opponents. The good thing is that knowledge such as this is kept in the hands of a few or else people would run around killing each other on a regular basis.  This is part of the reason why the elders of our fraternity remained secretive about what we know because all chaos broke out when people freely had access to our books.  If you have read The Vital Sacrifice, then you know that these books are guarded by members of our Order and some of the knowledge contained within these books has only been passed down by word of mouth among us because written word can be deadly in the wrong hands.  Some knowledge is only known to me, Anwar, and Ali because even sharing sharing certain things among members of our fraternity is dangerous.

So is Dim Mak a real phenomenon?  I am a believer but some things are best left alone. If you want to know more about this concept, this video below that I discovered online is a good start.   Join the conversation on Facebook and don’t forget to follow my Pinterest page.

 

Leave a reply below or join the private discussion by becoming a member on LE Blog’s Facebook group.

Click here, to follow Chi Khan on Pinterest.

 

 


 

Disclaimer:   These blog articles are attributed to characters found in the novel, The Vital Sacrifice, and this blog is a fictitious representation of the characters in the book speaking on what interests them based on their role in the novel.  These blog articles are post-publication characterizations and are meant to entertain niche audiences who may be interested in purchasing or have already purchased this novel.

Picnic Basket Ideas – Spine-tingling Barbecue Chicken With Potato Salad and Banana Pudding Dessert

Image courtesy of Stocksnap

 

“Written” by Matthew Larken

If you have read The Vital Sacrifice, then you know that I am a caterer and I love to cook.  Not only do I love to cook, but I also love to share my recipe ideas with fans.

The summer is coming to an end but fun and great food doesn’t have to stop.  As a matter of fact, there are some great dishes that I have in store for you in the coming colder months, including Teresa’s favorite, seafood gumbo.  But, in the meantime, why not take your family or significant other on a picnic one last time before autumn settles in.  And, while you are at it, I have the perfect picnic foods that you can add to your basket.

For this article, I chose three very simple items to take with you for your picnic.  Grilled chicken: because it can be made at home and taken with you; or cooked while you are at the park.  Potato salad: because you can chill this and take it to the park.  Banana pudding: because it is such an easy and refreshing dessert to take along on a picnic.

 

Image courtesy of Stocksnap

Matthew’s Delicious Barbecue Chicken

The focus should be on the barbecue because this is the main dish.  You can use any part of the chicken you like for this recipe but I’m going to emphasize boneless, skinless chicken breast meat.  First, you un-package the meat.  There is a great debate about whether to wash the chicken or not; some do some don’t; so, I will leave that up to you. Then, you can lay the pieces out on a cutting board to season it (or you are free to use the counter if you like).   Sprinkle some salt and white pepper on both sides (use black pepper if you prefer).  Then, use a marinade to soak the meat in for about an hour before cooking.  Try to make or buy a marinade that won’t clash with the taste of the barbecue sauce like classic steak marinade or, if you want to get colorful, a pineapple marinade.  I’m old-fashioned so I like to take mustard and vinegar and mix it until it is incorporated well and pour it over the meat and let it sit.  While waiting for an hour, this would be the perfect time to start boiling the potatoes and preparing the potato salad.  You could also work on the banana pudding.  After the marinade has saturated the chicken, get the grill ready.  Either propane or charcoal grills are good but I love to grill with charcoal grills.  Grill the meat until done.  About 15 minutes before you pull the chicken from the grill, prepare the barbecue sauce.  I usually mix steak sauce or Worcestshire sauce, barbecue sauce, and a little bit of brown sugar together in a bowl.  After this, you can place it in a container to pour on later once you are ready to eat; or, you can let the chicken cool and then place the pieces directly into the sauce until you are ready to eat.

Matthew’s Slammin’ Potato Salad

Potato salad is a fantastic side to barbecue.  But making potato salad can be complicated for most.  One false move and you may have mashed potato and mayonnaise mush rather than potato salad.  I’ll let you decide on which potato to use because different people have different tastes.  Skin on skin off?  I’ll also leave that up to you.  I usually cook with gold or white potatoes skin off and cut up the potatoes into cubes.  I boil the potatoes until they are able to withstand a fork or sharp object piercing them without friction.  Any longer than that, then the potatoes will be too over cooked for the meal.  Once you test them and they are ready, turn them off immediately, drain the water from them and place them in a bowl.  Place this bowl into another larger bowl of ice to stop the cooking process.  Once the potatoes are cool, place them in the fridge for about an hour.  When the potato cubes are nice and cold, this is the best time to add the other ingredients.  Some do it before cooling them off but I find that mixing ingredients while it is still warm makes the salad too runny.  But if runny is your thing, go right ahead and add the other ingredients while the cubes are warm (not hot).  Pull out your mayo and your mustard and your relish.  By the way, if you like boiled eggs in your potato salad, this would be a good time to add those, too.  Do not boil the eggs for longer than 17 minutes on high in order to avoid the greenish, brownish color around the edge of the yolk.  Start by adding a very small teaspoon of mustard (skip it if you don’t like mustard).  Follow this with a tablespoon of relish.  Add more or less if you like.  Also, some like sweet tasting potato salad so opt for sweet relish.  If you like for it to be more savory, opt for dill relish.  Finally, add about a tablespoon of mayo to the salad.  Again if you like sweet tasting potato salad, then opt for a tablespoon of Miracle Whip or mayo with a little sugar added; but, if you like savory potato salad, just use regular mayo like Duke’s or Hellman’s.  If you like more than a tablespoon of mayo, then add more, but I start with a tablespoon so it won’t get too soggy.  Remember, if you start with a small amount of mayo, you can always add more mayo to your liking but if its over-saturated with mayo in the beginning, you can consider the dish a “total loss.”  Last, place the potato salad back in the fridge until you are ready to leave for the picnic.  Make sure it is cool as possible so that it can be nice and firm.  If you like, you can top it with a little paprika but it is not necessary.

Matthew’s Delectable Banana Pudding

Banana pudding is very easy to prepare because you won’t need to bake it.  I know I’m committing a sin by telling you this but first, we are going to start this recipe with boxed pudding.  I say use this because its just not worth the headache to try to make pudding from scratch when there are such good ones on the market.  I usually use French vanilla instead of banana-flavored pudding because it gives the dish a less intense banana flavor and gives the actual bananas an opportunity to dominate the palate rather than the banana-flavored pudding.  Pour the amount of milk in required for the dish and stir.  I usually add a little more milk than is required and use a mixer to make the pudding nice and fluffy.  At the bottom of your dish, place your cookies.  Traditional recipes call for Nilla wafers but I have found that Belgian waffle butter crisps make a magnificent alternative.  Follow with a layer of sliced bananas.  You can cut them in circles but I like to cut them at an angle similar to the way that plantains are cut.  This makes them a little longer so you don’t have to put so many in to the pudding.  Follow with a layer of the French vanilla pudding (or banana pudding if you if you prefer to stick to tradition).  Last you can add another layer of cookies and repeat if you like, but I usually stop with the top layer of cookies.  For the last layer, I usually crumble the cookies or Belgian waffle butter crisps and sprinkle them all around the top of the French Vanilla pudding.  Place the dish into the fridge and chill until it’s time for the picnic.  If you like for the cookies or butter crisps to be crunchy, then eat the pudding about an hour after chilling it.  If you like them to be much softer, then make the pudding several hours or a day in advance of the picnic.

Image courtesy of Stocksnap

 

Well I hope that you enjoy these ideas that I have shared with you!  Remember you can include more items such as soda, lemonade, chips, or other nick knacks in your picnic basket.  Have fun and look for my next article in which I will share with you how to prepare seafood gumbo.  Perhaps this dish will win Teresa back.  What do you think?

 

Leave a reply below or join the private discussion by becoming a member on LE Blog’s Facebook group.

Click here, to follow Matthew Larken on Pinterest.

 

 


 

Disclaimer:   These blog articles are attributed to characters found in the novel, The Vital Sacrifice, and this blog is a fictitious representation of the characters in the book speaking on what interests them based on their role in the novel.  These blog articles are post-publication characterizations and are meant to entertain niche audiences who may be interested in purchasing or have already purchased this novel.

My Tribute to Opera Singer Extraordinaire, Leontyne Price

Image Courtesy of Jack Mitchell

‘Written’ by Teresa McMillan, Blog Contributor

 

If you have already read The Vital Sacrifice, then you already know that I am a soprano opera singer.  I love what I do and I have been doing it quite well since I was a child.

My fondest memory of childhood was when I was in my room playing with my dolls.  I believe I was about 5 years old and I remember that Diana Ross’s song, “Home” was playing on the record player one Saturday morning as my mom was cleaning around the house.

I always liked that song and for some reason that day, I started to sing along with Diana.  I was in my own zone so I didn’t realize that my mom had stopped cleaning to come and listen to me.  When it got to the part where she says “… a world full of love, like yours, like mine, like home,” my young lungs belted out those words very strongly and passionately in the same way that Diana does.

Needless to say, that was my favorite part of the song and I was singing it to my dolls as if they were my audience.  I was startled by my mom clapping for me.  Of course, when I noticed a real audience – my mom –  I became shy and withdrawn.  With tears in her eyes, my mom praised and hugged me, astounded by my singing voice.

I knew at that moment, that singing was my God-given talent – and so did my mom.  From that point on, there were lessons galore.  My mom wanted me to eventually, go to college for singing so she pushed me in the direction of opera.  From about age nine forward, I was listening to some of the greatest operas, opera singers, and composers of all time.

By the time I went to college, I had seen and heard multitudes of soprano opera singers and tried to mimic them all but I hadn’t been exposed to African American women singers until doing research for one of my courses.  No one touched me like Leontyne Price.

In my research, I found out that she was born and raised in Laurel, Mississippi and had a very busy childhood filled with music lessons just like me.  Unlike me, she took piano lessons while my mother emphasized voice lessons for me.

As I implied earlier, my rendition of Diana Ross’s song “Home” set my singing career in motion; but, Leontyne, recalled that watching Marian Anderson sing at Lincoln Center influenced her at a young age.  By her own admission, Leontyne wanted to be just like this great opera singer who preceded her. What I love about Leontyne Price and, even about Marian Anderson, is that both seemed to excel in the opera world despite the extraordinary odds against their success due to racism.  Both were born during a time of extreme segregation and often they had to perform for audiences who may have despised them for their skin color but admired their extraordinary vocal talent.

Luckily, I had not experienced much of the segregation that she faced growing up and subsequently while on tour, so I can’t speak much about this.  But, I will say that her grace under pressure as an opera singer was one that I always keep in mind in all of my encounters with other people as I travel the world performing.  I believe that if she could continue to maintain her eloquence despite all the obstacles in her way, then I certainly could, also.

I was not able to view any of her performances live because she retired in 1985; however, I did have the opportunity to watch most of them on DVD.  I also read her interpretation of Giseppe Verdi’s Aida opera in her book entitled, Aida.  After reading this book and watching the video of her opera performance at the Met, I knew without a doubt that this Aida role was meant for me someday; so, I was ecstatic when my agent, Miguel Velasquez, told me that I would play this star role.

 

Image courtesy of Amazon.com

I want to take a moment and pay homage to, Leontyne Price, my favorite opera singer and the living legend whose example propelled me forward in the direction that I have chosen with my opera career.

 

Leave a reply below or join the private discussion by becoming a member on LE Blog’s Facebook group.

Click here, to follow Teresa McMillan on Pinterest.

 

 


 

Disclaimer:  These blog articles are attributed to characters found in the novel, The Vital Sacrifice, and this blog is a fictitious representation of the characters in the book speaking on what interests them based on their role in the novel.  These blog articles are post-publication characterizations and are meant to entertain niche audiences who may be interested in purchasing or who have already purchased this novel.

 

 

The Birth of a New Paranormal Villian in the West

Image from Dreamstime.com by included in a blog article about paranormal romance, The Vital Sacrifice.

Image courtesy of Dreamstime

ATLANTA – Written by M.L. Childs

 

Vampires. Shapeshifters. Werewolves. Genies. Dragons. Ghosts.

Wait a second. This list includes a genie.  Is that a paranormal character?  Believe it or not, genies can be classified as paranormal beings; but, little consideration has been given to including genie characters in the paranormal genre.  That is, until now.

The title of this blog article is a misnomer in a sense because the genie character is not new.  Genies have a “lifespan” reaching even farther back than vampires.  One very popular ancient tale including genie types is the tale of Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp which is included in the collection of Middle Eastern folk tales called One Thousand and One Nights – stories that are considered pre-Islamic folklore. This tale has translated into English as one designed for children’s literature but according to studies on these mythical creatures, the playful version of the genie is just one aspect of the variety of genies that exist.  Based on research done by Rosemary Gullet and Philip Imbrogno in a book entitled, The Vengeful Djinn, genies can come in various colors including green, blue, and red with each becoming more sinister with variation in color.  Green genies are considered the more “playful” types; the blue ones are more mature yet maniacal; and the red ones are the most dangerous of them all.

Western culture is also familiar with the genie character in its many forms through television shows and films.  Hollywood introduced a more child-like genie in its hit films Aladdin and Kazaam and in television shows like I Dream of Jeannie.  It even played around with more sinister versions of genie characters in films like Wishmaster and two films released in 2013 and 2014 called Djinn and Jinn, respectively.

In my recent paranormal romance novel, The Vital Sacrifice, genies take on human form complete with magical powers that genies are known for; but, with a mature story line.  This novel also takes on some characteristics of historical fiction with some of the plot taking place in the past within two significant time periods:  during the time of King Saladdin’s rule and during the Spanish Inquisition right after the fall of the Spanish Moors.  These beings live among mankind in male form and live within predetermined boundaries and rules as set forth in the novel.  Although there are some aspects of their lives that are mystical in form, they live life like normal humans in order to avoid suspicion and unnecessary turmoil with their human counterparts as do most paranormal creatures.

To learn more about this novel, click Books and More on this site’s navigation links.  And don’t forget to take a look at my recently updated Pinterest page that will provide more insight into the lifestyles of some of the main characters in my book.

 

Image courtesy of Dreamstime:  11325218 © Ruslan Kokarev

Get Your Copy of The Paranormal Romance “The Vital Sacrifice” Today

You are in for a cerebral workout of a lifetime from the moment you open up the novel, The Vital Sacrifice.

Superstar singer, Teresa McMillan, has been chasing success for many years and for her persistence, she’s been rewarded generously with many musical awards for her beautiful soprano voice.  She is proud of her accomplishments but she is starting to feel incomplete because she has yet to get married and have a family with her fiance, Matthew Larkin.

Now, she is suffering from a mid-life crisis, torn between choosing continued career success or settling down and starting a family.  This is causing her so much stress that she is becoming increasingly delusional.  Nightmares, sleepless nights, and panic attacks have her on edge so much that she can’t even tell the difference between what’s real or imagined in her life anymore, especially when handsome, business mogul, Ali Rahman enters her life.

Is Ali a sly Casanova hell-bent on wrestling her from her fiance to make her his own?  Or, is Teresa so far-gone in her delusions that Ali and all of the drama that emerges after meeting him just a figment of her imagination?

Prepare yourself for an unpredictable roller-coaster ride as your imagination spirals out of control along with Teresa’s already whimsical celebrity life.

Click one of the buttons below to order your copy of The Vital Sacrifice for yourself or as a gift for a friend.

 

The Vital Sacrifice Amazon Button

 

 

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