Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ribbon of Darkness was Reviewed in Meridian Magazine!

I am excited to announce that Jennie Hansen has done a full review of my new book, Ribbon of Darkness, in Meridian Magazine and it appeared today. Her review had a lot of good points, and a few things for me to think about. I appreciated all of her comments and am always grateful for people who want to help me improve my writing. Jennie has been reviewing my books since my very first novel, Through Love’s Trials came out, and she has been a very great help in making me stretch as a writer and improve my craft with each book.

If you’re interested in reading her review, you can find it here

I wanted to talk a bit today about what inspired me to write Ribbon of Darkness (maybe it might spark an idea for you!) and what marketing I have planned for next month. You can get book ideas anywhere, but most of mine come from the newspaper. As most of you know, I teach journalism at BYU, hence, I read a lot of newspapers and I have more ideas than I could ever write in a lifetime! And marketing ideas are always fun to share because I hope you'll participate.

One morning there was an article about the Malacca Strait and how the U.S. wanted to help Malaysia and Indonesia protect it, but those countries were balking at it, telling the U.S. they could handle it themselves. It made me wonder why the U.S. would care about some small little strait halfway across the world.

The more I looked into it, the more I learned how important the Malacca Strait is to world affairs. You see, the Malacca Strait is a major shipping lane with half the world’s goods and a third of the world’s oil passing through there each year. It was also a hotbed for piracy, where modern-day pirates would board the ships, take hostages, and demand ransoms, or just steal cargo. Of course that got me thinking, (like several government entities) what if terrorists somehow blocked that Strait? It would affect the world’s economy in an enormous way.

I started to research. I came across the story of the Dewi Madrim, a ship that al-Qaeda had briefly taken over. The weird thing was, no one on the ship was hurt, the terrorists just wanted the captain to teach them how to navigate the ship. Doesn’t that make you go hmmm . . .? (Of course several countries were very concerned about the ramifications of this.)

We also had the capture and daring rescue of the captain and crew of the Maersk Alabama. My story was really taking shape at this point and I had so much research on cargo ships, Indonesia, and navigation in the Strait. (My family was getting sick of watching “specials” on modern-day piracy and how cargo ships work.) But I think it was worth it. We all learned something new!

My thoughts turned to one of my minor characters in Dangerous Connections, Ethan Barak. He was sort of a gray character, not all good or bad, and I knew he’d be the perfect combination of a Jack Bauer/James Bond type who could carry this story in Ribbon of Darkness. All I needed was a strong female character, and Kennedy Campbell was born. All the elements were there.

Kennedy's part in the story became something close to my heart. If you read the book, the part in Kennedy's story about the Afghan refugee camp and the attempted flight to Australia is based on a true account. Afghan refugees often get turned away from Australian coasts or never make it all the way there, and many of them end up in Indonesian holding cells. It’s quite an immigration problem for everyone.

Obviously, with all the research, the story materialized and came together and I am so thrilled that it is finally out and about to be released on store shelves. (You can currently find it on Kindle). It’s been a long hard journey for this book and I’m so grateful to everyone who helped me get to this point.

Every author knows that the hard work really begins once the book is out because you have to let people know about it. Marketing is the lifeblood of an author and a lot goes into the planning of the launch.

Here are some fun things I have planned for my Ribbon of Darkness launch next month.

My KSL radio show will be airing mid-August and you can hear all about me and my books, as well as hear some great stories for the whole family.

I will be having a contest starting August 8th with some great prizes.

My blog tour will be going on throughout the month of August and September.

I will be signing books at the Layton Barnes and Noble on August 27th from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

As you can see, August is going to be a really fun month and I hope you’ll check back here often for all the news.


Melanie Goldmund said...

Congratulations on such a wonderful review!

I just realised that you create your books in exactly the opposite way as I do. It seems like you start with the big picture, the event, then add your characters as needed. I think I almost always start with my characters and then find the event as needed. How different we all are. :-)

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

You know, Melanie, I never thought of it like that until you said it! What a great insight. And you're right, we are all totally different. But that's always a good thing, right? :)

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Lots of exciting things on the horizon for you. Best wishes!

Debra Erfert said...

What a great review Jennie gave you in the Meridian, Julie. She's very thorough, isn't she? Who puts your manuscript in e-book form? Do you have to do it or someone else? I just finished one I bought off Amazon, and I was surprised with all the . . . errors? it had in formatting. There were many sentences that were squished together and other obvious copy editing oversights that made it difficult to read. I would like to believe this author wrote better that her e-book version.

Is your e-book for sale yet?

I also realized something else too. When reading a paper book, I have a habit of running my finger behind the page as I near the end of the paragraph, but when my finger does it on a e-reader, it flips the page and I don't get to read the last half-paragraph and then I need to "flip" it back again. It took several times of my having to flip backward before I trained my hand not to touch the key before I read the last word. *sighs*

I hope that we all are different in our writing techniques. Although if you listen to some inspirational (writers) speakers they would prefer you do it their way and you'd always have a best seller. *grins* I've yet to completely outline a book before writing it, except with this last one. It came close. Normally, I start out with a character and let her do what she wants and see what trouble she gets into and how she gets out of it.

Now that I have my story complete, I have this . . . restlessness inside. I want another adventure, not for the summary and cover letters and such. I don't envy your book signings, although, if I had a chance to sit along side you in a bookstore for a few hours with my book on the table in front of me, then I guess all this other work would be worth the pain.

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Thanks, Kimberly!

Debra, my book is available on Kindle, (you can click on the image on the sidebar) and it is in other ereader formats, although I've yet to see it on B&N. I'm sure with the official release date next month, it will all come together. :)

I was sad to hear Jennie found typos, but even the bestselling authors say that ten typos or less still mean it's a well-edited book. Obviously I wish there weren't any typos at all in my books and I will try to correct as much as I can with each edition. I'm always striving for perfection. :)

I would love to do a booksigning with you! Hurry up and get that contract will ya?

Primarymary said...

I will be in Utah Aug 27, for a reunion. I am hoping to have time to come up to Layton on my way to the party that night.