An interview with Laura Dion-Jones

1 dionjones_RET_smLaura Dion-Jones is a pro-health activist, Corporate Wellness Coach (CCWC), Certified Wellness Coach (CWC), radio show host, and motivational weight loss and lifestyle speaker/writer.

Laura’s weight loss success story speaks for itself. She shed 150 pounds in 2-1/2 years by cutting white starch and sugary carbs from her diet and by making walking her daily cardio of choice. Serious walking! 

Since 1/1/2003, Laura has walked over 35,000 miles. That’s all the way around the earth at the equator. And she’s still walking daily — for the health of it. Today, she’s considered an “Elite Walker” averaging over 50 miles per week. 

Laura brings expertise and vast experience in fitness, fashion, and beauty to her coaching career. Much of her expertise is now found in her new bookCommit 2 Get Fit!

PJ: Hi Laura! How long have you been writing? 

LDJ: For as long as I can remember but never really realized I was a writer until people told me how much they loved my writer’s voice.

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer? 

LDJ: Do we ever really feel successful as a writer? The more feedback I get, the more successful I feel. When you have a message that is too important not to be heard, you’ll keep writing to get it out and get noticed. A nice, big, fat book deal will help me feel more successful, that’s for sure!

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different? 

LDJ: Frankly, I didn’t know what to expect, but, like so many other things in life, it is a solitary life. I love communicating through writing almost more than anything else – except for my TV and radio shows!

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations? 

LDJ: OMG, no. I’m still working toward that kind of success. I know with the 3 books I have in the hopper, this year will definitely be MY year, however!

PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed? 

LDJ: The focus is the same – more, bigger, better. 

PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?  

LDJ: I self-published because I wanted to get my book out fast and couldn’t wait for the traditional publishing methods – they take WAY too long.

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again? 

LDJ: Yeah, be born to a richer family! Money is always an object for many of us writers and publishing and PR all cost money. What would I do differently? When I was younger, I wish I knew what I know now, but don’t we all? I’ve wasted SO much time on meaningless stuff – things that at the time seemed mountainous – really weren’t. Instead of worrying about that stuff, I wish I would’ve been writing and promoting. Now I know better.

PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?  

LDJ: Depends what the priorities are for each day – like lawyers, I work on the stuff that is the most pressing so somehow one has to fit it all in . . . sooner or later.

PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

LDJ: Changing people’s lives for the better. Making a difference in their health and wellness in mind, body and spirit. Having people come up to thank me for my words of motivation, inspiration, encouragement, what have you. Making a difference in other’s lives is what matters to me most!

PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer? 

LDJ: Jealousy of “friends.” We all have a lot of frienemies out there. And rejection. Just cos someone rejects your piece doesn’t mean it’s not good. Take their feedback, fix what needs to be fixed, if anything, and resubmit elsewhere. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and improving your craft as you go. You’ll come out a winner if you do this. We constantly keep learning throughout our lives – if you think you know it all – trust me, you don’t. I constantly am taking classes and reading and learning more about everything I do. You should, too. If you’re not learning, you’re stagnating – and stagnation is the death of a writer. We always have to keep current on all sorts of stuff to be able to write.

PJ: That’s good advice! What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

LDJ: Seeing people’s faces when I give them the courage and hope they need to succeed on their new motivational weight loss, health and wellness plan. I make them believe that if I can do it, they can, too – and then I show them how. The most memorable thing? Selling people on themselves – and seeing it in their eyes when they finally “get it.” 

PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others? 

LDJ: My passion and message that obesity is TOTALLY preventable – and here’s how to find the secret to your own true and everlasting weight loss . . . 

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet? 

LDJ: Persistence knows no failure.

PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you? 

LDJ: Cold calling, querying places to speak, getting the word out there.

Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order: 

Commit To Get Fit: Find The Secret To Your Own True And Everlasting Weight Loss. Workbook coming early Summer 2014, and more . . .

Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

Commit To Get Fit: Find The Secret To Your Own True And Everlasting Weight Loss – a guide to help put an end to our country’s obesity epidemic. What more is there to say? Usually once I say this, everyone wants to know more cos if they don’t need help, someone near and dear to them does.

Where can we buy it? C2GF front cover layout sm11-13-13

Amazon Kindle version

Trade paper

Other ebook versions coming this month!

What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work? 

LDJ: I’m very passionate about this obesity thing – as a formerly chronic obese woman in recovery – it’s much more difficult to stay over weight and unhealthy than it is to just buckle down and get rid of your excess, unwanted weight once and for all. I did and if I can, you can, too.

Review: Best Defense by Randy Rawls

Best DefenseBest Defense

Randy Rawls

ISBN 978-0-7387-3461-3

Paperback / 288 pages

Midnight Ink Books

November, 2013RandyRawls

Reviewed by Patricia K. Batta

South Florida Private Investigator Beth Bowman goes the home of her client, Sabrina Hammonds, to turn in her report. When she finds Sabrina and her maid dead, she is certain the killer is Sabrina’s husband, John, who Sabrina had hired her to tail. John, a respected and highly successful defense attorney, convinces Beth he loved and was faithful to Sabrina. He then asks Beth to help him get back his missing five year old daughter, Ashley, whatever the cost to him. He insists the police stand down and take their lead from Beth.

Beth knows she has little chance of success on her own, and little chance of finding Ashley alive if she doesn’t move quickly. She enlists the city’s homeless population to be her eyes and ears on the street and eventually earns the grudging help of the police. The heat is turned up when the kidnappers threaten to sell Ashley to the highest bidder if all doesn’t go as they demand.

The book begins with somewhat repetitive back-story, but it soon moves into a fast-paced narrative that keeps the reader guessing about what will happen next.

One can only hope the background information given on the street people who rally to support Beth and Beth’s growing respect for the detective with whom she works most closely indicate the author plans future books featuring this unique group of crime busters.

Book promotion is WHAT? by PJ Nunn

mosaic-01Whether you call it a mosaic, a jigsaw, or a collage, effective book promotion is not as simple as some like to think. There’s no list of 5 things to do and check off to signify that you’re done. You honestly might never be done. It’s complex, a myriad of details that often are seemingly unrelated. And just the same way an author may have a very structured and organized outline that creates an impression of the book, the final product is so much more than the simple completion of the outline. It’s the nuances and threads that wind and weave and lead from one place to the next until you finally arrive at an often unforeseen destination. When done well, the joy is in the hidden things, the twists of phrases and words that are invisible yet so clear you can almost hear them.

As a grad student, I remember the first time I observed the practice of mirroring in couples therapy. It was fascinating to watch, time and time again, as one person heard things the other never said. Interpretation, insinuation, reflection, assumption. The list can go on. The same thing happens when a reader picks up a book. Readers will hear and see things the author never thought of simply by virtue of the way they piece together the information they’re given. Sometimes it means they assume something before even finishing a sentence. Jumping to conclusions.

The first time I saw the movie The Sixth Sense, I staggered at the ending and immediately wanted to go back and watch again to see if I’d been cheated or if the writing was so good I’d really missed the clues and hints that were obviously there. It was the latter. And one of the few times I’ve ever truly said, “I wish I’d written that.”

You probably think by now I’ve totally digressed and what does this have to do with book promotion really? But I haven’t. I get asked a lot if a client’s press release is ready. Like there’s only one. They’re surprised to learn that I don’t send press releases to most people I contact on behalf of clients.  Bad publicist! No, I have just learned to use the right tools for the job.

Media personalities tend to be very visual. The picture’s worth a thousand words, right? So I don’t send them a press release that’s all text and black and white. I send them a bio with a photo and book info with a cover. It’s not all fancy, but it does what it needs to do – captures the right person’s attention better than a single, typewritten page.

If I’m trying to convince a national television program that my client is the guest of the hour, I don’t send a book and bio page alone. I dress them up in a professional folder and print a copy of the head shot on glossy photo paper (which reminds me, some of you really should ask for new headshots for a holiday gift – just saying). I dress up your promo, include good reviews and blurbs, some of the more significant recent markets that have featured you and your book and generally make you look like you’re really somebody. And then (and you thought I was finished) I put together an idea that sometimes looks like an outline mosaic 02for the show! I get them on the phone and I make the pitch. If they like the pitch (and I do mean IF) then I send them the fancy package.

Book promotion, like a mosaic, may start out small and is usually comprised of tiny, shiny, broken segments of the whole, pieced together in such a way that they create the illusion of a picture of something entirely different. It’s easy to want each action contained in a promotional campaign to be complete in and of itself, and to be able to judge its success or failure accordingly. It just doesn’t work that way anymore than you can attribute the success or attractiveness of a snowman to a single, particular handful of snow. Book promotion is a complex, contrived and ongoing effort that starts as a small, but beautiful piece of art that continues to grow and evolve as you go. Enjoy yourself. It’ll create a better picture.

Death of a Nightingale by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis

Death-of-a-NightingaleDeath of a Nightingale

Book No. 3 Nina Borg Series

Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete FriisNightengale authors

Soho Crime, 2013, 368 Pages

ISBN No. 978-1616953041

Reviewed by Patricia Reid


Danish Red Cross nurse Nina Borg was first introduced to readers in The Boy in the Suitcase.  Nina takes her job very seriously and her commitment to her work has interfered with her relationship with her husband and children.

The book skips back and forth between Nina’s present day time and the story of two young women growing up in Stalinist Ukraine in 1934, the time of the terrible famine.  The story of the two young girls growing up during the famine is one that kept this reader fascinated.

Nina currently is working at the Coal House Camp for Refugees and has taken a special interest in an eight-year-old asthmatic girl whose name is Rina.  Rina’s Ukrainian mother, Natasha Doroshenko, has been arrested for murdering her Danish fiancée.  Natasha is no stranger to murder.  Natasha’s first husband was murdered three years early in Kiev.

Nina is familiar with Natasha’s case since at one point Natasha took refuge at a crisis center where Nina works.  Everything about the case comes to a head when, on the way to Copenhagen’s police headquarters to be interrogated, Natasha escapes.  Natasha looked at Google Earth and feels sure that she can locate the Coal House Camp.  Meanwhile someone tries to abduct Rina from the camp.

Nina is frantically searching for both the mother and daughter but without much luck.

When the author reveals the connection between the two young girls living in the time of the famine and their connection with Natasha and her daughter I am sure the reader will be  surprised and shocked.

As the book ends Nina wonders if she will ever be able to make her way back to her husband and children and be a part of their lives. Highly recommended.

Starting A New Series by Sally Wright


It wasn’t that I wanted to abandon Ben Reese, but that Breeding Ground, the first Jo Grant mystery, got into my blood years ago when I spent time in Lexington, Kentucky researching the Ben Reese book, Watches Of The Night.

I’d ridden horses for years, and I loved the land around Lexington, and the glimpses I was given of life in Woodford County when I stayed in beautiful farmhouse B&Bs, and grilled the owners (who ended-up friends) about the farms, and culture, and interesting characters in Kentucky’s Thoroughbred industry.

I suddenly saw a series of novels set in a whole community of horse people – grooms to aristocratic horse breeders – in which the complexities of everyday families get complicated by the added pressures of working in a family business – three, in Breeding Ground, in 1962: a hands-on broodmare farm, an equine pharmaceutical business, and a horse van manufacturer.

Breeding Ground’s a back-burner book for me that’s  simmered in my brain for years, partly because of the horses, but more because I grew-up in a small family business. My father was an orphan, raised in an orphanage, who (because a teacher helped him get a college scholarship in 1929) was able to become a chemist, who then dreamed for years about inventing a product and starting his own business – and did, with my mom when I was four.

It’s been a pivotal part of my life, and I wanted to explore the conflicts that come when whatever-family–members-are-in-charge have to choose between what they think is good for the business (all the employees and customers included) and their children’s (or siblings’) feelings. With eighty per cent of American business still family owned, I thought it was time I talked about it.

And caregivers who’ve reached their emotional limits, I wanted to work with that. And the complications of WWII, in wounds that carried-over even into the sixties (from our OSS vets, in this book, who worked with the French Resistance). I’m very close to the vet Ben Reese is based on, and I still had more to explore.

Breeding Ground means a lot to me – Jo Grant, the architect who’d cared for her mother through brain cancer; the families GraveYard2torn by business differences; the horses Jo says, “…run our lives, and get planned and pampered and brutalized by us too, for the best and the strangest and the worst of reasons.”

I also had surgery for pancreatic cancer (then did chemo and radiation) while I was working on Breeding Ground, so the process was not as linear as usual. But some of what I’ve learned through that is buried in the bones of the book, and I hope it helps someone else. I know it helped me to write it.

But can I give advice about writing a new series that applies to someone else? Probably not. We write the books we’re given. Or at least I do.

The myth about press releases By PJ Nunn

Or should I say myths? Many authors believe the press release is the one piece of promotional literature that is of primary importance. The one used the most; the one that’s most effective. Call it what you will. Maybe it is. Maybe it’s not. Maybe the confusion is in the definition of what a press release is today. Because an effective press release today may not look much like it did ten years ago. In fact, it should not look like it did ten years ago. Things have changed.

When Sarah Sherik, VP of content marketing for PR Newswire analyzed the worst-performing 500 out of 20,000 press releases, she came up with a list of what to do and not to do to keep your press release off the bottom. I’ve included her points here and commented on them:
1. Write like you talk and keep it brief– don’t use industry mumbo jumbo. Write naturally and use good grammar and punctuation. Many open their emails on mobile devices today. Some authors are tempted to write two page press releases but seriously, don’t. Less is more. Capture their interest and they’ll ask for more info.
2. Cut back on links – search engines may read them as spam. One or two well-placed links is enough. When too many words turn blue, it implies too much work involved to go get information. Give them the important information and include one or two links of supporting info.
3. Avoid the use of unnecessary capitalization – what used to pass for emphasis is now seen as shouting. Copy littered with capital letters will annoy readers and make your release underperform.
4. Recognize that content recirculates – press releases used to have a shelf life of about 72 hours. Today, it’s 4 months or longer. Understand that clouds hold information and it’s still new to a person who hasn’t seen it before. Keep your content fresh enough to matter if it’s seen months from now.
5. Always include something tweetable in your pitches – make it easy for someone to help get the word out.
6. How about issuing a press release in tweets? In September @AmazonKindle issued a press release in a series of 14 tweets allowing people to retweet parts that most interested them.
7. Feed your influencers – These hungry critters require regular doses of information to survive. They thrive on attention, and multimedia content is their favorite snack food. Exclusives make them purr. How? Determine whose information influences you, then when you can, provide them with the kind of news they like to hear.
8. Interaction matters – so be sure to keep up with feedback that tells you who’s interacting with your posts and press info. Engaging with others is the way to keep your visibility high, not the number of status posts or tweets. Like, reply, retweet – those things will keep you in the arena of being read. Klout scores can tell you something.
But obviously, when it comes to press releases, the first and foremost thing to remember is keep your content newsworthy. While it’s technically true that the release of a new book is news, be honest. If you receive a press release saying John Doe wrote a new book that is coming out next week (and you’ve never heard of John), how excited would you get? Excitement grows when the release includes little known information that is of particular interest to you. This is why a blanket release is rarely effective. A targeted release can be written to pique the interest of the receiver(s). Assuming of course that you know their interests.
In a nutshell:
1. Make it newsworthy and include it in a short headline.

New book coming out next month (BAD)

Local author releases new book (BETTER)

Local vet donates book proceeds to Humane Society (BEST)

The BAD title should be explanatory – there is no specific news there. The BETTER is barely better, but it does alert the journalist that the release includes something about a local author that could be newsworthy. The BEST actually gives information to help journalists determine if they want to read further. A vet (although it’s not clear whether a veteran or veterinarian) wrote a book and will donate proceeds to the Humane Society. Lots of info there. Good job. Make them want to know more!

2. Write like you talk; use good grammar and punctuation.

3. Include a link and a tweet.

4. Send it to journalists who are interested in what you have to tell them.

How do you know what a journalist is interested in? It takes some research, but there are ways. Determine who writes about what you’re pitching. For our purposes here, it’s usually books so look up the book reviewers and columnists in your local paper or whatever publication you’re targeting. You can find a lot of information on the Internet. Google journalists to see what articles they’ve written lately and read a few. You’ll usually find that recurring interests begin to appear the more you read.
Following these guidelines should increase your response rate and your visibility.

Can you share some tips with us about how you get attention with your press releases?

Blog tour: Charisma by Barbara Hall


In the aftermath of a violent incident and near death experience, Sarah Lange is plagued by heavenly voices and dogged by a desire to return “home”. Frightened by her desire to terminate her existence on earth, she checks into a trauma center in Malibu, California and meets Dr. David Sutton, an intellectual, a scientist, a reductionist and someone who believes in nothing beyond his immediate experience. David’s world is as divorced from mystery and magic as Sarah’s is alive and animated by it. Their sessions open up a dialogue about the separation of worlds—one easily defined and explained and one unknowable and waiting on the other side of human experience. Even as his faith in his profession fades, David struggles to bring his disturbed patient back to the real world. In a desperate effort to define herself, Sarah “escapes” and David must decide how far he is willing to go to save a patient and ultimately himself.

About Barbara Hall: 

Barbara Hall is an award-winning author, screenwriter, vocalist and
television producer. She was the executive producer of the hit CBS drama
“Judging Amy” and the creator of “Joan of Arcadia”—the highly
successful television series in which she reinvented the Joan of Arc
legend in the form of Joan Girardi, a teenager who keeps encountering
God—as both a cute boy and a lunch lady.  

As a child growing up in Chatham, Virginia, Barbara Hall had a single
vision: moved to write by the isolation and frustration of a small
Southern town in which she lived. The youngest of three siblings, she
often collaborated on stories with her older sister. Hall knew by the
age of eight what career path she would lay out for herself. Hall
attended James Madison University, gaining a myriad of awards during her
completion of a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

An accomplished author, Hall wrote three young adult novels including:
“Skeeball and the Secret of the Universe”, “Dixie Storms” and “Fool’s
Hill” as well as the mystery “House Across the Cove”. Her other novels
include “A Better Place”,  “Close to Home” and “A Summons To New
Orleans”. Hall’s literary work has also been recognized by the American
Library Association Best Books & Notable Books.

In the realm of television, Hall has been nominated for three Emmys
(“I’ll Fly Away,” “Northern Exposure”) and a Golden Laurel from the
Producers Guild of America, receiving a Humanitas Award, NAACP Image
Award and TV Critics Association Award. “Judging Amy,” earned numerous
Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for its cast and crew, was nominated
for New Program of the Year at the 2000 Television Critics Association
Awards  and won Favorite New Series at the 2000 TV Guide Awards.

Not confining her talents to the written page, Barbara Hall is an
accomplished musician, vocalist and a founding member of the alternative
country rock band—The Enablers. The Enablers album, Come Back Soon, is
available via her website at

Barbara Hall lives, writes and creates in Pacific Palisades, California with her daughter Faith.

Connect with Barbara: 


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