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Book Discussion with Page Turners DMV Book Club

Missing Five Book DiscussionPage Turners DMV Book Club member, Laura Farrio, invited local Author Gwen Pegram to discuss her debut novel, The Missing Five. The Book Club met at Bonefish Grill in Woodbridge, VA, on February 22.

Denise opened up the discussion with a statement, followed by a question. “I’m an avid reader and I have never read a book with a plot line like this. How did you come up with the plot?”

Response: “I’m from a small town and when I moved to DC in the 70s, everything was new, different, weird. All my senses were on high alert and I was affected by everything I saw, heard, touched, smelled, and tasted. (Sorry, I won’t provide spoilers). I knew one day I wanted to capture that experience in a fictional tale–an embellished accounting from my point of view.

“Will there be a sequel?” Sylvia asked.

Response: “Yes. I am writing the sequel as we speak with a publication date of October 2014. Also, I’ve decided to present a third book of the ‘Jackie Trumpleton Novel’ completing the trilogy by mid-to-late 2015.”

“I love the cover,” Dawn said.

Response: “Thank you. I created the cover myself. Years ago while visiting New Orleans, I purchased a beautiful mask by Tom Finn, which I wanted to use on the cover. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate the artist to acquire permission. Then, I met with a photographer, showed her the mask, and described what I wanted but she could not capture the essence of what I was looking for. So, I searched istockphoto.com and found the photo that I felt captured the soul of the book. I taught myself the software in order to create the cover. 

“How did you come up with the title, The Missing Five?

Response: It wasn’t easy. At first, I was going to name the novel, Jacqueline Ophelia Antoinette Trumpleton, the protagonist’s name. After creating the cover, and seeing the title on the spine, I thought, no one’s going to buy my book. It doesn’t give an inkling of what the book is about. I played with several names and out of nowhere, The Jackson Five popped into my head. That’s how The Missing Five was born.

Question to club members from Author: “Did you think there was too much sex?”

“No,” Denise exclaimed. The members agreed the sex scenes were tastefully done.

This was the author’s first book discussion. “It was wonderful getting together with a group of women on a Saturday afternoon to discuss my book. I enjoyed the camaraderie and look forward to doing it again.”

Participants who joined the book discussion (from left to right: Dawn, Sylvia, Pearl, Olivia, Laura, Gwen, Miriam, and Denise).

If you are interested in having Author Gwen Pegram do a book reading, book signing, or book discussion, please send an email to gwenpegrampublishing@gmail.com.

The next Book Reading is at Serengeti Gallery and Cultural Institute, 7919 Central Avenue, Capitol Heights, MD, on Saturday, March 22, from 2:30pm – 4:00pm (adults only). Hope to see you there.

The Missing Five is available in paperback at Amazon.com and can be downloaded to any eReader at Smashwords.com.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2014 in Books

 

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“A Thrilling Read” says Bibliophile Book Reviews

The Missing Five Cover SmashwordCustomer Review on Amazon.com

The Missing Five

5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling read, February 13, 2014

By Bibliophile Book Reviews (Philadelphia)   – See all my reviews

This was a thrilling read by Gwen Pegram and after careful consideration, I decided to give it 5/5 stars. This is a well-written, carefully plotted novel that mystified me. I simply couldn’t put it down. Pegram takes a plot and makes it seem so realistic and life like that it gives you shivers. Fantastic job, Gwen! I look forward to reading more of your work.

The Missing Five can be purchased in paperback from Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, and many other online bookstores. An eBook is also available and can be downloaded to any eReader from Smashwords.com.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2014 in Books

 

The Arlington PD (Episode 6 Teaser)

Gwen3The Author Reads an Excerpt from The Missing Five

You could hear the thunderous male guffaw before the elevator doors fully opened on the sixth floor of the Arlington police department. It was as if Lieutenant Neathers and Sergeant Gable were entering the final inning of a baseball game that had exceeded three extra innings. The closer the men got to their cubicles, the louder the sound escalated.

The station was no different from any other police station throughout the DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia) metropolitan area. Cheap desk, cheap chairs, cheap carpet, and the stench of week-old coffee. The one saving grace in this particular station was the camaraderie amongst the blues. They got along and enjoyed working with one another. A code of ethics wasn’t needed to tell them to watch each other’s back. It was a foregone conclusion that they would, no matter the sacrifice.

The sergeant and lieutenant heard this mirth many times before, but on this occasion it sounded entirely different. Something was happening that was downright hilarious and they wanted to see what the commotion was all about. As they turned the corner, they bumped into a rookie who was doubled over, gasping for air. He tried to say hello but no words came forth.

The lieutenant looked over at the captain and noticed that he had lost composure too. He was chuckling so hard that fluids exited his body. Tears squirted from his eyes, snot ran from his nose, and saliva sprayed from his lips. The captain removed a vile looking handkerchief from his back pocket and dabbed it all over his face.

The only female, Detective Lindon, refused to participate in this belly laughing. She was the most composed and acted the most civil. But, the hilarity of the circumstances had become contagious and she could not escape it. She squirmed out of her chair and walked with her legs tightly crossed to the ladies room, praying she would make it before she peed in her pants.

“What’s so funny?” Neathers asked.

There was so much ruckus that the officers didn’t notice or hear him. It didn’t seem like the cachinnation would ever subside.

“Hey guys,” Neathers repeated louder over the uproar. “What’s so damn funny?”

Everyone looked toward Neathers and Gable. It took a moment before anyone could respond intelligently. “Well, give it up,” he said.

“Okay lieutenant, okay. You’re not going to believe this one,” Officer Cooper said. “We got this call from a Clyde Hariston and his wife claiming that he was abducted two weeks ago, held against his wishes in this mansion, and get this, raped by an unknown assailant.”

Gable eyes opened wide, not comprehending. “He was raped by a man!”

This caused another outburst, but this time at Gable.

“No, no,” Cooper said, shaking his head. “A woman.”

Stay tuned for Episode 7 Teaser. Get immersed in this mystery by purchasing The Missing Five, which is available in paperback via Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com, and by download on any eReader via Smashwords.com for only $1.98 until February 5 using coupon code KR76Y.

Please leave a review on Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords, or Barnes and Noble letting Gwen know your feedback on her debut novel. Thank you.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2014 in Books

 

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Amazon, You Don’t Know “My” Friends

The GirlsAmazon refuses to post two of my reviews. I think it’s only two; it could be more. My debut novel, The Missing Five, hit the scene November 3, 2013 and is selling through several book retailers, including Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and Smashwords.com.

I sent out a mass email informing everyone I know—family, friends, coworkers—of my accomplishment. I am proud of this achievement, publishing my first novel. And, they are proud of me and demonstrate it by purchasing my novel, attending readings and/or signings, and congratulating me verbally. So, imagine my surprise when a friend I talk to about three or four times a year called and said, “Gwen, I bought your book and just finished reading it. This is a winner! I couldn’t put it down. I’m so proud of you.” Her accolades meant the world to me because she is not one to give a compliment haphazardly, and when she does, believe me you, it is one that the receiver deserves. Bottom line—she says what she means and means what she says.

She wrote a review and posted it to Amazon.com. I waited and waited and waited for her review to show up. It would be my first review, and to say I was tickled pink is an understatement. I wasn’t concerned so much with the number of stars she would give the novel, I couldn’t wait to read her words, which were important to me. The review never posted. After a week, I emailed Amazon.com requesting a reason to why the review hadn’t posted and never received a response, although the website states it will respond within 12 hours. I was very disappointed because I expected better customer service from a retailer so large and prominent. I wondered out loud why more retailers couldn’t exhibit the same kind of customer service provided by Nordstrom. This sentiment usually crosses my mind each and every time I encounter unprofessional customer service. Oh well, I dismissed it.

Then, it happened again this month. Another review wasn’t posted. After 48 hours, I sent Amazon.com another email and still I did not receive even the professional courtesy of a response. I did a Google search to see if this was happening to other authors. Well, lo and behold, it was. So, after a lot of researching, I found that Amazon.com stopped posting reviews it perceived were from family and friends. If the reviews were five-stars, they were considered bogus, inflated, or down-right deceitful. Now, I’m really annoyed. Their customer service couldn’t take less than a minute to reply to my email to offer this information, which is probably a form feedback response anyway. Unbelievable!

First, I applaud Amazon.com for removing reviews from its site that do not follow Amazon’s guidelines for posting reviews and Amazon.com validating that this is the case. Second, it’s unfair that Amazon.com polices reviews. Consumers are intelligent and capable of deciphering a genuine review from a pompous, bloated review. Whatever happened to caveat emptor, let the buyer beware?

Amazon.com, you definitely don’t know my friends, family, or coworkers! So, I’ll tell you who they are: they’re mature, intelligent readers and buyers who will only provide honest feedback and critiques of my book no matter what relationship they have with me. And, you don’t know who I am. I would never lower my standards to ask for a favorable review if my book didn’t deserve one. How else would I write a sequel and learn from my mistakes if I were given favorable reviews that were a sham. But, I understand from your viewpoint, this is exactly what some authors are doing. Shame on those authors who stoop so low just to get a favorable review in order to sell their books. Unfortunately, self-published authors have to bear the brunt and suffer the consequences. Wow, I guess a few bad apples can spoil the whole bunch.

Finally, since Amazon.com is policing reviews, and it’s already very difficult for unknown authors like me to get reviews, I ask readers who don’t know me and have reviewed other books on Amazon.com to email me at gwenpegrampublishing@gmail.com to receive a complimentary copy of The Missing Five. All I ask in return is for you to post your honest critique, review, or feedback of my novel on Amazon.com.

Thank you.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2014 in Books

 

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At-a-Glance: Guide for the Self-Published Author

Gwen’s BIBLE:

There’s a massive amount of information on the Internet to weed through—the good, the bad, the ugly—for writers who want to take the self-published route versus traditional publishing. I say, “You Go Girl or Guy.” Since self-publishing The Missing Five, I get a lot of questions from fans, family, and relatives asking, “How did you do it?” Ergo, Gwen’s BIBLE. I’ve catalogued my personal formula for success that may help assist aspiring writers in fulfilling their dreams of publishing a novel. I set two rules:

Rule #1: Read, read, and do extra reading.

Rule #2: Research, research, and then research some more.

Okay, let’s get started.

Join Createspace.com (an Amazon company) to get self-published and distributed domestically and internationally. Their tagline, “Publish your words, your way.”

  1. No fees
  2. Free and easy tools
  3. Free distribution options (When I self-published, I selected “Expanded Distribution” for $25. Imagine my surprise when Createspace refunded my money). Yes, that’s right. They now provide the extra service free.
  4. The Createspace community provides assistance throughout the entire process. Ask a member any question or search within the community for readily supplied answers.
  5. Articles galore are on every topic imaginable written exclusively for Createspace. Joel Friedlander was a godsend, literally. I could kiss him. I think I read almost every article he wrote on the do’s and don’ts, and suggestions to getting published.
  6. Follow the advice and guidelines offered and you’ll be published like a pro.
  7. If you are still confused, which I was not, Createspace provides multiple services for a fee.
  8. I was not able to set the list price for my book, although it’s implied I could. There is a minimum threshold. Now, I understand why this is. Amazon has to make money for printing on demand (POD) and still give the self-published author a royalty.
  9. Royalties: I had difficulty understanding how Createspace calculates royalties. Okay, I admit it; I’m not a brainiac so I provide the link to Understanding Createspace’s Royalties.
  10. I chose not to use Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP Select), which was solely a personal decision. I did not want the digital version of my book tied exclusively to only one type of eReader (Kindle) for 90 days, which auto-renews if one neglects to cancel. The decision, of course, is yours and here are the terms and conditions for KDP Select.

Register with Bowker.com to purchase an International Standard Book Number (ISBN). Bowker is the only official source for an ISBN in the U.S., which provides unique identification for books and simplify the distribution of books throughout the global supply chain.

I bought my ISBN through Bowker for one reason only. I want my name listed as publisher. Things to consider:

  1. ISBNs through Bowker are expensive.
  2. One ISBN costs $125; but ten cost $250.
  3. I purchased 10 because I needed 2 immediately—one for my paperback and one for an eBook (yes, separate ISBNs are required for each). I knew ahead of time that in the near future I would publish a sequel and most likely a trilogy, so purchasing 10 made economical sense.
  4. Sites like Createspace and Smashwords offer their own free or discounted ISBNs; however, their name is the designated publisher.

Join Smashwords.com, the world’s largest indie eBook distributor. Their tagline: “You eBook, your way.”

  1. No fees
  2. Smashwords distributes eBooks to the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo, Flipkart, Oyster, the Diesel eBook Store, Baker & Taylor Blio, Axis 360 (libraries), and more are on the way.
  3. eBooks can be downloaded in a multitude of formats for: iPad, iTouch, iPhone; Kindle (mobi); Nook; Sony Reader; Android devices; pdf; and online via a personal computer.
  4. Royalties between 60–85 percent.
  5. Authors can set their own price.
  6. Authors can generate coupons to offer readers discounts.
  7. Download a free eBook, Smashwords Style Guide. Follow instructions to produce and publish a high-quality eBook.
  8. Truth time: Maybe I should have considered enrolling in KDP Select because to-date, I have yet to sell a single digital copy via Smashwords, even though The Missing Five is listed in Smashwords’ premium catalog. However, it’s only been two months, so I’m not regretting my decision yet.
  9. Another view — The differences Between Amazon and Smashwords by Roger Gerald Scott.

Join Goodreads.com, which has 19 million visitors and offers a plethora of tools for authors

  1. Book Giveaways
  2. Connect to your Blog
  3. Author and publisher program
  4. Q&A groups

Download these informative and insightful pdfs:

  1. Writers’ Digest 101 Best Websites 2013.pdf (The 15th Annual 101 Best Websites for Writers)
  2. 10 Things about Self-Publishing-v2.1.pdf (Joel Friedlander). I told you, he’s the bomb!
  3. Build Your Book.pdf (Walton Mendelson)

Find Reviewers. This is a job all into itself; no lie. It is difficult to find reviewers to review books. I think this is related to the number of self-published books on the market and the reviewers’ hands are full.

  1. “Don’t pay for book reviews.” In all my research, I kept coming across this statement.
  2. The Indie View provides links to a list of reviewers who review indie books at no charge.
  3. Follow the submission requirements for your genre.
  4. Heads-up: Only one reviewer responded to my request for a book review: Bibliophile Book Reviews for Indie Authors.
  5. Search blogs and look for bloggers who may review your book.
  6. Literally beg people who purchase your book to post a review. They don’t always remember to do so.
  7. An article on “How to Get Reviews” by The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLI)
  8. Another article on “Get Reviews for Your Self-Published Book” by The BookBabyBlogger

Enter Your Novel in Book Awards

I’ve entered one and will enter three more awards for indie authors:

  1. Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Awards (deadline was January 15, 2014)
  2. Next Generation Indie Book Awards (deadline February 15, 2014)
  3. National Indie Excellence Awards (deadline March 31, 2014)
  4. Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Award (Early bird deadline April 1, 2014)

Create a Blog and Maintain It

I created my blog at WordPress.com. Please, please, pretty please maintain your blog. There is nothing more depressing than going to an outdated blog.

Blogs I Enjoy Following

  1. Savvy Writers & e-Books online
  2. Daily (w)rite
  3. LivelyTwist
  4. David Gaughran
  5. 300 Stories

Writers’ Beware: The Blog

A good blog to keep an eye on. It shines a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. The blog also provides advice for writers, industry news, and commentary, and a special focus on the weird and wacky things that happen at the fringes of the publishing world.

Readings/Signings. Always look for places that are free or have a very minimal cost. Hold on to your money until you start making some.

  1. Starbucks –Go in person with book and business card in hand, and talk to the manager about having a signing.
  2. Ask friends, family, and relatives to host a reading and/or signing in your honor. Two of my friends have already done so.
  3. Art galleries. I am in the process of selecting a date to host a reading at an art gallery that can seat 125 folks.

Join Headliners.fm

This site helps you build your sharing network by matching your posts with those who are more likely to share them with others. Through Headliners.fm, DJ Webster, Director/Producer, will share the $3 off coupon code KR76Y for my eBook, The Missing Five, with his 1,256 followers on January 17.  For more information, here is the Guide to Headliner.

Be a part of Social Media

I have Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts. To-date, I have not made any new connections. I’ve read that building a platform can take years, so starting once my book was published was less than ideal. But, I have a trick. I’m acting as if my book has not already been published. I look at it this way; if no one has heard of my book, as far as I’m concerned, it’s still a prequel to the marketplace.

Talk and listen to people

I met a very young man, not more than 20, at a recent signing at Starbucks. He struck up a conversation with me and told me that in addition to the poster of my book, I should also have a PowerPoint Presentation looping. “That way,” he explained, “when you are talking to one customer, others can be watching the presentation.” I put that suggestion into play immediately. Now I’m researching how to put it on WordPress in a slideshow that can’t be manipulated.

Reference Guides

  1. Merriam-Webster is my online dictionary of choice.
  2. I love Wordhippo.com. A blessing in disguise for finding similar or opposite words. Wordhippo even provide other options for a word: the definition, rhymes with, sentences with, etc.
  3. Chicago Style/Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

Other sites/blogs I turned to and found great articles

  1. How to write the perfect book teaser – Smart Author Sites.com
  2. Using third person multiple POV – Scribophile
  3. Fantastic book trailers – The Rumpus
  4. Don’t use adverbs and adjectives to prettify your prose – Writer’s Digest
  5. How to write a press release for your book — Savvy Writers & e-Books online
  6. How to create an instant bestselling novel by Cliff Pickover – SPrott
  7. How to write scene transition – The Editor’s Blog
  8. I enjoyed two articles on The Blog of Tim Ferriss:

Connect with Indie Bound, a community-oriented movement begun by independent booksellers

Learn more from Indie Bound’s FAQ.

Advice I’ve learned on my own for future books that I’ll write

  1. After I finish my book, I’ll put it aside for a month and then re-read it again prior to publishing. You would be amazed at the things missed even if you proofed it 25 times, which I did. This is true. My bedroom is filled with all the drafts.
  2. I will hire a copyeditor/line editor to go over the final draft. As the writer, proofreader, and editor (even if this is your profession), you are just too close to the manuscript. After all, you’ve read it only how many times already?
  3. I was never so happy that I paid extra for the largest pixel jpeg from istockphoto.com. This came in handy for my Smashwords book cover, Amazon thumbnail, and the poster blown up to 24×36, which are awesome, if I say so myself.

Register for a Squareup. It’s free! Or buy it and the $10 is refunded to your account

  1. It’s cheaper and funds are deposited faster than using PayPal.
  2. Squareup is only 2.75% per credit card swipe; PayPal is 2.9%+$0.30 per transaction.
  3. Funds are credited to your bank account within 24 hours, usually the next business day for Squareup. PayPal takes 3–5 days.
  4. Nothing is more liberating than being able to accept cash, check, and/or credit card on the spot when someone wants to purchase your novel.

Don’ts

Do not rely on MicrosoftWord’s spell check and/or grammar check. It is not 100% reliable.

Gwen’s “Ask Me A Question”

Please feel free to ask me anything about my journey related to publishing The Missing Five. If I can be of assistance, the pleasure will be all mine.

The Missing Five is available in paperback at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Indie Bound. The ePub can be downloaded to any eReader at Smashwords.com.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Books

 

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A Trend – Stranger Today. Fan Tomorrow.

Since becoming a self-published author in November 2013, I’ve noticed a trend occurring at signings for my debut novel, The Missing Five. Strangers, for now, walk up to me and start conversing about their dreams to publish a book.

How did I do it? Was it expensive? How long did it take?

I don’t mind the questions. I rather enjoy responding. I listen to their tales and woes, and encourage them to not give up. Hopefully, I’ll be their beacon of hope–that one flicker of inspiration they need to get a jumpstart to “Just do it!™”

Many stories have been relayed.

  • “My husband has written a 300-page manuscript,” one wife tells me. On the back of my business card, I write Createspace’s website, informing her how user-friendly, inexpensive, and informative the site is for self-published authors. “Oh no,” she says, “the manuscript is handwritten. I’m looking for someone to type it.”
  • Another fan tells me she has a unique story, informing me there’s no other storyline like it anywhere. Has she read every book known to man? I think not, but who am I to pass judgment? After all, a few months ago, I was like her. I had a unique story too. She prolongs her dialogue, taps her head with an index finger, and states emphatically that it’s all there. She’s afraid to share the story with anyone for fear of it being stolen. “You heard about those two people suing Tyler Perry, haven’t you?” Indeed I had. She continues. “Both allege that their manuscripts were sent to Perry’s camp and the next thing they know, there’s a movie – Temptation and Good Deeds. I know the judge ruled in Perry’s favor for the Good Deeds story theft. The jury’s still out for Temptation. Read more
 
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Posted by on January 12, 2014 in Books

 

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Clyde Hariston’s Abduction (Episode 5 Teaser)

The Missing Five Cover SmashwordClyde Hariston’s wife, Rochelle, demands that he contacts the Arlington PD to notify them of his abduction two weeks ago from the Lake Barcroft neighborhood, a hidden gem in Arlington. Rochelle gave Clyde an order because it was no way in hell that she believed one word of what he alleged happened to him. “Either file a police report,” she said, “or you’re a bold-faced liar.”

Clyde’s alibi why he had not come home that night — “I was held captive against my will by an unknown female assailant who sexually assaulted me.” And with a loss of memory, he found himself sitting on the same park bench that he disappeared from, with no recollection of how he returned. This is the tale he expected his wife to believe.

When an officer takes the police report and relays the call to his comrades in the Arlington PD, it takes all the will power the chief of police, lieutenant, sergeant, detective, and officers can muster not to laugh out loud, but it doesn’t work. They let loose and the guffaw is contagious.

The officers end up going to the Hariston’s home because according to Clyde’s wife, “he is just too distraught to come down to the police station.”

This drama is a soap opera in the making.

Read what happens when the officers arrive, The Missing Five is available in paperback via Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com, and via download on any eReader via Smashwords.com for only $1.98 until January 31 using coupon code KR76Y.

Stay tuned for Episode 6 Teaser.

Please leave a review on Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords, or Barnes and Noble letting Gwen know your feedback on her debut novel. Thank you.

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2014 in Books

 

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