Froma Bird's Eye View

Commentary by Raven West

Interview on Good Morning Oxnard



I write a weekly column for an on-line ezine and was interviewed for our local TV show! Here’s the link…. Enjoy!

Wine Columnist Raven West interviewed on Good Morning Oxnard Show

Our “Heard it on the Grapevine” wine columnist Raven West was interviewed by host Peter Godinez on KADY TV’s the Good Morning Oxnard show on Wednesday, July 16, at Tomas Cafe on A Street.  She discussed her three books, including “Red Wine for Breakfast.” “First Class Male” and  ”Undercover Reunion.”

If Fiction Authors ARE Fictional, How do REAL Authors Find Success?


As fiction writers we see the world in a different way than most. We’re magicians in a land of skeptics; the court jesters who, for a brief moment, help the downtrodden forget how much they hate their rulers.

We create hope for the hopeless, unlimited possibilities where everything seems impossible. Even when our own reality is less than ideal, even the face of relentless obstacles and disappointments, we write on.

We’re not actors pretending to be someone we aren’t. We’re not copy-cats, or cogs, or cubicle dwellers content to live a “normal” day-to-day existence. We know, deep down, that we are unique, our talent is as exceptional as the words we put on a page, each and every one in an infinite combination of letters. We do this in the hope that someday, someone, somewhere will read our labor of love and validate our self-worth.

Which really sucks.

Yet, even in fiction, the epitome of success and reason to celebrate is being able to say “I’m published”.  Entire television series are created around fiction authors of fiction. The irony that there is an actual writer putting words in the mouth of the fictional writer doesn’t escape me. Nor does the fact that the fictional writer is a lot more famous and a LOT wealthier than the actual writer who created him escape me as well.

It probably doesn’t escape anyone else either that Nathan Fallion, the actor who plays the writer Richard Castle on Castle, not only has two mystery novels on the best seller list, but Castle also has a full fictional bio, Facebook page and twitter account. He’s a world famous writer who has never written a single word. Or that his fans who line up for book signings neither know, nor care. Except for the ghost writer who can’t tell anyone that he or she actually wrote the book.

So, he kills the phony actor-writer, which come to think of it would make an excellent plot for an episode of Castle!

On a recent episode of Bones, where the lead character receives a royalty check of $75,000 for her not-really-published novel and another gives his fellow scientists and friends a notebook with his completed written novel for them to read and critique, (because none of these brilliant scientist have an ebook reader?) Of course the book is awful, of course his friends lie to him about how good it is, and of course just as they’re about to tell him the truth, he announces that he’s just heard from a publisher (another brilliant scientist who doesn’t know about agents?) and that he, too is getting published. It seems that even fake terrible writers can get published if the real writer with real talent makes it so.

I’d like to strangle him.

In a literary world where fake writers, 6 year-old kids, angst-ridden tweens and sexually frustrated color-blind hacks are achieving, literally overnight success, what do the real, talented, dedicated writers do?

We do what we’ve always done. From the first day we could talk, we told stories. From the moment we could pick up a pen, or a pencil, or type on a computer keyboard, we created worlds and characters and plots no one else ever thought of. We continue to make the magic, and pull a few more rabbits out of our hats whether or not there’s an audience to perform for. We continue to jest for those who remain to applaud. We’ll always create hope and dream of those unlimited possibilities where everything seems impossible and we will continue even when our own reality is less than ideal, even the face of relentless obstacles and disappointments…

… we write on.






Break Free From the Herd and be Heard

cow[1]Before the publishing world was hit by the tsunami of digital and on-demand self-publishing, there was a certain amount of admiration and prestige associated with being a published author. Our family would congratulate us and brag to their friends about their mother, father, son, daughter, second cousin twice removed, whose name they would drop at any party right after “my (insert relation here) just published” a novel.

We authors had it easy. We wrote to and were rejected by agent after agent, until one day the phone rang and a contract would follow. Then, we sat back and waited while that agent submitted to and was rejected by publisher after publisher, until one day when their phone would ring and a contract would follow.

During those anxious times spent waiting and hoping, we also had the time to work on the next novel. And depending on how long that waiting lasted, the next and the next and the next.

And then, after that publishing contract was signed, the publisher would do their job of marketing, distribution, arranging book signings and book fair appearances, leaving us to spend those times in between events, to write the next novel, and the next and the next and the next.

How times have changed.

Today, authors need to spend just as much if not more time on the marketing and promotion of our work then we do actually writing.  Where once we were small number of cows out in the field easily noticed among the tall grass, we’re now just another one of the herd, trying to moo louder that all the other cows just to be noticed.

And the pasture is getting more and more crowded and it’s getting harder and harder to moo. So, we must find a way to break free and make sure that the rest of the herd won’t instantly follow. The dilemma is to discover where the exit.

There is no dearth of marketing opportunities out there. The key is knowing which one is legit and which might be a scam. If the service charges a fee, how much is too much and how do you know if you’ll see any results from however much you spend?

Here’s a list of guidelines that created that may or may not be helpful for your own marketing efforts. As far as paying for services:

1)      If you find a service you think might be beneficial, set a limit as to how much you can afford to spend on any 1 marketing plan and stick to it.

2)      Avoid web sites that describe themselves as “authors helping authors”

3)      Offers to review your book in exchange for reviewing their book. These aren’t necessary for a fee, but do you really need to be spending your time reading someone else’s books instead of writing your own?

4)      Internet radio interviews. The first one may be free, but there may be a charge for an archive of the show which is really necessary for people to find you.

5)      Contests that charge an entrance fee. (my personal bias)

6)      Unsolicited email offers that start with “Dear Author”

7)      Unsolicited email offers from sites you’ve never seen that start with “Dear.. your name”

These are just my top 7, but you get the point. Marketing opportunities will present themselves , just plan how much of your valuable time and hard earned money you’re willing to spend.

Witty Woman Writing

Tammy Bleck is Witty Woman Writing

Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors

Advice on Writing, Publishing, and Book Promotion

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