Thursday, January 31, 2013

Release Day!!!

It's here. I can't believe it, but the wait is over. Being God is available on  TGIF, because tonight I go an party in a way my poor 17-year-old character can't. Or at least, he's not supposed to, because Malik Kaplan knows how to party.

I stop in the men’s room, pull off my glasses, and stare into the mirror. I’m not Horst the rapper. I don’t look like him. I barely look like myself. In the strained light of the single bulb hanging from the ceiling, my face is distorted. Usually, I feel exposed without my glasses, but the girl was right. I was a fool to wear them tonight. The glasses go in my pocket; this place is my disguise.

“Let the fun begin,” I mutter, and head for the dance floor. Give me a few drinks and I won’t care about either of those girls.

Being God, copyright© 2013 by B. A. Binns

Teen reviews for Being God (feedback from Chicago High School students based on reading advance reader copies)

Job, age 17 - I want to start off by saying that your your character depictions for "Being God" were exact. I love the relationships Malik and Cesar had, although they were not related or from the same background. I really liked how you incorporate the family issues Malik was faced with. As teenagers, a problem we face is probably getting along with our parents, and witnessing all the issues Malik had with his dad gave me a sense of knowing that I wasn't the only who sometimes hates his father.

Overall, "Being God" was a great book, highlighting an African American boy's journey of living above the influence.

Louis, age 17 - The book BEING GOD was really good! I was able to relate to what the main character was going through. This book shows that there is always a way out of trouble, and also how the decisions we make can affect us in the long run. I loved it.

 You can love it too.

Enter the contest for a chance at one of three prizes. Purchase copies of Being God on Amazon.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Countdown to Being God

Backcover blurb for Being God:

My first blow is an uppercut. A crack sounds in the cold air, the impact shivering up my arm as his head snaps back. I bend, move in close, and get in a second blow. He stumbles and steps backward.

I’ve boxed before, in a ring, facing trained fighters. I start to relax. I’ll put this dude down in no time. With Barney as a witness, this fight will provide a major boost to my rep.

Then Deadlocks pulls a knife.

The knife changes everything.

This isn’t a fight anymore. It’s combat, and only one side has a weapon.

Dreadlocks is out to kill.

Screw pride, screw anger, screw everything except survival. I grab Barney’s hand and yank her to her feet. We start to run, but she’s limping. I don’t have to turn to know how fast he’s closing on us. We get maybe four steps and she falls.

Time slows.

Two choices flash through my head. Leave the girl and run like hell. Or turn to face him, knowing there will be blood.

Most of it mine.

Being God, copyright© 2013 by B. A. Binns

Being God is the sequel to the award-winning Pull published in 2010. The book becomes available in paperback and eBook on Feb 1, 2013, and I can barely keep from nibbling my fingers to the knuckles. As hard as it is to change a bad guy in real life, I think it's even harder to do it in fiction. I was supposed to control the pages, but this character frequently seized control and made things happen his way.
But now it's over. There is nothing to change, nothing more to do except flip the switch and make things live on Thursday night. Which leaves me antsy. Luckily, I do have a few things I'm supposed to be doing.
  • Like prepping for a workshop on diversity in YA literature I have been asked to give at the Virginia Hamilton conference at Kent State University in April. (I know that sounds like a lot of time, but I know from past experience deadlines come sooner than I expect them to)
  • Sprucing up the series of lectures I will be giving for the Man Talk online class I start teaching  next week (gulp!)
  • Prepare for the initial session of a library sponsored writing workshop I begin leading in two weeks. (Did I really say yes?)
  • Start working on the speech I will be giving at the summer ALA meeting as part of YALSA at the ALA on ways to reach reluctant male readers (I actually asked to make this speech)
Oh yes, I also have to work on the next book.


In the meantime, I am giving away copies of Being God. The name my dog contest runs until Feb 1, when a winner and name will be chosen. Leave me a comment with a name, that's your entry fee.  I am also planning to give away books at the Chicago Principals conference on Feb 7, and to hand out books at my old high school, Hyde Park.  I have been asked to judge the entries submitted during the Poplar Creek teen holiday writing contest, and I will give everyone who entered a copy of Being God.
I am also sending copies of all three of my books to the Denney Juvenile Detention Center school in Washington. There my books will help many reluctant and at-risk kids. I would like to do more. I hope to donate books to at least four other facilities. So if you know of any deserving juvenile facilities, youth centers, alternative schools, or other groups that help needy kids who could use additions to their libraries, let me know. I would like to chose some to make donations to.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Why I write

Being God comes out Feb 1. The book represents my commitment to writing quality books designed to attract both eager and the reluctant teen readers.

Especially the kids known as reluctant readers.

I truly believe that most kids who are reluctant do not deserve that name. They are just kids who have not yet found the right book for them.  How many of us eagerly sit down to read a book on a subject we have no interest in, or maybe one written in a foreign language that we have yet to learn?  I know, because I tried, and that experience helped awaken me to some of the issues with so-called reluctant readers.

A few years ago I was very eager to read a book written in French.  This book has never been translated into English. Hundreds of pages of a totally foreign language. But as a long time fan of the Angelique series (I am a long-term member of the Friends of Angelique), I was desperate to read the untranslated Angelique in Quebec. All 826 pages of it. 

So I tried the mission impossible thing and set down to teach myself to read French. It's the kind of thing that can give someone new insights.

I managed to stumble through the book, and it was worth the effort. But, the experience showed me just how daunting reading can be to a reluctant reader handed something above his or her grade level and then given an assignment and a deadline.  Had I not been desperate to complete the series I would easily have given up a dozen times. The sight of the book still intimidates me (it is the biggest thing on my bookshelf).

So I write for teens who need to have the joy of a good book awakened. I expect them to be reluctant, so I give them openings designed to hook harder than the average. I give them short chapters, so they have natural points where they can put the book down and still feel they have accomplished something. I add in lures, devices to make them want to come back. Or, better still, to make them decide to read just one more chapter (only a few pages, after all) before they stop.

The reluctant reader remains an under served population. They don't want books, so publishers and authors can't expect to get rich from courting them. But they need books, so I keep writing with them in mind. Books take us places movies and video games cannot. The let us experience moral dilemmas and other people's lives from the safety of our home. They help the development of conscious, compassion and self-esteem.  I talk at teacher and librarian conferences, and the professionals all agree on the importance of these benefits, and want more ways to give them to reluctant and at-risk readers.

People ask me why I write Young Adult. What more do I have to say?

Being God is the second book in the Farrington series. Coming from allthecolorsoflove on Feb 1, 2013.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

It's almost prize time

It's January 27, only days away from the launch of Being God on Feb 1.
Don't forget you have an opportunity to win an autographed copy. I'm still looking for a name for my new dog. I am collecting names on this blog, which is mirrored on Facebook and Goodreads. So far, between the three sites, there are only eight entries, so your odds are good. Just go to the Win a Prize post and leave me a name.  In the meantime, take a good look at Being God, available Feb 1. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Coretta Scott King Book Awards Donation Grant

There isn't much time left, applications for this grant must be sent in by January 31, 2013.
The Coretta Scott King Book Awards Donation Grant is designed to help bring books into the lives of children in need, whether they are latchkey, preschool programs, faith-based reading projects, and homeless shelters. The committee's Public Awareness Campaign notes that books and reading add value to children's lives. 
 Every year, in the process of choosing the Coretta Scott King Book Award winners and honor books, the Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT) of the American Library Association receives multiple copies of approximately 100 titles by African American authors and illustrators, including a full set of the year's winning and honor titles. The Awards Committee believes children lives should be saturated with books and reading opportunities. and the Book Donation Grant is designed to help address that objective.  The books submitted to the prior year's Coretta Scott King book award are made available through these grants. These books may go to nontraditional institutions that provide both educational and custodial services to children and their families and to under-funded libraries.
Applications must be received by January 31, 2013.
For additional information and application instructions, visit,

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Making books accessible

Last week I read a post on the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog about the need to make books more accessible to people with visual impairments. The post featured a disheartening description of what one reader once had to do to get a book in a format he could read.  Thank heavens for eReaders that can change fonts, and text-to-speach devices, as well as audiobooks.  But there is a need for more. That's where Bookshare comes in.  This organization makes books available in accessible format to visually impaired readers all around the world.

After looking into this organization, I have decided to sign the Publisher's Letter of Consent to allow Bookshare to put every allthecolorsoflove book in their collection.  Under the copyright law, books can be made available to people with qualifying disabilities without permission, but Bookshare works with authors and publishers, as well as educators and private citizens willing to donate copies, to make high quality books available to their members. And I understand getting a membership in Bookshare is strenuous, requiring proof of disability. 

My mission is to reach reluctant readers. But I also want to reach eager readers, especially those who have difficulty finding books they are able to read. So I will be doing what I can to work with the staff to make sure my books are adaptable to the needs of the disable.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Man Talk Class for Writers

I belong to the group of authors who happen to have two X chromosomes. I am also a researcher at heart, so when I decided to write, especially from the male POV, I began by doing research on the subject of men. Yes, I had a legitimate excuse to stalk males!!

The result was Pull (2010 from Westside books), with Die Trying (2012 from Allthecolorsoflove press)  and now Being God (coming Feb 1, 2013 from Allthecolorsoflove press). And the Man Talk class.

I have given this class in 2011 and 2012, and have presented it as an abbreviated hour-long workshop at the 2012 Chicago North Spring Fling conference.  In Feb 2013, I will again present the full class, sponsored by the Colorado Romance Writers.

The class is four weeks long, with two lessons each week and begins Feb 4.

Week 1 - The male Brain
              Male Archetypes
Week 2 - External influences, including culture
Week 3 - Things that make him appear feminine
(Note, during week 3, critiques of short excerpts student writing are offered)
Week 4 - Friendship, fights, and love
              How real should you be

Note, the class includes special guest lectures, one from a YA author and one from a M/M erotic romance author.

Click here for more information on the class, the author (Me) and to register.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

In Sickness

My dog has kidneys of steel!!

I know, because Sunday night I was hauled off to the hospital. Yes, only hours after I put up my post about my new dog, I was lying in an ambulance on the way to the hospital in the kind of pain that keeps you from caring about anything or anyone except peace. It felt like someone was inside me twisting my guts. Had someone pointed a gun at me and promised to put me out of my misery, I would have blessed them.

Home alone

The dog was left home alone. I did remember to put out a little bit of food and some extra water. But in the back of my head I thought either I would be dead soon, or back home. I figured food poisoning. I had just tried something new, a frozen dish that steamed via microwave, and thought it had either gone bad or never really steamed enough. I ate around seven, felt ill by nine and was in agony by ten.

At the emergency room

First, ambulance rides are nowhere near as fun as they look on TV shows.  Inside the emergency room I was asked pointless questions and just wondered which answer would be most likely to make them put me under.  I had remembered to bring my insurance card, under the fear that I would be tossed aside without it, but I was never even asked. Fortunately this was my local hospital, they had me in their records, and they just went to work. Finally they gave me DRUGS!! They put something in my IV that initially gave me the weirdest feeling, shock to the head, shock to the nervous system, an urge to vomit only I had nothing inside to come out. Then peace, as numbness hit my stomach.

Pain totally occupies the mind. I am lucky I remembered my own name, or the number to call for the ambulance 911. I meant what I said about blessing the guy with the gun. Once the pain was gone I could think again.  In an hour or so I was ready to go home, worried only that the pain might return once their meds wore off.

But E R doctors being what they are, this one sent me for a CT scan before he would release me. And at 2 a. m. he came in, sat next to me, and told me he had bad news.  He too had believed it was some kind of food poisoning, but the CT scan showed an obstruction in my bowels. It had to be cleared up ASAP, otherwise it could damage or even kill parts of my intestine.

More suffering lies ahead

No matter how good I felt, I had to be admitted.  By 4 a. m. I had a naso-gastric tube. I won't even try to describe that, it was not as bad as the other pain, but it had it's own debilitating effect. Then I was taken to a room, attached to a suction device, and left to let the tube try to clear the obstruction by suctioning things up through the intestine, through my stomach, into the tube and out in a jar. By the way, I could have nothing, not even water, by mouth.

I have grossed you out as much as I intend to. Let's just say I was reduced to tears by the surgeon who, after sixteen hours of suctioning, wanted to keep me on another night "just to be sure."  God bless my nurse (I am nominating her for an award) who not only calmed me down, but talked to my primary physician who overrode the surgeon (would you believe it) and had the tube taken out.  I was finally released three hours ago, thirty-eight hours after I entered the ambulance.

Return home

I came home expecting the worst. I couldn't have lasted a fraction of that time. I opened the door to the room where I left her. She threw herself at me (remember, I have only had this dog for two week) and made it clear she had to go out. Because there was no mess in the room. Zero.  The food had been eaten, the water dish empty, but no mess on the floor.

My sister, who I had been trying to reach since they put the tube down my nose, finally called me, just a little too late to help. No matter, my super dog is a super trooper.

Give a good dog a name

I am still trying to name her. The contest is still running. Give me a good suggestion, and receive a set of my books, Pull, Die Trying, and Being God. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Go to the Dogs and win a Prize

I need your help. There is a prize waiting for one lucky commenter.

Go to the Dogs

I kind of, sort of, acquired a dog for Christmas.

My niece originally got her from a shelter for her daughter, and then discovered the dog was more than they could handle (surprise!). She turned the dog over to her aunt, my sister. My aunt and her son took the dog as protection for their house, and she does bark up a storm when someone comes to the door. She also gets fierce when she sees another dog, or a runner, and I am already dreading what will happen in Spring when the squirrels come out.

Why am I dreading this, you ask, since she belongs to my sister? Because I ended up taking her home. I spent the night, my own fault, and listened to her complain about the dog, the trouble involved in caring for her, watched her and her grown son argue about who should take the dog out, etc. Meanwhile, the dog acted friendly, well-behaved, really nice. The challenged me to take her home "temporarily" and try her out. I have no clue why I said yes. Especially since they forgot to mention they had not walked her that morning and let me put her in my car for an hour drive home. Needless to say the back seat of my car was baptized.

But she is a nice girl. She doesn't even chew on my stuff when I am not at home!! And she is  housebroken, I can tell she regrets the mistake mother nature and her former owners foisted on her. (They just laughed and gave a meek "sorry" when I told them about the accident.) Her one real crime is a tendency to lunge when I walk her and she sees something interesting. And she barks when I leave in the morning, but I know that's just because she wants me to stay.

See, like babies, a nice, well-behaved, I just want to lay down at your feet, or with your shoes, dog can make you fall in love.


So here she is, and I already know she isn't going back. Which means she needs a name. I have enough trouble naming the characters in my books (trust me, each one is a laborious event) So, can anyone give me a name? And a way to keep her from dislocating my wrist when she goes lunging after something interesting?   I am open to all suggestions. And if I pick your name I will reward you with a copy of one of my books, Pull, Die Trying and other stories, and the upcoming Being God to be released Feb , 2013.

What have you got to lose?

Give me a name, come on, what do you have to lose? Don't forget to leave contact information, or check back to see if you win. I will chose a name on Feb 1, 2013.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Westside authors

I have been asked by a couple of my fellow former Westside Books alum for information into my foray in self-publishing, and I have decided to answer here rather than individual emails.

My debut novel, Pull, was published by Westside in 2010. They have since ceased operations and I got the rights to the book back earlier this year. I set up my own publishing press, AllTheColorsOfLove, and re-issued a second edition. I have also published a set of short-stories, and am working on Being God, a Pull sequel. Not that this makes me any kind of expert, but at least now you have my curriculum vitae.

Here are the steps I went through. The order is not really significant. Each step may be done by the indie author or contracted out. I will note the steps I took myself.

  1. Get the rights back. In writing, not just an email saying it's OK. I made sure I had a signed document.
  2. Get a copy of your copyright document. That took some time, because at first it seemed ther original publisher had lost it. But with persistence, I got that from them as well.
  3. Editing. Because this had been edited before publishing, I did not have to hire an editor. Evelyn Fazio did an excellent job with the original. She is now a freelance editor, and I highly recommend her to anyone in need of an editor.  But there were a few places where I had wanted to make changes. I used this as an opportunity. Not much, I think I changed maybe four pages (ten sentences) in total. But I did feel that was enough to call the new version the Second Edition.
  4. Decide who you will use to print your book. I call them printers, even for the eBook, because I consider myself the Publisher. If I am self-publishing, they are the groups I use to assemble the product and distribute it. Different vendors have different format and cover requirements, so this should be done before you do those steps. I chose to have a paperback done by CreateSpace and an Amazon eBook. I also have a Smashwords edition.
  5. Cover. Purchase the cover art from Westside OR contract with an artist to design a new cover OR do it yourself. Use the specifications from your printing vendor. Since I was using CreateSpace, I dealt with their requirements. After hearing no reply from Westside when I attempted to purchase rights to the cover, I tried to hire someone. One person was in-demand and backlogged for months. I had creative differences with the other. In the end, I decided to learn Photoshop, buy a new picture of my cover model, and do the new cover myself. It became another outlet for my creativity. My new cover is similar enough to the old that people won't be fooled into buying the same book twice, but it has my own twist (I never got the point of the high-tension wires) and I was able to include quotes from reviewers.  And I had a ball creating it. CreateSpace then made a version of the cover to fit Amazon Kindle requirements.
  6. Purchase ISBN.  This also depends on your printing vendor. If you are going completely eBook, say Amazon or Smashords, I see no reason not to use their free ISBN. Createspace also had a free ISBN, but I decided I wanted to own my own for the physical book. I consider my own company, AllTheColorsOfLove as the publisher, and I want that noted everywhere, and that meant buying my own ISBN from Bowker. To me it was worth the money.
  7. Format book. This too depends on who you use for printing, different companies will want differentt formats. Formatting for Kindle is different from formatting for Nook or iTunes or for paperback. I did chose to do the paperback formatting for CreateSpace myself. It is tedious, and the instructions were not completely right, but it was doable. I hired someone to do the formatting for other platforms, and I don't regret the money. But if you are detail oriented, each platform has instructions on their sites.
  8. Final details.  You have to set a price, which was more difficult that I first thought, deciding on a price that will sell and at the same time give me a reasonable profit. Especially if you want to go to a bookstore or other distributor, they require discounts that you have to factor into your pricing. You will probably want an author page for your distributors, if you do not already have one. You will have to notify the parent company that you are the author, it was not automatic for me. Once they attach the book to your author page you can addional information to help market it. 
  9. Oh yeah, marketing. Best of luck, I'm still working on that, setting up conference appearances and preparing to hire a publicist to see how/it that helps with future books.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Historical YA

Last fall I attended the 2012 YALSA Literature Symposium, a group of young adult librarians from all over the country talking about what the "next big thing" in YA literature might be.  Before the conference, someone on the teen lit loop asked me to gather information on trends with historical YA. There was no specific track or workshop on that subject, but I did discuss it with some librarians, and heard a few thing I had not thought of.

Yes, YA Historicals are being published. BUT, the marketing to teens usually downplays the historical aspect. Most librarians, both school and public, noted that when they mentioned "historical novel" to a teen, they usually equated that with history class and immediately lost interest. While adult readers may hear Historical romance and envision the wide expanse of love and romance set against the pageant that is history (or something like that), the teen stops listening after the "h-word".  So they need to be marketed as something else.
Let me give one example I found at the conference, Gilt, by Katherine Longshore.  I am not advocating for this book, in fact, I found the characters in the story somewhat difficult to care about. But I did analyze the way it was presented.  First, look at the cover. I see nothing that indicates this is either YA or Historical. In fact, my first thought was that this was some Hollywood exposee story for adults and wondered why it would be at a YA conference.

The back cover begins with three heavily emphasized words: Passion. Lies. Betrayal. The information that the novel is set in the court of King Henry VIII, is done briefly and in a much smaller font.

The inside copy also emphasizes the "glittering new life of fabulous gowns, opulent parties, and dashing men..." as well as the "secrets and lies, trysts, and back-door deals."  The marketing relates to the themes, not the backdrop.

The long and short of it was that YA historical novels are still viable, and librarians will recommend them to teens, but the way they are promoted to teens matters. It has to take into account the possible reaction that the teens may experience with something that may at first appear school-related when they want something to read for fun.