Saturday, July 23, 2016

Editor, ghost writer Laura Anne Ewald helps writers release better books

     The writing process begins with the writer but will include others as the work progresses. Choosing the appropriate editor can mean the difference between a ho-hum volume and a successful book. 

Ewald working at her desk

     Editor and ghost writer Laura Anne Ewald knows how important the editor’s role becomes in the birth of a book. She is a published author herself. When a writer entrusts a manuscript to the former academic librarian, the resulting book or story delivers a more polished version, but true to the author’s vision.

     In 2011, Ewald left academia to pursue a full-time freelance career. She began with book indexing, the process of creating those handy indices at the back of books to help readers locate references within the volume. From there, she moved into abstracting, including work as a subcontractor to a big publishing house. By 2013, she was referred to Elance*, an online employment service, as a place to find more indexing jobs.

     “I didn’t find indexing jobs but I did find editing jobs,” she says. Her subject matter has included short stories, children’s stories, science fiction novels and personal memoirs. She finds her clients all over the country and in her own neighborhood.

     “Fiction, I think, I like best,” she responds when asked about her favorite genre to edit. “Nonfiction is easier, in the sense that you’re just looking at grammar and syntax.” But Ewald enjoys working in other people’s characters and universes, a joy which shows as she discusses assignments. Fiction poses the extra challenge of staying in the authors voice, one of Ewald’s strengths. Another strong point is her ability to follow the thread of the stories through the volume and recognize bumps or weak spots which need work.

     “I know a lot of authors are afraid of using editors,” she notes, fearing their work will be “swallowed up” or changed beyond recognition by the editor. Ewald’s strength in preserving the author’s voice provides her a special place in the editing world. 

     While editing involves polishing another author’s work, ghostwriting means writing from scratch as someone else. As a ghostwriter, Ewald receives assignments of particular subject matter, time frames and length. Some jobs include detailed instructions as to the theme of the finished piece while others are more general. An aspect of her ghost writing is the research required to complete the assignments.

     “The reason I became a librarian in the first place is, I love research,” Ewald admits. Her ghostwriting jobs give her the direction to follow with the research and the target of the finished article or book. Her clients get a completed work for whatever use they wish.

     Ewald prefers to work on short assignments, such as articles, short stories or novellas. Her work includes Old Order Amish romance stories, children’s books and historical fiction. Some of the jobs are for publication by the person who contracted the job. Others are destined for a family member or special group.

     She bases her fees on a per-word basis for both editing and ghostwriting. Contact Ewald through her website or by email ( for quotes on assignments. Her availability varies according to her workload, but she welcomes hearing from new authors about their needs.

*Author’s note: Elance has since merged with Upwork.

This article originally appeared on Also available on The Entrepreneurs blog.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Support your local comic book shop during Free Comic Book Day 2016

Originally appeared 05/05/2016 at

Lena Prima describes how to make jewelry with travel theme in new book

Lena Prima creates music for a living. She writes and performs it, part of her family legacy as the daughter of the late bandleader, Louis Prima. Music isn't her only creative outlet, however. She also creates beautiful handmade jewelry as part of her Pennies from Heaven company. Now Leisure Arts has published a book written by Prima on making jewelry as part of its reference line and she joins the ranks of authors who share their craft through do-it-yourself books.

In “Wanderlust,” Prima shares instructions for making jewelry pieces inspired by her own travels. Her love of fun jewelry carries over into her designs for bracelets, necklaces, charms and earrings. The jewelry making guide offers a series of travel-inspired pieces, with a background story, materials list and step-by-step instructions for each design.

With section titles such as “Seaside Memories,” “Music Festival,” “Road Trip” and “City Girl,” the wide range of flavors becomes apparent. There are two project themes under each section, and themes can include more than one piece of jewelry. For example, the Sparkling Sand project under “Seaside Memories” provides instructions for a necklace, bracelet and earrings.

Crafters of all skill levels will enjoy the volume. Prima’s designs allow novice jewelry makers to succeed because she uses readily available findings and the only tools required are two pair of chain-nosed pliers. The finished products look great, creating an environment of success to encourage the newbie.

More experienced crafters will find inspiration which they can easily adapt to more intricate projects, as well as thrifty designs which utilize every bit of the purchased pieces in interesting ways.

“Wanderlust” is available at Hobby Lobby and JoAnn stores and online at in both print and electronic formats.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a purchased copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

Originally appeared 5/14/2016 at

Artist, author Sara Bynum brings her story of children of war to film

Film maker Saran LaJoie Bynum began life with everything stacked against her. Born of a wartime liaison between a Vietnamese mother and an African-American soldier, she was rescued from the street as an infant and taken to an orphanage. She came to the United States as part of Operation Babylift at the age of three. Once in the U.S., she began a new life with adoptive parents from New Orleans.

Although her situation improved, she still had difficulties. She encountered prejudice from many ethnic groups due to her biracial heritage. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed her home and she had to flee for a second time. Yet through everything, she maintains a positive attitude.

She has registered her information on sites dedicated to reconnecting service members and the children they conceived while on duty overseas. While she hasn’t found her birth father yet, her efforts led her to connect with the man she considered her Pretend Dad, Larry Taylor, a Vietnam veteran. He told her a great deal about what circumstances were like in those days. Taylor passed away in late 2015, but not before giving his blessing to her new project.

With her latest endeavor, she seeks to share the story of the children of war from their point of view. “Where I Stand,” a film based on a fictionalized version of Bynum’s life, begins filming in May 2016. In the script, an orphan of the war seeks her missing father and discovers he is suffering with cancer caused by the chemical warfare which took place in Viet Nam. The young woman seeks answers to his situation and runs into danger and intrigue as she investigates.

Bynum promises adventure and conspiracy in the independent film. As part of the process, she has started a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe to raise the rest of the budget. To join her efforts, contribute here. Look for “Where I Stand” in the fall of 2016. A book version will release after the movie’s release.

Originally appeared 04/15/2016 at

Galaxy Zento spreads the word for author Dave Wilde

For Dave Wilde, life is a journey, so he named his book line for the Japanese word for journey: zento. From his Facebook page, viewers can join him in the journey through those books. As a writer, he uses Galaxy Zento to show superheroes who are more than they appear.

His guest bio for Southern GeekFest describes him as a disability activist hero, a title which he says humbles him. Wilde is an advocate for autism education and other forms of disability, especially those which aren’t visible to a casual observer. As a high functioning autistic with a son who has the same diagnosis, he has felt the sting of discrimination. 

Additionally, he has multiple sclerosis, which has left him homebound for the most part.
“It’s important to me to use everything I can to show my son what you can do if you don’t give up,” he notes. His goal is to provide a positive role model for a non-stereotypical life and to ensure that no child has to go through what he went through as a child. While he notes many changes which have occurred, he realizes there is still a long way to go.

He plans to go in several directions with the Galaxy Zento world, including board games and graphic novels. Wilde even hopes to go into computer apps eventually.
Check out Dave Wilde’s books and the early edition of the board game at Southern GeekFest in Hattiesburg, April 2-3, 2016.

Originally appeared 04/01/2016 at

Cartoonist Andy Childress creates worlds of fun with BubbaWorld Comix

“Justice League. Aquaman speaking,” were the words coming through the telephone headset as Mississippi cartoonist Andy Childress of BubbaWorld Comix answered his phone for this interview, setting the offbeat tone for the conversation. Scheduled to appear at Southern GeekFest in Hattiesburg MS April 2-3, Childress brings a whimsical approach to the world.

He says he has been a cartoonist all of his life “whether I knew it or not.”

“I started drawing when I was one. I got interested in the Sunday funnies when I was three. When I was six, I realized ‘there’s words that go with this.’” He had a lot of fun imitating his favorite comic strips and comic books. Somewhere in the ninth grade, he says he “accidentally” created his first character in art class.

“…I couldn’t think of anything to do for Easter, so I drew the Easter bunny.” His teacher told him it looked like a chicken in a floppy eared hat. “Don’t tell him. He thinks he’s the Easter bunny,” Childress replied and Herman the psychotic chicken was born. Herman turns thirty-two this year, an enduring tribute to young imagination.

Childress has created a comic line about Redneck Time Lords, which pokes loving fun at the Dr. Who mystique. Other series titles include “Mississippi Swamp Dragons” and “Going Batty.” His cartoons show up on his website, BubbaWorld Comix, and in two books (to date) available through Lulu.

He conducts interviews for YouTube with a big monster puppet, Roscoe P. Kramer, “…because who’s gonna say ‘No’ to a puppet?” As he visits conventions, he records the cheery sessions to advertise both his favorite characters and himself.

At Southern Geekfest, Childress will have original artwork for sale at his artist’s table, as well as his books. Visitors who already have his books can bring them for autographs and doodles. Roscoe will be there, too, enchanting visitors with his toothy smile.

In addition to his original artwork and convention appearances, Childress is available to draw caricatures for events. He also can work from photos by email for caricatures.

Originally appeared 03/24/206 at

Book Review: Art Chantry talks graphic design

Consumers encounter graphic design everywhere they turn. The fonts, colors and shapes of advertisements and publications utilize the designer’s skills to attract attention, intrigue the viewer and direct the buyer toward the sale. As a designer for more than forty years, Art Chantry has seen a lot of techniques and practitioners come and go. He offers his perspective of the business in Art Chantry Speaks: A Heretic’s History of 20th Century Graphic Design.

Chantry considers himself a bit of an outlaw, both working as a graphic designer and making wry observations on the state of the art. His always witty, sometimes acerbic observations share his knowledge of the art’s history and the people within it. Using blog posts collected over a few years, he has put together an intriguing overview of his world.

Describing a graphic designer as a “virtual cultural propagandist,” he chops at the notion of graphic design as high art and reveals many of the subtle influences at work in good design. Both winners and losers come under his examination. He divides the articles into three sections: The Language of Design, Designers and Artists, and Tools of the Trade, Forgotten Processes and Obsolete Objects. Each section contains a variety of articles on aspects of the subject.

The reader will have no doubt as to Chantry’s opinions on any of his subjects. When he loves a subject, he waxes rhapsodic about it. His disdain for some topics swirls like an eddy around the reader’s feet, pushing and pulling at the reader’s understanding of the topic. The volume is no dry textbook, but rather a living commentary on something we all face every day. Chantry uses humor, sarcasm and insight to explain his positions and share the history he lived.

A generous number of illustrations fill the book, as Chantry makes his points about particular styles and artists. Be warned: some upper body nudity and occasional vulgar language make this inappropriate for young readers, in spite of the pretty pictures. Mature readers will take delight in the combination of words and images used in the book.

Each article stands alone, allowing readers to jump directly to subjects of most interest or read out of order. Taken as a whole, the book shares a world few consumers think about but must travel every day. Both educational and entertaining, readers will find when Art Chantry speaks, they should listen.

Part history, part psychology, part snarky opinion, Chantry wraps readers in the stories and leaves them amazed at what goes into graphic design. Art majors will enjoy the panorama of design influence. The rest of us can enjoy the inside look at how our minds get molded by designers.

Art Chantry Speaks: A Heretic's History of 20th Century Graphic Design
by Art Chantry (Author), Monica RenĂ© Rochester (Editor)
Published by Feral House (scheduled for release July 14, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1627310096
ISBN-13: 978-1627310093

Disclaimer: This review is based on a review copy provided by the author or publisher with no restrictions as to content. All opinions are my own.

Originally appeared 05/29/2015 at