"A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings but a cat does not." -Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Efi Loo Review
to the debut of The Efi Loo Review! 

After spending numerous years nestled on top of opened books satisfying her nocturnal instincts with horror movies and pawing her inspiration into a computer keyboard, Efi Loo, in conjunction with T.K. Millin, is proud to put her training as a feline ghost writer towards helping promote authors and their books. 

The books featured on, The Efi Loo Review, have met Efi Loo’s four paws approval rating; which in other words means, it’s a book too purrfect to pass up!

Author Bobbie Pyron and Ted
photo courtesy of Bobbie Pyron
The Efi Loo Review 
is pleased to feature author
Bobbie Pyron and her newly released
book, A Dog’s Way Home. 
Copyright © 2011 by Bobbie Pyron; Katherine Tegen Books is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.             

Paws for Praise

image courtesy of Bobbie Pyron
“From the moment I put my paws on the front cover of
A Dog’s Way Home, my instincts instantly told me this
book was going to be pawsitively hard to put down. Once
again, my instincts proved to be purrfectly correct.” - Efi Loo

"A Dog’s Way Home is a magical book full of
love, friendship, and the
meaning of hope, courage
and determination. Be
prepared for your heart to be touched by the unexplainable phenomenon of the bond between a
dog and their companion.” - T.K. Millin

Book Overview

A Dog’s Way Home is an unforgettable tale about the incredible bond between a young girl, Abby, and her Shetland sheepdog, Tam. On their way home after competing in an agility competition (sorry Efi Loo says you’re going to have to read the book to find out if they win!) an unforeseen circumstance beyond their control causes them to become separated by hundreds of miles. Then just when you think they’ll find each other together again, another turn of events keeps them separated. Although Abby and Tam’s journey traveled throughout the story is different they both discover what they’re capable of under difficult circumstances and at the end of their journey they realize home is where the heart is.

The Four Paw Review

Typically, most stories are told from the main character’s point of view so the reader can connect with them as they struggle to overcome the obstacles in their life.  A Dog’s Way Home is uniquely told not only through the first person view of Abby, but through the third person view of Tam.  From the moment you begin to read A Dog’s Way Home you instantly fall in love with the larger than life characters.

From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the hills of Harmony Gap and all the way to the streets of Nashville, the scenery throughout the book is beautifully described making you feel as if you are right there experiencing every step and paw print of the journey and even the descriptive scents finds you sniffing your way along side Tam.

Halfway through the book you find yourself becoming a little anxious due to the struggles Abby and Tam are facing, which literally puts you on the edge of your seat. The only way to stop the urge to sneak a peek of the ending is to continue turning the pages one right after the other!  Is the love Abby and Tam has for each other strong enough to find their way home?  (Sorry but again Efi Loo says you’re going to have to read the book to find out!)

The only regret found after reading A Dog’s Way Home was not being able to read it fast enough and running out of tissue!

Although rated for readers between the ages of 8-12, anyone young at heart between the ages of eight and beyond will find a special place in their heart, and bookshelf, for A Dog’s Way Home.

Don’t miss Efi Loo's Author Showcase below for an exclusive cat chat with Bobbie Pyron and an opportunity to win your very own autographed copy of A Dog’s Way Home.!


Welcome Bobbie to The Efi Loo Review and thank you so much for the personally "pawtographed" copy of A Dog’s Way Home.  I can’t wait to paw through the pages again!  

It would be "purrfect" if you could tell my followers, and guest readers, a little something about Bobbie Pyron, the author.

BOBBIE PYRON:  I live high up in the mountains at 7,000 feet in Park City, Utah. I have three dogs, two cats, and one very patient and wonderful husband. I've worked as a librarian for well over twenty-five years, which is a great job for a writer! I was born and raised in Florida. I wanted very much to be a mermaid when I grew up. When I realized that probably was not a viable career choice, I decided I wanted to be a writer. Well, it took a long time to get there, and I did a LOT of other things along the way--lifeguard, dog trainer, professional singer, wilderness education instructor, librarian--but in the back of my mind, I always held on to that dream of being a writer.

You showcase authors and what their canine companions mean to them on your site (here).  Now it’ your turn!

Boo, Teddy and Sherlock
photo courtesy of Bobbie Pyron
BOBBIE PYRONI have three dogs: Boo, Teddy, and Sherlock. All are rescues. We adopted Boo first, nine years ago. She was a feral street dog nobody wanted. When we went to the shelter to meet her, she (who, according to the shelter staff, was “aloof”) literally threw herself into my husband’s lap and looked at him with total adoration. Needless to say, we adopted her. The vet’s best guess is she’s some breed of herding dog mixed with coyote. And I believe it! Six months after we adopted Boo and we adopted Teddy from Sheltie Rescue of Utah. I’d wanted a Sheltie (Shetland sheepdog) forever! When Teddy and I met, it was love at first sight, and it still is. He was my inspiration for my book, A Dog’s Way Home. Then, a couple of years ago, I adopted little Sherlock, again from Sheltie Rescue of Utah. He was three years old and had lived all of his life in a puppy mill. He had to learn about stairs, grass, glass sliding doors, riding in a car. As I’d hoped, he’s really livened up the household!

I'm a SCBWI Member!
What was your "inspurration" for writing A Dog’s Way Home?

BOBBIE PYRONI’d just finished writing a first draft of my teen novel, The Ring (Westside Books, 2009), and had put it away to get some distance from it before I started revising. It was summer, and I was hiking up in the mountains with Boo and Teddy. Boo, with her coyote proclivities, was off hunting; Teddy, like any good sheltie, never ventured far from my side. I started thinking about what an amazingly loyal, loving and smart little dog he is, and I wondered, "what would happen if we ever got separated and he had to live on his own?" And then a little bit later as we were hiking, I started hearing the voice of this 11-year-old girl telling me about losing her beloved sheltie, Tam, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, four hundred miles from her home. And she told me how everyone had told her to give up on his ever coming home, but she never would. Fortunately, I had a pen and small notebook in my pack, and so I wrote this all down! So that’s a roundabout way of saying the love of and my relationship with my dogs is what inspired me to write A Dog’s Way Home. That, and my love for all the great, old classic dog stories like Lassie Come-Home and The Incredible Journey I read over and over as a child.

How's this for unique?
Tam is a unique name, is it from someone you know or from a special canine friend?

BOBBIE PYRONYou’re the first cat to ask me that! Tam is short for Tam Lin, who is a character in a very old Scottish fairy tale. I came across the story when I was in undergraduate school in western North Carolina—a place saturated in Scottish heritage and magic. In the story of Tam Lin, he is a prince who’s kidnapped by the Fairy Queen and forced to live underground. I always thought if I ever had a sheltie, because they are originally from Scotland, I’d name him Tam Lin. Teddy, however, came with his name. Since he’d had it all his four years of life, I didn’t feel right about changing it. So I gave my imaginary sheltie the name of Tam.

T.K. Millin told me you describe the scenery of The Blue Ridge Mountains so vividly, have you spent time there?

Top of Grandfather Mountain, N.C.
photo courtesy of T.K. Millin
BOBBIE PYRONYes, I lived in western North Carolina on and off for about ten years. I went to undergrad school there and just absolutely fell in love with those old, wild mountains. I spent a lot of time hiking and backpacking all over the Blue Ridge Mountains and on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Since then, I’ve traveled all over the world and I still think it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth! I also fell in love with the music and the people very particular to that part of the world. It was fun to be able to write about it even though I haven’t lived there in a long time. Still, even as well as I know that area, I did a lot of research on the flora and fauna of the mountains to make sure I didn’t say a certain tree or bird existed in, say, Virginia when it actually doesn't.

Writing wears me out!
How long did it take you to write A Dog’s Way Home from the beginning to when you met your agent?

BOBBIE PYRONOh gosh, it was a long journey! I would say from first draft to finding my agent, it took almost three years. It took me about ten months to write the first draft. After that, I took it to numerous workshops for critique—some were encouraging, some not so much. There were a few times I almost gave up on it. It seemed like just when things were at their bleakest, I found my wonderful agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin. Finally, here was someone who said, “Yes!” That was after many, many rejections. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this “business” is all it takes is that one “yes” to open a door, and you never know when that yes is going to come!

I'm also a MWA Member and earned a 5K words a day pin during NaNoWrimo 2010! 
You first met your editor, Molly O’Neill, at the Utah’s SCWBI Conference in 2008.  (She has a great “behind the scenes” look on her blog here) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors attending their first conference critique?

BOBBIE PYRONI think the three pieces of advice I can give are be prepared, keep an open mind, and remember that it’s subjective. By be prepared, I mean two things: make sure the pages you’re having critiqued are as polished as they can be and that they represent your best work; also try and do some research before hand on the editor and the house they work for. Does this house even publish the kind of work you’re having critiqued? When you’re in the chair opposite the critiquer, try not to be defensive. Yes, this is your baby that you’ve sweated over and nurtured for the past however long. It’s precious to you, but it’s not to that person. This is a good thing! Have paper and pen ready and take notes as they talk. After the critique, put it away for a week or two and try not to think about it. Work on something else. Then later, go back and look at the notes you took and what they (hopefully) noted on the manuscript pages. It’s probably not as bad as you remember! And there are probably also some very valid points. Finally, remember it’s all subjective. One editor or agent at a workshop may tell you you can’t tell the story from the point of view you’re telling it (or in the case of my book, multiple points) and then at the next workshop, the critiquer may well say it’s perfect that way! So take what they say with a grain of salt, and trust your instincts. I was told in several workshops and conferences that I just couldn’t tell A Dog’s Way Home from a dog’s point of view (in third person) and a human girl’s point of view (in first person, no less)—it just wasn’t done! But my gut told me the story had to be told that way, so I stuck with it.

You don't say!

A little birdie told me

there may be a future book on the horizon for Bobbie Pyron. Is this true or was he full of chirp?

BOBBIE PYRONI’m very excited to tell readers my agent just sold my next book, Mercy’s Bone, to Arthur A. Levine Books! Arthur is a legendary editor (of Harry Potter fame) and just a wonderful person. And having Scholastic behind this book will be amazing. It’s tentatively scheduled to be published in the Fall of 2012. 

Inquisitive minds want to know?
WOW that’s “pawsitively” terrific! One last question,
since Tam thinks fondly of cats along his journey, have you ever been owned by a cat?

photo courtesy of Bobbie Pyron
BOBBIE PYRONAh, good question, Efi. I don’t know if one is ever truly “owned” by a cat as much as one is assimilated by one. But yes, I do indeed have cats in my life! My mother was a dog person, not a cat person, so I didn’t have them growing up. But when my husband and I got married, he had one cat—Mittens-and shortly after we adopted the other one, Kami. All the dogs and cats get along very well, I’m happy to say.

Thank you Bobbie Pyron for being our first guest author on The Efi Loo Review and we hope you will come back and visit again in the future, "purrhaps" to talk about Mercy’s Bone?!

WIN your very own autographed copy of A Dog’s Way Home from Bobbie Pyron! All that’s required is you must be a follower of The Unknown Author and post a comment to this review.  Then sit back, relax and wait for May 1, 2011 when Efi Loo will randomly paw one lucky winner!  The winner will be notified on Monday, May 2.  

Bobbie Pyron and Ted
photo courtesy of Bobbie Pyron

Get to know more about Bobbie Pyron by visiting her blog (here) and becoming a follower! 

image courtesy of Bobbie Pyron

You can get your own hardcover or Kindle Edition of A Dog’s Way Home at Amazon.  It would also make a great gift!

Next time on The Efi Loo Review, the debut novel, Holly’s Story, will be our featured book and the author, Bessie Mac, will be stopping by to cat chat with Efi Loo.  You won’t want to miss it!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What's Your Brand?

You finally did it!  You’ve set out on your quest of becoming an author and decided to turn “you” into a business; perhaps you’ve even decided to self-publish. (In case you missed it, read my last post, Being An Unpublished Author:  Hobby or Business? here)
Hopefully, you’ve created a marketing plan on how to get your work known and recognized.  But, what about you, what are you doing to make “you” recognizable?   

In today’s explosive social media outlets it has become simpler to get your message out and to meet like minded professionals seeking the same quest.  But, with every positive there comes a negative.  The fact it’s become so easy has also made it become overwhelming.  The vast amount of information and images floating around inside cyberspace has seem to create its own universe filled with millions of shining stars waiting to be discovered. That’s why it’s important to create your own unique brand, one that associates “you” with your work and one that sets "you" apart from the rest.  

Once upon a time, The Unknown Author worked for a Fortune 500 company where they engaged in numerous activities involving communicating to the masses.  The one lesson learned through all those years was this; you have to communicate a message at least 17 times before anyone will begin to remember it.  (Have you ever wondered why the same commercial plays over and over and...)  So what does this mean to your brand?  It’s important for it to be consistent in order to be remembered and by that I mean consistent in all of your social media contacts. 

Some authors use a professional photo of themselves (many years ago there were some authors who used photos of someone else!), some use images of their book covers and some use a logo. 

Let’s explore the positives and negatives of these choices:  

Using a professional photo of yourself (or someone else) brings a personal touch to your brand, one that says, “Here I am and I’m proud of it!”  It puts a face to who you are.  However, as time goes on you may want to “update” your photo and this means having to re-communicate your brand all over again.  (Of course once you become a world known author this won’t matter!)

Having an image of your book cover for your brand means each time you have a new book come out your brand will change.  This can be exciting; however, if you don’t have a consistent recognizable brand your readers may not be able to find you. (Again, once you become a world known author this won’t matter!) 

A logo can be a very professional way to communicate your brand; however, it can feel a little too impersonal, a little too “corporate.” (Once again, this won’t matter once your book is turned into a box office sensation!)

Does this mean there is a right way or a wrong way to brand “you” as an author?  No, the better question would be, how do you want “you” to be recognized?  Being The Unknown Author I chose something near and dear to my heart, Efi Loo, my feline ghost writer.  She literally helped me paw my way through my first middle-grade mystery, Summertime Chills, and to me she epitomizes the essence of elegance!  In addition, since I mainly write middle-grade and YA novels and they all include a cat character, she is an image they can connect with. How about you, what’s your brand?

No matter your choice, the one thing you can do to ensure you’ll be recognized across the vast universe of cyberspace is to be consistent in your journey.

Next week, we’ll be exploring some techniques authors use when creating characters and don't forget to stay tuned for an exciting upcoming addition to The Unknown Author!

Until then,

T.K. Millin
The Unknown Author  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Being an Unpublished Author: Hobby or Business?

(Disclaimer:  The subject matter and opinions expressed in the following post are strictly those of the author. There is no intent on behalf of the author to provide any tax or business advice.  Please seek professional services for such matters)

When turn of events finally led me to fulfill my life-long urge to write (read my post about it here) I never foresaw it becoming my life’s work. I would write when I felt the passion to and do something else when I didn’t. In a sense, I thought of it as just another hobby of mine like gardening. But, when I was fortunate enough to turn my love of writing into a full time hobby and the first of my middle-grade mystery series was completed I realized I had more than just a passion to write; I had a passion to one day be an author whose stories would be talked about over lunch in school cafeterias all across America and perhaps beyond! That’s when I knew my writing was no longer a hobby.

It’s important to distinguish the difference between a hobby and a business. A hobby is an activity you engage in for the pure pleasure of it; a business is an activity you engage in with the intent to make a profit. In other words, the difference comes down to motive and not just one of, “WOW! It will be fun to make money at something I love doing,” but one of, “if I don’t make a profit doing this then I’ll move on to something else in which I will.” 

You spend many hours and days, if not years, pouring your heart and soul into the stories you write. If you truly have the desire and persistence to become an author, which includes self-published, why wouldn’t you apply the same passion toward building your author platform and turn "you" into a business? 
When I started out on the next adventure in my life of becoming an author I sought the advice of people who had traveled the same road and were willing to share their experience and knowledge (read my post about it here), and I joined reputable organizations such as (SCBWI, MWA and The CBI Clubhouse), which could help me grow as an author. So, naturally, when I decided to turn my “authorship” into a business I applied the same mentality and sought the advice of a professional tax advisor and business start up professional to help make T.K. Millin and their parent company, Efi Loo Publishing, LLC, become a reality. (It’s important for you not to go it alone for depending upon the state, or country, you live in tax laws can vary and it’s also important to ensure you are getting the proper benefits of owning a business.)
Now I’m not saying I only write with the intent to make a profit, because I still write stories for the pure pleasure of it. What I am saying is I approach my writing with the entrepreneurial spirit of running a business (read my post about it here) and that I’m proud to be part of the community of self-employed authors.  

How about you, what’s your motive for writing? Have you ever considered turning your writing life into a business? 

Next week, we’ll explore things you can do to “brand” you as an author, and stay tuned for an upcoming announcement to an exciting addition to The Unknown Author!

Until then,

T.K. Millin
The Unknown Author