The author of the Two Ends of the Pen blog is Debra L. Martin. She is the co-author of several fantasy and science fiction novels alongside her brother, David W. Small. Their authorship deals with dystopian future in The Path trilogy; what I would call vampire romance fiction in the Silver Cross and Silver Double Cross (still forthcoming); and their newest release, The Witch's Curse – a trilogy set to be completed in late 2018 or early 2019. Looking further into the author, we discover she writes romance under the pen name Debra Elizabeth, and is an extensive reviewer of self-published and indie-published novels. Also readily apparent is her affiliation with the Xpresso and GoddessFish book tours. When a new author is looking to get the word out on their novel, Debra L. Martin's blog is involved in promoting the new work and making sure her readers get the first sneak peek.
Debra's blog usually deals with material directly relevant to readers looking for a rarer read. A recent post on April 19, 2018 promotes an author named James Moushon, who is self-published, but whose story of a bomb plot and CIA investigation in Southern California will appeal to the readers of Robert Ludlum and other authors in the spy thriller genre. Her other posts, for the most part, follow a similar format. She finds a book, and gives her readers some quick insight into why they might like it. This shines when the author is interviewed directly. In one post with author Arthur J Gonzalez, Two Ends of the Pen gives us some interesting insight into the author's writing process and marketing strategy. This sort of inside scoop is what makes Two Ends of the Pen worthwhile – advice, straight from the author's mouth.
On lighter days, Debra Martin blogs about topics meant to inspire the reader, or bring some interesting historical moment to their notice. Usually, these posts are made in addition to her weekly posts, and the one which I lingered on was her description of Patriot's Day, which breaks down the commemoration of the battles at Lexington and Concord during the American Revolution. Posted to her blog is a short description for her readers who are not native to Massachusetts, and some reenactment pictures which could serve as a great jumping off point, or writing prompt, for authors and writers browsing her site.
Debra blogs frequently. In the month of March alone, she made twenty-five posts. These were broken down across three major categories: reviews, excerpts, and interviews. What should really appeal to her viewers is the quantity of titles covered. With so many excerpts and interviews to choose from, and of such independent talent, it is easy to find an appealing novel even for those who normally veer quite mainstream in their reading tastes. I am especially fond of the excerpts, which make it quite easy to gauge one's interest in the novel, before committing to buying. Of course, each of these posts provide links to the Amazon and Smashwords pages for each novel, and occasionally include special sales, giveaways, or discount prices for those who purchase the book through Two Ends of the Pen.
Upon discovering Two Ends of the Pen, there are two types of people. There are those who immediately start scrolling through interviews and looking at what each independent author has to offer, and there are those who immediately think,
how do I have my novel promoted like this? Debra reviews a lot of novels. Though her reviews are sometimes closed for submissions, she can be contacted any time via her e-mail, posted on her blog review policy.
If you do happen to land her as a reviewer, she boasts some serious credentials. Debra Martin reviews for Goldberg McDuffle Communications, Knox Publishing, Angry Robot Publishing and FUZE Publishing, as well as a variety of other sources. She states that she gives a fair and honest review, but her reviews tend to rest on the high end of the scale, and she is clearly bias toward four and five-star ratings on Amazon and Goodreads. Still, she does not receive compensation for her reviews, so she is able to speak her mind. She often gives details about plot, character progression, and readability in her reviews.
Debra L. Martin is an accomplished author and a whiz at marketing her material. She knows the interviewing world inside and out, and has made her presence known across the blogosphere. One interview she gave, which stands out, was for the blog Up Around the Corner on April 24, 2014. This hidden gem gives a bit of insight into how Debra writes with a co-author, and how co-authoring a work requires a writer to leave their ego at the door. She gives some good writerly advice, such as taking a break after finishing a novel, before hitting the editing grindstone; and on the importance of proper outlining (especially when working with a partner).
Besides giving interviews, Debra L. Martin also interviews authors looking to make a name for themselves in the self-publishing world. Though she is currently not accepting review submissions, she is open to author interviews and can be contacted directly via her e-mail, or via her Facebook page.
The Real Meat
All in all, Debra's blog doesn't stand out in the blogosphere. It is one of thousands of blogs which promote authors and independent publishers. What does stand out is Debra herself. She has years upon years of experience, and she takes the time to collect resources useful to writers and authors. Near the bottom of her blog are four important sections:
Each of these sections of the blog contains deep dives on diverse topics related to writing and authorship, but I'll give a short synopsis of each here.
Author Panel Discussions
These are awesome. In this short series (15 posts), Two Ends of the Pen asks a panel of authors for their opinions on questions ranging from
what's your favorite part of writing a novel͛? to
plot or character – what comes first? These short posts give great insight into the opinion of multiple authors, often offering contrasting and complimentary advice on how to get the most out of your writing. This discussion offers a depth of field, and the clarity which that provides. By measuring the words of each author against the others, a reader can potentially gain a much deeper understanding of the material discussed.
Popular Guest Posts
The guests on Two Ends of the Pen are as accomplished as Debra herself, and they lend their authority to the writing advice offered on the blog. There are a collection of posts by Grammar Girl, a blogger who has recently blown up, and now has a larger viewership than Two Ends of the Pen, but (and no surprise here) Debra hosted her content before it was widely known. Other topics by guest posters include Holes in History, which discusses historical fiction, and how far you can push the boundaries of realism; as well as topics like Prologue or no Prologue; and step-by-step guides to hiring a graphic artist, and getting the best from them.
World of Symbols by Michelle Snyder
Michelle Snyder is popular outside of Two Ends of the Pen, and so her guest spots on the blog are wonderful reads. Most of them deal with mythology and the history behind common symbols. She details the origins of ͚a green thumb͛ in one post and delves into the history of the zodiac signs in another. All of these are excellent reads. I can highly recommend The Truth About Midas, which was one of her first posts on the site.
Rebecca Writes About
Finally, Rebecca Writes About is a frequent contributor to Two Ends of the Pen, and famous in its own right among those in the know on the blogosphere. Her content is always awesome and should hit home with a number of authors and writers. Some posts to check out are her deep-dives on: traditional vs. indie publishing, working with a freelance editor, memorable characters, and writing with co-authors.
Debra L. Martin is, and will continue to be, an independent author and a capable reviewer. If you are hoping to write, edit, or promote a novel, then starting at Two Ends of the Pen will place you in good company.