Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Book Promotion - Never Give Up

Today is book promotion day and with Survivor coming out in just days I wanted to take a moment and share my debut novel Never Give Up. This book was a major learning experience for me. I have progressed so far since this one was published but I am beyond proud of it because it was my first. It took me over a decade to draft it, another two years to find a publisher and there is no one out there that would say I have mastered the promotion process though I am learning day by day. It is a short one but here is the synopsis and cover of Never Give Up.

Akaylia "Kaylie" Reynolds had it all; a loving fiance, the talent of dance, and her very own solo, opening the summer recital, but everything changed after a night of celebration with Garrett. 

The accident should have been fatal, but miraculously, Kaylie lived. Living with the fact that she might not ever dance again, emotions take her on the ride of a lifetime, with what seems to be a downward spiral. While the police are looking for a culprit, Kaylie is stuck in a hospital bed, wondering what will become of her life or if she will even live.

The More The Merrier

Today as I was looking through some of the social media writing groups I am a member of searching for a topic I noticed that there were several versions of the same thing happening, people banding together for the sake of writing. It is no secret that having a sounding board or friend to ask advice from because brainstorming alone is usually not as productive. Having someone there with different perspectives can be extremely helpful but there is more to the it than just a a friend to ask a quick question.

One of the big posts I saw when I jumped onto the Nanowrimo group page was a sprint thread. For those that don't know a sprint is when writers are struggling for a word count they will post their current word count and set a time limit then, putting themselves under the time crunch pressure, they write as much as possible in that time frame posting the result at the end. The thread is designed to have several other writers join in the sprint with the original writer so that the can be motivated by everyone else writing along with them. Also those of us that enjoy some friendly competition can get inspired to try and beat others.

During November when thousands of writers tackle the writing challenge not only do we take on the sprints for assistance and camaraderie but many take the search for others further going to organized write-ins. We also write in several locations and like coffee shops or libraries just to be around people like ourselves. Having the company around us may seem like a distraction but I have found that for me it keeps me focused. I realized long ago that even though the act of writing is a solitary task the world of writing can be very social.

When preparing to submit a manuscript the team environment is just as important as during the writing process, in fact it can be even more vital. Last week we discussed why editing is needed before sending your story off to agents or publishers. Alongside the editors stand a much less known group though, the beta readers. I briefly touched on them in the last submission post. When going through the editing initial editing process it can be a good idea to reach out to some of the writing buddies you had during Nanowrimo or other writing time to find people you trust to read through your work. They can suggest changes or may see typos and plot wholes you skipped over. They do a much broader job than an editor but can prepare you for what is coming during the process.

Creating a strong team that has mutual respect will ultimately be a large benefit for you. As we learn we can begin to believe we are smarter and more prepared for things than we actually are so it is vital that we are able to stay objective and allow our support system to lift us up but also keep us grounded. It can be a fine line yet with the ones that care about us by our side it is a much easier journey.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Character Profile - Lucasta Syntel

For years I have enjoyed participating in the annual writing challenge called Nanowrimo. The first year I chose to try I completed a novel called Never Give up which became my debut story published last year. The following year I did not participate but then again the next year I wrote Breathe, a romance novel currently in editing. Last year I took on a darker novel called Welcome to Syn and is the story of a woman and her seven daughters living during the era of the Salem Witch Trials. It was the first book that I not only was able to get in touch with a character but the mother Persyphone actually took control and told me her story in a very vivd way.

Each of the daughters have qualities that relate to one of the seven deadly sins and the eldest Lucasta is just begging for me to tackle her story for Nano this year. She has some stiff competition with both a dark thriller that is the first of a two book set as well as a vampire novel and a story about human trafficking all vying for attention in my mind but Lucasta has her charm and has made a strong case. We will see if she wins out but she is a complex girl to be sure and would make an excellent topic.

Lucasta Syntel is eighteen years old and engaged to the son of the head of the town council in Tyler Mass. Tyler is just a few short miles from Salem where Lucasta's grandparents live. Her father was killed tragically on the family farm and his parents who never approved of her mother rejected Lucasta and her sisters from the outset therefore their only interaction is at his funeral at the beginning of Welcome to Syn. She is very much in love with Hunter Williamston though his parents, while feared in the town, are extremely disliked. Lucasta plans to marry Hunter but hopes he will appreciate her more simple tastes instead of dragging her into the entitled world of the wealthy that he has been brought up to expect.

She stands closely by her mother's side as she handles the loss of Michael her husband and the girls' father. She becomes mom part two to her younger sisters helping look after them so that Persyphone can manage the home and farm in order to keep the family together and safe. When another tragedy happens at the farm Lucasta joins her mother in hunting down the culprit that seems bent on destroying their family. When they discover the conspiracy plan that has been set in motion the girls must flee for safety. In her own story Lucasta will lead the charge against those that came together to ruin the Syntels and using the power of her sin Wrath she will bring at least one of the men that hurt her family to justice.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Learning As I Go

Several months ago I came up with the idea that it would be a good idea to promote my newest book coming out in a large scale live event. I was talking to my dear friend and fellow author Kate Marie Robbins about her book Behind Closed Doors and how I wanted to partner with a local charity to raise money and awareness for them as I launched the book. Because she is a master of creating and hosting online events we decided to join together for a domestic violence awareness month event which would begin with the release of the books, both of our individual stories along with an anthology we had both been a part of.

She created a group to help plan the event that I am of course a part of while I went out to get the live event put together. She has been amazing as she gets raffle prizes and giveaways together, organizes people to do takeover time slots and keeping everything updated for those that will be attending virtually which gives me a lot more free time to go out and do all the work required for the live event. I thought I was fully prepared for what would go into planning this but I could not have been more wrong.

I of course knew the beginning of any planning for a charity event was to get the charity organization on board. I met with Shade Tree right away and was thrilled they were interested so I filled out the paperwork to host an event on their behalf. I was approved very quickly and set out to find the proper location. Because I work for a large hotel and casino that has a philanthropy department I contacted them and they seemed happy to help though it took several days to gain approval through numerous department such as sales, catering, compliance and of course the Sands Cares the previously mentioned philanthropy department.

Once I got the approvals needed and a date and time were set I went out to begin working on the guest speakers, raffle prizes and media coverage. Because I am hosting at a word famous location partnered with a well known local charity I believed it would be easy to get the coverage from the press but with just a few weeks left I have gotten about half of the raffle prizes I had been aiming for with the promise of a few more to come but I am still stressing over getting the guest speakers and the media coverage confirmed. Every step has been a learning process but if I ever take on another event of this caliber I will be far better prepared.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Book Profile - Survivor

Saturdays are another day for profiles of books or characters from those books. Today I have been hard at work on the launch event for Survivor so I figured it would be the best one to showcase. So here is the synopsis for my upcoming novella Survivor.

When Jasmine goes to a party with her best friend she has no idea what to expect. She is only a sophomore after all. Shortly after their arrival she catches the eye of the most handsome but she has ever seen. She is overwhelmed by his attention soaking up every moment as the most envied girl there. He is the man of her dreams.

            Or is he truly a nightmare? Jasmine’s best friend sees a dark side to Tyler Winegard and cannot understand why Jasmine is so blind to it. As the relationship deepens Jasmine finds herself having to fight to prove her love to him as he becomes more demanding and controlling with each passing day. Can she bring back the attentive sweet and charming boy she fell for or will he steal everything from her including her sanity and her life?

Short and simple. It is based on a true story, my story of fighting back against domestic violence from someone I thought cared for me. It is very personal and important to me but I am touched by how many people that I have talked to and they have not only wanted to thank me and the other authors for writing about such a painful but increasingly important topic in today's society. It means so much to see how people are responding to us sharing our experiences and to know that our desire to increase awareness is working.

We are proud not only of our survival but that we are making connections we had never anticipated. I hope people will be able to understand how difficult it was and the continuing struggles not only for us but those like us who are in different stages of their journeys. 

Social Media Marketing

Since I ran out of time yesterday I will be putting up both Friday's marketing tips post as well as a second post for Saturday doing another profile for a character or book. This post is about marketing though and while it is a topic I do know somewhat well, I even got my degree in marketing, there is a world out there I still feel like I have yet to properly explore.

I have been on Facebook for over a decade and before that I had a Myspace page. I wasn't very active on Myspace because I came to it quite late and just as the Facebook craze was beginning. Still it has been nearly half my life that I have been a part of the social media world in some capacity or another. One would think that I would have had ample time to browse the various types, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In and so on but I still struggle with the oldest one out there. I only made a dedicated page for my work a year and a half ago. I created my Twitter account the same time and I have never looked at Instagram or Linked In.

I am a novice in every sense of the word so why am I bothering to try and give advice? It is more that I want people to understand that there are those of us out there so that if they are more fluent in the language of social media than perhaps they may be willing to help walk us through things that come second nature to them with the understanding and patience required or for others like myself to know that they are not alone.

Because technology controls the universe in a very real way now and the goal of most marketers is not only to keep and maintain a high level of quality with current repeat customers but to establish new ones as well especially the younger market it is a requirement that we speak their language. We must band together and learn this new technological language that is as foreign to many of us as the classes most of us were forced to take in high school. This is not for a grade however but for the future of our business. Whether you are a contractor, a dentist, an artist or an author like myself, growing our reach and following the newest trends must be on the to do list for each and every one os us.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Learning Curve

How appropriate that today is all about my experiences in the writing world as I am desperately trying to learn the ropes of publishing through Createspace and Mobi and I have already encountered problems I have no idea how to address. I had planned to stay awake and doing everything tonight so that all I had to do was wait for the review to be completed once it was submitted however I am finding that having my editor do the formatting and then being unable to change things if needed. Granted she knows how to do the formatting and I have never attempted it before but being unable to adjust things if needed is making things complicated.

I know that there is still a tremendous stigma in the world for books that are self published. I myself an guilty of seeing some independently published work as somehow less than traditionally published. It is ridiculous of course but the idea is there nonetheless. If the author does the work getting the book edited and formatted correctly, having the story beta read for feedback about any shortcomings that may exist and taking the time to create a cover that is eye catching with an intriguing synopsis then it should not matter who it is that hits publish on the book.

I learned numerous parts of the publishing and promotion world since my debut novel hit the stands last April but it looks like I have significantly further to go. I am right now doing everything in my power to understand the requirements of Createspace as well as figure out why my computer will only let me open a limited number of files when all of them in a specific category should be available for my use. As I push on I am having to ask questions of my friend and editor through the realm of social media as well as wait until morning for my manager and boyfriend to look at the computer to straighten out the problems I am having viewing files I need.

It is important for me to understand how to do this part of the process in case I decide to take on more projects myself but right at the moment as the one o'clock hour dawns in the morning I am struggling to even stay awake let alone make my brain comprehend something so foreign to me. I look forward to a time when I am able to pass on knowledge like that that I am seeking now from others but at this point I will just continue to learn and share as I go so hopefully others with similar concerns will be able to use this blog as a resource.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Book Promotion Day - Dawn of Steam

Wednesdays are the day I have set aside to promote books and while it would be logical to use this day to discuss by own books, which I will in the future, but this week I wanted to focus on and share some love for a great friend as well as fellow author that has been a great supporter of my work. Jeffrey Cook took a leap of faith so many of us to become a full time author. He lives in Maple Valley, Washington with his family including his dogs. He has his own animal charity series as well as an incredible steampunk trilogy called the Dawn of Steam. First Light is the first book in the series and I wanted to give any potential readers a sneak peek into his wonderful and creative mind so here is the synopsis for Dawn of Steam - First Light.

In 1815, in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, two of England's wealthiest lords place a high-stakes wager on whether a popular set of books, which claim that the author has traveled to many unknown corners of the globe, are truth or, more likely, wild fiction. First Light is an epistolary novel, told primarily through the eyes of former aide-de-camp Gregory Conan Watts, describing the journeys of the airship Dame Fortuna and its crew through journals and letters to his beloved fiancee. 

The first recruit is, necessarily, the airship's owner: war hero, famed genius, and literal knight in steam-powered armor Sir James Coltrane. Persuading him to lend his talents and refitted airship to the venture requires bringing along his sister, his cousin, and the crew that flew with him during the Napoleonic Wars. Only with their aid can they track down a Scottish rifleman, a pair of shady carnies, and a guide with a strong personal investment in the stories. 

When they set out, the wild places of the world, including the far American West, the Australian interior, darkest Africa, and other destinations are thought to be hostile enough. No one expects the trip to involve a legendary storm – or the Year Without a Summer of 1815-1816. The voyage is further complicated by the human element. Some parties are not at all happy with the post-war political map. Most problematic of all, the crew hired by the other side of the wager seem willing to win by any means necessary.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Importance Of Editing

Following with the weekly schedule I have tried to develop that makes today time to talk about submission tips. When it comes to traditional publishing which is something many of us who write have dreamt about since we were very young. I was looking around for possible topics to cover but I kept coming back to something even more important, editing.

No matter if you choose to submit to agents, contact publishers directly or even if self publishing is more your speed one of the most important things that must be done is editing. You don't want to send a letter, or worse a manuscript, full of typos and half completed thoughts. Without the editing process there are sure to be concerns that have not been addressed and can cause you to appear amateur and unprofessional.

Recently during a conversation with a great friend and in fact my editor it was discussed that it is a good idea to have a third party go through the manuscript and not just have the author proofread their own work. It is understandable that there are those that would shy away from someone else reading through their work. Writers can be extremely protective of what they create so handing it over proves to be difficult. they must trust the person to read their book with a purely open mind for the sake of finding changes that need to be made as well as holes in the plot that may have been overlooked while writing.

If the author does go ahead with an editor then comes the next frustrating and often painful task, accepting the honest evaluation as well as take the constructive criticism to alter the parts that are weak. Our stories are our babies and it can be hurtful to hear things that others may not have liked or that we made mistakes but just as we expect out editors to have an open mind to receive our stories we must maintain that objectivity in order to improve what we hope to publish.

The conversation I had with my editor was about why having the third party is helpful because when we write and then read through our own work we have a tendency to see past things that need our attention. We know what we intended to say so our minds will naturally fill in missing parts. Also typos can be difficult when going through our own work because if we misspelled something chances are unless it is extremely obvious at which point the spell check should catch it, we will just miss it every time we check through the story.

Long story short, before you submit of consider hitting publish on any work the first step is to make sure you have a god editor on hand to go through and work with you to help make it market ready.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Character Profile - Georgia Byers

Starting on the weekly schedule I have created Mondays will be Character Profiles and with the release of Survivor coming out in just a few short weeks I wanted to focus on characters from that book. It would make sense to look at Jasmine, the main character, though I have talked about her in the past. I could always go to the opposite side of the spectrum and showcase Tyler Winegard, the boyfriend in the book, and I am sure in the upcoming weeks I will discuss him. But today I wanted to take a look at a much lesser noticed character, Georgia, Jasmine's mother.

Based in more ways than I can count on my own mother, Georgia is a strong and life affirming person that is left sadly deep in the dark about her daughter's struggles with an abusive boyfriend and dwindling self worth. She is caring, dedicated and does everything she believes is right unknowingly helping to keep Jasmine in her relationship. Jasmine hides what is happening from Georgia. She is so manipulated that she believes either that her mother and father will side with Tyler and therefore see her as a let down and a failure. Or they will end the relationship and Jasmine believes that without the attention and so-called affection she receives from him that her life will no longer matter.

There is a moment in the book that Jasmine considers suicide. I have not been public with it before but that scene is nearly identical to the night I sat crying next to my parent's liquor cabinet determined to end my own life. The internal dialogue is almost verbatim as I fought with my own mind about whether to live or die. Obviously I made it but just having the knowledge that I ever sat there considering it weighs on my heart everyday. My own mother, the inspiration for Georgia, had no idea that night ever happened. Like her literary counterpart finding out broke her heart.

Georgia stands by Jasmine when she finally decides to fight back and her will to live and seek justice overpowers her fears. My ending was different and though Jasmine is able to stand up for herself as I have now been able to do it took years longer for me to reach that level and my mother just recently had the chance to beta read Survivor and that was how she found out about so much of what I went through. Georgia because it is part of the story finds out much faster but whether it took just a few years like in the book or over a decade as in real life Georgia, my mom, has been more loving, supportive and helpful in the recovery process that anyone could have expected.

She is a minor character with a major impact and I could not have had my own story of survival without her. Thank you to Georgia and of course my mother for being everything I could have ever needed and more.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Book Cover Promotion

Please take a moment to check out the covers made by the talented Kate Marie Robbins and Bree Vanderland for our books coming out in October. We have all worked very hard and will be using the books to raise money and awareness for victims and survivors of Domestic Violence.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Live Events

I have talked several times about the importance of not only being a writer but as a writer also being a promoter. I struggle in the technological realm doing promotions on social media and creating tools like teasers or promotional videos. I am learning everyday but it is a low and arduous process to say the least. It could be said that I live in the past thinking of the prime time of the traditionally published author, that I fantasize about book tours and highly publicized signings but as we all know they are extinct like the dinosaurs.

Well almost extinct. I am not one to give up even when every fiber of my being is screaming that I cannot succeed. I still believe in live events and shaking the hands of those that buy and read my books. I want to share moments and speak to my readers and so I am doing everything I can to find ways to get not only my books but myself in front of the people that matter. Last summer I held a book signing that went very slowly. For most it would have been discouraging but I kept a small notebook of anything that seemed to go right and everything that went wrong. I wrote down how many people said they were coming compared to the number that showed. The day and time were important factors as well as the advertising or lack thereof.

That was in June. Then I made a plan to go back to my hometown for a couple signings and after contacting several places I was able to land four events. While it is true that the large majority were friends or family I still felt accomplished. I also, as my last signing, had a booth at a craft show over a weekend. There I was able to work on my ability to sell by interacting more with those that walked by, I learned the tremendous importance of swag and promotional items as more importantly I was able to make some sales to people that did not know me. They were drawn in either by some of the marketing efforts I had made or by the set up of the table but either way it meant I was moving in the right direction.

Now I am thrilled to be accomplishing something even greater. My next book, a novella called Survivor, is being released in October. That is the month for domestic violence awareness and that is what the story is dedicated to as well. I got it in my head to take on the Herculean task of partnering with a well known organization as a chance to raise money and awareness for them and their cause while also launching my name and the visibility of the book at the same time. Once I had secured their blessing I made the chances even more slim by setting my sites on a famous location. But somehow it happened. I am partnering with The Shade Tree of Las Vegas and holding my event at the Venetian Hotel & Casino. Not only that but it is a donated event because they believe in what I am doing.

So many people tell me that things like that are impossible or a waste of effort but to them I say it is only impossible if you don't try. I believed and my faith reached them as well. While I may admittedly be using the event for a tiny bit of personal gain in the respect that it helps my notoriety it will simply be a platform through which I can continue to help not only with Survivor but also Rescue Me, my animal charity series. Most incredibly I cannot wait to see the people that come out to say hello and get to thank them in person for believing it was possible.