Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Submission Tips - Create Demand

Agents and publishers want to know that you have the ability to sell and market your work. If they are going to take a chance on you and your book they want to see it is minimal risk and that you are going to do your fair share. One of the best ways to get the attention of those making decisions is to create demand for your book before it even comes out.

Contact different literary magazines or local newspapers that can run excerpts from your upcoming work as well as share parts online through social media to build up anticipation. As you interact with your beta readers you can get ideas of what parts they found most intriguing Once you know what parts would be best to share you can create teasers and begin to slowly spread them around on different social media platforms and in different groups.

For newspapers and magazines you will need to contact them directly to find out what they would be looking for and how exactly they want you to submit since each publication is different. You don't want to share too much and give away the story but making sure to find enough outlets that it sparks people's interest can be very helpful. Any details you are able to keep track of is also great for when you submit officially to agents or publishers.

Track where you send your teasers and excerpts making sure to note any feedback you receive or how many views your posts have gotten. All of the positive information that you can include (if you can back up the numbers) can be persuasive to an agent that not only are you able to show your marketing genius but also the fact that there is a fan base for your story. Knowing there is a demand makes the pitch easier both for you and for the agent when they approach a publishing house down the road.

Building a demand is not easy but by maintaining a constant press to get the word out there it can certainly give you a boost when telling agents and publishers just how much your book is desired. Being able to back it up is vital so pay attention to what you learn and show your talents for writing and drawing a crowd as you take the next step.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Book Profile - Asylum

Asylum is the first in a series by Madeleine Roux and I am absolutely in love with these books. I started reading the first one late in the afternoon and if I hadn't stopped for dinner and fallen asleep around three in the morning I would have completed this book the first day.

I was brought into the story of Dan and his friends as he joined a summer program for college prep. I myself went through a preparatory program though nothing like the one he was scheduled to attend. Not only did I not stay overnight in a dorm for several weeks but the dorms on the campus I attended were not housed in a closed down asylum.

It was an intense read that captured my imagination form the beginning and held my interest until the last page. I actually finished the book and within an hour I have already begun reading Sanctum, the second in the series. I checked on Amazon knowing that there was a third book which I went out and purchased as soon as I realized how quickly I was reading through them but I saw that she had two other books related to the series as well as additional titles I will be checking out as well. Her engaging style and descriptive storytelling have made her one of my new favorite authors.

From Amazon -

Madeleine Roux's New York Times bestselling Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-illustrated novel that Publishers Weekly called "a strong YA debut that reveals the enduring impact of buried trauma on a place." Featuring found photographs from real asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Asylum is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity, perfect for fans of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, the New Hampshire College Prep program is the chance of a lifetime. Except that when Dan arrives, he finds that the usual summer housing has been closed, forcing students to stay in the crumbling Brookline Dorm—formerly a psychiatric hospital. As Dan and his new friends Abby and Jordan start exploring Brookline's twisty halls and hidden basement, they uncover disturbing secrets about what really went on here . . . secrets that link Dan and his friends to the asylum's dark past. Because Brookline was no ordinary mental hospital, and there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Book Profile - Sanctum

Madeleine Roux brings the creepy love up a notch in the sequel to Asylum. Dan, Abby and Jordan stay in touch following the horrifying summer program at New Hampshire College but the distance and memories create issues for them maintaining their friendships. Not only do they struggle to stay connected in the real world but the haunting situation they survived is continuing to plague their lives as they attempt to move on.

Dan is particularly effected knowing his family ties to Brookline and the nightmares that found him over the summer never really went away. He decides that going back to where it all started is the only way to finally find the answers he so desperately needs. He convinces Abby and Jordan to join him for a perspective students weekend. With fear in their hearts they set off to find the answers to the questions following them.

It doesn't take long after arriving on campus and meeting their hosts for the weekend to realize that there is even more wrong at New Hampshire College than they had originally believed. They dig through background on the Warden and Brookline itself while following the path they were sent on by Felix trying to figure out the puzzle before they lose their minds and possibly their lives. They discover long covered secrets and someone or something to fear around every corner but are able to receive unexpected help from one they believed to be a threat. I loved this book and like Asylum I couldn't put it down.

From Amazon - In this chilling, fast-paced sequel to the New York Times bestselling Asylum, which Publishers Weekly called "a strong YA debut that reveals the enduring impact of buried trauma on a place," three teens must return to the asylum that still haunts their dreams to end the nightmare once and for all. With the page-turning suspense and horror that made Asylum such a standout, and featuring found photographs from real vintage carnivals, Sanctum is a mind-bending reading experience that's perfect for fans of the smash hit Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
Dan, Abby, and Jordan remain traumatized by the summer they shared in the Brookline asylum. Much as they'd love to move on, many questions remain, and someone is determined to keep the terror alive, sending the teens photos of an old-timey carnival, with no note and no name. Forsaking their plan never to go back, the teens return to New Hampshire College under the guise of a weekend for prospective students, and there they realize that the carnival from the photos is not only real, it's here on campus, apparently for the first time in many years.
Sneaking away from sample classes and college parties, Dan and his friends lead a tour of their own—one through the abandoned houses and hidden places of a surrounding town. Camford is hiding a terrible past, and the truth behind Dan's connection to the asylum's evil warden is more terrifying than Dan ever imagined.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Character Profile - Dr. James Kurtsman

I have done a profile on him before and so it may seem redundant to talk about him once more but I wanted to focus less on his specific role in the book and more on the inspiration behind him as well as interactions he has with the rest of the support group in Sharing Strength.

As anyone that has been with me for awhile knows I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, more commonly known as PTSD. I was diagnosed when I was twenty two though it is assumed I actually experienced the initial trauma when I was in my teens. I survived a physically and even more so psychologically abusive relationship and because of the destruction of my self worth went on to several other incidents I have never totally recovered from.

I have gone through treatments over the years. I have done one on one sessions and been in a support group briefly. I went through a number of different forms of treatment meant to rebuild my self esteem while also helping my find an outlet for my frustrations but very little helped until about seven years ago. After losing my father I decided to go back and finish my degree in college. The satisfaction of completing that gave me the confidence to do something I had never dreamt of since my diagnosis, I went overseas alone to do volunteer work.

Every treatment I had was supervised by a therapist of some sort and I even thought of the counselor in Australia where I went to volunteer as a kind of therapist. She was the one there the day I had my breakthrough. I had been destroyed mentally to the point I was afraid to do anything in case it was wrong. I couldn't think, go anywhere, pick out my own clothes, eat or even enjoy a movie without someone else telling me it was alright. I couldn't make a mistake. Well within the first few days of my trip I managed to slip off a moving cart and get run over by it in a sheep pasture. I was mortified. Strangers had witnessed my humiliation and I mentally shut down.

That is until our leader and a few of the other volunteers stepped up to help me. They didn't make fun of me. They didn't harass me about not being perfect. They instead assisted me all day and even hung out with me later when no one was making them. I had suffered a public fall and they became my friends anyway. Everything all of the therapists had been working on with me clicked. I began to recover.

Dr. Kurtsman is a mesh of all of the people I have worked with over the years from the doctor that had lost a significant other and had to retire from personal depression to one dealing with a cancer diagnosis of his own. Taking pieces from the support group leader and the hands off friends approach of my leader and friends from overseas I have melded a man that makes me smile anytime I write about him. He is kind and caring. He sees the group as a tiny family and is far more emotionally effected by their goings on than a regular therapist would be. He is unable to maintain that professional disconnect and objectivity but that is part of what makes him human. He is their leader but in his own way he is one of them and experiences their grief and triumphs every step of the way.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Marketing Tips - Facebook Author Page

Most people in the world have a profile or page on some form of social media. There are numerous platforms out there though some of the most recognizable are Instagram, Twitter and of course Facebook. Today I want to examine Facebook, but the profile we all know and love, the additional options that can help grow your marketing abilities and visibility.

When I first joined with the indy publisher Pure Ice I was thrilled. It was a whole new world for me and I was ready to make the jump to published author complete with the royalty checks, copies of my books and the readers and fans. I was going to make a splash in the publishing world selling my book anytime I got the chance and people were going to be excited to meet me and have me sign copies right? To a very small extent yes, but in a much larger and worldly sense, a definite no. No one knew who I was and even with the fast approaching date of my release I realized that only a handful of people, almost all of whom I knew personally were actually interested.

That was when I was told to help my marketing by creating a twitter account as well as a Facebook author page. I am slightly inept at social media so this was not something I was aware was even an option. I opened up Facebook on my computer and searched the application with fresh eyes finding the options running down the left side of the screen. When I found the option to create a page I clicked it and immediately started filling out the information. I have dreamt of being an author for so long I thought it would be a breeze but it turned into a struggle shortly after I began.

I had no idea what to put in the about section other than "aspiring author". It was so short and kind of lame that I deleted it determined to come back to it. I finally got all of the questions answered, did fill in the about section and prepared to make my first inspiring and profound post. That was when I froze again. What was I going to say? What if I said or did something that would turn potential readers off to my book? What if I wasn't doing it right? All of these doubts and more swirled in my head. O was lost.

I chatted online with some of the fellow writers I had met and they were able to bring me back down to a calm and relatively competent state of mind. Relax, they told me, not everyone is going to like what I say or even like me. My work will speak for itself when I get to that point and growing a fan base takes time and dedication. There will be days that you will struggle for content (beyond true), there will be days you post something you feel is just a space filler and it will get more likes than something deep and meaningful to you (has happened more than I can count) and there will be days when you post something about your work and receive support that will send you over the moon ( those posts never stop being amazing).

The biggest advice I can give is to go ahead and jump in with the author page on Facebook and make sure to be active as much as possible but remember to take the good for what it is and the bad with a grain of salt. It does take time but when you start seeing people support your work and you as an artist it makes every post, emotion and moment spent working on it completely worth it.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Finding The Strength To Finish Sharing

Over a year ago I sat in front of my television flipping through channels not really paying attention to the shows that flashed across the screen. I was deep in thought. I had created a charity series I was very proud of and had recently released my debut novel Never Give Up. I was simultaneously flying high on the pride of the release while crushing under the intense fear that I would never come up with another book. Sure I had a few short stories and an idea for for a children's series though I wasn't making much progress on doing anything productive with either.

I just felt like I was lacking inspiration and the connection with characters outside of my first book. What would I write about? Who would be interested if I did? I just couldn't seem to find anything that sparked my interest for writing again. As I went through the channels I happened across a show talking about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, something I was diagnosed with when I was just twenty-two years old. The show was informative but focused solely on veterans. As the hour progressed it became clear that the show was not only exclusively talking about veterans but the wording they chose and topics discussed implied that veterans were the only ones that suffered from such a condition. 

It is well known that the horrors of combat can cause PTSD in active duty and veteran military members and it is important that people are made aware of what they are going through. However I found it frustrating and insulting that the program would gloss over people like myself and make it sound like there were no others that could have PTSD. Right then I found my inspiration. I used my own experience actually splitting the things that led to my diagnosis to create two different characters. I also came up with two soldiers and a man that was diagnosed following a tragic car accident that claimed the life of his young son. I put them all in a story about a support group for PTSD and wanted to use each of them to demonstrate situations that people can suffer and difficult moments they must endure.

I wanted to show how some people can react to the diagnosis as though it means they are weak (which could not be further from the truth) and how some people even though they know they need help are not supported and the trouble that it can cause. It has been extremely difficult to write and I have not finished but after writing in parts and taking an extended break I am thrilled to feel I am on solid ground to finish the first draft.

I am thrilled to be back to the clarity I needed to write especially such an intense and emotional story. I am looking forward to finally finishing the story and getting some feedback from my beta readers as well as start submitting it for consideration. Sharing Strength is definitely y next big priority.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Book Profile - South of Hell

Being from Michigan originally myself I laughed in the back of my mind when I picked up this book thinking how entertaining it would be if it took place in Hell, MI. As it turns out, it does. I have been there before and so reading about places that I have visited and actual locations people would recognize if they visited the area such as the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor or take a drive up to Howell made it a wonderful read with added flair for me.

P.J. Parrish has a very raw style and an unapologetic use of rough language. The description of characters, setting and interaction is vibrant and pulls the reader directly into the action. This is a Louis Kincaid book and while I had no idea it was part of a series in the same way James Patterson has Alex Cross when I began reading it I will definitely be checking out more of these books.

From Amazon:

With one phone call from a man he barely recalls meeting years ago, South Florida detective Louis Kincaid heads to the Michigan town of his college days to reopen a disturbing cold case -- and finds himself confronting his own painful past secrets...secrets that risk his future with the woman he loves, detective Joe Frye. 

Ann Arbor police detective Jake Shockey wants Kincaid's help in the case of Jean Brandt, who went missing nine years ago -- and whose husband, Owen, has since been paroled. Now, Owen Brandt's girlfriend appears to be at risk, and Shockey is desperate to get involved. Kincaid soon unearths the deeply personal reasons why...and with Joe Frye assisting, Kincaid links yesterday's jealousies with today's potentially lethal vengeance. It's only a matter of time before one will win out over the other -- and before Kincaid's own shattering revelations will be forced out into the light of day.

Submission Tip - Editing Not Just For Your Manuscipt

I have talked repeatedly about the importance of making sure that your story is complete and ready for the eyes of any editor, agent or publisher that may view it. It is vital for success that you present a copy of your work that is clean, neat, follows guidelines and has proper punctuation and style. Many will emphasize grammar here as well and while having a basic knowledge is key, I believe that in creative writing there are some rules that are fine to bend if not break, just don't do it too often.

We have talked about proofreading and even having other help you with this process. Once the book is complete and you are ready to find your agent or publisher you then craft the perfect query letter. Once you write the letter though there is still a very important step you need to remember. You have to edit your query letter. Proofreading is not exclusive to the story itself. In fact it is almost more important to proofread and go over all of the details for your letter than for the book. 

I few small typos in a fifty thousand word novel can be forgiven more easily than misspelling a name or location in your one page query letter. Did you double check the spelling of the agent's name? Is the address correct? What about the about the author section? Did you ramble on about the blue ribbon from junior high for your investigative reporting on school lunch meat or possibly gloss of the section trying to fill space with a run on sentence that ultimately says nothing about your experience?

This is your first impression for whomever you have sent your book to be considered. It is possible in time to overcome a negative first impression but in the publishing industry you rarely get that desperately needed second chance. You have to make sure that you come across as interesting, knowledgable and professional with a great story they are going to just have to request. Once the book is done you are no longer a writer, you are a salesman.

Proofing your query is sort of like practicing your sales pitch. In fact that is exactly what you are doing. You are going over every little detail, checking to make sure you have gotten all of the information right and putting that little sparkle into it so that when the agent gets their hands on your letter they see everything you as an author and your story as a product have to offer them. It takes time to get it down but no matter how many letters you have sent or books you have written, following the steps and remembering to always double check your work can be a big key to moving to the next level.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Excerpt from Survivor

“I don’t know about her weekend but she seems fine I guess. We are good I talked to her in homeroom and then spent all day hanging out with her in class until she left for dance team practice.” Georgia couldn’t believe that her daughter had neglected to mention that she had spent time with her best friend. The girls were like sisters but the introduction of one boy had changed all that. Deep in her heart she felt bad for Kelly. She knew the girls both had other friends as well but they were practically inseparable.

“I am just surprised you didn’t mention talking to her since I know you had that argument on Friday. I would have thought that would be the first thing you told us.”

“It is great we are done fighting mom, but seriously how can you think that would be anywhere near as important as Tyler’s present?” Jasmine shook her head. Her parents were so clueless. She didn’t feel like talking about it anymore. Somehow her parents couldn’t understand that Tyler was and had to be the biggest part of her life. He was a wonderful guy with lots of girls chasing him as he had pointed out so she had to be good enough to keep him. “I am just going to go get started on my homework.”

Jasmine left the kitchen without waiting for a response. Her mom was stunned. She hadn’t considered the conversation over and it wasn’t like Jasmine to be so shut down. She loved to talk to both her parents granted her dad found a subject they both had enough similar knowledge to discuss. Yet the moment she brought up something other than her new boyfriend Jasmine had gotten defensive and vague. It was simply not like her.

Georgia washed the dishes deep in thought. In the living room her dad watched as Jasmine wandered through heading back upstairs to her room. He hadn’t heard the conversation in the kitchen but he could tell something had happened. Jasmine’s usually happy bouncy demeanor was somehow dampened. She walked with her head down looking at the ground. Her shoulders slumped forward slightly giving the impression she was trying to be invisible. He observed her as she ascended the stairs not looking away until she turned at the landing walking out of sight.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Marketing Tips - Cross Promotions

One of the best things about becoming an Indy author for me was the camaraderie with my fellow writers. I joined numerous groups and met so many people that inspired me, helped me by answering questions or offering advice and most of all just made me feel welcomed into the writing world. I jumped in joining as many groups as I could find until I was overwhelmed with pop ups on my newsfeed. I had so much information streaming at me from such a large number of sources I backed off as quickly as I had jumped in.

After a short break I started checking out the groups a few at a time taking things more slowly. I noticed with a little time and observation that there were some common names popping up in different groups and they always seemed to be interacting with one another as well as posting tip and tidbits along the way. Feeling the the new kid in school I watched from a distance for weeks quietly accepting their advice and doing my best to take part only in large group conversations. I wanted to participate but wasn't ready to stand out.

In time though the same people that I was cautiously stalking from group to group had begun to notice my comments on their posts and my questions. They began dialogues directly and in time we became friends. We chatted about current projects and took turns offering advice when people came in to join the groups. I had become one of the people that was watched instead of observing from a distance.

As we moved forward we all began publishing and after the rounds of virtual high fives and we finished spamming every person and group we could think of we realized that even though we faithfully sent out the teasers and promos every week all we were doing was showing the same information to the same people. we needed to expand our reach. And so we began to promote not only our own work but took turns promoting each other's as well.

While we belong to several of the same groups we also have some of our own and of course friends and family outside of writing or local writers and book groups we can share one another's work with. It takes a long time to build a fan base for most of us but having the help and support of fellow writers and being a team player to push their books as well can be a solid step toward growth for everyone involved.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Choosing A Direction

Just recently I was thrown a curve ball in my life. I was informed that I might have to make some major changes that I was not prepared for. It came as a hard blow and tripped my emotions intensely. I felt lost and am still working to figure out exactly how to deal with everything in my life but it occurred to me that at some point I am going to have to sit down and figure out a precise path to follow.

In writing we have to do the same thing with our characters. We have to have a path for them to follow to get from our first encounter to the ending that completes their story. There are of course twists and turns in the journey, otherwise it would be a boring story. Ultimately however it is vital to have a clear idea of where they are going and how they will get there.

There have been many times that I have wished that I could step back from my personal life and jump ahead to see what the right decision would be. I want to skip the pain and frustration to see how the story ends and find a way to get there as quickly as possible. Unfortunately there is no ariel view of life. Instead we feel so many different emotions surging through us at one time it can be overwhelming and cause us to try and make contradicting decisions when trying to solve our issues.

When a story if first drafted and we are getting all of the information down on the pages it can be easy to lose track of what we are trying to say and where we are trying to go. Like real life, it can get messy. That is one of the biggest reasons that editing is so important. When you lose track of where you are going it is a guarantee that your readers will too.

I have done it a number of times when I get the first draft written and go back through it I have to laugh at the odd directions I have taken. I find it incredible that my characters even show up at the end and don't have to stop and ask for a map to get through the forest of my mind. It is then that I must go back through and find the true storyline so that I can erase random information that isn't needed at bring tangents back on track.

Just remember that like life it may take some time but it is vital to find one path and stick to it to make the most of your story and bring everyone along for the journey.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Submission Tips - Don't Jump Ahead

You just woke up from a dream that was so incredible i.e. has imprinted itself on your mind for all time. It is the work of genius and would make a compelling story for any and all to read. The characters were detailed and the scenery was epic. The storyline was complex and intriguing making it the perfect idea for your book. You know it will be on the top of the best seller list within a few days of its release and you want to make sure you have the best representation possible.

You write down everything quickly noting every detail you can recall and set to work writing the query of your life. You have the perfect hook, just the right amount of teaser information and a close that would leave anyone wanting more. With a kiss for god luck you send off your letter to agents around the world knowing that you have just took a huge step to being a best selling author. 

Within just a matter of a few weeks you begin receiving responses and great news, there are several agents that are interested! They found your idea convincing and intriguing and cannot wait to read the book. You dance around your kitchen celebrating your success and waving the letters around in the air. This is the current best day of your life. Your spouse / parent / roommate / best friend comes in and sees your celebration so that inquire what happened. You gleefully thrust the letters into their hands continuing your dance. They read a few and brighten realizing that you have multiple agents interested in you. They smile and ask "When did you finish the book?"

Slowing your dance slightly you mention that you haven't actually written it yet but now that you have someone that wants it you can have it done soon. It is pointed out that the agents have requested reading it as soon as possible and you simply quip that you are sure they will wait. They won't. I hate to burst the bubble but when you send your query the book needs to be ready to read. If an agent requests pages, chapters or the entire manuscript they mean that they want it back within a few days and it needs to be edited and prepared for them to scan immediately. They do not want anything unfinished or unpolished. 

They get queries daily and will not wait for you. They will however probably remember the lack of professionalism if you make them wait or send them something that isn't up to par. No matter how great the idea is you will always be better off taking the time to do it right instead of trying to get ahead of the game before you are ready. No one can tell your story the way you can so take the time to do it correctly and give the agents and your book the respect they both deserve.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Book Profile - Crazy For You

I recently was the beta reader for my good friend Kate Marie Robbins and her book Crazy For You. This book is Kate's first attempt to do the romance thing and while there are of course editing issues being a rough draft the story itself was compelling, charming and one I couldn't put down. I finished it in a matter of hours. I will make the disclaimer for anyone that may not be ok with it, this is a same sex romance.

Sahara is a young girl spending her last summer before college trapped in a tiny town away from her friends and family. She is miserable and resents her parents for making her go especially when they themselves are not staying. However upon entering the diner across from the Bed & Breakfast her aunt owns doe encounters a girl, McKenna, that takes her breath away.

The girls become close friends but Sahara can never seem to find a way to tell her exactly how she feels. She also has no idea that McKenna herself is holding on to a rather large secret. The girls are extremely different in their upbringing and part of McKenna is jealous of her friends life but all the while Sahara is longing for the opportunity to tell her what is in her heart.

They take several adventures and you find yourself turning page after page hoping Sahara will get the courage to spill her emotions and that McKenna will be accepting. You read on and on to find out what McKenna is holding back and then find yourself holding your breath at the end when everything is finally revealed.

The story is touching, intriguing and a great afternoon read. I am so thrilled that Kate chose to share her work with me and I cannot wait until it is done with editing and is published so I can get my autographed copy.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Beta Reading

I love to read. There I said it. I am a bookaholoic and proud of it. I have my favorite authors like any reader I know but I also enjoy branching out and finding new authors so my addiction can continue to grow. Thats right, I said grow. I am not looking for a support group that can help me curb my problem or someone to lead me down a different path. They only group I would join would be people with more books to help me read more and more.

As an author it is vital to be a reader as well. It gets you out of your own head allowing for creativity and perspective to come in to play. When we focus solely on our own work we can lose sight of the bigger picture making our scope for storytelling extremely narrow. By taking time to enjoy books by other authors we can open our minds to new worlds, styles of writing and expand our vocabulary so our own writing can achieve new levels.

Reading can help pull us out of a rut with our own work but it is possible to find reading ruts as well. I am completely guilty of being in one for years. I read only a select few authors making my world close in on me creatively. I have followed the suggestion of reading outside your chosen genre of writing so as not to accidentally steal ideas but when you are trying to focus on a YA romance and all your read is horror and satirical fantasy it can be difficult to not pull yourself out of your own world instead of finding inspiration.

In order to combat this issue I have taken on two different reading ideas. One is the year long challenge I posted about earlier this week. It has so many different styles and genres built in that it forces you outside any comfort zone you may have settled into. On top of the variety of categories I am trying to fill a number of them with books that I never would have generally considered. There are a number of books with one word titles but I chose to read Odyssey by Homer for that category. I want to not only fulfill the requirement of the challenge but read classics and styles I have never incorporated into my bookshelf before.

The other way I have taken to reading more styles and genres is to become a beta reader for fellow authors. It is incredible to be able to hold pages of a book that isn't available to the public yet. I read stories, meet characters and go on adventures with them long before there is even a cover for the book. I get to give feedback that can modify the stories and experience things long before regular consumers will get their hands on it. Becoming a beta reader was a great decision and I also utilize them myself in my own writing. I just hope those that take my journeys enjoy it as much as the paths I explore with their books.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Marketing Tips - Public Relations Experts

There are a number of things authors can do to establish themselves and get the word out about their work but if you are having some trouble finding something to do other than spam your friends and family on Facebook there is always the option of getting a PR expert to help you. PR stands for Public Relations and they help to promote companies and products making them more visible and in appropriate light for the public.

Public relations has a bad reputation in some circles as "spin specialists" meaning that they take information and turn it around to make people believe something is good even when it is not. I will admit there are those out there that use it for such reasons but the majority are simply interested in helping promote and finding proper channels for their clients to get noticed.

Please note that if you are self publishing and are concerned about cost it can be somewhat expensive to hire someone to assist you in marketing your book. There are groups that you can turn to to make sure you find a reputable one with a little research if you do desire the help. You can always ask for recommendations from friends and family, talk to local businesses or chambers of commerce or you can check out the members of the PRSA or Public Relations Society of America.

Another option if you decide you want to work with someone but determine you are unable to cover the fees for their services is to contact a local community college or university and speak with some marketing and public relations students or instructors. If you can find students that are willing to help they make give you advice for a significantly lower fee or you could speak with an instructor who might have some ideas and even be able to point you to someone in their classes that would be interested in taking on the project possibly for some extra credit.

However you find them, if you end up working with someone pay close attention. They can help you see things that might have worked for others but are not in your best interest while pointing out avenues that you had not previously considered. If you are working with a student or college professor, take notes. They most likely will only be on your team a short time but can teach you ways to think outside the box that you can then carry forward.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Book Promotion - 2016 Reading Challenge

I have mentioned throughout last year and just in the past couple of days that I will once agin be tackling the reading challenge I found online just before Christmas in 2014. I have been asked by a few people what all the categories are for the books on the challenge so I figured I would share the list here and if anyone would like to do it, or a modified version they would be able to see what it is all about. This is the same list I will be using in my attempt to complete my own reading test this year and will be the books along with my own work that I will be doing for the book promotions day on this blog. Happy Reading!

  1. A book over 500 pages
  2. A classic romance
  3. A book that became a movie
  4. A book published this year
  5. A book with a number in the title
  6. A book written by someone under 30
  7. A book with a non-human character
  8. A funny book
  9. A book by a female author
  10. A mystery or thriller
  11. A book with a one word title
  12. A book set in a different country
  13. A nonfiction book
  14. A book of short stories
  15. A popular author's first book
  16. A book from an author you love but haven't read yet
  17. A book a friend recommended
  18. A Pulitzer Prize winning book
  19. A book based on a true story
  20. A book from the bottom of your reading list
  21. A book your mom loves
  22. A book that scares you
  23. A book more than 100 years old
  24. A book based entirely on its cover
  25. A book you were supposed to read in high school but didn't
  26. A memoir
  27. A book you can finish in a day
  28. A book with antonyms in the title
  29. A book set somewhere you always wanted to visit
  30. A book that came out the year you were born
  31. A book with bad reviews
  32. A trilogy
  33. A book from your childhood
  34. A book set in the future
  35. A book set in high school
  36. A book with a color in the title
  37. A book that made you cry
  38. A book with magic
  39. A graphic novel
  40. A book by an author you have never read before
  41. A book you own but have never read
  42. A book that takes place in your hometown
  43. A book that was originally written in a different language
  44. A book set during Christmas
  45. A book written by an author with your same initials
  46. A play
  47. A banned book
  48. A book based on or turned into a TV show
  49. A book you started but never finished

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Submission Tips - The Writers Market

When I first began my writing journey I did months of research. I was not looking for details for my book or character names. I was not coming up with timelines or epic plot twists. I was instead procrastinating on the actual writing by looking up information about how to get an agent once my masterpiece was created. I was so lost and I had no idea.

Of course you can get general knowledge from looking up the agents and what they are looking for but as any writer with even a half finished manuscript is aware, the book rarely turns out to be what you thought at the beginning. I have one story, Breathe, that in the process of writing went from a twist filled suspense thriller to an unexpected romance with suspenseful twists. I truthfully yelled at my computer when it took the romantic turn because it was not at all what I had envisioned.

After I realized that I did need the details such as genre, length and of course pages to submit I began to write the book. It wasn't until after I completed the third round of edits and rewrites that I was able to start crafting a query letter with an adequate hook because I finally knew what the book was really about. But how to write the query and who to send it to, those were my new challenges. I had the internet which was helpful but so vast I once again felt completely overwhelmed.

I gave up after spending hours trying to compile lists of people and addresses, likes and needs. I went to my personal escape, Barnes & Nobel and browsed the shelves for a book to take my mind off my own. Then as I was meandering through the reference books I found it The Writer's Market. I had heard of it before but had never picked up a copy to examine it. That day I did and I found what I was looking for.

There was an entire chapter with examples of the query letters, lists of agents and publishers and even explanations for freelance writers about what it takes and who was searching for material. There was a list that included payments for the freelancers, contests and prizes almost everything I could think of that I needed to know. I have since acquired not only The Writer's Market but several other books I will share in time that are packed with information and should be on the shelf if even just for a quick answer or two of any author wishing to make their dream a reality.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Character Profile - Jack the Ripper

I know it seems odd to be using a famed and faceless serial killer as the character I am profiling for this week but for one of the books I will be writing this year Mother Said No "Jack" is the focal point. Like millions out there I have an extreme fascination with one of the most notorious serial killers that ever lived. I have read about him in numerous books and watched shows anytime I see them on television. I even took in the Jonny Depp movie From Hell because it covered that particular subject. I started thinking, like many I am sure, about just who Jack could possibly have been.

I will make the disclaimer now that no, I have not dedicated years of research to my theory. I have not flown to London and toured the fames streets that so many years ago ran red with the blood of the butchered. I simply had an idea that I thought would make an interesting book and give a different twist to just who Jack may have been.

For me the book is actually a look at the psychology behind Jack and the murders. It examines the motivations as well as the crimes and while the idea is sound and the characters are ripped from the history books themselves I will still be doing a great amount of research for this novel. I want to order a map of the area from that time frame and will be going back to read about the crimes again examining the information as though I am studying for a final exam.

The Whitechapel area has changed dramatically as has the cit of London and the entire world for that matter but "Jack" still remains relevant and discussed today. I am taking a risk by writing my own version of the events of 1888 but I am confident between my research and creative thinking I will be able to create a story that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the novels on the subject. I have a lot of work in front of me but I am eager to get started and make my mark and share my personal possibility in this world renowned mystery.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Music To My Ears

With so many upcoming projects I have been busy doing what I always do to prepare, making files for each book. I made a checklist years ago and still use it for every book I write. I go out and take pictures or find ones online of places and people that inspire me for the atmosphere, time and characters of the piece. I also include a list of references such as books, recordings and people that can give insight if I need research on the book. Along with the resources I also will take notes during interviews and when reading the books which I make sure to include as well.

Having the pictures and research I can create character biographies so that I get to know each person on a deeper level but it isn't until I get to my favorite part that I know I am ready to write, creating the customized playlist. The songs I choose for my books have several possible reasons for being on the list. Some have lyrics that flow through my soul bringing to life things my characters would discuss or feel when traveling through the world I am making for them. Others have music that evokes an emotion within me and takes me into the feel of the story as a whole. The second kind are actually my favorite.

When I made the list for Sharing Strength and Survivor both have the same list as Survivor is the background to one of the main characters in Sharing Strength, I put in songs like I Just Came Back From A War by Darryl Worley and Not A Girl Not Yet A Woman by Britney Spears. Both of these songs represent characters in Sharing Strength. But then there are other songs like Last Resort by Papa Roach, The River by Garth Brooks and Dance With My Father by Luther Vandross that all are about evoking emotions associated with different parts of the story.

Welcome to Syn was entirely music that put me in the mood and brought me to a certain time emotionally. The song I started out with was Lindsey Stirling's Shatter Me. Everyday when I sat down that song brought me to the girls and made me experience their world in a much more vibrant way. I also played a collection of Bach, Beethoven and Chopin with various other classical composers thrown in occasionally.

I am not gathering songs and making its for Chocolate Covered Cherries my upcoming romance, Voices Book 2 and I imagine I will use Welcome to Syn's list for Lucasta because she is the eldest daughter from the original. It is incredible the power that music can have on our lives and I believe that there are times when a writer listens to certain types while writing it can be translated into the words flowing out to the readers as they take the journey the author created.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Building On The Past

Today is New Year's Day and like a large part f the rest of the world I have made my list of goals, or if you prefer resolutions, and will be doing my best to not lose my motivation as the days pass by. I have financial goals such as paying off some of the purchases made on credit cards and saving up for a few new items. There are health goals that because of my issues are quite basic such as not going to the hospital and achieving my goal of getting FMLA for job protection. I of course have fitness goals like dropping the last fifteen pounds and being able to finish an obstacle course without having to do the punishments for missing one of the challenges or riding an entire distance ride without having to stop other than the predesignated locations.

I also have writing, editing and publishing goals. I have five books that have either been started or have the first draft completed and by the end of the year I hope not only to have all of them edited but also submitted for consideration by agents and publishers. I have a list of three new books I want to draft this year and those will be part of the editing for 2017. I also would like to get the first draft of half of my children's books completed and finish gathering all of the stories I need to publish the next four books in my charity series Rescue Me. Gathering submissions is one of the more difficult parts because it relies on others to come up with stories and send them too me but I truly enjoy reading all of them and the charity aspect is the most important part for me when it comes to Rescue Me.

As I look over all of my goals for the coming months I can see that it will be impossible to stay on top of everything if I don't have a dedicated schedule but I also have to remember that set backs will happen. It is not what gets in your way but how you handle the obstacles that is important. From knowing that the first eight to nine weeks of the year the gym will be hell for parking, finding machines or pushing my way into classes to making time to learn how to do promotions and getting blog posts out after a long day of work.

The best thing I have going for me is a supportive team that will help me and though it is tempting to work hard each and every single day I know that can lead to burning out and I need one day at least to spend time with my friends and most importantly my boyfriend who has been an incredible manager and one of the best supporters I have even had. Having a work ethic is important but spending time with your loved ones is a far greater priority than any goal could be.

Reviewing 2015

In 2014 I felt quite successful with the release of my first novel, mini book tour and the release of my first charity book. I may have only released one novella in 2015 but overall I feel like the year was even more successful for me as a writer and looking toward the future.

The book that came out this year was the most difficult story emotionally I have ever had to write. I shared my past and bared my soul in order to try and reach others that may be going through something similar. That alone was tremendously satisfying but on top of that I was able to pull off a launch party for the book that far exceeded my expectations.

As many who read this blog are aware I work part time as a casino dealer at the Venetian Las Vegas and through their generous Sands Cares Department I was able to have a room donated to me for the celebration of my book. Celebrating with me on the fabulous Las Vegas Strip were friends and family but even more important was the incredible charity, The Shade Tree, that partnered with me for this exciting venture. Our raffle, book sales and donations passed our goal and made the night a success. We even got to end by walking outside to see all of the marquee signs lit up purple in honor of Shade Tree and Domestic Violence Awareness.

I attended a book festival making numbers contacts. I have learned about creating a business plan to keep me on track and accountable as I move forward and I exceeded my sales goals. I have also participated in a number of athletic challenges to raise money for great causes and collected stories for the next four editions of my charity series Rescue Me. One of the biggest highlights for Rescue Me was getting to meet Candice Jolly, the driver of the Monster Mutt Dalmatian truck and getting to se her choke up as she read the story of the sweet boys who named their service dog after her.

I have been very fortunate this year and cannot wait to see what 2016 has in store. To all my friends, family and readers I thank you for a great year and look forward to the future as we all take the leap into the next.