Friday, February 24, 2012
Just last week, I re-released my first published novel. I did heavy research on what to do and how to get my book back out there. Here's what I did, for anyone who wants to pursue the self-publishing option.
1. Hire a cover artist. I got a totally kick ass cover for less than$200. This included the POD cover as well.
2. Hire an editor. There are tons of freelance editors out there that are willing to edit your manuscript. Prices can vary, but most are pretty reasonable. And I'm serious. YOU NEED SOMEONE ELSE TO EDIT YOUR BOOK (Caps absolutely intended). Even if you are the grammar queen, you should always have a 2nd (or a 3rd) pair of eyes read over and edit your work.
3. Hire someone to format your book. It only cost me $50 dollars to have someone format my eBook, including hyperlinks and a table of contents. However, if you want to do it yourself, Smashwords creator, Mark Coker has a great formatting guide you can follow.
4. Market yourself. Set up blog tours, make a book trailer, tweet or FB the hell out of yourself. Your efforts will not go unnoticed!
5. Get your book out to review sites. This might seem like a lot of work, but there's a great site called Manic Readers. They have a tool called "The Review Depot." You can upload your book and send it to multiple review sites at the same time. You can even check status of the book you submitted as well. Otherwise, don't be afraid to ask around. Use Google to search for sites that review in your genre. Most sites have easy instructions for submitting books for review. Using Manic Readers and Google, it took me less than an hour to submit my book to various sites.
6. Advertising, if you can afford it, is always important. There are several book blogs that have opportunities for you. And most aren't that expensive either.
7. I also suggest getting ISBNS for your books. Some online retailers require that your book have an ISBN. Smashwords gives you a free ISBN if you need it. Createspace, Amazon's print self-published line will also give you a free ISBN for print. However, some other retailers need ISBNs. I ended up buying 10 ISBNs in bulk, so I can assign ISBNs to other projects I complete in the future. Buying the bulk package is a better deal than buying just one individually. Basically it's like you're buying two ISBNs and getting the other eight free. Note, you usually need an ISBN for each version (ie: digital, print, audio, app, etc).
I'll tell you, I've only had this book up for a week at various book sites, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. I've already surpassed my entire year of royalties from my previous publisher.
However, I've also put a bit of money into this venture... so we'll wait and see how it all pans out.
For those interested in checking out WINGS OF DESIRE:
Not your (grand)mother's fairytale...
Rhiannon Kinsley's ready to call the men in white coats when an intriguingly sexy man appears and insists she's a faerie princess. Cerne Silverwing has a duty to save his kingdom. He needs Rhiannon to be his consort and help defeat the Dark Faerie Queen. Can these two discover that their true destiny lies together?
Available now at these fine retailers:
All Romance eBooks
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Sunday, February 19, 2012
I manage to always make time for reading. It’s a little less intimidating than facing a blank page and writing. I get “Writer’s Digest” and sometimes wish it came out twice a month. I’m always antsy for the next issue! My Rachael Ray mag gets lost in the pile while I quickly devour Writer’s Digest.
Yesterday I was reading an article, when one of the points smacked me over the head. I love when that happens. Instead of forgetting everything I read after a couple of weeks, I know this tidbit will stick. Here’s the quote that sums it up. “Believe it or not, you don’t want readers to admire your writing: You want them to be so engaged in the story itself that they don’t notice the way you use words to shape it.”-Steven James, March/April 2012 issue. Much of the article talked about simplifying your writing and not over doing it with symbols or metaphors, and not “trying too hard”—which also struck me. As a beginner novelist, that’s a likely blindspot for me. Not to mention how much of a turn-off it is when you find a book that’s blatantly “trying too hard.”
It’s about engaging your reader without them realizing HOW you’re doing it. You don’t want them to admire your style of writing or unique similes or powerful writing voice. It’s like hiding all the back stage props, cords, and costumes at the theater . It’s all needed, but you don’t want to draw attention to all those details, even if they are spectacular. This idea translates to the art of acting, and it’s something I’ve noticed in movies and TV shows. When I catch myself critiquing the actor/actress and thinking more about their abilities, it’s a signal that I've found a bad actor. They’re simply a poor actor or they’re over-the-top and trying too hard. It distracts me from the story. When I’m so engrossed in the plot, I barely notice the actor, and instead the actor is a subtle piece that contributes to the story. I’m so eager to watch the story play itself out, that sometimes I even forget it’s “just a movie.” Try it sometime. Test it out. Then test it on your own writing.
Since I’ve started writing more in recent months, I’ve also become a more observant reader- on purpose. There’s an objective “me” that is always present over my shoulder (I picture the angel and devil, except it’s a “mini me”). Even when I’m suddenly captured by a page-turner, I force myself to stop and flip back a few pages to understand HOW the author did it. I’m learning what works and what doesn’t. What bores me. And what keeps me reading (I’m a very picky reader).
I’ve found that being an avid and active reader is invaluable to a writer. After being the nerdiest of bookworms since age six, I’d have to say it’s been just as valuable as any formal education I’ve had. Now I can add this tip to my treasure chest of writer’s knowledge: Simplicity, subtlety, and don’t “try too hard.”
Saturday, February 18, 2012
But if they didn't know, how could they ask?
This was especially outrageous to these two women who were way ahead of current thinking at that time, because this impacted the women they dealt with daily, poor women, especially migrant workers who came to Michigan to harvest crops and lived in tiny little shacks with their whole families with no heat, no hot water, only the basic things such as beds, stoves and eating tables. In too many cases, they had more children than their income could support. These children were doomed from the start to be exactly what their parents were and so the cycle went on. These nurses saw first hand, the horrible conditions migrant workers and their families endured. And they saw contraceptives as a way to reverse some of their problems.
Of course the lucky women of our child study group were also outraged at the way the government was manipulating something so important to women and their lives. Well, it's come to that again. An all male panel is sitting to determine the issues about contraceptives and I'm aghast that anyone would contemplate taking us back to such a choiceless era as we once endured. Women are angry and they should be.
How does this relate to writing? I'm an old gal and I've been around for a long time, I remember back in the late eighties when journalists wrote about women who penned romance. Besides the outright snickering and snide remarks, some columnists actually suggested that these books were bad for our society because they raised women's expectations in the bedroom. Can you imagine? The real crutch of their objections were fueled by their fear for their manhood. Aside from the fact that God took a man's rib to build a better model, we've done nothing to take away from them. For centuries women have been docile, obedient, accepting of the world the men decreed, but no more.
I remember at a book conference back in the nineties when a social worker told me that they used romance books to show battered women how loving relationships were supposed to be, to show them that men were supposed to be loving and supportive and never beat a women. I was so impressed with that concept, my pride in what I was doing was greatly increased, so when I picked up a paper and read some of those tongue-in-cheek articles about romance books, I was even more outraged. Outraged should be the title of this article, I suppose, but we should all be feeling it right now, even our guys who love us and our daughters.
The writing industry and especially the erotic market has been very responsible in presenting relationships as something between two equally consenting adults and so it should be. That means the woman has choices in that relationships and nothing should come between her and her rights. Next time I sit down at the computer to write about men and women and their coming together as equals, I'll be reminded to make clear what rights and choices women have in our society and why we're better for them.
Friday, February 17, 2012
|Latest Nail Polish Craze|
Thursday, February 16, 2012
I still consider myself a newbie at this writing fiction thing, so I'm still discovering what tools work best for me and what tools are out there in the tech world. So I figured I'd share what I've learned so far.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
I can't tell you how wonderful it is to write on a regular basis. I started a new blogging project. There have been moments I do NOT want to write; yet I make myself. The ending result includes smiling at the completion and feeling accomplished. Then I turn around and write again because constantly writing is becoming a habit with time.
My short words of wisdom to people who are trying to advance their writing skills:
* make yourself write even if you don't want to write
* don't critique as you write, just do it
* get a writing partner as it makes all the difference in meeting deadlines and goals
* if you are struggling with formatting your writing, buy software if needed:
- Final Draft is great for scriptwriting
- Scrivener is perfect for novels
* join a writing group; it makes writing enjoyable
* don't set unrealistic goals
* and be creative while having fun writing!
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Here are some of my favorite lines from my favorite romantic comedies. Take a guess at which movies they are from. I'll post the answers this evening.
1. "Well I really wouldn't care to scratch your surface, Mr. Kralik, because I know exactly what I'd find. Instead of a heart, a hand-bag. Instead of a soul, a suitcase. And instead of an intellect, a cigarette lighter... which doesn't work."
2. "A hundred and fifty-two stitches from his nose job. The number of his souvenir shot glasses that he's collected in his travels."
3. "Perhaps Mr. Collins has a cousin."
4. "It's beltacular."
5. "You killed our love fern."
6. "And he's a Christian."
7. "When people tell me they are happy, my ass begins to twitch."
Happy guessing! Hope you have a wonderful day.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Okay...Abe Lincoln will probably haunt me forever but here goes--the oddity that goes through my brain when I'm burning the midnight oil to finish a book:
Four months and seven days ago... this author brought forth on this computer, a new manuscript, conceived in haste, and dedicated to the proposition that all characters deserve a happily ever after.
We are now engaged in a great writing debacle, testing whether such a manuscript so conceived and so difficult, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of Brynn’s mind. We have come to dedicate a portion of her brain, as a final resting place for those plots that have perished so that the story might live. It is altogether fitting and necessary that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot forget—we cannot let go—of these plots. These quirky ideas, viable and weird, who struggled here, have made their mark, far above Brynn’s power to add or detract. The world might little note nor long remember what is written here, but the faithful readers will never forget.
For it is charged to this writer, rather, to be dedicated to completing unfinished work and random plots that thus far have barely advanced. It is rather her task to be here dedicated to the great effort remaining before her—that from these hastily conceived ideas she take increased care to the cause for which she gives a full measure of her devotion—that she be highly resolve that these books shall not be written in vain—that this work, from Brynn’s brain, shall have a fresh perspective—and that ideas romantic, by the romantic, for the romantic, shall not perish from the shelves.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
How limited and dull my life would be if I didn’t have a love of reading. Suppose I’d never really learned to read – suppose it had become a struggle and therefore a chore. That’s why I volunteer thirty minutes a week with the Grand Rapids Schools of Hope tutoring program.
The big picture is that I listened to our Heart of West Michigan United Way volunteer describe the future prison-building plans as based on an area’s current third-grade reading level. Shocking, but it makes sense. Kids who struggle to read in third grade aren’t going to improve their school performance in subsequent years. Imagine a boy or girl who can’t make the grade (literally) and think how they feel about school. If it were me, I’d be looking for, planning for and waiting to escape. Jobs for high-school dropouts with literacy problems aren’t well-paying, if they exist at all. You get the picture.
This is my second year as a volunteer. For a very small time invested, (2 hours initial training and 30 minutes a week) my rewards are rich. Last year, my student was a third grader who wrote me a note after each reading session and hugged me good-bye. She told me about being the youngest child in her mom’s family and the oldest in her dad’s because her dad’s girlfriend just had a baby. I put two and two together and figured (rightly or wrongly) that this didn’t provide a stable environment. Even as a single mother, I spent hours reading with my son, literally from the day he was born. Reading, studies and a stable environment are a priority in our home. I didn’t sense she had this herself.
My current student is a fourth grader. We’ve gotten to know each other over the last couple months and she’s an enthusiastic reader. Last week she came in wearing glasses (new for her) and beaded bracelets and necklaces. The jewelry was a gift for her “friend-a-versary” – a celebration with her best friend. She told me that her friends help her keep her light, that when she’s feeling down, her friends keep her up. All this from a ten year old.
I see the light in her eyes when she adds new learned words to her banner on the wall. In order to get added, the word must be spelled correctly six times and written in a sentence. I love to watch her walk around the room, checking out the other banners, sometimes counting their words and comparing her own. She doesn’t get discouraged by this comparison – I see her strengthen her own resolve.
The highlight was this past week when she had to use the word “valuable” in her sentence. “My tutor is valuable.”
Yeah. I did almost start crying. At the same time, my heart was so full of joy at the impact of my thirty minutes a week. Watching a child develop and grow – seeing a young girl reach for her goals and achieve them – does it get any better?
Readers and writers. I’m keeping my eyes on this girl. We may likely find her gracing bookshelves and best-seller lists in the future. And that’s just so much better than being a statistic for future prison-building.
Friday, February 10, 2012
When I haven't been writing for a while, my writing muscle gets weak and flabby. (A lot like my abs.) After an extended period of non-productivity, I sit down at my keyboard and struggle to get the words out. My under-used writing muscle screams for a break. "Really," it says, "I'll perform much better with another cup of tea. Or better yet, do you have any chocolate in the house?"
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Oooo! I'm jumping over the moon this month.
I've sold my first contemporary romance, Baltimore Heat!
It will be released April 25.
Just in time for Chicago-North's Spring Fling Conference, so I can participate in the book-signing.
This is a book that I almost didn't write. The initial scene came to me one night as I was trying to get to sleep. I got out of bed and wrote into the wee hours of the morning. Then I put it to the side. I was in the middle of writing another book at the time, and didn't want to get distracted.
Six months later, I considered opening the file, but I wasn't sure I was the correct person to write this story. It's an interracial romance between a white woman and a black man, and an important piece of the story takes place with Marcus's family. I didn't know if I could present his family dynamics authentically. With the encouragement of several writer friends, I completed the story. And now it's going to be published!!! Whoo Hoo!
Here's a little blurb to introduce you to Raquel and Marcus:
At the end of a busy workweek, young businesswoman Raquel Walsh merely wants to shorten the distance between her and the train station while she searches for a taxi. She never expects to find herself lost in a rough Baltimore neighborhood, the victim of a mugging and the unexpected houseguest of the grandmother of a retired, professional basketball player.
Marcus Jones isn’t in the market for a new woman as he nears the end of his self-imposed year of celibacy after his vicious breakup with his last gold-digging girlfriend. Having to play host to a homeless woman for the weekend is messing with his plans, as Raquel distracts him with her curvy, womanly figure and her tendency to land on her face.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
This came home to me a few years ago with my husband. He's an engineer and he must bring his own ideas about designs etc with the added knowledge of load structure etc. to keep the project from collapsing. He has or had because he's retired now, ideas out of his head to create ides and solutions and make sure they worked. His creativity required a great deal more discipline and specificity than most areas. A school teacher is a prime example where she must use creativity to teach young people in a fresh and effective way. The lawyer must get creative in order to do the best job for his client. His failure to a good job can affect his clients freedom or even life and death. I could go on. The point I want to make is that this creativity exits in a box as it were, it's parameters are tight. There are rules in their creativity, certain boundaries that can't be stepped over, even in the name of creativity. The worst example of this kind of control over creativity existed years ago in Russia where art and music and literature had to reflect the politics of their country. Many great artists fled Russia, as they have other oppressed countries, because of these restrictions.
Yet, even under those circumstances, when the artist's very heart and soul was being squashed, and their work discredited, people held them up to a very high esteem. Those creative giants could say or show things within the heart of men, that others could not. Their esteem was deserved.
But what about us, writers here in America? Writing is a 'have to' thing for most of us, but sometimes, we demand more accolades than our work demands. We lean on our rights as creative artists. Do you know who I am? some irate writer might exclaim to a hapless waitress or busboy who hasn't a clue because it's her/his first book and it just isn't making a major impact on their world.
I think we need to thank God for our creative forces, be humble for having them and enjoy the privileges that go with it. What are those creative privileges? We get to do something we love doing and we have an audience for it, which makes us feel empowered enough to keep on. I think that's privilege enough.