Birthdays, Books, and Blogging

A few years ago, I wrote a book. A few months ago, I edited it. A few weeks ago, it was published.

Today is my birthday. And since today is my birthday, I’d like to make a wish. I wish for my book to someday end up in your hands. 🙂

WARNING: My novel may cause smiling, chuckling, continuous page flipping, and sudden caffeine cravings. Falling in love and crying were also reported in some cases.

Cheers to another wonderful year! To old and new dreams, to love, and to life!

For the Kindle version of HIGH, click here.

A Happy Holiday Book Release

I am in the midst of preparing a nice holiday dinner for family tonight. Still have a lot to do, but I thought I’d take a quick break and update you on my novel.

Trying to release a book during the holidays is probably an insane idea, which was why I originally planned on releasing my novel last month. Unfortunately, editing took longer than I expected.

My manuscript sat with my editor for three long weeks. When I got my manuscript back, I was thrilled to find only a few markups, which I immediately worked on. After that, I set up my files then sent them to print. Once the files were approved, I ordered a printed proof. My proof arrived a few days later, and I was excited to read my book in print format. I had no idea I was in for a big surprise. I found mistakes I didn’t catch on screen, but more importantly, I found mistakes my editor completely missed. Most of the mistakes were minor, but there were a few that made me cringe. It was disappointing and very frustrating.

Quick writing tip: Don’t just proof your manuscript on screen. Print it out. You will be amazed at what you can find.

I finished doing my edits last Saturday, and I received the online proof last night. I’m getting ready to review it—hopefully, one last time.

I know that I could easily postpone my release date to next year, but I won’t. I can’t. 2012 has been a productive and good year for me. It just feels right to release HIGH this year.

So after tonight’s celebration, I will make time to review my book one last time. I’m hoping that by Christmas morning, the eBook version of HIGH will be available for everyone to view.

I hope you are enjoying the holidays with good company and good food. I wish you all happiness and success in the coming New Year.

From my family to yours, Happy Holidays!

An Interview with Author, Lauren Waters

I am thrilled to have the lovely, Lauren Waters, the author of Infinite Sacrifice and Infinite Devotion, as my guest for this interview.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
LW: I wrote poetry since I was very young and I dreamed of becoming the next Jane Goodall. I thought I’d write about my adventures observing animals in exotic locations, but life went a different way and I chose to observe my own little monkeys. A few years ago, I felt compelled to write down the story that was keeping me up at night. Writing my first novel was so rewarding that I knew it was something I needed to do for myself from then on.

    

Tell us about Infinite Sacrifice and Infinite Devotion.
LW: Infinite Sacrifice is a reincarnation fantasy about an old woman named Maya who is shocked to discover it’s not the heaven she imagined; in fact, a life of adventure begins the moment she dies. What follows is a series of historic vignettes, spanning from the dawn of civilization up to the apocalyptic time of plague, all tied together with the thread of one soul’s journey for spiritual perfection. However, Maya is not alone on the road to enlightenment. She is surrounded by souls who help or hinder her progress—evolving alongside her throughout some of the most compelling events and eras in history.

Maya continues in Infinite Devotion to delve into her past lives after death, as she strives  to complete the tentative journey required to reunite with her loved ones in heaven. Her companions prove truer while her enemies grow stronger as her bygone adventures spin forth. This time she must experience the trials of loyalty and endure the hardships that only supreme devotion brings.

What inspired you to write your book series?
LW: An idea. Many say, “Write the books you want to read and for years, I wished that someone would release a book or movie that explored the possibilities of reincarnation. I came across a few books in this genre that centered on star-crossed young soul mates with only flashbacks of one other past life.  I yearned for one that dug deeply into all of the intricacies of many lives and many relationships. I wanted it to feel real. Therefore, I decided that I would write it.

What made you decide to self-publish?
LW: I queried my first book for six months and I was thrilled when my dream agent asked for a full request. She let me know that series sold well if they were stand alones, since publishers only want to continue with a series as long as it’s successful. She asked me to make it a stand-alone and I tried to think of how I could do that, but this story can never be a stand-alone. It is a true series, and I knew it had to be told as such. I decided then that I wanted to publish it on my own and I’ve never regretted that decision.

Which publishing company did you use and would you recommend them?
LW: I used Createspace for my print versions and I highly recommend them. The quality amazed me and they are very easy to work with. However, I have sold only a hand full of print copies outside my friends and family. The majority of sales for self-publishers will be ebooks sold through Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble. I recommend all of these distributors. I know many indie authors who only publish in ebook form, yet I just had to have a physical copy for myself. If your budget is tight, by all means, forgo the print format.

What do you think are the advantages of self-publishing?
LW: Namely, control. You are the one who decides: which editing advice you listen to, cover design (one of my favorite jobs), title, book price, free promotions, which books you publish in the future, your promotional strategy, deadlines. The deadlines are the most important aspects for me since I have two little children who always come first. If I felt the pressure to complete a book by a certain date with a whole team of people relying on me, that pressure would interfere with my more important full time job. This way I can live my life around my passion for writing.

How do you feel about book trailers? Do you think they work?
LW: I had so much fun creating my book trailers. I’m not sure if they sell any of my books, but I don’t think they can hurt. If a reader doesn’t like book trailers then he won’t bother watching them, but if someone is interested, then they might get his attention. However, I wouldn’t pay someone to make one for you though. Here is a post I made so you can make one yourself: http://laurenwaters.net/2011/07/06/phew-the-book-trailer-is-done/. Any publicity is good publicity.

What type of marketing has been the most effective for you?
LW: Definitely making my first novel in the Infinite Series free. It has done wonders for me. I now advise any self-publisher to make something free for a prolonged period in order to get your other books noticed—whether it be a short story, novella, the first of the series, or part of your book. People mistrust self-publishing, so if you give them a free sample of your writing quality, they may invest into other works. Plus, you are seen on the free ebooks lists and on free ebook promotion sites. Again, publicity.

How much time do you think you spend on marketing your book online and offline?
LW: I try to do as little marketing as possible. It’s my least favorite part of the process (right after creating book descriptions!). This is one of the main reasons I made my first book free. That does most of the promoting for me. Every once in awhile, when the rankings slip, I have to get my free book featured on a free ebook site to pick the rankings back up. I also send my book out to book reviewers and give print copies of my second book away on Goodreads from time to time. Nothing sells your book better than word of mouth.

What do you think about blog tours? Do you participate in them?
LW: I have done a blog tour and didn’t see any huge increase in sales that week, but it’s a great way to get many reviews and interviews in a short amount of time. I chose a very inexpensive one, but I don’t think they paired up the reviewers very well with my genre. I have come across a fantastic historical fiction blog tour that I might splurge on in the future.

Aside from writing a great story, what do you think makes some self-published books succeed and some fail?
LW: Not putting enough time and money into it. Without a team of people telling you when your book is ready, you need to revise until it feels like terrorist torture to read your MS one…more…time. Then you need to send out to as many beta’s (hopefully some with writing experience) as you can. Then you need to make changes again. Then you have to pay for the best editor you can afford, and one or two proofreaders to catch all the things the editor missed. Pay for it now and save yourself the negative reviews and embarrassment of fixing typos after the fact.

Would you ever consider traditional publishing?
LW: Of course, I’ve dreamed of high sales that would attract the attention of my dream agent who will not only get my books in brick and mortar stores, and sell the screenplay to Bruckheimer (yes, I said dream). Then, I think about all that pressure and I’m content with where I am right now. My books and fans make me so happy; I don’t need much more. Although, after my children are grown, I might pursue traditional publishing when I can commit to it full time.

What book are you currently reading?
LW: The Reshaping of Everyday Life, 1790-1840 by Jack Larkin—research for my third book, Infinite Loss.

What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
LW: The best thing of all is when someone tells me that they loved reading my book. There are no words to describe how great that feels.

Thank you, Lauren for giving me the opportunity to interview you.

If you would like to check out Lauren’s blog or pick up a copy of her books, you can find her at: http://laurenwaters.net/.

Her books are also available on Amazon.

30-Minute Flash Fiction Exercise

They say if you want to be a writer, you need to write every day. I do my best to work on my manuscript(s) every day and blog as often as I can, but because I feel like I need to push myself a little more, I have decided to give flash fiction a try.

30-Minute Flash Fiction Exercise
I’d like to start a new writing exercise on my blog, and I would love it if you could join me. As often as I can, I will post a title for a flash fiction we could all use. If you’d like to participate, simply write a 100-word flash fiction and post it on the comments portion of my 30-Minute Flash Fiction post. Although flash fiction can sometimes go up to 1,000 words, for this exercise, I’d like to stick to only 100 words.

How it works:
I will post a title for our exercise at least once a week. When you’re ready to write, challenge yourself and write your story in 30 minutes or less. It will be interesting to read what we end up writing, given the limited amount of time and the limited number of words. I believe this exercise will help us hone our writing skills and allow us to give each other feedback.

For today, the title will be:
3 a.m. 

My version:

The phone rings.
“Hello,” I answer with my eyes closed.
“It’s Matt.”
My eyes peel open. I glance at the clock.
“What are you doing calling me this late?”
“I need to see you.” His voice sounds desperate.
“What do you mean?”
“I need to see you, Sarah.”
“Not a good idea,” I reply.
“It never is.”
My heart starts racing.
“I’m across the street, at the 24-hour diner,” he says.
“Give me five minutes,” I whisper and hang up.
I stare into the dark.
“Who was that?” Ben turns to face me.
I crawl under the sheets.
“No one.”

 

I look forward to reading your flash fiction. 🙂

63 Hours and Counting

Hello bloggers!

My writing project on Indiegogo, Poetry for Paris, is coming to a close and I have 63 hours left to reach my goal. I need a little help. If you would like to support my project, or learn more, please click here.

NOTE: Starting today, $10 pledges will also receive a poem!

Here are the perks for pledging:
$10 (Baguette)
I will  acknowledge you on my blog. (Starting today, $10 pledges will also receive a poem!)

$25 (Croissant)
I will acknowledge you, write you a poem and feature it on my blog.

$50 (Croque Monsieur)
I will acknowledge you, write you a poem and feature it on my blog, PLUS, I’ll bring you back a souvenir from Paris. I’ll mail it to you as soon as I get back.

$100 (Moules Frites)
I will acknowledge you, write you a poem, feature it on my blog, and mail you a copy of my favorite movie, Midnight in Paris, plus the soundtrack.

$150 (Boeuf Bourguignon)
I will acknowledge you, write you a poem, feature it on my blog, and mail you a copy of my favorite movie, Midnight in Paris. PLUS, I will name a character after you in my book.

$200 (Foie gras)
I will acknowledge you, write you a poem, feature it on my blog, plus buy and mail you a book from the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris with a personal dedication from me. PLUS, I will name a character after you in my book.

A HUGE thank you to those who have already pledged. To those that haven’t and would like to help, pick your perk and pledge now.

Happy blogging!

ABC Award!

I’ve been busy with personal things lately, that I had to put my writing and blogging on hold for a couple of weeks. When I finally returned to blogging, I felt so behind. I couldn’t wait to check my emails and start writing new posts. While catching up on things, I realized that the sweet and thoughtful Shannon of isleofbooks, nominated me for the ABC Award! Thank you for thinking of me. I am flattered. It was a wonderful welcome back after being away for days from the blogging world.

Rules:
This award asks that the recipient name 26 alphabetical things about themselves and then pass it on.

It was a fun and challenging exercise to think of 26 things alphabetically to describe myself. I hope I did okay.

A – Ambitious
B – Bright
C – Creative
D – Determined
E – Energetic
F – Funny
G – Generous
H – Humble
I – Inspired
J – Jolly
K – Kind
L – Loyal
M – Motivated
N – Nice
O – Optimistic
P – Petite
Q – Quirky
R – Resilient
S – Sincere
T – Thankful
U – Unique
V – Veracious
W – Witty
X – (Need help on this one)
Y – Youthful
Z – Zest

Here are my nominations:

http://langleyblog.wordpress.com/

http://robincoyle.wordpress.com/

http://becomingmadame.wordpress.com/

http://gypsydoodles.wordpress.com/

Thanks again Shannon! You made me smile. 🙂

An Interview with Dina Silver, Author of One Pink Line

Here it is, as promised, my interview with a self-published author.

I discovered Dina’s book, One Pink Lineon Amazon.com and was very impressed with the rave reviews. I knew I had to interview her. Dina was kind enough to let me do just that.

See below.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I’ve been working as a writer in the ad industry for about 15 years, and I’ve always wanted to write more than headlines and direct mail pieces. Before I wrote my first book, I started writing it as a screenplay, but decided to convert it to a novel somewhere along the way.

What inspired you to write One Pink Line?
One Pink Line is inspired by the story of a friend of mine. Once she told me about herself and her family, I was so touched by what a wonderful and touching young life she had lived, that I immediately asked her if I could write about it.

If you were to tell us about your book in one sentence, what would it be?
A great love story.

How long did it take you to write your novel?
About three months to write, and about seven months to edit.

Who read your book before it got published? Are you part of a Writer’s Group?
I am not part of a writer’s group. I hired a local editor, and had a few friends and family members read the manuscript. Some read it more than once.

Is your book only available electronically or do you also have printed copies?
Printed copies are available through Amazon.

How do you market your book?
Honestly, I spend hours every day trying to market my book. I’m always trying to reach out to book bloggers, reviewers, and other self-published authors like myself. I have found that the “indie” book community is extremely supportive! There are so many writers like myself who have come together to help other writers gain a presence and get the word out on each other’s books.

Did you ever consider getting a Literary Agent or did you always know you wanted to self-publish? How did you decide?
I actually had an agent, and was under contract with her for a year. She was shopping around my first book, Kat Fight, and was unable to find a publisher for it. During that year, I discovered self-publishing, and did a ton of research on it that lead me to believe it was the perfect path for me. So I chose not to renew my contract with my agent, and have been absolutely thrilled with my choice. I will say that I am a complete control freak, and you almost have to be to self-publish successfully, because you do everything yourself. However, I did publish through Createspace (who I HIGHLY recommend) and they will do a bunch of the upfront work for you. But once it’s out there, you need to really work to get your book noticed…and it will be so rewarding when you do.

Describe your experience with self-publishing. How long did the whole process take?
Partnering with Createspace took about three months. But I went through them because I wanted to have paperback copies available too. If you’re strictly going the eBook route, it will take much less time.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being self-published?
The biggest advantage, as far as I’m concerned, is that you maintain the rights to your work. The other big advantage is that you can make more money per book, and you can have your book published in record time. Most traditional houses take 18 months to get your book out there.

Would you recommend self-publishing?
I would highly recommend it! However, make sure you have a perfectly edited manuscript, great cover art, and the ability to market yourself. Oh…and a good book!

Have you joined writing competitions?
I have entered One Pink Line in three competitions…results are all still pending. Cross your fingers for me!

What genre does your book belong to?
It falls under Contemporary Fiction & Women’s Fiction. 

What makes you unique as a writer? Describe your writing style.
I hope what makes me unique is my wit. I really try to write a great story with a thread of humor throughout.

Who is your favorite author, and why?
Hmm, I might have to say Jane Austen.

Define a good book.
One that I can’t put down. One that keeps me thinking about the characters as I’m trying to fall asleep.

Define a good writer.
Well, there are so many different types of writers, but I guess they all share a similar passion for storytelling. That’s what really comes through in the great ones.

What is your favorite book? What are you reading now?
Favorite book of all time is Pride & Prejudice. Right now I am reading Mockingjay (third book in the Hunger Games trilogy)

How has being a published author changed your life?
It’s been a gift. I truly believe this is what I was always meant to do.

How do you balance being a writer and a mom?
I have one beautiful boy who is in third grade, so I have lots of time to write when he’s at school.

What inspires you to write?
Great stories.

Are you working on your second book?
Yes! My second book, Kat Fight, will be out in June.

What tips can you give writers who are considering self-publishing?
Here are a few:

  • Edit, edit, edit!
  • If people you trust give you great criticism, take it
  • Hire someone to design an eye-catching, professional cover for your book
  • Get involved in social media
  • Get involved with the site Goodreads
  • Reach out to book bloggers
  • Once your book is out there being read, ask people to leave reviews for it on Amazon
  • Good luck!

Thanks Dina for giving me the opportunity to interview you. It was such a pleasure.

If you’d like to learn more about Dina Silver, visit her website.

One Pink Line is available on Amazon.com.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope my two interviews were helpful.

Sunshine Award

I am flattered that Nicole Cloutier nominated me for a Sunshine Award. Thank you Nicole! Blogging just got more fun.

If you’re wondering how the Sunshine Award works, here are the rules:

Rules:
Thank the person who gave you the award. Done!
Write a post about it. Done!
Answer the questions that come with it. See below.
Pass it along to ten people and let them know they’ve received the award. See below.

Questions:
Favorite Color:  Orange. I just love it.
Favorite Animal:  Dogs
Favorite Number:  1. Just decided on that now.
Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink:  Water
Facebook or Twitter:  Facebook for now, it may change later.
My Passion:  Writing.
Getting or Giving Presents:  Giving, but wouldn’t mind getting.
Favorite Pattern:  Solid. It doesn’t go out of style.
Favorite Day of the Week:  Friday, I’m in love.
Favorite Flower: Sunflower. It’s as sunny as the Sunshine Award.

Okay, time to nominate. I don’t have ten people, but below are the blogs I enjoy.

http://nicolecloutier.me/
I like her blog, not because she nominated me (thanks Nicole!) but because I genuinely enjoy her posts. I’ve picked up some good writing tips from her.

http://storytellingnomad.wordpress.com/
I like her blog because it’s a combination of my two favorite things: writing and traveling. You can’t go wrong.

http://letitbelovely.com/
As a mom, I enjoy reading her posts. They’re always fun and entertaining.

http://whatsintow.wordpress.com/
A wonderful blog for mommies. Great tips, recipes and pics. I’ve learned a lot from her.

http://mikesilvia.wordpress.com/
He cracks me up.

http://madisonwoods.wordpress.com/
A great blog for writers. She has a lot of good information.

That’s all for now. Happy blogging!