Lisa Manifold

Writing From the Top of the Street

Tag: novels (page 1 of 2)

Post Con Collapse

Two Conventions in less than 10 days. That’s what I did last week, folks. June 17-19 I attended Denver Comic Con (awwwweesome!) and then June 22-26, I flew off to Nashville for UtopiaCon 2016. Another awwwweesome.

While not everyone who reads this is an author, I wanted to share some of the wisdom I gleaned from these hectic ten days.

1. Plan in advance, and actually DO the things on your to-do list. Don’t wait until the last minute to get everything done. If you have to fly to a convention, make sure you have the right luggage to get your books, marketing materials and display items to the venue. Otherwise, you’ll end up scrambling for appropriate luggage and sweating over the weight limits.

You really don’t want to know how I know this.

2. Find the balance between taking too much, and not enough. It’s not easy – but talk to people who have done the event before. Look on Facebook. Is there a group for the people going? I was fortunate to find a group dedicated to authors heading to UtopiaCon. I didn’t really need to ask questions because so many other people did it before I even thought of any. But I did read the discussions and follow them, and it helped me tremendously in deciding what I needed to bring with me. When you have to travel to the venue, the logistics of what and how much to bring are paramount.

3. It’s okay to sell out of a product. I sold out of HEART OF THE GOBLIN KING, and I took orders for it. I added a small fee for shipping, and boom! Done! So bring the amount of product that works without hurting you logistically (thank goodness for Southwest and their two bag allowance!). You can still sell and be successful if you have overwhelming demand beyond how much product you have in hand that day.

4. Prep your display before you show up for the event. I hadn’t done any conventions as an author, and nothing on the scale of either of the two I attended. So I researched table set up, and made notes about what has worked for other creative people who are selling at these events. You know what? It worked. I found a great blog that broke down how people decide you’re not the artistic equivalent of a used car salesman. Set up your table beforehand and look at it as dispassionately as you can. Does it appeal? Is it cluttered? (Side note: Give yourself time to set up at the venue and eyeball your table as well. De-clutter. Make everything visually appealing. If you’re not sure, bring a friend for set up to help you look at your display objectively.)

It worked. BUT – and this is a big but – it’s work. You cannot spend the time and money that working conventions takes without committing yourself to hard work. Comic Con started on June 17, and I was home and done by June 27 with both cons, and I am EXHAUSTED. Be prepared for that. Have help so you can get something to eat and drink, and the ability to go to the bathroom. These things matter as much as anything else you do, people!

5. Come up with a one line description for your work. People are moving by. They don’t want to stop and hear the entire 5 page synopsis. Make it quick, intriguing, and snappy. What would interest you as a potential reader? That’s how I developed my descriptions.

6. Don’t hard sell. People don’t mind being sold, in my opinion, if you lead them to it logically, and without a baseball bat. No one likes the used car salesman. Don’t be that guy for your book. People will nod, take your swag, and scurry away, sorry they made eye contact. That’s not the kind of impression you want to leave with them. Practice how you’re going to talk to people. This is important if you’re not really a people person. Let’s face it, writing/creating is a solitary profession. So if you’re not comfy with it, stand in front of a mirror and practice.

That leads to my final takeaway-

7. Always put yourself in the place of your audience.

I’m a reader. Most authors are readers as well. It’s part of why we write – we want to transport others as we ourselves have been transported. So what would work for you, as a reader? What sort of table display at a convention would draw you in? What kind of chat from the author would inspire you to take a chance on an author you aren’t familiar with?

What would turn you away? Think about what sort of message you like to see from those selling a product, and what works and doesn’t work for you, as the audience.

I find that if I think of my audience at all times, I tend to do things that they like. Because they’re things that I, as a reader and a fangirl of various fandoms, like.

You do all these things, and you’re probably going to have a pretty fantastic time. No voice at the end of it, but who cares? You had fun losing it!

Denver Comic Con 2015 Deets!

StandupAdLMM1DCC2016 is here! I’m really excited, because I have a lot of fun planned for this coming weekend. (See the standup in this post? You could be here, with Brennan, all posable-like, canoodling….)

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WORK! I mean to say, WORK! No fun! No fun will be had at ALL!

So, I’ll be at a booth all weekend, signing copies of Three Wishes and Heart Of The Goblin King! Both of which are making their print debut at DCC2016! You can find me in Booth AA11, and this really lovely interactive SITE will help you to find the booth!

When I’m not in my booth, this is my schedule:
(Also found HERE)

I hope to see you all this weekend! Come out and see a really amazing Con!

SPEAKER AT SESSIONS
Revisiting Neverland – YA Lit, Fairy Tales, and Gender Roles
Jun 17, 11:45am – 12:35pm MDT
Room 506/507 – Literary / Authors
Lisa Manifold
Jun 18, 11:00am – 12:00pm MDT
Author’s Alley AA20
Self-Publishing: Is It For You?
Jun 18, 1:30pm – 2:20pm MDT
Room 502/503 – Literary / Authors
Fan Fiction – The Real Extended Universe
Jun 18, 6:00pm – 6:50pm MDT
Room 506/507 – Literary / Authors

Book Review: The Glass Wall series by Madison Adler & Carmen Caine

I wanted to start the year off with a book recommendation. I was with family a great deal of the holidays, and had more down time to read than usual. I read a number of new books, but as I always do, I re-read some of my favorites.

One of them is a series called The Glass Wall. Madison Adler and Carmen Caine are the authors. There are four books in the series – The Glass Wall, The Brotherhood of the Snake, The Inner Circle, and The Egg. There’s also a short called Behind The Mirror – and it’s worth reading. Gives great background information.

I loved every single one of them. It’s young adult, and it’s paranormal. I’d even call it a romance, although that’s not the main point. As with many of the YA series I read, the romance is mixed up with everything else going on in the story.

Sydney is the heroine of the series – a seventeen year-old who is headed for yet another foster home. There’s no whitewashing the truth she deals with in regards to her mom. Mom is a character you want to throw something at the few times she turns up on the page.

The difference with this foster home is that she really likes her foster parents. They are both very likable and engaging. I love that her foster mom is an Ebay queen. I won’t spoil it for you.

The relationships develop well, and it’s not merely the romance I’m referring to. There’s a scene at Christmas with all the kids that will make you weepy.

The language is a little formal at times, but if you’ve read my Sisters Of The Curse series, you’ll know that doesn’t bother me one bit. I like formal. My favorite books are Jane Austen. To me, the formality is appropriate with the characters using it.

Here’s the breakdown – Sydney gets to her foster home, and learns that she has a smokin’ hot neighbor named Rafael. He’s got some weird parents. Then she meets Jareth, another smokin hot guy who is also the Big Deal in the music scene. Jareth hangs around, being snarky (my favorite kind of guy) and you get the sense there’s a chance for romance with both of these guys.

Then Sydney learns that they are Fae, and their hotness quotient shoots off the scale. She’s appealing to them because she is part and parcel of Fate in the Fae world.

I love how the author manages to show all these world-ending issues (and they are there in all four books) along with the normal crap one has to deal with as a teenager.

I read through these books like a shot, and the instant the last two in the series were available, I got them. I think one of them was the first pre-order I bought.

If you like YA, with a hint of dystopian, and the always present chance at romance, this is a series for you. I can safely say that as I read it again, and loved it as much as I did the first time around.

For the record, I’d love to have a Jareth lurking about my local Starbucks.

The Glass Wall series on Amazon

2016, and Looking Back on 2015

It’s the last ten days of the year as of today. That sounds so final. I’ve been busy with all the things I need to have done with the holidays approaching, and haven’t been as good on sticking to my desired schedule. However, I have been looking over what I’ve accomplished this year, and then to what I want to get done next year.

It doesn’t hurt that I did a podcast with a fellow RMFW member today and we talked about it.

So here’s my Year In Review

3 Novels
1 Novella
1 Serial novel, in six parts, which equals a novel

One of my novels, and two parts of the serial are in a box set, which I’ve found helpful. I love working with other authors.

It doesn’t look like as much as I’d like. I have another novel that I am working through, but there’s a lot of stopping and starting, because I haven’t found the groove I want for it yet. Lordamercy, I wish it would come on and hurry up! I’m waiting!

But all in all, I’m pretty pleased with my output.

So what have I learned this year? Well, marketing is something you need to be doing research on regularly. I don’t think that you have to change your plans with each new technique, but I do think you need to be aware of the ways other authors are doing well, and what’s been a struggle for them. Not that everyone will find success the same way. I’ve learned a lot, however, from reading what has and has not worked for others.

My marketing this year was rather hit or miss. I have been on a strict budget, most of which has gone to my cover art. I plan to have a somewhat bigger budget next year, so that I can work on my marketing plan all year.

I’m going to keep my books in Select, and my pen name is wide. I like being able to see the differences.

I’m shifting genres next year. I have a trilogy planned, and then a five book series, and all of them are paranormal romance. I love reading and writing it, so that’s my focus for the next year.

I’m going to change the spacing of publication. I’ve read a number of blogs and articles on this, and I think I’m going to release them closer together. So that means writing ahead. I’d like to be FAR ahead, but I’m not there yet. I think I need to be, though. We’ll see.

Once I get Catrin’s Grimoire published, I feel good that I’m finishing the story arc in a satisfying place. That feels good – all the things I introduced in Thea’s Tale will be tied into a fairly neat bow.

What have I learned? You have to know your genre, and you have to study what genre your work fits into. Then, you need to study your genre tropes, and follow them! You’re not being original or awesome by flouting them. There are exceptions to every rule, but I believe more in the idea that people read in a certain genre because they know and enjoy the expectations of the genre. It’s your job to give them a rewarding and interesting read that meets their expectations. Within reason. We all know you can’t make everyone happy.

I like shorts. I didn’t think that I did, but I wrote the serial novel, and then my last novel for the year was around 60,000 words. I also enjoyed writing the novella. Learning this was a news flash to me. I like reading longer novels, but in reading a number of shorter novels to see how others were structuring their work, I found that I enjoyed the quicker read.

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? LOL

So you have my year in a nutshell, and the basic premise for my 2016. What are your goals? What do you want to do next year? I’m going to play with my marketing more, and see what happens. I’m going to have more fun with my writing. It’s not any easier than when I put out my first work, but I’m learning more that allows me to enjoy it to a greater degree.

Which is awesome.

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My wish for all of you in the immediate future is for a wonderful holiday, however you celebrate, and a fantastic New Year! Be safe!

And when in doubt, go skiing.

ostrich-skiing

Post Turkey Day Reflections

This is not going to be my usual type of post. I want to talk about barriers. Hang on. This is a long one.

When we get older, we are imbued with fear. Well, I have been. I think it just happens. I was fearless when I was younger. My attitude was, ‘Well, why not?’ This applied to what I could do, couldn’t do, wanted to try, thought I might like, everything. The world was my oyster.

As I got older, I learned more of life. We all know how that goes. It shows you, first gently, and then with a hard bitch slap, that everyone has limitations. Or at least, Life wants you to think that way.

For someone who was only limited by what I felt were limits (and I just didn’t have any when I was younger, because I was convinced of my own fabulousness and ability to conquer whatever Life or anyone else put in my way) learning that someone or something else set limits and would let you hit up against them hard was an ugly revelation. I stumbled, then fell. Having done so spectacularly, I became cautious. Perhaps even fearfully so. I don’t know. I look back, and see where my fearful caution held me back. I think, Why? I know it seemed important at the time.

Living in any sort of state inspired by fear is an awful thing. You do it long enough, you don’t even notice it. It’s always there, part of the landscape.

fear of failure

I’m 45 now, and letting go of some of the fear. Why? Because I like me, and getting to this point has been a journey from that younger me who loved herself, and felt no fear. So fuck it. I like me. I’m not backing down or apologizing for that. Not anymore.

But an adulthood of fear of some sort or another is a hard habit to kick. That hit home with me this past weekend. I just started skiing again in the past several years with the family after…oh…twenty years since my last foray into trying to ski.

What I’ve learned is that I am afraid. Of falling. Of breaking something. Of something I can’t even articulate. We planned to go out on Friday, when everyone else was fighting over a TV at Best Buy or some other Black Friday thing. Everyone got up late. No one made the push for going – and I finally did, even though I was dragging my feet.

So on the drive up, I mulled over why I dragged my feet. I hate the walk to the slopes. Getting the kids ready. All the circus-like atmosphere to get a family out for the day.

On the ride up, I forced myself to shift my attitude. It was a beautiful day. Sunny, and the wind wasn’t kicking. Since I ski near the Continental Divide, no wind and sun is a gift. (Note: It didn’t go over 20 degrees all day, but we weren’t cold. It was too sunny.)

You know what? Getting the kids suited up and ready wasn’t as bad. My boots fit amazingly this year, so the trek to the lift wasn’t so bad. No whining from the aforementioned kids. It was nice.

On to the lift we go. First run down, and it’s not so bad. Little icy, which makes me nervous. Then I think, wait. Last year in spring snow I fell face first ass over teakettle, and I was fine. Thank god for helmets! So I fall. So what?

I spent that first run watching my kids and making sure I hadn’t forgotten everything. Then we go down the second time, and holy hell. It was better. I watched my kid (the one I was assigned to), and I leaned forward, and forced my shoulders to drop.

That run was fantastic. I got some speed, which I normally am not comfortable with. I’m always afraid I’ll lose control. One more aspect of the fear issue.

What’s so bad about losing control? Well, for me, and this will be different for everyone, when I lost control, I totally dropped my basket and my life went to hell. So I am negatively conditioned to hang onto control like my life depended on it.

Even to the point where I won’t go fast skiing. I changed that on Friday. I let go, and I went fast. Guess what? I didn’t lose control. When things got dicey, and I am sure they still will, I managed it.

I managed it. Take that, Fear.

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Which led, because my kids love the lift that takes an eternity, to more reflection. Look how much I enjoyed the day that wasn’t a full day, nor was it the most challenging day we’ve ever done. I had a fantastic day. I took more risks (no moguls or anything like that) than I usually do, and I did it skiing faster than I normally would.

Because what the hell? I’m not a crazy risk taker, but ANY step out of my normal is a risk for me.

And since then, I’ve had a weight lifted off me. Some of that weight is still there. I’ve spent too long keeping control and worrying and making sure that “something” doesn’t happen. My wariness and cautious nerves won’t ease up overnight.

But something left. And it’s not a bad thing. All because I took a deep breath, and said ‘What the hell?’ on the first day out of ski season.

So take a chance this week. It doesn’t have to be big, or even anything that someone other than you notices. It just has to be a chance for you. Bite your lip, take a deep breath, and just go for something. Something just for you.

Because that’s what this is all about. In our own way, we are all

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Back from the dead

Well, good grief.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted. WTH? I was being better than that. Well, here I am, back and repentant. It’s been a busy week. In all honesty, I look at how I scheduled life before I stopped working outside the home, and wonder how did I get anything done?

Enough whining. Tonight, I want to talk about why you publish, and how to make the decision. In order to get there, you’re going to have to go back to 2013 with me.

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Settle in. This is a long one.

I had just joined RMFW. Gone to the Conference. Pitched my first agent, and gotten a request for a partial.

I was On. Fire. Guuuurl, I was gonna land that agent (my Dream Agent, btw) and become an overnight success. Sent in my pages, and within a month, I’d heard back from the agent. Thanks, but no thanks. Nice note of rejection, but a rejection none-the-less.

So I joined Query Tracker, and started the round robin. I don’t know now how many rejections I have based on who I queried, but in early 2014 I sure as hell did. However, I was still confident that even without Dream Agent, it was Gonna Happen.

I was also in the midst of critique group change. The one I belonged to was not a good fit, and I landed in the Tuesday group I am still part of. The moderator of that group, with whom I am great friends with, and I were on the same journey. Finished book, doing edits, working on something new, and querying.

Then the moderator went to a conference, and came back all a-gog. She’d heard one of the biggies in the indie world speak. She laid out facts, contract specifics, and most importantly, money.

I’ll never forget the talk we had after that Tuesday meeting. It changed my life. Literally. I went and did some reading on the author she’d heard speak. It was Courtney Milan. If you haven’t read her thoughts on indie publishing, I recommend it. Then I did the Bad Thing. I put ‘indie publishing’ into the Google browser.

Er.Mah.Gawd.

The first person I found was Hugh Howey, the indie darling. I’d read his Wool trilogy without knowing he is an indie, but now I did all sorts of online stalking on his journey into publishing. I remember sitting at my netbook, and just having to lean back at the sheer overload from what I was reading. (I have to tell you all I met him at Dragon Con last year, and WOW. He’s really a nice person, and very passionate about self-determination in the publishing world, which I love. He also has an amazing blog @ wayfinder.com. Its worth reading, particularly, if you’re like me and in addition to being an indie writer are a passionate sailor. The boat envy I have….oy. Anyway)

Which led me down a rabbit hole, but I pulled back, and concentrated on my own work. I finally, FINALLY, put Novel #1 under my bed and stopped querying it. Focused on something new, because the way to get better is to write something else. Came up with an idea for a new series. (That is Sisters Of The Curse, in case you were curious. LOL) Worked all summer and fall last year on Thea’s Tale, and getting better at my craft. One thing my critique group taught me was that I needed work on my craft. I started reading craft books, going to classes, LISTENING to those who might know something more than me.

That’s important, boys and girls. There’s always someone who knows more than you. Go find them, when you have a question. LEARN. Good lord, you can google anything. I’ve learned the most random things from Google. There is no excuse.

And I finished Thea’s Tale. SO now…the thing was done. What then?

Revise, have beta reader read it, and revise some more. Then once more, and then – Get an editor. Don’t take just anyone. Interview them. I am lucky – I know my editor, and she’s not only a fantabulous editor, she’s part of my target audience. So she can tell me what doesn’t work for the audience I’m going for. Give the book to the editor, and leave it be until s/he sends it back. While you’re waiting, find a cover artist. I know there are people who say DIY, but I disagree. I think having someone who is a professional (even if you’re one) but is not emotionally invested in your book can give you a more balanced view of your cover. JMO, however, and you’re welcome to disagree.

Work with your artist. I pride myself on my ‘artistic eye’, but you know what? Every single idea I shot to my artist (see my earlier post about those two amazing ladies) looked like shit. Let’s not pull punches. My ideas looked like shit, when the ladies took my idea and did exactly what I wanted. So I started telling them what I wanted theme-wise, generally, and let them do their job. Guess what? You can see the beauty of what they came up with.

Then we come to the hard part. I did all of the above -and now I have this book waiting on a pre-order, and I don’t know what to do next. So off to Google I go. Because I have to dip my toe into the waters I fear the most in this process – the marketing waters.

Gack.

To me, marketing is the shark tank of my business. Who knows the best things to do? What will work for me? It worked for Author X, and this worked for Author Y, but Author Z does it this way – it’s enough to make you go crawl into bed and put the pillow over your head.

But, my dear reader, you cannot do that. Your book will fall to the floor, and wither and die. You must find a way to get your book out there, in front of readers.

My first suggestion, knowing now what I know? (Lordamercy, what a difference a year makes!)

  1. Write a series, and PLOT that business out! I’m telling you this as a lifelong pantser who is finally moving to big girl land and doing some plotting. Read Take Off Your Pants, by Libbie Hawker. Your world will change. Promise.
  2. Publish the first three in your series FAST. I’ve seen recs to wait and publish them all at the same time – I didn’t do that. I’ll have four out in a six month period, and I’m starting to see a bump from multiple books. At the start of 2016, I’m going to release in that ‘all at once’ method, and see how it works. LOL – I promise, you’ll hear about it. Whether you like it or not.
  3. Pick your social media – and be HONEST with yourself on what you’ll use – and use it. Post 80% of value content for those reading your stuff. That means NO PROMO – of you, or anyone else. I won’t lie – I have done more than 20% promo at times, and no more. I love talking self/indie publishing, so that, and the crap that interests me – that’s what you’re going to get. I also am on Twitter, and FB – but that’s it. I decided those three venues were the ones I wanted to invest in, and that’s all I’m doing.
  4. BE NICE. In my search for marketing, I have come across so much stuff about authors and other creative people not being nice online. Guys, if you’re here (and I don’t mean you, Mom) and reading this for some little bit of education, you want to be successful with your creativity. Negativity doesn’t sell, and in this day and age, it NEVAH goes away. EVAH. Even if you delete what you posted 2 minutes ago. I think you can disagree, even discuss passionately with people – but be respectful.
  5. Respect those who work with you. As I mentioned before, hire an editor. And a cover artist. Get some beta readers, or a critique group. Even if you don’t agree with them, respect them. They’re taking the time to help you improve your work. Hear what they have to say. No one says you have to agree. But listen. They might be right (see my earlier comments on my cover ideas ALL looking like shit. To the last idea, folks.)
  6. You’re a business now. Treat yourself like one. Get a coupon folder, and put ALL receipts in it. That’s the first step – to train yourself to not toss things. But get that little folder or you’ll just die with all the little bits of paper. I met an agent who said she took pics on her phone of the receipts – I think I’m going to train myself to switch to that. Makes it easier for record keeping and transition to Quick Books or the like. Read about taxes for the self-employed. Keep track of your mileage. Become a LLC. I haven’t done the last one yet, but that’s next on my list. Because this year, I have to add author stuff to the tax info. To say I’m nervous, even after years of being self-employed, is an understatement. I’m sure you’ll get a post tax filing post outta me.
  7. Engage with people. Now here I’m just meandering off into Lisa land. I have seen the little prawny bump in my sales. I’m not doing a lick of promo right now, mostly because I am working on three different WIPs, and I am reading and planning for a) the next promo push; b) all the things I have to do for some of my marketing; c) those three WIPs, and d) reading and compiling better ways to try and market. Seriously, that’s what I’ve been doing since mid-September. I’m also really involved with my writers organization, and I work with the self/indie published folks. Helping others. Sharing what I know. Seeing if I can help all of us market more – and I really and truly believe that is why I am seeing the sales bumps. Because I’m out there not promo-ing for me – but working with and for others. I’m engaged. It helps that I am working on a topic near and dear to my soapbox and heart. So find your passion outside of your work – and get to it. LOL – I know, easier said than done. What with all our free time, right?

I think that’s it for now. Look for more from me as I continue on this journey. I love indie publishing, and I love the path I’m on. I think it’s a path with room for everyone who wants to be on it.

When I first heard about self/indie publishing – it struck a chord in me that nothing about publishing had prior. Nothing. I can’t explain the feeling of wonder, of total amazeballs, that I could Do. This. Myself.

Sure, I’ll make mistakes. I won’t do a pre-order again unless I have hordes of fans emailing, and the damn thing is done, and just waiting on edits. But guess what? *I* get to do what I want. I get to try things, and have the choice of failing without worrying about whether my publisher will drop me. They may have some rather harsh language for me, sure. But that’s it. After the harsh language, we go back to the drawing board.

You need to consider what calls to you. I had this discussion at the Gold with another writer, and she is 110% in the traditional publishing camp. It’s where she feels good, where she feels called to be. I think that’s fantastic. I’ve said it before – this is a great time to be a writer. We have choices. We can be where we are because that’s where we want to be.

For me, that’s indie publishing.

If you have questions, feel free to ask. I’ll answer as best I can. I’m certainly no guru – but I know what I’ve done that works, and what hasn’t. I;m always happy to share.

Ahhh! Almost forgot. Go RIGHT. NOW. Start reading Kboards Writers Cafe. The amount of sharing of info on that will be mind blowing. And it will put you on the path.

Post Con – The Mondayest Tuesday

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So it’s the dreaded post Con. Blech. It’s always a let down. I love Dragon Con. I get to see friends I don’t see most of the year, and go to panels that are talks by actors I love, or meet authors I fangirl over, or craft panels that discuss various aspects of writing and the business therein. Such was the case this year. I hate to see it end. Plus, my costumes were kick-ass. More on that later.

My husband and kids are the sweetest. My husband said, It’s good to have you back, and both kids wanted to snuggle a little extra last night because they missed me. The feels, ya’ll.

On to business. One thing I noticed is that there is a divide still regarding self-publishing, and that makes me…verklempt. Self-publishing is a good thing for ALL. If you publish traditionally, you have options, and the freedom to look to other avenues if your publisher is not doing right by you. I know it’s not that easy, but it’s an option, and ten years ago, it wasn’t. Options are good things, regardless of whether or not you take them.

As an indie author, I was unhappy and annoyed to see the large swath of opinions re: self-publishing dependent upon the programming track I went to. I attended a panel on marketing via the Electronic Frontiers Forum, and it was excellent. Even though there were folks were working within the traditional system, they were happy for options. In the Writers’ Track, it didn’t seem to be the case. There was what seemed to me to be a more negative mindset about the indie publishing industry. I have, in the past, asked for more self-publishing focused panels, and I suppose this technically met the bill – but it sure didn’t stick to the premise of helping people understand their options.

Let me lay it out for you. The gatekeepers have shifted. It used to be if you wished to call yourself an author, you had to find someone to let you in. Now, you can walk yourself through the gate, and get to the garden on your own.

Do you need to be as professional as possible? Yes, indeed. Get an editor. Get a beta reader. If you are not seriously skilled at graphic design, hire a cover artist. Check the contracts with all these folks, and READ THEM. Make sure you know what you are agreeing to. One of discussions I saw that all participants felt passionately about was regarding cover art. Do you own the art, or do you merely license it? What rights does the artist, the creator, have in regards to further use of your cover? It’s something to consider. It’s taking IP and who owns what to a deeper level.

The thing about doing it yourself is that you do it ALL yourself. But to me, that’s the best thing about it. You do it all YOURSELF. See the difference there? I’m a closet control freak. I like to be in charge. Yes, I admit it. Of my work – I definitely want to be in charge. I want to make the calls for me. Will I screw up? Probably. We all do as we are learning.

The best part of Cons for me are meeting people like you. After one of the craft panels I went to, I was talking to one of the presenters, and they suggested we repair to the bar to continue the conversation. It was an amazing hour, talking craft, word count, genre, business, marketing, price – I am so very thankful that this person took the time from their schedule to help along someone who has lots of questions. That meeting alone left me with a professional high that hasn’t worn off yet.

We’re a solitary lot. We sit in front of our screens, and let the creativity flow from our head to the same screens. That’s awesome for your readers, but you need to get out from behind the screen, and talk to other people like you. Go hang out in a place where there are TONS of people who are just as nerdy and passionate as you are about stuff.

And for me, it solidified my thoughts on being an indie. Last year, I was at Con as someone who hadn’t yet published. This year, I have three books out. My perspective has changed slightly, from how I listen to what I’m hearing. But my thoughts on this path haven’t.

Why? Because I have looked at the options, talked to people on both sides of the options available, and still feel this is the best option for me. That’s the hard part – figuring out which is the best option for YOU. The more I explore, the more I feel this is it, and I’m where I ought to be.

If it weren’t for self-publishing, I wouldn’t have these options, and I can tell you I probably wouldn’t be where I am. I could be somewhere better, or worse. I don’t know. But it wouldn’t be here.

I just got the trade copies of all three of my books this week. Come back from Con, and books are waiting. It doesn’t get much better. I’m headed to the RMFW Gold Conference this weekend, and I’m really excited. That’s nothing but writers, and people at all stages of the business. The potential to meet and talk and learn is enormous. Explore other options, hear things that have worked for others and see if they might work for me.

There’s always something to be learned – and now, like I mentioned, we as authors have OPTIONS. Seek them out. See what resonates with you. Try out some of the options. You may fail, you may not. But you won’t know unless you explore – and having self-publishing as one of those options is a good thing.

That’s the takeaway I’d like to see – that sure, you can self-publish – but here are the pros and cons, and here are the pros and cons of publishing traditionally. Weigh them, and see what’s best for YOU. Not me, or anyone else. Once you hear that, weigh it. What can you live with? What do you think will be your struggles? For me, it’s solidifying a marketing plan, and time management. I’ve been trying to write this damn post all day and keep having distractions. *What? A squirrel??!! Quick! Let’s go – oh, look, fun FB post!*

It seems to be an either/or with some factions on both sides, and while I am passionate about my decision, it’s MY decision. There is no other option for me that will be the best. Having the ability to discover that and see what will work best for you is truly marvelous, and one of the things I feel makes this such a great time to choose to write as your career.

And now, in a totally unrelated subject, most of the costumes I wore this weekend. I need to snag one other pic because it’s my interpretation of Dean and Sam’s Impala, and who doesn’t love Baby?

Until then, I give you the Tardi Sisters and the 7th Doctor, me as Potassium in the Parade of Elements in the DC Parade, and my Battle of the Planets/G Force/Gatchaman Joe/Jason the Condor costume. (I love this costume beyond belief. I would call it George if it didn’t already have a name.)

Now get to work.

thedocntardis fabana sapfab

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Craft talk from Ursula K. LeGuin

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I read about my craft regularly. While I’m pleased with my progress over the last year, I am in no way anything other than a noob at this gig, and I don’t pretend otherwise.

Another writer brought this site to my attention – Ursula K. LeGuin did a Q&A blog where she answers questions about craft. How fabulous is that???? You can find it here:

http://bookviewcafe.com/blog/2015/08/10/navigating-session-1/

You need need need to read the entire fifty questions. She is just marvelous.

One of the questions I really liked was about Show vs Tell. I hear the groans now. We ALL know that phrase, have said it, have heard it in regards to our own work. I personally am quite familiar with it. I rarely meet exposition I don’t like. But I think this question, and the answer, are a wonderful way to approach it. It’s something I’m finding now that I am three works in. Sometimes, you gotta tell. Because it’s a story, and you’re telling it.

Paige: I have been writing fiction (fantasy, light sci-fi) for several years now, and my question is the age old one about showing not telling. My narrator is telling his story through a journal that shuffles back and forth in time. How can he tell his story without “telling” as much as showing? Thank you for any advice or guidance you can offer.

UKL: No matter what sacred laws the Moseses of the Iowa School of Writing handed down on their stone tablets, the fact is, stories are not shown, but told.

Movies show stories, graphic novels (partly) show stories, but we story-tellers tell them.

“Show don’t tell” is good advice for beginning writers, and for preachy writers. And it reminds us all not to lose the onward pace of our narrative among infodumps.

But if your narrator has a complicated story to tell, let him tell it. Let it be as concrete, as visual, as vivid as possible, of course. Keep it always moving forward (or in your case, sometimes backward!) — in any case, moving.

Showing can be quite static, after all; but telling always involves moving on.

There you have it. From a pro’s pro. (Or is that prose pro? LOL, not enough sleep last night!)

There’s also this tidbit, which I 110% subscribe to.

UKL: How can you judge how well the first page of a story works until you’ve done a first draft of the whole story? There’s no way you can tell until the whole thing is, however roughly, there.

And then, more often than not, you find the first page, the first several pages, are just throat-clearings. Necessary preliminaries. Clearing stuff out of the way. Circling around, nose to ground… till finally you pick up the scent and you’re off into your story like a bloodhound on the track.

So then when you revise you throw away the whole beginning.

If you don’t trust me, trust Chekhov. He said you can always throw away the first three pages of a first draft. I didn’t believe him till I tried it.

Goes along with my editor’s recent comment that the first chapter is hell, and then things calm down from there.

thor-with-beerNow back to work. If the above doesn’t inspire you – holy friggen forearms! – I got nothing.

Havin’ an adult beverage…

tumblr_m6wh7b2bV91rziwwco1_500 In March-ish, I laid out a schedule for myself. I had just left my job, and was looking to validate my decision (with the full support of Awesome Husband) to write full time. It was S-C-A-R-Y.

So off I went on my lists, and May, August, and November were set for the first three books in Sisters Of The Curse (it was at that point referred to as ToTT – Tales of The Twelve). I even had the names, although I will admit I played around with book titles a little, just to see if I liked something else better. I didn’t.

Here’s what I actually accomplished.
May – Thea’s Tale (Book One)
June – Three shorts in the Pen Name – approximately 30k words
August – One Night At The Ball (a SOTC novella)
Casimir’s Journey (Book Two – with Amazon now, out 8/31)
Part Four of the Pen Name series

And…uh…four newsletters for the writer’s org.

I am SOOO looking forward to September. I have a newsletter, as I always do. But other than some Pen Name thoughts – a new series, I’m thinking…we’ll see. New MC is in her infancy right now. I don’t have a ton scheduled.

Good thing – I have Dragon Con (WOOOOOOT!)

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And then the Gold Conference for RMFW.

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So September is a busy month. Almost as busy as the gifs in this post.

But I’m really pleased because I set a goal in a field that for me, up until this year, had been a hobby. I have all three of my works on Amazon right now, and there are people other than my mom who are getting them, and ENJOYING them. It’s nothing short of astounding, and incredibly humbling.

Today, I slept in after doing the morning-drop-off stuff, and I feel like a nearly new person. I’ve hit my deadlines, and I’m not in the weeds, for the most part.

It feels good, and today, on a Friday, that is something to celebrate.

So have an adult beverage, and put your feet up. For the night.

This is it

In less than twenty-four hours, my book is live.

I’m so nervous, and excited, I almost don’t know what to do with myself.

Over the course of the year spent writing this, I have undergone several plot revisions, different directions, name changes, and it’s not the same book I imagined a year ago. It’s better.

Thea’s better. I like her even more than when I started. She’s grown, come into her own, stretched her wings.

I feel as though I have done the same.

After tomorrow, I can say, I’m an author. I write books. I actually sell them.

After tomorrow, my career is something totally different.

What a concept – to change your career and life with the click of the mouse.

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