Category Archives: The Creative Process

Ten Things I’ve Learned Writing Novels

Award-Winning Author Trace Conger

I published my first novel, The Shadow Broker, in October of 2014. It was a fascinating experience. Since then, I’ve published three additional novels and numerous short stories. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things about the process of writing and marketing.

Your mileage may vary, but here are a few insights to noodle:

1. Writing a novel is only as intimidating as you make it. Starting a novel is like holding your newborn for the first time. You’re a bit freaked out thinking about your newfound responsibilities of raising a living, breathing human being. Taking on a novel can feel the same way, but it’s only as bad as you make it out to be. Take it one word or one page at a time, and one day you’ll wake up with an 80,000-word novel.

2. Outlines make the process easier. Other writers will debate this, but for me creating an outline kept me on track. I create a brief outline for each chapter, including no more detail than can fit on one side of an index card. After I have the story fleshed out, I sit down with my stack of cards and write each scene or chapter. Yes, the story changes. Yes, you’ll throw away some of your ideas or characters, but having a roadmap will help you get to your destination, even if you take a few detours along the way.

CLICK HERE TO BUY THE AUDIO VERSION NOW

3. It takes time. I’ve heard countless stories of indie authors pumping out three or more books each year. I don’t/can’t do that. While I’m not going to insinuate that these prolific authors are sacrificing quality for quantity, I will say that if you rush the product, your quality will suffer. Focus on creating a quality product. If you can write multiple quality books per year, fantastic, but if you can’t, then don’t.

4. Your worst critic is you. I can’t remember a time in my life when I experienced more self-doubt than when I was writing my first novel. Every author has that voice in their head that tells them they’re a hack, their work isn’t any good, they’ll fail miserably, or they’re wasting their time. I haven’t figured out a way to silence this inner critic, but I have learned to tell him to get lost.

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

5. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. It’s all bull. Writer’s block is an excuse authors tell themselves when they can’t produce. Maybe it’s a slow idea day, or the words aren’t coming as fast as they did yesterday. Doesn’t matter. Put your butt in the chair and write. Even if you feel like you’re walking through quicksand. Move forward, one step (or word) at a time, and you’ll make it to the other side. I promise.

6. Marketing is hard. You think writing a novel is hard? Wait until you have to market it. Even if you sign a big deal with a publisher, you’re going to have to promote your book. Get comfortable with the idea, even if you aren’t. Get comfortable talking about it, contacting the media, researching book blogs, responding to readers, hosting signings, doing interviews, and writing blog posts (like this one) to support your work.

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

7. You’ll become obsessed with metrics. You’ll spend hours Googling yourself, watching your sales, scrutinizing your Amazon author ranking, and stalking your reviews. Then one day you’ll realize you’re wasting your time and you’ll get back to work.

8. Your friends won’t buy your book. Some of them will, but most won’t. Most of your friends don’t read. Maybe because they prefer to spend what little free time they have binging on Netflix. Or maybe you just have crappy friends. Either way, don’t expect them to buy your book but do expect them to lie and say they will.

CLICK HERE TO BUY THE AUDIO VERSION NOW

9. You have to field lots of questions. Once people discover you’ve written a novel, they’ll throw every question imaginable at you. Who’s your publisher? How did you get your agent? Did you get an advance? What’s your book about? How long did it take you to write it? Where can I buy it? Where do you get your ideas? Can I be a character in your next book? Listen to every question, even the stupid ones, and answer with a smile. Everyone is a potential customer.

10. Authors are an incredibly supportive bunch. Maybe it’s because they’ve been in your shoes or understand your struggle, but authors are some of the most supportive people I’ve ever met. Two huge authors, Joe R. Lansdale and Jonathan Maberry, gave me incredible advice (even if they don’t remember doing it). Don’t be afraid to reach out to authors you admire. Ask questions and listen to their advice. You’ll be surprised at how accessible and helpful they can be.

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

Bonus insight: There is a ton of horrible advice out there. I stalk the popular forums from time to time and am always amazed at some of the horrible advice that I see. One of the worst pieces of advice I’ve ever heard was to publish your first draft to “get it out there” and then use reader review comments to identify weaknesses and revise your next draft. Are you kidding me? Scrutinize all advice and carefully consider who is dishing it out. I’m not advocating only looking to best-selling authors for advice (there’s great advice out there from authors at all levels) just make sure it passes the sniff test before you stake your reputation on it.

Trace Conger is an award-winning author in the crime, thriller and suspense genres. His Mr. Finn series follows disgraced private investigator Finn Harding as he straddles the fine line between investigator and criminal. Find out more at www.traceconger.com.

© Trace Conger 2017

Finding Forrester

Michael LaRocca of MichaelEdits.com

The existence of a movie — any movie — about the topic of writing is surprising enough. But for it to actually be a good movie? Wow.

I taught Advanced English Writing in several universities in China from 2002 through 2006. Showing this movie became an integral part of those classes, because so many of its themes are identical to what I was trying to teach. I was happy to watch it over a dozen times with my students, and lecture about it in a style more Robin Williams than F. Murray Abraham.

But all these years later, will I still think it’s a good movie? Let’s find out.

We begin by meeting Jamal, the student who hides his intelligence in order to fit in. Fair enough.

Jamal is also a writer who hides his writing. Do they still exist?

Sean Connery is William Forrester, the reclusive genius of a writer.

Jamal is writing all the time. By hand. He’s constantly practicing his basketball. He’s constantly practicing his writing. That’s how a person gets to be the best he’s able to be at either pursuit. Or any pursuit. So if you’re not writing every day, listen to Sean Connery and Rob Brown. Write every day. You’re never going to write like Shakespeare or shoot hoops like Michael Jordan, but if you write every day, you’ll get better at it than you are now. Unused potential is worse than lack of potential, because the former is a choice.

Jamal and Forrester are both obsessed with reading. As writers must be. Jamal snoops in Forrester’s shelves both to learn about him and for suggestions. I already know you’re reading every day. Aren’t you? How many times have I said it? If you don’t enjoy reading, you can’t write something that somebody else enjoys reading.

Jamal: “You read all these?” 
Forrester: “No, I keep them to impress all my visitors.”

Amusing because Forrester’s an agoraphobe whose only visitor is the guy bringing his royalty checks and his groceries. (Wouldn’t you love to be an author living well on royalty checks for something you wrote 30 years ago?) But also a chance for me to riff on people who keep all the books they’ve ever read shelved at home. You know how much I love the written word. But Goodreads tells me that in the past three years alone I’ve read over 1000 books. Why would I keep them? I’m not going to read them all again. (Just the five-star books.) I do love a library, but I choose not to own one. I know where they are.

Jamal gets his writing notebooks back from “Window,” that strange old dude who we don’t know is Sean Connery because we haven’t seen his picture on every movie poster ever made. And what has this man of mystery added to the notebooks? Honest feedback. It’s not all kind. Not even close, actually. Brutally honest. That’s what we all need. And if we’re mature, it’s also what we want, because this helps us improve. Jamal’s first reaction was negative, but the next day, he’s knocking on the door. He says: “I was wondering if I could bring you more of my stuff.”

Finally, Jamal reads a book by Forrester. When Forrester gets the book back, he says, “Christ, you’ve dog-eared one of them. Show a little respect for the author.” I say screw the author. Have a little respect for the next reader. Don’t vandalize your books.

In the film, Forrester wrote one book. It won a Pulitzer. He reacted to a mix of critical praise and personal tragedy by not publishing another one. I don’t think you have to be an author to enjoy the pot shots he takes at critics.

Forrester: “I know what it is. The last thing I need is another person telling me what they think it is.”

I know the feeling.

Forrester: “Critics spend a day destroying what they couldn’t create in a lifetime.”

True.

Jamal: “What’s it feel like?” 
Forrester: “What?” 
Jamal: “Writing something the way you did.” 
Forrester: “Perhaps you’ll find out.”

I like that little exchange because, while I remember what it felt like to write at my very best, I’ll be damned if I can explain it to you. Write your own books and you’ll find out for yourself.

Jamal: “Did you ever read your own writing?” 
Forrester: “In public? Hell no. I barely read it in private.”

I used to say things like that all the time. But I did finally reread all fourteen of my published books last year. In private. Not bad, Michael. Not bad at all. Oh, and they’re better “inside proper covers and everything,” just like the author’s wife noted in the second Robert Galbraith novel. Don’t act like she’s weird for waiting.

[It’s eighteen books now. When the hell did I write this movie review?]

Forrester: “A lot of writers know the rules about writing, but they don’t know how to write.”

We know it’s true. But let me add that the writers who don’t even know the rules are screwed. You need not obey the rules. But you do need to know them. I break writing rules all the time, but never out of simple ignorance.

Clever dialogue about starting a sentence with a conjunction. Who knew such things were possible?

Forrester just sits at a manual typewriter and immediately starts writing. Jamal likes to think first. So do I. Hell, I’ve even used an outline once or twice. Also, I start with pen and paper or (more often) computer keyboard. Not a typewriter.

Forrester: “No thinking — that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is… to write, not to think!”

I’ve used freewriting in class and given it a spot in my textbook. It’s a good technique, and I’ve seen a lot of students surprise themselves with the results. But I’ve also never written anything publishable that way. Blogable, perhaps. I do agree with the heart/head thing, of course.

Using other authors for inspiration can be a complex issue. Plain old stealing is wrong, but even the most original thinkers seek inspiration. The movie finally moves its dramatic conflict into high gear by examining all that. It was probably a bit predictable the first time I watched it. It was certainly predictable the fifteenth or twentieth time I watched it. But it still works. It’s still powerful, moving, and five-star all the way.

Enjoy!

Technical editing since 1991. Business editing since 2006. MichaelEdits.com

© Michael LaRocca 2017

Amanda Hocking: Another Fascinating “Rags to Riches” Success Story

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

I’m always on the lookout for author success stories to share with my blog subscribers because this is a tough business that requires a lot of inspiration to keep oneself motivated. It takes motivation to get yourself to consistently take the types of actions you need to be taking in order to achieve the success you desire.

I believe you get what you focus on. You can focus on the difficulties and heed the warnings of business advisers who insist that 90% of authors will never see the kind of success that authors like Amanda Hocking and Mark Dawson are seeing, and that you should therefore set your goals much lower in order to avoid disappointment. Or you can focus on the possibilities by going in search of the proof, all around you, that what you desire is indeed achievable … whether you write fiction or non-fiction.

The fact is, many authors are earning fantastic livings writing books nowadays. Wouldn’t you love to read an article that tells you exactly how they’re achieving this? If the answer to that question is “yes” then you’ll enjoy reading this: What Makes a $100k Author: 8 Findings Every Author Should Know. What I appreciate most about this article is that it provides relevant data about the realities of this business while also showing authors what is possible if they’re willing to put in the time and effort. It encourages authors rather than discouraging them.

CLICK HERE TO BUY IT NOW!

I created the “Author Success Stories” category on this blog as a place where you can read about the possibilities. The purpose is to encourage you rather than discourage you because, at the end of the day, if even one author can accomplish something that means it’s achievable. It’s possible. Focus on that, and you may just be the next success story that is inspiring others to do the same. You may become one of the pioneers who steers others in the right direction so that, perhaps one day, it will be 90% of authors enjoying massive success and only 10% who will never achieve it.

Which brings me back to Amanda Hocking, an extreme success story that first appeared in The Guardian back in January 2012, who went from obscurity (and essentially poverty) to bestselling status within 18 months of publishing her first book online. Amanda is now a self-made millionaire. Granted, there were several years of writing and work beforehand … as it often is with these “overnight success” stories. Amanda makes sure to emphasize that in this interview which I highly recommend you read. It is eye opening and inspiring. And most importantly, it shows what’s possible even after several disappointments.

Keep writing. Keep working. Keep the faith!

* * *    * * *    * * *

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

STORY: How to Weave the Thread of Theme Into Your Writing

Mel Menzies

Story has existed since the beginning of time.  It is endemic to human nature, and is evident in cave-art (yes, it may be painting or carving but it’s there to tell a story), legend, folklore and mythology, the Bible, fairy tales and biography, drama, newspaper reports and novels.  But I wonder whether those of us who seek to write either fiction or memoir, truly understand the importance of its effect on human behaviour?  Let me explain.

THE EFFECT OF STORY ON READERS

Shortly before starting my Evie Adams’ series of mystery novels, I woke one morning with the following statement ringing in my head: Entertain your readers so that they will absorb truths they might otherwise resist.

Think about it.  Morality and duty to society are stated as key themes of Jane Austen’s novels.  True to the era in which she lived, she could have written on these subjects in a didactic, non-fictional manner, with the aim of teaching her readers how they might better behave.   Had she done so, however, I somewhat doubt that her books would have survived the twentieth century, let alone the twenty-first.  Yet survive – no, thrive – they do.  Precisely because she chose to convey these themes through the actions, dialogue and inner stream of consciousness of her characters, in response to the circumstances they encountered.

THE NATURE OF THEME

So what, exactly, is theme?  And how do we go about choosing it?

  1. Theme is the one word, or sentence, which characterises the reason for the book having been written, and its narrative.
  2. Theme might thus be described as the motive for your book; the message you wish to convey to your readers.
  3. Theme, for example, may be expressed as: forgiveness; destruction wrought by ambition; unrequited love; repentance; turning a self-centred life into a life which serves others, and so on.

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

Thus, the story of a marital breakdown might focus on forgiveness as its theme.  Husband shoves wife aside and marches from room.  She falls and is injured.  The physical and mental trauma she experiences in hospital would be portrayed as a battle of will and emotion, in which pain, bitterness and anger would, naturally, rise to the surface.  Compassion, understanding, and empathy for the protagonist would be the obvious response in readers, whether or not they have shared similar life events themselves.

Adding to the conflict of the events the victim has experienced, and the feelings they’ve aroused, her sister is insisting that she takes legal action against her husband.   But what if the wife then searches her inner self and realises that she had some part in provoking the argument?  What if she catches herself out by recalling a similar event in her childhood, when she was, in fact, the perpetrator?  How, she asks, can she live with herself, harbouring bitterness and hatred, when she knows herself to be fallible?

As she goes through the inner arguments, and conveys them to her sister through dialogue, so, too, does the reader.  The story and theme play out in his or her imagination.  Until a decision is reached.  The denouement – the wife’s forgiveness of her husband, plus his remorse – leads to reconciliation.  To mutual happiness.  And to hope for a better future.

STORIES THAT DO MORE THAN ENTERTAIN

Your reader finishes the book feeling more than entertained.  His or her future attitude and actions have been influenced by osmosis.  You will have aroused questions in his or her mind; stirred up memories of relevant past events; perhaps, even, a determination to right a wrong.  They will have no need to be instructed in morality or clemency.  They’ve seen it for themselves.  And hopefully, they will have taken it on board.

CLICK HERE TO BUY

The story you have written, whether biographical or fiction, will have left your readers with a lasting impact.  Lives, behaviour and attitudes will have been changed.  Just think!  You’ll be more than simply a writer or an author.  As a lady who read my novel, Time to Shine, said to me: ‘That was a life-changer.’

***

Twice a wife, three times a mum, and seven times a grandma, I’ve been a multi-published author (under several nom de plume) since the 1980’s, with a Sunday Times No 4 Bestseller published by Hodder & Stoughton.  I’ve been a keynote speaker at conferences, led workshops, and taken part in radio and TV debates, panels and phone-ins.

My latest series of novels – family dramas with a page-turning mystery solved, not by a detective but by a counsellor – are set in Exeter and Dartmouth, and are available from Waterstones or any good bookshop, Amazon,  or at discount via PayPal, from my book page www.melmenzies.co.uk/books.  All proceeds are for charity.

‘This novel not only entertains, it inspires,’ says author, Pam Rhodes.

What I like about Mel’s writing,’ says Devon Life reviewer, Annette Shaw, ‘is that she explores issues and problems we all face.’


© Mel Menzies 2017

NEXT TIME: Story: Planning Your Plot

[From Pen to Print] Advice from the Author of ALLERGY BOOKS FOR KIDS!

Michelle Nel

I recall as a child wandering the library stacks, the pile of books in my arms growing steadily, teetering ever precariously. Author has been a title I have yearned for since childhood. Albeit not for lack of trying, each attempt to write was quickly foregone as frustration would ensue. I wouldn’t call it writer’s block as much as an underlying lack of direction or purpose. A turn in life’s path brought forth my passion to write as well of what to write. Navigating life with my son’s multiple anaphylactic food allergies has inspired my journey of ‘author’ … an entrepreneurship penned from passion.

In search of a creative manner in which to share allergy awareness, my mind began to reel with an unremitting onslaught of rhyming words. Penning each phrase before forgotten, I would frequently jump from bed or stop mid-street to scribble on a scrap of paper or the palm of my hand.

Once my stories were written, I then faced the challenge of bringing them from pen to print. With most publishers only accepting submissions from pre-published authors a scenario is created similar to that of ‘chicken before the egg’.

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

With time and the test of patience, I was unwavering in my belief that all would unfold as it should. Dismayed, but yet determined, I posted an online plea with an allergy parent support group. In my search for an illustrator (or anyone with an artistic inkling), unbeknownst to me right there amidst my allergy moms was Jennifer Terry, artist and graphic designer from Colorado, USA.

For five years now, Jennifer and I have worked together, our partnership as seamless as our vision. Jen and I have never met nor video chatted and we have seldom texted (as I do not have US data on my phone). It has been with only intermittent emails that we have created this series solely by sharing a passion, one fueled by the purpose found in sharing allergy awareness.

What advice may I offer? You must believe in the purpose of what it is you write, be mindful to measure your success only against yourself, allow openness for constructive critique (thank you Kyle Dine), and finally, follow your heart! As the dedication in my fourth books reads “ For my friends, who have been ceaseless in their support, offered kind critiques, as well graciously gifted me their time, talent and technical abilities. To pursue one’s passion requires an intrinsic belief in its plausibility and purpose; to know others recognize your journey’s worth is validating as well abundantly humbling”.

There is much in life I am unsure of but I know this to be true, navigating life with my son’s allergies, autism, language and learning delays has allowed me the opportunity to grow into a better and more empathetic person. He has shown me the beauty in viewing life not just outside the box, but that there is no box. And the rewards, financial gain will come, what is priceless has been the friendships found and that the books are being embraced.

It would be an Ottawa allergy dad/businessman who after reading my first 2 books (then print-on-demand) offered to pay for a full print run of each. With both high-quality work and winning customer service I have returned now four times to the same family run printers, Sotek Graphics, in Orleans, Ottawa. Last month, in order to help me hand in my book 4 printing file the owner met me at a gas station on the side of highway, an hour from his business!

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

During a time of single mom struggle, my gas and hotel were paid for by the owner/editor of Allergic Living Magazine, Gwen Smith, so I might attend the Canadian Anaphylaxis Conference three years ago. Gwen went as far as to allow me a corner of the A.L. Magazine table from which to share and sell my books.

I met Peter Ausland, editor of Ottawa Parenting Times Magazine through attending the Parenting Times Children’s Expo. Peter allowed me such an act of kindness I am still in awe. And when technology has had me in tears, many a time others have stepped in to offer not just a tissue but tech support.

There is no right way nor a singular road, be true to yourself and never lose sight of the passion that brought you to begin your journey with ‘words’. Along with his allergic lessons, I have instilled in my son that allergies and autism are what one has, they do not define who one is nor will they determine what one does or may become. I do not believe in disabilities only in the beauty found in different abilities.

With a love of reading bound by my fondness of books themselves, I am equally excited and honoured to sit as a new board trustee for the Augusta Township Public Library. This historical gem welcomes with its stone structure, red door, and the warmth found by stacks of books placed upon wood shelves.

Nestled near the St. Lawrence River, the Old Algonquin School was built in 1833 and was Ontario’s longest active schoolhouse at 133 years. The Augusta Township library began its conception inside the schoolhouse in 1896. Incredibly, in sharing of heritage and house, should you wish to read or hold a reception the Augusta Township Library welcomes rentals of the schoolhouse.

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

What has been the biggest benefit? Having others share how much the books have been enjoyed, that they instill equal laughter as lessons learnt. But the greatest reward has been watching my son as he reads ‘his’ books, for this journey, an entrepreneurship penned by passion, is one we take together.

I smile to think that wandering the library stacks, a pair of little arms will embrace a pile of books, mine sitting on the top teetering precariously.

Michelle and Jennifer are honoured their books are housed in the resource library at CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario). Michelle has participated in the CHEO open doors event sharing her experiences as a parent navigating allergies.

Michelle was nominated top five food allergy books by BAAAB – The (San Francisco) Bay Area Allergy Advisory Board.

Allergic Living Magazine has published a review for each book as well Michelle has several published articles in A.L. Magazine as well on the BAAAB webpage.

Michelle was interviewed on CBC radio ‘All In A Day’ by Giacomo Panico also she has participated in the Parenting Times Magazine/Ottawa Children’s Expo. 

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

Michelle is a member of the AOE, Ottawa Arts Council as well is a board member for the Augusta Township Public Library.

ALLERGY BOOKS FOR KIDS! Michelle and Jennifer have aspired to create books which not only engage children who have allergies, but that they might also be used as resources to aid with allergy education. Michelle and Jennifer are pleased to share the upcoming release of their final two books thus completing the Allergy Books For Kids series of six.

Michelle was born in 1972, Gravelbourg,Saskatchewan although her parents’ home was in the neighboring village of Hodgeville.  From this small prairie community Michelle’s family moved to Saskatoon, then again to Kitimat, a coastal city in Northern British Columbia. A final childhood move, taken by ship, brought Michelle to the home where she grew up in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby.

In 2007 Michelle moved from Langley, B.C. to Canada’s capital, Ottawa, Ontario. Most recently Michelle now calls home to Augusta Township, a picturesque piece of rural Ontario.

WEBSITE: www.allergybooksforkids.ca

TWITTER: @allergybookmom

LINKEDIN: Michelle Nel

FACEBOOK: Allergy Books For Kids – Author Michelle Nel

© Michelle Nel 2017

[The Law of Plenty] Everything You Need is Within Your Reach

Nestor Eguez

As a writer, my first story took me almost ten years to complete. You can imagine all the things, good and bad that happened during this long period of time. I specifically remember one occasion, I was very frustrated and close to giving up the whole project. Suddenly, I received an email with the below article from a close friend. Apparently, it was extracted and adapted from an old book. After reading, it definitely changed my perspective a lot.

To tell you the truth, it wasn’t a magic recipe that gave me ideas and eased my long road I had ahead. But rather, it simply opened the barriers inside my mind.

In my case, I want to write a story, right? Well, I have an idea, a piece of paper and a pencil in front of me. What more do I need? Nothing, only time and the desire to do it. Is the story going to be good or average? Is it going to touch and inspire people? I don’t know, and I’ll never be able to find out if I don’t try.

I hope that for those of you who are in the same situation with your dreams right now, that this article could help you as helped me years ago.

 * * *      * * *      * * * 

The Law of Plenty

                Have you heard of the Law of Plenty ? This is the maxim that states whatever we could need or want, we have already. Even if we don’t literally have something plunked down in front of us, we certainly already have access to the raw materials in our lives right here and right now, available and ready to be put on the task.

                In order to use this rule to our advantage we have to be willing to see and understand what we have at this moment. This goes beyond taking inventory of our possessions; it is an inclusive, honest, open understanding of everything we are and have access to.

                To do this, we have to quit nay-saying, cut out the complaining and thinking we’ll never have enough, or that we’ll never amount to anything. We have to get innovative and be able to see new possibilities within the old scenarios, to understand how and when to recycle and renew our resources to get the absolute most out of them.

                In the process, we’ll achieve a wonderful balance that engenders a new thrilling freedom. All without spending a dime.

 * * *      * * *      * * * 

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

This is the story of Kalima, a young zebra born in a corner of the jungle of Kenya. She is the last descendant of a very special breed called The Guides, well know for being protectors of the herd, and always staying alert. She has recently been made an orphan due to a lion attack that killed off her mom. Her grandmother becomes her caretaker, as she is an old and wise zebra who holds great knowledge. Kalima loves flowers, chase butterflies and play with her friend Norba, the youngest member of the elephant pack. But as one of The Guides, soon she is going to receive a big responsibility, keep a very important secret hide in the jungle. Unfortunately, looks like she doesn’t have any clue about it. The first of a trilogy, this book introduces to Kalima’s journey. Beginning in the jungle, her homeland, the little zebra is going to confront the ancestors heritage and her dreams in the process to find her destiny. The first of a trilogy, this Fantasy YA book, ingeniously explores humanity’s perception of its respect to nature and animals rights.

© Nestor Eguez 2017

Reflections on Indie Authorship from Warren Brown

Warren Brown

The First Story Which Made an Impact on My Creativity

The first story I read which made an impact on me was “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson. The story was filled with action, adventure and suspense. I always look for adventure and excitement in the books I read. This has in turn made me want to keep my readers gripped from the beginning of my stories as well.

Writing Influence

My Dad is a writer. He had a great influence on my writings.
I grew up in Calcutta, India and being of British-Indian (mixed-race) origin, it has also had a major influence on my writings.

I belong to the Anglo-Indian or Eurasian community, which originated in India over 400 hundred years ago, when British and European soldiers and merchants married and had affairs with Indian women. The children of these unions came to be known as Eurasians or Anglo-Indians.
The Anglo-Indian community is the only race in India whose Mother-tongue is English, who have a British Ancestor on the male side of the family and who are Christian by faith. The Anglo-Indian community in India has declined in numbers over the years.

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

The Writer’s Journey

I first started writing poems, research articles and blogging, when I was seventeen years old. It is now 30 years since I have been writing and publishing on the web.

The Art of the Book Cover

The cover needs to reflect the essence of the story in my opinion. Cover design is an art, which I am still learning about. The cover should be able to generate interest in the mind of the reader. The cover is the first visual hook which the readers sees even before the title. The title comes next in the reader’s view and mind.

The Importance of Social Book Marketing

I use my blogs and my author website to do my book marketing, as well as the usual social bookmark sites on the web. I even have an e-newsletter to keep my readers updated on my writings. Twitter is now my favourite social site for spreading the word about my writings. I find Twitter very useful as there are so many authors who offer other authors support and encouragement with their writings.

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

The Story behind “Travelman”

My latest book “Travel Man” is based on the freedom of the imagination which we all have, but which remains hidden. In the case of the character in the book, his mind and his vivid imagination play an important role in his survival.

Human imagination does have a very active role to play in our lives, but it possesses the power to change our lives and the history of mankind.

An Indie Author on Amazon Kindle Publishing

I enjoy the freedom of indie publishing. I am able to have full control over almost every aspect of getting my work published and ready for my readers to enjoy. I like the speed and the extensive outreach of writing and indie publishing. I have so many ideas for the future and I feel that indie publishing gives me the freedom I need to express my creativity.

I publish my short stories, novellas and novel on Amazon Kindle publishing. I give my books free to readers, which has helped me to grow my reader base. I promote my books on Twitter and other social sites.

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

The Greatest Joy of Writing and Publishing

My greatest joy of writing and publishing is that I have the opportunity to give life to my ideas and to express my creativity. Completing and publishing a book is an exhilarating experience for me, every time.

Treasure Your Readers

Every artist needs someone to appreciate his or her work. My fans are most important to me and I owe it to them to keep on writing and publishing more exciting and thrilling books for them. Thank you fans for liking my work.

The Storyteller Series

The Storyteller is an adventure fantasy series about a man who discovers that he possesses the powers of Story, with the ability to craft and weave stories to fight crime.

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

On Becoming an Author and an Entrepreneur

Every author needs to become an Entrepreneur. I have always been interested in advertising and marketing. This has got be involved in blogging and promoting my books on social media. My strategy is that I first write and publish my books, after which I spend one week doing social media promotions on sites like Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

I have also joined a number of author sites on which I promote my published books. I enjoy writing, publishing and marketing. I wish that I could publish one or two books a month. With the help of Amazon kindle publishing, I can now publish more than one short story a month, which is just fantastic for any author.

Website: http://www.warren-brown.com

Blogs:

http://warrenbrown.blogspot.com

https://warrenbrownauthor.wordpress.com/

Amazon Author Profile:

UK

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Warren-Brown/e/B003AN10UI

USA

https://www.amazon.com/Warren-Brown/e/B003AN10UI

Book Machine

https://bookmachine.org/bb_project_tag/warren-brown-amazon-author/

Goodreads Author Profile

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5399385.Warren_Brown

Facebook Author Page

https://www.facebook.com/warrenbrownauthor/

Authorsdb

https://authorsdb.com/community/15322-warren-melvyn-brown

Travelman

http://selfpublishingadvice.org/iaf2017covers/travelman/

© Warren Brown 2017

Patrick J. Power on Writing, Writer’s Block, and Overcoming the Fear of Failure

Patrick J. Power

If you want to sail the Atlantic, single-handed, then you have nobody to blame if something goes wrong on your trip; if you are an enthusiastic amateur tennis player, or an ardent professional, then you have no fall back, no scape-goat, as it were, to point the finger at and release a torrent of invective whenever you might lose.

Much the same can be said for the writer. The writer of any written original word. You are on your own, full stop. You decide when to write; you decide what to write. You never have to clock in or out. You can take coffee breaks whenever you feel like it. You can go to the bathroom and browse your favourite magazine to put off going back to the PC. You make the rules.

This doesn’t suit everybody. Many would-be writers, are not cut out to be writers, regardless of whether or not they might have developed the greatest single most original storyline for a novel in their heads. But getting it from your brain to the computer screen is the tricky part. If only we could copy & paste! Maybe contact Microsoft or Apple and suggest that they might develop an app which burns your most brilliant ideas on to that blank screen in front of you. And of course, that app would also be grammatically and spellingly correct! Ups!

CLICK HERE TO BUY

But, (there’s always a but) writing can be good also. I wouldn’t go so far as to describe it as being fun. When your fingers seemed to have found that delicate touch on the keyboard, as if they were creating magic words just like Clapton, or BB King, or some other impresario creating magical sounds on their respective sets of taut strings; that’s when it becomes so worth it. And a little later when you emerge from your happy daze and take a well-earned break from your endeavours and bask in the knowledge that one day, because of what you have just engraved onto your page, either the Man Booker judges, or the Pulitzer people will be frantically searching out your life’s details from that agent of yours who it took many heart-breaking years to find.

Am I coming across to you sounding like some facetious pompous ass who thinks he knows all about the art/act of writing?  Well, let me state very clearly, that I do not! If I sound facetious it’s probably because when all those years ago, at age eighteen, just graduated secondary school in the South-East of Ireland, I was reliably informed by my English teacher that whatever else I was about to do with my life, that I should begin writing at once and continue to write for the remainder of my life; that I did not. I thought I knew better. Live my life first and then write about it. But I don’t think it works that way. So, I took that sage advice on board and stored it away for forty years. But to my credit, I think, I carried out the, “whatever else” segment of his advice to the letter.

The following day, I took a flight to Boston with another eighteen-year-old and soon after started out on an overland trip from Boston to Buenos Aires. Following on from that memorable (and dangerous) trip I have worked as; a wheat farmer; Jazz Club manager, on the Upper-West Side of NY; oil-rig worker; construction worker in both Twin Towers in New York; an English teacher in Prague; fronted two different Rock & Roll band’s in New York and Dublin;  event manager at a major Music Festival; landed a Soccer Scholarship to Uni of ILL in Chicago; landscape designer in Boston; lived in a Volkswagen camping-bus for six months in Europe, whilst Busking for a living; studied Film & Editing in Waterford, Ireland; produced a round dozen Documentaries; lived in six different countries whilst touching my toes into the waters of another forty, before deciding to move to Belgium four years ago and begin to take my writing seriously.

CLICK HERE TO BUY

I tried every manner and means to escape the decision because I think I was afraid of failure. The greatest curse and drawback to becoming a writer, (a published writer, whether it be down the traditional route of, finding an agent/ agent finding a publisher/ publisher deciding to take you on, or, as I did, and so many more writers are doing, going it alone!) is that ever-present latent fear of failure. Those doubt ridden moments of assuming that your efforts of that day’s scratchings are simply not up to scratch! When you pick up a novel of one of your favourite authors and get that tremendous shock to your system on the realization that this person is so far ahead of you that you possibly may be wasting your time.

And this is the pivotal moment that I’ve been striving to get to over the past 800 words. This is the moment to dig deep into yourself and decide that you are not going to throw in the towel. You can handle the periods of writer’s block; the fact that your close friends become slightly embarrassed anymore to ask: How’s the book coming along? When the 27th rejection slip comes into your otherwise empty mail-box from an agent who you are most certain in your head (heart actually) has not even read your submission.

And there we are, back to that place again. Alone again, naturally! (song lyric from the 1970’s) Decision time! Are you going to stand up and walk away, or, sit back down and beat the crap out of the keys? Beat them into submission! Own them! Devour them! Write the best you’ve ever written! You know it’s true-the hell with anyone who doesn’t!

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

Don’t stop! Write, write, write! Till your fingers bleed! Till the sun goes down! Till the sun rises again! And then, write some more! And love it when you’re doing it!

As an old Irish proverb goes: Live life to the full, my son (or daughter) ‘cause you’ll be dead long enough!

I don’t offer advice but I’ll repeat a piece from someone else.

Start with short stories. Hone your craft with short, sharp stories. Easier to tackle a 6th draft of a short story than the onerous task of a 6th draft of a long first novel.

Then when you have finished honing your craft, you can begin your masterpiece!

© Patrick J. Power 2017

Goodreads Author: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13955676.Patrick_J_Power

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patrickjpower31/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-j-power-a4939412b

Amazon UK links
Sartre House: bit.ly/SartreHouse
American Aliens: 
My Friend Judas: 

[Rock Mechanics] You’re Probably Closer to a Breakthrough than You Think

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Do you ever get the feeling that you’ve been hammering away at your book sales and marketing efforts forever, and yet you still can’t see any real progress with it? Still not selling as many books as you’d hoped you would be even though you’re putting in the one hour per day, six days per week or more that you promised yourself you would put in? Well, I have some good news for you. You’re probably closer to a breakthrough than you think—especially if you’ve been working at this for several weeks now. It’s science.

I came across this blog post the other day, and I found it so inspirational that I wanted to share it with you: 13 Signs You’re Close To A Breakthrough by Dr. Isaiah Hankel. Very early in this post, he talks about a field of science dedicated entirely to rock mechanics. He goes on to write that:

Back in the day, before we had things like drills, dynamite, and high pressure water jets, rocks were broken with handheld hammers. The process of breaking open a boulder by hand can take a very long time. Imagine trying to split a rock in half using a sledgehammer. You hit the boulder again and again and again but nothing happens. You don’t see any progress, which is extremely frustrating. But you keep swinging the hammer. Then, on the 30th hit or maybe the 300th hit, the boulder splits in half—like this. It seems like magic but it’s not. It’s science. Even though it looks like nothing is happening on the outside, each blow by the hammer is reducing the rock’s internal integrity. The rock is getting weaker. You just can’t see it.

CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS NOW!

For independent authors with small (or no) budgets in place to help them advertise and sell their books to the masses, much of their sales and marketing efforts must be done organically. One reader at a time. One blog post at a time. One video at a time. It’s the equivalent of trying to break a boulder with a handheld hammer one hit at a time, isn’t it? But if you click on that link above and view the boulder being split in half, it drives home the point that, just because you can’t see any of the progress you’re making in real time, you are still making progress.

No doubt you’ve heard the term “overnight success” used to describe people who become successful very quickly … or so it seems. But this is a myth. Usually, these people were already working for months (or even years) beforehand, honing their craft, learning their trade, perfecting their skills, hammering away at the boulder. Until, at long last, it split in half for them.

CLICK HERE TO BUY IT THIS NOW!

Here is a short list of Dr. Hankels 13 signs:

1. When you’re frustrated.
2. When you hear radio silence.
3. When resistance increases.
4. When they start laughing at you.
5. When you want to give up.
6. When you start rationalizing.
7. When you feel like changing your goals.
8. When you’re told to be realistic.
9. When it really hurts.
10. When the numbers say you’re wrong.
11. When people turn their backs on you.
12. When people try to help you.
13. When you’re scared.

You can read the details behind the points on this list here: 13 Signs You’re Close To A Breakthrough. Do any of them resonate with you? If yes, you may just be close to a breakthrough. Keep hammering! 🙂

* * *    * * *    * * *

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

How Liz Schulte Failed Her Way to Massive Success as an Independent Author

Best Seller Liz Schulte

Since starting my publishing career about seven years ago, I have been fortunate enough to speak with and learn from many other authors. These individuals come from a variety of backgrounds, writing styles and professional careers. One thing that we all have in common is that we wrote a book. It doesn’t matter if the book is insanely successful or still looking for its market, writing a book is a major accomplishment. At the risk of sounding cliché, writing is a journey. A journey that is a little different for everyone, but not one you have to do alone.

This journey is the reason I am talking to you today. You see, I found myself traveling down this road to becoming an author without ever knowing it was where I wanted to be. A lot of writers knew they always wanted to be an author—I am not one of them. I wanted to be a lawyer then I was toying with the idea of forensic psychology. I never considered writing because it wasn’t a “real” career.

CLICK TO SHOP NOW

However, after a fair amount of prodding I set out to write a book. Little by little I wrote bits and pieces as I had time, never breathing a word to anyone about what I was doing. The book wasn’t for other people, it was for me. I used every single idea that came to me. I remember thinking I would never be able to write another book because I used every good idea I had. In the mornings, the book was the first thing I thought about and it was my last thought as I fell asleep at night. Finally, I made it to the end. I was overwhelmed by the immediate sense of accomplishment that was quickly followed by sadness. My journey had ended.

After a few days, I started to read this book that I had poured so much of myself into and it was … awful. It was slap in the face. I grew up reading twelve books a week. How could I have written something so horrible? My first thought was to delete it, but something stopped me. Maybe it was the countless hours I poured into it or maybe I knew I couldn’t simply delete an accomplishment because it didn’t fit the narrow definition of what I wanted it to be. I finally decided I needed a second opinion. I confessed to my best friend that I had written a book and it wasn’t very good. She wanted to read it and I kind of wanted to hide under a rock. However, I did the brave thing and let the book go. A few days later, she finished reading it and told me something I wasn’t prepared to hear. She liked the story.

The next several months I devoted to making the book better, more like it was in my head. I tweaked and fussed until it was something that resembled what I wanted it to be, though it still hadn’t quite gotten there. By this point, I had already started another novel in a completely different genre. I made a folder for the first book and tucked it away as I fell in love with a new group of characters.

CLICK TO SHOP NOW

I had no clue what to do with the first book. The extent of my plan was to write a book. I hadn’t thought beyond that. After much discussion, I agreed to query some agents. I sent out ten letters and received ten blandly polite form letters in return—though one did have a nice hand written note directing me to someone else, but I didn’t contact him. You see I loved writing and no one was going to steal that joy from me by telling me they didn’t like my books. I was happy just writing them.

This attitude brought me to a crossroads in the journey. I could keep writing just for myself, or I could find a way to share my stories. That’s when I received my first eReader as a gift. I promptly downloaded several books and read one that was really cute. I went in search of who her agent was only to discover she had self-published. It was an option I didn’t even know I had. I sent her a nervous email asking about self-publishing and what it required. In less than a day, she responded with a very long email telling me about her journey as a self-published author. Though I had no idea at the time, the woman I contacted just so happened to be one of the early Kindle millionaires.

I chose my path. I was going self-publish my books.

However, being a reader didn’t help me when it came to marketing or even the finer writing points. I began to devour as much information as I could. I saved my money and went to conferences, joined online writing groups and indiscriminately read everything my Google searches brought me to on the subject. Those early times were fraught with floundering blog posts trying to figure out what in the hell a brand was and whether or not I had one already.

CLICK TO SHOP NOW

The first book released to lukewarm sales. I determined it was because I had done everything wrong. At one conference, they told me that flashbacks were bad—my book had them. At another conference, I was told that dreams were the worst—yep had those, too. It didn’t matter though because I had another book and this one was going to be different. This time I would do everything right. The new genre was hot and surely everyone would immediately snatch it up and Joss Whedon would want to buy the movie rights.

The second book came out, and much to my horror, it did worse than the first. What was I doing wrong? Marketing. Obviously, marketing was the answer. I would just market the hell out of the first book and then they would read my second book, never mind that I had written in two different genres. I set up blog tours, bought advertisements, set up some free days and did absolutely everything anyone had ever suggested about marketing. The first book started to sell. It had momentum, but guess what? The sales never transferred over to my other book. Instead people wanted to know when the next one would be out. I didn’t have another mystery. I was in the midst of writing a paranormal romance trilogy that wasn’t selling. I hit yet another crossroads in my journey: should I throw over my trilogy to write another mystery?

CLICK TO SHOP NOW

Part of me wanted to follow the money, but I followed my gut. I wanted to write the trilogy so I did. And I couldn’t have made a better decision. After a fairly mediocre year, I released the third book in the trilogy and I used what I had learned marketing that first book to market the first book in the trilogy. The month of the release I made $12,000 and realized for the first time that maybe writing really could be a career.

I did a lot of things wrong along my journey, but I also did a lot things right. If I had to narrow it down, I would say these were the more influential decisions I made:

  1. I believed in myself.
    No one has ever told me I don’t have confidence in myself. I wrote a book and never once thought that I shouldn’t try it or it might be too hard. I simply wrote it because that’s what I wanted to do. That same confidence gave me the courage to undertake the overwhelming task of self-publishing and it helped me believe in my stories enough that I didn’t give up on them.
  2. I never stopped learning.
    Twenty-four books later, I am still learning. I still read about the industry, writing and marketing. Now, I am a bit more discerning about who I take advice from, but I still actively seek out new information. Recently, I heard the term influencer marketing. I didn’t know what it was so I read every article I could find on it until I started getting ideas about how I could apply it to what I do.
  3. I treated writing like a business.
    Yes, writing is a creative pursuit, but publishing is a business. I set deadlines and went through hell to keep them. I made professional connections and respected other people’s expertise and time like I would my own. To be a good self-publisher you have to be prepared for both aspects of the business.
  4. I did everything wrong.
    This is my favorite point to make. I didn’t do any of the things the blogs and speakers told me to do. I listened to them and respected what they had to say and where they were coming from, but this journey was my journey, not theirs. All the well-meaning advice in the world will not get you further down the road. If you are writing a book and you want a prologue in it, then put it in. You are the writer. Even if I rewrote my first book today, I wouldn’t touch a single one of the flashback scenes. They are just the way I wanted them to be. It is a part of that story and just because someone else got sick of them, doesn’t mean that I can’t use them. Always be true to your creative vision first. If it doesn’t work, cut it in editing, but trust your characters and let them have their own voice.
  5. I didn’t listen to the fear.
    I didn’t tell people I knew in my daily life that I was writing and publishing books until I had multiple books released. Even then, the thought of people I knew reading my books made me feel sick. It was ice-cold fear. I still have it. When people I know read my books I wait for them to tell me how much they hate it or everything I did wrong. I feel sick to my stomach when I send each book to editing, always fairly certain this is the book when they take away my laptop and tell me no more writing. The fear is everywhere and all authors have it. Had I listened to the fear I would have deleted my first book. I would never have let my friend read it. I wouldn’t have emailed that first author. I wouldn’t have joined and been active in author groups. I wouldn’t have tried self-publishing. I wouldn’t have put so much into promoting a book that wasn’t selling. I wouldn’t have finished my trilogy. I wouldn’t left my day job. The list can go on and on. Fear has long been the killer of dreams and I simply wasn’t willing to place mine on the chopping block.

So that’s my story about how I got to this place where I can be a self-supported self-published author. Kim also asked me to tell you about my marketing plan. I am going to do this as a bulleted list in the order of importance:

  • The book
    Great marketing might sell one book, but it doesn’t make a career. The story, especially the ending, is what makes loyal readers. This is part of the reason why I am always learning. Each book is a chance to hone my craft and tell a better story so I always try to produce novels I can be proud of—stories I would like as a reader.
  • The quantity of product
    This was a mistake I made, but it was a lesson well learned. I focused a large amount of money and time on marketing one novel when I didn’t have a backlist. It worked, the book sold, but there wasn’t the return on investment that I should have had. If one book is all you ever plan on writing, then market it as much as you want. But if you are planning a series, wait until you are at least three books in to start ramping up marketing efforts. You will get more return on your investment.
  • Advertisement
    The best way I have found to get word out about my books isn’t plastering social media with “please buy my book” posts. It is forming a strategic marketing plan for each book. First, I submit my book that will be on sale to Bookbub. If they choose my book, I will then form a strategy around that post. Bookbub still has the best reach of any of the book mailing lists, but they are also very selective, so don’t get discouraged. If I don’t get that ad, I select my sale period and will systematically go through the various sites stacking as many ads as I can for a period of a week to two weeks. The more exposure I can get the better. I will also set up targeted Facebook advertising for the period and send out my newsletter.
  • Networking
    Writing can be solitary, but don’t shut yourself off too much. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience out there from your fellow authors. Make friends, help others and accept their help. The indie community is kind and embraces new authors. Be respectful of other people’s time, but don’t be scared to ask your questions. Also, attend conferences. Meet authors, writers and publishers. Talk to them and share about your own experiences. Those connections will come back to reward you.
  • Social engagement
    I love social media — maybe a little too much. However, keeping in contact with your readers helps you, as an author, stay on their mind. Remember that you are there to be social, not to sell. Be yourself and only do the platforms you like. If you don’t like any social media, then don’t use it. Set up an email and website where readers can reach you. The idea is to make a direct connection between you and your readers.

That’s it. That’s my entire marketing strategy. There aren’t simple answers or easy solutions. Working hard and believing in yourself is the only way I know how to make a book series successful. I wish each of you the best of luck and would love to hear from you.

Liz

Liz Schulte is a self-published author in mystery and paranormal romance with more than twenty novels, multiple short stories and audiobooks. She is a member of RWA and her local guilds in Missouri, the Missouri Writer’s Guild, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers of America.

Though success in publishing didn’t happen overnight, like she envisioned it would, the journey has been worth the trials along the way. Liz became a self-supported full time author in 2013 and wouldn’t trade her hard begotten knowledge or the wonderful friends she has made along the way for anything.

Liz has a degree in psychology from the University of Missouri and a minor in philosophy. She has taken numerous forensic courses and writing classes as well as attended several symposiums on writing. She speaks on subjects ranging from self-publishing to marketing and social media.

Website                    Facebook                    Twitter                    Pinterest

© Liz Schulte 2017