Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dust Off Those Manuscripts

by Velda Brotherton

How long we’ve been writing dictates how many manuscripts are stuffed into plastic storage boxes along with research and notes. Nowadays, those old manuscripts are probably on files or stored in a hard drive or on a CD. Mine dated back so far that all I had were paper bound copies. A couple of times I’d gone through them and discarded a few here and there.

However, I learned the hard way to never throw them away. One just might come in handy one day.

Authors have been told for years not to write for the market but to write what they like to write. Nothing could be more true, yet sometimes we have to skid a little sideways, so to speak. The first books I wrote were mainstream meant for hard cover – strange of me to have such dreams, hmmm? Then I had no thoughts of being published, so why not write what I liked to read?

When a contest came along for western historicals, I decided to give it a try. I loved westerns like True Grit, and movies where the good guy and bad guy wore white hats and black, rode gorgeous horses and depicted our past fascinated me. So I wrote three chapters about a tough woman abandoned by her family and left in a soddy on the prairie. She would leave and go west before she either starved to death or shot herself. The three chapters and a synopsis won first place and the judge urged me to finish the book and submit it to a New York Publisher. Finishing that book I discovered that I loved researching and writing in this genre, and my husband enjoyed researching for me as well. And it sold to Penguin.

Lesson #1 – enter contests in genres in which you don’t normally write. You may discover something new and exciting about yourself.

Oh, back to the dust gathering manuscripts. I’m coming to a lesson learned there too. After being published in western historical romance for six years, the New York debacle occurred. If you’ve been in the business very long you know that 30 or more publishers melded into five or six, and New York became a difficult if not impossible goal.

Because I’d discovered a love for researching the history or our country, I decided I could turn that into writing regional nonfiction books.

Lesson #2 – Don’t quit when all seems against you. Find another avenue where your talent can go to work.

After six regional nonfiction books, during which time I was hired by a local newspaper to create and write a historical page for their paper, I discovered something else. I liked working with small presses. They were more personal, one on one, actually answered emails and phone calls, and so I wondered if maybe I ought to get back into fiction, my first love. Small presses were cropping up to replace those lost in New York.

So I dug out the western manuscript I had written just prior to “the debacle” and submitted it to a small publisher, The Wild Rose Press. They took it and wanted more. Since then number four, Rowena’s Hellion, is set to come out Oct. 24.

Lesson #3 – Once again, don’t throw away something that’s been rejected a few times. Place a hard copy somewhere safe, you may go through several computers and lose the manuscript there.

Now, because we’re running out of space, comes the final lesson. Remember back when I was writing those long books suited toward mainstream? One just happened to be on a subject that is much in the news today. Veteran’s issues and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I’d spent six months researching the Vietnam War and issues about the men returning with no place to turn to help them live in a peaceful atmosphere after being subjected to the the killing fields for two or three tours. My agent loved it and did his best to sell it, but it was 1986 and no one wanted to discuss this matter. That was my first novel. Nothing in the computer, a floppy disk in Word Star, but by golly I’d kept one bound copy, now covered in dust.

Out it came and I began a complete rewrite. Jump to happy ending. The book, Beyond the Moon, contracted by a publisher and released in hard cover, paper and ebook, will be released Sept. 30. It’s big, it’s beautiful and my publisher has a lot of faith in it, so much so that he took the time and spent the money to submit it for a Pulitzer Prize.

Lesson #4 – Work, keep working, don’t hesitate to rewrite something over and over and never let rejection get in the way of your success. That book gathering dust? Pay attention. Its time will come.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Guest author Joyce Ann Brown: Flushing out Publishing Process Frustrations

Joyce Ann Brown
Joyce Ann Brown is a landlady, story teller, retired school Library Media Specialist, former classroom teacher, former Realtor, and a freelance writer. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, and a Kansas City Writers' Group. The first two books of her “Psycho Cat and the Landlady” cozy mystery series are, CATastrophic Connections, ready for pre-sale, and FURtive Investigation. Visit her website at http://joyceannbrown.com and her blog at http://retirementchoicescozymystery.wordpress.com . She will give away a copy of her first book to a random three people who comment on this post.

For the past several weeks, whenever I had a few minutes to reflect, I tried to come up with an analogy for the experience of self-publishing my book. The process of searching for an agent or a publisher is like applying to a good university or for a job with an outstanding employer. You go to class and work hard to produce your best work, send out applications and individually formatted resumes, and wait for ages to hear, receive rejections, get some interviews, and wait for more ages to hear anything. The process of self-publishing is similar up to a point, but...

More analogies ran through my mind, until one day I visited the restroom at a movie theatre. It hit me. Self-publishing is like using an automatic toilet. Now, don't get me wrong. The end product of both can be very successful—achievement and fulfillment. One doesn't often see people leaving restroom stalls looking depressed and anxious.

Consider the similarities in the two procedures:
  1. You learn about nutrition, drink plenty of liquids, and pay for organic fruits, vegetables, and low-fat proteins for years. (Study creative writing, spend years writing a book, and pay for professional editing.)
  2. Inside the stall, you pull out a paper seat cover, tear it open, and set it on the toilet seat. (Open self-publishing Websites, read the formatting rules, and download templates.) 
  3. You stand up in triumph, having avoided tearing the paper cover to shreds, unbutton, and unzip. (Sit up straight at the computer and, with confidence, enter the manuscript into the template.)
  4. The automatic toilet flushes before you can turn and sit on it, and the paper cover is flushed down. (After a week of unexpected formatting technicalities of uploading your masterpiece, you learn that the free cover choices are unremarkable and that you need to hire a cover artist.)
  5. You grab another paper cover and tear out the middle with care. (Look for and hire a superb graphic artist to design a magnificent cover.)
  6. You cross your thighs and squeeze when your bladder becomes demanding. (Wait with an impending sense of urgency for the cover artist to do her thing, because you've announced to your following that your book will be out very soon, and it is beginning to not be very soon at all.)
  7. You lean over to hold the cover to the toilet seat while the automatic flush repeats. (Consider all the proposals for the book cover and start learning about the formatting rules on another self-publishing site while waiting for the cover.)
  8. You jerk back up and wipe your face with your sleeve in disgust after the toilet flush splashes droplets into your eyes while you were holding the paper down. (Reformat parts of the text and send the file back to the graphic artist for additional work after the publishing service again finds some formatting problems.)
  9. You look down to discover the second paper cover is gone. The toilet flushed it while you were wiping your eyes. Phooey! (Submit the reformatted files and receive the paperback proof only to see washed-out colors on the book cover and a centering problem on the copyright page and realize you must return to the formatting process.)
  10. You stand to the side of the motion detector, take your pants down, pull the cover out, jerk it open, throw it on the seat, turn, and sit before the cover can be flushed. When the sensor delays the flush for a full minute after you stand up, you raise an eyebrow at the mechanism. As you pull up your pants and grab your purse from the door holder, you feel cocky about having conquered the problems. (Complete the corrections, resubmit the final files, and look back at the process with a sense of accomplishment mollified by the understanding that the pain of learning to format is only the beginning of the work involved in sharing your story with readers.)
True, the final part of my analogy doesn't quite fit. I don't have the same giddy feeling of achievement after tricking that ornery automatic toilet as I do having brought my book to life. There might be a better analogy for my experience. I just haven't thought of it yet.

Author Jenny Milchman spoke at my local Sisters in Crime meeting this month. Queries for her first book, Cover of Snow, gained her an agent, but it took thirteen years, during which she wrote eight more books, for her book to be published. She then did a seven month book tour across the U.S. to publicize and sell the book before she wrote Ruin Falls and had it published and subsequently started another tour. She is now a successful psychological mystery writer. I wonder what she would say…. My pen-to-press saga was like…

Juliet Kincaid received rejections for her cute fairytale-based novelettes until she self-published and started selling. Her Cinderella, P.I. stories have made the top ten on Amazon for short fiction. It's probable she would relate a different self-publishing comparison.

Sally Jadlow's first book was published by a small publishing house, but since then she has become an indie publisher of several Christian books and historical fiction novels. To what would she compare her experience?

Deb Julienne wrote for twenty years and now has her first book published (Sex, Lies, and Beauty Aids) and several more coming. I'm sure she could think of an analogy for her twenty year voyage.

Do you have an analogy for your own publishing story? Please comment.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Guest feature: Time Management in Less than 10 minutes

Nikolas Baron discovered his love for the written word in elementary school where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at Internet start-ups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.

Time Management in Less than 10 minutes

Though everyone has the same 24 hours each day, some writers find these hours vanish quickly. Deadlines arrive seemingly ahead of schedule. Time for sleep, proper nutrition, and family evaporates in the rush to complete necessary tasks. How can you make better use of your time? Do you understand what time management is? At Grammarly, learning about how writers successfully overcome obstacles is part of my job. What I have learned about time management may change the way you write forever!

  • Let Others Make the Coffee

First, figure out how to set the timer on your coffee maker. If you don’t have that fancy of a coffeemaker, you have three options: (1) Buy a new coffee maker. (2) Ask a housemate to start the coffee in the morning before you awaken. (3) Head out to a cafe in the morning for a cup of joe.
What is the importance of coffee? Well, your morning routine sets the tone for the entire day. If you putter around making coffee, reading the paper, and shuffling around in your jammies, you could lose a large part of your day. It is best to hit the ground running. Grab your coffee and head straight to the place in your home where you write the most efficiently. If you opted for java in a coffeehouse, bring your writing materials with you and start writing while you enjoy your brew.

  • Cut the Fat

Next, think about where you lose time unnecessarily during the day. For example, do you find yourself spending chunks of time searching for lost papers? Do you forget appointments, obligating yourself to apologize and reschedule things constantly? Find a tool that addresses your biggest time-wasting weakness. If you confuse dates, I suggest organizing your schedule with Google calendar. The program sends alerts by email when you have an upcoming event. If you are not online regularly, use a good, old-fashioned agenda book. Keep it in the same place all the time, and consult it every single day.

  • Do More than One Thing

You will also need to multi-task. While you are writing, set other things in motion. If you work at home, use your writing days to do laundry and cook crockpot meals. Fold and put away your laundry during mental breaks, but do not stop the flow of creativity to attend to household chores. Delegate chores that require full use of your mind or body or do them at another time. If you must complete the task on a writing day, find a way to incorporate the task into the writing process. For example, while you wash dishes, brainstorm and dictate your notes into a voice recorder.

  • Use What Works, and Avoid What Does Not

Be careful about software programs. Some tools save you time; others cost you time. For example, using proofreading software will probably save you time. In moments, proofing software will find errors that you might not have noticed until your second or third read-over, if ever! Any software that is difficult to master will cost you time. One author that I know once spent two hours typing one page using typing-by-voice software. The speech recognition program made many errors. It took more time to correct the mistakes than it would have taken to type the paragraphs the old-fashioned way. Perhaps there is good software out there, but make sure you do not squander your time on products that bring little benefit.

So, did you discern what time management really is? It is any technique, product, or practice that will help you to accomplish tasks in less time. Invest a little time in setting a routine and eliminating time-wasting habits. In the long run, you will gain more time for the things and people that matter the most!

By Nikolas Baron

Friday, September 19, 2014

Keeping it real enough

I was reading an article about a Libertarian social experiment down in Chile. They'd attempted to create an ideal community based on Ayn Rand's objectivist utopia Galt's Gulch. (Which they cleverly named Galt's Gulch.) For those unfamiliar with Rand's philosophy, rational selfishness is the highest good; only people who choose to be victims are preyed upon; ideal personal relationships are based on capitalism – that is, true love is a function of how mutually advantageous the union is; anything a person can do he or she has the right to do; and no laws are necessary because the right thing to do will always be self-evident. In Rand's worldview only the lazy and unworthy need laws to compensate for their inability to reason – same for public education, social services, public health, you name it. She believed in euthanasia of the handicapped. In her novel Atlas Shrugged an objectivist visionary named John Galt leads what we would today in the US would call the one percent – all of whom are weary of carrying the vast unworthy majority of humanity on their shoulders – into an isolated retreat, Galt's Gulch, and the world, helpless without them, sinks into anarchy. Unfortunately for the self-styled members of the world's elite who'd sunk their fortunes into the Chilean Galt's Gulch, the noble Libertarian experiment collapsed in a cloud of accusations and lawsuits, leaving many of them financially ruined. Which reminded me of the axiom – attributed in various forms to many writers over the years – that life doesn't make sense, but fiction must. We've all heard that. We all incorporate it into our writing. Chekhov's gun – if there's a gun over the mantel in the first act, it must be fired by the third – is a variation. Whether it's a mystery or a romance or a young adult adventure we carefully craft plausible causes for every event. Coincidences may happen in real life, but never in our novels (unless attributed to magical or spiritual influences that we clearly establish – sometimes after the event). Cause and effect must be delineated in the story's narrative for the same reason elements of a portrait must be balanced, the notes in a piece of music must support and build on each other, and all four legs of a chair must be the same length. It's necessary for the comfort of our audience, a prerequisite of their acceptance and – hopefully – enjoyment. Gault's Gulch flourished in Ayn Rand's novel because that was the inevitable evolution of the narrative a logical outgrowth of the underlying philosophy. (Dare we say "theme"?) Grant's Gulch imploded in Chile, even though it was the same logical outgrowth of the same philosophy, because there was no narrative. One was a work of fiction, the other was the work of a group of people who mistakenly believed they could apply the rules of fiction to real life. On the other hand, we've all read novels and stories in which things are wrapped up too neatly; in which every detail serves a purpose and no question is left unanswered. This seemlessness can be as unsatisfying as the causeless event and the neglected loose end. One storytellers technique to avoid this effect is to slip a coincidence into the background, to give texture to the world through which your characters move with snatches of conversation heard out of context or actions they observe in passing. And don't be afraid to leave an unresolved question or two – show the characters aware that there are things they don't know, or that there are things they will need to address moving forward. A satisfying story, a story that does its job, plays fair with the reader, solidly maintains its internal integrity, and has just enough fray and stretch to feel comfortably real.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

When Dreams Meet Reality.

I’m pretty sure this has come up before during our little chats and time spent together, but—among other things—I write Star Trek novels. Because of this, I’m occasionally contacted by enthusiastic fans who would also like to write Star Trek novels. Or, maybe they’ve already written a Star Trek novel, and now they want to know how they go about getting it published.

Earlier this month, I was approached by just such a fan. He had completed the manuscript for a Star Trek novel, and now he was seeking advice. It was evident that he had done some research, as he knew that the company which publishes such books only accepts submissions via a literary agent. So, how was he to go about obtaining representation for such a book?

I really hate these kinds of letters.

As I explained when I discussed this on my Facebook page, it’s not the letters themselves I hate. Instead, I really don’t like having to answer them and tell the sender something he or she almost certainly doesn’t want to hear. I truly dislike having to tell them that all of the time and effort they’ve invested in their novel likely won’t be rewarded. Why? Simply because of how the process works for tie-in novels like those written for Star Trek, or Star Wars, HALO, and so on, and I always caution writers never to write an entire manuscript in the hopes of having it reviewed and approved. For one thing, the development of these sorts of books usually is a two-step process, with an outline or proposal first being submitted and approved by an editor and then the property owner (CBS, Lucasfilm, Disney, etc.) before any contracts or actual writing of manuscripts takes place. So, if you’re showing up at their door with a full manuscript, you’re going about the process all backwards, and they’re not going to read it.

As for agents, they’ll almost never agree to represent a new writer looking to secure representation for a tie-in novel. For such books, there’s only one shot at selling it: to the publisher holding the license to develop and sell such books. Also, the contracts tend to be very boilerplate, with very little room for negotiating advances, royalties, and other points. There’s just nothing in it for an agent, though they can and do handle tie-in books for their clients who already are writing original fiction.

So how does one become a “tie-in writer?” As legends tell, one must first be bitten by another tie-in writer.

Okay, while the real answer isn’t as exciting, it’s not that far removed, when you think about it. Editors of tie-in novels tend to rely on writers they already know or who are recommended to them by colleagues; proven commodities who can work in concert with other writers, who are easy to deal with and deliver solid work in the face of often insane deadlines. Landing such a gig as a new writer with little or no previous professional writing experience is a rarity.

Meanwhile, original fiction offers many more paths to success. Instead of a single publisher, now you can take your manuscript (or outline and sample chapters, depending on the submission guidelines) to many, many more potential publishers, and agents are always on the hunt for new talent. Smaller publishers and self-publishing also are options which aren’t feasible (or even legal) when it comes to tie-in fiction.

I explained all of this to my hopeful e-Mailer. In addition to the above, I also offered some suggestions and recommendations so far as pursuing publication of his original fiction and seeking agency representation. Yes, it likely was disappointing, but I figure if someone takes the time to reach out for advice, they deserve honest, respectful answers to their questions, and who knows? Perhaps one day his dream will become a reality.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Audacity Of Authors

While attending a recent writers conference I overheard a woman say “That author's ego is really out of control.” The catty remark was aimed at an author who did seem pretty full of himself. But it got me to wondering: Is there room for humbleness when it comes to writing?

The dictionary definition of “humble” is “Not proud or haughty, not arrogant or assertive; offered in the spirit of deference or submission; ranking low in a hierarchy or scale; insignificant; lacking all the signs of pride.” Does this sound like the traits a successful writer?

The simple act of putting pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard announces to the world, “I have something to say. My thoughts are unique. My words are important!” That mindset is what drives writers, convinces them every day to sit in a chair and hope for the flow of ideas that will translate to the right words on the page. This is what deprives them of family time, TV time, sleep, and their favorite past time, reading. This is what makes them snap at people, growl at interruptions, overeat and add fat to their butt.

So, from where does this “arrogance” spring? I can only speak for myself: I'm inspired by the scribes before me. Shakespeare, Chaucer, Homer (not Simpson—Doh!). Their words lasted centuries—will mine do the same? In the lightening pace of today's plugged-in world, is it possible for my words to last longer than the next tweet?

Writers have to be overly proud of what we're doing—and yes, I'm in the non-humble crowd. We are out there trying for truth and recognizing it our fellow authors. Ego and belief in ourselves is what shores up our confidence when family members look skeptical at our efforts. Friends encourage us with pats on the back as if we've just escaped from a mental institution. Authors are strangers, not people they know.

We struggle alone and wait for the spark, that “Aha!” moment when our consciousness takes a giant leap onto the page. That's the moment when the pleasure of writing is transformed to the power of writing. There's no turning back.

The next hurdle is ignoring the censor in your head that says “Can I write what I really feel and get away with it?” Don't look for the green light from family and friends. They're already worried you're going to spill the dirty laundry. You can't wait to write until Granny and her church friends die.

On my list of the most daring, soul-barring authors I've come across are Philip Roth, who never let me look at liver the same way again. James Joyce, whose run-on sentences go on for pages. Joan Didion slouching toward Bethlehem. Erica Jong diminished my Fear of Flying. I never understood a word of Henry Miller's Cancers but am incensed that he was censored. Anais Nin who opened up her sexuality for public viewing. And my favorite author, Chuck Palahniuk, always makes me want to write brave, to bare my soul, not bar it.

I tell beginning writers that they must always stand by their words because critics are out there ready to tear them apart. Break new ground, break down barriers. Take old ideas and turn them around like a prism until they see light from another angle. Find their voice and use words that excite. What I don't tell them is in the process they're going to cut their emotional wrists and bleed all over the page. It's messy and some aren't going to survive.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

On the Social Side

An actual sculpture by
artist Alicia Martin
mounted at Casa de America,
Depending on who you talk to between 600,000 and one million books are published in the US each year. I won't quote a source, you can look it up or take my word for it. In the mean time, US book sales are declining. This makes for a very competitive market as you can imagine. This is one of the reasons that the face of book marketing has changed significantly over the years. No longer can an author write, hand the book over to the publisher and bury his or her nose again, focusing on the second book. Instead, the author has to get out there and engage with the audience, market herself, generate a group of people (outside of family members who are required to buy the book) who care about you and your book.

This was the topic of discussion on a recent radio program in which I participated with fellow novelnaut, Velda Brotherton. As we talked about the need for authors to use Social Media to sell books another irony came to light. I have no statistics on this one but it's not hard to imagine that the people who chose a career that involves spending long periods of time on their own pouring their essence on to a (figurative) piece of paper might not belong to the most social group on the planet. I know I'm not. Promoting myself on social media means putting myself out there without the shield of a fictional character. I hesitate before each post. Does anyone really care about the things that are important to me or the things that happen in my day?

We can have an informal poll here. Are you an introverted or extroverted author? Do you use social media as a means of promoting yourself and books? What challenges do you face in doing so?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

How to Not Write Novel #2

There are in fact many, MANY, more reasons NOT to tell people you are writing a novel than there are reasons to tell people what you're up to.

Let's look at a few of them:

1- I don't know if you know these people (I sure do), they are the people who endlessly tell you about their book but never actually write it. Let's face it, it's a lot funner, and easier, to just talk about writing a book. Actually writing it is work. Hard work. Or maybe it's just that the book has been talked to death. Talk about something long enough and it feels like it's already written. Or maybe another, newer idea supplants it before anything on the other book can even get put on paper. 

2- People love nothing more than a parade they can rain on. And you being happy and excited about the book you're working on is BEGGING for a reality check. Don't let them rain you out! When people ask what (if anything) you are writing just say stuff. 

3- People love to tell you all about what you SHOULD be writing, and it generally  involves them and their ideas, which they've never done anything with. People also want to contribute, for I don't know what reason but this one irks me likes no one's business. Often because other people's ideas are so far OFF from what my vision is that I get really annoyed with them for daring to foist their ideas off on my work.

These are only three reasons! The responses to "I'm writing a novel." vary from actively hurtful, to poor advice, to plain discouraging. It's best to keep your work and your ideas close to the vest until you have a  finished product, or a sturdy support system.

So what are some of the choice responses you've gotten?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

When Your Characters Keep Talking

Years ago I was watching Oprah and an author said that he hears the voices of his characters in his head. I was like, wooooo, really? Yikes!

Well he was right. I type what I see and hear, dialogue first (I use very little narration), like I'm translating what I'm watching in a video. I live through this each and every time I write a story. I guess it's better than having writer's block, but my-oh-my, I'm going through it right now and during the times I'm not actually sitting down to write, it means I, as most writers, get very little sleep because these folks we've created are in our heads 24/7.

I'm in the 11th hour of a WIP that I need to send to two editors soon. I'm on my third and final draft, which is great, though things are still changing because of these dang "voices," or let's say "ideas," that keep popping into my head. I'm making notes, texting myself, scribbling on the back of envelopes, receipts, using my cell memo feature, recording myself, emailing myself, and sometimes, as always, thinking I'll take a chance that I'll remember the idea, but I don't. Good grief, I can't wait until the ideas stop, and then I'll know I'm done.

Just this morning the 3 year-old girl in my story said, okay, I had an idea, that she must pray, on her knees each night, asking God for her dad to come home. Then while I was making coffee, I decided to scratch one minor character, and assign his contributions to the necessary progression of the story to another character. Yesterday, I remembered that a phone rang at 1 a.m. in one scene, but I never followed up as to who it was. One character reminded me the other day to mention her occupation, which is critical to her having knowledge on a subject. Last week I wondered if my character should mediate. She wants to, and I think she could, but would I be true to her arc if she did? Oh, at three in the morning a character told me she should be at the gym in the short scene I'm writing today. Whew! This stage is amazing, necessary, a blessing, but dang characters, shut up already, or should I say, keep talking!

This is one reason why I always say don't rush a story because if you cut it off at the end before the "ideas" cease, you just might miss an opportunity to throw in a great angle. When I was writing Hot Boyz, right before I hit the button to email it to my editor, I realized that though we think there was a murder suicide, the shooter really survived, and he's in prison. The scene I wrote of the boyfriend driving out to visit the shooter is one of the best scenes, and best twists, I've ever written. I know, I gave it away, but hey - point made. :)

And so, I should be okay to turn this manuscript over to awaiting hands by Sunday night, maybe not. And even when I get it back, more changes, and one more proofreader. And trust, no matter what I say, I will be messing with the dang thing even while they have it. But in the end, after years of writing, in spite of times like this that work my nerves, I will know that I allowed my characters to live out their stories, not mine, and that I was true to them, in spite of them bugging me for all these months. It's a love-hate, but 51% love, and as long as that continues, I'll keep writing, with characters all up in my head, chatting away! My passion personified!

How do you handle this stage of writing - the times when you at least know you've developed them enough for them to speak, but you want them to shut the heck up so you can get some flipping sleep?

Write on! Voices and all!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Book Launch update

A month ago I wrote about my plans to have a book launch party.  Well I did and it was awesome.  So was it successful?  That depends on how you define success.  The target age for the book, “Zapped! Danger in the cell” is 8 to 13 years old, defined as middle grade.  The book is entertaining, but it is also educational.  It correlates directly with aspects of 5th and 6th grade science curriculum which deals with types of cells, structure, organelles and their function.  It allows kids to learn about the cell, its organelles, structure and functions without the tedium of a text book, but rather the fun adventure of the four main characters who are shrunk and zapped into an animal cell.

So what happened at the launch?  Well there were book sales and signings.

There were games that engaged kids in attendance including making a model cell out of candy. And there was great food.
A few things that I consider as successful occurred at the launch party. 
1.    We got the books in the hands of several elementary school teachers book in the New York City Public School system, Westchester County Public School System and in St. Kitts (in the Caribbean) public school systems.
2.    There were people who headed book clubs for adults and middle grade kids who bought not just my new release but also my older titles.
3.    A journalist in attendance wrote an article profiling “Zapped!” Danger in the cell and the authors.  That article was published in “SKNvibes” an online newspaper/ezine that targets Kittitians home and abroad and posted to the St. Kitts-Nevis Times Facebook page.
4.    We got the book in the hands of parents of children in the target age.

So why do I think that the launch party was worth it?  It got my name out there.  It got my book out there.  It got it in the hands of people who have the potential of sharing it with others on a large scale.  It gave my older titles a booster shot.  Most of all, we had a great party that I probably would have had anyway since it was my birthday.

So should every author run out and have a launch party for each book title?  That would depend on your goals, what you consider success, how much you are willing to invest in promoting your book, and ....(you can add your goals here).

This was my first ever launch party and because of the positive experience, it is definitely something I would do again.