Re: Build Bridges, Not Barricades

Yesterday I came across this post Build Bridges, Not Barricades  It’s an opinion piece about positive collaboration between traditional and indie authors. Unlike my blog post on the same topic, this post took a more positive approach.

“Isn’t it my duty as a self-published author to fly the flag? If I don’t challenge these arguments, aren’t I just letting people go on believing in their old prejudices and misconceptions about self-published books? Yes, I am – because I don’t think that rising to this sort of bait is always the best way to present our case. I prefer a less confrontational approach, one that focuses on the positive. If whether or not you are self or trade published makes no difference amongst authors themselves, what’s left to argue about?”

I feel like this blog was written for me. Who knows, with the amount of people angry with the tone of my last blog, it might have been. Whatever the case, this made me take a step back and reevaluate the message I was trying to convey.

My blog post came across as defensive and judgmental. There was truth to it. But that truth didn’t shine through as positive for everyone, and now I understand why. I was reacting to feeling judged, and in turn, I judged others.

It’s natural for people to become defensive when they feel judged. In my personal life, I try really, really hard not to react to things without considering them first. I try to avoid controversial topics, I try to look at an argument from both sides before I weigh in, and I (usually) wait for my emotions to settle before I react. I’m not always successful in doing these things, but that’s always my intent.

I was approaching a topic I felt strongly about with a defensive attitude when I should have used positive examples of traditional and indie authors working together. I’ve had many such experiences, and I could have used those to bolster my point that we can all get along. Instead, my message drew a line between the two, and that’s where I was wrong.

In her blog post Lucienne Boyce said, “The fact is that to many authors, the divide either doesn’t exist or, if they are aware of it, they don’t view it as negative.”

From now on I’ll adopt this attitude, putting the negativity and bad feelings behind me, and move forward with the people I love to work with and who support me. I should have remembered there’s room for us all and we should celebrate each other, not criticize.

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It’s here! It’s HERE! Kristen Strassel’s SILENT NIGHT is here!

 

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I’m excited to celebrate the release of SILENT NIGHT by Kristen Strassel! This books sounds amazing and if I could marry a cover, I think I’d marry this one. 😉

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Title: Silent Night

Author: Kristen Strassel

Age: NA

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Cover Designer: Nathalia Suellen

Scheduled to release: November 18, 2014

AMAZON

 

Blurb:

This Christmas isn’t about celebration for eighteen-year-old Kyndra, it’s about survival. Grieving the loss of her grandmother and struggling with the indifference of her family, Kyndra now splits her time between her dead-end mall job, her junkie ex-boyfriend’s bed, and the streets. Longing to be close to her grandmother one more time, she wanders into Christmas Eve mass and prays she’ll find the place she belongs. Home.

Aidan isn’t ready to let go of the past either, even though he’s had nearly three hundred years to do it. He chronicles the search for the reincarnation of his beloved wife as the vampire romance author Allison Duprois. Aidan knows the wife he mourns is out there, but fears writing their story is as close as he will get to her.

At Christmas Eve mass, he finally finds her. Alone, with no place to go.

Aidan brings Kyndra into his home, and gives her the safety, comfort and love she longs for. Though he gives her second chances she never thought she’d have, Kyndra still can’t get over Aidan’s mysterious past. Not to mention that he claims that he’s a vampire. Life alone on the streets is dangerous enough without handing her trust and love to the wrong person. Can Aidan break through the walls around Kyndra’s hardened heart to convince her that she belongs with him, forever?

*This is a companion novel to the Night Moves Series.

EXCERPT

“I need to borrow your pajamas again.”

“Follow me.” Aidan waved his hand towards the hallway. I didn’t know if he heard me or not. I wouldn’t ask again. The shadows swallowed him before he clicked the light at the end of the hallway. “I hope it’s alright. I cleaned it up, and I’m limited on short notice. With my lifestyle, I can only go to all night stores.”

He led me into an oddly shaped room, with floor to ceiling dark wood bookshelves loaded with even more books. How could one person even hope to read so many books in one lifetime? In a nook, under more shelves, was a freshly made bed with a fluffy white spread and aqua throw pillows. A pair of pink and black pajamas were folded at the foot of the bed, on top of a silver throw.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. “Did you do this for me?”

Aidan’s smile was so wide it hardly fit on his face. “I did.”

I sunk down on the bed, head in my hands. “It’s too much.”

I felt his hands on my wrists, cool from just coming in from the car. Electricity flowed from his skin to mine, sending waves beneath the surface. Was this the first time he actually touched me? “I just want you to have a place you know you can come to. No questions asked.”

Hot tears slipped down my cheeks. Why was he doing this? Why did this man I’d met two days before today care about me more than my own mother? She didn’t even call me this week. I tried to bury that hurt deep, but it bounced out when I least expected it. Being with Aidan, the pain faded, and I couldn’t remember why I wanted to fight to get away from him anymore.

“I can’t pay for this,” I whispered, my voice still breaking.

“Let me do things for you.” He pressed his forehead against mine, not moving my hands away from my face. His skin felt so refreshing against my anxiety flushed skin.

Lowering my hands, I had to force myself to meet his eyes. “Thank you.”

“My home is your home. Really. I did food shopping, too.”

“So, when you found me tonight,” I worked up the nerve to ask, “was that an accident?”

“Nothing in this world is an accident, Kyndra.” He stopped at the door, then closed it quietly behind him, leaving me to stare at it after he left me alone in this haven created just for me.

I was afraid to touch anything. Aidan left me in a snow globe and I didn’t want to break the glass. I curled up in a ball, clutching one of the pillows at the head of the bed. My head pounded, but my body so desperately wanted to let go of all the tension that had built up since I gave the keys to Memere’s apartment back.

I wanted to stay. Here.

Sitting up, I ran my finger along the edge of the piping on the pajamas. They were classic button down pjs with pinstripes, but adorned with little black stars and star buttons. The flannel felt like a hug as I pulled them on. As soon as my brain wound down to the same level as my tired body, I would be ready to sleep forever.

A book would help me relax. Ignoring the e-reader in my bag, I went straight for the wall of books. I noticed some repeats from the living room, namely the Allison Duprois books. I pulled out the hardcover version of A Piece of My Heart.

I hadn’t read these books since junior high. Memere had been a little concerned they were too mature for me, but she didn’t want to discourage me from reading. I couldn’t remember the order the series went in, so I skimmed the opening pages for the information.

First Printing, 1990.

My eyes couldn’t leave those words. That was not only six years before I was born, but twenty four years ago.

Aidan didn’t look much more than thirty. Thirty-five at most. He would have barely been a teenager at most in 1990. Tearing my eyes away from the book, I looked at the closed door. My heart pounded so hard it threatened to jump out of the neckline of my new pajamas.

This didn’t add up.

Maybe he just looked really good for his age. It was possible, with plastic surgery and manscaping and gross things like that. But Aidan didn’t seem like someone who’d be vain enough to go through all of that. This was someone who hid behind a secret identity. So maybe he would be vain enough to alter his face. Maybe I was just wrong about how old he was, but that didn’t make me feel any better. If he was old enough to be my father, that was gross on a whole other level.

I couldn’t lie to myself, I was falling for this guy. Or who I thought this guy was.

Putting the book down, I went back to the book shelf, checking the original publishing dates for all of the Allison Duprois books. So many early nineties. An anthology had a publishing date of 1988. This wasn’t a mistake.

Whatever the answer was, Aidan had lied to me about something.

 

GIVEAWAY:

Christmas stocking filled with book themed goodies + signed print copy of Silent Night

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/NGE1MDEyNTkzNmEzMjcwYWY1N2NlODA1YWVlMmE3OjQ0NA==/

About the Author

Kristen

Kristen shares a birthday with Steven Tyler and Diana Ross. She spends each day striving to be half as fabulous as they are. She’s worn many hats, none as flattering as her cowboy hat: banker, retail manager, fledgling web designer, world’s worst cocktail waitress, panty slinger, now makeup artist and author. She loves sunshine, live music, the middle of nowhere, and finding new things to put in her house.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

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The Indie/Traditional Debate. Can’t We All Just Get Along?

You’re not the cool kid.

If you’re an indie author, I think you’ve figured out by now that we’re the underdogs, the gnats in traditional publishing’s ear, and the ones the traditionally published kids don’t want to sit with in the cafeteria.

I came in to the publishing game with rose colored glasses, a positive attitude, and a love for the supportive writing community I’d found. More than one year later the rose colored glasses are off, and I’m well aware that members of the “community” I loved so very much are often sneering at us behind our backs.

I don’t mean to say all traditional authors minimize the accomplishments of indie authors. There are many who genuinely cheer us on, showcase our books, congratulate us when we have success, and happily share the road with us.

But the judgment of indie authors is everywhere, and it’s getting harder to ignore.

I remember once seeing a tweet from an agent that said something like: Just sent a request and found out the author recently self-published. If only they’d been more patient.

People favorited this tweet and responded with euphemisms about patience, and persistence, when what they really meant was, “You idiot, you self-published when you should have waited for the right agent!”

My first thought when I saw that tweet was, “What if the author is happy with their decision?”

After I self-published The Darkness of Light I got requests from two agents. I had some discussions with these agents, exploring my options, but at no point during those interactions was I kicking myself for not waiting. When I made the decision to be an indie author, I did it wholeheartedly and without looking back. By then I’d already discovered the power I had over my career, the advantage I had over traditional publishing (mainly time and control), and the freedom to do exactly what I wanted.

There are bullies and if you speak up, they’ll target you.

If any of you follow me on twitter, you might recall the event I refer to as “Twittergate”, the day twitter FREAKED out on me. This was the day I realized our writing community was full of piranhas, and trust me—I got chewed up! During a twitter contest I’d observed some things that, I felt, came across as arrogant. I was reacting to the way some authors were criticizing entries with such detail the entrants were sure to know it was their entry being discussed. My reaction came from a place of empathy, not weakness. I wasn’t suggesting they sugarcoat things for authors in their (private) feedback. I wasn’t under the impression that this business is easy. What bothered me was the attitude with which these authors judged their peers.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” –Abraham Lincoln.

I tweeted my opinion and within one minute my timeline blew up! I couldn’t keep up with the tweets coming at me. Some agreed with me (I got a lot of supportive DMs because people were afraid of the backlash), some respectfully disagreed with me, and many others were downright nasty. I even got a DM from a very well known tweeter who had some particularly offensive things to say to me. She’s lucky I have enough restraint not to out her. Maybe I should have, but I’d rather let her dig her own grave.

Anyway, during the flurry of tweets aimed at me that day, it became clear that the general assumption was that I was a bitter author who’d been rejected by the traditional world and was now taking shots at traditional authors whenever I could.

I have a pretty thick skin. I can take rejection, bad reviews, and harsh critiques. What really got to me that day, and what really made me sad, was the realization that I was an outsider. It didn’t matter that I had a book published and was part of the same community. With The Darkness of Light I worked hard to make sure my book went through the same filters and received the same care as a traditionally published book. But that day, when twitter lost its mind on me, none of that mattered. Because I was an indie author, I wasn’t an author, and my opinion—my voice—was insignificant.

If books are fishes, and Amazon is the ocean, we’re all swimming in it together.

It sometimes seems the traditionally published world is unhappy they have to share space with lowly self-publishers. It must be frustrating to see your book—your edited, beautifully covered, extensively marketed baby— sitting next to something your neighbor’s cousin wrote on a Thursday and uploaded to Amazon on a Friday.

It must drive you insane that all the self-published dino porn books, or books that got rejected so many times the author had no other choice but to self-publish, are sitting in the same waters as your perfect novel. After all, self-published authors are destroying literature, right?

NOT.

There were crappy books long before indie authors stepped onto the scene, and if we all disappeared tomorrow, there would still be crappy books published every single day.

But here’s the thing— indie doesn’t mean crappy. Many of us take a lot of pride in our work. We nurture our books the same way a publishing house would. Sure, we often price our books lower, but that doesn’t mean our work is less valuable. It simply means there are no publishers or agents taking a cut of our work, giving us the ability to price our books competitively.

Let’s face it, while we all want to see our books in bookstores, Amazon is the largest online bookseller in the world. If bookstores are the streams, Amazon is the ocean, and guess what—we’re all swimming in it.

I recently saw an agented (but yet to be published) author call a fellow author’s decision to self-publish “puzzling.” I’ll bet that when the agented author’s book comes out in 2018, there will be even more successful indie authors, and even more hybrid authors swimming in the same ocean with him.

Don’t let them make you feel inferior.

“It matters not what you are thought to be, but what you are.” – Publilius Syrus

As I said earlier, there are many traditional authors who support indie authors and believe in their achievements. As indie authors we are marketing experts, have a network of editors, cover artists, formatters, and bloggers willing to help us create a product we can be proud of. It’s a lot of work to be an indie author, and our traditionally published friends know and respect our efforts.

There will always be the naysayers; the ones who tell you you’re not good enough because you didn’t take the same path that they did. It’s frustrating, and oftentimes, it hurts. But when you come across one of these cynics, don’t take their judgments to heart. Just because they say you’ve settled by becoming indie, doesn’t make it true. If you have readers, your book sells, and you feel good about the career path you’ve chosen, take the high road, because there are plenty of people willing to take the low road.

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Release Day Happy Dance & Review for Running Away by Julie Hutchings

 

Happy Book Birthday to Julie Hutchings and RUNNING AWAY!

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Running Away Final Cover

Running Away Blurb:

Eliza Morgan is desperate to escape the horrors of her mortal life and understand why death follows her, leaving only one man, Nicholas French, in its wake. He’s the one she loves, the one she resents, and the one fated to make her legendary among the Shinigami– an ancient order of vampires with a “heroic” duty to kill. He’s also decaying before her eyes, and it’s her fault.

On the ghostlike mountaintop in Japan that the vampires consider home, Eliza will be guided by the all-powerful Master for her transition to Shinigami death god. When Eliza discovers that sacrificing her destiny will save Nicholas, she’s not afraid to defy fate and make it so—even when Nicholas’s salvation kills her slowly with torturous, puzzle-piece visions that beg her to solve them. Both Nicholas and his beloved Master fight her on veering from the path to immortality, but Eliza won’t be talked out of her plan, even if it drives the wedge between Nicholas and her deeper.

Allying with the fiery rebel, Kieran, who does what he wants and encourages her to do the same, and a mysterious deity that only she can see, Eliza must forge her own path through a maze of ancient traditions and rivalries, shameful secrets and dark betrayals to take back the choices denied her and the Shinigami who see her as their savior. To uncover the truth and save her loved ones, Eliza will stop at nothing, including war with fate itself.

 

MY REVIEW

5 STARS!

When I read Running Home, I couldn’t wait to find out what would come of such an explosive ending. When I got my hands on Running Away, I was thrust back into the story immediately, immersed in the darkness that had descended upon Eliza. Hutchings is a gifted storyteller, with the ability to capture raw emotions and bring them to life on the page.

Running Away was so intense I couldn’t stop reading it, and spent the entire day flipping to the next page. I absolutely love love love the complexity of Eliza and Nicholas’s relationship. There is certainly nothing predictable about them, and that’s a great thing. I also love the new characters, especially one which I have a mega crush on. Seriously. 😉

What really impressed me about this book was the ending. I thought I knew what was going to happen. But then Hutchings took a right turn and I was shocked. While the ending is a cliffhanger of sorts, it didn’t leave me feeling cheated. There were decisions made, fates accepted, and the door was left open for a lot more story to tell.

About the Author Julie Hutchings

Me

Julie’s debut novel, Running Home, giving you vampires with a Japanese mythology pants kicking is available through Books of the Dead Press. Julie revels in all things Buffy, has a sick need for exotic reptiles, and drinks more coffee than Juan Valdez and his donkey combined, if that donkey is allowed to drink coffee. Julie’s a black belt with an almost inappropriate love for martial arts. And pizza. And Rob Zombie. Julie lives in Plymouth, MA, constantly awaiting thunderstorms with her wildly supportive husband and two magnificent boys.

Julie on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HutchingsJulie

Julie’s Blog: http://deadlyeverafter.com/

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

Julie on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7104966.Julie_Hutchings

Other books by Julie & Buy Links:

Running Home on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17977192-running-home

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Cover Reveal for Kristen Strassel’s SECONDHAND HEART

Today I have the exclusive…okay, maybe not exclusive, BUT the exciting cover reveal and excerpt for Kristen Strassel’s 5th release, SECONDHAND HEART. 

I ADORE the cover and can’t wait to read this one. Check out the cover and excerpt below and let me know what you think!

 

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Title: Secondhand Heart

Author: Kristen Strassel

Age: NA

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Scheduled to release: October 7, 2014

Cover designer: Designs by Hang Le

Goodreads

Pre-Order Link:

Amazon

Blurb:

Daisy Mangold thought she had her life figured out until a roadside bomb in Afghanistan changed everything. Now a twenty-one-year-old military widow, Daisy moves back home to start over.

Cam Hunter won the reality show The Spotlight, and thought he was on his way to becoming the next big country star. But when whispers of how he won begin to surface, Nashville is less than welcoming. After he loses his record deal, Cam heads back home to open a country bar.

When Daisy meets Cam, she isn’t sure she’s ready to let go of the ghosts from her past. Cam’s ex-wife isn’t ready to move on either, and the tragedy she causes will expose Cam’s secrets and shatter Daisy’s family.

Will Daisy be able to follow her heart into a future with Cam, or will her grief keep her trapped in a past that no longer exists?

Secondhand-Heart-print-FOR-WEB

 

Excerpt:

The lights went down, and the crowd went wild and swarmed the stage. The VIP section was to the right of the stage, and elevated just enough that we could see everything perfectly. A cover band had played up until now, but Cam Hunter was headlining his grand opening celebration.

Ev and Bree cheered when Cam came onstage, so I did too, more to be polite. He was picking up my bar tab tonight, after all. I’d never met Cam in person. I’d only heard Ev rave about him and of course I’d seen him on TV. He was taller than I expected, his broad shoulders straining the fabric of his blue and orange plaid shirt. I know, the shirt sounds hideous, but it actually looked hot on him. Bree’d said it enough tonight, I was thinking like her now. He wore the top few buttons open, showing just a hint of his tan chest. I couldn’t see his eyes under the brim of his white cowboy hat, but his sandy hair curled around the collar of the shirt. He opened the show with his biggest hit, Lonely Heart Saloon, in case you were wondering where he got the name for the bar. I found myself staring at his lips as he sang the words of the song, watching them move in front of the microphone, wondering what those lips would feel like on my skin.

I shook myself back to reality, looking at Ev and Bree singing along, and I was the last thing on their mind. Looking back at the stage, I forced myself to look anywhere but Cam’s mouth. Only being able to see the lower part of his face drove me crazy. What was hiding behind those eyes? Were they laughing, twinkling? Hell, I didn’t even know what color they were, and suddenly, I needed to know.

Look away from his face. Jesus Christ. The faded denim made his thighs look amazing. Who the hell checked out thighs? Well, if you saw these thighs, they were worth checking out. On The Spotlight, Cam had been an overgrown, almost goofy kid, playing a role. Doing what he was told. Now, on this tiny stage just feet away from us in this club, it was obvious he was all man. All smoking hot man.

When Cam said good night and thanked us all for coming, I was surprised how disappointed I felt. I’d been so lost in watching him play, not only his guitar, but teasing the fans in the front row by dipping down low, those delicious thighs spread wide and staying just out of their reach, his fingers brushing their fingertips, I got so lost in my own fantasies that I forgot all about time.

After the show, my skin was all tingly and strange. Cam had awakened something inside of me I hadn’t even known was sleeping. But at the same time, it felt wrong. I shouldn’t be thinking that way about any man, yet. My husband hadn’t been dead a year.

But I wasn’t dead.

This was safe, lusting after some musician who didn’t know I even existed. No harm could come of it. Cam had built his entire career off of people wanting to be him or be with him. It was a fantasy, nothing more.

The crowd had thinned out a bit after the show, but since this was an Ev production, we were closing down the place. Bree babbled about the show, the songs I didn’t know. “Cam’s record company didn’t renew his contract. Can you believe that shit? So maybe he’ll be playing here all the time.”

If life could even be that kind. “It is his bar, so that would make sense. Cheap labor.” I giggled at my own joke. Beer made me hilarious. I thought so anyway.

“I read online that he’s thinking of taking a new direction with his music. Collaborating with some new songwriters and stuff,” Bree continued. “Maybe we’ll get to hear it first.”

Ev had disappeared again, to the mysterious backstage area. She came back out, with a huge grin on her face.

And Cam following her.

Holy shit, she was bringing him over to us. Bree started hyperventilating and squeezing my arm. “Calm down,” I hissed. “You’re going to break a bone. I can’t act cool if my arm is dangling below my elbow.”

“How can you even joke at a time like this? Oh my God, here he is.” Bree let go of my arm, and blood resumed flowing semi normally. I didn’t know what to say to him.

“Oh my God, I love you.” Bree’s teeth could never catch all the thoughts that came rambling out of her brain, even if she wasn’t at least three beers deep.

Cam took it in stride. “I love you, too.” He took her hand in his, and brought it up to his mouth and kissed it. Bree gave an Oscar worthy performance and did not faint.

“And this is my sister, Daisy.” Ev brought his attention to me.

His eyes were blue.

The kind of blue that jumped out against his tan skin, almost perfectly matched with his shirt. Somehow, my hand landed in his, I only knew because the electricity that danced along my skin.

“Evey’s told me all about you.” Nobody called my sister Evey anymore. It surprised me, and I liked it. I missed her being Evey. One side of his mouth went up higher than the other when he smiled, and the skin around his eyes crinkled at the corners. I knew too much time had passed for me to reply, but my brain kept short circuiting every time I tried.

“Not everything.” Ev bumped into him playfully. “You know, Daisy’s been looking for a job—“

“No, I haven’t.” What the hell was she doing?

Her mouth dropped, and she shot me a look as if she couldn’t believe I could be so stupid. “Do you have a job?”

“No.”

“So, as I was saying, my sister could use a job.” Ev rocked back and forth on her heels and batted her eyelashes at Cam. “You still hiring here?”

She totally caught Cam off guard. Great. “I’m sure we could make room for you, Daisy.” His smile made me melt, and almost forget I wanted to kill Ev. I liked the way my name sounded coming out of his mouth. “Why don’t you come in tomorrow for an interview?”

“Okay.” I think I squeaked. Ev, satisfied with mortifying me, moved in closer to Cam and continued chatting with him. He kept looking over at me, probably trying to figure out if I’d make a good bar back or dishwasher.

And he still held my hand.

“I’ve got to go. It was nice talking to you ladies.” He bowed his head and squeezed my hand one last time before he let go. “Daisy, let’s say, one tomorrow?”

I nodded, then watched him walk away and join another group. I know you’re wondering how his ass looked. Amazing.

 

About the Author:

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Kristen shares a birthday with Steven Tyler and Diana Ross. She spends each day striving to be half as fabulous as they are. She’s worn many hats, none as flattering as her cowboy hat: banker, retail manager, fledgling web designer, world’s worst cocktail waitress, panty slinger, now makeup artist and author. She loves sunshine, live music, the middle of nowhere, and finding new things to put in her house.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

 

 

Finding Your Writing Routine.

With all the writing advice out there, how is one to know which advice is the best?

The truth is–there are no set rules to follow. Writing is not only a process of sharpening your skills, it’s about learning what kind of writer you are, what your process looks like, and what routine you need to be the most productive.

If you look back on the post How 12 Different Authors Write a First Draft, you’ll see how different the process is for everyone.

Technique aside, the one question I see asked a lot is: “How do I find the time to write?”

This is a tough one to answer because everyone’s needs are different. We hear often that writers should write every day. I used to believe this myself, but the more writing became a routine, the more I learned that writing every day doesn’t work for me.

By nature, I’m an all or nothing person. I have to force myself to be obsessive about projects, because if I step away for more than a few days, I’ve completely lost interest in working. I tend to write in bursts, and since I don’t have kids, I have a lot of freedom to set my schedule as it suites me. I’m sure this will change some day, but for now my writing routine is fairly simple. I treat writing like a full-time job. I wake up to an alarm, get dressed, and hopefully by 9am I’m sitting at my computer working. Once I get in the writing zone, I will usually work for 5-8 hour stretches of time, sometimes more, 7 days a week.

By the time I get through 8 hours of writing, I’m practically brain-dead and exhausted, so it’s not a pattern I can keep up for long periods. Once I reach a milestone–which is usually a finished draft–I take a break to recharge.

I usually read books the same way I write them–in bursts. So during my writing down-time I spend as much time as I can devouring as many books as I can squeeze in before I have to start working again.

When my novel is finally completed, edited and ready to go, I’ll take a month, even 2 months off to regroup. There might be days when the muse strikes and I’ll write out a quick chapter or start plotting, but I don’t force myself to write. It’s a nice break and it gives me time to develop ideas before I start putting them to paper.

Now, I know everyone doesn’t always have the flexibility to spend 8 hours a day writing. Back when I used to work a full-time job in advertising, I remember using the same pattern of burst writing, only I would do it at night. I would sit with a glass of wine (or four) in my apartment in Toronto and work from about 7-8pm to sometimes 2 in the morning. I love that I have more freedom with my time now, but I definitely miss those late nights of writing where all my best ideas were born (Mara, Corbin and Malcolm were created during those night writing sessions).

Finding the time to write, especially when you have a lot of other things demanding your attention, can be tricky. But you might find it easier to manage if you know what kind of writer you are. Are you a burst writer? Do you like to write one scene a day? Do you go back and read your work, editing as you go?

On twitter there’s a 5am Writers Club. They are the morning writers, and if you don’t have time at night, this is a great way to get an hour or two of writing in before work.

My writer/mom friends usually say the evening works best for them. They also say that the summer months are a toss up for writing. Most seem to wait until the kids are back in school before they really push themselves to get writing done.

The bottom line is, find out what KIND of writer you are, and then tailor a routine to meet your needs. If you’re okay with writing a chapter a week, GREAT! If you have to knock out half a book in a short stretch, FANTASTIC! But don’t give up. Don’t tell yourself that you don’t have the time. There is ALWAYS time to be found for writing, if you want it bad enough. Apparently humans spend up to two years of their lifetimes sitting on a toilet. Imagine two full years of time dedicated it writing *wink wink*.

I think for my next book, I’m going to try and adjust my routine a bit and give myself weekends off. That way I don’t find myself procrastinating on a Sunday because all I want to do is eat candy and have a netflix marathon. I’m learning that time off is important. 🙂

Tell me what your writing routine is. How do you find the time and what kind of writer are you?

 

 

 

What to expect from a developmental edit.

After months and months…and MONTHS of sweating over my drafts of THE EMBERS OF LIGHT, I finally got it to the point where it was ready for developmental editing. I think this is a step many indie-authors skip, thinking that beta-readers, critique partners and a proofreader or even better, a line-editor will suffice.

But let me tell you this. Unless you have a super-genius friend who KNOWS what they’re talking about, you NEED a developmental editor, otherwise known as a content editor.

I’ve had experience with two developmental editors or DEs, as I call them. The first DE I had for The Darkness of Light used a summary approach. I sent her the manuscript, she read it, and then sent me a three page detailed report, mostly written in point form, of areas I needed to fix, plot holes that needed filling, and certain word choices I needed to cut.

With her notes I was able to restructure my novel and make changes to certain scenes and characters.

The most recent DE I used for EMBERS was from Julie Hutchings (find her, she’s amazing!) It cost double the price, but it was worth every penny! The notes were line-by-line within the manuscript and included a summary. For me, this works better because I can follow her thought process as she reads. I can see what the reader sees and understand what a reader might need to stay interested in the book. Luckily for me, Julie also can’t seem to bypass typos. So in addition to line notes, she also gave me some grammar and punctuation corrections throughout the manuscript.

When I opened the document she’d returned to me, the first thing I saw was a sea of purple comment bubbles on the right side of my screen. But as I read through them, I saw how insightful and positive her comments were. Any critique or suggested change made perfect sense to me, and I feel like she really GOT the story (do you know how hard that is to find in an editor?). I had a few discussions with her on some of the changes, just to clarify what she thought would work best, and after sifting through all the grammar corrections, I got to work on the content.

I’m lucky this time, in that most of the changes needed are minor enough that I don’t have to do huge re-writes. Most of the comments/critiques involved character voice and the development of dynamics between certain characters.

I am SUPER happy with this edit and am working on the changes right now…well, right now I’m writing a blog but…you get what I mean. 🙂

Now, a lot of critique partners will also use this method of note taking, but remember, a DE is a person being PAID to give you an opinion. They know you expect them to be 100% honest about every single thing. THIS is why DEs are so important in the writing/publishing process. Not all of us can rely on beta-reader feedback alone.

What you should look for in a DE.

It’s important to choose a DE that works with other authors within your genre/category. For example, you don’t want a DE who is a YA author or only works with YA authors, to edit your erotic novel. Some editors are versatile, but if you pick the wrong DE and your vision doesn’t match theirs, you’re going to end up with a bunch of notes you don’t agree with and can’t use.

Pick someone who you believe will be honest, and when they are honest, don’t take offense. Editors spend a lot time going through your manuscript, and while you might not always agree with their suggestions, you don’t have to take their comments as a personal attack. Let the editor know your expectations prior to hiring them. Julie warned me that she would be really tough if she needed to be, and that was perfect because that was exactly what I was looking for.

Ask how they deliver their notes. Is it a summary? In document comments? How thorough are they going to be? You’d better ask what you’re getting for your money before you start shelling it out.

What comes next?

For the next couple of weeks I will work on the changes Julie suggested, and then do a final read-through of the entire manuscript. The next step (which is one no author should ever, ever, EVER skip) is the copy-editing/line-editing stage. Even though Julie made corrections for me, I need to have one final defense against typos, errors, bad sentences, and bad grammar. A line-editor is someone who goes through your manuscript and fixes ALL the mistakes. I think I learned a lot through my last edit for DARKNESS, so we’ll see if I have less errors this time around. 🙂

 

Book Signing, Fan Art, and Sequel Update!

Wowza! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for me.

This past Saturday I had my very first in-store book signing. I was very nervous leading up to the day, imagining all sorts of horrors that I’m sure most authors experience before a signing–what if no one shows up? What if no one buys my book?

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to face those fears, because the singing went great. I sold some books, made some new friends, and got some experience under my belt.

IMG_2785 IMG_6320 IMG_5253 IMG_1418

Another cool thing that happened last week was that I received a sketch of my book cover from Savannah Bolger, a very talented young artist from Ireland. Earlier in the week I posted on FB that I wish I had an artistic fan to sketch my cover, and the Universe must have heard me, because here it is! I’m so grateful that Savannah took the time to make this for me. I love it!

 

20140705_222055 20140705_222129Now for the update.

Ever since late May, The Darkness of Light has been steadily selling every single day and currently sits at #42 on Kindle’s top 100 for Mythology, and #82 on Kobo for Historical Fantasy. This is more than I could have ever hoped for my book, and the fact that it’s been out for almost 6 months and STILL continues to gain readership is amazing.

The sequel, The Embers of Light, is going to the developmental editor this week. I’m just adding some finishing touches to the end scenes, and will soon start revising based on the editor’s feedback. I’m terrified this book won’t live up to the first (I think all writer’s have that fear), but I’m hopeful that Malcolm’s story will fascinate readers as much as it has fascinated me.

That’s all for now!

 

Cover Reveal for Valentina Cano’s THE ROSE MASTER!

Hello friends. I’ve got a cover reveal for you today that has me really excited. For my non-writer friends, you may wonder why we do these things? Well, first, it’s a VERY exciting day when an author finally gets to showcase their cover, and usually other writers help spread the word–we’re a very supportive bunch, us writers. Second, it gives the book more exposure. I am not a “book blogger” per se, but I do like to feature books that I think are amazing and books I’m excited to read.

This particular novel was pitched to me as Jane Eyre meets Beauty and the Beast, and if you know me at all, you’ll know that I’ve read Jane Eyre probably 1000 times, and watched every single film adaptation known to man. And Beauty and the Beast…come on, that’s just a given, right?

So needless to say, I am VERY excited for this book and I think the cover is simply gorgeous.

The Rose Master Cover Reveal

The day Anne Tinning turns seventeen, birds fall from the sky. But that’s hardly the most upsetting news. She’s being dismissed from the home she’s served at since she was a child, and shipped off to become the newly hired parlor maid for a place she’s never heard of. And when she sees the run-down, isolated house, she instantly knows why:
There’s something wrong with Rosewood Manor.
Staffed with only three other servants, all gripped by icy silence and inexplicable bruises, and inhabited by a young master who is as cold as the place itself, the house is shrouded in neglect and thick with fear. Her questions are met with hushed whispers, and she soon finds herself alone in the empty halls, left to tidy and clean rooms no one visits.
As the feeling of being watched grows, she begins to realize there is something else in the house with them–some creature that stalks the frozen halls and claws at her door. A creature that seems intent on harming her.
When a fire leaves Anne trapped in the manor with its Master, she finally demands to know why. But as she forces the truth about what haunts the grounds from Lord Grey, she learns secrets she isn’t prepared for. The creature is very real, and she’s the only one who can help him stop it. 
Now, Anne must either risk her life for the young man she’s grown to admire, or abandon her post while she still can.

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21566652-the-rose-master?ac=1

Valentina Cano pic

Valentina Cano is a student of classical singing who spends whatever free time she has either reading or writing. She also watches over a veritable army of pets, including her five, very spoiled, snakes. Her works have appeared in numerous publications and her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Web. She lives in Miami, Florida.
Valentina on Twitter: @valca85

 

 

 

Release Day! ~ Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO BLACKFIN SKY!

Today is the UK release of Kat Ellis’s Blackfin Sky and let me tell you, I’ve been waiting for this book FOREVER! While today is just the UK release (US release is in September), you can still get a paperback copy (UK version) through Amazon UK.

After a lot of begging on my part, Kat was kind enough to send me an ARC of the US version, which I’ve just started reading, and it’s everything I knew it would be. She had me hooked at the very first chapter with her gorgeous writing. I will be sure to post a review the moment I’m done. 🙂

Be sure to add this one to your TBR list, folks. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Blackfin18952405When Sky falls from Blackfin Pier and drowns on her sixteenth birthday, the whole town goes into mourning – until she shows up three months later like nothing happened.

Unravelling the mystery of those missing months takes Sky to the burned-out circus in the woods, where whispers of murder and kidnapping begin to reveal the town’s secrets. But Sky’s not the only one digging up the past – the old mime from the circus knows what happened to her, and he has more than one reason for keeping quiet about it.

Amazon UK

Goodreads