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Ssince Tuesday kicks off my several week blog tour, I thought this article, which I wrote but have not yet published, was timely.  😀

So you have a friend who is published, creating that little bit of alchemy that transforms a writer into an author.  It’s not as easy as you may think, and, in itself, an accomplishment worth celebrating.

So, how do you help them?

First, a caveat.  This article is not meant to make any of you feel guilty.  You’ll see why I say this in a second.  Just the facts, no guilt attached.

When you want to be supportive, but you just ain’t sure.

 

In Which We Realize a Prophet is not a Prophet in their own country.

It is a well-known fact that friends do not read friends books.  Maybe if you give them to them and beg a lot, but mostly, no.  I have a vast circle of friends (which is weird to type because it was not always this way) and I can only think of six of them, off hand, who have read my books on their own.

Think about it, though.  There are a million reasons why you wouldn’t read a friend’s book.  One, it’s kind of hard to take your friend seriously as an author (Hence the title – even Jesus wasn’t taken seriously where he grew up at).  Two, you might hate what they write.  Three, you might not just be much of a reader or have time to sit down. Or you have a limited budget.  Lots and lots of reasons.

So, what can you do that’s free and doesn’t force you to read their stuff?

Download their books when they are up for free.  

Weird, huh?  But when they put their eBooks up for grabs, it’s because we want you to download it.  The more downloads, the more other people might see our book.  The best royalties I ever had was when we gave The Chocolatier’s Wife away for free for a few days.  There’s this alchemy called algorithms (which I will mention again) that helps Amazon sell your books to people.  So download away.

Re tweet, re-blog, repost, re-whatever.

Spreading the word is the best thing.  And if it looks vaguely embarrassing, like it’s actually a book filled with dragon/vampire porn you don’t have to say the book is awesome.  Never say that something is awesome unless you mean it.  You can say any of the following:

“My friend’s book is on sale/published/etc. today…please check it out!”

“This looks fun, check it out!”

I often say, if I have no idea what the contents are like, “This is such a cool cover.  I’ll have to check it out later.”  I say this because I am a sucker for a cool cover, so if I say this, it’s not a lie.

There’s a lot of other things you can say, much better than what I typed.  The point is, if you spread the word on sales, interviews and reviews it really helps.  It’s someone else saying it’s cool.  People will take someone else saying that they should look at a link so much more seriously than if I say it about my own content.

Not that that’s going to stop me.

Go to your local library

A lot of local libraries will have a place where patrons can make a suggestion as to what they should buy.  Do this, because being in a library opens up a whole new world for your author, namely:

  1. If the author wants to do a book club meeting, and they have enough books that people can get through inter library loan, then they can be a guest at a library’s book club gathering.
  2. Exposure to more people.
  3. If a library already has the author’s book, they are more willing to work with said author to do stuff.

So, write down the ISBN, the author name and book title.  ISBN’s can be gotten off Amazon or B&N if you don’t want to ask your friend.

 

Part the Second:

In which you say, “But Cindy, I actually like their book!”

Well, that opens up some more steps for you.  You can do the above with more enthusiasm, and:

Do book reviews

Are you on Good Reads?   Make sure to add it to your shelves (and add anything else they’ve done and mark it as want to read if you’ve not read it…again, free and no strings attached) and review it.

Reviews are not hard.  It needs to be at least one complete sentence.  “Really loved it!” is a complete sentence and does the job.

Don’t go beyond the first half of the book in your review.

Amazon, however, is even more important than Good Reads for a review.  It’s those Algorithms, and the fact that Amazon won’t put your book on the “If you liked this, you might want” ribbon unless it has at least 60 reviews.

Amazon also removes reviews that they think are unfair – i.e. if they think the author’s mother wrote it, or if they think the author got their friends to do it.  So don’t mention that you have a relationship with the person, and only write a review if you feel the work merits it.  While reviews are really important, dishonesty, even with the best intention, can break the system.

Word of Mouth: 

Word of mouth is worth so much.  Mention that you like your friend’s blog, friend them on twitter and retweet something clever.  Any exposure that you can give, as long as it doesn’t peeve off your other friends or make you uncomfortable really will help your friend achieve their dreams.

Presents:  If you like the book, and know someone who you would need to buy a present for, you can always get your friend to sign a book.  I’ve signed books for mothers, girlfriends and sisters.  Signed books are still cool.

And that’s it.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for any support you’ve given me.

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So, I needed to change a fuse in a secondary fuse box…which means walking out of the house, around the front, and unlocking the cellar door to get into the master box to shut down the main power, because I am not fooling around with electricity if there is a slight chance I can meet my maker sooner than I would like.

ANYWAY.  I think, “I could leave the cellar door open.  I live in the middle of the country, no neighbors, and there’s no access to the house from here…nothing of value to steal.  Make life easier.”

And another part of me thinks, “Do you want to be murdered?  Because this is how you get murdered.  Someone decides to off you – maybe they’ve wanted to kill you for God knows what reason, or maybe some random guy walking down the road decides this is a great way to off someone so they do it.  And NO ONE WOULD KNOW.  It is the perfect murder.  You walk in carefully, wipe off your prints from the main power switch, and disappear.  The traffic on this road is so light the chances of them being seen is NILL.”

Pause.  “OK, I guess I’ll lock up on the tiny, tiny, extremely off chance that someone might want to murder me.”

And so I did.  And lived to tell the tale.

(And the fuse changing went fine.  A little stubborn, but guess who has hot water again?)

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Little Things Blog Hop Use Me

 

Hello!  Colleen S. Myers is hosting a Blog Hop…look below to see more blogs, some of which are giving cool stuff away, and to enter to win a gift card.  :)

I have often said to people something like, “If you are not made easily happy, it will be hard for you to be happy at all.”

The Blog Hop is about the little things that make us happy…and I think that it’s important to celebrate that.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying anything – whether it is a small, simple thing (Falling in love with a new author whose book you found for a steal at a library sale, The Game of Thrones returning, the warmth of the sun on a spring day) or something huge, like a vacation.  It’s the little things in life that get us through every day until we can get to the big things.

My little thing right now is hiking.  Well, I don’t really call it hiking – I have a stick, I have a snazzy hat, but I don’t often do tall mountainous paths that take hours to get to a scenic view.  (And when I say often, you may translate that to, I did it because it was at a National Park and several days from home so I figured I’d better do it because I’d never get the chance again.)  So, maybe I am more of a pleasure walker.  The past few weeks have had unseasonably warm weather (It’s blissful, but I am well aware it is not normal.  But I can’t change it, so I will enjoy it and hope for the best.) and that has made me itchy to go out.

I love walks.  I love feeling the breeze – it’s warm and inviting, no teeth to it at all – and the sun on my skin.  I love looking at the light on the water.  It feels good to move the body and feel fresh air going into the lungs.  The hikes were all smooth, easy going paths, so you just set the pace and got going and it was lovely and easy.

Going to a park has a way of lifting my spirits.  Especially after a couple of months of being cooped up in the house.  So that’s my little thing, my little look forward to.  What’s yours?

Please check out the next stop on the hop, AuthorSuite!

For more stops, visit the main page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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So, I finally, actually wrote the ending to The Chocolatier’s Ghost.  I officially finished Tuesday, and it was marvelous.  After weeks of brutally pulling the words out of the cold muck of my head and setting them, carefully, side by side the ending came in a flood of words.  I totally had that “OMG I AM A WRITER” high for a bit.

I looked at the list of “chapters” in Scrivener, and counted them, decided that I wanted to be done by March 31st with draft two, and divided it by the days left.  There are 50-some “chapters” – right now any change of scene or person merits a new chapter, and one of the things I’ll be doing is reducing that number.  But I know I have to edit about 6 sections a day (skipping weekends—I’ll work on weekends but I like the buffer) and I will be done.  I really want to clean it up and turn it in to Dragon Well by the end of April.  I think I am, thank God, on track to do so.

I am actually really excited right now.  The book feels “uploaded” in my head, which is the best way to describe the feeling I have right now.  The story is sitting there comfortably and I feel very in touch with it.  I know what needs to happen for the end to work.  I have most of the data I need and I can tell if this section works, what needs tweaked, etc.  I didn’t have a clear vision of Whodunnit until recently – I think that was part of the problem.  I kept getting off track.  I knew what happened, I knew who was doing it, and pretty much why, but when I finally got to the end it changed.  The truth was revealed to me, so to speak, so I now have to make sure it all 100% makes sense.  I need to look at each character and say “Are you doing what you need to be doing?”  I like to make sure that someone could start from the beginning and go, “Oh!  OK!  Yeah, that makes sense.”

It’s like, evidence to support your argument in your thesis.  But except you don’t go to other sources and pull out quotes, you mention things in passing, you build things into the background.

So that is what I am doing.  Deleting a couple of scenes – I have so many unused bits already because they no longer fit – tweaking so that it all fits.  Putting the proverbial gun in the drawer.  And it’s exciting because I KNOW now what I need to do.  I’m not feeling around and guessing.

You know what else is exciting?  I’ll have written a book two years in a row.  Key to All Things was finished…September?  I think?  ANYWAY.  If I can actually finish CG on time, I can write another book, maybe even finish it…this year.  DUDE.

Or maybe I should use this as a time to do some screenplays?  HMMM.  Or short stories?  But it is rather wonderful to be on a finish-a-book-a-year track.  It’s taken me so long to get here.  I am determined that I shall make it last.

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Ffalling in love with writing was easy.

You live out in the middle of nowhere, stories become your friends.  Stories on the long bus rides to and from school, stories while you play, stories while you fall asleep.

To this day I think more in stories, I often day dream things to help me figure out what to say or what to do.  I would rather day dream than think about my day.  I’ll solve a problem or think about a decision if needed, but once the ship of my life is turned in the right direction, stories again are what fill my brain.

So it was not such a huge step, going from stories in my had to writing them down.  It’s such a different set of mechanics…things don’t have to be so thoroughly planned or understood in day dreams as they are in writing (though to be honest, the better you get at writing the more you slip things into day dreams to keep them sensible) or so perfectly plotted.  I love how writing makes you flesh out the world, the people, how you have such a larger palette of words and tools at your disposal.  If I were to write down a day dream – and I rarely do – it would change so very much between the mind and the screen.

As I said, I rarely write down day dreams, because I try not to think over much about what I am writing except when I am stuck.  I prefer to have that moment of discovery at the screen to keep me motivated to keep writing.  If I day dream it. I have already experienced it and I am les motivated to sit and type. Perverse, right?

Tthat brings me to soft candle light.  A couple of times the electricity has been knocked out for days where I live.  The last time I was in the middle of writing something…2009, I think.  We were without power for 9 days.

I lived by candle light. I did not have a laptop so could not write until the battery ran out, so I wrote by candlelight and by the light of kerosene oil lamps.  I read by it, covered by high heaps of covers to keep warm, cooked by it on a propane camp stove.   It is a kinder light, in some ways, yellow and gentle, but the shadows are deeper.  More things can hide in the corners.

To me, candle light is not overly romantic, but a mark of a time of quiet.  Nothing is quieter than a house without electricity, especially in winter during a snow storm.  No cars pass on the road.  The snow smothers most incidental sounds and the animals are in hiding.  All electrical appliances seem to hum, even if the sound is nearly undetectable, and with the power out all that white noise is gone.

I like it, to be honest. That absolute silence.  BUT, I like flushing toilets (nothing says fun like walking down a steep hill with a bucket or two to try and fill it at a creek you hope is not completely frozen over) and automatic heat more.

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One of the things I allowed myself to get excited about was that a friend of a friend paved the way for me to submit to his agent.

I’ve cold-submitted so many times that this one felt…especially hopeful. I had a brand new query letter written more by a friend who’s dead good at queries than myself, and I thought my package was good.

And I got a very nice email…just the right amount of encouraging without making promises…but still a rejection. It felt like it had been written especially for me, and I thought it very kind (though having spent the last week and a half writing emails to students about letting them into classes, I know very well how much words overlap. Just as there are only so many ways to tell someone that they’ve been permitted into a class, there are only so many ways of saying thanks but no.

Normally I’m like, eh. Next! But I admit, while I was my normal resigned nature, there was a little whiff of regret. You get that, though. You have to trust that it all works out for the best.

But any rejection, no matter how kind, can, if you dwell on it, awaken the normal doubts. I was more open to this one, so I had the “What if my book is utterly not able to be sold? Maybe I need to retreat to my nice, safe, independent publishing mold.” And it would be easy, to say, “You are lucky that Dragonwell is willing to publish it. You should let them have it before they change their mind.”

It’s comfortable and comforting. (By the way, Dragonwell, being incredibly awesome, supports my trying to get an agent completely.) To know you can just retreat and do what you always do. (I need to keep it a safety net, and not a safety blanket, though.)

But that’s not how you someday become a hermit, so, I am going to put myself out there again, send of another letter to another agent. Knowing that somewhere, someone has yet to tell me no is always motivating, because there is always hope that it won’t be no.

So, no giving up yet.

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1. Participate in SFFPit.
2. Assume no one will like your tweets.
3. Someone does.
4. Find out you need a synopsis.
5. Panic.

I know better, I really do. To really become a successful author, you should have a variety of things ready.

I used to always have, shiny, and ready to go:

1. A strong query letter.
2. An outline.
3. A 4 page synopsis
4. A 1 page synopsis
5. The first 50 pages.
6. The first 3 chapters, since sometimes 50 pages and three chapters are not the same thing.

I did go through the #SFFpit tag and look to see who got liked…not out of envy, but to see what kind of tweets caught people’s interest in case I wanted to do it again. I liked the idea that you could set things up and walk away, so it might be worth trying. There are several kinds…I think one called #pitmass is coming up, and Pitmad.

So, now to write and re-write, and polish like crazy, a one page synopsis and hope that I can still come off looking like a serious professional worth investing time and effort in. Wish me luck?

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There’s a phrase in fencing called “Poke and pray” — basically you thrust your sword at a person and hope that your tip lands before theirs does. It’s inelegant, it’s just flailing and hoping. On the field you want to be mindful, you want to use your skills, but sometimes, well. Sometimes life is not ideal.

And sometimes, the writing world is like that. You like to think that it’s all about skill, right? But it’s not. It is much more about luck and having a good day. For instance, I am experimenting with the concept of the Twitter Pitch. Today, for several hours, people will be using twitter to pitch their finished fantasy books to agents. You get a max of 10 tweets, and if an agent favorites you, you get to look up their guidelines and send in a query package. Here’s the site for it, in case you are interested: http://dankoboldt.com/sffpit/ It happens every so often, and there are others, like #pitmad, so you’ve not really missed the boat.

To me it’s a clever concept — hey, look, people who actually WANT new authors, instead of just making a guess and hoping! But it’s also daunting. I hate my tweets — I think I reduced my beautiful book to a bunch of tropes. So, I just scheduled a bunch of tweets and walked away. I am not sure if I even want to go on Twitter today. Tweeting and praying, I guess. *grins*

But we try. Sometimes the try is half closed eyes and flailing and hoping we don’t get killed.

(Don’t close your eyes on the fencing field though. Never a good idea with swords coming at you.)

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Ii am trying to get words back into my head.  When I write the world is just there and it
fills my head up, and everythingis fine.  But right now, my head is so empty (no snark, please) that I am
having a hard time trying to decide what to do next.  I am leaning heavily towards trying to figure out
how I screwed up The Chocolatier’s Ghost, especially since I need to do   a semi-re-read of The
Chocolatier’s Wife so I can insert illustrations for a hopefully to someday come out hard cover edition.
(I know, right?  HARDCOVER.)

And I want to draw a map.  I need to draw one so we can see where all my lands
are — Pandroth and Berengeny and the new island in the new book, whose name escapes me — and not
someday
mix up my geography.

That’s the danger of writing a series.
Every time you publish a book you publish hard and fast rules that you need to make sure of,
for consistency.

I’d written a rant and got worried that I would offend someone, so I took it out.  I try and be kind, but…sometimes.

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So, I think I am finally wrapping up The Key to All Things.  It’s about stories.  And love.  And it’s a mystery with air ships and fae magic and swash buckling.

I am really pleased with it.  It FEELS right.

After this, I am unsure what to do…a screen play, a sequel to this, or a look at the hot mess I think The Chocolatier’s Ghost is.  If I do it right, and if I think it is a good book (it has to be worthy of The Chocolatier’s Wife) then I might write a third book, The Herb Mistresses’ Husband, and then that will close the door and Tasmin and William.  Probably.

It is taking me longer to key in the hand written edits than it took me to write the first two drafts, I swear.  But it is worth it, to present something beautiful to the world.

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