Tag Archives | author

Heading off to New England SCBWI

So my bags are packed – kinda – and I’m ready to go – well, not until tomorrow actually. But tomorrow in the a.m. I’ll be off. To the New England SCBWI.

I must admit it’s going to be different.

Every year I’ve gone, I’ve waited in anticipation with my heart all a-flutter because I would be meeting with an agent and/or an editor. And, of course, since the month or more that I’d sent in my pages or query letter – I’d changed them! So I’d print the new ones with a little prepared speech.

“Um, yeah, thanks for the critique of my 10 pages but I’ve rewritten them. Could you please spend two minutes of our fifteen minutes together reading over the first page? Thanks. I mean I really appreciate your one page of notes but through beta readers I’d already come to the conclusion that they could use a little, okay some major tweaking, and needed to be rewritten.”

Usually, the agents requested for me to send pages.

Sometimes they’d get back to me. Some would never get back.


But I’m telling you, the couple hours before those meetings my stomach would hurt as in shooting pain. I tried to relax casually on a couch in the lounge, going back and forth between looking for my friends so I didn’t feel like such a dork, and practicing my memorized verbal pitch for a second novel, you know, just in case the topic came up.

But this year. Is. Different.

No meetings. Though I’m the coordinator for the query critiques so I’ll be talking with ten agents. Ironic, no?

I’m so very excited to talk with friends. And there are so many hot topics to talk about. Self publishing. The D.O.J. Amazon. Great books we’ve read. Just about anything and everything. Kris, my friend and crit partner, gets to meet her agent for the first time. Very cool. I’m attending an ebook building class and one on Amazon for authors.

But I’m also extremely interested in listening to what other writers are talking about. How many are thinking about self publishing? Or how many already have? Or, will that still be a topic that’s whispered about behind closed doors and in dark corners. Kind of like spin the bottle but with publishing.

I guess I’ll find out tomorrow! See you next week!

(And thanks to everyone for the comments and congrats on signing with Pugalicious Press!)

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To create or not to create a small press.

That is the question, right?

At first, the idea of creating a small press can be quite overwhelming. I mean we’re authors and authors write. So when contemplating this question, flashes of panic might intermittently strike at odd times of the day. But don’t worry.

Breathe deep.

And sit in front of your computer. Place your fingers on your keyboard and remember: Google is your friend.

That’s where I found most of my info. Also links on Twitter. Asking other authors. Just don’t Google how to create a cider press because then you’ll be making apple cider, not books.

Again, as with every single decision in the self-publishing journey it depends on your goals. I created a small press specifically as a DBA (doing business as) name with a separate bank account. But that’s me. The state of New Hampshire does not charge a big fee to do this where some states do. And after much debate I decided to print with Lightning Source so I could earn more per book. Yes it is a more complicated process and yes it costs more money to set up.

So there are pros and cons.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with printing books through Createspace and putting your name down as the publisher. Nothing.

I saw some arguments that the print quality is better with Lightning Source, but most Createspace authors are completely happy. If and when a book starts selling well on Amazon through LS, Amazon says it’s out of stock or will take a few weeks to deliver. But most of us don’t need to worry about that because most of us sell more ebooks than print.

And one last thing to consider. Before going official with your small press name make sure to Google it. I came up with some fun names, but, um, they had not so nice meanings. And I thought I was completely making them up. Nope.

Any questions? Even if you’re not considering self publishing any thoughts? Do you own a cider press? Do you even like apple cider?

(And this is totally unofficial because my release date is technically not until May 7th but A Spy Like Me is live on Amazon and Smashwords and will be soon on Barnes and Noble. Eek!)

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The Butterfly Clues: murder, mystery and great writing!

Seriously what more do you need? Or I should say what more do I need?

I won a signed hardcover of The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison over a month ago. It sat on my reading pile. And then it sat some more. And some more. So kinda burnt out one night, I picked it up just to read the first few chapters and I knew from the first page that I would love it.

It was the writing.

Here are the opening lines:

I spot her out of the corner of my eye and freeze.
It always happens like this.
My body goes tingly.
Blood thrums in my ears: a low buzz like a faraway swarm of insects, and every cell in my body screams: save her save her save her.
There’s nothing I can do but obey.

Clean. Full of sensory details. A sense of urgency. I absolutely loved it.

I loved that Penelope or Lo struggled with her OCD and the more stressful the situation the worse it got. Dealing with the death of her brother, strained parental relationships and most importantly solving a murder. And it all started when Lo felt the obsession to steal a beautiful antique butterfly figurine that belonged to the victim.

I loved the mystery but the writing…oh the writing I loved. So I’m passing this book recommendation onto you.

What’s the last book you read that the story and writing just absolutely captivated you?

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When to pull out the big giant scale. Making decisions.

Soooo after talking about the big decision to self publish. What topic do I go to next? I want to go in order and not just jump into what I’m doing right now. (If you really want to know, I’m formatting. And I’m a perfectionist. That equals trouble. I’ve decided I want a T-shirt with this on the back – <Author/> And I’d wear it proudly.)

I want to talk about research and what to do about all the blogs out there posting about self-publishing. Where do we even start with so many different points of view, prejudices, experiences, and rants?

There are a zillion different ways to approach self publishing and within self publishing a zillion different ways to approach all the different aspects of it. Srsly.

I guess that’s why they say there is no right or wrong publishing route.

Some bloggers are very convincing when they put on the hat of guru and strut their stuff. But there is a somewhat scientific way to approach this other than rock, paper, scissors, shoot. (Though that might work some of the time.)

  • Make a list of your goals. Publication? Earning money? Recognition? All that good stuff.
  • When you find a blog that seems helpful – look at the blogger’s experience. For example, Kris Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith. They’ve both been in the business for years, they’ve both traditionally and self-published. They do their research. And they are respectful. I respect them. I listen to them. But I also take into consideration that they are established and write for a different target audience.
  • Look at the facts behind the blog post. Do they have facts? Or is it just opinion based on their experience?
  • Take into consideration that blogger’s biases.
  • Remember that there are always exceptions.

And here’s the fun part. Pull out the giant measuring scale and put your goals and questions on one side. Now put the seemingly convincing opinions of a blogger on the other side.

If you’re still not sure about what to think then keep reading. Do more research. And remember that any conclusion you come to can change and grow over time. I don’t read a blog and then quick change what I’m doing. I read, study, and think about it for weeks.

And this isn’t just for self-publishing. This could be about blogging, marketing, social media, or how to bake the perfect cheesecake. (Yes, I’ve moved on from the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I’ve never made cheesecake! Never! Feel free to leave recipes or secret tips in the comments.)

Do you find all the crazy amounts of information out there maddening or helpful?

And the winners of Heather McCorkle’s Born of fire are Sarah Pearson and Sheri Larson!


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Non traditional ways to market.

On Wednesday, we talked about how I stumbled upon the realization of what marketing means to a traditional publisher.

Money. (I’m sure that maybe there is more to it. This is what I see.)

Money goes a long way when it pays for television and social media adds, arcs, floor displays, book tours…etc. But there is also the back money or money the publisher has invested in their brand. They have FB fans, email subscriptions, author and reader sites for teens…etc.

Most indie and self-publishers don’t have that kind of access to such immediate broad exposure.

So what are we to do?

Traditional ways

Yes there is blogging and all other social media networks you choose to participate in like FB, Google+, Triberr, Goodreads, LibraryThing, forums, and newsletters. And don’t forget blog tours.

Branding. (Such a huge topic that I’m not going to get into it here. I’m still learning.)

SEO Optimization.

Please just Google it. All I know is that it has to do with incorporating your keywords in social media so your site shows up on the first page with Google searches.

Networking and forming your tribe to help you get the word out.

Short stories and novellas that help promote your novel.


Blurbs. (Not sure how effective this is.)


As a self-published author this is a huge advantage. Use the coupons at Smashwords to garner reviews and exposure before your release.

Querying book bloggers. (Those that accept self published novels.)

Non-traditional ways


A place where anyone can post their work, chapter by chapter. (It might gain you fans but I’m not sure if this actually translates to sales.)

Tagging and meta-data.

This is all about choosing smart tags to describe your novel, choosing narrow categories on Amazon so your novel gets seen.

Pixel of Ink and paid advertising sites.

Expensive but has lots of potential, for these sites have lots of followers.

What some authors might not think about.

If you only have one book out, it seems smarter to write more and promote less. Wait until your whole trilogy is out to pay for the ads or go free or do the 2 month blog tour.

The only proven effective marketing:

  • An excellent story and good writing. Your story has to have a market and readers.
  • Writing and getting the next story out there.

All the other items are icing on the cake.

(This is info I’ve decided upon after reading many blogs by more experienced authors. I’m sure after I publish and market and promote my first novel, I’ll have a better understanding of what works for me and how to do these things! Writers are creative and need to tap that to find ways to market and promote. And ask fellow authors what they did!)

Have you seen any cool marketing ideas?

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