Sunday, July 28, 2019

My favorite two words are BOOK SALE

Who doesn't love a book sale? If you're a fan of my novel BREAKFAST WITH NERUDA, you can now read its sequel, BLUE VALENTINES, on kindle for a limited time at .99. (Or free if you have Prime. So what's it about?

On the verge of graduating high school, with no solid plans for his future, Michael has two options. He can either remain in Rooster, Ohio and attend a local college, or accept a scholarship to a summer workshop in Seattle, where he has a chance to meet his biological father. Will he make the right choice? While he struggles with his options, Michael discovers the ties that bind him to his girlfriend Shelly may be slowly unraveling...

Happy Reading!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Rest of the Story

Earlier today I shared coffee with a writer friend whose first novel is coming out in October. “I feel like I have imposter syndrome,” she said. “It’s as if I’m leading someone else’s life.” It’s a familiar feeling many of my author friends and I share: a belief that we’re all frauds. Maybe it’s the nature of creating stories that causes writers to feel like imposters. If we write fiction, we’re writing something that isn’t true. It’s all in our heads.

Except when the book goes out in the world, the story perpetuates into someone else’s consciousness. In The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, protagonist Daniel Sempere is taken to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books by his bookseller father, who tells his young son, “Every book has a soul…The soul of the person who wrote it and of  those who read it and lived and dreamed with it,” and later, he adds, “Every book you see here has been somebody’ best friend.”

Perhaps Kristen, my author friend, senses she no longer owns her story, or that she never owned it in the first place. Yes, she toiled over multiple drafts and comments from her critique partners. She bargained with her editor over its content. But the true soul of a book exists in those who read it.

Writing fiction is a vocation that doesn’t make sense. We spend months, sometimes years, listening to our imaginary friends tell their tales. We take their stories and translate them to pages for others to enjoy. It’s a daunting and impossible task. 

Once the story is released, you’re open to criticism. Even if a book is well received, there’s always that devil on your shoulder poking his fork into you, whispering, you’re a fraud.

In order to promote the book, an author needs to talk about the work with strangers. What inspired the story? How much of this is true? How much of you is in the book? Why should I read it? What’s it about? 
Sometimes we don’t know the answers to these questions. No wonder writers feel like imposters.

Yet we’re grateful to those of you who take a chance and read/fall in love with our novels and characters. 

The reasons we write are ineffable. Most of us don’t do it for the money. Writing is a compulsion, a romance with words, driven by a similar force that makes one person develop a passion for cars or math. 

 I just can’t tell you why.

The final installment in Michael and Shelly’s tale, THE LANGUAGE OF THE SON is available now in paperback, or pre-sale in eBook August 1.

I'd like to send a shout out to my awesome cover designer for this book and BLUE VALENTINES, Ashley Nicole Conway. You can find her on Facebook at Covered by Nicole. Because she's also a writer, she limits the number of cover clients she takes on, but she 's worth the wait.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

When Your Imaginary Friends Take Control

You may be wondering why I haven't posted in a couple of months. As you can see from the photo I've been busy writing the sequel to BREAKFAST WITH NERUDA. Since my publisher was not interested in this book, I'm opting to Independently publish it (and its sequel.) 

This means I'm now a "hybrid author." Two of my critique partners are also hybrids, and they coaxed me to give it a go.

After weighing the pros and cons, I reluctantly decided to journey down the self publishing path.

I choose my own cover designer and title, and have control over the book's content. I also manage the price points and decide when to put it on sale. Plus, any royalties come directly to me. In addition, I can update the book's content any time and own all the rights. No more sending out query after query to hear "not right for our list, we just published a similar title, we like the writing but didn't relate to the characters..." Yes, I could have continued to query, but I had two strikes against me:

One, while BREAKFAST WITH NERUDA is highly praised and was shortlisted for a major award, it didn't sell enough copies to set the world on fire. 'Writing is an art, publishing is a business' is a mantra we authors often hear at writer's conferences. You can craft beautiful sentences and well create developed characters in an engaging story, but if your book doesn't produce great sales figures in a short window of time, your next book is a harder sell.   

Two, the characters aged up a year. YA characters tend to max at age eighteen, but the protagonist Michael is now nineteen. Technically, they are New Adult, which is a dying (Maybe already dead) category.

Perhaps the third strike is Contemporary YA is a super crowded market. My characters aren't diverse enough to compete with filling the much needed gaps in the YA canon. So, the odds were ever not in my favor to go traditional this time.

I'm responsible for all the costs of cover design, formatting, editing, and advertising. In addition, I pay for all proofs and author copies and other marketing materials. I now have to pay attention to sales rankings, hone my subject categories, and fret over my pending obscurity.

Part of the reason BWN didn't sell is because I'm a terrible marketer. I want my clone to send out postcards and contact book bloggers to beg for reviews. There's a whole minefield of business practices indy writers must perform. By going rogue, I'm taking a huge risk because I don't have a clone, so it's all on me.

Having a big 5 publisher behind you gives you street cred in the trade. You're treated like a rock star at library and book conferences, and you make friends with other stars in the business. While it's waning somewhat, there's still a stigma against being "a self-published writer." 

So why am I doing this? 

Fans of BWN want to know what happens next with Michael and Shelly. I hadn't intended to write a series. My characters coerced me into it. I spent a lot of time with these people, and grew to love them. 

Also, I'm not prone to do the logical, practical thing. But I believe in these stories.

I'm also a fan of irony. While indy writers are relegated to a lower position on the pecking order compared to traditionally published writers, the irony is, a large percentage of indys make more money than their counterparts. The ones who make money and get great reviews go through the same careful process of creating a book. The difference is, we own all the stakes.  

The primary reason I'm indy publishing is I need these stories off my desk and out of my head so I can focus on my current (work in progress (WIP.) I'm 36,000 words into the next book (which will be a stand alone,) yet Michael and Shelly keep barking at me to get their story out there. These books are their fault.

The paperback of BLUE VALENTINES is out now, and the eBook is due out July 9, 2019.

The third and final book of the Michael/Shelly saga, THE LANGUAGE OF THE SON, will be coming in August. 

Happy Writing.