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Archive for May, 2014

Good morning! To all those who serve in the U.S. Armed Services, and the families that support them, I wish you my best on this Memorial Day!

Today’s guest author with Last Monday is a multi-talented Solstice Shadows author. Not only did she write a terrific book (Earth’s Magick), but she’s an Army wife with kids. Give it up for Mel Massey!

  1. What’s the title of your latest release? Link?

Earth’s Magick, Book 1

http://www.amazon.com/Earths-Magick-Mel-Massey-ebook/dp/B00HQP90AS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390957217&sr=8-1&keywords=mel+massey

  1. Why do you like writing in this genre?

Writing urban fantasy is such a challenge and a thrill. I love writing magick mixed with legends and lore.  It requires research to learn the truth, and then allows you to expand that truth into fantasy.

    3. What do you like to read?

I love to read fantasy, historical fiction, and pretty much anything that’s supernatural related.

  1. Favorite movie?

It makes me sound like such a sap, but my favorite movie is Somewhere In Time. It’s old but oh-so-romantic.

  1. What are your writing habits? Music or silence? Daily regimen or spurts of creativity?

I have to have music going when I write.  What sort of music depends on the scene I’m writing.  I could be listening to melodious classical tunes or Skrillex is loudly showing me a fight scene. Anything goes! I write every day.  Some days it’s only a paragraph and others I’ll top out over 5,000 words.  It all depends on my muse, I guess.

  1. What was the most surreal moment you’ve had as a author?

When I read reviews that weren’t from people that I know!  They loved the book and I was like, “Hey…I don’t even know this person!” That was awesome.  I’m enjoying the fact that others are now in love with Mela and her friends.

  1. How can readers find you?

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mel-Massey/428771050563839

Twitter – @melmmassey

  1. What do you know now about being published that you wish you’d known before submitting?

I wish I’d known the amount of time I needed for marketing and promoting. I had no idea of the extra work behind selling a book.

  1. Favorite snack/drink while writing?

Candy!  Any kind of candy will do but I like Sweet-Tarts a lot.

   10. Look at your writing area…what’s the item you keep to inspire you (piece of artwork, figurine)?

I keep a notebook full of sketches, legends, lore and historical facts that I’ve accumulated over the years.  When I need inspiration, I sift through the pages and read some really odd stuff. It’s full of magick spells, angel/demon names, character sketches, and interesting unsolved mysteries from history…so much to be inspired by!

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First off, contest news! I’m doing a rafflecopter and giving away a copy of one of my paperbacks signed to the winner! Check out details on my FB page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/KateMarie-Collins/217255151699492). 

Now, one of the benefits of the job I have (which I love), is that I can see both sides of the publishing industry. I have a perspective that authors don’t have. I also deal with a number of authors who come to me and are trying to figure out why their book sales aren’t meeting their expectations. 

First off, think about your expectations. Did you really think you’d be getting sales in the thousands of books from the moment it released? Even in the hundreds is unrealistic, without name recognition. Unless you have a household name where the random shopper can see it and think, “gee, I know who that is”, you’ve set your sights too high. Remember, it’s an average of five years of promoting, being positive, and talking about being an author that makes you found by readers. 

The same day your book released, it’s likely several hundred if not more books released as well. All by authors who aren’t known, like you. So, what separates your book from the rest? And what doesn’t?

For starters, your story has to have a good hook and be well written. You have to show the reader what’s going on, draw them into the story, make them care about the characters. Don’t simply tell them what’s going on. Give your readers credit for intelligence and watch how much you give out the same information. A character has curly red hair? Fine. But you shouldn’t remind the readers of that every single page, paragraph, or even chapter. They will remember, and they’ll get annoyed with you if you think they forgot from one page to the next.

Spelling and grammar: yes, these are necessary things. Very much so. Your mechanics don’t have to be perfect, but they have to be 98% there. Know the difference between their/they’re/there or was/were. Watch your verb tense, and how often you change PoV between your characters (head hopping). I know there are ‘rules’ out there about not using -ly adverbs. I ignore those. A lot of those ‘rules’ are more stylistic over anything else. But the basic grammar/spelling/punctuation must work or you won’t get the reader to stay with the story past one page.

Covers and blurbs: Yes, a cover must grab the reader’s attention. The same with a blurb. I hate writing blurbs, only because it’s really difficult to condense a novel into a few short paragraphs that entice readers but doesn’t give anything away. 

All of that is important, and will help sell your book. AS LONG AS YOU PROMOTE IT!!!!!!!!!!! Sitting back and waiting for everyone to magically discover you have a book out there is NOT going to work.

That’s the biggest reason, if you’ve got the above down pat, why your book isn’t selling. You simply have too high of expectations and you won’t work at promoting it. It’s not because of the following (though I’ve seen authors who are certain it is):

A single typo on page 47

Formatting is left justified over completely justified

A chapter heading (or single line) is not centered/indented correctly

Let’s go over why these things aren’t as big as you as the author think they might be. 

Typos are annoying, but they happen. No matter how often you look over a book, it goes through the editor, and a proofreader reads through it, typos still happen. A book is not littered with them if there’s only 1 or 2 out of 150 pages. And they are not what is keeping your book from selling. Okay, maybe 16 typos on a single page will hurt sales. This is why publishers have editors and proofreaders and have you look over the book before it’s put up for sale. If you’re self-published, spend the money to have a professional do these things. Or ask friends who can tell you if something’s not working over feeding you a line about how great it is. Fresh eyes on your m/s before publishing is a necessary evil.

Formatting: The industry standard is left justified. That means the left side of the page is lined up, but not the right side. Why is this standard? Because it keeps spacing looking like this (She slumped into the chair, defeated.) over this (She    slumped        in          the        chair,         defeated.) just to make the end of the paragraph even on both sides. It does not affect readability, nor is it something new. 

Chapter headings/extra spaces: This is something that happens typically with ebooks. When a file is uploaded to a site (Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, etc), it is converted into whatever format that retailer uses to distribute their books. It can look perfectly fine to your publisher and you prior to upload, and then have small spacing issues once it’s up for sale. The conversion process is to blame, not your publisher. And, while slightly annoying (I know, as some of my own books are like this) to the author, they are NOT the reason your book doesn’t sell. Nor can the publisher fix it.

What it comes down to is simple. Write a good book, show the story over tell it, watch your grammar/punctuation/spelling, and promote your book. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Because it’s not what’s keeping you from being that huge success you want to be. 

BB

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It’s one of those Mondays. You know the kind I mean. Where you can’t focus, it seems like things are coming at you from all sides. That you can’t get any traction with work. Or your work in progress.

I’ve been stalled on a couple of wip’s for over a month now. Is it because there’s no time to write? Nope. If I’m in the mood, I make time. Is it because my muse is missing? Not really. She’s still there, reminding me with tantalizing tidbits of what she has in store for my characters.

So, why am I not writing? I really don’t know. It could be because sales have dropped off and I’m discouraged (yes, even I get that way some weeks). It could be that I’m too busy with life in general (kids, hubby, work). It could be that I fought off a spring cold last week.

Okay, this drought has lasted more than a week. It’s not the cold.

I think I’m still struggling with the idea that I can write. And that I’m good at it. Call it demons from my childhood, remnants of grade school through high school bullies, or whatever. I know better than to listen to those voices. But it’s not always easy some days. Or weeks.

I’m not depressed. I don’t need to be on medication. I don’t have violent mood swings or pose a threat to myself. I don’t think of myself as having a huge ego when it comes to my writing. And, should it ever go out of proportion, I’ve got a wonderful group of friends who would bring me back to reality. My issue is more remembering that it’s okay to believe in yourself and your talents. There’s nothing wrong with knowing you’re good at something. It’s a good thing to be confident. Just not cocky.

So, today I plan on focusing on some projects that need to be started that are short term to completion in the grand scheme of things. Why? Because sometimes a small accomplishment reminds me that the bigger ones are possible.

BB

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Good morning!

Well, the mini book tour finally happened last week. I have to admit, it went well. The weather was beautiful this time (not a single snowflake!), and I made excellent time getting to Portland. 

The first day of the trip was a lot of shopping by myself and one of my dearest friends. She’s also my editor at Solstice, so we could talk about books with a level of understanding that only an editor and author can. When we were leaving one of our last stops, we saw a new bookstore in that area. Stopped in. Me being who I am, I said something in passing to my friend (and in earshot of the manager, who was on duty) about being an author. She heard, came over and started chatting me up. Cards were exchanged, books were shown off (I had some print copies in the van), and there may be books in that store and/or a signing in the near future.

Day two was all about doing some long overdue SCA arts and sciences project training (my editor is also one of the Laurels I’m apprenticed to), and then appearances. I met up with one reader, she bought two books from me, and we chatted for a good hour. I love connecting with readers like that! It’s more than just getting my ego stroked about how much they love my writing…it’s about hearing what didn’t work for them or helping them move forward in their own writing.

From there, I went to the prison. That was an experience! I won’t go into details here. I don’t need officials from the Dept. of Corrections contacting me about being overly explicit. But there’s a lot of things I saw that few do, and those will be wonderful to draw upon in my writing.

The women in the book club itself were diverse, vocal in what they did and didn’t like, and very friendly. The questions they asked were in depth and insightful. They liked ‘Mark of the Successor’ quite a bit. One even kept asking about a sequel. No guarantees, but I won’t rule it out. LOL

We had a very relaxed visit. Laughed a LOT. And, I think, a few of them took some of what I said to heart. 

The one thing I will say bothered me, towards the end, was the sound of the doors. Corridors were long, empty, and tall, making it so the sound didn’t just echo; it reverberated throughout my soul. There was a rhythm to them. One noise to request it to be opened, another when the locking mechanism began to work, etc. Of all the things I saw and heard, that one sound would affect me the most. There was no mistaking it was connected with something that kept you locked up and inside.

The last day of the trip had me at the mecca for book lovers in the Pacific Northwest – Powell’s Books. Always go to the main store. One reason I wanted to go there was that I’d emailed them several months back about doing a signing and had not received a reply. Met a wonderful gentleman who helped with that, plus went searching the shelves for my titles. They have them listed on the website, but not in the stores itself. That was probably fine for this trip. My companions would’ve had to pick me up off the floor had one been out for purchase! LOL! He also pointed out a pillar in the fantasy/sci-fi room that was covered on all sides with a very durable paneling. They have a post where they’ve had authors who visited the shop sign their names. Had construction (they’re remodeling) been complete, the cover would’ve been removed and he would’ve had me sign it.

So, I may be heading back to Portland later this year for up to two signing events at different stores. I call that a good trip!

BB

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