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Hello! It’s a Sunday afternoon. House is quiet, though not writing quite yet. Need to transport the youngest to hang out with a friend soon.

As a writer, an author, I give a lot to my readers. I give a small piece of myself in every book I write. Each and every word, character mannerism, name, is a gift of my soul to my readers. And I hope they appreciate it.

Readers give back to us by buying our books, leaving reviews (good or bad), standing in lines to meet us at events. They tell their friends and co-workers about our books, bid on them at auctions, and help authors grow.

At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

There are some readers who say one thing and do another. They promise reviews and never come through. Or they clamor for a sequel then don’t buy it.

Not to be outdone, authors don’t always keep their end of the bargain. They let their ego take over, ignoring criticism, and demand things for signings. Specific brands of water, luxury suites, first class airfare to cons. And then they do interviews and talk about all the work they did to get to that point, ignoring all the readers who DID leave a review. Buy their book, and the sequel.

Like any partnership, that between author and reader needs to have some give and take. Appreciation on both sides for what the other does, work to bolster the other up and make them feel like the time they invested (hours writing and editing, or standing in line) was worth it.

When you’re starting out as an author, you need to shrink your ego to the size of a flea. Why? Because you’re about to spend the next 5-10 years wanting to pull out your hair. You’ll have days where you doubt what you’re doing is worth it. Times where reviews simply won’t happen, no matter how many are promised. Months where you won’t get a single sale. You’ll spend money you really can’t spare on promotions that may or may not work. On contests that give you little beyond bragging rights.

There’s no magic formula for us to find our readers. No more than there is one that readers use to find that ‘new’ author that they have to get every single book ever written by them.

All we can do, as author or reader, is hold up our end of the bargain. And hope the other side does, as well.

BB

Author.to/katemariecollins

 

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Hey! I know, I’ve let things slide for a few weeks. It was a combination of a lot of stuff. Vacation, real life, and a half dozen other things that had to be done before we got to relax.

This past weekend, at the end of our vacation, I traveled to eastern WA. Partly to help my sister with estate stuff. Partly to lay our parents’ ashes to rest. And partly to attend my 30th high school reunion.

Yes, I AM old enough for a 30th reunion. LOL.

Now, I wasn’t one of the popular crowd back then. I had a few friends, yes, but we weren’t the ‘in’ crowd. I got picked on some because of my weight, I was ‘too smart’, etc.

There were two official gatherings. Things started to be odd the first night. Part of it could’ve been because we’d buried our parents earlier that day, but I wasn’t in a huge mood to be social. I went with the intent of staying put and seeing if I could actually recognize people over planning to work the room.

Someone I remembered as being nice but not much else got all excited when she saw me. She insisted that I ‘don’t go anywhere’ as the husband of a classmate had been dying to meet me since he found out I was going. Apparently, this guy is big on Goodreads. Found my books – and my photo – and went nuts because he remembered seeing me in her yearbooks!

That’s how it started. I had more and more classmates coming up Friday, all excited about me writing books. One of the organizers told me to bring them with me to the gathering on Saturday (I had brought the limited stock I had as a friend wanted to buy my newest one).

Saturday night, I sold books. Several books. Sold out of 3 titles, plus a copy of one other. And the one thing I heard over and over, even from those who didn’t get books, was that they’d been wondering who the ‘class celebrity’ would end up being. The one person out of almost 400 graduates who truly broke free of that town and did something famous/memorable/immortal. And that it was me.

I spent my time in high school living vicariously through them, imagining their lives to be so much better than mine. Now, they’re thrilled to have a published author come out of their graduating class.

Yeah, I can live with that.

BB

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Hey!

Yeah, it’s Tuesday and not Monday. There’s so many levels of chaos still at play in my life that I’m picking and choosing my battles in some ways. It should be calmer soon, I hope, and I’ll be back on track.

There’s something I want to touch on today. It’s important, and a lot of authors today don’t realize it. And that’s making a good first impression with a potential agent or publisher.

No, this isn’t an old topic I’m simply recycling. It’s important. That first impression really does matter!

In my position with Solstice, I sometimes get random emails from authors wanting to know more about our House. Love to read those, to be honest! It gives me a chance to encourage the next generation of writers to gather their courage and hit send on that email! Every now and then, though, the email makes me cringe.

When you can’t be bothered to write a proper salutation…or you decide to insert text speech or don’t correct a misspelled word…it makes the publishing executive in me cringe. Why? Because I hold out little hope for your manuscript if you can’t be bothered to spell out ‘you’.

This business is built on words. The proper usage can evoke images of beauty and horror. There is immense power in a broad vocabulary. By using shortcuts, you undermine that power.

It also cuts into your credibility. You want to be a writer but can’t use the correct version of their/they’re/there in a query letter? Or be bothered to actually use punctuation? 99% of the time, the EIC will decide against you before they even open your manuscript. If you can’t take the time to make sure your email message is great, we hold out little hope for the story itself.

Do yourself a favor. Don’t use your phone to email the query letter. Sit down and treat it with as much care and attention as you did your story. Reread it. Edit it. Polish it until it gleams. Then and only then send it off. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up to climb a mountain with nothing more than a foot of twine.

BB

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Hey! It’s Monday! I think I’m recovered from Friday…only time will tell.

By the way, Billy Joel puts on a great live show.

There’s something a lot of new authors don’t quite understand. Other authors are not your competition. There’s a ton of readers out there. And they’re not going to stick to your titles only. They’re going to read other authors, different genres.

They’re not cheating on you when they do this. Nor is the author whose book they bought just now robbing you of a sale. You are not in competition with your fellow authors.

It’s a simple case of math. It’s going to take you longer to write a new book, have it pass through the arms of your beta readers, get it polished, submit it, find a publisher, have it go through their editor and proofreader, and finally go up for sale than it will for a reader to read it. If they waited for you to finish all of that, they’re going to get restless. Bored.

And then they’re going to find another book to read in between yours.

So, stop trying to talk over another author and push your book. Don’t be that used car salesman that’s always in the face of their reader. Cheer on your fellow authors. Encourage them when they’re stuck. Help them promote. Go to their virtual release parties. Stop in at a book signing, take a picture together, and share it on twitter.

Don’t go after them like they’re the enemy. Especially in public or on social media. Even if you personally don’t care for them. In this business, nice guys finish first. You don’t want to kill your own reputation because you get frustrated and mouth off online about how author x came to your event and talked about his books instead of letting you pitch yours.

BB

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Everyone welcome author Susan Lynn  Solomon!

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

Actually, I have two new releases. The first, the short story, “Yesterday’s Wings”, appeared in early October in the online journal, Imitation Fruit. This is the third part of a trilogy that began with my story, “Sabbath”, which earned a nomination for Best of the Net in 2013. More exciting though, was the October 29 Solstice Publishing release of my first novel, “The Magic of Murder”—a mystery with a definite sense of humor (in fact, there were times while writing it I actually laughed out loud). The book is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paper copy editions. If you click on the link, http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Murder-Susan-Lynn-Solomon-ebook/dp/B015OQO5LO, you’ll find some wonderful 5-star reviews. And cat-people have come to know and like the hefty (Elvira hates being called fat) albino cat that runs through the book.

By the way, Kate, the link to “Witches Gumbo”—the short story my narrator is writing as “The Magic of Murder” begins, can be found at my website (www.susanlynnsolomon.com).

2. Why do you like writing in this genre?

Though “The Magic of Murder” has many paranormal elements, it is at heart a murder mystery—a genre I’ve been fascinated by since my mother handed her 11-year-old child Agatha Christie’s “Peril at End House”. I think my enjoyment of the genre flows from the fact that I’m a puzzle fanatic—crosswords, word jumbles, Sodoku, it doesn’t matter. After all, isn’t a good mystery actually a puzzle to be solved?

Beyond this, “The Magic of Murder” is about people and their relationships. This is true of almost all my stories. How people relate to each other in the most difficult situations is something I’ve been exploring since I first began to write. The complexity of relationships is a puzzle I hope to someday solve.

3. What do you like to read?

I’ll read almost anything as long as it’s well-written. Mystery, romance, paranormal (of course), historical fiction. Once in a while I’ll even settle in with a piece of non-fiction. Most recently I’ve read “Safe Harbor”, by Nicholas Sparks, P.D. James’s “A Certain Justice” (I just can’t avoid a good mystery), “The Tiger’s Wife”, by Tea Obrecht, and “The Flanders Panel”, by Arturo Perez-Reverte. Then, of course, there is the reading I do for research. In this regard, for my new novel—a sequel to “The Magic of Murder”, I’m reading Katz & Goodwin’s “Around the Tarot in 78 Days”.

4. Favorite movie?

I don’t know how to choose a movie favorite. It so depends on my mood at any given moment. I own a large number DVDs that I watch over and over. For example, I adore “Shakespeare in Love”. Historical, romantic, built on the fictitious relationship that metaphorically exists between The Bard and one of his characters—I’ve made notes for creating such a metaphoric love story.

Another favorite is “Sleepless in Seattle”—another love story built on relationships. And then there’s “Message in a Bottle”. I relish both the movie and the book. Oh, and I can’t forget the mysteries. Each New Year’s Eve I climb into my nightie, and binge on The Thin Man movies. This goes back to when as a teenager I baby sat for a neighbor and spent all night watching these films. And Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express”—now there’s a puzzle to solve.

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

The computer I write on is set up in a corner of my bedroom. This allows me to tumble out of bed each morning and start to write…uh, well, not actually—there’s still that darn need to earn a living. But I do write for at least a few hours every day. You see, writing is more than just a pleasure for me. It’s a need. Those days I fail to write, I’m left with a terrible, empty feeling. And guilt (can’t avoid the guilt—my mother was the East Coast distributer of it). To show you what I mean, a few years back I had a bad case of the flu. After lying in bed for two days I felt so guilty about not writing, I slid from bed to my computer, turned it on, andbwrote for what felt like hours. When I recovered and looked at what I’d written…well, you know the term “speaking in tongues”?

Even when I don’t have the flu, some days what I write is mere scribbling. This is my mental meandering while I search for characters that might bring a tale to life. Pages written and discarded, story lines filed away for another day. After a while, though, something magical happens—I don’t know another way to explain it. All at once characters speak to me, tell me what they will or won’t do, say, feel. Then, in a burst a story I need to tell flows from my fingers. When this occurs, I’ll still be at my computer, writing, through an entire night.

Now to answer the first question: when I write I need complete silence. The least sound seems to still the voices telling me their stories. Well, that’s the way writing happens for me: I don’t write the stories, my characters do. Or maybe it’s the ghost living in my house that does the writing… What? I never made any claim to sanity.

6. What was the most surreal moment you’ve had as an author?

This is an interesting question. I suppose I’d have to say it happened in connection with my first published short story. I’d been writing for a number of years, submitting short stories to journals, and building up my collection of rejection notes. The man I work for owns a bed and breakfast in Niagara-on-the-Lake. One day he asked me to write a short Valentine’s Day story he could print and leave in his guest bedrooms. I’d heard the B &B was inhabited by a ghost, but research didn’t tell me who the ghost was, or its origin. So I did what I always do when I’m stumped: I made one up. When I showed the story to my sister, she insisted it should be expanded into a novel (when Robin gets an idea like this in her head she won’t let up, so it was easier to do as she insisted than to argue with her). In a few months, “Abigail’s Window” was written and edited. Then, just before Halloween, my boss asked me whether the story of the ghost was true, because he wanted the local ghost tour group to stop by his B & B. To deal with this, I broke the novel down into a new short romantic story, and emailed it to the ghost tour people with a note swearing it was true, and that I’d actually met the ghost (yes, I know, the devil has me by the collar and I’m headed south). A few days later I noticed a “Writers Journal” competition for short romances. Well, I had this new short story… The upshot was that the story won an honorable mention. However, the magazine forgot to tell me about it until several years later when I received a note from the editor saying it would be printed in the next issue. Now, if that isn’t surreal, what is?

7. How can readers find you?

Finding me is easy. There’s this bar on Niagara Falls Boulevard…just kidding. I don’t do that any longer. Actually I can be found at my website: http://www.susanlynnsolomon.com Or at the Solstice Publishing website: http://solsticepublishing.com/the-magic-of-murder Or at “The Magic of Murder” Page at Amazon (you might want to take a look at the book and some of the reviews while you’re there): http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Murder-Susan-Lynn-Solomon-ebook/dp/B015OQO5LO

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

Hmm. Before I submitted “The Magic of Murder”, I wish someone had told me that this wonderful pleasure writing is, suddenly become work when a book is released. Wow! Setting up a website, a Facebook Author Page, pages on Amazon and Goodreads and a half dozen other sites. And talking constantly about my book and how it was written and why (in promoting the book, I’m beginning to feel like the whore my mother was convinced her 17- year-old child would become). And yet, in my quiet moments I have to admit that all this work is as much a pleasure as writing…if only it didn’t get in the way of writing something new. The first draft of “The Magic of Murder” was written in only two months. I’ve been trying to work on the sequel for the past four months and it’s still only half-written!

9. Favorite snack/drink while writing?

The thought of this brings a smile to my lips. Popcorn. Of course, it can’t be just plain popcorn. It has to be a butter popcorn which I load up with butter spray, then sprinkle powdered cheese on every kernel, then more butter spray to hold the cheese on… Yes, I’ve developed an absolute genius for taking a simple healthful food, and driving it directly to my heart.

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

On the wall near my computer is a Christmas present I gave myself. I had the cover and first page of my first published story framed. When I feel lost for where to go with a new story, when I feel totally overwhelmed, I turn from the screen, look at the framed story, and remember how hard I’ve worked to arrive where I am today: writing, rewriting, modifying a story after an editor has commented, each step along the way learning and growing. That framed story also reminds me how much I have yet to learn so I might continue to grow as a writer. And that framed story reminds me how worthwhile this journey has been.

Thanks for stopping by, Susan! Best of luck with the writing!

BB

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Happy Monday!

Sorry for no post last week. Vacation happened! I had several down day, relaxing times, and now I’m back at work.

I’m hard at work on a new story, something totally different than anything I’ve written to this point. And that’s when it hit me yesterday. The same thing that hits almost every author at some point. Self-doubt.

Why am I even bothering? No one’s buying my other books, what makes me think this one will be any different? Shouldn’t I go get a ‘real’ job to help pay for my oldest to attend college this fall? Why am I so special that I can even think I might maybe one day be good enough to make a noticeable contribution to our household finances by writing books?

The short answer to this: yes. I AM good enough.

It’s not a matter of the day to day sales. What matters is that I wrote something new. That I’m expanding my reader base. That I’m finding new ways to tell stories. That I found a way to work past that voice in my head that sounds like so many people. Because that voice has nothing to do with me. And everything to do with the insecurities of those who want me to fail.

Instead of listening to those who nitpick your book, insist you do something like change a character’s name, the font of your cover, or insinuate that it won’t sell because the formatting’s not something they like, surround yourself with the positive people. The ones who support you, lift you up. Ask for more to read.

Books aren’t written overnight. Or in a vacuum. We all have outside influences trying to sway us. Some are doing it in a good way. Others, not so much. The trick is to figure out who is saying what, and why.

There’s only one way to write a book. And that’s one word at a time. The trick is finding the words even when the jealousy and insecurities of those around you are drowning out those words.

BB

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Everyone welcome Solstice author, Malay A. Upadhyay!

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

There have been several short stories that have released this Winter. Selfie Simulation, a SciFi story based in Switzerland’s St. Gallen’s & France’s Nice, released as part of Project 9 anthology. Meanwhile, the standout novellas were A Christmas in Barcelona and An Enlightened Fly. All these stories are linked to the world of Kalki Evian, and are based around one of the major characters, providing in-depth look at his/her background and character.

2. Why do you like writing in this genre?

Fiction, in general, is where one gets to create. I find it to be the most potent form of sharing knowledge – through imagination and entertainment, as in mythology, which has been the crux of all that mankind has learnt till date. Contrary to belief, fiction is more reflective of human nature than other genres, for it caters not just to the tangible but also to the more abstract, unexplained elements of our character that we can only sense.

3. What do you like to read?

I read a lot of factual stuff to fuel my managerial interests, particularly with regards to cultural behaviors and Marketing concepts. It helps me build ideas and knowledge which I can use in stories or at work. In fiction, I like adventure, mystery and stories of individual heroics. So Prof. Tolkien’s Middle Earth is right up top, then there’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Sherlock & Fountainhead.

4. Favorite movie?

Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Bourne trilogy. Shawshank Redemption. Man from Earth. And a host of others.

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

Silence & spurts of creativity. There is a technological, managerial or social concept around which the story is to revolve. For the flow of story itself, I try to pen ideas down as they come, wherever I am, whatever I am doing. The challenge is to organize all such notes as they begin to pile up over time. Eventually, with the thoughts set in front of you, you realize that the characters have already been defined, the flow of the story more or less set, and the gaps clear enough for you to work on. And then comes the improvisation.

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

It was while I was writing my second novel – The Fly That Followed Me. It is the prequel to Kalki Evian: The Ring of Khaoriphea, and I hope to see it next year. In one of the chapters, a certain Fish approach is suggested to determine the fit between any two parties. I started it as a way to decide one’s career progress but as the concept developed, I realized it could very well be used between any two entities, even among couples! Of course, that’d turn marriages rather institutional.

7. How can readers find you?

They can find me on Twitter at @KalkiEvian. On Linkedin, I’m at www.linkedin.com/in/upadhyaymalay. They can also follow my blog at http://www.kalkievian.com.

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

While I have come across many promotional windows, it’s a never ending job. And a clarity of strategy as well as avenues would be excellent for any author before his/her book is published.

9. Favorite snack/drink while writing?

Tea.

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

I do not have a fixed writing area as it is important for me to change settings to stay refreshed. But I tend to have music handy for when I take breaks.

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