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Friday, February 26, 2016

When Writing Overwhelms You

I used to daydream about being an novelist. How glamorous it sounded. Novelist have the BEST job ever! I envisioned a blazing fire, a hot cup of cocoa, and a cozy chair. Then I began writing a novel. Eh, sometimes it was cozy, but most days were spent in my office chair banging away at the keyboard...deleting...rewriting and trying to do it all while my kiddos were napping. My sink filled with dishes, my bed was unmade because when the small ones went to sleep I needed to write...if I ever wanted to get the book finished.

Well, that seemed like a daunting task, but it was enjoyable. I loved it, I found it to be a stress relief. But now I feel overwhelmed. I need to publish this work of love I've been slaving over for three years.

As writers we have many different avenues to take with out writing, self-publishing, traditional publishing, hybrid...whichever way you choose you cannot just sit back and have a million copies sold without doing anything.

So what can you do when the billion steps to "simply" publishing the dang book start to make your dream of happy readers jumping into your story fade to nothing?

I suggest take a step back from all the "stuff". I suggest writing! Say what? Yes, as writers what we love to do is write...correct? So, take a break from email lists, cover design, editing, formatting...take a breath and keep writing. Maybe start a new project.

Will you have to face these daunting tasks eventually...unfortunately yes. Even if you're in the big five publishing you're going to have to help out with the promoting. It's just part of the business nowadays.

Keep going. Don't let these little steps bring you down. I am stuck in that place right now...I'm about to release my series The Lost Relics, and I am blown away by all the work I have to do. So I took a break and wrote this blog post to hopefully encourage those who are in the same sludgey, overwhelming position of getting their work of art in front of the public's eye!

Good luck! I'd love to hear your thoughts on overcoming the mountain of work writers have to go through! What do you do?

Happy Writing

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Forest of Demons- Author Spotlight

Hello all my myth/legend lovers. I wanted to spotlight a great book that is up for nomination for the Kindle Scout Program (Kindle Publishing Service). 

I was impressed with the background of what brought this novel to fruition, but also the captivating cover work, and great plot outline. 

I hope you will all consider taking one minute to follow the Kindle Scout link and nominate this book for publication. You may ask if anything is in it for a matter of fact there is. If the book is selected for publication EVERYONE who nominated the book will receive a FREE copy--no strings attached! Pretty sweet deal. 

Authors are nothing without fabulous readers like yourselves. So check out the blurb, author bio and cover. I know you will be as impressed as I was!

Debbie Cassidy - Author bio

Debbie is the Cassidy half of the writing duo, Amos Cassidy. A stay at home mum with three active kids, Debbie loves nothing more than to curl up with her laptop at the end of the day and jump into whatever world she's creating that month. Debbie has co-authored several Urban Fantasy books with her writing partner, Richard Amos, but Forest of Demons is her first solo venture.

Book Blurb:

No one goes into the forest alone.

No one steps off the beaten path

Nineteen-year-old Priya has lived in the shadow of the forest all her life. She knows the rules better than anyone. Do not go into the forest alone and never stray from the beaten path. Her village has lived in tentative peace with the inhabitants of the forest for decades, until the day that someone breaks the rules.
With first blood drawn, Priya’s dreams of leaving for the Capitol are put on hold as the village goes into lockdown. The unbearable heat shifts to a bone-chilling winter and just as Priya thinks she will be trapped forever, two strangers stumble into the village with a fantastical story that will shatter all her conventions, freeing her at a horrifying cost.
Now Priya’s dreams are coming true, but in a way she could never have imagined, and the burden of protecting her people falls upon her shoulders. Will Priya succeed in delivering a message that could save them all?
From the dusty heat of a small village, to the icy grandeur of the Capitol, Priya must make an impossible journey.

Freedom always comes at a price.

So what prompted Debbie to write Forest of Demons?

Hi, my name is Debbie Cassidy, and for the past few years I’ve been writing as a duo under the pen name Amos Cassidy. A couple of years ago my dad got really sick. I decided to write a book for him based on the mythology he loved the most. This would be my first solo venture. I got him involved with the research and asked him a ton of questions, and finally, last year, I had a first draft. Although my dad is no longer here to see it, I know he’d want me to share Forest of Demons with others. He was a huge advocate of my writing and my biggest fan. When I found out about Kindle Scout, I knew I had to give it a shot.

Check out Forest of Demons and if you like what you read then click nominate to support her!
If Forest of Demons is selected for publication by Kindle Press then everyone who nominated it will receive a FREE copy upon publication.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Turning Each Chapter into a Mini Story

When you read a book, the hope of the author is to leave you satisfied, if it's a series they hope you will read on. If you are like me I think of the story as a whole and either say--that was a great book, or I could've lived without it.

But what about our books keep the readers...well reading?

It's the CHAPTERS! About two years ago I read a book called How to Write a Novel and it went into what a chapter should be.

In my free Novel Outline Cheat Sheet I go over the importance of chapters in this printable page. It helps you organize a chapter into a mini story. Your chapters all build to one main event (typically called the climax) but you have to remember each chapter must be engaging. Whether it offers back story, a battle, a mystery...anything it must keep the reader moving through the book.

I tend to start each chapter like I would a book: Opening, Conflict, Climax (conclusion)

Usually in the opening I will try to bridge from my previous chapter in the event the reader stepped away from the book for a while, they will remember what was happening. THIS IS NOT A TOTAL RECAP! Just a sentence or two that would remind a reader of what happened pages before.

The conflict in each chapter can be an inner turmoil, a fight, an obstacle the characters must get around to keep moving on their quest, a mysterious stranger. Anything your mind can create, large or small. Conflict creates pizzazz, substance...the juice of the book so naturally I believe each chapter should have a conflict within its words.

The climax is a larger conflict, or exciting event that will leave the reader wanting to move on to the next chapter to find out what is going to happen next.

For example, in the first book of my soon-to-be-released series The Forgotten Relics there is a chapter where my antagonist, Killian, crosses to another realm. The climax of the chapter is him preparing for the jump, learning about the insane potentially dangerous creatures, and finally jumping. The chapter ends by him landing (hard and uncomfortably) in a torquoise pool of water. I give a brief setting sentence to describe what he sees in the first seconds and end it by arriving at this new mysterious realm.

The hope is to keep the reader going to learn about this realm, to see what happens. Then naturally in the next chapter I do it again. Exciting things happen, we learn more about the antagonist, mysterious things happen etc...

Key points: View each chapter like a mini novel broken up into three key parts. Your book will be more engaging, and will keep the readers coming back for more.

Happy Writing

Monday, February 8, 2016

When Conflict Builds Your Story

I'm a big pusher on conflict. I love it in books...well I hate it too...but I love it. It's frustrating when in your head you are screaming at book characters to watch out, or don't let this one bad thing change who they are. My biggest one is love issues. Ugh, just COMMUNICATE you silly fictional boys and girls. Right? Most of the love conflicts are misunderstandings! But it sure keeps me reading to find out how it plays out.

I wanted to share the excerpt from The Forgotten Realms: Rise of a Guardian where my main character, Killian, begins the real big conflict. He's falsely accused and his life is forever changed. This is the real beginning of the fantastic adventure he will soon go on.

A knock came to the front door and Blake shuffled upstairs to answer it. Killian recognized that Blake did a lot of work for his grandparents around the house. In truth, Killian had never met the two elderly people. Blake said they spent the majority of their days at the country club spending their vast retirement fund. He knew at this time of night they were most likely in bed, although it was still early for their grandson.
“Kill, uh—you gotta come here dude,” he heard Blake’s nervous voice call from the top of the stairs. He swallowed hard, readying himself to face Richard, who he was certain had sniffed him out to Blake’s house.
            To his surprise, he was met at the front door by a hefty dark man in a police uniform. His lanky partner leaned against the side of the house, putting on a stern, serious face that meant he was in no mood for delinquent behavior.
  “Killian Thomas?” the officer asked.
   “Killian Thomas you are under arrest for the assault on a Mrs. Laura Peterson, you have the right to remain silent…”
           The man’s voice blurred as he continued to read him his rights. This was not happening. He hadn’t touched Laura. The police officer reached for his wrist to place the cold handcuffs around it, but Killian yanked it away.
            “No, this isn’t right! I stopped it! It was Richard, I called you,” Killian was shouting and desperately fighting against the officer.
            Blake had a hand on his forehead and just stared, not knowing what to do for his friend. The hefty officer gripped his wrist so hard Killian shouted out in pain. The second, lanky officer had joined his partner and was helping detain Killian.
“It's okay, Kill. It will work out,” Blake shouted, trying to reassure him. “Laura will tell them what really happened! I’ll talk to my Grandpa, we’ll straighten this out for you! I promise.” Blake’s voice faded as the police officers walked Killian to their patrol car. They pushed his head briskly so he didn’t hit the side and shut the door on his face.

Killian was sure he was going to be sick.  His shoulders heaved up and down.  "I didn't do it," he whispered obsessively under his breath. "How is this be happening?" Killian glared out the patrol car as he held firm to a single moment of clarity. "Richard," he hissed. Inside he knew it was over— no one would ever believe him over Richard.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

My Query Letter that got me a full request

For months I heard crickets when it came to my query letter. After having no return from sending my letter to small and large presses/agents I set out on a journey of becoming a successful self-publisher.

Well low and behold this morning I received and email from one of my long forgotten query letter recipients requesting a full manuscript. Now, for those who may not know this does not mean a publishing contract this means they were "hooked" and want to read the entire manuscript. I stared at the email for a while before realizing that "Wow, I actually received a response."

At this point, I'm interested in sending the manuscript, but I know I will still have to do much of the promoting. From other authors I've heard this is very common in today's world; publishers do not just do everything for you. I've invested in Nick Stephenson's 10K reader program and I LOVE IT so far. It is teaching me so much about promoting, keywords, mail lists etc. So even if I send the manuscript and even if they love it, I'm still leaning toward self-pub.

So if you are attempting to reach out to the traditional publishing world with queries I thought I would share my letter for you.

**I should note this particular publishing company loves Indie authors and likes to know authors know how to help promote their books which is typical in today's world. That is why I wrote about what I understand about digital advertising a promotion. From my experience it is key to make sure you personalize every detail of your letter. I'll update you on my next moves.

Dear Ms. -----,
I am a new author seeking publication for my Young Adult fantasy novel, The Forgotten Realms: The Rise of a Guardian. The manuscript is complete at 87,000 words and is the first in a planned trilogy. I believe you will find interest in my manuscript due to your call for stories filled with diverse voices and unique settings readers will never forget. I am confident The Relics will take readers on an uplifting adventure stocked with thrilling worlds, enthralling characters, and enchanting friendships.
Magic and myths never held stock with Killian Thomas, frankly fairy tales were for the dim-minded. But when a secret-society that calls themselves the Trinity sends deadly Malumian wolves to kill him dark legends of old become all too real.

After the near fatal attack he is whisked away to the highly advanced world of the  Ponderi by Blake, an undercover Ponderi guardian. The ancient community protects the four realms of the Hemisphere. Killian soon learns the family he thought abandoned him as a young boy has deep roots in the Ponderi's mysterious world, and may even be alive but in hiding. Killian's bloodline is strong, and his is one of four families charged with protecting powerful relics. Now the relics are lost, and the Ponderi are desperate to find them before the Trinity does. Without Killian and the strength of a mysterious ability manifesting in his mind, the Trinity will find the lost relics first. They plan to use them to destroy his home realm, which they view as an abomination, along with countless innocent lives. It's up to Killian, and his new friends, to find the relics before the bloodthirsty society; but sometimes the closest allies are also the most devious enemies.

The Forgotten Realm Series is an epic fantasy adventure full of alternate realms, powerful magic, inspiring lessons of love and trust, and wrenching betrayal. The series will take fantasy fans on an unforgettable journey they will read again and again.

 I am a writer by passion, and have spent several years developing my skill and community through blogging and networking. I have gained confidence in digital publishing strategies and social media marketing through numerous courses and study, but there is always more to learn. I feel passionate about my books, and want to help readers find and fall in love with The Forgotten Realms without getting lost in an endless mountain of books. Writing allows me a wonderful outlet to escape the beautiful, but crazy day to day, and I feel a deep satisfaction when readers find their own escape through my stories. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

L.J. Andrews (Pen Name)

Happy Writing and good luck with your own query!