Monday, February 27, 2012

What's in a Review

As an author, reviews, opinions and constructive criticism are a crucial part of what we do. There is just no way around it, and we either work hard, getting all the comments, feedback and critique we can BEFORE we publish, or after. If we have hurried through the process it will show in the end result and comments. So please, do not take offense or be surprised by negative reviews…they serve an all important purpose; to make us better writers and to help us polish our work.

It does not help to write a false-positive review because we are afraid to hurt the author’s (and possibly a friend’s) feelings. In fact, we are not helping at all. If you choose to write alone, without feedback, then pay for a professional editing of the manuscript. This is something that should be done in any case, but especially if you were the only one to review the piece. Our mind gets to the point where it will add in missing words and skip over spelling mistakes…and if the misspelled word is still a word (like bend – end) the auto correct won’t pick it up either.

Join a critique group. Listen to their feedback. You do not have to make all suggested changes; it might help you solidify your point by adding back story to it, or might just let you know that you are on the right track. Regardless, you cannot and should not do without someone (and preferably up to ten people) giving you feedback. They are not in your head, they do not know what’s going on behind what you have written, and they will be able to notice missing links, characterization flaws, plot errors and such.

So, just as rejection letters are part of the job, so are negative reviews. Personally, I prefer to get my negative comments BEFORE I publish, so that I can make as many corrections and improvements as possible. However, if you have skipped these important steps, be forewarned…there’s just no escaping the red pen.

Oh, and if you are given a negative review…don’t take it out on the reviewer. Show some measure of maturity and dignity by choosing to learn from your mistakes.

Just as I was going to press the "Publish Post" button I came across this from a fellow author...

Elle LaPraim
This is me right now, in editing hell. I hate editing. The first two drafts are so painful, I would rather do just about anything else besides edit. BUT, doing the hard work is what separates the people who will be an author, from the people who just dream about it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Question...

Has anyone noticed the picture of the book trailer getting smaller? Well, it is 3 times smaler than when I had originally posted it. Any suggestions on how to fix it before it disappears?

Thanks!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Book Tour

Just to let you know that from March 5-15th Amethyst Eyes will be touring a different blog every day. I will post the links for you all to see and enjoy.


This is exciting!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Promoting Fellow Authors and their Books

The more time I spend marketing my book, the more authors and friends I find out there, doing the same thing. I enjoy the contact and have found kindred spirits open to share what they've learned. Another thing they do is help fellow authors present their work to the world...or in this case, the blog community ;o)

 Here is a blog hosting a fellow friend and author, Luke Benoit;
 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pace Yourself

Writing a book takes a lot of time, and once you’ve moved into publishing and marketing, a good portion of your time will have to be put aside for this as well. If you have not made it to this step yet, you cannot imagine the hours you will have to put in to follow through on your marketing. So take heed.

By now you probably have some or all of the following; a facebook page (for your book), a blog, web page, author page on Goodreads, book trailer, calendar and email (again for your book). Once all these things have been established you have to tend to them. Statistics give you an overview of traffic on your pages, and you want to pay close attention to what’s going on here. It is important to generate traffic, keep interest and be visible. Most of all, you want to avoid flat lines and a drop in that precious traffic. This takes time. Time to plan, to produce and to follow up.

Before long, you might feel overwhelmed by all you have to do, for there are only 24 hours in a day. If you set aside a time every day to look through each of these pages so that you might deal with any pressing matters, but reserve a specific block of time for each, say on a ‘every other day’ basis, you might establish a good flow that won’t bog you down. Keep in mind that when it comes to marketing your book, the afore mentioned list is only part of what you will be doing. There should also be giveaways, book signings, blog tours, interviews and presentations…to name a few. All of these things take time and there isn’t really a way around them.

The more people who know about your book, the better chance it has of making its way through the literary jungle and into people’s homes.

Now that you’ve got the ball rolling, you might be thinking about writing another book. If you have managed to pace yourself, you should easily be able to adapt your schedule to allow time for the new creation without extending the block of time already in use. After all, we all have lives outside of our writing. Don’t we?

My advice is simple. Pace yourself, not just for you, but for everyone in your life as well.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Did You LIKE it?

One important thing ALL authors strive for is to have readers post reviews of their book. (Good ones of course). This may sound easy, but it's not. You'd be surprised at the number of people who have told me that they have read my book, and yet reviews come in trickles.

So, I'm asking for 2 things...
1-that if you liked the book, then please post a review. You can post the same one of Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters Indigo and where ever else you want...as long as you do so. And THANK YOU, it means a lot.
2-If you liked the book, then please LIKE it on facebook.
Here's the link.     https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amethyst-Eyes/169207996492385
 That's all for now.

From Jayden's Side

OK, those of you wha have read Amethyst Eyes might enjoy their first encounter (Tommy and Jayden) told through Jayden's eyes.
Enjoy!

JAYDEN

I paced around the room like a caged animal. “I can’t believe you are forcing me to do this, Father,” I said. I wanted to scream. It seemed as though all we did lately was argue. “Why do I have to take care of this half-breed?” I dropped down onto the couch next to him.

            “Jayden!” Father raised his voice.

Maybe I had pushed things a bit too far, but the last thing I needed right now was to chaperone the commander’s long lost, half-breed son. “You just don’t understand Father.” I was really trying to keep my cool, but now I just wanted to cry.

Creighton, the boy I really liked, had broken up with his girlfriend when her parents were transferred to a research vessel in a quadrant so far from here that they wouldn’t be able to see each other for years. This could be my chance. I was going crazy with hardly any friends my age. So few families had come to live and work on a crisis intervention ship because of the danger.

“Jayden,” Father’s voice brought me back to the room. “This is not a punishment,” he continued. “Tommy cannot be returned to his world or his life. He cannot even remain in the custody of his Earth family since only his mother knew of his father’s origin. He will have no choice but to adjust to life on a spaceship. He knows nothing of our ways and even less of our technology.” He paused. “You are fourteen; he is fifteen.” He smiled at me. “He needs a friend.”

“But I don’t!” I jumped up and began pacing again. I felt like I was suffocating.

Father stood and headed for the door. “I have to check on some of my patients.” He turned to look at me as the door slid open. “You will report to the commander’s quarters in half an hour for dinner and to meet his son. He will fill you in on the details.” A look of sadness crossed his face. “I’m sorry you feel so strongly about this. If you find the task so distasteful, you may ask the commander to select someone else.” He left without another word.

I sat back down on the couch and grabbed the pillow next to me, looking for some comfort. I looked around the room and imagined Mother putting dinner on the table. The unit she used to cook our food remained in our quarters even though neither Father nor I felt inclined to prepare meals. Mother had been a botanist. She worked with new colonies or planets after disasters, growing crops that would feed everyone. She even shared her love of cooking with them. I wanted nothing to do with it, I remember painfully. Why bother when the food units could make whatever you wanted instantly. Now I would do anything to come home and smell her food. I always thought she would be around forever and that I could learn to cook anytime.

“Don’t be late for your dinner with the commander, Jayden.” Father’s voice came over the intercom. “He’s expecting you in ten minutes.”

Sighing I tossed the pillow down, rose and headed to the washroom to freshen up. I didn’t know if I was to remain in my school uniform or if I could go in my own clothing. I decided to keep my school jumpsuit on, but I let my hair fall loose. “Let’s get it over with,” I said to no one as I headed for the commander’s quarters.

Unfortunately the commander’s quarters were only three doors away. The senior staff corridor wasn’t like the rest of the staff corridors on the ship. Mother had left her imprint here, too. She had convinced the commander to allow plants in special receptacles to be mounted on the wall. She had chosen a plant that reflected each staff member; there were even subtle differences in the receptacles that made each unique. I remember her trying to show them to me, and I remember being stubborn and indifferent. Now, it filled me with regret.

The door to the commander’s quarters opened, and I came face to face with the half-breed. He smiled awkwardly. “My father said you’d be waiting out here.”

Oh my Gods, he’s cute. It felt as if something flipped in my stomach, but I shook it off. “I was just checking the plants my mother installed here,” I lied. I turned away to let the color in my face return to normal, and I heard him laugh. Instantly composed, I whirled around to confront him, fire in my eyes this time.

“I’m sorry.” He laughed again, raising his hands. “It’s just that my father said you would be out here doing just that.”

His eyes were amazing, just like his father’s. Amethyst eyes were rare amongst my people, and this half-breed had them. Father had told me the legend behind them, but I couldn’t remember it.

“Are you going to come in?” He gestured towards the door. His wavy hair was non regulation. It was definitely longer than the standard cut, but it allowed the light to dance off his gold highlights.

I followed him into the sitting area. They must have had someone in to decorate, I thought. Art and artefacts from many different planets were displayed in large cases on the wall. The plants behind the couch were lit from below, giving an inviting feel to the room.  Music played very low, adding to the ambiance. Our quarters felt cold and sterile in comparison. I sighed. I guess I should try and do something about it.

“I want to thank you for your time, Jayden,” the commander said. He was still in his blue-and-black uniform. Everyone believed it’s all he ever wore.

I bowed my head slightly to acknowledge him. “There’s just one thing, Commander.” I swallowed nervously. “Isn’t there anyone better suited for this task?”

He shot me a glance, and I immediately regretted my boldness.

“I wasn’t questioning your choice.” I wrung my hands behind my back, trying to keep my cool. Learn to think before you open your mouth, Mother had often suggested. I cleared my throat. “It’s just that there are others that are older and have more knowledge . . .” My voice trailed off.

“Sit,” the commander pointed to the living room area. There were already glasses filled with refreshments on the table, and small things to eat. They looked like mushy brown blobs on thin disks. The commander picked one up. “They are ‘hors d’Ĺ“uvres.’ Tommy prepared them for us.” He popped it into his mouth, chewing slowly.

Trying to be polite, and against my better judgement, I picked one up. I tried not to look at it as I put it in my mouth. It smelled and tasted so good, I wanted to eat them all. I realised that Tommy and his father were both were staring at me. I panicked. “Are there animal products in here?” I felt nauseous. I had heard that the people on Tommy’s planet still ate animals like savages.

They both laughed. “No,” Tommy said. “My mother would never have let me eat meat, but there is cheese.” He looked right at me. “Mom made it.”

“Jayden,” the commander cut in, “I have specifically requested that you help Tommy with his integration.” He tugged on his uniform top to adjust it. “You were correct in saying that there are others who have more knowledge or who are older, but they lack your,” he rubbed his chin, “boldness.”

I could feel my face turning red. I wasn’t sure how to answer. I do know that if anyone else had said that to me I would have been all over them.

“You will not tell my son things just to, shall I say, be polite,” he continued. He paused for a sip of his drink. “You are ahead in your studies, so from now until further notice you will spend school time teaching Tommy.” He handed us both a digipad. It was the same flat, touch-screen computer with holographic images the crew used. “I have prepared a list of subjects to be covered. You are free to modify the order as long as all subject matter is covered.”

I scrolled through the list. Wow, I thought, he didn’t leave anything out. I looked up to see the commander showing Tommy how to access his list. “You don’t even know how to use this?” I blurted out and immediately regretted it. “I’m sorry.” I stared down for a moment feeling really uncomfortable. I just knew they were both staring at me. I swallowed hard and looked up. Tommy was going over his list, but the commander was studying me, making me even more uncomfortable.

“Perhaps,” the commander started, “you will also benefit from this exercise.” He stood and headed to the dining area. “You are to be seated in fifteen minutes for dinner.”

“I’m—” I started to say, but Tommy cut me off.

“Don’t sweat it,” he said in a low voice.

I had no idea why he would talk about perspiration, unless I had started to smell. I wasn’t about to smell myself in front of him. I fidgeted not knowing what to do.

Tommy laughed softly, leaned forward and said, “It’s an expression. It means don’t worry about it.”

“Oh.” This is not going to be easy I thought to myself. I guess I have things to learn, too.

I came away from my afternoon with mixed feelings. I learned that the half-breed and I had more in common than I ever thought possible. We both had lost our mothers, and from what he said, they had been a lot alike. They had both loved nature, making things with their hands and cooking. What made me kind of jealous was that he didn’t have my stubborn streak and had learned so much from his mother.

When he offered to share what his mother had taught him I yelled at him. I told him I didn’t need to learn the ways of his savage people, that we, from Sirius were a more advanced race than the Earthers. Truth is, I would like to spend time with the half—, with Tommy. I think we might be friends. But then, I don’t really need anyone new in my life. I’ll have to think about it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Book Giveaway

If you want a chance to win a copy of Amethyst Eyes, you can sign up through Goodreads. The giveaway started this morning and runs through until the end of the month, which will mark the 6th month anniversary of the book being in print. :o)

http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/20697-amethyst-eyes

Where Do You Write?

When I look on internet and see pictures of authors in their writing setting, I think wow, what an amazing place to write.

If I had my ‘dream writing nook’ it would have to have a fireplace, and huge windows overlooking the mountains and either a lake or river. A solid wooden desk and comfy chairs is a must, oh and if it only came with uninterrupted writing time…

OK, back to reality. I remember my first writing instructor. She said that back when she had first started to write, she had cleared out a closet, set an old school desk inside the tiny space, installed her typewriter and hung a bulletin board above the desk. She says that at this point her kids were more than amused with her space. OK, they had a good laugh.

In my home, I have a library where books cover 3 of the 4 walls, there are two desks and the window overlooks the wooded area below…and yet this is not where I write. A leg injury had kept me on the first floor at the time I was writing Amethyst Eyes, and I had a two-year-old that was about as demanding as any two-year-old can be. ;o)

So where do I write? Let me tell you there are days where Kristi’s closet sounds inviting. I am on the corner of the couch, with my lap top on a tiny IKEA table so I can watch over my daughter. When she needs something, it doesn’t matter if I’m in the middle of an intense scene…I have learned to ‘hold that thought’, tend to her needs and return to my writing. Constantly being yanked out of story mode is annoying, but on the flip side, I have learned to stop and pick up again with minimal damage. (She has also learned to be a little more patient).

My point here is this…all you need is something to write with. Sure, the fancy writing space would be great, and one day I do hope to settle in my nook, but to be a writer, you have to write. Anywhere relatively comfortable, and if you’re lucky with minimal interruptions, will do. If you can be comfortable sitting on the floor in the corner of the room with a lap desk, then go for it…just so long as you…write.

One more thing, inspiration can strike anywhere, so be prepared. I have scribbled notes on bits of paper using my daughter’s crayons while eating in a restaurant, and even poked away on my phone (which does NOT have a qwerty keyboard) to jot down ideas.
So if not having an adequate place to write was your excuse…put it to rest and give yourself a chance.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I Want to Write a Book

I believe everyone has a story to tell, but that not everyone is a born story-teller. If you have ever wanted to write, then write. Without something “on paper”, you have nothing to work with.

There are classes you can take, and websites to help, but on a simpler level, all you need is a pen and paper so you can jot down your ideas.

If you haven’t already started, then get to it. This is the first step, and an important one.

Once you have started writing, find someone to share it with. Be it friends, family, online groups, whatever…because the feedback will be invaluable.

You don’t have to put 600 pages to paper to be a writer. A poem, a short story, an article about something you know and want to share, a novella, a full-length book are all possibilities. Online magazines, print magazines, articles in the local paper, eBooks and books are all places you might find your writing. If you are willing to write, that is.

If you have decided to write a book right off the bat, then I suggest you share chapter by chapter with your critique group, because it’s easier to work on a shorter piece than if you have to overhaul 300 pages at a time. Mistakes made can be corrected and you might avoid repeating the same ones all the way through your work.

So, now that you are writing, allow me to enquire, WHO are you writing for? You would not use scientific terms for a young child’s picture book, nor would you use the language of an eight year old to write for a group of business men. Make sure you know who your intended audience is and write accordingly. If you are not sure, then pick up and read something from the same genre you want to write. Fortunately for us today, there are millions of free eBooks available online so we can do a comparison study. (You can upload a PC or phone app free from Amazon to read on android, PC, ipod, ipad etc…)

Do not be afraid to share your work with your critique or feedback group. Someone asked about the possibility of having their work stolen, and the answer was something like this- the risk that the work of an unknown artist, musician or writer gets stolen are slim to none…what the ‘thieves’ go after are the works of famous artists, musicians and writers…

The fun part about having someone to share the writing with is that you have someone to help when your stuck, someone to bounce ideas off, an opinion when you’re looking for the right word or turn of phrase. Another positive point is when they disagree with something you wrote; you can either change it or stand your ground, deciding what is best for your work. Don’t forget, they are not inside your head…and if they don’t get what you’re trying to say, try again. My favourite is testing descriptions…of course I know what my setting or character looks like, but if my friends cannot accurately describe the person or place, then I have failed at my attempt and have the chance to do it again.

Writing is an adventure in itself. YOU, the writer, get to create people, situations, reactions and whole worlds…so give it a try…and if you don’t have anyone to read your work or answer a question, I’d be happy to help.

So? What will you create today?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Lost at Sea or Thrown to the Sharks

Admit it, neither one sounds like an ideal situation…yet it is a good analogy of what it feels like after you come down from the high of holding your book for the first time. Regardless of how your book came into print, if you don’t have a marketing plan, you’ll quickly find yourself lost at sea…holding your book.
Who knows about it? Well, you have certainly shared the news with friends and family. You might have asked them to do so as well. So, now what? How can you tell the world about the amazing creation in your hand? Were you simply planning on sharing your book with a small group, or were you hoping to awe the world?

If you have read my earlier post about marketing, and followed some of the suggestions, you should have a facebook page, a blog or website and maybe even a book trailer. Good, things are rolling. Now you need traffic. You need to reach out continue letting people know about the book. If you have the budget (but not the time), then hire a publicist or purchase a marketing package. Between time and money, time is the one thing you must invest (hence the publicist if you are too busy…and if your mom is free, get her to do it ;o)).

Go to local your library and offer them a book. Go back to your former school, and do the same. Give time for presentations in schools, bookstores and libraries. Join local author groups. (They often have activities that give you the chance to promote your book).

Local bookstores are often more open and have the ability to allow you and your book in their store, not like large chain operations where everything has to go through the head office. If you stop here, maybe 100, or even 500 people have now heard about you book, but if you think of it, it’s just a drop in the bucket.

If you haven’t already joined Goodreads, stop what you’re doing and get to it. Make an author page, set up a giveaway and join communities. You’ll be amazed at the boost in traffic. From here you are given the chance to meet more authors, get some visibility, have your book reviewed and more. The more reviews you can get, the better.

A word of advice, don’t be afraid to give a few books away. If it’s to friends, give it in exchange of a review and some word of mouth, or even a facebook post. Give some away for reviewing on blogs and other sites, and if they share it with friends, then good. You want the most people possible to read it, see it, and hear about it.

Oh, the shark analogy…trust me, if you can’t get it out there, your hard work will have been swallowed up as fast as a bit of fish at feeding time, and will be sitting on a shelf somewhere collecting dust.

Look up the Author Learning Center, Writer’s Digest and don’t be afraid to ask questions!