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So Close! It’s Coming! Pre-Order Blood Chord now!

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Since the time of KILL ME is growing ever near, I’ve decided to open up a unique form of pre-sales. I’m using the website Kickstarter, which offers artist, authors and other creative types the chance to raise support for various projects/ products.

I’m mainly using it for ebook pre-orders as a way to cover some of the costs associated with launching an Indie Book.  Of course, I’ve built in some benefits for readers too.  The ebook is going to sell for $4.99 but at the first support level (a whopping $0.99- you can’t even buy a cup of coffee for that!) you get the ebook– saving you $4.00!

But the perks don’t end there! I’m offering some sweet swag for the higher levels of support too. Picture a wicked-cool bookmark, made from a custom printed, pearloid guitar pick and ribbon, or a necklace featuring the same guitar pick. Or paperback copies, very limited edition hardcover books, or even promises for all future ebooks in the series… So what do you think?

KILL ME (Blood Chord series) Kickstarter Campaign

You can show your support indirectly by sharing this campaign with your friends, linking to it online or on Facebook, or tweeting. Any buzz that you can help generate would be greatly appreciated! And not to mention good for your karma levels! 🙂

On a side note, I’d love to have you guys stop by the campaign and tell me what you think about it. Does it look okay? Does everything make sense? Is it purty? 🙂 thanks!

SKIN Gets a New Cover

So, I’ll admit I’m always tinkering with Photoshop (at work and after) and sometimes I’ll do something like make a whole new cover for a book on a whim. This time Skin got the makeover.

What do you think? Doesn’t he look so much more handsome now? Rugged too! (I’ll post the old cover right under the new one for comparison purposes!)

 New

 Old

For a change, my playing around on the computer has paid off. SKIN needed the makeover and I was never really satisfied with the original cover. Now, if my new cover will lure in more readers…

Post-Christmas Updates

I hope everyone out there had a great holiday and I’m sorry I didn’t get around to wishing you all the best sooner! Other than the holidays, I’ve had several things sucking my time away over the last few weeks. Finding a replacement vehicle for my husbands totaled truck. Unloading our house. Finding a new house. Packing and moving right before Christmas. Two kids that need a mommy who is in the Holiday spirit. Hopefully, things are going to get back to normal soon.

I finally selected a new book to read. After weeks of no reading, I was itching to get my nose stuck in a proverbial e-book. I settled on Walking On Broken Glass, by Christa Allen. Originally, I added the book to my samples pile in my Kindle because I adored the cover. I didn’t even know what the novel was about. I’m quirky like that sometimes. At any rate, so far, so good. I’m getting into the book and I’ll report back to let you know my thoughts after I finish it.

Otherwise, I’m dying to get back to the edits on Blood Chord and to finish the other few books I’ve been working on. Now, if it would just snow several feet– enough to keep me locked in the house for a few days, maybe I could catch up on all the work I have to do!

It’s Almost Time For NaNoWriMo!

The time is near for writers everywhere (or wanna-be’s) to cast off their daily responsibilities, shun family and friends, and do the unthinkable- write a complete novel in just 30 days. Not possible, you say? Of course it is, and thousands of writers prove it every November!

 

What is this organized chaos I speak of? Why it’s NaNoWriMo of course. For those not in the know, that quirky little abbreviation stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every Novemeber writers pledge to write a novel, which in this case is defined as having at least 50,000 words. That’s actually a “thin” novel by traditional publishing standards, but it will give you solid bones to work with when the edits start later.

The sponsoring site, NaNoWriMo.org let’s you create a free account, input a little info about yourself and effectively gives you a novel page where you can update your word count ticker, view the progress of your friends and scour the forums for support, inspiration, or answers to the ever-cropping-up plot problems along the way.

I’ve participated in NaNo two years, one of which I “won” or crossed the 50,000 word mark and the other (my first year) it never really got off the ground. That’s probably because I tried to write as I normally do, from the seat of my pants and lost steam quickly. My second attempt went much better because I had an outline of sorts.

For my second attempt at NaNo I used Scrivener, which let me draft index cards for tentative chapters so that when I sat down to write each evening I had a clear path charted ahead. That was extremely helpful considering that I always have family up to visit from South Carolina for the first two weeks of the month. And then there’s the distraction of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Christmas prep. Yes, I know. That sounds like a lot to cope with.

It is. And it also isn’t.

To reach your goal of 50,000 words you must churn out 1,667 words per day. I have emails that are longer than that. The trick is to meet that daily goal each and every day, lest you find yourself like I was last time- with three days left and still short almost 20,000 words. I barely remember that weekend.

But I made it! And there’s really nothing like pulling it off. Who knows, you might even get a marketable novel out of it! Now, time to start plotting my NaNo project 🙂

Book Review: Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran

So I won a copy of David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Digital and let me just say, if you are even considering taking the Indie-plunge, this book is a fast must-read. It will save you a lot of trial-by-fire mistakes and keep you from wasting hours combing the ‘net for the best tips on publishing your first book

This book is compressed with tips to help the first time indie author, but the schooling doesn’t just apply to Newbs. I’ve been at this for a while now, and I could have skipped hours of research by getting this book. And even novice publisher’s like me will gain a few ideas to take their career to the next level. As an added bonus, included are features from numerous successful and up-and-coming Indie Authors.

Let’s face it… as a virgin Indies, we not only browse for tips and information, but we also look for the tiniest sliver of promise within the “success stories” of the industry. This book delivers on all counts, and I can see a time in the near future when Let’s Get Digital will become the first stop for all those that consider bypassing the legacy publishing system by taking control of their own destiny. So what are you waiting for? Go check it out!

Meet Indie Author Jolea M. Harrison

Today I’d like to introduce a fabulous writer I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of as she releases further books in her series– Jolea M. Harrison. Give her a warm welcome, why don’t cha! (And by all means, pop on over to her site or check out her book when you’re done getting to know her!)

1. What made you decide to Indie Publish? Any particular author/ website that helped you learn the ropes?

A friend of mine, author Dayle Dermates talked to me back in February or March about Indie publishing and she recommended Krisitine Kathryn Rusch’s publishing series The Business Rusch and after reading all those articles (a small book in themselves) I was led to her husband Dean Wesley Smith’s website and from all that information I decided to self-publish.

2. Of the publishing process, what is your favorite part? Least favorite?

The best part is getting to know other fantastic writers. There is no other group so supportive and kind! The second best part is being read by complete strangers. That is a trip. Formatting is my least favorite part. All the ereader makers need to get on the same page and use one universal format. I mean, come on!

3. If you could give advice to someone that is considering becoming an Indie, what would it be?

Don’t rush. That is really hard advice to follow. If you rush, you’ll make mistakes and possibly hurt your reputation. Seek the opinions of fellow authors and be prepared to take criticism. It’s part of the deal. If you can’t take a critique from a fellow author, dealing with a bad review will be devastating.

4. Do you have a set writing routine? Do you outline, or just start and see where it goes?

I write whenever I can, which is haphazard moments throughout the day, depending on what life chores I have to deal with. When I realized my story was expanding beyond three books, I took a moment and wrote down the bare bones outline. Had to. Otherwise, there’s a lot of unplanned stuff that comes out of nothing. I like to let it.

5. How do you keep the muse around? Anything quirky that you do to get into the writing mode?

I’ll pick up a favorite fantasy book like Lord of the Rings or watch something like a show on the universe, or outer-space. That usually brings on the ideas.

6. What are you working on now?

Myth, The Second Chronicle, Guardians of the Word. I’m connecting some dots and then have to let it stew for a week or two.

7. Tell us about one of your books, and where it can be purchased? 

The only book I have out, Chosen, is available digitally and paperback as well. Check out the links below! It’s the first book of a series called The Guardians of the Word, and is about a young man trying to figure out who he is, thrown into a situation he isn’t prepared to deal with, and finding a way to manage it and survive with the stakes as high as they can get. On a larger scale it’s about good and evil and what throws the universe out of balance when one gains more power than the other.

You can find my book, Chosen, here –  Chosen on Amazon
And on Smashwords here – Chosen on Smashwords
On Barns and Noble here – Chosen on Barnes and Noble
I’m on Facebook – Jolea M. Harrison facebook

My blog is here – http://jm-harrison.com/

And on twitter here – http://twitter.com/joleab

Book Covers & Designers

As an avid reader, I have a confession to make. (No, I’m not discussing my Vampire addiction. That’s more of an interest, you see.) My dirty little secret? I’m horribly snobbish when it comes to book covers.

Based on a quick glance, I will make a snap decision to 1) read the blurb or 2) move on to the next book cover – all solely based on the book cover. If it doesn’t look professional, has no visual interest and doesn’t convey a genre that I read it, then I’m on to the next one. Simple as that.

Let this be a lesson to all you authors and Indie Publishers out there:

Your Book Cover is Your First Chance to Grab the reader!

(Let the above also be a lesson… Fancy fonts sure are purty, but they are dang hard to read!)

That said, I’m finding it terribly hard to put into words what makes a book cover work. I’m a designer by day so my eye just knows. I don’t think I’d explain it adequately, so I’ll just give you a few quick examples:



 

In a similar vein, take some time to browse popular books in the genre you write in. You may start to notice a theme or style among them. While originality is a good thing, deviating too far from the norm can convey the wrong message as well.

Unless you are skilled with graphic design, producing your own cover image may not be the best idea if you really want to package a professional book. Shoot, I’m a graphic designer by trade, and even I can see that my earlier covers pale in comparison to my newer ones.

If you are in the market for a stellar cover, I’ve listed below a few links to Cover Designers that I’ve heard good things about, in no particular order:

Streetlight Graphics – They did this cover for Talia Jager that I adore! 

Flip City Covers


JSimmons Illustration


RazzDazz Design


Extended Imagery -Cover Designer to Kilborn, Crouch and Konrath!

I’m sure I’m leaving out some, so if anyone has a great cover designer, and they want to share, please feel free to leave it in the comments section. 🙂

Creating Believable Characters in Fiction

There are several ways to establish a connection with the reader to ensure they will read on, the easiest is by having interesting, believable characters.

When writing fiction, creating believable characters is one of the best things that you can do to ensure that your story will be read and treasured. A great fictional character can overcome many things, like a weak plot line or touchy subject matters. How do you create believable characters? The keys to creating believable characters are commonality, originality, dichotomy, desire, and peculiarity.

First, when writing fiction, give your characters some sort of attribute that will allow the reader to identify with them. For a story targeted to housewives and mothers, give the character a little obsession over her thighs. For a mystery, give the character something to worry about, like his family, career or health. The key here is commonality.

Now, while you should give a reader some reason to identify with the character, you don’t want to create a character that just screams cookie-cutter either. If writing about a Private Detective, don’t make him tall, dark and scruffy. Do the unexpected. Make him a woman (but avoid the obvious clichés here too) or bound to a wheelchair. Give your character something unanticipated. In Janet Evanovich’s best selling series, her heroine Stephanie Plum is a female bail-bondsmen with little experience or training. The key here is originality.

Lemonade without either the sugar or the lemons would be unpalatable, and so, every believable character needs contrasting elements. Good versus evil, or desires fighting with responsibilities. A conniving, flashy lawyer is boring, until we learn that he doesn’t own a car or lives in a run down neighborhood. A reader would wonder why, and they would continue reading to find out. Dichotomy is the key here.

Give your fictional character desires, something to accomplish, because without something driving the character, a reader won’t want to follow him into the story. Maybe your struggling artist wants to be famous as a way to win a girl. Maybe a harried housewife wants to go back to school for a career and some sanity. Maybe a terminally ill woman wants to live long enough to give birth to her only child. This shouldn’t be confused with plotting. Plotting is what happens in the story and the ambition is what makes your character do certain things throughout the story. The key here is desire.

We all have our quirks—that’s what makes us different and that’s what also makes for interesting and believable characters. The character Adrian Monk (played by Tony Shalhoub on USA Network’s show Monk) is a detective with a whole host of phobias, and viewers love him. Don’t give a character a slew of quirks though, because you would risk turning your reader off. Instead, a few well placed oddities will make your character more fallible and human. Maybe he still drinks Tang by the gallon even as a forty-year-old man. Maybe a woman drives the exact same route to work every day because she believes that to deviate would invite catastrophe. Whatever you give your character, the key here is peculiarity.

If you take care in giving your characters life and breath by using the keys outlined—commonality, originality, dichotomy, desire, and peculiarity—you will be closer to creating a story that someone will read and characters that they will believe and identify with.

Elements of Fiction Writing – Characters & Viewpoint

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Getting into Character

 

Read More, Write Better

 I’ve shaken my head many times after hearing a writer proclaim that they don’t read much. That’s akin to a Doctor who never went to Medical school. Great writers are also great readers!

Reading is important for a fiction writer on so many levels, from genre structures to how to craft a novel. The information is there, so why wouldn’t you study it?

First, if the fiction that you write falls into any sort of genre, then you better have read books within that genre. These books tend to have formulas, and following them can be the difference between publication and rejection. You wouldn’t submit a category romance without the girl actually getting the guy at the end.

Reading is also a way to absorb great writing, to train your brain as to how a well-crafted sentence feels as it trickles over your tongue. There is no better way to elevate your prose than by reading, and reading a lot.

Some writers, while working on a particular story, refuse to read anything that resembles their story, for fear of accidentally plagiarizing. This is a legitimate fear, and one you would be well heeded to pay attention to. However, this doesn’t mean that you should never read in the genre you write; just avoid those books while actively working on something. But you should still read. If you are writing a mystery, read something literary. If you are writing something literary, read a romance.

Another reason to read abundantly is so that you can see what plots have been used or over used. Your original idea may not be original after all, but you wouldn’t know that unless you read voraciously.

By reading, you can see how differing point-of-views can help or hinder a story. You can see how effective pacing can turn a yawn-of-a-plot into a page-turner. You can see how other writers work back-story into carefully chosen segments of the story, instead of starting off with ten pages of exposition. Reading will allow you to consider your options when writing dialog, when weaving a plot, when writing the last paragraph of your story.

I once had a writer say that he didn’t read very often, because he wanted his stories to be 100% unique and out-standing. My answer to that was, well, you may end up with something all-together new, but there is a good chance that it will be so unique that no one will want to read it. Or, you will inadvertently write a plot that has been done to death, or use the entirely wrong POV for a story. If you don’t know how high the bar is set, how can you possibly hope to jump over it?

Reading novels is like studying for the Fiction Writing Graduate Exams, you have to study, study, study, before you can hope to pass into the elite group of graduates, or published writers.

Still Unconvinced? Try one of these:

How To Read Novels Like  A Professor

Reading Like A Writer

Alien Abduction? Gov’t Rendition? Or Quirky Interview?

Early this morning I was woken up by men wearing masks, gesturing widly with AK-47’s. They drug me out of bed, prodded me down the hallway and out the front door into a rusted cargo van. Wearing only a Merlot’s T-shirt and yogo pants, I had only my wits to help me out of my predicament.

Soon I found myself strapped to a chair in the middle of some sort of pod, with all sorts of wires and electronics surrounding me. A guy sat off to a table at the side and he fiddled with the machinery as my eyes swept over the room looking for anything that might help me escape.

I noticed a bottle of cold creme and a pack of Alka-Seltzer, but I doubted even McGuyver could have made something out of that, so I resigned myself to the tortures that may soon follow.

You can read what happened next over on Mike Cooley’s Fiction blog!

(****Okay, so I wasn’t *really* abducted. Just needed to throw that out there before someone called my Mom in a panic!)

Writing With A Market In Mind

Can you imagine spending months, maybe even years, on a story, only to find that there is no market suitable for its publication? Even the most brilliant work of fiction can be doomed to the back of a closet, if there is no market for it. You can easily avoid this fate for your manuscript if you give a little forethought to what genre story you are writing will fall into, or to what type of markets will be suitable to send submissions.

First, what genre will the story fall into? Will it be bodice-ripping Romance or lean to the more empowering genre of Chick-lit? Will the basis be Science-Fiction, or Fantasy? Will it be a hard-boiled Mystery, or a fast-paced Thriller? If your story is more ruminative in nature and lacks a strong plot, it may be more suited to the Literary genre.

Certain markets, like Romance, expect certain formats in a manuscript. I’m not talking about manuscript formatting; I’m talking about the standard plot points. For instance, you would write a Romance novel in which the girl ends up alone. You wouldn’t write a mystery in which the whodunit is never solved, although you can write a story like that, but it won’t fit into the Mystery genre, so you’d better write towards another market where the mystery is not central to the book. Knowing the story’s genre will help you keep the narrative and focus of the story within the expected parameters.

Second, what type of market are you shooting for—online publications, print publications, book publishers? This will largely depend on the genre of the fiction, as well as the length of fiction. Generally speaking, as individual market guidelines will vary a bit, anything under 500 words is considered flash-fiction, anything under 10,000 words is a short story, between 10,000 and 50,000 words is a novella, and over 50,000 words is considered a novel (at least with a standard adult novel, writing for children and teens carries much shorter word counts).

The point is, if you know what the market requirements are ahead of time, you can be sure not to deviate too far from the norm and increase your chances of acceptance.

Writing towards a market for future publication options will increase the chances that your manuscript will get published, but for many people it is the act of writing whatever pours from your soul that is the true prize. Yes, considering a market before writing a story can inhibit the creative process and influence what the story turns out to be. At the end of the day, it boils down to whether you must write the story, or that you must write the story that will be publishable.

***I wrote this post a while back, but for some reason never got around to publishing it, so here you go. Even though older, it is still true, even if you plan on Indie Publishing. Not only will defining your market ahead of time help you “focus” the work, but it may prevent you from putting out a book with no market, or a very tiny one.

2012 Writer’s Market

Weekend Wrap Up

So, STILL LIFE PAINTINGS is live! Well, mostly. The smashwords version and the Barnes & Noble, and Amazon versions are all live now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On another note, I will be starting a weekly feature that I’m calling Three- Ways Thursdays. (Get your minds out of the gutter, I don’t mean it like that. Mostly) For this weekly segment, I’m going to do a post spotlighting an Indie Author. In three separate ways, we’ll get to know them a little better.

  1. AUTHOR- I’ll find out a little about them personally, what makes them tick, what their life is like, and also what, exactly, makes them Quirky.
  2. BOOK – I’ll feature one of the Indie Author’s books, and maybe a little commentary.
  3. RANDOMNESS – I’ll let the Indie Author speak for themselves.

It should be tons of fun, and I can’t wait to start with the first post this coming week. I even made a banner:

 

 

 

 

Other than that, it’s late. I’m watching Twister for the ump-teenth time, and I purposely stayed sober all through a pool party today just so I could work on the business side of publishing without gibberish working its way into my hard work later. See, dedication is my middle name.

Well, actually its Victoria, but nobody needs to know that. 🙂

How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author – Mini Book Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author by Janet Evanovich

I read this all in one sitting last night, so it was a quick interesting read. As far as information on how to become a best-selling author, I don’ think that there were any tips or hints that I haven’t seen before. The best parts of this book occured when Evanovich’s humor shined through. It did give a good deal of insight into “how” she writes and “why”, as well as why she changed genre’s midway through her career. Overall, this book was an interesting little look into the mind of a writer, cheez doodles and all!