Tuesday, July 15, 2014

This quarter's Indie Ignites releases

Welcome to the third installment of 2014's Indie Ignites quarterly releases! Things have slowed down on the publication front which means... a whole lot of us are writing our tails off!!! Yay! Check out our upcoming releases, below.


Endre (Sweet NA) -- July 16th
(The Elsker Saga, #2)

Blurb: Sometimes, finding your destiny means doing the exact opposite of what The Fates have planned.

Winning the heart of an immortal assassin was a dream come true for Kristia Tostenson. Now she’s knee deep in wedding plans, goddess lessons, and stolen kisses. But her decision to become immortal could end in heartbreak -- not only for Kristia, but for the god who loves her. Because while Ull would do anything to protect his bride, even the God of Winter is powerless against the Norse apocalypse. Ragnarok is coming. And the gods aren’t even close to ready.

Add to Goodreads

The Horde Without End (NA) -- July 24th
(The World Without End, #2)

Blurb: It was supposed to be over…

Returning from Haven 18 was supposed to be the end. But nothing is ever easy—and in a world full of zombies, finding the missing is next to impossible. There are breadcrumbs. Tiny clues. But what are a few tiny clues in a world of the dead?

Nurrin is desperate to find her brother, but that will mean trusting Finn O’Malley. A man shrouded in secrets, who kills as easily as breathing. And the more she learns about him, the more questions she has. But she has learned one thing—the zombies are changing. Adapting. And this time, the Haven walls won’t keep them out.

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A Sliver of Hope (YA) -- August 5th
(Angel Sight, #2)

Blurb: After the events in A SHIMMER OF ANGELS, Rayna struggles to piece her life back together, but hiding in plain sight from the police, the SS Crazy, and the Fallen isn't a foolproof plan. Something Kade, the World's Worst Roommate, reminds her of everyday.

The late nights of trying—and failing—to teach Ray how to protect herself against the Fallen are getting to Kade, changing him in ways he doesn't like, and after a family emergency sends Ray back into Cam’s arms, Kade decides he's had enough.

The news of Rayna's resurfacing brings angels and Fallen to San Francisco by the dozens, all eyes scouring the city for the girl with the gray wings. Rayna will need both Kade and Cam's help to ensure her family's safety, navigate the new dangers—and enemies—springing up all over the city, and managing the surprises that arise with her new set of wings.

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Enter Goodreads giveaway


Tro (sweet NA) -- September 4th
by S.T. Bende
(The Elsker Saga, #3)


Blurb: Finding her destiny nearly cost her everything. Kristia knows she can handle whatever The Fates throw at her next--including her long-awaited honeymoon with the God of Winter. But as things heat up between Kristia and Ull, a frost settles over Asgard. An unexpected death marks the beginning of the end, much earlier than anyone expected. Kristia’s barely begun to understand what she’s capable of, and controlling her powers seems completely out of her grasp. With her new family fighting for their lives, and Ull fighting for their future, Kristia has to make a devastating choice: preserve the life she loves, or protect the god she can’t live without?

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Open Thy Heart (YA) -- September 15th
(Flora, #2)

Blurb: The secrets just keep coming.

It’s summer in Shaver and, frankly, Dahlia Kennedy is bored. Even though she and Eva are throwing a party for David and she gets to visit Rowan in Ambrosia easier on account of summer hours, it seems like senior year is never going to come. Worse yet, it’s looking like the one thing she’s planned on doing for forever isn’t going to happen.

Cue Dahlia’s Embarrassing Incident: the tipping point that seems to shift everything into a new direction. David’s acting weird. Something happens to Rowan. Dahlia’s forced to ask the least likely person ever for help. A secret is blown wide open.

Conflict between the Lennox Rochforts and the Townsends grows more and more out of control until so much is going on in Ambrosia, Dahlia can barely keep up with life at home. Frustrated with trying to keep track of who knows what, Dahlia continues fighting to help the people she loves, and slowly, the truth is exposed.

Crazy thing is, she had no idea about any of it. And it changes everything she’s ever known.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Future of New Adult

Hei hei, y'all. It's ST. And I want to talk about New Adult. Specifically, I want to know where you think it's heading. Because it feels like things are changing these days, and I'd love to hear what you have to say about it.

We all know NA has the corner on steamy contemporary romances. We adore these stories. A good chunk of the #NALitChat crew and half of the Igniteers write these stories, and they rock at it! Even the publishing industry, who warmed fairly slowly to NA as a category, has embraced the steamy contemps. One agent recently told me that she didn't know if she could sell an NA that wasn't a contemporary romance. It seems New Adult has carved out a little niche and happily set up camp. And in a lot of ways, that's awesome! We have a camp!! And don't you worry, I've got s'mores for everybody!!

But I've been hearing a LOT of talk from readers and bloggers lately, and they want more. NA readers are starting to want the same diversity in genres as their YA and Adult counterparts. They love their contemporary romance, and they love their sexy time, but they want more options in their NA buffet. Chelsea Fine just penned an amazing blog post about "The Giant Sexball", and Addison Moore wrote a phenomenal piece for Delphina Reads talking about Great Sexpectations in NA. And between those remarkable articles, and the comments I've heard in the last few weeks, readers are ready for a little something extra.

So what's it going to be?

Tonight, Kristie Cook's NA hero Tristan Knight won his match in NA Alley's #NACrushTourney14. He's the ONLY paranormal hero left standing in the tourney -- the ONE other non-contemporary hero of the thirty entrants was eliminated last week. (That other hero was our little old Ull! *beams*) Tristan's win was a massive victory for New Adult as a category, because it showed that that readers are excited to embrace something outside the box.  Tristan's supernatural in all the best ways -- he's the hero of Kristie's otherworldly paranormal romance that has completely sucked in yours truly, along with over 200,000 other readers. And more and more outside-the-box NA stories are coming out every day. #pnrNA like Kristie's Soul Savers Series; #sweetNA like Amy Evans' Jellybean Kisses; #scifiNA like SJ Pajonas' Nojiku Series; and #specficNA like PK Hrezo's Butterman (Time) Travel Series. As an author who writes outside the box, I'm super excited when I see readers responding so favorably to these kinds of books! New Adult is so new, and we're so lucky to be writing in a category that's just beginning to define itself. So long as authors are supportive of one another, and so long as readers keep asking for more, there's no limit to where we can take this category. Time travel? Sci fi? Sweet romances? Paranormal? Fantasy? Absolutely!! At least, I really, really, really hope so. Because I want more too -- I love my steamy contemps, but I also love my angel/demon/warrior prince. And my Norse gods. And my time traveling boy banders. And if that makes me greedy, I'm totally cool with that. Because I brought enough s'mores for everybody. :)

Tell me -- what do YOU want to see more of in New Adult books? Do you think there's room to grow?

Monday, June 30, 2014

Sometimes, It just doesn't flow.

Hey all, Adrianne here. I have five novels published. Three are stand alones and two are part of a series. I am currently working on the final book in that series.

Or shall I say, I should be working on it.

I have been writing THE UPRISING for going on five months now. Aside from my first novel, LIFE ON LOAN, no book has taken me more than two months to write the first draft. I'm not even close to being done. I *might* be half way. Maybe.

So what's the problem? I have an outline. I know where the story is supposed to go and I know how I want the pieces to connect. I love my story and I love my characters. So why do they fight me so? It could be the fact that this is the final book in the series and I want it to be JUST RIGHT. I want THE UPRISING to answer all the questions that The Mackenzie Duncan Series has introduced. I want my readers to love it as much as the first two books. I want to leave the series knowing I gave it everything I had and that it is the perfect conclusion to this story. I am so worried that it won't be good enough that I can't even get words on the page without second guessing every little letter. I am filled with doubt in my story, in my characters, in myself.

So what do I do? Do I push through and force it? Do I worry about every word that hits the page? I had thought that I had to finish Mackenzie before even considering writing anything else. I mean, I am already so far behind on my schedule, writing something else would just push that even farther behind.

But no matter what I am writing, I always have ideas brewing for future books. There is this one, I shall call it the Sekret project for now, that wouldn't leave me alone. Not a ton of details to it yet, just a basic idea, but I couldn't ignore it. So I sat down and said, I will write out the little blurb that's in my head and go right back to Mackenzie. So I opened Word and started writing. That little blurb turned into an prologue. In five minutes.

Holy crap, my flow was back. The words flew from my fingertips like they haven't in months. The story played out before my eyes and made me smile while writing again instead of constantly scrutinizing everything. I haven't even gone back to edit it. I just hit save and moved on.
It felt so good to write. And I got a new idea for Mackenzie. So I guess what I am saying is, if it doesn't flow, write was does and come back. A little mental vacation from one story may actually help. It did for me :D

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Where the grass is greener: Writing full time versus squeezing it in with a day job

Hello again, Igniteers. It's Stephanie, and today I am going to talk about writing full-time versus juggling writing with another job (or two).

Everyone has heard the expression "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." And everyone knows that this isn't necessarily true - the people on the other side of the fence envy your grass, too. Nonetheless, it's hard, sometimes, not to look across that fence with longing. Cliches become cliches sometimes because they bear a kernel of truth.

And this particular cliche may have unique meaning for writers. Those of us who work full time at other demanding jobs imagine it must be quite the life to be able to devote oneself to writing all the time (at least all the time that we're not chasing kids or running errands or working on promoting/selling books). I know that most of the time when I get the rare half hour to sit down to my work-not-much-in-progress, I have to remind myself what the hell it was I was writing weeks or sometimes a month ago. I know I should write something everyday but that's just not always possible.  So after an unintended break,  going back to writing can be  kind of like going to a family reunion when you have amnesia. I look at the pages I've written and ask myself about the characters Who are these people? What am I supposed to be doing with them? When I am knee deep in my "day job", I'll write down plot points and ideas on scraps of paper, but often when I go back to the notes they might as well be written in Sanskrit for all the sense they make to me. Sometimes, I confess, I get so frustrated, so defeated, I just give up trying to write  and read a book. And then the book makes me wish I were writing.  

This summer, for the first time in years, I have a month off before I have to get back to teaching again and before my kids get out of school, and to a very large extent, I have dwelt in the writers's paradise I imagined full-time writing would be. I get up, check my email, take the kids to school, work on the blog or more email, then go for a four-mile walk during which I come up with tons of ideas. And then I write until I have to stop. Now that my brain is free to focus on one "job", writing,  I have even come up with ideas for all of the other stuck plots from old works in progress that I let die on the vine because I didn't have time to focus on them.

I won't lie. It feels really good.

But I'm not sure it would feel so good if writing really were the only job I had to focus on. I know that it would at least feel different.

There are some advantages to being a "part-time" or squeeze-it-in writer, not the least of which is that if I am feeling really exhausted or overwhelmed, I can take a day off and watch bad movies on TV. I try not to do it, but unless I have a deadline with my publisher, the only one who suffers from my retreat form work is me. And I don't have to worry a lot of about profit from the books, and if my family were relying on my writing income to pay the mortgage and eat more than a can of beans at mealtimes, we'd all be in need of some charity.  The checks that come with the sales, admittedly, have only bought me some copies of my books to give away in contests and a couple of shirts from this amazing consignment shop in East Windsor, Connecticut. I can't quit my day job. But I can write more or less what I want and that is a blessing. I cringe every time a full-time writer tweets their word count for the day, but I don't have to worry as much about establishing and maintaining a brand or writing what people expect me to write. Sometimes lower (or no) expectations are a good thing.

Among the Indie Ignites ladies, ST Bende and Adrianne James are "squeezers" like me - we squeeze in writing at night and on weekends. As Adrianne puts it, "I had planned on being a full time writer, but life happens, ya know? I wish I had more writing time, but I just don't. Bills are important and if the books aren't making enough to cover them something has to." Our full- timers include JC Emery and Nazarea Andrews and I asked then: Is the grass any greener on their side?

Nazarea says that she's always wanted to be a writer but now that she is, she doesn't always want to get to work any more than anyone else does with any other job. She "schedules" laziness, you guys. 
More importantly, she feels the pressure to write for her audience. She says, "I don't always write what I WANT to write but I do write what I think will sell because this is my profession and I need to make money, so what sells matters more than I want [it to]. I'm happy that sometimes the two line up. But it isn't all coffee shops and lazy glasses of wine waiting for inspiration. If I did that, I would never publish."I empathize with the first concern - much as I would like to have a market or a readership to claim as my own, without one I can write what I want (as long as someone is willing to represent or publish it). And that second concern - it's not all wine and inspiration - is the reality for any writer. Sometimes you have to write even if you don't feel like it, and for the squeezer, sometimes that feels like "Okay, this is my forty minutes to write for the week so make it count. Go!!!"
JC admits that the pressure of being a full-time writer can take the "passion" out of writing. She says the "biggest difference" between writing full time and "squirreling away" the hours to write between work and life is the "change in mentality." "Now it's a job," she says. "Now it comes down to . . .[the fact that] financially this has to be a profitable business. It almost takes the fun out of it." She's quick to add that it is "wonderful to be a full-time writer" but writing used to be something she did for "fun", "specifically for" her. When she told me that she misses the fact that she "got to take [her] time with it" before writing was her day job, that really resonated for me. Sometimes I look at output like JC's and other full-timers I know and feel like the biggest sloth in the world. It takes me literally years to write a book, in part because I'm not writing everyday but also because I think that that is how my brain works, like one of those old-fashioned coffee percolators. the pressure they're under to get that manuscript pub-ready yesterday.
When I'm finally writing it seems sometimes like the ideas just pop up unbidden but they don't, really; the ideas  have been percolating for years sometimes and rise to the surface when ready. Full-timers don't have that luxury. I have the advantage of percolation time. For example, last month I contacted my editor and asked for another month to keep working on a book the publisher had already accepted. If I had a stricter publishing schedule, I wouldn't have been able to do that - and I would have given them a book I didn't feel was ready. I'm not saying that any of my full-time writers friends would ever do that, but I can appreciate the pressure they're under to get writing done quickly.

So, if you are in the position to have your choice of the writing life, full-timer or squeezer, which would you choose? What would be your dream scenario of the writing life? Let us know in a comment below.

Happy reading and writing!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Indie/Self-Publishing and Copyrights

I'm a day late on my post, but I have a genuinely good excuse... I thought today was the 15th! ;) Whoops.

A few months ago, I did a post at Operation Awesome regarding copyright issues for authors. We all know what copyright means, but how does it specifically apply to books and covers? BookWorks explains it pretty well on Publishers Weekly (see BookWorks: Understanding Copyright: What Every Indie Author Needs to Know below for the full article): 

...it is important to understand how copyright works, and what can be copyrighted and what can’t. Copyright protects “original works of authorship” that are fixed in a tangible form. This includes literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, motion pictures, sound recordings, and architectural works. As you probably know a copyright notice looks like this: Copyright © (year of creation) (your name).

Here are a few posts I've come across regarding copyrights recently. (If you have come across any other informative posts, feel free to add them in the comments!)

BookWorks: Understanding Copyright: What Every Indie Author Needs to Know 

* Copyright Is Not A Verb via Brad Frazer

* 5 Copyright Terms We Need to Stop Using Incorrectly via @plagiarismtoday

Book Cover Copycats: Is it Flattery or Copyright Infringement? via Anglea Ackerman at Writers Helping Writers

Highlights on Copyright & Publishing from the Indie Author Conference via Ruth Carter 

Of course, there are many other articles regarding copyrights that you can find with a bit of searching, but these were the ones I found most interesting. 

Happy Monday! 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Facebook Takeovers: A Techno-Dolt Talks

Hei hei, y'all! ST, here. A few weeks ago I got to take over Verna Loves Books' Facebook page with fellow Igniteer Laura Howard. I'm an admitted techno-dolt, who still uses a flip phone (#Truth) so this was a massive jump for me. It was all kinds of terrifying, but also all kinds of fun. And you know what? I ended up meeting some of the nicest, most supportive fellow book lovers! I'm so glad I stepped waaaaay outside my comfort zone. It was totally worth it.

I openly admit to having no prior experience in takeovers, and in general no idea what I'm doing on the interwebs, but here are a few FB takeover tips that worked for Laura and me:

(1) PLAN. Things fly fast and furious come takeover time, so the more pre-packaged posts you can plan out, the easier your time will be. We pre-wrote a slew of posts, about five for each hour of our takeover time, and ended up using nearly all of them. It freed up the rest of our time to interact with readers on the various comment threads. Who wants to be planning their next post when they could be socializing instead? Not moi. :)

(2) GIVE THINGS AWAY. Laura and I corralled a slew of our writer friends and asked if they'd be willing to donate an e-book. It gave readers a reason to comment on the posts (because commenting was a requisite to enter the giveaways), and it gave us something fun to talk about. Readers love getting books. And writers are generally happy to donate an e-book in exchange for some exposure. It's a win-win.

(3) PLUG YOUR FRIENDS. Those authors who donated books during our takeover? You better believe plugged the dickens out of their books and looped them into their threads, so they could interact too. Laura and I are lovely and all, but I seriously doubt a lot of people would want to talk to just the two of us for three hours. However, people did want to talk to the seven additional authors we brought along with us. Because the more authors, the merrier!!

(4) HAVE FUN. So often we're locked away in our writing/editing caves, all by ourselves. It was a blast to get to go onto a page and actually chat with readers! Laura and I both write NA Paranormal Romance, and we probably wouldn't have met most of Verna's more contemporary oriented readers in our normal FB circles. We made new friends, got to talk book boyfriends (because no FB takeover is complete without talking book boyfriends), and spent a few hours hanging out together on a Saturday afternoon. What's not to love about that?

What about you? What kinds of things have YOU done to connect with readers?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ugly Realities

We own a small business. A little bowling pro shop. Sells some bowling balls, shoes, bags. The this and that of bowlers who make it a serious hobby. It's a cute little shop, with a funky smell of plastic and the fruity scent of new bowling balls.
People come in and buy stuff and talk to my husband about which ball is best for which oil patterns. (Seriously. I had no idea there was so many intricacies to bowling until I married my husband.)

Every once in a while, people come by and grab a towel and don't pay.
It's becoming a bit of a habit, but you know. It's part of owning a buisness. Mike works hard, and he doesn't have time to track down every unpaid for towel. Not if his other customers want their bowling balls drilled.
Last week, a guy came in and grabbed a few bowling balls. Then he went into the lanes, and sold them. For half price.
And when we said something--polite, legal letter delivered to him--he ignored us.

And because we're just talking bowling balls, I mean. Mike LIKES his job, and bowling is just for fun. So why not? People can use the lane balls for free, so what's the big deal??

So this all sounds completely ridiculous right? I mean--shopplifting is a crime. Stealing a bowling ball is a crime. If this were to happen in my husband's shop (no that part isn't made up) we'd call the cops. Immediately. Because even though Mike DOES love his job, it's how we pay our bills. And letting people steal from us is stupid.

So why am I talking about this here?
Piracy. You guys. You guys.
I write books for a living. I make calculated decisions, weight the cost and how much I need to sell to break even, and how much time a book will take to produce. I work literally ALL THE TIME. (My kids are having a balloon party outside as I write this. Because summer break is for them, not me.) What I earn from my book sales pay our bills--it goes to rent, and keeping our kids in a school that fits their individual needs. It puts gas in my car and food on my table.
Piracy is a thing. It happens and I send my DCMA take downs and I move on. Because thinking about it kind of infuriates me. It's not ok. Just like it's not okay to steal from a buisness, it's not okay to steal books. I know the arguments, ok?

Libraries don't charge anything--that's great and you are welcome to visit one. Libraries pay for their copies, by the way.
It's too expensive--um. I have nothing that is fit for polite conversation but--just no.
You enjoy writing, so you should be okay with this. At least I'm reading.--by that logic, we shouldn't pay football players. Cuz. You know, they enjoy it. Yes. I do enjoy my job. But I still pay good money to make it a quality product and there is a time commitment to it and frankly, I shouldn't have to justify why you should pay for a service.
Pirates wouldn't buy it anyway--So freaking what?? I wouldn't buy a shirt at Walmart, but I highly doubt they'd be okay with that logic if I walked out of the store with it.

Stealing is exactly that--stealing. Don't pirate. Support an author and drink coffee at home while you read their book. And remember it's good for you as well--you buying that book means there will be more books. more giveaways. more events. Book sales support that. <3

Sunday, June 1, 2014

May's tweets from Indie Ignites: #indie business advice

As some of you know, Indie Ignites also has a Twitter account. Though we do tweet a lot of our bookish news and events via Twitter, we also share quite a bit of indie and self-pub advice, articles, and statistics. Here are seven selected tweets shared in May that might be useful to fellow indie authors:

How to Make the Bestseller Lists: Why Categories and Keywords Matter
via Anne R. Allen and @writerplatform (link)

Facebook Ads: Should #Indie authors Buy Them?
by @caballofrances via @JFbookman (link)

How to Be a Good Critique Partner
via @Wiseink (link)

Publisher's Weekly to Launch New Site Focused on News and Info for Self-Published Authors
via @thDigitalReader (link)

How to Create a Google+ Community to Grow Your Business
via Social Media Examiner /@writerplatform (link)

The Vin Diesel School of Facebook
via @duolit (link)

Business Plan Basics for Authors and Bloggers
via @MollyGreene (link)

Not following @IndieIgnites yet? We'd love to connect with you! (Click here to find us individually on Twitter!) 

Monday, May 19, 2014

BUILD A BETTER BLOG WITH ME, PART TWO: when your is blog out of focus

I'm blogging about blogging again!

Hey there, hi there, ho there, Igniteers! It's Stephanie again, back with part two of the Build a Better Blog set of posts. Last month, I got some great advice from the other Indie ladies, walked through changes to my blog's layout, and discussed how to make your blog look snazzier. But no matter how pretty your blog is, no one is going to take more than a quick look at it if you don't have the content your potential readers are looking for.

After sprucing up the look of my blog with a better layout and catchier fonts and widgets, I had to take a look at the material I was offering. Being a teacher of writing really helped me with this. One of my students' biggest issues as writers is maintaining a consistent focus in their writing. It's not that they don't have great ideas. They do. But they often try to shove them all into one essay (sometimes one paragraph!) and end up with the equivalent of an assignment that reads like this:

It doesn't work in a student essay and it doesn't work on a blog.  I had to rethink my focus. Which meant I also had to rethink my audience. When I started the blog, I had an idea whom I imagined would be reading it. But I thought it was a good idea to check in on who actually is reading it and adjust the focus accordingly.

When I first started the blog as a way to promote myself as a YA writer, I imagined that I would be writing for YA readers (either actual "YA"s - young adults- or adults). What I found was that I seem to be writing for other writers, a conclusion drawn based on comments on the blog, "favorites" and retweets on Twitter, and the fact that some of my posts about writing and writing platforms have been picked up by content-aggregating blogs. I concluded that since my most popular posts were about writing, I should write about writing to and for other writers, especially aspiring ones. 

I'm not going to argue that I took an exhaustive and full-proof survey in order to determine this. There are plenty of other variables that could determine the popularity of posts, like the time of day I tweet about them or how effectively I tag them so that someone casually trawling the web can find them. (See Jessica L. Brooks' wonderful entry here about timing and positing). But for the most part, this assessment seems pretty solid.

After assessing my audience, I knew how to focus and narrow the scope of the blog now.

But narrowing your focus always means that you have to cut something, and in this case, I have to cut out something that I really like writing about, possibly more than anything else: popular culture. I love analyzing the ways that pop culture reflects (and affects) our values about class and race and gender. But much as I love the posts that I wrote about things like the portrayal of adolescent female desire on Bob's Burgers, no one else did, as far as I can tell. So I'm going to focus on writing about writing and do more reviews of YA books and focus exclusively on YA stuff. This means that I will have to make two changes to the blog. First, I won't be able to review and feature books by friends who write NA and more adult fiction and that saddens me. But I can help them elsewhere by being better at promoting their work on Twitter and Facebook and posting reviews to Goodreads and Amazon. Second, as for my beloved pop culture analysis? I can still write it of course. It just needs a new forum (so I may resurrect my first blog about tween pop culture, Smells Like T(w)een Spirit).

So my advice to anyone starting a blog or working to improve the appearance and reach of a blog they already write is to think about your content - what is it exactly that you want to put out there into the ether? And then think about your audience and how a focused and consistent presentation of topics can reach a focused and consistent audience.

If you've thought about these issues and have any suggestions, please leave a comment here.

Until I'm back next month - Happy reading and writing!

Friday, May 16, 2014

The editing/revising process (a gif post)

Hey guys! I'm a day late (but not a gif short... ha ha... um, ahem) for my post, so I thought I'd just throw out some inspiration for ya'll before the weekend gets officially started. Today's topic? Revisions.

By the time we've peeled away the icky-ness of a MS (polishing it until it shines, deleting words, adding the important details), we feel pretty confident in where our work has ended up. This is us:

sugar motta awesome gif Pictures, Images and Photos

We send it off to betas or CPs or editors, et cetera, and they read it, and--thankfully--this is what we get most of the time...

but, sometimes... it's more like this:

Which makes us go:

Enter panic mode, avoidance mode, "I suck at life; time to eat all the ice cream" mode. (Some of ya'll don't get that way and tackle it head on, and to you I say, you have problems! Just kidding. Actually, I applaud you. But this post isn't for you, so...)

This is the point in the process where we have to remember the GOOD NEWS. That's what I'm here to do. Are you ready to be reminded?

1) The fact that you sent that MS off to be edited, or read by betas, or whatever, means you got to this point. You finished your MS!!! Do you know that this means? It means you are THIS MUCH closer to getting your book out into the world! (So much closer than ever before!) Hooray!

2) Finishing an MS is not a reason to cringe! (We tend to forget this when those revision suggestions come in!) It's a reason to celebrate!

So. Before you decide to quit and become a hermit surrounded by cats who use your favorite books as scratching posts and cover you in ten layers of fur while you blather about who you "coulda" been, I'm here to remind you that this--yes, even the revising and the editing and the notes that, at times, are overwhelming--is all GOOD. You're in the homestretch, my writerly friend. THE. HOMESTRETCH.

And to celebrate, we are throwing you a party. SO

You're almost there. You can do this! Time to celebrate your success!

Friday, May 9, 2014

When You Just Need Some Fun...

Sometimes a writer just needs to have a little fun. Am I right, y'all?

You know those fabulous memes you always see promoting upcoming releases, with an image representative of the book's genre, a super cool quote, and some impressive photoshopping that adds elements of whimsy or darkness or whatever emotion the artist wants you to feel?

Yeah. I could never make those. I'm a total technophobe. I still own a flip phone. #TrueStory

But a few weeks back, the Igniteers introduced me to a little website called Picmonkey. You upload your image, and a minimal number of super easy steps, you and manipulate it to add words, bleed out color, or even add little quote bubbles or banners. It's so easy even a technophobe could work it.

And I did. :)

Now when I need a break from drafting/editing/plotting/writerly things, I head to Picmonkey and have a little fun. The Igniteers tell me there are more sites like it that are equally easy to use, but I'm a creature of habit and I sort of figured this one out. So here I stay.

Here are a few of the fun promo images the girls and I have made for ourselves -- some on Picmonkey, some in more advanced editing programs. You'll be able to tell which of us are graphic whizzes (Adrianne) and which of us are NOT (me).

(my homemade image, for Elsker - look y'all, I figured out the computer!!)

(From Nicole Zoltack's White Helleborne)

What do you think? Link us to some of YOUR fun promo images in the comments!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

All Aboard! Edits + procrastination = social media

I'm about to dive in to edits for By Sun and Candlelight, so naturally, I'm finding anything (and everything) not edit-ish to be  super fun and intriguing (yes... even laundry). My biggest crutch in the distraction/procrastination aspect, however, is social media. And boy does it do a great job of sucking time away!

So join me at the procrastination station while we waste a few more productive minutes doing things we don't really need to do. (The best part of procrastinating is when you're actually learning something while procrastinating, so it doesn't feel like you're procrastinating; just taking a different approach to er... approaching that train. Which is what we're about to do.) 

Below are a few infographics regarding social media. They'll help 1) waste time and 2) highlight what works best regarding networking. (Killing two birds with one stone!)

First up: The Best and Worst Times to Post on Social Networks

The Best and Worst Times to Post on Social Networks
Courtesy of Lori R. Taylor at Social Caffeine

Whew! Worn out yet? Wanting to do what needs to be done? No? Well check out this second interesting tidbit, then: 

Info regarding best day to post on Facebook:

When is the best time to tweet, best time to post to Facebook or the best time to send emails or best time to publish blogposts?
via Belle Beth Cooper on buffer

It's interesting to note that Facebook seems to have changed their algorithms again since this graphic was made, so though the graphic itself is probably still current, some of the info listed in the source link above are probably no longer as dependable as they were. 

Third: How to Get More Clicks on Twitter... Regarding branding on Twitter, there are quite a few things that make tweets stand out (this is serious analyzation, here):

courtesy of Dan Zarrella

And, if that info wasn't enough and you're still trying to procrastinate, check out the Indie Ignites Pinterest and Twitter accounts... We would love to connect with you (and, therefore, procrastinate! YAY! Oh, wait. Then we'd be producing less books. Boo.) You can also connect via our individual social media sites by clicking the About Us tab above!

Thanks for the ride, guys! Now I'm off to see if I can find a recipe for peanut butter waffles...

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

So You Want To Do A Signing....

So the 30th of every month you will be seeing (or rather reading) me, Adrianne James.  I have been with the Indie Ignites since the beginning but have been lacking in the posting department. So, from this day forward, at least once a month you all will get to know a little more about me and my experiences as an indie.

For today’s post, I thought I would go into a little about signings. How to prepare for them, how to behave at them, and how to make the most of the readers that are there. I have only been to a few, but I have definitely seen an improvement in not only sales but online followers and fans in general after each one. I am sure there are other methods of preparing for a signing, but this is what I have done and what has worked well for me.

First thing’s first, you need to either organize a solo signing or find a big author signing to be part of. There are a few Facebook groups dedicated solely to author events around the country and some even have lists of worldwide signings.

As for local signings, find anywhere and everywhere that will have you. I have been to my local book store that is supportive of indie authors (that also has my paperbacks on their shelves), I am doing a local car show and swap meet that is a staple in my town every year, and I will be doing another local event that celebrates the founding of our town and the small businesses in it. Next week I will be going back to the book store to set up yet another signing and heading to the library to see about a signing there. The more people see you, the better. And I have found that when a reader meets you in person, when you are someone they can say lives near them/in their town/they went to high school with/however else they know you, they tend to promote you even more if they enjoyed your books.

Okay, so now you are all set to do a signing. WOOHOO! Now what? Do you need a ton of stuff to give away? How many books should you have printed up to sign? OMG ALL THE MONIES YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE!!??!

Yeah, let’s take this step by step. First, pat yourself on the back for having the courage to do a signing. Dude, the first one is super nerve racking. Will they like me? Will I sell anything? Will I make a giant ass out of myself? What if I spill my lunch down my top and have to sign books with spaghetti sauce all over my boobs? If you can sign up for a signing despite the fears, you my friend, are kick ass.

For your first signing, I wouldn’t go overboard with swag (the term given to goodies authors hand out for free). Keep in mind that besides bookmarks, most paper products end up on the floor or in the trash. Unless you put a code for a free or discounted book on it. Readers love those. Seriously, they are like gold at signings. Readers tend to like swag that they can actually use. Pens, note pads, hand sanitizer, chapstick, shot glasses. But don’t think this means a ton of money. Some swag can cost you, others don’t add up to much when you think of it as advertising.

You can get good quality bookmarks and other printed materials from GotPrint.com,  OvernightPrints.com, Vistaprint.com, and many many others. For smaller giveaways I use orientaltrading.com, discountmugs.com, DollarDays.com, or a few others. There are a ton of companies out there for you to choose from. Google is your friend in finding the coolest things to give away with your NAME and your BOOK on it. Do not forget that these nifty giveaways aren’t just because you are freaking awesome and love gifting people with cool stuff, but because you want them to remember you.

A banner is also a good idea. Especially one large enough for people to see from far away. It can be for you as an author or for a book or series specifically. You don’t have to have one, but they are a nice addition to any signing.

Books. You want to know how many books to bring right? Well, first things first, WHERE are you signing? Is it a small event or a large event? Do you have a huge following that knows you will be there and will want signed books, or was this an impromptu signing that you had little to no time to promote for? All of these matter in the amount of books you bring. But realistically, you will only need between 5 and 10 of any title unless it’s a brand new title, then I would go up to twenty for a large signing. 

So now you have your signing set up, your books and your swag. Now it’s time to PROMOTE yourself and the signing! Let people know you will be there. If the signing is a larger event being run with other authors, there may be graphics already designed that you can post. You can chat with other authors going and set up a cross promotion. But most importantly, don’t forget to let your readers know you will be there. If it’s a local signing, tell anyone and everyone you talk to about it. Seriously. If you are going out to dinner, tell the server. At the gas station filling up? Ask the attendant if they love to read. You can even print off a few flyers for the small event and hand them out around town.

Okay, time to take a breath. Are you ready to head to your signing?! IT’s TIME!

Always arrive early. Not too early that you are an inconvenience to the host of the signing, but never and I mean never arrive late unless there was some serious life or death situation going on. If you happen to get caught in traffic or whatever other reason could hold you back, make sure you have contact information for the person in charge to let them know what is going on. There is nothing that will turn readers off more than an author they have been waiting on to show up late without a solid reason. Some readers will drive hours to see you, at least make sure you tell them you care about them by being there on time.

So there you are, sitting behind your table with your books proudly on display, your swag out for readers to take and a gazillion (seriously, bring a ton) of pens at the ready to sign some books! But person after person just walks by. How do you get them to come talk to you? SAY HI! Talk to them first! Wave and engage them. Be proactive. Put a smile on your face. Be welcoming and inviting. Introduce yourself, ask them questions, be friendly. Not everyone will read what you write, but they just might remember you later when they are talking to someone who does.

Also, be able to explain your books with a single sentence or two each. You will only hold their attention for so long. Prepare this ahead of time. It is NOT as easy as it sounds. It took me days to figure out my single sentence pitch for each book but it is doable. If that sentence intrigues them, they will ask for more.

Most importantly, make sure they leave with a smile, even if they don’t leave with a book. Making an impression is so important.  More important than the actual sale in my opinion. Signings are about more than selling books. They are about getting yourself out there. You want people to hear your name and say, ‘Oh I’ve heard of them’. You will gain more online followers, who will then hopefully comment and share your posts and their friends will see them, thus introducing you to even more of a readership.

Most of all, have fun and be yourself. Every signing after the first one is a cake walk :D

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Behind the Scenes of Publishing with JC: On Stress

Welcome to the second edition of a new monthly feature here on Indie Ignites: Behind the Scenes of Publishing with JC. Expect to see some more cool stuff from our awesome contributors in the coming months. We're working on revamping the blog in ways that encourage us to get you better content more often.
This feature is where JC talks about her experiences in publishing and all that entails. Everything from writing to becoming a full-time author, you'll get an exclusive peek into JC's adventures, and hopefully, you'll learn something along the way. Or at the very least, you might find yourself laughing at her ridiculousness. Because with JC, that's kind of a given. And now that you've listened to JC me talk about herself myself in the third person long enough-- here it is.

I debated whether or not to talk about this because it’s a little more personal than I like to get. I want to keep my posts relevant to what’s going on in my life as well as informative and potentially helpful for writers who have found themselves in a similar situation.
Those closest to me are aware that I’ve been under a massive amount of stress the last few months. Everything from travel to moving to starting back with classes to dropping classes to quitting a job to dealing with the repercussions of quitting said job to classroom issues to book issues to… everything.
And… I haven’t always handled it so well. I have probably been more frustrated, more upset, and more determined to get something done in the last month than I have in my entire life. And still, most days it seems like nothing is getting done. New issues are constantly popping up, and I’m being sent on another wild goose chase, and next thing I know it’s two hours later. And that’s two hours of my day that could have gone to doing what was actually on my to-do list instead of whatever the latest emergency is that’s cropped up. But it doesn’t matter because it’s already happened and I just need to move forward, right?
Only, that’s not what’s been happening half the time.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t deal well with certain stressors. My brain shuts down and I get to a point where I can’t even process what I’m doing in that moment let alone what I should be doing instead. When I reach that breaking point it’s usually after someone’s asked me, “How’s that book coming along?”
Um. Would I have crazy-eyes if it was going well, Mom? Really, would I?
I don’t know how other indie authors or small business owners’ deal with the stress and expectations of running their own career, but I’d love some tips. Because right now, I’m in the trenches and I’m running out of supplies to keep me alive for the foreseeable future. Right now, I’m so far behind on my current project, that’s already past due, that I’m not even sure how much I care anymore. Emotionally, mentally, and almost physically, I’m giving up. I want to throw my hands in the air and say, “I give up!” to the entire world. But I won’t.

I don’t believe that it serves us in any way to give up. The greatest stories aren’t written about those who quit when the going gets too tough. It’s about the people who power through regardless of their obstacles. Classic adventure story structure calls for the hero to feel defeated at some point, but never to actually be defeated. The hero must rebound and realize that their journey is important and that the journey can’t be completed without them. Heck, even the sidekick doesn’t throw in the towel, and if Samwise Gamgee can accompany Frodo into the heart of Mount Doom and not ditch him, then I have zero excuse for admitting defeat.
While it feels like my life has been put into a blender that’s set to “crush”, I know that this will pass. Eventually, this class will end, the book will be finished, and every other petty issue will be resolved. What I try to remind myself every day is that I’m truly lucky to be blessed with these problems. I have a wonderful family, great friends, awesome career, killer sense of humor, adorable cats, a working Kindle, food on my table, and clothes on my back. I will work through this and I’ll figure out how to manage my stress better at some point. For now I’m giving myself permission to cry in the shower, eat too much candy, stay awake until 6 and then sleep until noon, and to be utterly selfish with my time. As fantastic as my support system is, none of them can take care of me as well as I can. If I’m not good to myself, then I can’t be good to anyone else—and this past month proves that. By allowing all of my stress to build up and to feel insurmountable, I’m telling myself that I’m not worth more respect.
Treating yourself well is respecting yourself. It sounds silly and simple, but it’s the truth. I’m going to be spending the next several days working as hard as I possibly can to finish this book and to keep up with my other commitments. But if something comes up and my efforts are suspended or delayed as they have been so many times these last few weeks, I’m going to try very hard to take a deep breath, tackle what I can, and let go of the guilt if I don’t finish it all.
If there’s one message I want my fellow authors and neurotics to take away from this post is this: you, and all that includes, is the most important project you’ll ever have to work on. There is only one deadline that is truly non-negotiable in life and that’s death. Everything else is subject to change. Don’t go making everything into something more important than it actually is. Love what you do and work hard at it, but recognize your own limitations. Accept that you’re not superhuman and during a breakdown you might end up watching a Duck Dynasty marathon unless your backside goes numb. Keep in mind that in the grand scheme of things, all of this stuff is petty and what really matters is how people remember you.
I try to live every day in a way that if it’s my last, then I’ll be okay with that because I enjoyed my life. Looking back on the past month, I don’t like what I see. I see a lot of misery, and anguish, and even some desperation over my life’s passion. And that is absolutely not okay. So something obviously needs to change over here, but it’s not an immediate fix to re-program your brain into not stressing about things that feel important. Evolution is a slow process, and that’s okay. Life will always throw us curveballs and we just have to do the best we can.
In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”