Sunday, September 30, 2012

The truth about control

One of the nice things about indie publishing is "control." Having experienced both traditional and indie publishing, I can see that I do have more control in some aspects with the indie route. I get final say over my covers. I decide when my next book is available to readers. I decide which stores sell my book. I even get to say how much my books cost.

But this past week has reminded me that even in the indie business, some things are out of our control. I'm having a problem with my books being stuck in "Publishing" on Kobo for over a week now. The Boyfriend Thief was up on Kobo through Smashwords, but I had changed the price 3 months ago and it had never updated, and my later two books still had not appeared on Kobo even though SW had sent them three months ago. So I took TBT down from Kobo through Smashwords and decided to upload everything myself so I could have control.

I'm currently emailing with the web team to hopefully get this resolved, and I'm reminding myself to be patient. Even in the indie game, there is only so much control that you have. Some things, like hiccups in a vendor's system, are out of my hands.

One of the biggest things out of my control is sales. Sure, I can email bloggers for reviews or interviews. I can be active on social media. I can post to my blog. I can offer giveaways. I can run ads on various sites. But at the end of the day, I can't make people buy or like my books. Sales go up and down, often with no discernible reason. I like having the ability to see instant sales numbers on my indie books, but I do admit that trying to understand them can drive me crazy and make me happy that I don't see numbers every month on my traditional books. I've learned not to focus on the numbers too much and just do what I love to do: write books and make them the best I can produce at this point in my career.

It's easy to obsess when something goes wrong or looks like it's crashing around you. Take a deep breath, be patient on the things you really can't control, and focus on the writing.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Interview with Amy Lignor!


Hey all you readers and writers! 
Emma Michaels here to introduce our guest author of the day, the amazing:
Amy Lignor
Hello Amy and welcome to The Writers Voice!

What would you like for readers to take away from your novel/novels?

A sense of happiness, I hope. In this world – from literary to reality – we are having some of the most horrific scenes playing out on our television screens every night. From shootings to politics to non-employment issues, everything is such a weight on everyone’s shoulders right now. With my novels I try to unveil a little ‘magic.’ Whether it’s through a librarian who walks through history and solves mysteries, or an angel/warrior team that fights and protects us to a romance that makes you swoon and laugh – that’s what I want to give. Take a little bit of the real-life darkness away for a little while.

What part of your first novel did you find hardest to write?

The first was very difficult because I wrote it when I was only sixteen and I had NO idea of formatting rules, editorial rules, POV, who should say this and when, etc. – so I had a thrill ride writing the story and getting involved in the plot, but when it came to the ‘truths’ about editing and proofreading, I was completely lost. It’s taken me a good twenty years to get all those rules in my head (and I STILL miss a ‘to versus too’ every once in a while. And, ‘then and than?’ Real pain! LOL.

Was there ever a moment when you wouldn’t trade what you do as an author for the world? What was that moment for you?

This sounds like such a pat answer, but when I began a writing course in seventh grade that’s when I just knew, and from then on I wouldn’t have traded being an author for anything. Yes, I’ve had to put up with the day jobs that I really didn’t like and do the writing at night while serving myself pots of coffee and staying up until three a.m., but the writing is all worth it. The characters really become part of my life and I am so grateful that I have something to say – and that people actually want to listen to it. (LOL)

What makes you feel like you’re reading or have read a truly amazing book?

Oh, boy. When I am reading one of those books that are beyond 5-star, in my opinion, my heart actually races. I close the door, I make sure everyone in the house knows that unless there’s a fire in the living room not to bother me – and I just get lost. Pride and Prejudice will always remain at the top of that list because Austen’s writing pulled me into a time period and a plot that I was just immersed in – I still read that book at least once every couple of months. And when Harry Potter fell into my lap I wanted to go back to my youth and head straight to Hogwarts. I mean…there are some truly remarkable books out there – in every genre – and I practically drool when one of those ‘perfect pieces’ is in my hand. It’s a real thrill.

Is there one book that has had an impact on not only your writing, but on you personally?

Austen, as I said above, was such an amazing woman and her writing was so interesting during a century that made her actually have to publish under ‘Anonymous’ at one time…she is a true heroine for me. Personally, I have to say that Stephen King’s, On Writing is like a bible because…well…what he says is absolutely true and makes you understand and want to do better in order to make that writing dream come true. I also love the humorists – I love to laugh! As a child I loved Ferdinand the Bull – I can still see him under that tree sitting down wanting to be left alone :) that’s still a masterpiece of children’s fiction!

Tell us something most people don’t know about you!

I am one of those conundrums in my personality. I love to laugh and I always have that ‘dry, sarcastic, fun’ comment to come back with that makes other people laugh, but I am so completely shy and no one would know it to hear me speak or write. 

Thank you for joining us on The Writers Voice!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Interview with Kiera Cass

Please give a warm welcome to our guest author of the day
Kiera Cass!

What would you like for readers to take away from your novel/novels?

The thing I hope readers get the most from my writing is an opportunity to escape. I mostly write to get away from things myself, so I hope my books offer something similar to others. I'm particularly excited about the world in The Selection and can't wait for people to see it! Seriously. Cute boys and gorgeous dresses. Makes me SO happy.

Do you feel that aspiring writers should start out by writing what they know?

More important than writing what you know is writing what you like! Trust me when I tell you that if you make it to professional author status, you will have to read your book approximately a gazillion times. You'd better like it a lot because it's your new BFF. make sure you're totally in love with your story before you move forward with it.

How do the novels you write differ from the novels you enjoy reading?

I think the novels I write and the ones I read are actually very similar. I'm all about characters, so if I fall in love with someone's characters, I will follow the story through pretty much anything. I write with the hope that my readers will do the same for mine.

If you could choose any part of the world to live in for just one year, where would you go and why?

Actually, I think I'd like to live in New York for a year. Just to prove I could do it. I live in a small town, and things are pretty slow around here. I get a bit overwhelmed in the city, but I'd really like to try.

What are your biggest concerns about people around the world currently?

I'm not sure if this is exactly what you mean, but I'm very concerned about human trafficking. It's estimated that between 700,000 to 2 million people are forced into slavery and prostitution each year. There are many organizations out there that both raise awareness for this issue and help combat it. Please look up She is Safe, Safe Horizon, or the Polaris Project for more information on how to get involved.

Thank you Kiera for stopping by 
The Writers Voice!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Short Stories



Writing short stories, when it comes down to it, doesn’t hold the same kind of impact as writing a full length novel. But that doesn’t mean their worth is any less because of that. When you’re writing a book, it’s a good idea to come out with a few short stories during that time because then you’re keeping your followers occupied and coming out with new material.
I recently came out with a new short story myself, called The Werewolf’s Mate. And before Dehumanized came out I wrote and self-published two other short stories called The Fox In The Field and Carpe Diem. Having short story titles under your name helps more than you’d think. There are people out there who are interested in your work, but are not sure if they want to commit to something that’s long in case they don’t like it. So if you have something short and really cheap, they will be more inclined to give that a try, and if they like it then they can move on to your bigger work. I know this is what some people do, because I do it myself from time to time. There will be a full length novel I’m not totally sure I want to try out yet, and so I see what else the author has released and if they have a short story I’ll buy that first and if I like it I’ll give the novel a chance. So in that time between releases, try putting out a few short stories to fill the void in the readers’ time. Your followers will appreciate it, because they’ll have something new to read from their favorite author while they wait for the bigger project to come out.

Another great thing about this method is to have one of your bigger projects mentioned. As you can see from the cover up above, it mentions how I also wrote Dehumanized. That's cross-marketing right there! So if someone comes along and see this short story and likes it, they can see that I also have a novel out for them to enjoy. So try to incorporate the fact you have a novel as well as this short story out, that way people will know there's more for them to read from you.
A great way to get this done is to self-publish on Amazon Kindle. I’ve found Amazon Kindle to be an indie author’s best friend, because it’s quick and easy. The process for me was much simpler than I had originally thought it would be. When I was done writing The Werewolf’s Mate all I had to do was get a cover design (see above) and that wasn’t so hard thanks to my super awesome friend Emma Michaels. Once I had the cover, all I had to do was make sure the draft was edited and then go to Kindle Direct Publishing and fill out the details and BOOM it was up for everyone to enjoy. So don’t knock short stories, because they are one of the many tools an author can use to help get new followers.
Thanks,
Michael Loring.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Elements of Gothic Paranormal Romance


Elements of Gothic Paranormal Romance


Hello Readers and Friends,

As some of you may already know, I recently released my gothic paranormal romance novel Hacienda Moon. Wait! What? I can hear you all the way over here where I’m sitting. And my computer runs pretty loudly, by the way. You’re saying: “No she didn’t just go and write some old-timey horror book.” I promise that it’s probably not what you’re expecting.

Creepy old houses, curses, fainting women, ghosts, diaries, visions, alpha males, psychotic screaming women, and…romance, of course: these are all elements of Gothic Paranormal Romance. The gothic part of this genre is ancient. Yep! That’s right.  I’m talking like Bronte sisters and Bram Stoker kind of old. It has been around for hundreds of years. The paranormal part is what makes it fresh and new. Combine them and you have a modern day gothic story that so far readers are truly enjoying.

So how did my fascination with the scary, dark, and unusual begin? I took a class about four years ago that introduced me to the pioneers of the genre: Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, and Arthur Lewis. I remember thinking: “Man, why the hell did I sign up for this boring stuff.” Hint: I didn’t say stuff. Substitute another ‘S’ word in its place, please.

But guess what? A strange thing happened. These stories weren’t like the Jane Austen and Bronte sisters’s musings. These stories contained old castles and ghosts and torture. This shocked my socks off. And I’ll admit, I actually started to like reading these books.

Okay, so I might be a bit strange myself, but hey somebody has to do it, right? In fact, I’d tell you to go read the Monk. Don’t be clicking away from the page just because you think I’ve lost my mind, now. Really. Seriously. Go grab a copy off of B&N or Amazon (these stories are usually free, btw) and then you’ll see what I mean.

In my novel Hacienda Moon, I combine all of the above elements in a southern setting. The technical term would be Southern Gothic Paranormal Romance. Phew! A mouthful, I know. So I created a story that is part Anne Rice, part Dean Koontz, and part Abbi Glines. Wait! What? Well, I just wanted to make sure you were still paying attention.

But like Abbi, I’m a southern gal. So yes, there’s some ice tea (with lemon) and Bahama Mama mixed drink action going on. There are some sexy hawt heroes, an oil tycoon with a kinky side and a pouty bottom lip, and a teenage girl that will scream in your ear if you act like an Injun Giver. These are the elements of what is considered the new Gothic Romance of this day and age. Whether it's southern, vampiric, classic, whatever, you kind of have to admit that it's all just plain fun.

Thanks so much for visiting with us again today.

Yours in Prose,
KaSonndra Leigh
You can stalk me online at: http://www.kasonndraleigh.com







Saturday, September 22, 2012

Interview with Samantha Young



Hey all you readers and writers! Emma Michaels here to introduce our guest author of the day:
Samantha Young!
Hello Samantha and welcome to The Writers Voice!

Have you ever cut a scene out of one of your novels that you wanted to keep? Why did you do it? Can you tell us about it?

I haven’t ever cut out an entire scene but I have diluted a scene. There’s a particularly dark scene near the end of Slumber – it’s violent and disturbing and the content is definitely more mature young adult/adult. I spent a lot of time editing this scene because the first attempt couldn’t be marketed as young adult, it was too graphic. Sometimes I get carried away in the moment :-s

What was the trigger for your last novel? Your aha moment that sprouted its idea?

I was actually looking to write a series with a refreshing take on the paranormal and I thought to myself “Jinn!” As far as I’m aware no one in young adult has touched on Jinn, and by that I mean the real legends of the Jinn. So I bought non-fiction research books on the subject and trolled through those and what I could find on the internet. I wrote down everything that could be useful. I was reading one book and it discussed a certain part of the Qur’an and I was like ‘Aha! This is my plot!!!” Fire Spirits was born not long after

Is there one novel in your life you love to re-read? Do you continue to learn from it every time you re-read it?

I have four books I’ve re-read numerous times. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera – for such a beautiful, philosophical and existential novel it’s an incredibly easy read. Schindler’s Ark (List) by Thomas Keneally – my copy is falling apart. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead – It takes my mind off of the real world. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – just had to buy a new copy, the old one is burnt out.

How do you know that your plot will hold the weight of your novel? Do you write more plots that novels then pick and choose?

I know the plot will hold the weight of the novel because I write entire chapter summaries out before I begin the actual writing of the book. I can tell in those chapter summaries if I’m just filling a weak plot with fluff and dialogue – if I am, I scrap the idea and go back to the beginning.

Is the way you structure your novels a choice or does it come to you organically?

I would say the structure of my novels come to me organically as I write out the chapter summaries. I use the basics for a first novel – intro to characters and location, but from then on anything goes

Have you ever used or gotten ideas for dialog from conversations you have overheard or had with others?

Oh definitely. If someone in my family or one of my friends makes a particularly smart ass comment that I really love I’ll say ‘ooh, can I put that in my book?’

To all our readers out there, thank you for following The Writers Voice and happy reading!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Interview and Giveaway with Sophie Jordan

Hey all you readers and writers! Emma Michaels here to introduce our guest author of the day:
Sophie Jordan
Hello Sophie and welcome to The Writers Voice!

What would you like for readers to take away from your novel/novels?

Personally, I read for pleasure, for escape … for books that make me feel  good. Hopefully that’s what I give to my readers. If they’re still thinking about my book long after it’s over, I feel like I did my job.

What part of your first novel did you find hardest to write?

My first novel ever? Hm. The biggest challenge was finishing the book! It’s always fun and exciting when you sit down and start the book. Right around 100 pages, it becomes seriously hard work. The temptation to start on a new, fresher idea can be overwhelming. Especially when you’re not contracted and no is forcing you to finish the book.

Was there ever a moment when you wouldn’t trade what you do as an author for the world? What was that moment for you?

Fortunately, there have been many moments like that  for me– where I have felt immensely rewarded. Holding my very first book in my hands! Meeting fans … reading their emails. Getting the first check in the mail! I mean … getting paid to do something you love is such a tremendous blessing.  So many people go to work and don’t particularly enjoy what they do. I always feel lucky that that isn’t the case for me.

What makes you feel like you’re reading or have read a truly amazing book?

Not forgetting it even years later.

Is there one book that has had an impact on not only your writing, but on you personally?

Night by Elie Wiesel. Everyone should read it.

Tell us something most people don’t know about you!

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve had an intense fascination with true crime television/media (I even attended law school briefly thinking I would go into criminal law) … it might seem a morbid interest, but I’ve always been intrigued with the nature vs. nurture argument and what drives people to commit terrible crimes. All of this is what inspired me to write my new YA series, UNINVITED.


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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mr. Smug







I was catching some reviews of my book online the other day, when I came across something that made the blood drain out of my face:

My book had been pirated.

I knew about the sites where people ripped kindle versions of people’s work and literally stole it from them, but for some reason I never suspected my book would make it onto one of them. Maybe I just figured it was something that happened to other people, like with everything else in life. But no. There is was. Sovereign Hope, for free, uploaded by someone who cared little for how much time and effort I spent in creating it.

I immediately went into ‘I-am-losing-my-freaking-mind’ mode and started in with the screaming and shouting. I sent an incredibly angry email to the website concerned, ranting and using extremely colourful language to let them know how unacceptable it was that my book was on their site. They replied very quickly and took it down, however it was then I noticed that the site was unfortunately not the only one.

Cue meltdown mode.

What made me angriest was the fact that, when going onto these sites, I noted my friends on facebook had visited and liked them. This led me to believe they were downloading other author’s work for free, and kicked my pique of rage up from an already temple throbbing 8 to a full blown 10.

How could they do that? These were people, regular posters and bloggers, claiming to love the writing community, who said they had my back. I stomped around my house, spitting teeth as my nana would say.

It was at least an hour later when I caught this sinking, icky feeling creeping into the peripherals of my mood. My moral outrage was rankled by its presence. Why the hell should I be feeling…what was that? Guilty? Guilty?!

I stoked the fire on my bad mood, re-reading my rant on facebook about how disappointed I was, and for a little while that yucky sensation went away. Not for long, though. Eventually I couldn’t ignore it any more. I sat down and allowed the feeing to develop, finally giving that seriously annoying dude that lives in the back of everyone’s mind (I think most people refer to him as Conscience. I call him Mr. Smug) voice.

“You’re a hypocrite,” he told me.

“What the hell, man? You’re supposed to be on my side!”

My conscience shook his head. “Nuh-uh. Remember all those times you accepted music from other people, knowing they’d downloaded it? That’s exactly the same thing as this.”

“No, it’s not!”

“How isn’t it the same?”

“Because those artists are huge, successful names. They make a fortune off their album sales.”

Mr. Smug gives me ‘the look’. “You really believe that?”

“Uh… yes.”

“So it’s okay to steal from someone else when they’re successful, but not when they haven’t hit the big time?”

“Well, not when you put it like that! You’re making it sound bad.”

“It is bad. This is karma kicking your ass, so quit whining.”

That totally did shut me up. Despite how loathe I was to admit it, Mr. Smug was right. I had no right to be ranting online. I had been guilty of a crime I was kicking up a fuss about, and now I was observing the affects of piracy from the other side of the fence.

And it sucked.

I had no idea where this concept had come from- that the success of the artist was directly related to whether it was okay to take their work. It was a warped justification that seemed to make sense at the time. Hadn’t the artists worked as hard as I did to create and perfect their art? Probably. All right, of course they had. So was it okay? The answer was a resounding no.

I then went on a mad spending spree, buying lots of albums on itunes, that was again another feature in my warped sense of justification. Must give back to the music industry. Must give back to the music industry… My husband went nuts.

Since then I’ve calmed down on the spending front, but I have gone back and bought all the albums I allowed other people to give me. It was only right, and I didn’t want to be a pirate anymore. Well, I occasionally want to be a pirate, but for other reasons. Cap’n Jack Sparrow and I are tight. But anyway, days like yesterday, which was International Talk Like A Pirate day, should be enough to temper my marauding ways.  From here on out, I will be on the straight and narrow where copyright is concerned.

As for finding my work on those sites… I’ve become Zen about the whole thing. If I didn’t, I would have been skipping merrily into the open arms of a nervous breakdown, and frankly I have plans for the rest of the year that don’t involve straight jackets. That doesn’t mean I won’t be requesting my work is taken down from these sites whenever it springs up, but I’ve acknowledged that it will happen. Again and again, in fact. I just know I will not be part of the cycle anymore.

Have you found your work online and had to have it removed? What are the prime sites for book thieves to upload novels for free? 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Questions & Answers


What makes you feel like you’re reading or have read a truly amazing book?

When I can't put the book down and when I have to put it down, the anticipation of getting back to it. Then, when I'm finished it, wanting to read the next book in the series, if it is a series.

How did you find your cover?

The artist who drew it, came up with it after reading the manuscript

When you are reading which do you prefer: paperback, hardcover or e-book:

 Paperback, because I love the feel of an actual book and the smell of the ink on the pgs. Also e-book, because it is so convenient and is easy to hold so it doesn't strain your hands.

Current favorite band:

 I have so many. I think one of my all time faves is Cold Play, and of course my kid's band, Well Know Stranger.

Best movie you have ever seen:  

Again, I love so many, but one that I've watched over and over is Tristan and Isolde. "The Roman Bridge, I can get to it without being seen, and I'd go there any time to be with you." So romantic! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0375154/?qt0270031 What can I say: I'm a sucker for romance.

In the world currently so many people have self esteem issues. Name one thing you like about yourself!

I'll give you a few. I'm driven at what I love doing, writing in particular. My kids think I'm a goof-ball, and though I have my struggles, I love my life!

Visit Victoria's personal blog @ victoriasimcox@blogspot.com

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Guest Post with Vivienne Diane Neal


The Humorous and Not So Witty Path to Writing
By Vivienne Diane Neal

I did not learn how to write until I went to college. “How does one get accepted into college without knowing how to write?” What I mean is that writing correctly was not one of my strongest points. I had my share of dangling participles, run on sentences and incorrect use of tricky words, i.e. to, too, who, whom, lose, loose and so on. So becoming an author was never in the picture.

When I decided to go to college, I was in my late twenties, which was a surprise to me, because I had no interest in going to college when I graduated from high school. However, that all changed when I started to work at a textile company that made linings and interfacings. The company employed home economists in various regions of the country. Their job was to go into stores and demonstrate how to use those materials when constructing clothing. This is when I became interested in becoming a home economist.

Since a degree in home economics was required, I made up my mind to register at a community college where I obtain a Liberal Arts Degree. During my first year there, I was required to take English. The professor, who taught this subject, inspired me to be a better writer. She made the course exciting and stressed good grammar, correct use of words, and proper sentence structure in a clear-cut way. Still, becoming an author was never on my radar. I went on to complete my BS degree in Home Economics. That was in 1979.

In 1982, the court summoned me for jury duty. While serving, I met an editor who represented a major publishing house. When she discovered that I was a Home Economics Consultant, she thought I should write a book on home management. I made it very clear that I was not interested in writing a book. She kept insisting, and I kept saying, “No.” She was persistent. Finally, I gave in, developed an outline and sent it off to her publisher. A couple of weeks later, I heard from the publisher. They turned down the idea. I cannot remember the reason they gave for rejecting the synopsis. Even though my heart was not into writing this book, my ego was somewhat bruised.

Then in 2006, I started my second online dating site. Everything was going great; people were joining and becoming paid members, and I was making money. Then the unthinkable happened. After operating this site for over a year, and without any warning, the affiliate closed my site. After getting over that initial shock and displeasure, I wrote an article about the incident. From that piece, I wrote and self-published my first book, “Making Dollar$ And Cent$ Out Of Online Dating.” It is my personal journey into the difficulties I encountered while finding a company to host my site.

Eventually, I started to write short stories and decided to put those narratives into a book called “Shades of Deception,” a collection of ten short stories, and “Malicious Acts,” an anthology of five short stories. The genre is contemporary romance. Since my business is all about romance, my stories center on relationships, love, lust, deception, manipulation, betrayal, scandal and fraud.

Writing these books has had its challenges, but the rewards of having a product that you were involved with from start to finish, outweigh the setbacks. As a self-publisher, I have had my share of blunders. Even though I consider myself a good writer and sometimes become overconfident, I make mistakes and so do traditional publishers. After publishing my books, I had to revise them, thanks to an author who gave me some constructive feedback. He found my stories clear and engaging but thought my segments were too long. After reviewing my books, I understood what he meant. Therefore, I split my lengthy paragraphs into shorter bits, and corrected a few mistakes, which somehow my proofreader and I missed. I learned a very good lesson. No matter how great of a writer I may think I am, I am not flawless.

For over twenty years, I wrote and edited articles for my past two publications and created a singles’ publication. I did not realize it then, but I was preparing myself to become an author. I still do not see myself as a novelist. Writing comes naturally to me. If I had to choose between reading and writing, I would pick the latter. Recently, someone asked me to provide a letter of recommendation. I did and read to her what I had written. She then asked, “Did you write author after your name?” I laughed and said, “Of course not.” :)

~*~

The author is now semi-retired, but she continues to write short stores and articles on love, romance, relationships and other topics of interest.

Links to author’s sites:

http://oneworldsingles.blogspot.com
http://lulu.com/spotlight/hmcs1946

Friday, September 14, 2012

Interview with Jacob Gowans


Hey all you readers and writers! Emma Michaels here to introduce our guest author of the day:
Jacob Gowans
Hello Jacob and welcome to The Writers Voice!

What would you like for readers to take away from your novel/novels?


First, I want them to enjoy the story and embrace the characters. If they do that, nothing else really matters. On the other hand, each story has a theme or themes, and I hope those themes touch the reader and make them feel like they participated in more than a story. I want them to think about the story when it’s over and ask questions about it.

What part of your first novel did you find hardest to write?

I always struggle with the beginnings of my novels. The first few chapters always need the most work and hence, I spend the most time on it. Once I hit my stride in the novel, it pretty much writes itself, but getting through that first 40-50 pages is tough.

Was there ever a moment when you wouldn’t trade what you do as an author for the world? What was that moment for you?

Well, first of all, writing is still my hobby. My primary vocation is dentistry. However, I chose dentistry because it’s a more relaxed profession, working 3-4 days/week is not uncommon. I interact with plenty of people and still have time to write in the evenings or on Fridays and weekends. The moment I knew I would always write was when I finished my first book. Somehow, in my brain, something transformed from just ideas about stories to me writing a full novel. Now I’ve written 5 novels, published 3 with a fourth a few months away, and have plans for almost a dozen more. Writing is here to stay.

What makes you feel like you’re reading or have read a truly amazing book?

A truly amazing book is one that I don’t set down. I’ve become so picky about books lately. Truth is, I don’t have time to read like I used to. I’ve set down many, many books over the last 5 years. The great ones are the ones with either engaging characters, stories, or plots. They often leave me thinking about what you read for a few days and even change the way I write or the way I approach something because the craft of the author touched me.

Is there one book that has had an impact on not only your writing, but on you personally?

Ender’s Game has by far influenced Psion Beta the most. I think most readers recognize that, too. I loved so many elements of that book that are so so fun! I actually keep a list of books on my website that show people what books I think most influenced the books I’ve written. So far that list is up to 22 different works ranging categories from scripture to sci fi to fantasy to philosophical. I don’t particularly limit my readings to one genre, but look for quality in whatever I read.

Tell us something most people don’t know about you!


Hmmm. Most people don’t know that I am a theater major. In college, in addition to my pre-dental coursework, I managed to taking classes on acting, writing, and film. I’m a bit of a movie snob, in fact, and took as many film classes as I could before graduating. I’ve written a few plays and would like to write screenplays some day, too.

Thank you for stopping by The Writers Voice!



Thursday, September 13, 2012

What happens before a book release


So it’s a Friday night at 6:30 p.m. Central time I typed the final sentence of Book 5 in my series. As always when I finish a book, for a brief moment I just stare at the screen. It’s like I’m in shock that it’s finally done. And then depending on how tired I am sometimes there are tears. There weren’t tears as I finished Book 5. There was a huge sigh and a sense of accomplishment.
Next I announce it to the world because I want to see if they are as excited as I am! I tell anyone and everyone, I’m done, I’m done, I’m doooooone! It’s a fantastic feeling. For those brief few minutes it’s like you have solved the dilemma of world peace, or found a cure for the common cold, it’s just fantabulous.

But after every climb to the mountain top, you have to come down. I save the document and prepare the email to send it to my editor. Then I get in touch with my ARC readers and let them know I’m ready for their input. That’s when reality sets in. I’m not really finished.
The emails start coming, page 35 characters name is wrong, page 155, continuity is off, and so on and so on. I’m so grateful for the ARC help because it’s just one more way to catch errors. I go through the lists and open up the document and begin the tedious job of fixing the problems, and it always seems that there’s just one more.

In between the edit emails, I’m contacting bloggers asking for help on release day. “Please have my book on your site, we can do a give away and interview or whatever you’d like. The leg work is constant and though time consuming, so very worth it.

Finally, finally the editor sends the final document back to me. One more pass through, one more time to spend with the characters laughing, crying, yelling, cheering, feeling all of the things I want so desperately for the readers to feel. I save it one final time and then head off to Amazon and Barnes and Nobles to upload it. Then the waiting for response and reactions begins. It’s a scary few days as I wait to hear if I’ve fallen flat on my face or if my book as at least made one person dance through those emotions and connect with the characters.

It’s such a journey. It’s painful and scary and time consuming and although writing it is an incredible challenge, often times it’s when the writing is done that the true work and challenge begin. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Getting over bad reviews

One of the hardest parts of being a writer that everyone has to deal with eventually is getting that very first bad review. I knew before my first book was published that bad reviews were part of the job. I knew that I didn't like every book I had ever read, so there was a good chance that not everyone would like every book I write.

But still, when you're on the receiving end of that bad review, ouch.

When my first book was published, I remember feeling like I was on a roller coaster of emotions. Good review--yay! Another good review--whee! Bad review--plummet back to earth at supersonic speed. Oh, a good review again--yay!

No matter how many good reviews you get, a bad review can haunt you if you let it. I don't allow myself to obsess over them anymore. Here are a few tricks I use to move on from a bad review:

  • Eat chocolate. I'm a firm believer that chocolate can help in any situation.
  • Watch a really bad movie and tell yourself that your book is better than that at least!
  • Do something nice for yourself. Buy a new book. Get a manicure. Or go to your favorite place. Whatever you like best, do it.
  • Work on your next book and make it the best book you've ever written.
  • Go to Goodreads or Amazon. Look up one of your absolute favorite books ever written by your favorite author. Sort the reviews according to the star rating, and then read all of the one star reviews. This always perks me up. If other people hated the books I loved, then maybe other people will love my book even though someone else hated it.
 Don't let a bad review get you down! Move on and get back to work on your next book. If any other authors out there have more tips for getting over bad reviews, I'd love to hear them!

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Writing System

Picture above: Tunxis Community College Library
Something I’ve been combating for a long time is how I get myself to sit down and write. I read other blogs about authors who talk about writing anywhere at anytime, and it just boggles me because I’m so different. I can’t write just ANYWHERE, and more than once I’ve found timing is a great help for when it comes to writing. For a long time I’ve fought with how I was ever going to get a book done, and then I found a solution.  
A few years back my older sister started going to the local community college and got a job at the library. At the time I was still struggling with trying to write my very first novel. I either would lose interest or the story would fall apart. My biggest problem was getting myself to sit and write. I am ashamed to admit I am addicted to YouTube and all the wonders the internet has to offer – not even mentioning my video game obsession – so whenever I’d sit to write I’d say to myself, “I’ll go to YouTube really quick to play some music for background noise.” and the next thing I knew I was an hour deep into watching dogs talking videos. It was horrible.
After so many failed attempts at trying to write a book I was ready to give up. One day, I was feeling cooped up in the house – being Home-Schooled can get very lonely and boring – so I asked my sister if she could take me to the library with her when she went to work so I could catch up on my reading.
The first time I ever saw the library I was awed. It had two-floors, the first floor having a whole section dedicated to computer work and audiotapes and movies you could rent with a library card. The second floor was where most of the books are, with rows upon rows of tables where you could sit and read or study. On both floors they had “Study Rooms,” which are aptly named. In each room there is a HD TV, a round table for study groups, a chalkboard, and a small windowsill to look out into the sky. And the selection of books is amazing! Much better than the local library near my house, and ten times cleaner. And from the ceiling hangs a grand chandelier that the art class made a few years back. It’s a swirling silvery neck with blue crystals along it, reflecting the sun perfectly to bring light across the whole second floor. I was in love at first sight, and that love remains to this day!
At first I went just to enjoy a quiet read. I would find a seat by one of the windows and bathe in the sun while enjoying a good book, but then I got the crazy idea to bring a laptop one day. It really was an obvious decision to try and write there. You had to have a special password to get onto the internet, which saved me from being distracted by the dreadful videos of YouTube, no cable or way of watching TV unless you brought a DVD or picked one from the selection downstairs, and probably the best part for me: NO CHORES!
It was a short while before I started writing Dehumanized, my debut novel, and I fell into a system that I stick to religiously to this day. This is my system:
The hours are dependant of how long my sister works, as she is my ride to and from the library. I could easily drive myself or even walk – though that’s one heck of a walk – but I enjoy the bonding time with my sister. Once I have a drink from one of the vending machines outside I go into whichever room is available on the second floor to set up my laptop. This part is optional, but I enjoy having music playing from my IPhone. Also after I got more comfortable with my system I even started popping in movies from time to time to watch while writing. I found that when it’s dead silent in the room my mind starts to wander, so I put on something in the background so my mind can’t wander too far. Never anything too distracting, just something interesting enough to catch me when I start to veer off from my writing. Some days I’ll spend nine hours straight writing, while other days I’ll only have about an hour to get something done. I never really make a goal, though a lot of others seem to find this helpful with their writing. I personally don’t get why authors set up a goal for their writing for the day. I personally find setting up a goal for myself puts pressure on my writing and hinders my creative juices because then I think, “C’mon! I have to reach this goal or else I’ll have failed!” My mind goes right to the extreme, you see…
I just let myself flow. I move with a rhythm that only I understand. No pressure, no rules, no outside world to stress me out. When I’m at the library I’m completely disconnected from the rest of the world. All of my worries, my doubts, my self-consciousness washes away and all there is left is me and my writing.
I can write at home, I’m not saying I can’t, but I prefer not to. The juices just don’t flow as smoothly as they do in the library. Heck, as I’m writing this right now I’m here at the library! Every story I write, every blog or guest post or interview I fill out I can almost guarantee you I did it while at the library.
So that’s my system. I know it’s a bit unorthodox, especially since nearly every writer when asked what their system is they just say they write whenever and wherever. Sometimes I feel like I’m the oddest writer out there when it comes to how I get it done, since I’m so specific about things like that. You hear of writers going to Starbucks or making a trip to the library for a special occasion, but my writing is solely done at the library and if anyone is around to talk to I get next to nothing done. I’m easily distracted, and it’s a bad trait of mine, so going to the library was the best fix.
Without the library I probably wouldn’t be here right now…
Thank God for the library!
- Michael Loring

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Interview with M. Leon Smith


Hey all you readers and writers! Emma Michaels here to introduce our guest author of the day:
M. Leon Smith

Hello M. Leon and welcome to The Writers Voice!

What would you like for readers to take away from your novel/novels?

I just would like for people to have fun. The Blue Jackets is a series of Superhero short stories for the Kindle and a free flash series on my website. They are designed to be read without having to commit a huge amount of time to them. A novel is in the works but that may be a while in the making. Short stories and flash episodes will continue in the meantime.

What part of your first novel did you find hardest to write?

Starting a story is always the same. It's me versus the blank page. Finding the hook to open a story is very important (and quite difficult for me). There is quite a traumatic scene in Induction that became entirely necessary but I didn't want to write it as I was beginning to really like the character involved so either writing that scene or just starting!

Was there ever a moment when you wouldn’t trade what you do as an author for the world? What was that moment for you?

The first time I saw my name in print! Writing is openly inviting rejection. When you spend hours writing a piece and then submit it, only for it to be rejected is very demoralising at times. When I received my first email of acceptance (for a short story in an anthology) I was overjoyed. But even that feeling didn't compare to actually holding the book, looking at the contents page and seeing my name. It was such a buzz that I knew I had to carry on writing.

What makes you feel like you’re reading or have read a truly amazing book?

Any book that keeps me awake at night because I cannot put it down is a winner. If a novel draws you in so fully that you just have to read one more chapter (then another... and another...) then I feel that it is a great book.

Is there one book that has had an impact on not only your writing, but on you personally?

There have been many books that have impacted me over the course of my life so picking one is really tough. I think I would have to go for 'To Kill A Mockingbird' by Harper Lee. We were assigned it at school for English Lit (I would have been 13 or 14) and the class complained about it. I devoured it! I finished the book in about two days and even used it as the central piece for my coursework. Never had a book touched me so deeply and I still read it every year or two. The central theme of racism was very pertinent to me as my brother is black and a lot of bigotry came our way.

Tell us something most people don’t know about you!

I refused to eat tomatoes until I was 35!

Thank you for stopping by The Writers Voice!



Friday, September 7, 2012

Interview with Constance Sharper

 


Hey all you readers and writers! Emma Michaels here to introduce our guest author of the day:
Constance Sharper
Hello Constance and welcome to The Writers Voice!

Do you ever get writers block? How do you suggest aspiring authors overcome their own bouts of writers block?

I’ve always heard mixed answers from other authors about the “best” way to get over writer’s block. The most common answer seems to be that you need to force yourself to sit down and work through the tough spots that occur when writing a book. Honestly, I don’t particularly subscribe to that theory. I think most people will find, like I do, that they are too close to the story to see it clearly. The thing I do is take ten steps back and do anything to get my mind off of the book. When I come back, it’s much fresher in my mind. Time is a wonderful thing. In the time you were out and about, you gathered new stimuli and things to put in your book. I recommend milkshakes and small, cute animals.

What do you feel is your biggest writerly fault and how do you deal with it?

I rush. A lot. In fact, I sometimes attempt to force my story faster than it should go and don’t devote the time I need to deal with it. Though I can attempt to break my die-hard habits, I really owe much of my overcoming this habit to my “team”. The “team” is the people I surround myself with that give me advice and criticism even when I don’t want it. They are my book’s biggest fans and never let me fall short.

What is your favorite point of view to write from? Do you have any particular reason?

I write mainly in third person limited. I find that this perspective allows people to stand in the shoes of the protagonist, but the protagonist isn’t thinking for the reader. Very rarely will the characters divulge their exact thoughts but the reader will “just kinda get it”. This is priceless to me and why you’ll find it throughout my entire book series, The Airborne Saga.

Worldbuilding is such an important part of writing. What is your world building process like for you?

Logically. I hate using that term because I am a very illogical person but there is something to say for approaching world-building in this manner. Even with dealing with fantastical settings, there is some sense of realism underneath them. When writing my original novel Airborne, I approached it with logical questions. If you were a harpie in the modern day world, what would you look like? How would wings and magic change your life? And most importantly, what kind of ice cream would you like?

What's your writing routine? Do you write in the mornings, nights, daily, or when the mood strikes you?

I don’t have a set schedule. I’m one of the most unorganized people you will ever meet. Rest assured that I’ll probably even lose this interview in a huge stack of papers before the day is out. Anyways, since I’m this disorganized, I often find myself writing at random times and writing random chapters. There is no particular organization to the method, not a strategy I recommend, but the writing routine works for me.

What is your biggest pet peeve in writing?

I have this problem with making sense. Not just because I barely make sense in reality but in fiction, you’re often dealing with a large world plotline. Everything has to make sense and every tiny action the character does should be for a reason. Taking on twenty characters like they’re puppets can give you a headache. Luckily, I can and do make sense on some occasions (this hopefully being one of those occasions) and can pull the book together in the end.

To all our readers out there, thank you for following The Writers Voice and happy reading!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I Think I Need an Intervention (from Pinterest)

It was about a year ago, not too long after I released the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy, when a friend of mine said, "I've just pinned your books!" The statement was issued with much pride and flourish, as though she was ushering the books along the red carpet at some posh Hollywood event. She clearly expected an equally enthusiastic response.

I believe I said, "Um...what?"

"You don't know about Pinterest?" she asked, looking at me like I'd sprouted horns and fangs (which, admittedly, might've been kind of cool). When I assured her that I most definitely did not, she promptly sent me a Pinterest invite.

Which I ignored. Who has time for yet another social media fad? I thought. My friend is an avid DIY junkie with a hobby in crafting, so no wonder this site appealed to her.

But me? I'm a writer! What could I possibly find on Pinterest to interest me and my fans?


Okay, okay...I know there's a lot more to appreciate about Pinterest than guys without shirts. But Holy Schmoses, color me giddy and call me a convert!

I've heard other writers refer to Pinterest as a glorified pin-board, something for which only scrapbookers would have any use. I'm here to tell you otherwise.

Here are my Top 5 reasons authors should use Pinterest:
  1. It links to your Twitter and Facebook accounts. If you find yourself struggling to come up with new and interesting content on your standard social media sites, Pinterest will take you to a whole new level. You'll find all kinds of interesting, funny and hot images to share and talk about, capturing the interest of followers both new and old.
  2. People are largely visual. Steve Jobs is known for saying, "People don't know what they want until you show it to them." Authors can (and should) create pin boards related to their books. This can include trailers, characters, book settings, and anything else writerly and bookish.
  3. You can pin images linking right to your books' sales pages. Pinterest is designed to draw traffic to the image's source. You can pin the image of your book from its Amazon (or B&N, etc.) sales pages, and when people click on the picture in Pinterest, it takes them directly to purchase it. And yes...I've gotten sales through Pinterest.
  4. It will potentially increase your blog traffic. Assuming you include images in your posts that can be pinned, you can add your blog posts to Pinterest. Anyone who sees an image that attracts their interest will click on it and go right to your blog. I've discovered many amazing bloggers this way.
  5. It'll keep you motivated. The great thing about Pinterest is that it's hugely diverse. There are images of faraway lands that will inspire your book settings. You'll craft entire story lines around a haunting image of a woman in a cloak. Music videos will make their way onto your book playlists. I would argue that Pinterest is the single-most motivating social media site out there. Just when you think you have time to scroll through just one more page of images, you'll see something like this:
  
Why, yes gentlemen, I should. Before I go and do just that, I'll invite any readers of this blog to follow me on Pinterest. Let's be addicts together!

Do you use Pinterest? If so, tell us why!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Indie Author's Survival Guide


Hello Everyone,

First I want to say a big thanks to Emma Michaels for running such a cool blog. What you’re doing for authors is a great thing. We heart you forever. Big Smile.  

Today I want to talk about the journey of the indie author. Mine is kind of just beginning; but I’m still happy to share a few things I’ve learned along the way. Mind you the presentation of these tips is just the result of my experience. It’s not meant to be an actual recipe for success as an independent author. What is working for me, may not necessarily work for the next person.

“So how’s the book going?”

That’s one of the most frequent questions I’m asked. It’s also one of the hardest things to summarize in a simple answer. For an indie author working with a small press, I'd say my sales have been respectable. No, I’m not at the Amanda Hocking or John Locke level, just yet. But I do have a group of fans & readers that are loyal and encouraging. After all, it’s our readers that make us who we are. Oh yeah! And the bloggers. Never forget to mention the bloggers and all of the hard work they do. I’m a part-time blogger so I know how it goes.

In the journey’s early stages, you can measure your road to success on several factors. Or at least, these are some of the indicators I’ve found that many of my indie author friends use to measure the effectiveness of their branding (aka getting your name out there).

1) Traffic increase to your author website:  In the beginning, when I first published kasonndraleigh.com (1/2009), I used to pray for one hit per week. Don’t be laughing at me, now. I’d check every day to see if anyone had visited. My twitter account was the same scenario. I think like four followers would trickle in one week at a time. Today, I get almost 5000 hits/month and counting. My twitter popularity rank is at #300,000 versus #30million like the way it was two years ago.

2) Number & quality of members joining your platform:  Platform differs according to your genre and classification. Non-fiction writers tend to be more inclined to measure that success on public image. But fiction writers are a totally different gang. The way you present yourself to your readers varies and there’s no set indicator for what makes up a good platform in fiction. So we’ll go with the basics. I consider my platform to consist of Twitter, facebook, goodreads, my book blog, and my writing groups. In those I actually meet with live bodies and do readings and critiques in person.

3) Number of people adding your book "to-read" on Goodreads: I have to mention how it was for me in the beginning of this journey again. I was practically begging for friends. But now, I get almost 20 requests per week on GR alone. These people are telling me they've heard good things about my works from their friends. It's a bit overwhelming but very flattering. Thanks everyone.

4) Sales:  Yes, I put this indicator at the bottom of the list for a reason. When you're an indie, it's all about marketing your debut novel during that first year. Find a way to keep your book in front of people during the period when you're working on your second and third books. Or even better, if you can start out with 2-3 books then your readers have instant options right away. Others have found success this way and I do believe it works.

I also notice that the more I promote, the more copies get gobbled up. Being that we indie authors/small presses are in a minority group (at the time this article is being written), we have to push harder to get our names out there. Some things that are working for me, might not necessarily work for others. But I'm willing to share tips and help my fellow indie friends out. Participating in blog tours, giveaways, and hops is also another good way to get your books out there before and during your book launch. If you have any more questions about how virtual tours work, I'll be happy to answer them.

5) Fan Clubs.  The last strategy but by no means the least important one. They work…big time. If you have any doubts, then know that a group of die-hard fans started the Twilight group on MySpace. Cassie Clare’s fan club known as Mundie Moms started on twitter before they branched out into their own review site. And the Hush Hush club known as Fallen Archangel friended me on facebook years ago. Now they have people overloading their facebook feed wanting to get in the club. I'm also in the process of putting together a street team. Wish me luck!

These are just a few tips. I didn’t go into reviews and speaking engagements. I’d like to save those for part two of this post since they could take up numerous pages alone. I hope that you find these suggestions helpful in some way. And I wish you much success in all of your literary journeys.

Yours in Prose,
KaSonndra Leigh

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First time ever - Interview with an Author's Cat


One Cat, One Author

A Cat Named Nosey

Thank you for the opportunity to do your first interview.  Our readers come to our blog to learn the ins & outs of writing books.  Behind every great author is a loving pet.  Hemingway was a cat person, and people from everywhere go to see the cats which are descendants of his cats.  What do you think?

     The descendants are nothing but spoiled alley cats that are living a glamorous life.  They're no different than Paris Hilton, famous for the name.  A true author's cat inspires their pet human.  

Interesting for you to say.  Since you're an author's cat, what exactly is your job?

   A lot of work goes into being the perfect cat.  Many cats try, and few succeed.  First, you must be beautiful and maintain gorgeous fur.  I spend hours upon hours primping.  You don't get this stunning without a little work.  Beauty sleep and plenty of food and water are necessary to sustain your stamina.  You must play with your human, get them up and moving around.  Train them how to feed you and the proper methods of petting.  You don't want your author to get pudgy in the middle for lack of exercise.

I've heard many authors prefer dogs, what is your take on it?

     I was raised with manners.  I learned if I have nothing nice to say, not to say anything at all.  (Nosey said and took a minute to groom his front leg)

Isn't it true that your author has a dog?  There are four aren't there?

    They are not related to my pet author, they belong to the man who lives with us.  She would never betray me with a dog.  Please.

Tell us about your author, what do you think of her writing?

     You know, her books wouldn't sell if it weren't for me.  When she reads them out loud, I critique every words.  She's a good human, I think if she continues to take my advice, she'll do well.

You're fond of your pet author aren't you?  Your eyes change when you talk of her.

     Years of training has made her the best pet a cat can have.  I'm proud of her.

You have your own Facebook page, you're very verbal about dogs.  Can I share your page with our readers?

     I don't mind at all.  Now if you don't mind, I must nap.  Toots, it was a pleasure to be here.  Toodles =^..^=


Nosey's pet author is me, Devyn Dawson.  He is 11 years old and spends every waking and sleeping moment with me.  He started his Facebook page after his blog was too much to keep up.  I hope you found this post amusing.  Leave a message and tell me if you'd like more creative stories such as this.