Friday, September 28, 2012

Marketing for the Self Published Writer

Hi all! Today I welcome Beth Fred to MFB. When I first met her, she was busy with a challenge to (I believe) read 52 books in a year. Which is a marvelous feat. Now she's mainly doing reviews of stories she's read. She's really sweet and her reviews are REALLY honest, which makes her blog a pleasure to read, so head over and say hi.

Take it away Beth!


Marketing for the Self Published Writer

Believe it or not marketing begins with the title. Choosing a good title is your first line of offense. True, if the title is unique enough it will stay in the back of a potential reader’s mind, but there is a more common sense reason than that. In 2010 I went to the bookstore to buy Sea, but there were so many books with Sea in the title I picked up the wrong one by accident. Sea Changed was a good book, but I still haven’t read Sea. So recently, I put my short story originally titled Fate on goodreads and found almost 3000 records for Fate, some bestsellers. Not only am I sure the bestsellers book is going to pop up before mine, it’s 3000 chances for someone to find a different book. (And lots of books called Fate are romances—same genre). I went with Kismet. It didn’t change the meaning, but is more unique.

Almost as important as the title is the cover. We’ve all heard, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but I think in honesty most of us would have to admit we’ve picked up a book based on the cover. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but a professionally designed cover will go a long way towards making your book sellable.

Arrange a blog tour, preferably two months before the book is released. But if your late to the boat (and I was) it’s better late than never. It would be helpful to have hosts in your genre, but it’s okay to have hosts outside of your genre too. My first release is adult, but most of what I write is YA. I am thankful that the YA community has supported me anyhow. If you’re not able to arrange a blog tour on your own, use a company to do it for you.

If you’re planning a series, use book 1 as pre-marketing for book 2. Get your first book as out there as you can and let that build momentum for the rest of the series.

I know this is basic stuff, but I wanted to talk about it because it’s stuff a traditionally published writer wouldn’t have to worry about. And because it is so common sense, I think it gets overlooked a lot.

Tiffany is a hard-working accountant with no time for love. After escaping her sister's too wild Cancun bachelorette party, she meets a local guy, Luke in the bar. When they're forced to spend time together, Tiffany lets her guard down, but she still has to return to the US in two days. Will the airport be their final goodbye?

Available at:


Thanks so much, Beth!

Before I go, I just want to do a bit of admin. First things first. I'm seriously tired of having my time wasted on word verification, so I decided to start a bit more of an awareness campaign. So if you feel the same as me, please go sign below the open letter. If you insist on using verification, I ask very nicely for you to read it.

And then I want to ask that you spread the word as much as you can in the coming weeks. It's no help to complain about verification when you don't do anything about it. Let's see if we can at least wake a few stubborn bloggers up?

Then I want to invite guest bloggers to contact me for the last few GPFs left. There's one more in October (theme: Scares) on the 19th. Then I have all the Fridays in November (theme: Keeping Track). For for more information, please read here. It's really a great experience to get other points of view on my blog, so please let's see if we can get the last six spots filled?

Thanks for your support! Have a wonderful weekend.

Before you go, I just want to ask. Who's looking to self-publish? Do you have a marketing strategy yet or still working on it? Any self-publishing veterans with more tips for the uninitiated?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Open Letter to Bloggers with Word Verification

If you agree, please insert your name and link to your blog on the linky list below. Then I want to ask that you please refer as many bloggers to this as possible, because I really want this blight on the blogging experience to stop. Let's try to wake people up?

*  *  *

Dear Word Verification User,

I love blogging. Really I do. It's just wonderful to read people's inner thoughts and respond to them, potentially starting a great relationship with them.

But here's the vital word.


There's also another vital word I am yet to mention, but it's probably even more important to me.


See I (like most of my blogging friends) have full-time jobs. Some are full-time parents. Others are artists. Some work for their own or other business etc. Jobs take time. And what's left goes to writing, spending time with those we care about and doing things important to us.

One of those things is blogging. And by that I mean posting our own blogs AND commenting on others' posts.

We do NOT have copious amounts of time in which to do this. Think about it. I'm pretty sure you don't either.

So imagine our incredible annoyance and frustration when we take time to comment on your blog. While we could zip through your writing and disappear without a trace, we think about what you wrote. We consider our own opinion to this. Then we write something meaningful that could have inspired you. It could have uplifted you. It could have given a point of view you were yet to consider. It could have introduced you to someone new and exciting.

But it doesn't.

It doesn't even get posted.

All thanks to this little tool you have activated on your blog. Word verifications, no matter what they say they do, serve absolutely no purpose if you already have a spam filter (which comes standard with most blog platforms). But they're incredibly difficult to comply to, even when one isn't sight impaired. More importantly, it's impossible to do fast.

Did you know that if you fail the word verification more times than allowed, the comment just disappears? Do you honestly think someone with a limited amount of time and many blogs to visit will take the time to rewrite the comment? What about when you own the hundredth blog on a blogfest list to disregard the organizer's request to remove verification?

If you say yes, stop reading here, because I don't think I can appeal to your reason.

Looking at this from another point. You want lots of readers, yes? Does it make sense to aggravate every new reader wanting to comment on your blog?

Word verification kills blogging. We bloggers need to respond to comments, because that's what it's about. If, however, it's too difficult to do, we'd probably move on to other social networks to get our interaction fix. If everyone does that, no one will be interested in reading the posts.

Let's prevent this from happening before it's too late. It matters to me whether blogging will survive, because while other networks give me interaction, I find it lacks a certain depth that can only be found in a blog.

Does it matter to you?

If it does, here's what you can do.

New bloggers: Most blogging platforms come with word verifications turned on by default. You will not know until you check on your settings. Please do that. And if they're on. Turn. Them. Off.

Those fearing the spam apocalypse: Please just turn the verification off for a week. Rather turn on comment approval. It's much easier for a blog reader to stomach the fact that you're going through a comment to check if it's spam. At least you'll get a chance to receive the comment. Or live on the edge. Turn both off. I did. In all this time, less than 10 comments made it through the filter.

But please. Just do something. It really ruins the experience for all of us.

Thanks in advance.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How my break from writing is going.

When I finished Doorways, I decided I'd take a writing break to recover. I mean, I've been working on the story for six years.

Two months, I promised myself. Two months of sleeping in and complete hedonism. Watching t.v. Painting. Singing. Playing guitar.... Aahh... it made me happy just to think about.

And then last week happened.

On Wednesday, I dreamed a dream. Most of it was nonsense. But there was this guy. And what he was doing completely hooked my mind. So it started spinning, but that's okay. I'd give it six months to incubate, the same as I did with Doorways. Back then, I gave up on plotting, but I didn't just jump in and write. I waited. I got to know the characters. I learnt what made them tick and what made them explode. Then I learnt enough about their world to explore it without getting completely lost. And I'm pretty sure it's reason number 1 why I finished it all the way through edits.

By the time I started drafting, I knew enough to find the story. And by the rewrite, I knew exactly what was going on. Which is notable, because I have multiple storylines. I even know what's going on outside the scene. Even though most of it isn't writted down.

But here's a bit of a problem. The Doorways world is alive in my head. It takes up a lot of space, so it's hard for me to get to any of my other story ideas. Because I want to keep Doorways to the fore (it'll be too hard to remember everything later if/when I have to write the sequels), I needed to figure out a way to pull out the thoughts without pushing Doorways too much.

So I decided to let my mind hang back on this dream and start figuring things out on it's own. After all. I have about 6 weeks left of my break.
Except I read this post. Although it didn't really say anything I didn't learn the hard way, it was the missing piece that helped me figure out how to finish my WiP3 or as you might know it, Don't Look Back. 3 has already gotten more than enough thought. In fact its first draft is about as finished as I'll get it.

So... What I have to do is to pull out the plot parts I liked and rewrite it into an even better story. TO do that, I need to plan. But it took more than Doorways, because I wrote it a lot faster and didn't get as much time to mull on it.

So I found a way to do this. (Will post about it tomorrow). I now have a very excellent idea as to what will happen in that story. And in the dream story, because I decided to check it out while I was on a roll.

Now it's just a matter of time to see how long it will take my muse to yank me away from my other activities.

Do you get a LOT of inspiration the moment you stop looking for it?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I've been tagged.

I've been tagged by the lovely Lauren M. Barrett, who I met during WriteOnCon and who's also participating in GUTGAA.
So although I'm no longer actively participating, I thought I'd answer the questions for my MANY new bloggie friends. Thanks for following, by the way! X

Also, because this tag has been going around, I'm just going to open it up to whoever wants to answer one or two questions in the comments section.

What is the working title of your book?
I'm assuming this refers to the book I entered into GUTGAA. It's called Doorways.
It's actually quite a punny title, but you'd have to read the book to know why...
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Well... I was reading Chronicles of Narnia and Darrion (one of the main characters) appeared and refused to leave unless I paid attention. Actually he lied. He never left after 6 years.

What genre does your book fall under?
YA/NA Epic Fantasy. I name both because the story seems to lie comfortably on the cusp.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Can't really tell you. My characters walked in pretty much fully formed, so they look like themselves and no one else. Would be a bitch to cast them.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
When sixteen-year-old Callan Blair ends up in a fantasy world and meets her last remaining relative, she has to choose between loyalty to her family and staying true to herself.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
.... That still depends.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Four and a half years. I was at University for most of it. Rewrites took a year and edits and revisions another.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Mmm... interesting and complex characters. One hell of a plot. ;-)

Okay your turn... Pick a few questions and answer in the comments section. Pretty please?

Friday, September 21, 2012

What’s The Next Big Thing in Genre Fiction?

Hi all! Welcome to another installment of GPF! Today the spotlight is on Shah Wharton, who's going to share some info on New Adult.

Thanks Shah!

Firstly, many thanks to Misha for letting me stop by and have a chat with her readers. I’m honoured to be here, and I hope you enjoy my post. 

What’s The Next Big Thing

in Genre Fiction?

This is thrilling news for me (although nothing new to more savvy bloggers than I), as my beta readers recently suggested that my novel, Finding Esta – Book #1 in the Supes Series, is in fact, New Adult. I never really thought about it’s genre or the desired age of it’s readers when I first sat down to write a short story a couple of years ago, but as it developed into the monster it became, and as it is soon to be published, these things have become much more important to me.
So, I clicked on Google and asked, “What is New Adult and what’s all the fuss about?” Here’s the result…

1) What is New Adult?

‘New Adult' fiction is aimed at post-adolescents and young adult readers aged between14 to 35 years.
I found this age range… difficult to relate to. The average 14 year old would surely find most ‘adult’ fiction irrelevant, and wouldn’t the average 35 year old find the adolescent ramblings of a 14 year old, well… boring? Perhaps.
But then again…
I considered my own reading habits. Like me, many readers overlap so much that the age category is often just a hint at it’s content rather than a strict border control - a cloudy grey rather than black or white. Nowadays, young adults still enjoy their category, but adult fiction along with it, and adults enjoy young adult reads alongside much more adult books. I am very much an adult (although whether I always act like one, could be cause for argument), yet I loved YA - Twilight, YA - The Vampire Diaries, as well as A - True Blood, A- Generation, and even A -Fifty Shades of Grey Series *blush*.
*I’m sticking to the genre I mostly read here, but I’m sure you could find examples of your own.


2) Is my book New Adult?

New Adult was first proposed by St. Martin's Press in 2009 who wanted to address the coming-of-age era during a young person’s twenties, including stories about young adults who, although legally adults, still struggled to figure out what being an adult actually involved.
In Finding Esta, Luna is a young 23 year old who lives in her first home, works at her first job, post University, and is yet to experience her first physical relationship. She is also subjugated by abusive parents, and by paranormal, psychic issues (plus a supernatural world she soon discovers) and as a result, has a rather young voice for her age.
So, does all this mean it’s a New Adult book? I’m inclined to think so…

3) Is there any value in categorising my book as New Adult?

Well, major New York publishers are taking self-published authors of New Adult titles for mass-market sales.
Some examples:
▪ Tammara Webber for Easy
▪ Jamie McGuire for Beautiful Disaster
▪ Colleen Hoover for Slammed and Point of Retreat
This is great news and a good indicator of success and relevance… Of course, I don’t expect this kind of success (although hey, I wouldn’t mind it either), just that my genre (if it is indeed New Adult) must be of interest to a mass-market audience if major publishers are pushing it out there so fervently.
So, I’ve learned quite a bit. There’s been a readership group largely ignored by fiction writers – The ‘coming-of-age’ group, now the New Adult group, which explores a specific time and set of experiences, which although popular, other books seem to have ignored. Or simply didn’t concentrate on. Or perhaps many New Adult books are incorrectly listed as either YA or Adult books by category-loving Traditional Publishers? Hell, until a few years ago, no one would have known otherwise, right? And traditional authors would have been made to write to ‘fit’ established categories.
Fortunately, unlike traditional publishers, self-publishers were able to explore this specific time/these set of circumstances without such restrictions; they could write ‘outside the box’ of traditional publishing guidelines. The result is New Adult fiction and of course, its recent success means Traditional Publishers now want to harness New Adult’s popularity for themselves, and I seem to have inadvertently joined this group. Hurrah!
Interested in finding out more about this genre? Interested in reading New Adult books and don’t know where to find them? Well, I found this fabulous blog called New Adult Alley, which includes promotion of New Adult titles, community discussion and oodles of New Adult resources and information.

Author Mini Bio:

Shah writes urban fantasy novels and horror short fiction, punctuated by the occasional poem. She loves psychology, horror movies and a hefty drop of Merlot. Shah would love to hear from you at her blog: Shah Wharton's WordsinSync.
* Finding Esta – Book #1 in the Supes Series is expected to be published Autumn/Winter 2012.
Discussion: So, what do you think of this new(ish) genre? Is it necessary? Are you a New Adult author/reader? Would you be more likely to read a book from the YA or NA section?
Thanks so much for this insightful post, Shah. Anyone else want to do a post? I still have spaces open in October and November. To find out more, please mail me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com.
Have a great weekend, all!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Interview with Susan Rocan

Hey all! Welcome to another fortnightly interview. Today I welcome Susan Rocan to my blog.
Hey Susan, thanks so much for hanging out with me on MFB. Why don't you tell everyone a bit about yourself?

 I'm Canadian, specifically from Manitoba, which seems to be the heart of the Young Adult market, these days. This works very well for me, because that's what I am most known for - my YA fiction - and where my publisher is situated. Great Plains Publications has produced both of my YA novels, 'Withershins' and 'Spirit Quest', which are time travel tales set in Manitoba during the mid-1800s.
Withershins sounds like a fascinating idea. Where did it come from?
It began when my writers group and I were brainstorming short story ideas for a new anthology we wanted to produce. It was supposed to come out around Hallowe'en, so we were discussing scary stories. I suddenly remembered a time when I was 18. I was with three friends at the oldest church in western Canada late one Friday evening when one of them suggested we try the withershins, although at the time we didn't even know it had a name! I was too chicken to finish the third circle around the church, but speculated what might happen if my character did it. The result was two novels where it started simply as a short story.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
The answer is simply, 'no'. I never seriously considered it growing up, although I always enjoyed creative writing in school and I did write in a diary as a teenager - you know, the usual angst stuff. I did always want to work with kids and ended up with two Bachelor degrees, one majoring in Speech Pathology and Audiology, the other in Elementary Education. Both career paths involve words and language, so I suppose it was inevitable that I would become a wordsmith!
What got you to start writing?
Well, I started writing when my youngest child began going to school - about 18 years ago. That was about the time when my husband and I got interested in an old British SciFi show called 'Blake's 7'. The series ended with all the heroes being killed, apparently, in an ambush by their arch enemy. That bothered me more than you'd expect. I spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to save the heroes and finally came up with a satisfying conclusion. I wrote it all out then decided there was no point to it, but I really liked the characters that I had created to help the 'Blake's 7' crew and decided to write a story that revolved around them. When it was done, I joined the Manitoba Writers' Guild. In one of their newsletters was a call for 'fan fiction'. I had never heard of it, so I called up the woman looking for stories for her 'fanzine' and submitted my original 'Blake's 7' story. She liked it and it was published in her fanzine. Her husband ran a writers group and, since he really like my story & writing style, asked if I'd like to join. By that time I had a couple of novels written, so wanted their feedback. I said, 'yes!'
Their critiques were rather brutal, but I learned a lot from them. By the time my ideas for 'Withershins' came along, my writing had improved considerably. They loved it and helped me improve on the initial premise. One of the members practiced wicca and gave me some insight into magical ways. Their group disbanded before I finished writing it, but I was fortunate to have another group who helped me polish it all up and helped me through the synopsis stage and inquiry letter. I have both groups to thank for the hours they spent helping me perfect my stories.
Brutal crits can be best, as long as they're not intended to be mean. What was the best lesson that you learnt from being critiqued?
That no matter how good you think your manuscript is there's always room for improvement. My hubby read my very first story and questioned certain scenes. I got very defensive, trying to argue why I wrote it a certain way. Once I thought about what he'd said, I realized he had legitimate concerns. If he questioned parts of the story, other readers would probably feel the same - and I couldn't defend their criticisms! After that first critique experience, my hubby hesitated to read my future work. He and my first writer's group helped me realize the importance of taking criticism in the spirit to which it was given - to help make the manuscript the best it can be. I respected their opinions because they had been writing a lot longer than I had, at that point. It's never easy to have your 'baby' criticized, but if you want your readers to read more of your work, some changes will inevitably need to be made.
So true. How do you deal with cutting your baby? (Editing out scenes?)
It's a matter of deciding what is not going to progress the plot. It may be a wonderful scene about picking daisies in a field, but what does it have to do with the plot or character development? If it's just a scene for the sake of a scene, no matter how eloquently you described it, cut it out!
I don't trash all the scenes I delete, though. They are all on a file somewhere on my computer in case I need something similar for character development, like if the character is stressed and needs to chill, I would adjust the daisy scene to show that she is trying to unwind, or is learning how to de-stress. I know that's a silly example, but I hope you get my drift.

With 'Withershins' I have about four different versions, especially the beginnings. At first, I wanted to dump a lot about my lead character's background at the beginning, scenes like being in history class and how it was so boring, which would have bored the reader, so I completely cut out the first chapter, jumping into the scene where they were actually on their way to the church.

I handle my edits like that too. I save every draft and every round. Do you plan your plot ahead or do you pants your way through a draft?

For my published work it was mostly by the seat of my pants. I was so focussed that every morning, I had pretty much the whole next chapter in my head. There were scenes that I would have to divert my attention to research, but for the most part, It was a day-by-day process with no real plan in mind except the ending.

I also keep the ending in my head. How much time do you spend on writing?

When I wasn't working, I spent several hours every morning once the kids went to school, until they came home for lunch. Sometimes, if I was on a roll, I would continue once they headed back to school. Nowadays, my writing times have been more sporadic, catching an hour or two whenever I can.

What's your favorite part about writing?

When I'm so immersed in the story that the characters practically write themselves.

Aah I love that too. Last but not least, where can people find you on the internet?

My blog can be found hereMy books are available through Amazon, at Chapters (at least, in Canada) and McNally Robinson Booksellers. My twitter handle is @SusanRocan. I do have a 'Withershins' Facebook page, too, which can be found here.

Thanks again for the great interview!

To the readers I ask: What got you writing?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Query odds: Flip a Coin

Sorry for not posting yesterday.

I sadly just needed a bit of a break from the writing world and by the time I was okay to post, I had to leave my house.

What got to me?

Queries. More specifically, query crits.

You see, when I let some of my work be critiqued, I learnt so much. I adore that process. Probably will until my dying day.

So I sort of assumed queries would be the same.

Except it isn't.

Not even remotely. Because NO ONE knows how to write a good query letter. Shit. I doubt one agent can write a query letter that's so good that it could entice all other agents in their genre.

Why do I say this? One word. Consensus.

I wrote a query. And I sent it to Matt from the QQQE. Let me say, that was an incredibly helpful experience. But after that, things pretty much went down-hill.

I took the focused query (as per Matt's advice) and posted it for WriteOnCon. Where about 30 people including an agent told me to explain more. So I ended up with a 350 word pitch.

Too long, people said for GUTGAA. Focus it more. What's this? Why this? *scratching head* So I need to focus the query AND detail it at the same time?!

Yeah. That's a problem. Because I'm a firm believer in "If half says one thing and the other nothing, don't change anything". But I broke that rule, because heck, someone  ought to know what's going on, right?

With that in mind, I rewrote the entire thing keeping everything I learnt in mind. And guess what? It's being apart for having too much information because it doesn't have enough information.




Am I the only one thinking that this sounds a *tiny* bit warped?

So... I took time away from my dear computer and then came to a lovely realization. If my current experience is to be believed, I can write absolutely anything about my book. If it's not stupid, completely incoherent or anything else along those lines, I have 50% chance of pleasing someone. No matter how focused or detailed the query.

Don't get me wrong. I feel I learnt a lot from the crits. But there's no consistency. No way of measuring the validity of the comment. And that frustrates the crap out of me. Because how am I supposed to fix something when I'm not 100% sure it's wrong in the first place?

But yeah. Trying to use my annoyance positively, I rewrote the entire query yet again. And you know what? I think I'm just not making it public again unless I get a 110 agent rejections. Because I came to the point in my learning experience where anything else will just confuse me more and I just need to trust my gut.

And right now it's saying the newest query is the one.

What about you? Have you ever been frustrated by the sheer variety of critique you received on a query/short/synopsis/whatever? How do you deal with it? When do you start going with your gut?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Genre Favorites Blogfest

Today's the day for the Genre Favorites Blofest, so I'm going to do a quick list of my favorite genres in Film, Novels and Music.

I'm actually a very "Anything Goes" kind of girl, so I don't really have enough of a self-awareness to have a guilty pleasure.


Movies: Anything that gives me a few hours of escape. Usually either fantasy or a comic-book adaption.

Music: Rock. Of all persuasions although I tend to lean more to Alternative and Nu Metal.

Books: This might surprise people, but I adore good crime fiction and procedurals.

What about you? Care to share your favorite genres? Got any guilty secrets?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Successful Book Marketing – Ninja Style!

Hi all! Today I have the awesome privilege of welcoming the Ninja Captain himself to MFB! I'm pretty sure everyone already knows him, but if you're new to this blogging thing, his blog is a must visit. So go here for sheer awesomeness. :-D

Thanks again, Alex!

Successful Book Marketing – Ninja Style!

Misha invited me to talk about marketing. I guess after two successful book launches, she thought I knew what I’m doing! I learned a few things as I stumbled my way through the process though – and I’m happy to share them with you:

Write a good story – because no amount of marketing is going to help if it sucks!

Early announcements – let people know about the book and its release date.

Reveals – no, you don’t have to get naked! But when your publisher sends you the cover art, synopsis, or book trailer, reveal them on your site.

Reviews and giveaways – coordinate with your publisher on giveaways, such as on Goodreads. Contact book bloggers and pass on their information.

Release day events – plan something fun for your release day and get others involved.

Twitter – announce your release on Twitter and don’t forget hashtags and Twitter parties.

Blog tour – plan several months in advance, as some people (like me!) book up fast. I’ve found two weeks and one stop a day is best. Contact hosts, set date and topic (guest post, interview, review, and/or giveaway) and send hosts information, links, and images at least a week before the date. Promote the host on your site and visit each stop throughout the day. (Can you tell this is one of my favorites?)

Guest posts – both before and after your blog tour. Build interest and then maintain with more guest posts. That includes hosting others on your site.

Sell yourself – this is the one thing that is often overlooked. Yes, we’re marketing and selling our book, but in reality, we are marketing and selling ourselves. We do this by being a genuine, caring person. We’re supportive and relatable. We’re the positive light that draws others to us.

There are other options as well, such as podcasts, Facebook, forums – the list goes on and on. But no matter how you chose to market your book, don’t skip the last item. (Or the first one!) If you can sell yourself, you’ll sell books, because you’ll have an army of supporters behind you.

And in my case, a Ninja Army!

Alex J. Cavanaugh

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of Amazon Best Sellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Thanks again, Alex! Anyone else in doing a GPF? Please feel free to contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

Have a great weekend, all!

P.S. What's your favorite way to discover new books to read?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On finishing a manuscript...

So... Doorways is done... for most of a week now. Feelings about that: Mixed.

On the one hand, I'm thrilled and enjoying the freedom of not having anything to finish.

On the other, I'm... bored. After all, I've spent a very long time working on it. It's basically framed my life for almost six years. Now it's gone. Sure I might, and probably will do some final polishes, but nothing that requires my immediate attention just yet. On the contrary, if I'm going to do some more polishing even though it's good enough now, I need distance. Which means I need to do anything else but work on Doorways.

In fact, I'm thinking I might take a bit of a break on writing, since it had taken up a substantial part of my life. You know, to experiment with new hobbies, catch up with friends, read more...

*snort* Yeah. Right. My muse is already back on my case with a variety of options as to what I can work on.

So... maybe my writing holiday will come to an end soon.

What do you do after finishing a manuscript?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

GUTGAA: Pitch Polish Bloghop

I decided to sign up for the GUTGAA Pitch Polish bloghop, although I'm not quite sure what I can fix any more, after WriteOnCon. Still, if anyone sees any glaring errors, please feel free to point them out. Please just no "I don't like it"s, "It doesn't work for me"s or anything like that. They're not all that helpful. In return, I can go over your query, if you want and you're not signed up for GUTGAA. I'm all for quid pro quo when it comes to writing. ^_^

Deana Barnhart

AUTHOR'S NAME: Misha Gericke
GENRE: YA/NA Epic Fantasy
WORD COUNT: 112 000

Query: Please don't crit this one. Only kept it in the post so everyone can see what the old comments were about. New pitch is below this one.

In the past five years, families from all over England have sent sixteen-year-old Callan Blair back to her orphanage. She's not stupid enough to think her newest family will be any different, no matter how desperately she wishes to belong somewhere. Not with an evil entity living inside her since before she could remember, picking at random when to possess her and ruin her chances at happiness. The best thing to do is to go with the flow until she's rejected and returned again.

This plan of action becomes impossible when she bumps into a sadistic asshole on her first day of school. Because he decides he's in love and kidnaps her.

After hurting her just to prove a point, the Psycho drags Callan to a hallway where every door opens to a wondrous fantasy world she never knew existed. Before he can force her through one, however, Callan is rescued by a small army from the world beyond the doors and taken to their country. There Callan learns two things: Her parents both came from this strange world and her mother had been an elvish princess.

Lacking any knowledge of her parents’ pasts, Callan wants nothing more than to unravel her mother’s secrets. Why did she leave her country? And why did she keep her past hidden? Callan also longs to take her rightful place in her mother's family -- her family. But a series of huge obstacles stand in her way. The elves despise her. Her own grandfather marries her off to the neighboring royal family living in the country where the Psycho lays in wait. The evil within her is gaining strength and wants her to die. As if those problems aren't enough, she must choose if she'll go through with the wedding or not. And her choice will either have her keeping her new world's tenuous peace or sparking a war that has been generations in coming.

DOORWAYS is an 112,000 word YA/NA Fantasy Epic with series potential.

New Query based on comments: Changed again to clarify and tighten up.

In the past five years, sixteen-year-old London girl Callan Blair has been returned to her orphanage so many times she lost hope of ever belonging with a family. Whenever there’s a chance, the evil entity inside her awakens and does exactly enough to get her rejected. The accompanying panic attacks and nightmares are intensifying, so Callan knows her newest family experience will be identical to the others.

Except this time she bumps into a sadist who decides he's in love and kidnaps her.

He drags Callan to a hallway where every door opens to a fantasy world she never knew existed. Fortunately, a small army from there rescues her and take her to their home. Before they get there, though, Callan learns a staggering truth: the elvish king is her grandfather.

Callan longs to fit in with her true family, but the elves despise her, and her grandfather arranges her marriage into the neighboring royal dynasty -- in the country where the sadist waits. Meanwhile the evil entity is getting stronger and wants to kill her as long as she follows her grandfather's bidding. But is belonging somewhere worth risking her life? Or even marrying a total stranger? If not, her choice not to go through with the wedding will spark a war that has been generations in coming.

DOORWAYS is a 112,000 word YA/NA Fantasy Epic with series potential. 

First 150 words:

Breathe in, breathe out, spur the horse into a gallop.

Easy. Natural. Soothing. Far from the orphanage. Far from its matron and the rejects. Far from dreams of carnage and death.

The lush park was heaven in comparison, with children laughing and playing, lovers strolling and only a Boeing streaking overhead to prove they were in the middle of London.

Callan guided the gelding to where Mrs. Sotheby, her only hope at promotion, stood waiting.

She worked with the young gelding’s quirks, trotting around the older lady, letting him find his stride. He sensed Callan’s excitement and it made him a bit more tense than he should have been. Nothing to worry about. Nothing she couldn’t control. Breathing deeply, she relaxed her grip on the reins and allowed the gelding his peace.

Even though her stomach still flipped every now and then, the horse settled down beneath her.

*  *  *

So? Thoughts?

Monday, September 10, 2012

What's Your Chocolate Blogfest

Hi all, before I start today's post, I just want to make a *tiny* announcement... DOORWAYS IS FINISHED!!! Although this fact makes me a little sad, I'm also quite relieved. Been working on it for almost six years. Sadly I'm on a diet at the moment, so no chocolatey celebrations, but as luck would have it, I'd entered a blogfest a few weeks ago and it allows me to fantasize about it a little.

So my chocolate... I'm a chocoholic, so anything goes. Although Lindt's dark chocolate is divine. Any flavor works for me. But when I have 85% chocolate, it goes to one thing. This:

The picture below isn't of a fondant I've made, but my recipe comes very close. With luck. It's a french recipe, after all.


(From a previous post of mine.)

Unfortunately it will be in metric, since I'm too lazy for conversions.
(From Mariete van der Vyfer's new recipe book, but I changed the method slightly so that I could enjoy the process...)

Melted chocolate tart (Or, by my name: Delightfully easy fondants.)
200 grams 80% or above dark chocolate
125 grams butter (Yes. BUTTER)
6 separated eggs
1/4 cup of sugar

Step 1: Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (that's 392 degrees Fahrenheit. see? I can be nice)
Step 2: Spread something like butter or margarine or non-stick spray over the inside of a small but deep cake-pan, or 6 to 10 oven-proof dessert moulds depending on the size. I prefer the latter, but please don't use muffin moulds unless they're deep.
Step 3: Mix the yolks and sugar
Step 4: Melt the chocolate and butter together in a fire-proof glass bowl over boiling water. This is the fun part since you get to watch the butter and chocolate turn into a smooth, creamy liquid. Siiigh.
Step 5: beat the egg whites until stiff (Sorry if this sounds weird, but the recipe is in another language.)
Step 6: Mix results from steps 3 and 4
Step 7: Carefully fold the egg whites into the above mixture. Make sure that everything is well blended.
Step 8: Pour the mixture into the prepared dish(es) and put into the oven. Be careful not to fill the dish to the brim, since the mixture does expand in the heat.

Now this is where you need to take a bit of a gamble, since the time left in can be a bit of a gamble, but here's a rough guide for you to guesstimate:

Cake pan: 20 minutes (cover with foil after the first ten minutes to prevent drying out.)
6 moulds: 12 minutes
10 moulds (what I got, since my moulds were a bit small.): 6-8 minutes

Basically, the smaller the volume, the less time in the oven.

Step 9: They will be soft and sticky when you take them out, but the outside hardens as the fondant cools. When they are cool enough to touch and stable at the bottom, turn the moulds over. The fondants should drop out without much trouble. I strongly suggest you serve them/it with vanilla ice cream.

Step 10: Break through the soft crust and relish the soft, gooey centre bursting forth. 

So what's your favorite chocolate/chocolate dish?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Self publishing - Tips and tricks

Hi all! Today I welcome Rekha to MFB. She's truly a talented and interesting writer, so if you haven't met her before, please head over to her blog and say hi. :-)


Self publishing - Tips and tricks

Publishing hasn’t gotten so easy and hard at once. While traditional “biggies” in respective countries and small press have their hands full, more writers are seeking myriad opportunities to publish thanks to the eBook revolution.

Purists in the industry may frown upon self publish (now distinct from vanity publishing which incidentally was how some classic authors got their first book out), but it has produced quality works and authors who have later signed publishing deals. Whatever be the reason, writers travelling this route can avoid the “trash” box - the delete button on Ereaders and negative reviews with a few essentials:

1) Good Story: The classification of good differs but here it refers to stories of any length or genre that uses these elements well - characters, setting, plot with good scenes and crisp dialogues. As a self confessed advocate of self published writers, I have read books where these haven’t been explored properly.

2) Proof Read: Self publish doesn’t give the writer licence to upload works with typos and errors with grammatically and syntactically incorrect sentence structures. Don’t rely on spell checks. Get it beta read by test readers and critiqued by other writers.
Editor: Not all those who self publish can afford a top notch editor, but unless you have the qualifications for the said job, make use of a freelance editor especially in the case of single novels and series.

3) Formatting: Use professional e conversion and format services available. They are reasonably priced and save the trouble if one is not tech savvy. One can also use free formatting tutorials available for Kindle or with Smash words, and good ones provided by helpful techies and writers online. Don’t forget to earn a brownie point with the reader by providing a table of contents directly linking to chapters.

4) Book Cover: With thousands of books vying for customer attention, a book cover is the first step to pique reader interest. If you, friend or family are artists who are apt at photo manipulation and design software, good for you, else hire one. Here again, it doesn’t always cost a bomb, there are many artists on DeviantArt who produce exquisite work at economical rates.

5) Network: The book is being written, edited, and dressed to kill with a cover, now - before you hit the hit the publish button, would be a good time to create a author blog/website to attract prospective readers and meet other writers, send ARC’s to reviewers/review sites open to self published works, and get on book sites like Goodreads or Shelfari.

6) Marketing: The book is available for the world to see; it’s time to use various online options. Some are author interviews and blog tours, professional services like book tours and giveaways organised by book publicity websites, use of social media - twitter and facebook pages to spread the word, a book trailer if you have the inclination, free promotion schemes on seller sites and entering the book into breakout novels contests.

7) Other Stuff: Self publishing on established seller sites comes with the benefits of pre assigned ISBN numbers. But, be ready to juggle roles of an accountant, manager, assistant, publicist, and marketeer.

Tackle all of these and more importantly, get back to completing that book first - a successful self publishing career awaits you.

Thanks again for these useful tips, Rekha! Anyone who wants to book a GPF is welcome to contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com. I have the 28th of September open if you want to post on the theme of Self-Publishing and Marketing, but there are also dates available in the next few months as well.

Have a great weekend all!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Interview with Craig MacLachlan

Hi all, this was supposed to go live on Tuesday already, but things were a little hectic in my live and work, so I asked him to post it today. I'm not going to say much about Craig, because the interview says it all for me. ;-)

Craig MacLachlan.jpg

Welcome to MFB, Craig!

Thanks for hanging out with us today. First things first: Tell us a bit more about yourself?

Thank you for having me Misha! I was born in Thompson Falls, Montana, spent part of my youth in Kennewick/Benton City Washington and from there my family moved to the Belfair,Washington area. I have been married to my wonderful wife, Christina, for 17 years. In fact I asked her out in 9th grade of high school, she's the first and only girl I have ever dated and we've been together for 23 years! I love the outdoors, hiking, camping, tubing down creeks and rivers, and just enjoying everything nature has to offer. I also enjoy bowling and am still working on getting that 300 point perfect game! When I was younger I used to do a lot of cross-stitching and am going to pick it up again to create characters and scenes from my first book for giveaways and contests. I watch too much television and have so many favorite shows it would take pages to list them all.

Besides writing YA fiction, I am also a screenwriter with a short film completed and a mid-length film in post-production. I am currently working toward my Bachelor degree in Sociology. Even though writing is my first passion and I hope it's what I am able to do for the rest of my life, backup plans are always nice to have tucked away just in case. I am a cupcake fiend, especially for red velvet with cream cheese frosting and cream cheese filling! Ice cream is a staple at least once a week and besides adoring chocolate of all kinds, don't let me near Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups because if I lived on a deserted island, the moon, or another planet, it would be the one food I would have to have with me. Oh, and Cadbury Creme Eggs!

Nice! When did you start writing and why?

I started writing in 3rd grade when I came in second place for a county wide writing competition. I didn't get to move on in the competition, but it was my first real taste of writing. In 7th grade I had a poem about a trout published in a local newspaper in Benton City, WA. In that same year I also co-wrote a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' book with my friend Jesse and we entered it into the competition they were having. We didn't win, but it was a fun experience. After that I mostly just read books and I really didn't get serious about writing again until I was 26 and started dabbling in screenwriting. I wrote a few scripts and a couple years after that I wrote a script based on my friend Andy Davies book 'Diary of a Curtain Twitcher'. I also began writing adult fantasy and adult thriller ideas, but I never felt truly connected to the writing. I then finished several short stories, won an online short-short writing competition and received a copy of Stephen King's 'On Writing' for the win.

After reading several YA books I decided to delve into that genre of writing and immediately felt connected to the characters and my stories. I spent several years writing short YA stories as I was considering several ideas for a full length novel and finally decided on the one which I now have representation for by MediaAria CDM. Even though I recently won third place in a one-act script competition, my first love is novel writing.

The reason I write is because I love telling stories and hearing about the joy and excitement others get from what I created. I not only write for others, but for myself as well. When I write, the satisfaction I get from creating characters, the world they live in and the stories gluing everything together is like I'm reading a book and flipping through the pages with anticipation. I'm a fan of writing pure and simple. If I was never published I would always keep writing because it's such a passion within me. Ideas are always bouncing around inside my mind like the silver steel ball in pinball game!

What sort of writer are you?

I am definitely a plotter when it comes to writing and my plot forms before anything else. My characters always find their places within the plot and end up in the driver’s seat enhancing it as the story unfolds. Without great characters a great plot is meaningless.

I always map out an entire story from start to finish. I’m not meaning just a single book, but an entire series. With SIERRA WINTERS AND THE VOID I knew the entire story arc and where all three books fit into it. I have written tentative beginnings and endings to books two and three as well. I have another series set to write after SIERRA WINTERS and I have that entire series mapped out also. I can’t just write one book and then wonder to myself what happens in the next one.

As far as writing characters into my formulated plots, I am a huge fan of bad, evil characters. I often feel sorry for my good characters, but it makes their triumphs that much more meaningful!

I also love bad guys in stories, because they're usually incredibly interesting to write. Who is your favorite bad guy ever?

Who is my favorite baddie of all time, hmm, good question. There are so many great evil characters out there to choose from, but I am going to have to go with the White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia. She was the first truly evil character I ever read about when I was young and I recall having nightmares about her! So even though there are some definite competitors in my mind for top baddie, I have to stick with her at this point in time.

She's an excellent choice. Especially since Chronicles of Narnia is very special to me. What do you do to write a really good bad character?

When I write an evil character I don't want that character to be 'pure' evil and all bad. I always create a back story that shows snippets of information on why the character is behaving the way they do. This way there is always that little bit of compassion the reader can touch base with, no matter how small for the character. Of course that ounce of feeling isn't going to stop the reader from growling and despising them, but it's nice to give purpose for every characters behavior. When I do write an evil character I take that moment in time that changed their personality and take that reaction to the most extreme that I can possibly take it. In SUMMER'S SHADOW there is one main bad guy, but also a few other in-between baddies that alternate back and forth for various reasons which is fun to write as well.

I also have more than one baddie in Doorways. What is your favorite sort of heroic character?

Having more than one baddie is always fun within a story. Okay, my favorite type of heroic character? I like a heroic character to be strong-willed and as independent as possible, even if their circumstances don't exactly allow them to be. One of the greatest attributes to a heroic character in my opinion is faults. A character with faults creates emotions and affects decision making. So with all that said, a great heroic character for me is one that is ambitious, independent and strong-willed, yet realistic because they can also stumble under their own faults and problems.

That makes a lot of sense. Perfect characters make for bad reading. Which brings me to my next question: What's your pet reading peeve?

I used to consider novels written in first person as a pet peeve, I didn't like them. But as I read more and more YA novels I learned to appreciate first person more and more. My side project novel which is a YA paranormal thriller is actually written in first person from a boy's perspective. Okay, let me think here, a real pet peeve of mine when reading a book is not being able to tell the difference between characters. A well written character can be imagined by the words they speak and their actions without having to read their name. When I read a book, I want to know the characters as if they were part of my life. Yet, when characters are stale and the speech/actions are almost carbon copies of one another, there is no depth to them and its hard to care about the character. So my pet peeve is poorly written characters which ruins the story for me.

I know what you mean. I hate shallow characters like those. What do you find the most difficult part to writing?

The most difficult part of writing for me is finding a flow every time I sit down to write. If the flow of my muse is off, everything I write will come off as stagnant and stale. So what I do write two to three sentences involving one or more of my characters. I then re-write those sentences over and over in different ways until I feel it flow and once that happens it's like gliding through the skies with wings. So yeah, getting the flow of my writing started is the most difficult part of writing for me. Oh, and editing, what is that? It's a word banned from my vocabulary!

Yes flow can be so difficult to pin down. I try to do it by not leaving anything in the middle of a scene. And why is the e-word banned?

Ha-ha, the e-word. Editing isn't the most difficult part of writing for me, it's the part I least look forward to. I do enjoy re-writing my rough draft the first time and fixing problems, deleting this and adding that, you know, making it great! It's when those edits become one after another, after another and I want to curl up inside a dark closet and hide! I think every author, including myself, has the dream that their first draft will be perfect and they can continue on to their next work. Editing is just part of the process no matter how fun or painful it can be. I wonder if I said "Abra-ca-Edit" enough times, would it turn into a real magical word and edit my novels?

Excellent question... Now for another one of my own: What is the best tip you ever got about editing?

The best tip I have ever gotten about editing was a single word. "Patience". I was told with patience that the editing process would unfold much smoother than wanting to rush it along. That advice was spot on as I quickly learned that rushing an edit only harbors frustration, erratic writing and the editing process becomes much longer than it ever needs to be. Patience, I make it my top priority when editing and it works! I edited SUMMER'S SHADOW four times before sending out queries. And yes, it will be back in the editing process once again as my publication date nears.

Yes, it does say it all, doesn't it? Final question is the easiest: where can people find you on the internet?

This was a lot of fun, thanks again Misha! Book one in the SIERRA WINTERS AND THE VOID trilogy, SUMMER’S SHADOW, is due for publication in Spring 2014. Book two, FALL’S FURY and book three, WINTER’S DEATH, will follow. I have some exciting developments coming up soon which include a VBlog on my YouTube channel and my cover reveal in February 2013. Regarding the cover, there is going to be some really fun news for fans and everyone concerning it by December which I can’t wait for! You can find me, Craig MacLachlan, online at the following locations:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Insecure (Frustrated) Writer's Support Group

Hmm... This post could probably be called Frustration. Or... The Joy of Living with a Family Who Doesn't Have an MS to Finish.
Because yes folks. Directly after discussing my book and how awesome it would be if I was like the next JK Rowling (lol I wish), in the car after a long day of meetings. After I said that I wanted to edit. I got called to waste almost two hours in the kitchen to clean up a mess that I wasn't even there to make.
So yeah. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one in my family who grasps the magnitude of what this was. Because I want to start QUERYING at the end of the week. But I've just been set back yet again. I mean seriously. Packing away dishes that maids will come clean tomorrow if they're there?
After picking up both my brothers' slack for lame excuses such as pc gaming and such?
Not on.
So yeah. I'm still not finished. Which is frustrating the crap out of me.
That's me for now. More frustrated than insecure.
So what about you? Does your family sometimes frustrate you as well? Or are they supportive?

Monday, September 3, 2012

GUTGAA meet and greet

Hi all! Sorry for the radio silence on Thursday and Friday! Had to go here for some meetings and just to go soak up my surroundings.

Didn't say anything because I was planning to schedule ahead. But we all know where good intentions end up more often than not. Luckily I had kept the 31st guest free, so I didn't even feel bad.

Speaking of which, I just barely missed my deadline. Will hopefully be done by this weekend.

Okay... done with admin for now.

Deana Barnhart

Today's the day for the GUTGAA meet and greet, so I get to answer some fun questions.

Where do you write?

Right now, I write in bed. Have the perfect space for my writing desk, but the desk itself is proving illusive. Soon though... soon. 

Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?

Me. I'm looking at my built in cupboards. All the doors have full-length mirrors.

Favorite time to write?

Early to very early morning. If I'm the only one awake, no one can distract me.

Drink of choice while writing?

None, actually... many a messes has been born because of me forgetting my drink and spilling it on my bed.

When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?

I definitely listen to music. My main WiP has playlists for my main characters, as well as each the plots for each story in the series.

What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

He sort of found me. I was reading Chronicles of Narnia and in walked my one main character, insisting I pay attention to him instead. Of course, quite a few of my crit partners will agree Darrion is well worth paying attention to... so Narnia took a bit longer to finish, and Doorways was born.

What's your most valuable writing tip?

I have more than one, but because I gave the other quite enough air, here's another:

Want to learn how to write? Write. Want more time to write? Write. Other people achieving publishing success and you're not even done? Write. Know rules so you can bend them. Write whenever you can, even if it's for only five minutes. And for heavens sake stop comparing yourself and your writing speed to others. George R.R. Martin takes FOREVER to write a new book, and he's definitely not a failure.

So that's me. Thanks and welcome to all the new faces stopping by! Can't wait to meet you.

Where did you get your inspiration for your WiP?