Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Is Self-Publishing for You?

Workshops, community groups, author advice, and every how-to book imaginable—all the things I utilized to craft the perfect query letter. When one wasn’t particularly effective, I modified it and kept track of the results. I checked my inbox obsessively, and when I saw that an agent responded, my heart would stop. “This is it!” I thought. “My book is finally going to be published!” But, the majority of the time, it was a generic rejection in the form of “This isn’t right for my list.” The whole process was not only overwhelming, but very discouraging. In fact, I almost quit writing as a result. Then, I received the crème de la crème of emails from an interested agent. She wanted a full manuscript exclusive!   

Within a week, the agent had read my book and gushed about it. She said it was highly marketable, but I just needed to “tweak some things.” These things turned out to be not so little. She was removing entire characters and changing the era. I unwittingly made the changes. She read it a second time and said the same thing. I was so close and wanted to be published so badly, so again, I made the changes. She read it a third time and suggested even more, and again I complied. The process took a year. The result? I absolutely hated my book! Everything had changed and my voice was completely buried. I didn’t know who I was writing for anymore…and it showed. I received a cold hard rejection after everything. The worst part? The book was so mangled that I abandoned it. 

This experience was the push I needed to self-publish my first novel, Strange Luck, a psychological YA fantasy about a world built on stolen memories. Self-publishing not only allowed me to see my dream to fruition, it allowed me to present the story I wanted to share with the world. Here’s why self-publishing worked for me and why it might work for you:

Every Decision is Yours: Self-publishing allows you complete control of your story, its characters, and even the description readers see on the back cover. If you choose to work with a professional editor (highly recommended), it’s still up to you to implement the changes. You also get to decide what your book cover looks like.

Publishing Is Quick: Since self-publishing is relatively instantaneous, you can see your book to market anytime you want. This is a great option if you have a particular release date in mind.

Creative Freedom: Unless you’re Stephen King, the majority of agented authors do all the marketing and promotions themselves. This includes booking and putting on author events. Since you’d most likely be doing it anyway, you can take the opportunity to be creative with your marketing efforts. Set up giveaways with a unique catch, create a You Tube channel and vlog about your book and what you’re reading, or even create your own Twitter hashtag. 

Full Ownership: You own all of the rights to your book so you can do whatever you want with it, including selling movie rights if you so choose.

More Money in Your Pocket: Not only do you get to choose the price for your print and/or ebook and where your book is sold, all royalties go to you. You’re also paid once a month vs. once a year. 

Springboard to Success: Some of the best-selling, highest grossing books of all time were self-published. The Joy of Cooking, 50 Shades of Gray, and The Tales of Peter Rabbit are among some notable success stories. The majority of best-selling self-published authors go on to sign with major publishing houses usually because their books and the market they created get too big for them to handle on their own. Self-publishing is actually a great opportunity to get published traditionally. If these authors hadn’t self-published their books to begin with, they might not have gained the attention needed to sign a major publishing deal. 

Whatever your journey, whatever the outcome, the important thing to remember is to NEVER EVER give up writing. Yes, rejection is painful, but it happens to everyone. Stephen King’s Carrie, Frank Herbert’s Dune, Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time, and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind were all repeatedly rejected by publishers, but it didn’t stop them. And, it shouldn't stop you! Rejection could actually be the driving force you need to take matters into your own hands.

Have you checked out my other posts on writing? You might enjoy these too:
Comments? Questions? Marketing tips? Share below.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The World's Weirdest Hearts for Valentine's Day

Do you know which animals don't have hearts? Or, which animals have multiple hearts? Being a nerd for all things sciency and weird, I rejoiced when I found this awesome article about the weirdest hearts in the world. Just in time for Valentine's Day. Hooray!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

TBT Writer - Ooey Gooey Chocolatey Goodness

It's #TBTWriter! For the past two months, I've shared some stories I wrote back in the day. My favorite so far is my first horror story I wrote when I was nine. Don't know why I thought a bald man was the most terrifying thing in the world, but it certainly adds to the fun. Pics of crimped side ponytails, uneven bangs, and hot pink spandex do, too (gotta love the 90s). I have quite an embarrassing collection of pics that would make a nice addition to Awkward Family Photos, but I haven't gotten there yet. Someday.

Te he he he...
Anyway, since Valentine's Day is coming up I thought I'd combine the TBT concept with a delicious recipe from way back when - a recipe that I entered into my high school's dessert contest and won! If you're looking for something yummy and sweet to make for V-day, or just for yourself because you deserve it, check out the irresistible recipe below.


Chocolate Revel Bars

1 cup margarine or butter
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups quick oats
1 1/2 cups semisweet or dark chocolate chips
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

In a mixing bowl, beat the 1 cup margarine/butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add about half the flour, the brown sugar, eggs, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and the baking soda. Beat until thoroughly combined. Beat in the remaining flour. Stir in the oats.

In a medium saucepan combine chocolate pieces, sweetened condensed milk, and the 2 tablespoons margarine/butter. Cook over low heat until chocolate melts, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in nuts and remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla.

Press two-thirds of the rolled oats mixture into the bottom of an un-greased 15x10x1 inch baking ban. Spread chocolate mixture over the oat mixture. Using your fingers, dot remaining oat mixture over chocolate.

Bake at 350 for approx. 20-25 mins or until the top is lightly browned. Cool on wire rack. Enjoy with a tall glass of milk.

I've made these chocolate revel bars a couple of times since the contest and they are consistently delicious. 

High school me with my first pug puppy. RIP Gomer :(

Have an old school recipe, story, or pic you want to share? Post below :) I respond to all comments.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Criticism Sucks: Christie Stratos Shares How to Ignore Harsh Criticism

Christie Stratos, author of the Dark Victoriana Collection, just shared her thoughts on creativity and ignoring criticism. Not only is Christie one of my new favorite authors (Anatomy of a Darkened Heart is freakin' awesome by the way!), she's incredibly insightful when it comes to writing. Her blog chronicles everything from harnessing creativity to handling naysayers. What I love about her post on criticism is that she clearly defines useful feedback/constructive critique vs. destructive criticism. She empowers us to help each other by not tearing each other down. She also has some motivational pictures to build you up and encourage you to be a champion for others. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Best Fantasy Books Subgenre Reading Challenge Goodreads Discussion

Strange Luck is this week's discussion topic. Yay! Join the conversation! I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Victorian Mania – What’s On My Nightstand

Can you say WEIRD?

I’ve been really getting into Victorian-themed everything lately, like weird Victorian pictures (above). I’ve been totally binge-watching Masterpiece Theatre too (Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge are my favorites at the moment, although it all began with Avonlea back in the day), and then I randomly picked up a couple of Victorian-themed books. Now it’s all I want to read! It’s been influencing me so much that a lot of the Victorian aesthetics are trickling into my new book, The Nightmare Birds—the second book in the Strange Luck series. If you’re of a similar Victorian mania mindset, or just looking for something new to read, here’s what’s currently on my nightstand:

The Cure for Dreaming By: Cat Winters: The gorgeous cover is what initially drew me to this book. Something about the picture is just so irresistibly strange and creepy. My favorite! :) The Cure for Dreaming is a peculiar Gothic love story, seamlessly weaving in the complexity of gender roles in Victorian life. Cat writes so simplistically, yet her words carry deep purpose and beauty. I also love the old pictures and quotes scattered throughout the book (very Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children). The parallels with Dracula are also a nice touch. 

This story has kept me guessing and I can’t wait to see what happens. I’ll definitely be reading more of Cat’s books in the future.

Anatomy of a Darkened Heart By: Christie Stratos: In a word…Wow! I am absolutely and totally addicted to Anatomy of a Darkened Heart. From the first sentence, I was totally transported into time and place, wondering what was going to happen next—especially with the creepy baby. The concept reminds me of The Omen meets Rosemary’s Baby meets Downtown Abbey. All winners! 

Christie’s writing style and use of description is elegant, unique, and emotional. I'm dying to see what happens next. Oh, and the cover is freakin' awesome!

What I’ll Be Reading Next:

Bad Medicine By: David Wootton: Until the invention of antibiotics in the 1930s doctors, in general, did their patients more harm than good. This book is a fascinating look at the history of medicine—from Hippocrates, the Victorian era, to present. 

Anne of Green Gables By: L.M. Montgomery: I’ve always loved this story. It’s due time for a re-read.

Other Cool Victorian Things to Check Out:

7 Ways Victorian Fashion Could Kill You: No wonder most people didn't live past age 30!

10 Weird Things the Victorian’s Did for Fun: The anthropomorphic taxidermy is by far the weirdest.

Weird Victorian Beauty Standards We Thankfully Don’t Deal with Today: Ahh, the sting of poison in your eyes. All in the name of beauty.

How We Lived Then Museum: Next time I'm in England I'm totally going here.
Ragged School Museum: The authentic Victorian classrooms are a must see. 

Is there an awesome Victorian book, movie, or museum you’d like to share? Comment below! If not, you'll have to answer to him...and that's one mean looking chicken!