There appears to be a new craze circling around author circles that as I start to build myself online more, create more of a presence, that I am getting bombarded with.
Emails from people I don’t know asking me to either review their work or to submit their manuscript to my agent/publisher.
Now I’ve stated on numerous times, I may have been self-publishing for going on six years now, but that doesn’t mean I know everything. There is something almost weekly that is a new piece of information that I had never known before. It’s all a learning curve, one that is continually changing as the markets change.
That being said, I’m going to give anyone going down this avenue some advice. Maybe not advice… we’ll say an opinion.
Please stop sending blind e-mails/messages to people you’ve done ZERO research on. I typically will delete them without responding if you’ve made it clear you have no interest in discussing anything outside of furthering your career as a writer. Guess what? We’ve all started from nothing, your time is no more valuable than mine because you’ve got a higher ranking/following than I do.
In this industry, respect will take you far. Keep that in mind.
If you want to approach an author, someone you do not know in any way, do your research. Check out their website or social media accounts. I don’t know a single author that doesn’t have a blurb on their website about them. 99% of the time, it will tell you if they’ve signed with an agent or if they’re self-publishing.
Submitting a manuscript to an author who self-publishes with a message asking you to submit it to their agent is pointless and shows you’re spamming people trying to bypass a system all of us have had to adhere to. If they’re rocking the indie circuit, they won’t have an agent that can get you an IN with a publishing company, just saying.
If you want reviews, I am all for submitting emails to people to do this. I’m all about contacting authors whom you feel may help boost your standing. It’s why others do blog hops and interviews because any word of mouth is appreciated. However, be personal about it.
Personally, I will be less inclined to answer a standard email that in no way shows you’ve read anything about me, than an email that shows you’ve done your research and know at least the bare minimum about the person you’re soliciting reviews from.
Has anyone really had any luck doing these chain emails/messages as a way of promotion?
I normally don’t post on Tuesdays, but this is a special day, so allow me to explain.
Twenty-eight years ago today, I became a big sister.
Now I had known the power that my own big sister had wielded, having the title all to herself for nearly six years, and I was excited to finally have a minion of my own to be able to blame someone for all the stuff I didn’t want to get in trouble for. I was especially excited that I was getting a brother. A neighbor girl had a brother and when he would play with us it was always so much more fun.
Brothers didn’t play games like house, they didn’t play with dolls, they did cool stuff like invent pirate ships out of old boxes, pretend they were bank robbers (the bank vault being the cookie jar of course), and a wide array of other games that only little boys can come up with. Yes, in my mind, having a brother was going to be fantastic.
I was going to share everything with my brother, this was apparent when I gave him chicken pox when he was only 6 months old. However, what I didn’t know is that it would be quite some time before I would fully appreciate having a brother.
My brother is one of those people that I can go to with anything. He will either tell me I’m being a dumbass, or he will fight my cause right along with me. He is smart and funny, he has my mother’s quick wit, and reminds me daily why I should bow down to his awesomeness. He is logical and calm, kind and loyal, and I cannot thank my lucky stars enough to have him in my life.
So while I could fill this whole post with stories that would likely embarrass him, I will simply just use it to wish him a Happy Birthday today, and thank him for being the best brother a girl could ask for.
Thank you for being you!
Can you believe the year is almost over?
2014 has been a very crazy year. If any of you have followed me for a while, you may remember that 2014 didn’t start off so hot and that the last part of 2013 had proven how little control I had in my own life.
Since my year was insanely craaaaaazy, and I really do not want to go through everything that happened throughout the year, how about we play a game? I’m going to give you some “Highlights” of my year, and you can see if you can determine which of these crazy things did or did not happen to me.
- I became a total hypocrite and started making excuses not to write and began to seriously question my opinion that Writer’s Block doesn’t exist.
- My ex-husband and I decided to move back in together to focus on co-parenting our children from the same home.
- I lost my best friend to a new job in another state and being so devastated by this, I quit my job of 7 years.
- Signed up for NaNoWriMo during November, but didn’t actually start writing until December, at which time I wrote 35,000 words in under two weeks.
- Yet again, my inner fan girl and my muse teamed up over their mutual love of Anderson Cooper and Jai Courtney and in turn, I was rewarded with a physical injury for my troubles.
Want to hear something funny? These are all true, to some extent!
So as I look back over 2014, allow me to explain.
The Non-Writing Year or The Year of Writer’s Block
I spent most of 2014 not writing anything of significance besides website posts. I used EVERY excuse in the book to not have a new WIP going. I let all of my own self-doubt creep in and the INSANE amounts of crap that the haters said to me when I first embarked on writing a book became little gnawing voices in my head. The biggest problem was, I wasn’t writing for ME. I was writing what others expected me to. After I finished the trilogy, I had several requests for the types or specific stories I should be writing next. My crazy need to make everyone happy won out, and it turned out the only thing that got lost was almost a year of my life by not writing.
Then, because I’m typically the one that can sit down and write out chapters in under 45 minutes just name a time or place, I began to believe in Writer’s Block. Truth was I was ignoring my biggest factor for NOT believing it. You have to write what moves you to tell a story or you will never tell it. I wasn’t writing stories that I wanted to tell, I was writing stories that others wanted told, they just didn’t want to take the time to tell them. The minute I started writing the stories I wanted to tell, I was back to normal, it just took me almost a year to figure that out!
No really, we’re just roommates!
So yes, I’ve been divorced 10 years as of March 2015, it was a bitter, grisly affair that lasted several years when you add in all the time we spent in court over custody. So when I mentioned that I was considering moving my ex-husband in from another state, to have him living in the same house as me and my daughters, just to be co-parents to our kids, it was met with a wide array of backlash.
Is this guy the man of my dreams? At one time I thought so, but I was in High School. Do I loathe him and want him to get hit by a bus? At times, but again, it’s been a few years.
We did this because I personally know what it’s like to live away from your kids in another state, anyone who knows me knows the agony I dealt with by moving back to my hometown to get established to be able to better provide for my kids. So I know what he was going through by having to go through the same thing. But the biggest takeaway from ALL of this is that our children get both of their parents under one roof. We are able to share the parenting responsibilities. It works for right now, but we’re fully open to the idea that it may not work forever and when it quits being beneficial for our children, we will move on.
And no, for the thousandth time… we are not involved romantically in any way.
Can You Die From a Broken Heart?
2013, and the majority of 2014 had one major theme: the company I worked for sucked away my will to live. I wasn’t alone in this sentiment. 2013 had seen the promotion I got make me feel appreciated FINALLY after 6 years, but then the fine print came out and you realized it was a really big slap in the face. Then 2014 showed me that this company didn’t give a rat’s ass about their employees who actually showed up and got the job done. Oh no, it only mattered who you were friends with and clique-y with. Gag me now please.
My saving grace through 7 years with this company was Adam. Adam is the kind of best friend all girls need but will never admit to actually wanting. He’s an ass, for lack of a better term. Not in a mean/condescending way, but in an I’m-blunt-and-willing-to-be-honest-even-if-it-hurts-your-feelings kind of way. Sorry ladies, we ALL need a little bit of that in our lives. 2014 was going to be the year both of us moved on from the company we worked for. The GOAL was to head East from where we were. I was looking towards Michigan to be closer to family, he was looking towards Indianapolis, but either way, in close enough proximity that we would still be very close to one another.
Then it happened, an offer out of St. Louis, several hours in the OPPOSITE direction I was heading.
Of course he took it.
Adam and his wife Cindy are great people and I cannot say enough about them, nor thank them for the impact they’ve had in my life in the years I’ve known them, however, this moving out of state thing is for the birds. HAHA!
My job offer came three months later and on October 21st of this year, just two weeks shy of my 7-year anniversary with this company, I walked away from that job and into a better position.
NaNoWriMo – Or what I like to call Worst Month to Write a Novel
I sign up for this EVERY damn year! And I think the closest I’ve come to the 50,000 words in a month is like 5,000. November is INFAMOUSLY bad for me, and this year proved to be no different. I had just started my aforementioned new job, adding on a two hour commute for work every day, there was no way in hell I was going to even participate let alone finish.
But by God, let November end and we roll into December… let me experience the joy that is Anderson Cooper giggle fits on the Ridiculist, or Jai Courtney in A Good Day To Die Hard and BAM! I can write like there is no tomorrow.
It actually all stemmed from a scene from Jack Reacher, and yes, I only watched because of Jai Courtney, but within 2 weeks, I had written 35,000 words. I was just like NaNo what? Hahaha!
And now… because that leads way into my next highlight… this one is actually my favorite ridiculous moment of the year…
Another discovery into why writers drink – My Muse Is Trying To Kill Me!
So here’s the problem with being creative… you never know how or more importantly WHEN inspiration will hit you. This was proven in 2013 when I was trying to finish my third novel and I was only ever able to sleep about 2-3 hours at a time before I just HAD to write.
So I started this new book, and I always cast the characters in my head. One of the characters is Anderson Cooper, another is Jai Courtney. It’s a suspense/thriller about an escaped killer and so on.
I have spent two weeks writing in my every free moment, missing sleep, giving up on TV shows (four weeks behind on Stalker, people. Yea, the Struggle Is REAL!), all just to be able to write.
So then, in the midst of my sleep-deprived, non-Stalker watching state, I managed to finally fall asleep, having to be up for work the next day at 4AM, knowing I have stayed up way too late to begin with. My muse, and my inner fan girl brings Jai Courtney and Anderson Cooper along for the games and begins to play out scenes I have not yet written, in my dreams.
Now you should know, that this is a high-intensity scene that I’d outlined, just hadn’t written yet, in which point the bad guy is hunting us. The “us” being myself, Jai Courtney, and Anderson Cooper of course. We are somewhere, in a warehouse (not in the outline, I might add) and we are crouched behind shipping crates. It is DEATHLY quiet, like you could hear a pin drop.
And my alarm goes off.
Now this probably wouldn’t be so bad, except I am a very sound sleeper, so my alarm sounds like a loud air raid siren, and is clear across the room, because if I don’t physically get out of bed to shut it off, I will just shut it off and fall right back to sleep.
So when the alarm goes off, it scares me so bad that I come flying out of my bed, not realizing that with all the suspense in the dream, I have completely tangled myself in my bedding. Needless to say those blankets and sheets became snakes determined to get me to fall flat on my face. Which I did, and in the process, threw out my lower back.
Can you imagine trying to explain that to your boss when he asks why you’re limping and/or can’t sit still for very long in a meeting?
There are the highlights of my year. There have been a lot of other moments and things that have happened. Some have changed me, infuriated me, made me happy and ecstatic, but they all made me learn something, and I do believe that is the point!
It is that time of year again!
Time for family gatherings filled with food, fun, gifts, and all the family dysfunction you can handle. You know, the typical family drama. The grandmother that always tells you that you’re not getting any younger when she finds out you’re still single, your Aunt Marge who always burns the pie, and Uncle Frank who takes his dentures out at the dinner table. And let’s not forget the creepy cousin that is in his late thirties but still living in Aunt Kathy’s basement because he still needs time to discover himself, or crazy cousin Vicki who is way past her prime but still parties like a sorority girl and goes around hitting on all the guys she’s not biologically related to.
Oh wait… this is just MY family?
Wow, you guys are missing out then!
There is always drama when a family comes together, mine is no different, but we’ve managed to be able to constructively move past a lot of the crap to get to the good stuff.
This year I have several functions over the holidays, and since I’m sure that very few people will be caring to keep up with blogs over the next few weeks, this is just a quick post to tell you thank you for sticking with me this year, and to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
If I get the time, I will be scheduling some posts, possibly some re-posts of my favorite blogs for the last year, etc., over the next two weeks, and then I’ll be back after the first of the year with all new stuff!
Stay safe people, enjoy your holidays! Love you all!
This isn’t so much of a How-To, as I feel I’ve reached the end of that segment for now. I will pick it up again after the holidays in a once-in-a-while capacity.
However, today we’re going to discuss a tool that I think you should fully invest in. If you’re serious about writing, I don’t know how you’d really ever work with anything else…
It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I do not like change. If I learn how to do something one way, it is very hard for me to come around to doing things in a different way. Again, this comes down to efficiency. If I can easily pick up new tricks to make things easier, then I am all for change. Other times, it can take me a little while to come around. However, if something is very hard for me to grasp or understand the “WHY” of how it’s done, chances are, my stubbornness will kick in and I will not care to change my ways, no matter how beneficial it may be.
Nothing is more evident of this than my aversion to the program Scrivener.
I had previously, being a total Microsoft girl, swore by using MS Word as a word processor for writing my novels. My feelings were that it hadn’t failed me yet, and I’d written three novels on it, and had written pieces of countless others.
The reality was, I knew how to use MSWord, I knew the glitches and how it didn’t play nice with formatting, but I’d struggled in the beginning with it when it came to formatting my first novel. Now, it was like a badge of honor to be able to be knowledgeable about all the little bugs, and I knew nothing about Scrivener aside from tinkering with it in passing for all of a few hours.
Then I started noticing the growing trend of all my author friends, even those that I didn’t know but just followed their blogs, all started singing Scrivener’s praises. I had to admit, my anger at MSWord was growing, especially when I’d uploaded the final draft of my most recent novel to CreateSpace, and the fonts hadn’t embedded correctly. So I caved, and installed the trial again.
Here was the thought process in my head as I’m working with it…
On the Corkboard look – Oh, corkboards… that’s stupid, I’ve got that on my wall in front of me, I won’t be switching back and forth between screens when I can just look up at the board in front of me…(Clicks icon in corner) Ooooh I can do split screen!
On Fonts – Oh default font is Courier New… GAG!… that is the crappiest font ever. (Types a new chapter out, could have changed the font but didn’t, using the excuse of trying to get the full experience) … I guess it’s not that bad… (Can’t type with any other font now, Courier New is just EASIER to read… it’s like on an old typewriter, makes me nostalgic!).
On Finding Reasons to Hate Scrivener – Hitting Shift+F7 in Word gives you a thesaurus, this does not. I don’t think there is a way to do that by keystroke. That Sucks! This whole thing is archaic at best. Can’t put in auto-correct options either which is sorely missed because of my use of shorthand, but Oh! Oh! It’s the greatest program ever… NOT! (Starts going through the options on the menu bar and finds everything I’m looking for along with some other fun tools)… okay maybe it’s not so bad… OOOOH! There is a name creator tool?!? Why have I not been using this sooner?!?
The tides started to turn with the help of this tool.
I cannot tell you how much I go through when it comes to selecting a character’s name. Granted, Devrynne’s happened because of a friend, Liam was pre-chosen by a friend as well, but the rest of the names have special significance to me, either because of their meaning or because of their origins. Most of my trilogy excluded, when I’m mapping out characters, I go through a big headache to select the perfect name normally by scrolling through phonebooks, the internet looking at meanings and things. To find out Scrivener has all of this in one place, made my day!
Here’s what I had to do to really USE Scrivener. I made the decision to write a novel with it, not just play around with it. After I made that choice was when I kind of let go of a lot of my unjust negativity towards it and started tinkering. One of my last thoughts about it before fully jumping on the bandwagon, was this…
Oh you break out the chapters into separate files… I hate it when people do that, I’d rather have it all in one document… I bet that is a bitch and a half to put into a full document, not to mention trying to search for anything.
I clicked on the menu button and saw a button that said “Compile”. Now I’ll have you know that I work better at hands-on, figuring stuff out on my own for what works. I will ask for help if I want to know something specific, but I wasn’t looking for this program to be good for me.
To realize that I have spent almost as much time formatting my novels in MSWord as I have writing them, to have spent a MONTH working on the headers and footers of my second novel to get them to look like an actual industry-standard book… only to hit a frickin’ button in Scrivener and it does it all for me?!?! Let me tell you I almost cried.
- One spot for everything! I’m a visual person, and the ability to save images and tie them in with sections/scenes I’m working on in one file is amazing.
- Character and Setting Templates – Need I say more?
- The Name Generator – I would have bought Scrivener for this function alone!
- Easy to use and you have a TON of help tutorials available online and videos on YouTube.
- Templates for anything you decide to write: Novels, Short Stories, scripts, screenwriting, plays, blogs, a recipe book, ANYTHING.
- Just about anything you could need to outline, plot, and WRITE a novel, is all in this program.
- Outdated spell checking. Although this could be because I’m used to using MSWord, but I’ve found some of the stuff that Scrivener underlines as misspelling is a matter of opinion.
- Autocorrect Functions. Although this again, could be a learning curve type of deal, but when I’ve selected it to auto correct things like Word does (misplaced CAPS, commonly misspelled words, etc.) it doesn’t play nice. It corrects it to words that are not what you want, and it’s hard to override that without shutting the whole function off.
- Keyboard Shortcuts. Yes there are shortcuts that I’ve found to save or add a new text, but overall MSWord has this program beat in this area. You have to navigate through menu bars, typically with the mouse to get to some of the options that would just be easier to use keystrokes for.
Overall, even with the few cons I listed, I completely see what all the fuss is about and would happily recommend this to any writer.
What about you guys? Do you have any writing tools that you swear by?
**Image found on Huffington Post**
If you take nothing more away from this series of How-To advice, let it be this: NEVER cut corners when it comes to cover art. Unless you have a degree in graphic design, please let a professional do your artwork for you.
You all know the old saying that you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but the reality is we all do this. We do this with everything we come in contact with, it’s human nature. You have spent the time to write a novel, and now it’s time to decide on a cover. If you’re like me, writing is where your creative ability ends.
I’ve spoken on how to avoid scams and save money, this is not one of those times.
If you ever get the inclination to Google “Book Cover Design” you will find a wealth of information and design services. Now keep in mind, some I wouldn’t trust simply because cover art design is more than slapping some fonts on a stock photo.
The photo above was a cover that I found while reading an article on Huffington Post, about the worst self-published covers. You can see the rest, HERE
Now there are places like 99Designs.com that will charge you several hundred to over a thousand dollars to do a cover for you. Now the cool thing about 99Designs is that you tell them about your book/what you’re looking for and they have a group of designers that come up with designs and you buy the one you want. The money you spend determines how many designers/caliber of designers you choose from. You own full copyright of the work and it is a money-back guarantee if the designers do not come through.
Again, as I’ve stated numerous times with these posts: RESEARCH!
This is going to be your saving grace with the majority of things you do in this industry. Not everything that works for me will work for you, and it is really about finding the right fit. Also keep in mind, it is okay to change your mind after you see the final product. Most designers will either make you pay for the stock photos, or pay a design fee up front. This covers their costs should you decide not to go with their pieces. Also, designers know that if you like their work you’re likely to use them again, or refer fellow writers to them. It’s all about networking after all.
I’ve worked with three different designers over the course of my publishing career, and there will probably be more as I continue on this journey. You have to find something that works for you and your budget. Just remember, a reader is going to judge you by the cover before they ever decide on your writing. Robin Ludwig and Regina Wamba are two of the designers that I’ve worked with, and let me tell you, they are worth every penny.
Robin can be found at www.rldprint.com
And Regina can be found at www.maeIdesign.com