Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Adima Rising - Book Giveaway


Meet brand new author, Steven Schatz. Steve has been a cook, tour guide, manager, comic, and university professor. He hitchhiked around the country for two years, seeing how people have figured their path through life. Through it all, he has written – poems, short stories, songs, and books. Adima Rising is his first published novel. Let’s learn more about Steve, his determination in the face of rejection and his path to publication.


B.B. - Would you consider writing Adima Rising a long, hard road?

Steve: Yes and no. It started pretty easily – little vignettes and actions. Then at some point it grabs you, possesses you and when that happened, it was hard to do anything but work on it.
Editing was difficult. They say you have to kill your darlings and it’s true. I started with 175,000 words and ended up with 72,000. Everything that didn’t move the story forward had to go. However, a lot of it ended up in the richness of the characters. I had written their back stories, cut them from the book, but kept the character history with me so I truly knew what each would do and say.

B.B. - Did you feel like giving up?

Steve: When I was writing – no. I felt there were messages in the book that had to get out. In the publishing process – many, many times. I stopped counting at 100 queries, but it was probably more like 200. In all those, only one agent asked for a full copy, said it was brilliant, but needed editing and she would help me, then disappeared.
  
B.B. - Any lucky breaks?

Finding Absolute Love Publishing. Sarah did an amazing job editing. Caroline really knows her stuff. Every decision, from cover to naming, improved Adima Rising. When I first talked with Caroline she said this book will sell, but it will take some time for it to grow. A smaller house has the time to let that happen. A big one doesn’t. Now I’m finding how good Denise is at getting the word out.

B.B. - What is your writing process?

Steve: Writing is hard. Going from brain to page is hard. It’s hard to get started every day. Cutting and cutting and cutting is very hard. So, I make a deal with myself that I’ll write for 10 minutes a day. It usually grows to more, but that is all I must do. Every day. Little bites.
I don’t try to edit while I write. I try to get the whole thing as a single object. Then, I start chopping and changing.

B.B. - Do you follow an outline or fly by the seat of your pants?

Steve: I start writing little pieces. Then there comes a time where I sew the pieces together and let the book grow from there. Then there’s a magical time when the book takes over and I just have to listen. I know the main story before I start, but never was an outline person.

B.B. - Any suggestions for new writers?

Steve: Don’t be a writer unless you really love the process. If you do, don’t try to copy what’s popular. By the time a book comes out from a big house, it’s usually at least 2 years old, so you’ve missed that boat. Write, write, write, but write what you love, what you want to.
I tend to span genres and my books tend to be about several things. Adima Rising is fantasy, but is an alternate reality against our real world. It’s about life purpose and friendship and deciding for yourself what is sacred and important, so was a harder sell. It’s YA, but people over 60 have loved it.
Finally, be patient and persistent with selling the book. It’s been three years of trying to sell Adima Rising before it was the right time. It took honing the novel to it's absolute best along with finally identifying with the right publisher.

B.B. Here's a blurb from Adima Rising. Scroll down to enter book giveaway.

For millennia, the evil Kroledutz have fed on the essence of humans and clashed in secret with the Adima, the light weavers of the universe. Now, with the balance of power shifting toward darkness, time is running out. Guided by a timeless Native American spirit, four teenagers from a small New Mexico town discover they have one month to awaken their inner power and save the world. Rory, Tima, Billy, and James must solve four ancient challenges by the next full moon to awaken a mystical portal and become Adima. If they fail, the last threads of light will dissolve, and the universe will be lost forever. Can they put aside their fears and discover their true natures before it's too late? 

Book Giveaway

 One lucky person will receive a copy of Adima Rising. There are several ways to qualify. 1. Leave a comment. 2. Follow Book Blather. 3. Like my author page on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/marilee.author. Good luck!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Update from Marilee Brothers


After writing six books for the young adult market, I’m delighted to be writing for adults again. Fortunately, I’ve connected with a new publisher, Boroughs Publishing Group, who just re-issued one of my earlier books, The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam. Boroughs editor, Camille Hahn, and I collaborated to update the book throughout. I think the new cover is fabulous! There’s been some talk about making The Queen of Bedlam a series. Hopefully, that will happen. The book is now available on Amazon here: http://tinyurl.com/pqhhiza

Looking down the road, I plan to resurrect another of my earlier books, Castle Ladyslipper. I’m talking with a cover artist and will publish the book myself, under the title, The Curse of the Rose. If you like a historically accurate medieval romance with a touch of magic, this book is for you. I plan to have it up on Amazon by spring.

I’ve recently finished a book tentatively titled, Affliction, a romantic suspense/fantasy. The protagonist is twenty-two year old, Honor Melanie Sullivan (Mel) who considers her ability to look into a person’s eyes and read his/her soul an affliction. The book’s setting is Bend, Oregon where Mel experiences her first real relationship with the Harley-Davidson riding William Henry McCarty (Billy the Kid). Together, they stumble upon a human trafficking/baby-selling scheme. Fingers crossed that we will see this book in print in 2015.
                                                    


That’s it for now. Best wishes to you all for a wonderful new year. Remember, the best kind of blather is Book Blather. Happy reading!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tips to Better Self Editing


My guest this week is Dori Harrell, a former award-winning journalist with more than a thousand articles published in newspapers and magazines nationwide. She now freelance writes and edits and enjoys working with indie authors. She also edits for Gemma Halliday Publishing, Out West Press and a large print-on-demand company. And like many authors, she tends to agonize when revising her own writing. But she's stumbled on a few things in her career that have helped ease her revision anxieties. I’m delighted to have her visit Book Blather this week. Welcome, Dori!



Tips to Better Self-Editing

“I am in revision purgatory and really need a fresh pair of eyes.”
I recently received this statement in an e-mail from indie author Anne Carrole, writer of romances with western settings.
If your words are swimming before your eyes when you revise, it’s time to contact an editor. If you’re confident that there’s nothing anyone can do to improve your book, it’s time to contact an editor. If you’ve revised multiple times and doubts about your abilities are setting in, it’s time to contact an editor.
But if you’ve just finished your first draft and are writing the words “The End,” you might want to hold off a bit. Do spend some time on revisions before sending your baby off to its editor.
As owner of Breakout Editing, I now edit full time after an award-winning nonfiction writing career. I was fortunate enough to receive a formal writing and editing education at the school of journalism at the University of Washington. (Journalists, by the way, receive training in fiction writing techniques also.)
One of the first things pounded into me as a writer was: no author should be the final editor of her own writing. With more than a thousand articles in print, both as a journalist and freelance writer, I’ve never been published without my stories undergoing editing—my own and another pair of eyes or two. Currently, I’m writing my first novel. I’ve already hired a story-line editor and have made contact with a copyeditor. I practice what I preach—an editor is essential to writing success. And I’m sure Marilee thoroughly edited this blog post before she published it. I’m counting on it, in fact.
But before your manuscript proceeds to its next pair of eyes, there are steps you can take to improve your self-editing techniques. From my perspective as both writer and editor, I thought I’d offer my top-three suggestions. They won’t necessarily keep you out of revision purgatory, but they may ease your suffering once you’re there.
1.     After typing “The End,” give your manuscript a rest. I mean, completely set it aside and don’t look at it again. For novel-length, I’m not talking about a day or two, like with an article. I’m talking at least two weeks. Novellas, at least one week. I know you’ve heard it before, but it’s such a vital point in producing a top-quality story that I’m making this my number one point. I know, I know. You have a self-imposed publishing deadline. My recommendation is to work that rest period into your deadline. Why is this resting period so vital? Because when you revise after a resting period, inconsistencies, typos, and story-line deficiencies will jump out at you. Try it just once, and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll be a Dori convert in this. (And as an editor, I always give a manuscript a rest before the final look-over, for the same reasons.)
2.     Invest in a style guide. In publishing, the standard today for most fiction and nonfiction is the Chicago Manual of Style. I am in no way recommending you try to learn or read the entire one-thousand-plus page tome. But familiarize yourself with the comma section, or with terms that are particularly pertinent to your writing style (say, parallel structure). And you don’t even have to buy the hard copy. CMoS offers an online subscription with a great search field. I use it nonstop in editing and writing. Barring that, pick out one or two (no need to get excessive here) grammar websites that offer helpful tips you can easily refer to, such as www.grammarbook.com. The site offers useful examples that will aid any writer. And one of my favorites—Robin Simmons’s Grammar Bytes provides all kinds of simple explanations from verb-subject agreement to adverb clauses. Here’s a link to her terms page: http://www.chompchomp.com/terms.htm. I’m not suggesting you turn into a grammar buff. I’m merely saying that familiarizing yourself with certain technical skills that work with your writing style will enhance your self-editing abilities, which will improve your story. And when you have a question about style, you’ll have an answer at your fingertips.
3.     While reading through your manuscript, if something you’ve written leaves you with a feeling of unease or trepidation, rework that section until you’re comfortable with it. I’m referring to a scene or paragraph that’s unsettled you to the point that it follows you to bed and to your doctor and to conversations with your friends—and not in a positive way. Do not hesitate to revise based on a persistent, strong negative feeling.
And could I go on and on with tips about spell checking and pinpointing problem areas (for me, it’s typing “you” for “your”)? You bet—and many other editors and writers have done so. But as an author and editor, I find these three steps immensely helpful when editing my own writing. And I’d love to hear your top-three suggestions!


doriharrell@gmail.com

Monday, November 10, 2014

Can Self Published Authors Make Money?

My guest this week is Indie author, Liz Schulte. There's a great deal of hype around the issue of self publishing. Much of it is opinion, based on emotion, not fact. Liz's straight forward approach to the business of self publishing deals with information backed up with indisputable facts. She not only shares her personal financial records, but also offers some excellent advice for would-be writers. If you are considering becoming an indie author, I believe you will find her post both fascinating and helpful. Welcome to Book Blather, Liz. 



Hello. My name is Liz Schulte and I am a self-published author of mystery and paranormal romance.  I have been publishing for around three years and this past year (in June) I became a full-time writer.

I find when I tell people that they tend to think it is because I am married and have another means of support, but that isn’t true. I am single, I have mortgage, and I have two dogs. I am living on my writing income 100%.

Marilee asked me to share with you guys my story about my journey to being a full-time writer. I have been thinking a lot about this, and I think the best way is to first explain a few misconceptions I had and I see other new writers coming into this with, and then I will hit you with my numbers for all three years.

1.    So-and-so author did it this way, so it will work exactly the same for me. False. It is important to remember that everyone’s story in self-publishing or any form of publishing is different. What works for one person may not work for others. It is always good to research and know what others are doing, but if it doesn’t impact your sales, try something different. Find your market.

2.    One book will make me rich. False. Very few people release one book and skyrocket to fame and glory. Very few writers will ever skyrocket to fame and glory. Yes, some do it, but most don’t. Look at any artist industry: music, acting, art, etc. There are three types of people: the elite standouts, people who make a living, and the rest (the majority) who work day jobs. It is the reality of the industry. Making your place in this industry is hard work. It isn’t a 9-5 job. I work all day and most nights every single day of the week. All other aspects of my life have suffered in order for me to get here. It takes dedication and determination beyond anything your non-writer (muggles) friends and family will think is reasonable.

3.    I am an excellent writer and I don’t need to hone my craft. (This one is going to hurt.) False. It is great to have confidence, but no one’s first book is ever their best—nor should it be. Everyone needs an editor, and everyone should continue to study and grow as a writer. If you are not willing to do those two things, you probably aren’t going to last very long.

Now for the numbers.
**Note: All numbers are before taxes, and I always have travel, conference, and professional membership expenses, but I do not consider them a must-have for publication so I am not including them here.

2011: 2 Books published - Earnings- $462.67; Expenses (advertising and production) - $2591.13 NET LOSS

2012: 3 Books published and one short story (total of 5 books and a short story for sale) - $61,102; Expenses (advertising and production) - $8916.39

2013 (so far): 4 Books published (total of 9 books and a short story for sale) -  $100,987.24; Expenses (advertising and production) - $9111.56

These numbers probably lead you to a few questions. What are “production costs”? How do I advertise? And what changed between year one and year two?
1.    Production costs. Included in this are cover, editing, and formatting. A breakdown of my expenses in this category looks something like this: copy editor - $2.50 per page (250 words per page), proofreader - $1.00-1.25 per page (250 words per page), cover design (all formats) - $50-150, and formatting (all formats) - $70-100. These are the essential things you have to do to publish a book.

2.    Advertising. The truth to this is that I try everything at least once. Some work for me and some don’t. I have had the best success with Pixel of Ink (free), Bookbub (paid), and Ereader News Today (free and paid). Blog tours are great for growing a fan base and improving your SEO, but I have never noticed a huge jump in sales from them.
3.    The majority of the money I made in year two was made toward the end of the year. The factor that changed was that I published the third book in a series and made the first book free then ran ads with the three places mentioned above. It gave my books and series the boost they needed to get noticed. I don’t recommend using free books or having sales when you only have one or two books out. It is best to wait until you have multiple books so you get more bang for your buck.

4.    More than anything—and I cannot stress this enough—write more books. Stop stalking your sales, returns, ranking, and reviews and write.

This has been my experience with self-publishing. I am happy to talk to anyone who has questions. You can reach me at:
Twitter: @LizSchulte