Sunday, June 29, 2014

Rising Above Expectations

me in Kindergarten

A social worker told my parents that they’d have to take care of me for the rest of my life. My principal told them I was uneducable. Thankfully, a resource teacher stepped in on my behalf. She taught me that learning was fun.

The commonly held definition of dyslexia is that it is a difficulty with learning to read. But this is a condensed definition. The challenges people with dyslexia face and the severity of these challenges vary from person to person.

For me, deciphering the social codes has always been a challenge—I never received my copy of that handbook. When I manage to figure out how to respond often it’s too late or, in a rush to be on time, a jumble of poorly pronounced words. Writing allows me to slow down and think. It gives me an opportunity to select the right word, tone, tense and to check for clarity and accuracy.

At a young age I learnt that even though my tongue may fail me, my pen seldom would. My first publishing success came when I was still in elementary school—one of my poems was published in the school newspaper. I repeated grade two but once in middle school I was determined to excel. So I divorced myself from any social interaction and books and studying became my world. A middle school Language Arts teacher introduced me to John Steinbeck and I fell in love with his writing. Mr. Steinbeck gave voice to the voiceless. Writing gave me a voice. I had lots to say but needed a venue. Through my writing I began to feel heard. I graduated from high school with an award in Language Arts.

After graduation, the question of what I would do next paralyzed me. I thought living the rest of my life on my parents’ sofa was a solution. However, my parents wanted more for me. From early childhood, despite what they’d been told, my parents continued to believe in the soundness of my intellect. Responding to my dad’s not so gentle pushing, I decided to join Katimavik—a government-run youth group. You’d think that living communally for nine months wouldn’t be the best situation for someone with limited social skills. But you’d be wrong. Katimavik was one of the most important experiences in my life. I completed the program and won newfound confidence. With that confidence I entered university. And I was amazed to find that I was able to obtain and maintain a decent grade point average. I graduated from the program and gained employment as an Early Childhood Educator.


me graduating from the University of Winnipeg's Child Care Worker Training Program

Throughout my life I’ve been able to play the ‘help me’ card. But in my late twenties I met a man who refused to play the game. That man became my husband and his special brand of tough love continues to be one of the driving forces behind my success.

Becoming an author had been a dream I’d hidden away since my teens. Weakened by a family tragedy, I shared my dream with my husband. I thought he was going to laugh or…—but not him. “So, what are you going to do about it?”

The choice was clear either act to fulfill my dream or abandon it. From 2006 to 2009, I self published an audio book, paperbacks and Ebooks. Buoyed up by these successes, I decided to pursue traditional publishing. So I made a pact to submit one story—of whatever size—every month until something happened. Well, things did start to happen. Within the last five years I’ve had short stories published in Island Writer, Kaleidoscope, Canadian Stories, Icelandic Connection and Island Gal. And I’ve also completed five book-length manuscripts.

But years of self-doubt and low-self esteem have taken their toll and have resulted in stress related health problems. I thought joining a peer support group would help. But when I was unable to find a group, I became my own advocate. I now practice Tia Chi and Yoga as well as take Bach flower oil to help me cope with anxiety.

I’m enheartened by the support now available for children with learning disabilities. But am disappointed by the lack of support for adults with learning disabilities. Simply because we manage to jump through academic hoops and graduate doesn’t mean our problems disappear. We still face them—everyday. Lack of support leaves learning disabled adults with health and employment problems—some of us wind up on the street or in jail. Potential lost. Lives wasted. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Something must be done. All of us deserve to have an opportunity to have our own success story.

Increasing society’s knowledge of dyslexia is a good starting point. And through non-fiction books such as The Gift of Dyslexia by Ronald D. Davis and Understanding Dyslexia and Other Learning Disabilities by Linda Siegel this goal is slowly being met. Hoping to help obtain this goal, I’ve written a novel about my own experiences with dyslexia. And I continue to push myself out of my comfort zone by, for example, reading my writing during open mic nights.

I’d like to conclude with a poem…

I need you to know that I am capable—even when I show my inability
I need you to have faith that I will be able to pick myself up when I fall
I need you to let me show you what I’m capable of—before you help me.
I need you to shout at the top of your lungs, “Yes, you can! If not now—someday; if not without me—with me.”

I need you to believe in me—even when, especially when, I don’t.

This article was originally published on Sonia Marsh's Gutsy Living website.

Sharing my author journey...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Interview with nonfiction and mystery author Karen K Brees


How/why did you start to write?

I think the nicest words in any language are “Tell me a story.” Stories shape our youth and give us heroes to root for, villains to hate, values to hitch our stars too. I guess, when it comes down to the crux of the matter, I started to write because I loved to read, and, as Toni Morrison said, "If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."

How did you become an author?

Becoming an author was a long, long process. I always wanted to write, but it seemed a frivolous thing. Not as important as working at a “real job”, but then, one day while we were on vacation in Idaho, I sat down on a log and wrote a story about a fawn’s first venture out into the meadow. It was a children’s story and fun to write. I decided if I were going to write, then I needed to make time for it without apologies. 

What was your first published piece, where was it published and how long ago?

My first published piece was a reporting gig for my 3rd grade newspaper – about our class visit to the Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, Connecticut. Made the front page – although, as I recall, the paper was only one page.

After that, there was a long dry spell until The Everything Health Guide to Depression hit the stands. I’d started attending writers conferences and met my nonfiction agent, Andrea Hurst at one. We struck up a friendship and a few weeks later, she emailed me, asking if I’d be interested in writing that book. I said yes, and went on to write about 6 titles in the health and general interest field. The last one was The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Preserving Food. It’s doing well.

I moved on to fiction and wrote Headwind: The Intrepid Adventures of OSS Agent Katrin Nissen and now The Esposito Caper. I like writing fiction

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

Before I started writing, I was a bookmobile librarian, then a classroom teacher, and finally a university professor. I taught history and English. I got paid to read!

What inspires you?

Inspiration comes from some funky places: Strong coffee. Cheap red wine. Snippets of conversations I overhear. Places I’ve been and places I hope to visit. Google Earth is probably the greatest asset to a writer trying to be somewhere she’s never been.

Please share one of your successful author platform building technique

It’s true that social media is essential to any writer’s success these days. If you’re not represented by a big house and one of their top writers, you’re going to have to do it all on your own. Grow your Facebook friend list – find other writers, agents, publishers, book reviewers. Do the same for Twitter and LinkedIn.  Post often but don’t forget to comment on others’ sites, too. Encourage others, share your successes and roadblocks.
Offer something – and I don’t mean free giveaways. Offer advice, tips, and encouragement. The best way to sell books is still word of mouth. Write something worth reading and then devote part of your day to telling the world about it.

Parting words

Winston Churchill, one of my heroes, said, “Never, never, ever give up.” If you’re a writer, you’ve got to develop a thick skin. But don’t get angry when you receive criticism. Count to ten and then find the kernel of truth in what ruffled your pinfeathers. You’ll become a better writer for it.


My current book is The Esposito Caper, published as an ebook by MuseItUp Publishing.  It’s available at Muse and on Amazon. The Buy Link for Muse: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/museitup/mystery-thriller-suspense/the-esposito-caper-detail


Please check out my website: http://www.karenkbrees.com
There’s a synopsis and book trailer on the home page.

To pique your interest, here’s the blurb:

Crime is easy. Family is what’s tough. And for Gino Esposito, family obligations could be the end of him. His grandfather wants to prove he’s the genius behind another artist’s works. All he needs is for Gino to steal a diary that’s currently in the possession of the Mafia. 

Gino will do almost anything to work an angle, but he’s thinking this task could be his last. He needs help, but all he’s got is cousin Carla, exotic dancer with aspirations of opening a ballet studio, and girlfriend Francesca, whose boss has got her framed for embezzlement. It’s a recipe for family problems only faith, luck, and some really good mojo will solve.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Writer, master writing description

Summer is the time to...
Explore
Investigate
Live
Be inspired
Don't forget to take a pen and a notebook. Every experience you have can strengthen your writing.
I have an ear for dialogue but writing description is a skill I'm working on.
This week I found myself in an environment I hadn't been for years.
And so I described it...

Pools of people talking. A young guy leans across the aisle but he's too far away. I don't hear what he says or who he says it to. A bench away two twenty-something women take selfies and discuss all they see. And I wonder if they are tourists. To my right, a young woman isolates herself with earbuds and a book. What author has captured this reader's attention? She sets the book on her lap and I search the cover--a young woman with a golden braid:  Margaret Atwood's Bluebeard's Egg Atwood needs to be read by the young--old wisdom finds a young mind.

Where was I?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

4 Steps to Building Your Author Platform by Rivka Kawano


Everyone these days talks about platform, platform, platform. And for good reason! With it you will be able to sell books, get new opportunities, and live your dream. Without it, you are just another person who writes stuff. And there are lots of those.

The good news you can start from scratch, and anyone can do it. But be warned: it will take time and effort, just like all good things. You have spent this long making your book great, invest a little more to make sure someone reads it!

Step 1: Know Who Your Platform Is

This sounds simple, but most authors that I work with don’t start out with a clear picture of who is a part of their audience and who isn’t. The better you know the unique people who will fall in love with you and your book, the better you can start building relationship with them.

Ask yourself the following questions:

●        Who would be most interested in my book?
●        What social media platforms do they use?
●        Where else do they hang out online?
●        Where do they hang out offline?
●        What matters most to them?
●        Why will they love my book?

Knowing the answers to these questions allow you to position yourself and pitch your book in a way that your ideal audience won’t be able to help but buy your book.

Step 2: Know Your Book and Yourself

Having a great pitch is so important for your book. One author I worked with started doing private coaching with me because she was on speaker phone with someone and Oprah happened to walk in the room. Yes, THAT Oprah. While they exchanges a pleasant hello, the author was not able to really maximize the opportunity because she did not know how to build relationships or when and how to pitch her book.

This does not mean that you want to be pushing your book on everyone you meet. It is all about naturally and elegantly working it into the conversation and always leaving the door open to go deeper.

Be clear on your strengths and the best way to connect with others. Are you great in front of a group? Better one on one? Love social media? Play to your strengths.

Step 3: Build a Foundation

Once you start meeting people and introducing them to your book you need to find a way to stay in touch. If you met a girl or a guy you wanted to date would you rely on bumping into them again? Or would you get their number? You need to get the number of your reader!

In the online world though you don’t actually want their phone number, you want their e-mail address. Make sure you have a website, way to sign up for e-mail updates, and links to your social media profiles so that you are easy to find, and easy to stay in touch with. More importantly make it easy for your readers to give you permission to get in touch with them too.

Step 4: Apply Smart Strategies Consistently

What would you think of someone who built the foundation for a house and then left town? That is what authors do online every day. If you have a great website and plan, make sure to execute! Real relationships are built over time and the same is true with connecting with your audience. Be consistent. Be there. Interact. It does make a difference when done consistently!

Rivka Kawano is a marketing coach for authors through her business Author SenseiShe is also author of the book What to Post 



Monday, June 16, 2014

Book review: Madame Zee (historical) by Pearl Luke


Madame Zee is a historical novel set between the late 1800s to the early 1900s. This story begins in England, moves to the Canadian prairies, then goes down to the United States and concludes on a small island off British Columbia's mainland.

Mabel (who became Madame Zee) is born with physic powers and spends her lifetime attempting to understand and appreciate them.

In this fictitious account, author Peal Luke shows us the woman behind the notorious legend--Madam Zee.

Above story, above all else, for me, this is an important book because of the big ideas it shares...
' "Theosophists believe in one religion for all--all the people of the world working together for a common purpose." ' (p. 78)

' "I believe in energy... That like attracts like. That which we focus on or exhibit, we attract."
"What about after death? What about reincarnation?"
"If matter is energy...it will always take another form. How that happens, I can't say." ' (p. 172)

' "With all the similarities between the teachings of Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, et centra, how could anyone believe we're not already part of a Universal Brotherhood, whether we call it that or not?" ' (p. 187)

Brother XII 'is very clear that all consciousness is one, that no single atom is self-subsisting, and that stone, plant, animal, and human are all from one origin.' (p. 251)

'There was a time when divine knowledge flowed through us at all times.' (p. 288)

'Isn't it possible that a huge and ever-growing compilation of information--both important and mundane--lies available to anyone who can somehow perceive it.' (p.317) 'Wouldn't that be the God within, the all-knowing power of the universe, to which everyone has access?' (p. 318) 'And if Darwin's theory of evolution is correct, wouldn't the body of knowledge and thought also evolve, making new information avialable to all.' (p. 318)

Man is imperfect. Existing in an Utopian society demands perfection. Thus all Utopian societies are doomed to fail. 

I love the vivid imaginary in this book. For example, 'Honora's face has flushed petal pink.' (p. 11)
And 'Her thoughts are kaleidoscopic, tumbling over one another in a confused jumble' (p. 141)

As always, I took notes as I read...

Illusions to who Mabel will become are littered throughout the earlier chapters.
For example:  'She discovers that when she holds a woman's hairpin, her chest aches the way it aches when she thinks of Honora, and a thick leather-bound notebook causes her to imagine a man with a large curled mustache.' (p. 28)

Thanks to a librarian Mabel learns that there are others like her. She investigates further and discovers an address were these people work. She persuades an older brother to take her there.

Mabel moves with her parents from England to Canada. This move separates her from her family (brothers) and friends. Her new life is a lonely one not only because of this separation but also because she is isolated from seeing the world as others see it--hers is a deeper knowledge. Similar in some sense to how an artist experiences the world--on two levels:  the world in which she lives and the world that exists within her mind.

Mabel's vision of a unified world prompts her to act, in her role as a teacher, in a way that brings her to odds with the school board so far--by page 83--she's lost two teaching positions.

Mabel gains social acceptance only thought her involvement with a man who has social status. How true to the time--women were known as Mrs. John Brown, engulfed into their husband's identity.

Her husband, John, doesn't like the fact that she sees things--that she has an interest in the the unknown. Yet, to me it seems clear, that this is similar to someone telling you they don't like your left arm. This interest (her abilities) is such a central part of her that to deny it would bring her pain.

Mabel claims her own identity when she divorces and becomes Madam Zee. 

With abilities comes responsibilities and though unsure how to act, Madam Zee is aware of this responsibility--this awareness pushes her forward.

All her life Mabel longs to find a family of like minds. As Madame Zee she finds one but it doesn't bring her comfort.

In the Author's Afterword, located at the back of the book, Pearl Luke writes of her book [this is] ' by no means a factual account, though I've based many events on historical ones. I have chosen to make Zee a good-hearted character at her core, as I believe she likely was, if only because we're all sympathetic at some level, even if monstrous at others....And while I have written from a contemporary perspective, in contemporary language, I have made every attempt to present an historically accurate picture of the period, something that required extensive research.' (p. 363)

Sharing my author journey...

I know this book will continue to resonate within me. And it inspired me to write...

Friday, June 13, 2014

Interview with Michelle Halket of Central Avenue Publishing


Thank you very much for having me, Leanne.

You're most welcome, Michelle. Thank you for visiting my blog.

What is Central Avenue Publishing's mandate?
Our goals are to treat writers with respect and integrity while bringing to market entertaining books and authors that connect with readers.

How/why did you decide to be a publisher?
Unlike many in the publishing industry, I didn’t work in it before. I’ve always been an avid reader and the idea for this company actually started with a conversation about 6 years ago that it should be easier for authors to get their work out there. Ebooks were in their infancy and being a technophile, the whole idea of a low cost, environmentally sound way to publish books really intrigued me.

The first iteration of Central Avenue Publishing was ireadiwrite Publishing, which was basically a DIY type of venture where we would take anything that anyone submitted and put it into the various ebook formats and sell it on our website. A year later, I wanted a change. I wanted to feel really passionate about what I was helping to put out into the world and so we adopted a more traditional publishing model. You can learn more about our first year here: http://centralavenuepub.wordpress.com/2010/05/01/one-year-old-almost/ 


When did you establish Central Avenue Publishing?
We started research and work in September 2008 and opened for business on May 1, 2009.

Share some of Central Avenue Publishing's challenges and victories...
Our biggest challenge is trying to get distribution into bricks and mortar stores. With paper books in decline, and fewer bookstores around, it’s near impossible to find anyone to represent our print titles. That said, I often wonder if it’s worth the effort. After all, the majority of our revenues come from digital and all signs point to continued success in that segment. I talk a little more about our challenges in this post: http://centralavenuepub.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/central-avenue-is-4-years-old-whats-next/

I also find marketing and sales challenging. Until about 2 years ago, I was solely focussed on production, getting books into the market. Book marketing is tough, it’s hard to make your book be seen in the other millions of books out there. We believe we’ve come up with solutions that work for us so far, but as always, I’m constantly looking for new ideas.

We have had a series of small victories over the last 5 years, and they’ve come in the form of authors who are truly dedicated to making their writing careers work. That said, we have had a few books go viral - which has meant that while the author did some great initial work to get the word out, the genre and the audience took over and helped propel the books to get more widely read.

We’ve had several books hit high on bestseller lists and it’s meant that a few of our authors can afford to do more of what they love: write.


This is a challenging time to become a publisher. How are you uniquely equipped to meet these challenges?
This is such a difficult question to answer. I believe that the only thing that I can offer any author is to be their collaborator and champion. Any author can publish themselves, they don’t really NEED a publisher. That said, there is inherent and tangible value to working with someone who has a vested interest in making your book work. I bring that to the table. That and a strong case of integrity and honesty and a true love of books.


What do you see as the benefits of being a publisher?
As I said, I love books. But what’s really cool is seeing the evolution of the story into a book that is even better than when it came in. With my editor’s hat on, I love suggesting changes to characters and storylines - it lets me be a bit creative.

Being a publisher is a bit like being a parent. You foster this thing along through maturity and then release it into the world to see what it can do. When it does well, boy that’s the best feeling.


I understand that Central Avenue Publishing is a Canadian publisher, what unique benefits and challenges does this present?
You know, I don’t know if being a Canadian publisher is good or bad - but Canada is so great at supporting their arts that they make it easier to do business - like issuing free ISBN’s and offering grants and awards to publishing houses. We take advantage of the former of course, and one day, when I have the time to fill out the paperwork, I’ll look at how to apply for some of those grants.

The only challenge I have seen is that I’m a small, primarily digital publisher on the West Coast of Canada. This means that there are few other professionals close by for me to collaborate with. However, my discovery of Twitter five years ago has meant that I can connect with other like minded people - no matter where they are.

Do you only publish Canadian authors?
No, only a small handful of our authors are Canadian.


How does Central Avenue Publishing market their books? Do you have a global reach?
Primarily, marketing is spearheaded by the author with support from us. At launch, we prepare all the materials an author might need, postcards, posters, press releases, media sheet, etc. We also query hundreds of book bloggers and run giveaways. Our books are reviewed about 2-3 times per week on book review blogs around the world. But really, we rely on the author to develop the plan (with our input) and we do their bidding.

We are so very global! Our authors live in all four corners of the world. 

Please describe a typical work day...
Since I’m pretty much a one-person show, I wear all the hats. I do on occasion work with freelance editors, proofreaders and art directors but for the most part I do it all. I have partnered with Meghan Tobin-O’Drowsky who runs our Everheart Books imprint.

What genres do you publish?
We publish all forms creative writing. We are not interested in self help or other non-fiction.

Who pays the publishing costs--the author or the publisher?
We are a traditional publisher, we pay all costs.

Does Central Avenue Publishing pay royalties as well as an advance?
We pay royalties but not advances. That said, our royalties are the highest I’ve seen talked about in the publishing world.

Do you publish ebooks, print or both?
Both, but depending on the book, it could be ebook only.

Please take us through Central Avenue Publishing's author submission process...
We aren’t currently accepting unsolicited submissions but we might later this year. When we are, we ask for a one page query letter. If we’re interested we ask for the first three chapters and then the whole manuscript.

How do you choose the authors you publish?
Of course, I have to like the book - but most importantly, I have to like the author. I look for authors who are serious about their career, putting themselves out there and being professional. I research them quite a bit before furthering the submission process. If I find instances of being overly dramatic or unprofessional websites, social media activity, etc. then it’s a red flag for sure. Since we work together a lot, I want to be sure that we’ll get along!

What next, please walk us through the process of publishing a book...
Our process is much like any other publisher, initial read, rounds of editing and proofreading, rounds of cover design, distribution and then development of a marketing plan and follow up.

Parting words...


I just want to thank you for having me. It’s always a pleasure to meet new authors and publishing professionals. I always have the same words for any person who feels themselves compelled to write. Never stop writing, if you do, you do a disservice to the rest of us. It doesn’t matter what happens to those words, if they’re read by one or one million it is more important that you wrote them down.

You can find Central Avenue Publishing's book catalogue here

Michelle would like to hear from you; so please leave a comment.

Monday, June 9, 2014

And we lean on each other

(rock art by Byron Dyck)

Let's begin this post with one of my favourite Beatles songs, shall we Help or more to the point Lean on Me

Okay, now that we've sent the mood... Authors work alone and yet we all need one another from time to time. That's why I joined a writing group and why I enjoy inviting authors to make guest appearances on my blog. And even though it's not always possible with my rigid blogging schedule (Monday and Friday, without fail regardless of...blab, blab, blab. Fingers crossed), I enjoy participating in blog tours. I view it as yet another way to connect with other authors and have fun. So when Debra Purdy Kong (Casey Holland Transit Security Mysteries) invited me to participate I readily agreed.


(rock art by Byron Dyck)

In order to participate I needed to answer questions four (any Monty Python fans our there?)

What are you currently working on?

Um, well... I take too big a bite when I'm eating and I...

I'm currently working on two novellas (literary and a mystery), a play (yes, a play. I never thought I would but it's a local contest--so how could I refuse?) and two short stories. Oh, yes, and I'm up to my earlobes in revisions. It's all tons of fun. There's not enough hours in the day. But if I were granted more I'd fill them with writing projects.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Simple answer:  its my work. By that I mean, my work is heavily influenced by what interests, inspires and concerns me. For example...
I'm dyslexic and am disappointed by the lack of support for adults with learning disabilities. This lack of support leaves learning disabled adults with health and employment problems--some of us wind up on the street or in jail. Potential lost. Lives wasted. But it doesn't have to be this way. Something must be done. All of us deserve to have an opportunity to have our own success story.

Increasing society's knowledge of dyslexia is a good starting point. Hoping to help obtain this goal, I've written a novel about my own experiences with dyslexia.

Why do I write what I do?

My junior high English teacher introduced me to authors like John Steinbeck who gave voice to ordinary people living ordinary lives. And, so, at an early age I found what I was driven to write about. I've never regretted accepting this invitation.

How does my writing process work?

I write daily and work on a number of projects simultaneously. I'm actively participate in social networking and view this participation as a way not only to sharpen my writing skills but also as a way to exchange ideas with my fellow authors. So I spend each morning (7 days a week) engaged. Then I go for a 45 minute walk and usually end my work day by reading for an hour.


(rock art by Byron Dyck)

And, now, I pass the torch to...

I've known Amber Harvey for (estimate) close to ten years. And have greatly benefited from her careful eye and keen brain as I'm fortunate to be a member of a writing group that meets in her house once a month. Amber is also a friend of this blog (Writers' Circle a poem by Amber) and I've reviewed one of Amber's books: Mayne Island Skeletons.

Amber Harvey
Amber Harvey has always been a scribbler. At age 10, she started writing a novel.
Amber has written and published three mystery/adventure novels for children 8 to 12, set on Mayne Island, BC. Her third novel Skeletons, was published by Smashwords and is available as an ebook.
And recently (Spring, 2014) Amber's piece 'Canadian from Coast to Coast' was published in Mystery Readers Journal.
Please visit Amber's blog.

I meet Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff on line. And was impressed by how two authors can work so closely together. So, impressed, in fact, that I invited them to be featured on my blog. They accepted my offer and I'm delighted to tell you that they will be my guests on Friday, September 12th.

Barbara Jean Coast (Andrea Taylor & Heather Shkuratoff)
Barbara Jean Coast is the pen name for writers Andrea Taylor & Heather Shkuratoff who live in Kelowna, BC.  Not only is Barbara Jean a writer of cozy mysteries, she's also a social butterfly and resides in Santa Lucia, California, eerily similar to Santa Barbara, circa 50's/60's.  DEATH OF A BEAUTY QUEEN, the follow-up to STRANGLED BY SILK in the Poppy Cove Mystery Series is coming soon from Cozy Cat Press
Please visit Barbara Jean's blog

Sharing my author journey...

Friday, June 6, 2014

Writing in My Sleep by Meglena Ivanova



Bulgarian author, blogger and essayist, based in New York, USA

Several months ago I decided to give a chance to any interest of mine which I really enjoy, so in the future I won't regret that I didn't let my talents create beautiful things. This is how I came up with the idea to try writing a novel. At the beginning I had difficulty in finding inspiration easy but it was only because I had some negative thoughts and distractions at that time of the year. Since I eliminated anything harmful to my inner peace I find inspiration very often and ideas come easier than ever. Sometimes words come to me while I'm watching movie or read magazines (I enjoy writing while reading), this is when I free myself, write ideas in my goal book and let my mind do the rest. Sometimes I just play with the words in order to give a start to my thoughts and it works. Other times ideas strike when least expected, for example two weeks ago I wrote a complete chapter after watching an exciting stage of the show Sleepy Hollows on TV. :) I know it sounds strange but sometimes strong impressions and emotions give me ideas, other times I don't even expect anything but words come while practicing yoga, watching news, walking to the store and my favorite is when I dream my stories while sleeping, that's why I always keep a notebook and a pen close to my bed. :) There are a few seconds just after you wake up from a dream when you remember it completely, so you have to write everything or at list what is on your mind in those seconds. The colors, the sounds, the shapes, the characters, what was said, even emotions, everything is important. When you can remember a dream vividly, it is important to grab every one of those memories and put them in a jar with a tightly sealed lid so that you can examine them later. Otherwise, they will quickly fly away into the distance. In those first seconds after I woke up from my dream nights, for example two days ago (1/03/2014) I had a dream night, I knew exactly what I had read - written - and I knew my exact reactions upon reading it. 



From those brief notes, I eventually wrote the first half of my second book -- The Bloodstone:  the Legend Continues, from the SACRED STONES trilogy (The Legend of the Moonstone:  A series for Kids and Young Adults is the first book of this trilogy).

Writing a good novel is hard. That's just life. If it were easy, we'd all be writing best-selling, prize-winning fiction or non-fiction. You have to put your heart and soul into it and give it everything you've go, even your dreams.)

Anyway, whenever writing ideas come they are invited : ) I suppose they come easier and often when we find peace in life, feel happy and grateful and enjoy life at all. : )

Hope you have many more exciting and unexpected writing ideas!

Please share them here or on my blog http://meglenaivanova.wordpress.com
or on my website:  http://meglenaivanova.com


Regards!
Meglena Ivanova
(w) http://meglenaivanova.com - The Lights in the Sky 
Smashwords - https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/377347

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Self-publishing, traditional publishing--pick one

In his article, Sir Hugh and the Snail, Porter Anderson asked, "How...can we, as an industry, get past this idea that we're in a fight?'

My answer:  Simply put -- with respect.

Self-publishing is not lesser or greater than traditional publishing--and visa, versa.

As Porter Anderson wrote:  '[T]his is not about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing...it's about the author deciding what is right for him or her, and for the readers.'



From 2006 to 2009, I self-published paper backs, E books and audio books. The tasks an indie author must perform are many. They include but are not limited to...

-writing the manuscript
-hiring an editor(s)
-hiring the cover designer
-formatting the manuscript
-hiring the printer
-financing the print run
-deciding on the size of the print run
-planning and carrying out marketing activities such as the book launch, book readings, etc.
-soliciting book reviews



-contacting the press
-direct selling to booksellers and readers.

There are many reasons why I choose to self-publish. Ranked high on this list was to learn about the publishing industry.


From 2005 to present, I've sent manuscripts--large and small--to publishers. Sometimes these manuscripts were accepted but mostly they were rejected. Sometimes it took longer than I'd ever imagined to receive that acceptance letter. But once accepted I worked with an established team of professionals to publish my story. This team included publisher, editors and other authors. 




(for a complete account of my publishing history (in traditional publishing), please visit this page)

There are advantages and disadvantages in both routes to publication. 

From these experiences I've grown to understand what I need, as a writer. And what I need is to be traditionally published. That's my decision. 

Other horses for other authors...

I'll bookend this article with a quote from another Writer Unboxed article--5 Things I Wished I Knew Before I Published My First Book by Catherine McKenzie: Even though we're artists...that doesn't mean your book business isn't your book business. Whether you go indie or traditional publishing doesn't change this.
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Sharing my author journey...