Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Show Me The Money

Piles Of Money

As of now, I'm revising my first YA novel for the umpteenth time. In between revisions and pulling my hair out at work, I still like to dabble in poetry and short stories for children and adults.

My writing journey began in 2008. I had no fear. From day one, I plunged into submitting my work.

My first published piece was a poem I submitted to Parent:Wise Austin. When I read it now, I cringe. It wasn't very good, but I got paid $10! Woohoo! My next two pieces were puzzles for Highlights' Puzzlemania. I got two checks from them for $25 each! I thought, "Wow, I can get used to this!"

Since then, I've had a poem published for an e-zine for $5 and a flash fiction piece that was accepted and awaiting publication and payment of five British pounds.

I've had other pieces published: two children's stories on smories.com, two poems on SNM Horror e-zine, haikus on SoftWhispers, two poems for a now-defunct literary magazine, a poem on Roguezine, and a children's story in 31 More Nights of Halloween, a printed anthology. All for no monetary payment. In some cases, I didn't even receive a contributor's copy.

Don't get me wrong--after each and every acceptance, I did the Happy Dance. Acceptance is so crucial to my self-esteem, and every acceptance is a tid-bit of recognition letting me know I'm doing something right. But honestly? I'm getting tired of leaving a little bit of my blood on the page and only getting a pat on the back.

I've heard writers say that even if they never got paid, they'd still write. Well, my computer's hard drive is full of manuscripts awaiting completion, revision, and submission. I wrote them all without the promise of publication, and most of them will never be seen by an editor, let alone the general public. I wrote them because I needed to get them out of my head.

There are two schools of thought on paid acceptances. Some say that no author should work for free. (See 315 Million Reasons Why Writers Shouldn't Work For Free and Harlan Ellison Hates Cheap Writers) Others say that getting writing for free gives exposure. (See The Value of Free)

I say, "Whatever works for you, is great!" But from now on, I'll be searching Duotrope's database of 4445 listings for paying markets only.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you submit to non-paying publishers? Why or why not?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Paying It Forward--Cross-Promotion is a Wonderful Thing!

Paying it forward has made for a very busy week. 

The Best Indie Book Festival is over.

but the afterglow still lingers.

More than 60 authors and bloggers joined Melissa Foster's Awesome Support Group. 

(Do you see me?)


We interviewed and promoted 10 amazing authors and their award-winning books, helping to increase their sales and exposure.
All bloggers have reported an increase in traffic and some have even been contacted by other authors, requesting interviews!

On a personal note, I've interacted with some great authors and even got to interview Kathie Shoop! 

(Did you see it? It's right HERE!)

I also came away with about 15 books to read, increased my Twitter followers, blog traffic and 
I've gotten so much exposure through the event that I know would have taken forever to get on my own. 

I've gained a little more self-confidence and so many opportunities and possibilities have become available through the World Literary Cafe.
But more importantly, I've met so many awesome people (especially Melissa Foster) from all over the world with the common goal to support authors and 
Pay it Forward.

Who knows? Maybe some day soon, they'll all help promote my novel... 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Best Indie Book Festival!

It's here! It's here! The Best Indie book Festival is here!

This two-day event is sponsored by World Literary Cafe

For the past week, a group of bloggers known as Melissa Foster's Awesome Support Team, (aka #GoTeamPIF) have been spreading the news about the top 5 finalists in the literary fiction and thriller genres. We've tweeted, posted on Facebook, and  conducted author interviews on our blogs. 

Now, here's your chance to get in on the fun! 10 Award-Winning Authors! 
Enter to win Amazon gift cards! (No purchase necessary!)

Click this link right HERE!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Special Author Spotlight--Kathleen Shoop

Today's blog post is an interview with one of the top 5 finalists in the literary fiction genre of the Kindle Book Review Indie Book Awards! I was very excited to interview this author and I'm sure you'll all enjoy learning about her and her amazing book, After The Fog.

Author Spotlight

After the Fog is the second novel by bestselling Kindle author Kathleen Shoop. Her debut novel, The Last Letter, garnered multiple awards in 2011 as did After the Fog in 2012. A former Language Arts Coach with a Ph.D. in Reading Education, Kathleen lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

~Good morning, Kathie! Thank you for doing this interview with me today. I'm sure all my readers are wondering: What made you choose the self-publishing road over the traditional avenue?

--Hi Denise, thank you so much for having me and for asking such great questions. I did start down the traditional publishing road. I had an agent for a women’s fiction book and she wasn’t able to sell it. The next two books I submitted to her weren’t the right fit for her—one was too small and quiet to be my breakout novel (this one is coming out soon!) and the next one was historical fiction and something she wasn’t interested in repping. I submitted some of these books to other agents who found them too literary, didn’t connect with them or didn’t see a market for them.

The more I wrote and got better, the more trusted the readers I identified to help me craft a strong book and the more no’s I got for strange, particular reasons, the more I felt like getting a traditional book deal was akin to winning the lottery. I know many, many people have a different experience than I did and I’m happy for them, but I felt as though there had to be some perfect match on particulars that are unknown to all parties (writer/agent/editor) until they come across it. I knew as a reader myself and in having many friends and colleagues who are voracious readers that readers don’t look for the same match that agents and editors do.

They want a good book no matter who published it. Take, for example, Sara Gruen’s, Water for Elephants. What a fantastic novel! According to the feedback I got from traditional sources, the world must have been eagerly awaiting a depression era, circus train book for it to have become so successful. I believe readers are looking to be swept away by a well-told story, no matter the genre, no matter who published it, no matter who wrote it. I hope I deliver that for readers. And, I’m so, so grateful that technology brought along all the avenues for me to find another path to readers.

I will always work to become better and I’m not opposed to a hybrid publishing existence, but I’m satisfied that technology has allowed for self-published authors to pursue their dream of connecting with readers, of reaching “unreachable,” markets.

~I am in the revision process of my first novel. I've noticed how tough it is to get an agent, and many writers I know have taken the self-publishing road. What is the best advice you would give to an author considering self-publishing?

--Congratulations on being at the revision phase of your novel! That’s a wonderful, but work-intensive place to be! I think every writer has to weigh both paths to publication. I am so grateful to have the self-publishing path as it stands today, but there are times when credibility issues creeps in for me. I think writers have to fully understand if they’re ready to self-publish and take the hits for having put out an “un-vetted” book. Most readers don’t care or know who published a book, but it can sting to hear fellow writers put it down. I had to get to the point where the thought of being read was more important than the thought of having an agent and editor say it was time for me to be read.

The best advice has been given by countless others—read a ton, study other authors, work with other authors, write the best book you can then move on and write the next one taking the lessons learned with you. Whether you self-publish or go the traditional route, that advice works.

Then find a group of writers to hook up with and form a network. There are many organizations on-line if you don’t live near other writers. This type of group is the best for moral support, business brainstorming, and in helping you become the strongest writer you can. Some people are shy or uncomfortable with explicit social networking—these writers still need a network they can depend on even if they aren’t looking to tweet or facebook with others.

~I have a group of writers who are great for moral support and are invaluable for helping me with my work. I agree, we can't go it alone. Both of your novels, The Last Letter (which is also on my TBR list) and After The Fog, are historical fiction. What do you enjoy about writing in that genre? Also, what is your favorite genre to read?

--I don’t have one favorite genre to read—I love literary, historical, thriller, mystery, poetry, and especially nonfiction. I adore history and for me, having the added layers of another time and place gives me the opportunity to explore age-old relationships and issues in what can often be seen as a “new” way. What I mean by new is simply that history provides places and experiences that have been forgotten or never known about for wide populations of people. It’s part of what fascinates me as a reader and so it fascinates me as a writer.

I love the research involved in writing historical fiction as well. Although, I think research plays a part in any book, no matter the genre or setting. There are so many interesting little facts that help create a fictional world—that’s also what is compelling to me as a writer.

~What was your inspiration for writing After The Fog?

--The true events of “The Five Days of Fog,” otherwise known as Donora, Pennsylvania’s historic 1948 “killing smog” inspired this book. Donora was an extremely profitable steel town that supplied the war effort, the country’s infrastructure efforts and more.

But, having so much (three mills along a few miles of a bend in the Monongahela River) industry in a valley that had strange weather patterns, meant the town was nearly always foggy and often smoggy. This created health issues, environmental issues and political issues—but the money for immigrants and wealthier folks was hard to say no to. Money complicated what seems today as an obvious answer—shut down the mills when the smoke starts suffocating people. Most of the timeline reflects the manner in which the real fog settled in hung around for so long. That fog is the backdrop for my story. The heart of the story is the Pavlesic family whose troubles are exasperated (along with the whole town) by the debilitating industrial smog. Rose Pavlesic is tough—a no-nonsense public health nurse, wife, and mother who just wants her life in the proper order! Well, of course that can’t happen in fiction!

~After The Fog is already downloaded onto my Kindle Fire. I can't wait to read it! What have you found is the most satisfying aspect of being a writer?

--Besides the contentment I find in crafting stories and shaping fictional lives, the most satisfying part is being read. Having readers contact me to say they loved the book is just fantastic. I’m not supposed to care who likes it, if anyone likes it—it won’t stop me from writing if no one does—BUT, boy it’s nice to get a note or facebook post or tweet when someone does like it!

~Thank you again, Kathie for talking to us about your book and your publishing journey. Good luck with your writing and congratulations on being one of the top 5 Finalists in Kindle Book Review's Indie Book Award!

--Thank you, Denise, for having me to your blog. I appreciate the time you took to have me here and I look forward to hearing more about your work!

A love story wrapped in historical drama…In the steel town of Donora, Pennsylvania, site of the infamous 1948 “killing smog,” headstrong nurse Rose Pavlesic tends to her family and neighbors. Efficient and precise, she’s created a life that reflects everything she missed growing up as an orphan. She’s even managed to keep her painful secrets hidden from the love of her life, Henry, her dutiful children, and large extended family. When a stagnant weather pattern traps poisonous mill gasses in the valley, neighbors grow sicker and Rose’s nursing obligations thrust her into conflict she never could have fathomed. Consequences from her past collide with her present life, making her once clear decisions as gray as the suffocating smog. As pressure mounts, Rose finds she’s not the only one harboring lies. When the deadly fog finally clears, the loss of trust and faith leaves the Pavlesic family—and the whole town—splintered and shocked. With her new perspective, can Rose finally forgive herself and let her family’s healing begin? Will love be enough?

Join Kathleen Shoop and 9 other award-winning authors in the 
Featuring 10 Literary Fiction and Thriller Titles! 
Tues. Sept. 18-Wed., Sept. 19th.
10 Award winning books and SEVERAL chances to win a
$10, $20, or $50 Amazon gift card
(3 lucky WINNERS will be chosen!)
Click the image below for details

Want to learn more about Kathie Shoop? Check out her interview with Gemma Wilford.

You can also follow Kathie on Pinterest---Facebook and Twitter

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Abundantly Juicy Creativity

My inspiration comes from just about everywhere:

A line of dialogue:

 "There's a lotta things about me you don't know anything about, Dottie. Things you wouldn't understand. Things you couldn't understand."
- PEE-WEE HERMAN (Paul Reubens) in Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985)

A word:

A magazine ad:

A photo:

A face:

At the rate my ideas flow, I should have twenty published novels, three short story anthologies, a book of poems, and a daily blogpost. 

Unfortunately, all those ideas are just written on scraps of paper, inside, pocket journals, on pages ripped from magazines, and kind of look like this:

All in a pile, waiting for the time when I can expand on the idea, flesh out the plot, fill in the blanks, put a name to those faces, and ask them, "Why?"

Yes, my ideas are boundless. I have enough to write for six lifetimes. 

Every so often, one of those faces climbs to the top of the pile, yells out their name and demands to be heard. (Usually when I'm just falling off to sleep.)

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Melissa Foster's Awesome Support Team

Sometimes, but not very often, I find myself in the right place and time. It just so happens I was fortunate enough to be on Facebook when Melissa Foster from the World Literary Cafe put a call out to bloggers for a very special event.

Now, anyone who knows me, knows I'm the shy sort. All of my Author Spotlights have been about writers who I knew from Facebook and ICL. So, really, I have all my lovely writing friends to thank for letting me interview them, thus giving me the courage to sign up for this upcoming event. Thank you, Courtney Rene, Kim Curley, Angelia Almos, Claudette Young, Rebecca Besser, and Lena Coakley.

So what is this special event, you ask? Melissa Foster's Awesome Support Team will be hosting a Best Indie Book Festival featuring the five finalists in Literary Fiction and Thriller areas of the Kindle Book Review's Best Indie Book Awards! We'll be hosting author interviews and there will be special giveaways from September 12th through September 19th. 

I have the honor of interviewing Kathleen Shoop on September 16th. Squee!!

Sign up for e-mail notifications at the top of this blog, and follow me on Twitter, and Facebook. I wouldn't want you to miss this event!

And for all my author friends, here is another fantastic FREE event for you. Did I say this was FREE? Yes, it's free. 

Connect with me on Twitter--Facebook--LinkedIn--Google+
Plus, sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Author Spotlight--Lena Coakley

My Bucket List
by Lena Coakley

Aspiring novelists put so much of their energies into the dream of being published that when it finally happens, there is sometimes a letdown. Unpubublished authors might find this hard to believe, but it certainly happened to me. After the book launch and the tweeting and the first flurry of reviews, I realized that getting published didn’t make me a different person, or solve any of the problems I was secretly hoping that it would. In fact, now there was something missing. I had lost the number-one goal on my bucket list—writing and publishing my first novel—and it left a hole.

By necessity, writers are a self-motivated bunch, which is why it’s important that we keep moving the finish line forward for ourselves by making new goals and finding new dreams. Now that I’ve written and published my first novel, the #1 item on my bucket list has changed to:

--#1 Write and publish an even better novel. 

Since I have my first speaking engagements coming up in the fall, my #2 had better be:
--#2 Learn to speak in front of a crowd (gulp!).

But life isn’t all about work! There are places I want to go and experiences I want to have that have nothing to do with my writing. For the next eight of my top ten, some I expect to cross off my list this year, some may be on my list for many years to come (like #7 for instance), but the important thing is to keep replacing them with other goals and dreams so that I’m always moving forward.

--#3 Learn another language.

I’m always making half-hearted attempts at this one, and over the past two years have taken introductory courses in everything from Spanish to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. (Really!) But I have a “sticking to it” problem. Maybe Mandarin?

--#4 Get my diving certification.
I’ve always loved snorkeling and after taking a submarine trip in Cozumel a few years ago, I decided that SCUBA diving is something I’d really like to try.

--#5 Go to the Galapagos

--#6 Go to China (#3 will come in handy!)

--#7 See a narwhal.
This has been on my bucket list since I was eight years old and my grandmother took me to the Cloisters Museum in New York to see the narwhal horn that was mistaken for a unicorn horn.

--#8 See the northern lights. (This can probably be done in conjunction with #7.)

--#9 Volunteer on an archeological dig. (Mostly because I’m a huge fan-girl of Time Team.)

All right, I don’t usually tell this one since it’s a bit cheeky, but here goes: My final and (until now) secret goal is to have a book on the New York Times bestseller list—

which brings me to my conclusion: Dream Big!

What’s on your bucket list?

Lena Coakley was born in Milford, Connecticut and grew up on Long Island. In high school, creative writing was the only class she ever failed (nothing was ever good enough to hand in!), but, undeterred, she went on to study writing at Sarah Lawrence College.

She became interested in young adult literature when she moved to Toronto, Canada, and 
began working for CANSCAIP, the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers, where she eventually became the Administrative Director.

Witchlanders, her debut novel, was called “a stunning teen debut” by Kirkus Reviews and was the winner of the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for the Americas region. She is now a full-time writer living in Toronto.