Month: March 2016

First Things First: Why I’m Jumping in Feet First As a New Author

My first book reading. Check out the cool beach glass candy. Photo credit goes to Philly Love Photos.

My first book reading. Check out the cool beach glass candy. Photo credit goes to Philly Love Photos.

The learning curve for a new author is intense, and it doesn’t stop even after you sign a contract.

As far back as the week I finished my manuscript, I was told I’d better start promoting myself as an author. Don’t wait until the book is published, I was warned. Get out on the Internet and social media now.

I took that advice. I learned how to build a website and a blog. I opened my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I began to post and tweet. I even started a board on Pinterest and began pinning novel covers I liked.

And then last week, the big day arrived. I signed a contract for Mind Waves. The long wait was over. I was going to be published. I would just need to work with the assigned editor, choose a cover, and write my author blurb. All new challenges, but I was ready for it.

But wait? What if no one reads the book?
I’d heard how critical reviews are for an author.

My writer friends and the publisher offered advice. Don’t wait for the book to be out to ask for reviews. Many reviewers won’t touch a book once it’s published. Write a press release and approach local media. Join helpareporter.com and look for PR opportunities. Who is your audience? Do you know? You must get creative and think “out-of-the-box.”

But wait, I thought that is what I was doing by writing a fiction novel in the first place? Frowns all around. Never mind.

Clearly, I have a lot to learn.
Here are a few more firsts that I participated in just this week:

  1. First Edits — I received my first round of edits from my publisher for Mind Waves. I was a little worried about what they might uncover, but I’m happy to report most were easy to follow. A few will take some work on my part to incorporate. But all in all, not bad for my first time out of the publishing block.
  2. First Signups — I participated in my first party, asking for email addresses. Okay, the party was not technically for me. It was a retirement party for a family member. But still, I drew up a quick sign describing my book and asked for email addresses AND I got a few. As of today, I have about 60 names on my list. A good start. I’ll continue to add more over time.
  3. First Book Reading — Perhaps most nerve-wracking of all was a book reading I did for some of my coworkers at a team event. I am fortunate to have some super friends in the office, who have been following my progress and were about as thrilled as I was when I finally signed a contract. I shouldn’t have been surprised when they asked if I would do a reading over the lunch hour. But I was surprised and thrilled and deeply touched.
Me starting to collect email addresses at a family party.

Me starting to collect email addresses at a family party.

Since I don’t have a book cover, I don’t have much for giveaways right now except my business card. But after some thought and searching on Pinterest, I came up with the idea to make beach glass candy. Turns out, it’s not hard and the finished product is cool (if I do say so myself). I made about 25 samples in cinnamon and lime favors, and they all disappeared.

The reading was more problematic. I wasn’t sure what passage or how much of the book to read. I didn’t want anyone falling asleep. After careful thought, I settled on providing a little background on how I came to write the manuscript, presenting a brief description of the novel, and then reading the prologue. My coworkers asked a lot of questions, and no one’s eyes glazed over, so I marked that down as a success.

Here’s a look at the book description for those who are curious….

MIND WAVES

Coming soon from The Wild Rose Press!

He has been in her mind.
________

He knows her thoughts.
________

He will do anything to protect her.
________

David navigates deadly brain waves.
Hacks into human minds. Protects the nation’s secrets.
But a powerful enemy wants the woman he loves.
And he won’t rest until David is dead.
________

Grace is an ordinary girl.
Or so she believes.
But a madman haunts her dreams.
And David may be the only one who can save her.
________

The ordinary is about to become extraordinary

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Cover Reveal: Don’t Miss ‘Race the Darkness’ Coming Oct. 4!

From time to time, I’m featuring area writer’s on my blog who have exciting news to share…

It’s precisely 7:22 p.m. ET, the sun has just set in the Eastern Time zone, and it’s starting to get dark. What a perfect time to reveal the cover of Race the Darkness, a dark, gritty, and emotional romantic suspense novel by a fantastic Northeast Ohio debut author Abbie Roads!

Abbie is a Golden Heart finalist (the largest romance novel contest for unpublished authors–being a finalist is a big deal) and is a member of my writing group, the Northeast Ohio Romance Writer’s Association. Her work as a mental health counselor gives her chilling insights, which play out in her writing. This book, which is on my must read list, is the first book in her Fatal Dreams series and will be released Oct. 4.  Can’t wait to get my copy and thought I would also share the cover and description with all of you.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/22nGnVk

B&N: http://bit.ly/1pwghOK

BAM: http://bit.ly/1RmOgoN

image

Cursed with a terrible gift

Criminal investigator Xander Stone doesn’t have to question you—he can hear your thoughts. Scarred by lightning, burdened with a power that gives him no peace, Xander struggles to maintain his sanity against the voice that haunts him day and night—the voice of a woman begging him to save her.

That threatens to engulf them…

Isleen Walker has long since given up hope of escape from the nightmare of captivity and torture that is draining her life, her mind, and her soul. Except…there is the man in her feverish dreams, the strangely beautiful man who beckons her to freedom and wholeness. And when he comes, if he comes, it will take all their combined fury and faith to overcome a madman bent on fulfilling a deadly prophecy.

Here’s what Abbie has to say about this novel:
I wrote Race the Darkness from start to finish three different times, with three different story lines, and with three different titles! The only thing that ever remained the same between the versions was Xander and Isleen. I believed in them and the story they wanted to tell. I hope you love reading about their tragedies and triumphs as much as I enjoyed writing them… All three times! And isn’t the cover amazing, beautiful, gorgeous? I cried the first time I saw it! It made all the hard work to get this book to you worth it!

For exclusive content and giveaways, you can sign up for Abbie Roads NEWSLETTER.

For more on Abbie:
WEBSITE
FACEBOOK
FACEBOOK AUTHOR PAGE
TWITTER

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The Long Road to Publication: How I Got An Editor to Say ‘Yes’ to My Manuscript


It seems like a dream to post this blog entry.

Two years ago, I took the plunge. I spent nine months writing my first book, a paranormal romantic suspense novel called Mind Waves. Whenever I thought about quitting, I reminded myself that I also want to quit running but that doesn’t mean I should. There are huge payoffs when I exercise regularly and the same is true of my writing. Without steady writing, I can’t finish the book, and I certainly can’t improve. Without steady exercise, my overall health suffers, and I gain weight.

My waistline and I are both happy to report that we kept running and writing. By April 2015, I had written an entire manuscript. I can still remember the utter joy and astonishment I felt when the last words hit the page. It mirrored the moment I saw each of my three babies for the first time in childbirth. Although nothing can match that excitement, finishing my book was a close second.

In fact, as I wrote in this post back in May, in many ways writing a novel is like birthing a child: you carry the story around with you for nine months, while you painstakingly nurture it, and then before you know it, the big day arrives, and you are showing your baby off to your friends and family.

A Slew of Rejection
What I wasn’t quite prepared for was the first year of my manuscript’s life. Although I had heard all about the pitfalls of rejection, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get the attention of an agent or editor in such a crowded marketplace. Since the advent of self-publishing, the number of books hitting the world has swelled from 600,000 a year to some 3.3 million. In fact, I read somewhere that every five seconds a new book is posted to Amazon.

Saying there are a large number of query letters landing in agent and editor inboxes at any one time is an understatement. Although I don’t know the exact number of aspiring writers submitting manuscripts, I can tell you there are so many, that it takes months to get a response (if you even get a response) to your query. And most of the time, these responses are cold, impersonal rejection notices.

“Thank you but your book is not quite right for our list,” or “While an interesting premise, I’ll have to pass.”

Editor Extraordinaire
Although I didn’t know it at the time, I got a lucky break in May 2015, when I joined the Northeast Ohio Romance Writer’s Association (NEORWA) and learned that their annual conference would be held at the end of the month. I signed up and managed to pitch one agent and two editors, all of whom asked for my manuscript. One of those, Ms. Laura Kelly with the Wild Rose Press, took the time to provide me with specific feedback. While she didn’t feel my manuscript was up to Wild Rose Press’s standards, she did provide suggestions for improvement and the titles of a few books on self-editing.

I took her suggestions to heart. bought the books and read them. I’ve never been much of a “book-learner,” though, preferring to learn by doing. So I continued to seek critiques and tweak my manuscript, while jumping back into the fray of pitching and querying.

Contests Generate Feedback…and Wins!
I started entering contests and kept this up throughout the year. Right off the bat, I was runner-up in the Music City Writer’s Pitch Contest, so I knew then my storyline had merit. More importantly, I found contests to be the best source for gaining professional feedback from other writers.

By August 2015, I had been awarded second place in the paranormal category in the 2015 Central Ohio Fiction Writer’s Ignite the Flame Contest and had rewritten the story painstakingly several times. I felt it was improved enough to resubmit to Laura Kelly. Shortly after Thanksgiving, she let me know she liked the story but felt certain plot changes would need to be made. If I was willing to make the changes, she said, she would look at the story again.

I felt her suggestions were sound, so it was back to revising. I spent the next two months reconstructing the plot. During this time, I also joined a critique group. The willingness of other members to provide constructive feedback was invaluable.

In January, I resubmitted the revised version. Laura Kelly responded immediately to tell me she would review and be back in touch by May.

Meanwhile, I learned the story received a bronze medal in The 2015 Rudy Writing Contest. For kicks in February, I decided to participate in a Twitter pitch contest, where publishers could favor pitches they liked. My pitch was favored by seven publishers, who after reading the initial chapters, all asked for the full manuscript. Five of these publishers eventually offered contracts, putting me in a quandary–should I accept one of the offers or should I hold out for the editor I wanted, Laura Kelly?

Final Pitch
After some internal debate, a flurry of emails and some googling, I decided to notify Laura Kelly about one of the contract offers, asking if she had had a chance to review the manuscript. She had not, but requested a week to take a look.

Before the week was up, she emailed to let me know she liked what she had read. Although only half way through, she was sending it out to a preliminary reader. Within a few days, I received a notice that it had passed the preliminary reader and was being forwarded to the senior editor for final approval.

Another week passed, while I tried not to worry about the outcome. Meanwhile, Laura Kelly wrote to tell me to relax over the weekend as I probably wouldn’t get a response until the following week. Easier said than done, but I made dinner plans with some old friends and managed to forget about it for a moment or two. Of course, it was while sitting in the restaurant that I received the email from the senior editor,  Ms. Amanda Barnett. Her email titled, “Contract for Mind Waves,” was enough to make me gasp and nearly fall off my chair. Instead, I did the next best thing and ordered dessert.

It’s a Wrap
I didn’t spend a long time reviewing the contract before signing. The Wild Rose Press has a certain reputation as an author-friendly outfit. They’ve been listed by the well-respected Preditors & Editors (P&E) website as “Best Book Publisher” seven years in row. Laura Kelly herself was voted the number one book editor at P & E three years in a row.

It has been long road to publication, but I am thrilled to be entering the final leg of the journey.

Now, it’s time to think about planning a book launch party (or parties!). Although I’m still working out the details, one thing’s for certain–you’re all invited!

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