It’s May, winter is over, and the sun is—hopefully—shining. I’m in a great mood and celebrating with a special deal. For the first time ever, the award-winning Charmed By Charlie is on sale! May 2-22, 2018, you can find the book for just $.99 cents on:
This is a great price but it won’t less forever. But if that doesn’t convince you, here are five great reasons why you might want to check this book out:
It won a bronze medalist in the 2016 Cleveland Rocks Romance Writers Contest.
It was the recipient of Books & Benches Reviewer’s Choice Seal of Excellence.
Library Journal calls it “A lighthearted and engaging read.”
Long and Short Reviews gave it five glowing stars and named it “Book of the Month” for November 2017.
It may be a long while before you see this price again.
But if that’s not enough to convince you, the book is featured as part of this special Love and Laughter Contemporary Romance Giveaway. Enter May 2-22 for your chance to win. You could be one of 7 lucky readers to take home a Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Fire 7, ebook prize pack, or Amazon gift card.
(Sponsored by the 34 authors listed below)
Allyson Lindt • Amanda Uhl • Chiquita Dennie • Christine d’Abo • Daphne James Huff • Diane Louise • Donna R. Mercer • Eva Winters • Holly Cortelyou • Jacqueline Diamond • Jacquie Biggar • Jennifer Vester • Joanne Dannon • Karina Kantas • Karly Morgan • Kat Drennan • Leigh LaValle • Lori Sizemore • Lucy Lakestone • Marlow Kelly • Michele Barrow-Belisle • Michelle Jo Quinn • Mimi Barbour • Monique McDonell • RM Alexander • Robyn Neeley • S.L. Sterling • Shaniel Watson • Soraya Naomi • Stephanie Queen • Tara Wyatt • Victoria Pinder • Weston Parker • Aileen Harkwood
Plus, shop the book fair where you’ll find Charmed By Charlie for 99 pennies and plenty of other books for $2.99 or less. There’s even a bonus giveaway!
“I finished writing my first book…now what? Any advice?”
I saw this post by a new author in a writing group yesterday and felt compelled to comment. I prepared a lengthy response and was all set to offer my advice when…poof. I got distracted and my amazing, insightful words vanished under my fingertips.
“Nooooo!” I bellowed, exchanging a few curses with my mobile device. Was that how this would end? Would the world never know the incredible wisdom I had to offer?
Then I remembered I have a website and a blog—a ready platform to share my views on writing or whatever else is on my mind. And I haven’t written a post in some time. So I got busy.
Why do I feel compelled to offer advice?
Not that long ago, 2015 to be exact, I was a new author. Fresh off the high of finishing my first manuscript, I stared at my keyboard wondering: What next? Who should I send this labor of loveliness to? How do I publish my first book?
Lucky for me, I joined a writer’s group with members able to offer advice. Still, no one told me what I’m about to tell you now.
Take your time.
Three little words but they’re critical to success. They spell the difference between good and great, between ho-hum and amazing, between a simple pedicure and the deluxe, between a slice of cheese pizza and one loaded with your favorite toppings, between a single taco and the entire enchilada…okay you get the picture (and now I’m hungry).
I know making it to the end of a manuscript is a miracle akin to welcoming a child into the world. You’ve dreamed about this moment most of your life, never thought you had it in you, and spent many years dredging the courage to begin let alone finish. You want nothing more than to see your finished cover and book in the hands of readers.
But please, take a deep breath and go back to your manuscript.
Did you rush the ending? Even a little? Did you catch every possible mistake? Did you eliminate clichés and make sure your writing is fresh?
Once you’re certain that your ending is as fantastic as your beginning and there’s no saggy middle, take your manuscript and send it to as many contests as you can find.
Yes, you heard me.
Don’t send it to a single agent or editor until you’ve entered contests…lots of them.
Why? Because contest judges provide a whole lot of feedback from professionals. Feedback you can use to evaluate and shine your manuscript until it sparkles. You will need this pizazz to compete with the millions of books in the marketplace and the thousands of new ones released every day.
Your book must be the BEST you can write. Only then should you share it with agents and editors and hopefully, one day with readers. You’ll know you’re ready when you place in your first contest.
Which brings me to my second reason why you shouldn’t rush into publishing.
Part of the learning curve to becoming a successful author is to find the best venue for your work—one that will give you the greatest reach in every format (print, electronic, audio, etc.). Roughly sixty percent of book sales are impulse buys. This means a reader happened to see your book somewhere and decided to buy it. Your book needs to be everywhere your readers are—which is literally everywhere. Will the publisher you sign with provide that kind of reach? Is this something you can garner on your own if you self-publish?
You get one chance to make a first impression. Once you publish your work, it’s out there. You can’t take it back. The publisher holds the rights to your book for the period of time in your contract. No agent or editor will touch it—the same holds true if you self-publish. What’s more, most publishers have the right of first refusal in their contract, meaning they get first dibs on every other book you produce in that series.
So why not take your time and make sure you find the venue that will give your book the biggest boost?
Keep writing while you pitch, and when you find your dream agent and publisher, you’ll not only have one masterpiece, but two or three or more in the making.
Don’t settle for the temporary thrill of seeing your words in print. You only get one shot to wow your readers and keep them returning for more. Perfect writing, like fine wine, takes time.
Don’t aim for a field goal, go for the touchdown. Shoot for the stars but don’t settle for anything less than the moon.
No, it’s not a national holiday, and no one famous has died (at least I hope not). It’s just an ordinary day. The second to the last day of 2016. BUT it is my birthday (and LeBron James’). It’s also “No Interruptions Day.” So excuse the interruption, but this entitles me to share a few thoughts, right?
You see, I’ve picked up a bit of wisdom this year, what with writing and publishing a book and all. I figured today would be a good time to impart a gem or two to whoever is reading this post. YOU!
Consider this your lucky day.
Don’t Give Up (Too Soon)
I read a recent blog post encouraging the reader to toss out anything in their life that doesn’t make them happy. Stuff like their job that’s less than satisfying or a spouse or a friend who never gives back. It’s all about focusing on yourself the writer urges. Hmmm. Seems a bit…I don’t know…selfish?
The truth is the job is not always going to be satisfying even if you love what you do for a living. As I wrote in a previous blog post, I don’t like to write. Writing takes hard work and discipline. I have to force my butt in the chair, day after day, month after month, year after year. I have to suffer through gobs of rejection from readers, critique partners, reviewers, editors, agents, friends, family or anyone else who has an opinion. More often than not, writing sucks.
But then there are those precious moments, few and far between, when the long days of writing, critiques and bouts of insecurity reap dividends. Like the moment I wrote the last word of my 86,000-word manuscript or the time I won a writing contest or the day I saw the cover of my published novel for the first time. The high during these moments can’t be bought or manufactured. Their worth is measured directly by the effort I devoted to achieving them.
People will fail you.
Whether it’s your spouse or family or friends, they’re bound to disappoint. The easy choice? Dismiss those people who annoy you, hold you back or cause you pain. Why not? Won’t that make you happier? Maybe. But maybe you’ll miss out on some of the most satisfying relationships life has to offer.
After twenty-five years of marriage, I’d be lying if I told you there weren’t moments when I wanted to strangle my partner. There are times we can’t see each other’s point of view no matter how hard we try. There are moments of resentment and anger when it seems we argue about the same stuff, like we’re trapped on an endless merry-go-round spinning in circles.
We could jump off and save ourselves the pain and nausea. Or we could stay on the ride and work together to bring it to a satisfying end. It’s a choice we make. Walk away or hang on tight. We choose to hang on tight. The ride isn’t always easy or fun, but it’s now bigger, better and more exciting than we could have ever imagined starting out.
Don’t get me wrong. There are instances when no amount of hard work can keep a relationship alive. But if you give up at the first sign of stress, how will you ever know the heart-warming laughter of a deep and abiding friendship? The friends I have who go way back–back to college and first jobs–are some of the most enduring, loyal and truest friendships I possess. These are the friends who made a choice to stay during life changes or arguments. They’ve put up with me, offering a rare and precious gift I’ll treasure forever.
Don’t be afraid to try something new
Fear is a thief, robbing us of future joy. Often it’s easier to stay in a situation we know is not good for us or allow ourselves to be placed in a role that doesn’t fit. We grow beyond the role or situation but are afraid to move for fear of failure. We let other people’s view of us define who we are.
Stop. Now. Today.
Don’t do what I did. It took me forty-six years to drum up the confidence to focus on my writing. I made dozens of excuses to keep me in the same place. I let others opinion of me and my fear of the unknown guide my thinking.
The last two and half years after I took a giant leap into the unknown have been the truest, most productive and satisfying of my life. I only wish I would have made the jump sooner.
A few weeks ago, I met a local Cleveland author who survived cancer twice. She wrote about her trials and what she learned from them in her book, A Beautiful Journey. She told me she’s now living for a higher purpose. It took a dreaded disease to shake her from her comfortable life and move her into a profession of blogging, speaking and authoring books.
Sometimes we need these life events to shake us up and show us what truly matters. But you don’t have to wait for something tragic to happen.
So do it. Follow your dreams. But work hard, stay disciplined and don’t give up on yourself or others too soon in the process.
All settled in the window at Appletree Books and ready to write.
A few Fridays ago, I spent four hours surrounded by glass, struggling to type the words to my next novel, Cross Waves. Appletree Books, a quaint bookstore in Cleveland Heights, has been hosting writers all month in honor of National Novel (NaNo) Writing month, which takes place each November.
Cross Waves is the second book in my Mind Hackers series, but that doesn’t make it any easier to write than the first. Also, my job as a communications manager doesn’t leave much time to write.
So I was expecting big things from my day in the window, eagerly anticipating its arrival. But like most things in life, anticipation is the half the reward. We never know what’s in store.
Here’s how it went down.
…They’ll give it a try.
I attempt to start my car, but the battery is dead. Not even the keys will work to unlock the doors. That’s when my terrific husband figures out I left the lights on the night before.
I call the store to tell them I’ll be late, arriving at my destination an hour behind schedule. I push a dollar in quarters in the meter, knowing I’ll need to return two hours later to feed it some more.
Starbucks is next door, so of course, I visit the coffee shop to purchase my Chai Tea.
Back at the store, hot tea in hand, I size up the window. There isn’t a lot of space for my cup, laptop, iPad, purse and glasses. But I promised to sit in the window, so I set my belongings on the small table, kick off my boots, and hike myself into the tiny seat, making a mental note to start that Yoga class soon.
The weather is unseasonably warm for November–a balmy 72 degrees. Sunlight streams through the tall glass. I open my laptop, hands poised above the keys. Sweat beads on my forehead.
I’d received a few tips from writer friends who’d sat in the window earlier in the month to dress in layers. I strip. Off goes my vest, shirt and socks. There I sit in t-shirt and jeans, my bare feet resting on my purse, feeling a bit like a plant in a greenhouse about to die of heat stroke.
A little encouragement from a spectator.
My fellow writer in the opposite window is a local whose friends stop by in a steady stream. One of them holds up a sign to spur me along. I’d better start writing.
I push my laptop back an inch and bump my tea. I watch in horror as it dumps to the floor, muddy brown liquid dripping on the wood and into my open purse. Ugg. Down from the window I go in search of paper towels.
I return and get settled again. The writer is changing in the next window. My friend Marin arrives, taking her turn behind the glass.
“I need a water,” she says. Off she goes to the Starbucks next door.
A fairytale bookstore–I want these steps in my home.
Time to write
I type a sentence or two. I haven’t worked on this story in six months. I struggle to recall the plot. I reread.
Marin returns, water in hand, which makes me wonder what time it is. I look for my cell phone. It’s gone! I must have left it in the car. What if someone needs me? I scramble down from my perch, slip on my boots and grab my keys.
Off I trot to the car to find my cell on the front seat. Good timing as the meter needs fed. Except my change is in my purse at the store. Sigh.
Back I go to retrieve my purse, my heels clunking on the hard pavement. You should be writing…you should be writing…they seem to chant.
I feed the meter and return to the store. Up I climb in the saddle again.
A man comes by with a large, expensive-looking camera. He motions to take my picture. I nod. Dutifully, I smile, wondering where the photo might end up.
I write a few more sentences, fanning my face in between. Sweat trickles down my back. Marin tells me she’s had enough and exits the window for a cooler table in the next room. I briefly contemplate doing the same. But then, what’s the point? I came out here to write in the window and write I will!
I place my determined hands back on the keyboard. A few more sentences appear on the page. Yahoo! It’s now a paragraph. I’m writing. I’m writing!
My gracious hosts at Appletree Books. Notice the book wallpaper behind the counter.
The store owner approaches. “I’m heading to Starbucks. Would you like an ice-water?” she asks.
Would I like an ice-water? “Yes, please,” I say, looking at her like she’s my fairy godmother, and I’m going to the ball.
I write a few more sentences. The words are coming easier now. I check my word count. 500 new words. Yay.
The store owner returns with the largest ice-water I’ve ever seen. “Bless you,” I say, and I mean it.
I wrap my hot hands around the giant cup and bask in the instant relief. Now all I need is a sandwich.
I check the time on my cell phone. Two o’clock. My time under glass has come to an end.
Marin decides she’s heading back to the office, so I take a solitary lunch at the restaurant next door, selecting a seat far from the window.
I prop open my iPad and churn out a thousand words.
I launched my first book,MIND WAVES, worldwide on Oct. 7. That was a biggie.
I threw my first book launch party at a store in my local Cleveland neighborhood. What a thrill to describe the journey to my family and friends. You can check out a video on my Facebook page.
I signed my first books--50 of them to be exact. Wow!
I got my first reviews, so far all four and five-stars. Yippee! I can certainly use more, so if you’ve read the book and enjoyed it, please consider giving it a “star” ranking on Amazon. If you can add a few lines describing what you liked, even better. Reviews really help an author promote the book to others who might enjoy it.
Here I am, signing books. Tip for new authors: Write down some fun sayings ahead of time. I used Pinterest for inspiration. Also, bring a good pen.
Today, I’ve got another first to tell you about. I’m participating in my first BLOG HOP. What’s a blog hop? It’s a fun way to visit or hop from author site to author site, learn a little about their books and get great giveaways.
Today I’m offering a free e-copy of Mind Waves for one lucky visitor:
If he can control her mind…
Government operative David Jenkins is skilled at controlling his emotions. Feelings are lethal when your job is to infiltrate minds, erase and implant thoughts, and guard the nation’s intellectual capital. But even he can’t fight his strange attraction to Grace Woznisky. He’ll do whatever it takes to protect her from a madman intent on possessing both their minds. Neither suspect their dangerous enemy has a larger motive, and David may be Grace’s only chance for survival.
Can he control her heart?
All freelance artist Grace wants is steady-paying work and to see her flighty sister to the altar. But after David offers her a job, she finds herself in the middle of a mental tug of war—one that has her reeling from nightmares and fighting for her life. She must decide: Are her growing feelings for her new boss authentic, or is she a victim of his mind-altering abilities?
AWARDS & HONORS
Mind Waves received a bronze medal in the Paranormal Category of the 2015 Rudy Contest. It took second place in the 2015 Central Ohio Fiction Writers Ignite the Flame Contest in the category of Paranormal/Fantasy/Time Travel/Futuristic. It was also runner up in the 2015 Music City Romance Writer’s Pitch Contest.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amanda Uhl has always had a fascination with the mystical. Having drawn her first breath in a century home rumored to be haunted, you might say she was “born” into it. After a brief stint in college as a paid psychic, Amanda graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in theatre and a master’s degree in marketing. Over the past twenty years, she has worked as an admissions representative and graphic designer, owned her own freelance writing company, and managed communications for several Fortune 500 companies, most recently specializing in cyber security. Amanda is an avid reader and writes fast-paced, paranormal romantic suspense and humorous contemporary romance from her home in Cleveland, Ohio. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find Amanda with her husband and three children, gathering beach glass on the Lake Erie shoreline or biking in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Visit her online at www.amandauhl.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/amandauhlauthor or Twitter at @AuAuthor
I’ll be getting out and about in the Cleveland area. Come and meet me and get your book signed, too!
The title of this blog post came easy. The rest I’ve rewritten at least a dozen times. And that’s pretty much how its been with me lately. It’s all a little twisted. Like I put my shirt on backward or got out on the wrong side of bed.
Not that I’ve done those things. But every time I start to write, the words seem somehow wrong. No sooner do I type, I’m hitting the delete key. I write, rewrite, edit, write some more. Then I scrap the piece and start over.
It’s frustrating, annoying, downright depressing.
Why do I do it?
Sabotage my writing before it has time to sit on the page. This week, it’s due to a large dose of negative feedback.
The first came on Monday from an agent I had queried a while back for my newest work, Charmed By Charlie. “I couldn’t connect to the story as much as I wanted to,” she wrote.
Okay…I get it. Not everyone will like your work. But I had such high hopes for this one. I’ve been offered a contract from a great publisher. How could the agent not see how beautiful, wonderful, special this story is?
She seemed nice when I met her back in June. I really wanted her to be the one.
And then on the heels of this email, I received word the manuscript also failed to final in a contest I entered. What? I was so sure it would do well. I read over the feedback. The judges made statements such as, the goals, motivation and conflict weren’t clear.
But I plotted out the goals, motivation and conflict before I began writing. What went wrong?
Before I knew it, I found myself sliding, slipping, drowning in a sea of self-doubt. How could I write another word of my current manuscript, which is only sixty-six percent complete, with this kind of feedback?
The answer is I couldn’t. I stopped writing, walked straight to the freezer and downed the rest of the vanilla ice-cream left over from my son’s birthday party. Then I gorged myself on cottage cheese and granola bars–two late night snacks that have no business mixing together. And the next day…well, you don’t want to know how I felt the next day. Let’s just say, it wasn’t good. I’m grateful I can work from home.
Getting back in the chair
I started thinking about what drives me to write. From where does the passion come?
I love the feeling of starting a new project–the spark of inspiration, which motivates me to type for hours when I should be sleeping or doing laundry. Or the surge of excitement I feel listening to a favorite song or movie or reading a good book. Or the exhilaration of seeing the sun set or spotting the perfect piece of Lake Erie beach glass.
A favorite shot of beach glass I gathered from Lake Erie with a quote from my upcoming release, Mind Waves.
These are the stuff of creativity. They stir the pot of ideas and keep me moving. They’re a jolt of energy telling me I can take on the world or at least my small piece of it. Nothing’s gonna hold me back.
Until someone throws out a negative comment about something I’ve written, and I come crashing back to earth with a resounding thwack.
And then I calm down
Time brings perspective. I go back and reread the letter from the agent.“I’d definitely be open to seeing something from you in the future,” she wrote. “So please keep in touch and hopefully we can work together on a different project.”
Hmm…she must like my writing to offer to look at new material.
I also take a closer look at the contest feedback. The final question asks for overall commentary. Here are excerpts from the judges:
“The important points being brought up indicate a strong storyline being crafted: a boring boyfriend, disappointment at work, an unpredictable best friend, a hot new co-worker…all these are excellently introduced. I think the story will be very compelling once some pacing issues are addressed and the hero makes his GMC known to the reader.”
“This is a manuscript worth pursuing. The setting is interesting, the characters compelling, and the writing make me want to turn the pages!”
“This is really nearly there. Your voice is good, easy to read and entertaining, and you do banter well. Some very funny lines.”
Okay, so the manuscript needs some work. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a great story. Stop listening to the world and listen to your gut. It knows what no one else does.
From time to time, I feature a few special writers and their books on my site. Kathryn Knight is a fellow author with The Wild Rose Press. This month she released her newest paranormal romantic suspense novel, a military ghost mystery called Haunted Souls. Check it out!
Four years ago, Emily Shea and Staff Sergeant Brett Leeds agreed to part with no strings attached. Sparks flew during their brief affair, but fate intervened, sending Brett overseas. When an unexpected pregnancy derailed Emily’s own plans, her attempts to locate Brett were soon overwhelmed by the challenges of single motherhood. Now, Brett has returned home, and Emily is forced to share her secret.
Despite feeling betrayed, Brett is determined to forge a relationship with their son, Tyler. As the former lovers battle both their inner demons and their mutual desire, another presence enters their lives—Tyler’s imaginary friend.
Soon, however, the chilling evidence points to a different conclusion: a ghost has formed a dangerous connection with their son. Emily’s attempts to help both a lost soul and a friend in need spiral toward a deadly confrontation, and Brett must race to save Emily before he loses her again—forever.
To order Kindle link: https://www.amazon.com/Haunted-Souls-Kathryn-Knight-ebook/dp/B01EZLQX9G?ie=UTF8&ref_=asap_bc
Kathryn Knight spends a great deal of time in her fictional world, where mundane chores don’t exist and daily life involves steamy romance, dangerous secrets, and spooky suspense. Kathryn writes contemporary romance spiked with mysterious hauntings as well as YA paranormal romance filled with forbidden love. Her novels are award-winning #1 Amazon Bestsellers and RomCon Reader Rated picks. When she’s not reading or writing, Kathryn spends her time catching up on those mundane chores, driving kids around, and teaching writing classes. Two of her ghost story/romance titles, Gull Harbor and Haunted Souls, are set on beautiful Cape Cod, where she lives with her husband, their two sons, and a number of rescued pets. Please visit her at Kathryn Knight books on Facebook, @k_knightbooks on Twitter, or at www.kathrynknightbooks.blogspot.com.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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….
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.
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.”
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?
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!
That is the question:
Whether tis better to embrace Twitter
And all it has to offer or to remain in blissful ignorance
And by opposing avoid it entirely?
To tweet or retweet; or give or get a favor.
To see your followers go up and down then up again.
Aye there’s the rub.
Chances are if you’re an author, you have a Twitter account, which you are using to follow other writers, agents and publishers and post your own news and comments. You probably have quite a few followers, too. Twitter followers seem to come and go like waves on the ocean–they rush in, they depart again.
Writers go social From the moment I completed my first manuscript, I was advised to develop an author profile on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. Facebook was easy. I already had 300+ friends, so it wasn’t hard to create an author page and invite them to like the page. Twitter, on the other hand, took more effort. I had to learn the hashtag concept, figure out how to tweet, determine frequency and decide who or what to follow.
Although it’s been a year since I posted my first tweet and garnered my first follower, I have made a few observations:
It’s fast. Like a speeding bullet, life on Twitter happens much more rapidly than on other social media platforms. The minute I tweet, someone else is there to retweet, comment or favor.
It’s mostly impersonal. Unlike my 300 Facebook friends, the majority of whom I have met in person at one time or another, I think I know maybe five of my current Twitter followers. The rest are strangers who share a common interest in books and writing. Do we talk? Sure in about ten words or less.
It’s noisy. Scanning my Twitter feed is a lot like being in a roomful of people with everyone shouting at once. Who do I tune into? Who do I tune out? What important conversations do I miss while I’m trying to make up my mind? And how can I possibly be heard with all the noise going on around me?
It’s powerful. Over the last two weeks I participated in two Twitter events: #Pit2Pub (to pitch publishers) and #PitchMatch (to pitch agents). Each involved composing a compelling tweet describing my book and posting it during a certain time period. The first event garnered seven favors from publishers and generated one contract offer (so far). The second did not win me or the majority of the other participants any favors. But I came away with a new respect for Twitter as a tool that might, with the right amount of luck and timing, attract a legitimate agent, editor or publisher. Neither of these events were time consuming, and both allowed me a glimpse into what those on the receiving end of our pitches are seeing.
Recently, a writer friend sent me a list of 91 free Twitter tools and apps. Many of these are designed to provide users with a better idea of who to follow. Clearly, there are a lot of eyes on Twitter.
So should we tweet? I’d twitter a guess we should.