WOW!

I find that I tend to shy away from a lot of self-promotion. It feels…awkward. I’ve never been great at direct sales. Let’s face it, that’s what self-promotion is geared towards.

As an author, you must make yourself available in some fashion. The internet is awesome for this because you can interact with readers, other authors, professionals who provide various services, EVERYONE, via digital communication, and you don’t have to crawl out of your introvert shell.

But you have to be out there. I think most of us struggle with it. Some do not – they seem right at home. I’m not there yet.

I’m more comfortable talking with other writers about craft issues, or better ways to do things, or any of the number of concerns we have to handle as part of being in business. I like to help people. You have a problem? Tell me! I’ll be Googling a solution within minutes! I love finding solutions.

I would be great at a museum help desk. I was a docent for over a year at Historic London Town.

Londontown

It was fabulous, and I would totally do such a thing again. You know, when I retire, and my to-do list isn’t burying me. (I was a docent before I had kids. LOL, tells you something.)

So, anyway…I would rather be helping others than promoting myself.

But I am really excited about something that happened, and it will seem sort of self-promote-y – but I want to share.

I’m a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. I serve on the Board of Directors as the Newsletter Editor, and the IPAL Liaison (that’s the professional group within RMFW for independently published authors). I love it. It takes time from my schedule, but the organization is fantastic, and I like giving back to a group that I get a lot from. I have a fabulous critique group, a wonderful group of beta readers/critique partners – those things are invaluable.

Indies are still the new guy on the block in the world of publishing. We don’t still have the new car smell, but we’re still shiny. Two years ago, RMFW recognized the movement of indies as professionals and created IPAL. It’s an amazing group of authors.

What we also created was an Independent Writer of the Year award. We’ve always had a Writer of the Year, but it was for traditionally published authors only. The IWOTY is only for indie authors. It’s a great step in upping our professional status.

I am thrilled to share that I am a finalist for the first ever IWOTY award. Along with my amazing colleagues Sue Duff and Nathan Lowell. I am humbled to be in a grouping with the two of them.

This is a huge deal. Not just for me (and I am personally thrilled) but for all of our indies. For so long, we’ve had to battle the stigma of being ‘not quite professional’. The Selection Committee for our IWOTY nominees worked really hard to look at all the indies who’d submitted credentials, and we have really talented authors in our indie pool.

So that’s it. I wanted to share, because it’s truly an honor, and every time I think about it, I just can’t believe it.

Tomorrow, May 5th (other than being the day that Revenge of the Fifth follows May The Fourth Be With You) is the one year anniversary of my first time hitting the ‘Publish’ button. I’ve put out three full-length novels, a novella, and a serial novel under two names. I have more novels than I probably ought to on the various burners right now.

While I’m not exactly where I want to be (Having won The Bet with My Beloved, and in possession of a pair of tickets to the annual Jane Austen Ball with appropriate costumes), I’m getting there.

It’s a great time to be a writer, and an even greater time to be an indie writer. Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the past year, and to my colleagues in RMFW for nominating me for this honor.

Now, back to the grind. Tally Ho!

 

Knowing your rights…from KrisWrites.com

I follow Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog. She is a font of information. What I enjoy most are her Business Musings. She’s been in the business a long time, and I really like reading her take on things.

This one…wowsa.

motherofgod

 

That’s all I got. You. Need. To. Read. This. If you are creating intellectual property, this is worth the time to read, re-read, and go through her links.

It’s a whole new world out there, and we the creators need to understand it. The times of someone taking care of us or “looking out for our best interests” is, in my opinion, over. WE must take care of ourselves, and manage and shepherd our interests.

This is a good place to start.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS (CONTRACTS/DEALBREAKERS)

Link to KKR’s entire blog post.

You’re welcome.

(Another Kris, to inspire you along)

Dysongif

Spring Showers, April….

Well, it’s not flowers. I did have flowers, and all three of my juvenile trees were budding and flowering, but…as per the bipolar Colorado weather, it snowed.

A lot.

LisaAprilSnow

I can only hope my poor trees and flowers make it. The pic above represents an A.M. situation. I’ve shoveled at least 2.5 feet at this point. I. Am. Tired. Still wouldn’t live anywhere else. Except maybe Key West. For a couple of months in the winter. On a boat.

I digress.

Spring is also the time we clean, organize, and generally clear out, readying for all that comes with summer. Or at least, we attempt it. I’ve got a lot of attempts under my belt.

Last month, I reorganized my basement. My Beloved got a quiet room with a door for his office. The Darling Children also got their own office, also with a door. Everyone has space to go and work, and be quiet. Well, maybe not so much the DCs.

I got the loft. The loft has been where our main desktop sat for the last ten years. It’s also the place where things got dumped, shoved, and stored when we didn’t know what else to do with it.

I spent a good month working on my loft, now my Office of Awesome. It has all the decor I love – I don’t care if anyone else doesn’t like it. I do, and that’s what matters. It’s my favorite place to be in the house now, other than my bed. And my front room with the Christmas tree up.

Lisa Office

Sounds great, right? It is, and it isn’t. Now, the rest of the house needs to be organized. I got the main level done – a heroic effort was put in by all of us to clear out the debris that no one used or loved anymore. When I look around, there is so much less clutter.

That leaves only one place.

*cue the Jaws tune*

My closet and dressers. Dear lord, I am a terrible clothes collector. Ter-Ri-Ble. I have gone through the closet, and the dressers loom, waiting for some attention.

Once done with my room, the entire house will have been addressed, in some fashion. The work is never done, but it’s cleared out in a way that it hasn’t been in years. You all know how it is – kids, work, second work (writing), house stuff – the clearing out and paring down gets pushed waaayyy down the list.

But I’m making the effort. After forty-five years, I am finally becoming more organized than I have ever been in my life. It allows me to live cleaner. I don’t mean that in a food sense, but in the sense that less crap means less clutter in my mental real estate. I find I can focus better, and am more productive, both with writing, and all the other things I need to get done.

Except today. I managed to shovel snow, and shower. And feed people. That was it. But generally, in the last month, this is what I’ve found – and I didn’t plan on it, I wasn’t aiming for it. But by clearing out the physical clutter, my mental clutter went down too.

There’s a lot of mental clutter in the world. Good lord, just go hang on Facebook for five minutes – it’s tough not to get distracted. I’m working on that too – and I’ll be honest, with my physical setting feeling less like it’s in disarray, I don’t feel the need to get all involved in other people’s social media. Unless it’s positive.

So the snow has been good for one thing, other than substituting for my workout today. It’s allowed me to think about the changes I’ve made, and how said changes are affecting me.

Now that it’s spring, take some time, and see what clutter you can toss. See what you don’t really need – if you read Marie Kondo’s book, she recommends tossing anything that doesn’t give you joy. JOY. That’s a strong word. I’ll tell you, it was hard for me. But I would look at something and think, Does this bring joy? If I had any hesitation, into the Toss pile it went. And I don’t miss it. We hang onto crap, worrying that we might miss/need it.

We don’t. Not usually.

Be brave. Be strong. Be HONEST. What brings you joy? If you’re sitting there, glancing at something that doesn’t, get up now, and go make a Toss pile. Then go tackle a small area that’s been driving you mad, and bag it up. Put it in the car, even.

And get rid of it.

You’ll feel better.

Happy spring!

StarFest 2016

My Starfest 2016 Schedule!

So see the clicky linky above? Click it! You know you want to! CLICK IT! I’m so excited about this. For the first time ever, I’m attending a Con not just as a fan (although you can be sure I checked the schedule for things I want to go see), but as a panelist.

Starfest is an established sci-fi convention here in Denver. It’s one of the first conventions I went to. I always have a lot of fun. It’s not huge, not like Dragon Con, or Denver Comic Con, but I like going to a smaller convention. I like being able to take the time to talk to people. Starfest is where I met one of my favorite writers, who also happens to be local. (Mario Acevedo, in case you were wondering.) We talked about steampunk, both the costuming aspect, as well as whether or not to write it. It was fantastic, and a wonderful way to put one’s toe into the world of conventions.

It’s also family friendly. As my kids get older, we’ve started to introduce them to cons. One loves it, one is rather ‘meh’ about it. I’m good with that. A fifty percent ratio isn’t bad. I appreciate it when the cons do things to include and involve the kids. It’s good business, too. All us older nerdy folk are going to keep getting old. Start ’em young, and you build an attendee for life.

The ‘nerd culture’ has been in the spotlight over the past couple of years. I’ve seen some of my favorite cons explode from an attendance standpoint, as more people come to see what all the fuss is about. A lot of them keep on coming.

Why?

Because cons rock. Seriously. They do. I love to costume, and I love love love talking costume with other people who love to costume. #1 thing I’ve learned? Costume for comfort. Do your housecleaning in your costume. If you can’t get your work done, mod your costume. I am not joking. Nothing sucks worse than planning to be out, on your feet, probably sweating, for ten hours, with a costume that is not comfy, not movable/breathable, or one that you’re constantly futzing with. LOL, I’ve learned this the hard way.

If there is a movie, TV show, pop culture thing, book-anything that has a fandom – you can find a con where your fellow fans will be. Trust me on this one. I have a friend who loves Korean pop. He goes to panels about that exact topic at one of the cons I attend. I didn’t even know it was a thing, but it is.

I’m a fan of so many things-Harry Potter, LOTR, Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, Supernatural, All Things Joss Whedon With Special Love To Firefly/Serenity, steampunk crossover for ANYTHING-you get the point. I have costumes that fit into all but two of the above listed fandoms. Cons are a great place to dress up, show off the thing you geek out over, meet like-minded folk, meet authors, learn new craft skills (I went to a panel, and then every panel thereafter from a presenter at Anomaly Con who gave up so much knowledge on steampunk costuming that I use to this day…she was brilliant) and have fun.

So if you’re looking for something to do, come by. It’s an easygoing convention. There’s plenty to do – in addition to the fan traks at Starfest, they also have Horrorfest, and ComicFest. My little guy wants to go to Horrorfest so bad. He’s already a HUGE horror fan. (As in, his Halloween costume last year was Jeff the Killer. I was sure a visit from CPS was heading my way.) But he’s only 9, so we’re easing into the horror.

Plus, I’m working this weekend. Come see me.

Review of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”

I am not a movie reviewer. Let’s sort that out right up front. However, I read my friend Mark’s review on his SoWizard site (you should definitely check he and his colleagues out), and after I saw it this weekend, I was compelled to respond.

I AM, however, a lifelong Jane Austen fan. As in, I LOVE HER. I know all her books, and only Northanger Abbey doesn’t get five stars from me. (All the NA fans, ease up. It’s just the one where the heroine bothers me. It gets four to four-and-a-half. I had a hard time identifying with her, even as a teenager.) I am also someone who loves the movie adaptations, even though they often lack any real “action” (or anything at all, other than snobbish accents, according to my Dear Husband. He’s not a fan). Jane Austen wrote about small worlds, and lives that were part of a narrow, understood path. They were complex in their relationships but small on a global level. Fans of Jane Austen are good with that. We love that, actually.

So it stands to reason that someone who is not necessarily a JA fan will be put off by the general tone of a JA based movie, even one that has zombies at the heart of all conflict. As I said commenting on Mark’s review, I like the quiet story line of a Jane Austen.

With that, let’s get to the review.

I loved the book. Loved it. I loved what Seth did with the story. I’m not a purist, most of the time. I can totally get behind an adaptation if it’s clever and well done. I felt like he did that. I also like the intro in the movie of the History of England, 1700 to 1800. I like that sort of vintage cartooning, so for me, it worked.

When it came to the movie, I was disappointed. They took Mr. Darcy and gave him a story arc that was supposed to create tension. However, there was already tension. Mr. Darcy in the movie had governmental muscle behind him in the quest for zombies. He didn’t need that to bring tension to the relationship between he and Elizabeth. His suspicions-that are revealed later-create enough tension as it is. Both in his thoughts and actions. I thought it was unnecessary. It would have worked to use the tension written into the story. Darcy would have still been the dour, unpleasant, rude man that he’s been since creation, insulting our heroine and drawing our ire. This is probably my biggest complaint.

I loved the Bennett sisters. LOVED them. That scene in the assembly-every one of them is a powerhouse, and that’s true to the book. It’s one of the changes that was made in the adaptation that I liked. Every one of those young women went in with katana drawn and ass-kicking on her mind. That was fantastic.

One thing that I missed was the relationship between Lizzy and Jane. It was not shown to the depth that it ought to have been. More like skipping a rock across a pond than what it really was. That was…sad. Because that relationship is important. I wish they’d gone deeper.

That leads, however, to the portrayal of Wickham. That, in my opinion, was fabulous. I loved that change. I wholeheartedly approve. I thought it brought a really interesting plot arc in that added, rather than detracted from the story. And the fact that Jane and Lizzy walk right into that arc for love (you’ll see what I mean) shows that the relationships within the Bennett family are there.

Let’s not forget Mr. Collins. Holy hell. I laughed at him nearly every time he was on screen. Oh, you Doctor, you! Matt Smith made him. I think he’s my favorite adaptation of Mr. Collins. He wasn’t the greasy, slimy one we’ve seen before. He was cheerful and a complete social climber, and eternally optimistic and convinced of his own fabulousness. I thought it was a perfect way to play him.

Darcy, in the end, made me weepy. I adored his letter, as I always have, and how he eventually speaks for himself. It was well done.

So where does that leave me, rating the movie? I give it four stars. Why? Because even though there are things I didn’t like, or didn’t understand the need for, I felt they captured the essence of the time. Which is both the world that Jane Austen created, as well as a time when people would have thought it was the end of times. The coming of Revelation, for those who are spiritual. I was thinking about it after the movie, when I was musing on the loss of seeing more of Jane and Lizzy. It’s a hard balance to walk when you feel your world teeters on the edge of ending.

The ending was fantastic. Sit and watch the credits. I was really pleased with it, and if it means what I think it does, I’m good.

But if you’re not a Jane Austen fan, I do think it might fall a bit flat. I often think that with many book-to-movie adaptations. Even as those making the movie want it to stand alone, and entice new fans, they’re also making it for the current fans. It’s a tough road to keep to. I say that as a reader who’s read most of the books that are made into movies.

I will admit that I have a teensy bit more of a bias, because Jane Austen is probably my top choice for an author’s works to take on a desert island with me. I re-read them now, and still love them as much as the first time. So I am a bit harder on the adaptations.

I liked this one, though. It’s not perfect. But it did a great job in bringing that book to to life. As Mark mentioned, the love story takes over. In the original P&P, that’s true. Because it’s the point. I think it’s true for P&P&Z as well. Even in the midst of an apocalypse, love will take over. We’re human. It’s how we’re made.

Even in the midst of a Potter’s Field with hands clutching at your ankles.

upload_xqkleqasboqyhgpeppwaluxbevnzdi9083

 

Being an indie and the Goblin King…

I feel like I’ve been all over the place lately with the blog. Kind of like life. Anyway, today I wanted to talk about being an indie author. Let me say straight away, I like being indie. I like knowing that both success and failure sits right in my lap. I’ll admit I much prefer the success part rather than the failure part.

Be that as it may, I like being the place where the buck stops. Why is this important? Well, I’ve had to do some overhauling on my writing, and writing plans. I have had to look at what I want to do, and what will work with the goals I have for 2016. Suffice to say, in order to spare you all a long, boring diatribe, the two don’t always meet.

That’s the awesome thing about being indie. At the end of last year, I looked at where I was, and I won’t lie to you all. It wasn’t where I wanted to be. So I did some reading, and tried to look at other avenues, and then I looked at me-to see where I might have done something differently or better.

That is never fun.

back-to-the-drawing-board-quote

 

But there are things I can change. So I’m doing it. Because I think I need to, and when something isn’t working the way you want, you need to make changes. Not that you have to hop like a mad rabbit from one plan to the next in a frantic race to find the right way. But you need to make a plan, and stick to it, and when you see, after a respectable amount of time, that’s not working, it’s okay to change.

As an indie, I can do that. I don’t have to run it by an agent, an editor, or a publisher. Now, Lisa, some may say, Perhaps they would have kept you from making a mistake in the first place.

Fair enough.

But let me counter, my friend. I have friends who have all those wonderful people working with and for them. They are also in a state of looking over what worked, and what didn’t. Some have fared better than I, some worse. So I’m not sure that having those people working with you guarantees anything.

2015 was a great learning year for me. I figured out what I absolutely must keep up with, and what I need to shift or change. That’s valuable.

It’s not easy, and requires I work every day on some aspect of my career. It’s a lot to keep up with. Some days, I slack horribly. Learning to work through that has been a piece of the process along with everything else. But I’m improving and that is a positive to celebrate.

So there you have it. I’m in the midst of reorg-and while it’s a bit chaotic, it’s a good thing. See the Seth Godin quote above. It’s so true!

While I’ve been doing this, I went online on Monday, and read that David Bowie, the Goblin King, Major Tom-had left us. I cried. I cried off and on all day. I’ve loved him since I was ten years old. He was the first artist I saw in concert. We were in the fourth row-All the Ziggy fans were up there-talk about an eye opener!

It brought home the fact that time, for us, is finite. That we must not hesitate, must move forward, take the chance, and Carpe Diem.

I read an amazing, amazing tweet about him:

If you’re ever sad, just remember the world is 4.543 billion years old and you somehow managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie.

Aren’t we all lucky as hell? Be like Bowie, take charge, and sally forth!

Rest in peace, Goblin King.

GKgif

Holy Joseph, It’s A Newsletter!

For 2016, one of my writing goals was to get my Newsletter in order, and send it out. I have a nice mailing list. I put some work into it in 2015, and it’s respectable. If you’re on it, THANK YOU! If you’re NOT – well, I’ll make it easy.

Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/1NE9IiJ

While I am a lover of the technology, it usually takes me some time to figure out how to use it all. A mailing list and what you’re supposed to do with it is no different. It’s taken me longer than I thought because I’ve been slowly working out my organization on how to work effectively at home.

It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Anyway, I have my Newsletter done. It’s good. I like it. If I got it, I wouldn’t roll my eyes. I’d open it. We’ll see how it does.

But I’m pleased, and I’ll tell you, if you’re just starting out, try MailChimp. There are other services out there, but this one is not overly difficult, and it’s free, initially. Once you hit a certain number of subscribers, it becomes a paid service, which is appropriate. The service walks you through each step, one at a time.

I had a couple of steps I needed to complete before I sent it out. I’m waiting on the last one now. But the rest is done! Once I get this last bit from the third party, I’m ready to roll!

I’m excited.

With that, I’m off. I’d love, however, to hear how some of you have managed your mailing list. Have you used MailChimp? If so, do you like it? If not, what are you using?

Cheers!

Post Turkey Day Reflections

This is not going to be my usual type of post. I want to talk about barriers. Hang on. This is a long one.

When we get older, we are imbued with fear. Well, I have been. I think it just happens. I was fearless when I was younger. My attitude was, ‘Well, why not?’ This applied to what I could do, couldn’t do, wanted to try, thought I might like, everything. The world was my oyster.

As I got older, I learned more of life. We all know how that goes. It shows you, first gently, and then with a hard bitch slap, that everyone has limitations. Or at least, Life wants you to think that way.

For someone who was only limited by what I felt were limits (and I just didn’t have any when I was younger, because I was convinced of my own fabulousness and ability to conquer whatever Life or anyone else put in my way) learning that someone or something else set limits and would let you hit up against them hard was an ugly revelation. I stumbled, then fell. Having done so spectacularly, I became cautious. Perhaps even fearfully so. I don’t know. I look back, and see where my fearful caution held me back. I think, Why? I know it seemed important at the time.

Living in any sort of state inspired by fear is an awful thing. You do it long enough, you don’t even notice it. It’s always there, part of the landscape.

fear of failure

I’m 45 now, and letting go of some of the fear. Why? Because I like me, and getting to this point has been a journey from that younger me who loved herself, and felt no fear. So fuck it. I like me. I’m not backing down or apologizing for that. Not anymore.

But an adulthood of fear of some sort or another is a hard habit to kick. That hit home with me this past weekend. I just started skiing again in the past several years with the family after…oh…twenty years since my last foray into trying to ski.

What I’ve learned is that I am afraid. Of falling. Of breaking something. Of something I can’t even articulate. We planned to go out on Friday, when everyone else was fighting over a TV at Best Buy or some other Black Friday thing. Everyone got up late. No one made the push for going – and I finally did, even though I was dragging my feet.

So on the drive up, I mulled over why I dragged my feet. I hate the walk to the slopes. Getting the kids ready. All the circus-like atmosphere to get a family out for the day.

On the ride up, I forced myself to shift my attitude. It was a beautiful day. Sunny, and the wind wasn’t kicking. Since I ski near the Continental Divide, no wind and sun is a gift. (Note: It didn’t go over 20 degrees all day, but we weren’t cold. It was too sunny.)

You know what? Getting the kids suited up and ready wasn’t as bad. My boots fit amazingly this year, so the trek to the lift wasn’t so bad. No whining from the aforementioned kids. It was nice.

On to the lift we go. First run down, and it’s not so bad. Little icy, which makes me nervous. Then I think, wait. Last year in spring snow I fell face first ass over teakettle, and I was fine. Thank god for helmets! So I fall. So what?

I spent that first run watching my kids and making sure I hadn’t forgotten everything. Then we go down the second time, and holy hell. It was better. I watched my kid (the one I was assigned to), and I leaned forward, and forced my shoulders to drop.

That run was fantastic. I got some speed, which I normally am not comfortable with. I’m always afraid I’ll lose control. One more aspect of the fear issue.

What’s so bad about losing control? Well, for me, and this will be different for everyone, when I lost control, I totally dropped my basket and my life went to hell. So I am negatively conditioned to hang onto control like my life depended on it.

Even to the point where I won’t go fast skiing. I changed that on Friday. I let go, and I went fast. Guess what? I didn’t lose control. When things got dicey, and I am sure they still will, I managed it.

I managed it. Take that, Fear.

docmeme

Which led, because my kids love the lift that takes an eternity, to more reflection. Look how much I enjoyed the day that wasn’t a full day, nor was it the most challenging day we’ve ever done. I had a fantastic day. I took more risks (no moguls or anything like that) than I usually do, and I did it skiing faster than I normally would.

Because what the hell? I’m not a crazy risk taker, but ANY step out of my normal is a risk for me.

And since then, I’ve had a weight lifted off me. Some of that weight is still there. I’ve spent too long keeping control and worrying and making sure that “something” doesn’t happen. My wariness and cautious nerves won’t ease up overnight.

But something left. And it’s not a bad thing. All because I took a deep breath, and said ‘What the hell?’ on the first day out of ski season.

So take a chance this week. It doesn’t have to be big, or even anything that someone other than you notices. It just has to be a chance for you. Bite your lip, take a deep breath, and just go for something. Something just for you.

Because that’s what this is all about. In our own way, we are all

gif-cats-fabulous-538389

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes, I know. I’ve been gone for a month. I’ll tell you what happened. Frostburg. That’s what happened. My alma mater. I went back, after over twenty years, to a Homecoming.

Goodgawdalmighty. I am not the sprightly lass I once was. That one weekend wiped me out, and I’ve been playing catch up ever since.

That is such a sad statement, but there it is.

Enough of my woes. On to the important stuff. Catrin’s Grimoire is going to be a December release, rather than November. Because life. After the last month, I completely understand why writers lock themselves away from everything. It would be nice, but you know, kids want to eat and stuff. LOL.

In the Inspiring Others category, Have You Made Your 2016 Goals?

Why not?

It’s nearly December. You need to think about what you want to do next year. What idea is burning a hole in your brain, and won’t leave you alone? What new series do you want to do? How are you going to improve your marketing?

Writing your goals down, and sharing them with someone else is one of the most effective ways to make sure you meet them. The only goal I missed this year is my November release. I’m annoyed with myself, but one of the things you MUST do when self-employed is put a time limit on beating yourself up for missteps, and make plans on how that won’t happen again.

So the next post will be focused on goal setting. I’ll put mine out there, and welcome you to do the same.

And I wish you all a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving. Enjoy the things that make life great. What you’re thankful for – and what’s not to be thankful for when there’s a Dancing Vader?

I love this.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/keAhk3Lz6E8“>

 

Self-Pub – The First Steps

Ok, so if you read my last post, aka, The Long Ramble, you’ll know that my journey to where I am now wasn’t an overnight event. I had to be coaxed into self-pubbing.

Let’s start with Your Book. Is it done? And by done, I don’t mean you’ve written ‘The End’ and popped open your favorite adult beverage. I mean, have you had someone (NOT MOM!) read it, looking for flow? Do you have a beta reader? Someone who will firmly but clearly offer you constructive criticism?

If not, you need it. One of the ways I bridge chapters or scenes that are giving me grief is trot them into my critique groups. When most of my two groups say the same thing, it’s time to look over the whatever it is. Good example of this – of my most current WIP, both my Tues and Thurs groups wanted place and timeline clearly laid out. I’ll tell you the truth – I did a flashback within a flashback.motherofgod

Yeah. It’s all gone now. BUT – in the flow of my writing, it made sense at the moment. You need someone else to tell you – HEY! NO!
–But nicely.

You should be able to go back into your work, and read it, and think, Hey. Wow. I don’t really suck! (Or is that just me? I’m always surprised that I like what I’ve written when I read it as a proof on my Kindle. Usually because I’ve been working hard on various parts of it, and I don’t have a sense of the whole.)

Have you had someone or a program edit it for you? We all think we’re Shakespeare, twisting and manipulating words until the audience is just right in the palm of our hands, and a lot of times, it’s true. But not always. So you need someone, or at the very least, a copy editing program, to tell if you the sentences make sense. Personally, I have an editor, and she does both developmental feedback and line editing. We won’t go into our disagreement over the Oxford Comma. Yes, it’s a thing. Prior to writing a book, I had no idea.

If you’re on a budget, and who among us are not? – I have found three programs that are FREE – and will offer you help and suggestions.

EditMinion
ProWritingAid
ClicheCleaner

These are the three that popped up when I looked for software. At the same time, this came up as well, and I love her idea of using all three:
http://virginiaripple.com/paid-and-free-editing-software/

At this point, this is where we are:

  1. Finish the book
  2. Have it edited, both developmentally and copy.

Once you’re there, what else should you be doing? My opinion? Go forth and find a cover artist. At this point, you might not have spent anything, particularly if you’re on the budget plan. Here’s where, and once again, this is MY opinion, you’re going to need to spend a little.

Your next step is to find a cover artist. If you’re on a schedule, while your book is being edited, go look for a cover artist. Take your time, email some of them, ask them what their policies are, ask for a sample contract. Here’s what I look for in my cover artist:

A) Ebook version
B) Print cover and facebook banners/posts
c) How many edits/revisions will they allow?
D) Do you own the cover? Can they use the cover elsewhere (I recommend strongly that you make sure you own the cover – that is, the image generated by your contract with them. A lot of images are available for purchase and use – but you and your artist will arrange them in a specific manner for your work. THAT piece is yours. Although you may want to allow them to use your work in their portfolio.)
E) What is their payment policy? All at once, before the work is done? After? Half now, half later? What is their guarantee that you’ll be happy?

Remember, they are artists, just like you are. If they do work for you, they should be compensated. I had an artist I worked with that I didn’t end up going with. I still paid her for the work she did. Anything else is inappropriate.

There’s also Canva.com, if you want to fiddle about on your own. Having done this for my pen name…be wary. But I use Canva for a lot of promo stuff – I make my own banners, posts, business cards, postcards, etc. Back to that in a moment.

At this point, you’re here:

  1. Finish book
  2. Get it edited
  3. Have a cover designed

Now comes the tricky part.

The….BLURB.

I watched a video from H.M. Ward where she likens your book to a three-legged stool. Your book is the seat, and the cover, sample, and blurb are the legs. Any of those are not on par, the stool will not hold up.

I like that. So look at the blurbs in the genre you’re working in. What are they doing? Longer? Shorter? Personally, I start long, and then go short. I just got a blurb review recently, and I am in the process of redoing all my blurbs. It’s worth it.

Think about it. When you’re browsing, what catches your eye? What makes you click ‘Buy’ on a book?

So back to the Canva. Check it out if you haven’t already. Canva is a great resource for the DIY side of indie publishing. I made business cards, postcards Facebook banners, pics for my Facebook author takeovers, and anything else I can think of with it. Canva doesn’t cost a thing unless you use their elements. I generally don’t need to – although like anything that doesn’t cost, there are limitations. But for me, it works nicely. It’s something to check out to see if it can be utilized as part of your toolbox.

At this point, this is where we stop for the time being.

  1. Finish Book
  2. Get it edited
  3. Have a cover designed
  4. Write up your blurb

This is already long enough, so I will be back in a few days to talk the next steps: Hitting The Publish Button.

launch

In the meantime, work through those first four steps.

Onward and upward!