Hunting Down Houses

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted on here.  It’s been rather crazy in the normal, everyday madness of life that seems to suck all the time in your days without leaving you anything to really show for it.  Am I alone here…. I don’t think so…

At any rate, I actually am working on several projects right now.  I’ve started working on The Captain’s Folly Series, a spin-off trilogy from Seeking Solace.  Those are set to release in early 2016.  For the immediate term, I’m wrapping up the revisions to the first in a new, paranormal series titled Spirit of the South.  Each of the books in that series include some historical fiction, some ghosts and haunted houses, and characters in the here and now dealing with all that.  The first in the series, Revolution, has a preliminary release date of October 1st.

For the Spirit of the South series, I want those covers to reflect the mood and atmosphere of the stories, and as houses are a prominent feature, I want the covers to include some great old homes that are reminiscent to the ones in the stories.  The kicker is that my photographer (and I) are trying to stay within the county for budget purposes.  If this were happening 10 years ago, I could’ve found as many grand, old, slightly dilapidated houses as I wanted.  Now, after hours of driving on back roads, new roads, dirt roads, and non-roads, I have found practically zilch!  And this is eastern North Carolina!  Did aliens beam up all the old houses for research?  Did fairies spirit them away?  Did hobos burn them all for firewood?  I don’t want to use stock photography because EVERYONE uses those and, inevitably, dozens of covers all look the same.

There was one grand old homestead we wanted to use; however, the old bitty that owns it was rather a pill about the whole thing.  So that was out.  We have a backup for now.  I’m just hoping it’ll work.  It’s so frustrating when you know in your head what you want, and the world around you is just not cooperating.  Does anyone else go through this when prepping your books/art/what-have-you?  How do you make it happen?  What do you do when it doesn’t?  I don’t yet have the answer to that last question.  Gonna have to brainstorm with my wonderful photographer guru about alternatives, you know, just in case…

old house

See!  Google Images has tons of cool old houses.  Why can’t I find any around here?  Le sigh….

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Well-Deserved Down Time…Sort of

So, the book’s been out a couple weeks now.  It’s still surreal to me.  I’ve sold out of print copies, reordered, and those are all now either sold or spoken for, so I still don’t even have a copy just for myself!  LOL.  But–I suppose that’s a good problem to have.

I’m still getting used to openly talking about my book–with people outside a very close-knit circle, that is.  It’s a little uncomfortable, I have to say.  I tend to hide my deeper thoughts and feelings from people, even my closest friends, and my writing is something very intimately personal for me.  Opening that up to others for scrutiny takes a great deal of trust, which I’m fairly begrudging with.  Yet to spite it all, I’m slowly getting more comfortable with it.  I’ve been dealing with some wonderfully welcoming and supportive folks, so that has made the transition to a “public figure” a bit easier.

As you likely know, the month leading up to the release was INSANITY.  Glorious, but still nevertheless, INSANE.  I was also dealing with major deadlines at the day job  at the same time, so I was pretty much running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off.  At long last, I am now facing a week of downtime, which is desperately needed.

So what’s going on with my little writer world since the book released– well, I’ll tell you!  A series based on the three bandmates in Seeking Solace has been suggested and is now in the works!  Angus has already been speaking to me at night when I’m trying to sleep, so I have over 1,600 words on his story.  You’ll get to read about Angus, Malcolm, and William starting in January 2016.  I have two other novels currently in draft form that are being either finished as manuscript or in the process of editing.  It’s my hope to release at least one of them this fall.    Then, one more little item–I’m doing a blog tour May 25-30th!  So far, I have 15 stops!  Totally excited to be reaching new peeps, and I am thrilled that so many folks are willing to support a new indie author.

So, I’ll get to enjoy one week of downtime, and then it’s back in the saddle for another sprint!  I’ll make sure to have my planning notebooks with me so if Angus starts talking some more, I won’t miss anything.  (Do any of my fellow writers out there have this problem?  The voices in your head keeping you up all hours of the day and night?  Hope it’s not just me.)

minion vacation

 

Need to read Seeking Solace?  Here’s where you can find it:

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seeking-solace-…/1121820583…

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/seeking-solace/id990062152…

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/seeking-solace-1

Amazon:  http://t.co/ABPr83RClJ

 

IT’S ALIVE!!!!!!

Well, it’s here!  RELEASE DAY!!!!!

celebration_2-t2

 

Honestly, I never thought it would get here.  It’s just seemed like an endless cycle of writing and editing, and more writing and more editing.  But it’s here.  My book has gone live.  Of course, even with the best of planning, things are never perfect.  I found a mistake in my print copies–totally my fault, and I didn’t catch it early.  I had a slight meltdown over that, but then I figured out a relatively unobtrusive way to fix it for the release party this weekend (I’ve already fixed it in CreateSpace, so any future print copies will be fine).  Then, although my upload was accepted to Premium Catalog on Smashwords (this lets my book get distributed to all the other non-Kindle e-book formats), it’s still in process of being “shipped” to the various distributors.  So for today, my book is live only on Kindle.  But the others will be live soon.  We live, we learn, we adapt.  That is definitely what being an indie author is all about, I’m discovering.

And yet–it’s a gorgeous day here in eastern NC, the sun is shining and gorgeous, the sky is clear and brilliant blue, I took a vacation day from the day job, and my book IS ALIVE!  I’ve sold 2 print copies already, and the first is already in her hands.  The second one will go to its new home tomorrow.  I’ve sold a few Kindle copies as well.  I’m still scared “you-know-what-less” about how people are going to react to it.  But…that’s something every author has had to deal with.  Good, bad, or indifferent, it’s mine, and I have finished something I’ve started.

So what’s next on the agenda for this new indie author?  Right, well I have 2 manuscripts in the drafting phase that I need to finish writing, and the first book in a paranormal romance series that is in editing phase.  I also have a mystery series that is currently in the outlining and planning phase…no rest for the wicked!

Want to know what Seeking Solace is all about?  Get the book synopsis and buy link here.  Oh, and  thanks for sharing this moment with me–it’s something I’ve always dreamed about.

minions

 

 

Launching a Book! (Panic Room to the Left)

My first book is releasing in ten days.  TEN DAYS!!!  I think it’s safe to confess that I am completely and totally freaking out right now!   I still have to reformat my manuscript for distribution on Smashwords.  (Apparently, e-books don’t do tab indents.  The only way I start a new paragraph is with tab indents!  Maybe it’s my academic background, but tab indents are like breathing to me.  I don’t think about it; I just do it.  And now they all have to come out.)

It looks like my print copies will be arriving on the actual day of my release, so that’s a load off.  I’m doing a release party and book signing that Saturday here where I live, and it kind of helps if you actually have books to sign…at a book signing.  But now comes another problem–I ordered 30.  (I have to pay for this upfront, and I am NOT Bill Gates, you feel me?)  I figured that would be enough for my friends and family to get one to Oooh and Aaah over for a couple days and leave me a few to send out for promotion.  Well, since announcing the event, I’m getting a lot of great response. Even people at my day job that I wouldn’t have thought would be interested are saying they’re coming–and want a copy.   Is 30 enough?  Should I get more?  If so, how many more?  (Wait–how much money was in my checking account again…….)

Promotion.  This, I feel, is quite possibly going to turn out to be the bane of my existence.  I have a FB account and only FB for years.  I now have an author page on FB, this blog, and a Twitter account (when I swore for years I would NEVER “tweet”.  I have now had to eat those words in a very large slice of humble pie).  I don’t feel like I’m on any of these nearly enough. Not like all the other authors are.  Is this bad? Does it make a difference?  Heck, is anyone even reading this post out there?   I have no idea…the indie world is now a vast ocean filled with hundreds upon thousands of great books and crappy books and kinda-good books, and I’m over in the corner going “PICK ME!  OO! PICK ME! (For some reason, I saw myself as Donkey from Shrek just now.)  Then, comes my other fear–Dear God, what if they pick me, and they HATE IT.  Most people assume that authors fear not making any money.  I’m not afraid I won’t make a million dollars–I KNOW that won’t happen. My absolute fear is that this story I have enjoyed for 18 months won’t resonate with anyone.

The upside to promotion– a wonderful book blog I follow, Book Club Gone Wrong (check her out, she’s awesome!), was celebrating 1,000 likes on their Facebook page with a 12-hour author take-over.  I figured “what the heck” and submitted an interest form.  I really didn’t think she would select me to participate since I’m virtually unknown and am “technically” still not published yet.  Lo and behold, a couple hours later I got an email asking which time slot I wanted on the event!  I couldn’t believe it!  Turned out I was going to be the closing author.  Wow!  Then, the panic set in.  What was I going to post about?  What if everyone dropped off when my turn came up? (Boy, my mental panic room has been getting a lot of use lately!)  I did two giveaways, and let the rest of my posts be about letting the lovely folks know about Seeking Solace and about me.  They threw me some really great and serious questions about my writing process, how I’ve managed self-publishing, what inspires me to write.  It was a great conversation with people from all over the globe!  (I felt like a pin-ball machine at times trying to make sure I kept up with all the comments, but I loved it.)

The other thing I’ve been freaking out about–smut (or the lack thereof).  It feels like all the book teasers you see for contemporary romance are RACY.  Which, let me clarify, is NOT a bad thing.  I read those books.  I love those books. Here’s my thing–my books (at least so far) really don’t tend to get that explicit in the love scenes.  There’s physicality, but in the end, I leave the really good stuff to your imagination, not in black and white on the page.  So, the visuals on my teasers are rather tame.  My panic about this— are readers going to bypass my book because there isn’t some almost naked couple on a bed in the teaser or a naked male torso on the cover?  I hope not.  (The semi-pathetic flip-side to this panic— my mother is going to have a stroke if she ever reads this book. For her, my tame little book would be the equivalent of reading erotica.  At least in her mind.)

So there’s the freak-out going on in my head.  It will likely continue for some time.  Heaven help me!  In the meantime, I’m going to leave you with my 2 tame, but lovely (I feel) teasers.

Teaser 1

Teaser 2

The Cover!!!!!!!

Cover Teaser

 

OMG!!  The cover is finally ready!  I must also here state that I am currently in a constant of vicious heart palpitations given my release date is 24 days away~!  So. much. to. do.  So. little. time.  But for the next few moments, I am going to sit here and grin.  This has been a long journey, but the end is in sight.

**runs off squealing like a little girl and throwing confetti everywhere**

Cover Art Victory!!

Do you remember my blog post from late October?  The one where my cover art plans disintegrated into dust.  Yeah, well that little disaster actually was a prime opportunity in disguise.  I knew I wanted to use a photo for my cover art, given that Seeking Solace is a contemporary romance.  However, the cover was going to require someone with a lot of contacts—models, stylists, etc.  I live in the middle of nowhere in Eastern North Carolina (Yes, we capitalize Eastern here; it’s a thing.), where in heck was I going to find that?  And on top of that, how was I going to find someone local who wouldn’t completely hatchet my miniscule budget.  (Key point to self-pubbing—budget, if you have one, is a prime commodity.)

So, after a week of wringing hands and muttering to myself about “What about I going to do?”, I made a contact through my local writing group.  I was able to meet with the owner of Siberius Photography.  He had the team, he had models, he had equipment, he had ideas.  This guy was the complete book cover package.  On top of that, he was EXCITED TO DO IT!  Bonus!  I mean, let’s face it…if other people can get excited about your own pet project, then the work they do for you is going to be even better than you anticipate.

There we are, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, setting up shop to shoot the picture that would become my book cover!  I hardly slept the night before.  Honestly, I felt like I was waiting for Santa to come!  We had managed to get a local pub to agree to let us shoot there, which was perfect since the majority of my novel takes place in a small pub.  Rich, the photographer, was there setting up lights and tripods and different equipment.  Elizabeth, the stylist, was bringing in wardrobe options and bags of makeup and hairstyling supplies.  Me?  What I was doing?  I was standing in the corner by a fake suit of armor, grinning like an idiot and trying not to get in the way.  (I was petrified of becoming “the annoying observer” and someone finally just yelling “Out!  You, just OUT!”  But they didn’t and were absolutely gracious about me being there and often asked for my input.)

Then, our models came in.  Elizabeth had already gotten them styled and prepped for the most part, and I wanted to jump up and down and squeal in delight.  I restrained myself…barely.  Kate and Kris absolutely looked just like my characters, Sarah and Bret.  One year earlier, when I was typing away at my keyboard—sleep-deprived, anxious, addicted to the story, and trying to finish my blasted novel in thirty days (which is INSANITY, people, glorious insanity)—and picturing these two characters, they were what I had been seeing in my head.   It was kind of surreal, watching them during the shoot.  They had a sweet chemistry (they’re married, which was just perfect to me given the novel’s story), and Kris would do or say something that would Kate laugh, or they’d have this expression as they looked at each other.  I was watching my story come to life in front of me.

I was nervous and awed at the same time.  It was just so right that I was afraid it was really just a dream, and I’d wake up still wondering what I was going to do for a cover photo.  But it wasn’t a dream, and I’m sharing with you a first look at what came out of that shoot.  This is NOT the cover for my book.  This is NOT even one of my teasers, but rather a little prequel of what is to come over the next month.

 

Leaning on Bar

 

You can check out Siberius Photography on Facebook at Siberius Photography and on the web at www.siberiusphotography.com .  Check them out.  They’re good!

Love Your Beta (and Other Thoughts on Self-Publishing from a Whirling Mind)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on my writing blog.  I find that I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to juggle this writer thing with the day job and still finding time to just “be me” and “have a life”.  Hopefully, one day I’ll get it all figured out, but until then, I hope those of you who are reading bear with me.  🙂

Since I’m going the indie route, I’m finding that I have to be all things to all people as I work towards publishing the first novel.  I am author, editor, secretary, finance manager, public relations staff, social media analyst, CEO, and I don’t know what all!  I’m in the middle of final edits to my debut novel, and in and around finishing those, I am also researching blog tours, who will take an ARC to review my book, which site is the best distributor for ebooks, Kindle Select—Do I?  Don’t I?, planning a release party, setting up my business name so I can collect royalties…. “ET CETERA, ET CETERA, ET CETERA (**cue Yul Brunner from The King and I here).

More often than not, I’m left just wondering if I’ll ever get it all figured out.  The successful indie authors I follow and love make it all look so easy and effortless, although I am positive they’ve been where I currently am at some point when beginning their life as a publisher/author.  The one thing I can say is that many of them have been so very kind to share their insights and tips and tricks with newbies like me out here.  That means the world to someone carefully inching their way down the path to publication.

The other thing I am finding is my life preserver in the ocean of self-publication—my beta-readers.  Do not underestimate the contribution of an excellent and thorough beta-reader.  At this point, two of them are more like critique partners than betas.  Line by line, page by page, chapter after chapter—copious notes and markings indicating what is working and also what isn’t and habits I tend to have with phrasing.  (Apparently, my characters were tending to blink and wink a LOT, also cocking/raising/lifting/wagging/shifting eyebrows.  I’m guessing when I was writing the original draft during NaNoWriMo I was giving them temporary Tourette’s or something… )

For a long time, I’ve been very apprehensive about giving my drafts away for first-looks and/or beta-reads.  You spend countless hours over many months crafting and writing a book that feels like it has become part of your soul, and you don’t want anyone else telling you it sucks (or your characters have so many facial tics going on that people will think they’re tripping on some kind of experimental drug).  It’s scary revealing this deeply personal work of art to the world.  It’s your baby, your “precious”, and you don’t want it harmed.   So I put it off for as long as remotely possible, afraid of what people would say about it.

Nevertheless, if I want to become a published author, then I have to eventually let people read my book.  So I finally sent it out to my betas.  Surprisingly, when I got my draft back, marks and notes on every line, I found that my feelings weren’t hurt.  I found that I was excited!  I was dying to clutch those pages to my chest, speed away home, and begin working on “my precious”.  Why?  Because I knew that going through the feedback would only make my story better.  The notations weren’t only just corrections or negatives; they were also positive comments on what was working or what my beta was liking.  I also found that many of the second thoughts or changes I had already been thinking about myself were often being confirmed by my beta’s notes.  That made me feel secure in the knowledge that I was in tune enough to the story to know what needed shifting and confirmed my hope that I wasn’t so attached to the story “as it was” that I would be too obstinate to make it better.  That in itself was quite liberating.  I have embraced completing this final revision of my novel and know that in the end, this story and these characters will be even more engaging and touching than I had originally conceived them to be.  Don’t be afraid of your beta-readers!  Love your betas!  (Especially if you have awesome ones like I do!)

 

**Publication update:  Seeking Solace now has an April 2015 release date!  Stay tuned for cover reveal and release day announcement!

**Meme credit to compositionatthebeach.com