Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Things I Should Have Learned By Now

On this journey to become a (someday full-time) writer, I've learned a few things.

And I've worked really hard to be a learner. Lemme tell ya!

I've pretty much given up TV all together (though things will be changing when Heroes comes back).
I no longer listen to NPR or music while driving or doing mindless chores and only listen to podcasts on writing.
I force myself to read a non-fiction book after every fiction book, so I can keep on learning.

I'm feeling pretty dedicated here.

But, I'm learning that there is a BIG difference between KNOWING better and DOING better. 

So, here's some things that I've learned that I should do, but have yet to actually do to become a better-selling writer.

#1: Write Consistently

I struggle with this so much.
And the guilt, the GUILT! that I feel for not writing consistently nags at me.
To whom do I owe this feeling of guilt? I have no idea. It's not like I have an editor tapping impatient fingers on the table while I type away on my laptop.

I have tried SO MANY times to make a schedule for writing on a regular basis. Alas, I am the Queen of INconsistency it seems. I know this will make me a better writer, and a better selling writer (after all, the more books I have out there, the more books there are for readers to purchse), but it's still something I struggle with fitting into my very busy schedule of day job, kids, dinner, sports, and bedtime. But, I need to commit to writing on a regular basis if I'm going to reach my goals.

#2: Diversify

Self-published authors know that though Amazon is the biggest game in town, it's not the only game in town. In fact, being published on multiple platforms like Kobo, Apple iBooks, Smashwords, and other online book retailers that host self-published authors will only help increase sales.

Why haven't I done it yet? The time factor again. Seriously, I have issues with time management. If I have any spare time, I always feel like I should be spending it writing.

(Hence, the reason why this blog is often neglected for long periods of time. Because, let's face it, if I'm blogging here and chatting with you, I'm not working on my next book. And I really need to spend some time working on my next book.)

#3:  Connect With Readers

I try, I really do try. I promise. I'm just not very good at small talk. I know having a strong online presence, especially utilizing social media, is a helpful step in building relationships with readers. But, I suck at it.

I use Facebook mainly to keep up with friends and family, and haven't yet made an author page there. (Part of me is scared that if I do, no one will join! Boo-hoo, poor little me on my author page all alone.)

And with Twitter, I feel like I'm poking around in the dark. I'm never sure if what I'm sending out is being seen, or has relevance for anyone else.

And let's not get started on my mailing list. My poor, dusty, neglected mailing list. On one hand, I don't want to bother people with emails when I don't have anything much to say, but on the other hand, I don't want to send out an email when my next book comes out and have people go, "Who is this lady? Did I really sign up for this?"  Finding balance seems like the key here.

Okay, so now I have some things to strive for. I've learned these important lessons. Now it's time to implement them.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Five Enchanted Roses Author Spotlight: Jenelle Schmidt

Today I am highlighting Jenelle Schmidt, winner of the Five Enchanted Roses contest, and author of Stone Curse. 

Give me the basics...Where are you located and what do you do?

I'm from Raleigh, North Carolina, and am a stay-at-home-mom.

Tell me about your Five Enchanted Roses story.

The story opens inside Thorndale Castle, which has been the recipient of a rather nasty curse. In one evening, most of the nobility of the country who were attending a ball at the castle were turned to stone, the princess was abducted, and a visiting prince was turned into a beast who cannot leave the castle grounds without losing his mind. And nobody knows who cast the curse or why.

What was your inspiration for your story? Anything in particular?

I kind of started out by thinking of all the things I didn't like about the original or classic retellings of Beauty and the Beast. I didn't like the father's role in the original story, or the fact that the prince in the Disney version was cursed at the age of 11 because he wouldn't let some creepy old lady into his house after dark (I think his parents would have probably agreed that this was the best course of action... not that they are present in the story). So I set out to create a version of the story where the prince is not really the true "Beast" of the story. It's a bit of a twist on the "don't judge a book by its cover" theme.

How long have you been writing?

I've been writing my whole life. I was coming up with stories before I could even hold a pen, and I began writing stories the moment I learned to write. I was going through some things my mom had saved of mine from my own homeschooled days, and happened across a story I had written when I was six years old. It had chapters and everything!

Have you written any other stories/novels?

Yes. I have written five novels, two of which have been published. We are hoping to have the third book in the series available later this year. I've also written a novella adaptation of Cinderella, which I also hope to release later this year.

Can we find any of your other works for purchase online? 

Yes, you can! King's Warrior and Second Son are both available through Amazon in e-book and paperback form.

What's next for you?

The next thing I'm working on is the second book in my new series - which I'll be talking about later on in the year on my blog. I also have a sci-fi/mystery project in the works that I hope to begin writing as soon as my current work-in-progress is finished. And I have a whole new world (to borrow from Disney) with no story yet, just waiting for some characters to come fill it with life.

What is your process when you begin writing a story?

First I have an idea. Usually the idea is focused around a character and/or a set of circumstances that might converge upon that character. Next I do a lot of world-building. My husband helps with this part immensely. I write fantasy and sci-fi, so the world-building is an extremely essential step. Then I might sit back and let the story and the characters simmer for a while. I'll discuss ideas with my husband some more, create some more characters, and begin putting together an outline. Once I have the outline kind of figured out - at least for the first few chapters - I will start writing the story. My outlines tend to be very flexible, and they change as I write.

What other writers/books inspire you?

That is a very long list. J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald definitely top the list, as the fathers of modern fantasy. Stephen R. Lawhead is a constant source of inspiration, as well as Timothy Zahn. There are many others, but those are the main ones.

What advice would you give to other new writers?

My first piece of advice is to read. Read everything you can get your hands on. Read books you love, read books you don't love, become an expert on the genre you want to write. Read books outside that genre. Read!

My second piece of advice is to write. Write on napkins and fill up notebooks and the hard drive of your computer. Write what you know. Write what you don't know. Write what you'd like to know. Some of it will work, some of it won't, but don't let that stop you.

And finally, finish a writing project. You don't have to finish EVERY writing project. Some things will be abandoned. But there is nothing like that feeling of accomplishment when you finish that first manuscript to spur you on to keep writing and keep finishing stories. Accept that there will ALWAYS be something you will wish you could change about your story, it will never be perfect... but it can be considered "done."

Where can we find you online?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Five Enchanted Roses Author Spotlight: Hayden Wand

I'm so excited to bring you my first interview with other authors of the Five Enchanted Roses contest. These ladies are hard at work revising their own stories for the anthology, so I really appreciate that they took the time to answer my questions. I think you'll love getting to know them, too!

My first guest is Hayden Wand, author of The Wulver's Rose.

Here is her bio from GoodReads:  Hayden Wand is a Christian and a homeschool graduate whose love of both Jane Austen and adventure stories inspired her to write her first novel, Hidden Pearls. When she's not writing, reading or bribing her siblings to read the classics, you can find her baking, crafting, practicing her archery skills, or watching her favorite shows on the BBC. She lives in South Caroline with her parents and four energetic younger siblings. 

What do you do for a living? 

For the past three years since I’ve graduated high school, I’ve been living at home and helping my family/writing. However, this fall I’m heading off to college, which is going to be a whole new experience. I’m planning on majoring in History, which is one of my passions- and the reason most of my stories take place in a historical context!

How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first story when I was eight or so, and I literally haven’t stopped since. However, I really wasn’t able to devote the time to it until after I finished high school. I guess you can say that I’ve been a “serious” writer for about four years.

Tell me about your Five Enchanted Roses story. 
Author, Hayden Wand

The Wulver’s Rose is a retelling that takes place in 1700s Scotland and involves the mythical Scottish creature known as the wulver. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that the roses and dreams are two very important elements in my version of the story ;)

What was your inspiration for your story? Anything in particular?

I've always loved the story of Beauty and the Beast, but one thing I've always wondered about in the original story was why the beast was so upset that the merchant took his rose. I mean, honestly, what was the big deal? The story idea really sparked with that, and the rest is history.

Have you written any other stories/novels?

Yes! In fact, I self-published my first novel, Hidden Pearls, this past month.

Can we find any of your other works for purchase online? 

You can find Hidden Pearls through Createspace, and the Kindle version is also available on Amazon.

What is your process when you begin writing a story?

First, when I get an idea, I let it roll around in my mind until I get a clear picture of what kind of story I have on my hands. During that time, I usually jot down little ideas for the plot and name my characters, and once I think I've got a handle on the storyline, I make a vague outline and then start to write. I normally edit a bit as I go, so my first draft is usually more of a combined first/second draft.

What other writers/books inspire you?

If I had to pick just one author, it would have to be L.M. Montgomery. There are so many of her books that I love, such as the Anne of Green Gables series, The Blue Castle, and Chronicles of Avonlea. I find that she’s able to write both completely hilarious scenes as well as heartbreaking ones, and it’s my goal to be able to do the same. I've also been influenced by C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

What advice would you give to other new writers?

There’s so many good pieces of advice that I've heard through the years- keep writing no matter what, have perseverance, etc. if I could give some advice that’s really helped me, it would be this: read the classics. Having a high standard when it comes to literature will help give you a high standard when it comes to writing.
Also, good stories are all around you. Inspiration is everywhere, if you know where to look for it.

What's next for you? Anything else you're working on for the future?

Oh, goodness, yes. I have a journal that I jokingly refer to as my “book of secrets” that is full of story ideas that will probably keep me occupied for the next thirty years. Currently, I’m working on two historical novels and one sci-fi. One of them is another fairy-tale retelling, and I’m very excited about it. :)

Where can we find you online?

My blog:
I've also recently put up a website: