Let’s Be Authors! – Experiment #1

Experiment #1

Congratulations! You’re an Author! Now what?

This expression is felt by every author. The excitement. The thrill. The CULMINATION of the pinnacle of your creative expression bound and wrapped and now burning your fingertips, as an alive, breathing thing.

A BOOK!!!

It’s so beautiful. The perfect moment. And it truly is… a perfect moment, with the reverence, and silence, and noise, and wonderment. It is everything you hoped for and nothing you expected. The moment is totally worth it… but it all starts there. I know, you thought the hard part was over. Nope! Not even close.

All I could think about before publishing was PUBLISHING!

This is nature.
There was an envy I felt when I spoke to authors, you know, REAL AUTHORS. They had done it, so I knew it was possible. They had scaled the wall of the publishing world, like a ninja or at least maybe Spiderman, and knew what it’s like on the other side. How I dreamed to know what was on that spendiforous other side.
I’ve often described publishing like a door to a spectacular house. And so many people are trying to figure out how to get to the door, or open the door, navigating a way to the door – whatever and however they can. And it’s soooo exciting to open that door. Seriously! It’s a great feeling to push past all those others scrambling to get in, and you do. Finally!
And then you, yes YOU, are in the house. And what do you find on the other side of the door??
It’s a room packed full of authors – all searching for another door.

This is my dedication to the Door Openers

 

I will explain everything I’ve tried through a series of experiments. I have a scientific background and need logic and method when organizing my thoughts. I feel much like a trailblazer in my own publishing right, as I think, many authors feel. I had no compass and no guide to get where I have, so experiments were the best way to test the world I had ventured in. Not every author’s story starts with a six figure deal. Yes, I know some of them who have, but as lovely as that sounds, authoring comes with a set of hurdles every author faces – Relevance, Visibility, Validation, and most importantly, a Backlist. And I can’t say I clawed to recognition either, but tried, regardless of the blows that would come (and they came). Trying gave me experience and perspective. I tried and failed and tried again. It’s just an experiment.

Simple Scientific Method –

  • Come up with a hypothesis
  • Experiment
  • Analyze your findings
Simple. Some experiments worked better than others. Some were absolute dismiss failures. In a general statement, writing is a personal thing, being an author is public. It takes a lot of courage to first read or let others read your stuff, and when people have some type of critique, it can be difficult at first to take. When published, an author has to develop a tough skin, because all the critiques are on public display for everyone to read. In a sense, it’s the same with experimenting. There is excitement, trepidation, and recognition when something isn’t working and still moving on.
As the blog goes I will list a number of experiments, not in any specific order, I can’t keep track of all that, to highlight the “Success” the world sees and the failure an author feels.

And here, my Experiment #1 is this blog.

I don’t think it is necessary to rehash my first fleeting attempts to get published, but know they happened, over hard years of rewriting and rejection.
Scared little bird, aren’t I? Happily having no idea what I was doing. 1st Salt Lake Comic Con Sept. 2013
For me, being an author started after the hoopla died down from the first release of my debut novel with a publisher. I first published with a smaller publisher, not one of the big houses. I had no marketing team to help me. I quickly found out what I could do and couldn’t do in the publishing world. There are a lot of rules placed on publishing houses that are not part of the BIG SIX. And a secret world, run by the Illumanati, of rules, restrictions, and secret handshakes that the author is never a part of, and I learned every kind of rejection finding this out.
And you need to be really good, and freaking CHARMING, in order to get your books in stores. But, even then it was through consignment, because of rules. 
I learned over time about being present, actively participating in writing groups or conferences, return policies and book store signings, social FREAKING media, engaging an audience, outside book festivals, writing communities and leadership – and adding to that PTSD, getting over the insecurities and pretending to be someone I’m not, the idea that everyone will not read your books, and the expectation that everyone should… and so, so many battles and experiments that worked, failed, or failed in epic proportion… all just trying to get noticed. This, and more embarrassing or insightful hilarities to come.
But, beyond all that I have said, the point of LET’S BE AUTHORS! is to have fun, to see the you are not alone in the world of publishing, and to laugh at the pitfalls we all have. WELCOME TO PUBLISHING, PEOPLE!
I thought for kicks, I would add my post from the day I signed my contract with my publisher, from my silly, retired blog I had. You can see all the lights shining in my words, the brilliance of each sentence gleaning the possibilities of this strange, new world were I had no idea, no clue what waited for me. Thanks for joining me.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2012

More Adventures in Awesomeness!!

News! News! News!

It’s never a boring time with me.  There is always something crazy happening in my life.  Besides stuffing myself like a Turkey Dinner this holiday, I also did something a little insane.

What could it be??? you ask….

Let’s take some questions from the audience…

  • Did you win the lottery?  sadly no, but I feel like I did.
  • Did you get your braces off?  – I WISH.  My news isn’t that cool, but on that note, they will come off in DECEMBER! Santa is delivering my Christmas wish a little early.
  • Did you finally get that gum out of the carpet?  Nope, but better than that – I REPLACED IT!

Have you given up yet??  No???

  • Did medical science decide to freeze my embryos for future generations to bask in the presence of awesome me?  Umm… no, but that would be cool.  And on that other note, no I’m not pregnant, but thank you for thinking that I could.
  • Did you get your midnight tickets for THE HOBBIT?  OF COURSE!! And my shirts are hot and ready to feel the magic, but that’s not it, though it’s cool too.

Oh…. did you give up? Fine, I will tell you.

I decided to try and get my book published and guess what?  It worked.  I am now a contracted author with Xchyler Pubishing. (it’s pronounced Skyler, for those of you who are thinking about some crazy baby name spellings).  I’m just getting started, but they are super excited to have me with them.

Next you’ll see my very own theme park in Florida.  Cool huh?

If you have read my story and know the genre, just take a look at the website and you’ll know my book is a perfect fit. http://xchylerpublishing.com/

Wish me luck!!!

 


With this blog I hope to highlight not just me, but other authors and what they tried, the different experiments we have tried to get our books in readers hands. It’s a humorous blog, though tongue and cheek, but it’s meant to enjoy and share the feelings us authors feel. I hope, also, to add a podcast as will, because authors are whores when it comes to talking about themselves and how they failed too.


Continue reading “Let’s Be Authors! – Experiment #1”

Adventures in Audio

I’ve been testing the waters in Audio Books

A few courageous years ago, I thought about performing my own audio books. It sounded like a lot of fun. Audio and voice recording is something I’ve dreamed about doing since I was little – probably since Gurgi in Black Cauldron, after I realized I could do cool things with my voice. 

When the opportunity came to create a studio in my home, this was just the push I needed to get into voice acting… right? I thought about starting a podcast, a vocal art studio, possibly composing the music for the intros, and really expanding my reach as an author. What a WONDERFUL dream. I currently hold all my audio rights for my series and I felt like this was a golden opportunity….

This was two (plus) years ago. And though I still have delusions of recording, different opportunities and challenges took precedence over my starring role as recording artist and composer.

But here is what happened to help branch my books into audio…

My grandmother, who is a personal hero of mine, is blind, Macular Degeneration, where the eyes just slowly lose vision. I fear this will eventually happen to me as well, something to look forward to, I suppose. She is currently in assisted living, but the crazy girl is teaching exercise (within reason) to the other residents. She’s spry and sharp, and a well of experiences. I don’t ever have the time to visit (I’m the worst offender out of all her grandchildren) and she wouldn’t be able to read my books anyway. Around her 95th birthday back in May, the thought came to me that I wished my grandmother knew my stories while she is still here.

Now was the time to get into audio.

A friend asked why I didn’t read Vampire-ish myself, with all my audio talk and whatnot. Very simply… well, I’m not a guy. I can’t even fake this on a good day. The thing about Oliver (Vampire-ish: A Hypochondriac’s Tale), it is told in first person narration. I needed a guy.

I looked into ACX and decided to give it a try. I went for halvies, profit share, and received a lot of incredible auditions, but none were right for Oliver. My main character needed a specific, youthful, yet slightly nerdy voice. All these deep baritones just wouldn’t work out. When I heard Ryan Jeanmaire, I knew immediately this was my Oliver. Ryan not only had the vocal sound I needed, but the comic timing required for the part, and it was a bonus that he studied acting and currently lives in New York City. I’m VERY excited to announce that Vampire-ish: A Hypochondriac’s Tale will be available in audio – Audible, iTunes, and Amazon – at the end of this month, July 31st. (link to come)

 

But, another incredible thing happened.

A few years ago, an author friend and someone I’ve mentioned before, probablyAlyson Grauer (Whimsy and ArtificeDreams To Become), talked casually about recording my books. She loved Vivatera and always wanted to do it, but at the time her life was circumnavigated by change and the timing wasn’t right. Last month, Aly contacted me and approach the subject of recording my books. My series is finished and this was a great chance to get all three done by the same person, and field into another arena of book lovers. A slot had opened in her artistic life to read my books, and I jumped at the opportunity for her to audition.

Salt Lake Comic Con 2015: Aly in the Steampunk cowgirl and me as Honey Lemon. You can tell it’s the end of the con. I was exhausted. Photo credit: Bryan Rasmussen, Chisledlight Photography

I have a lot of professional artistic working relationships, and working with friends, especially the dear ones, can be very delicate sometimes.

Here is some advice:

  • Always draft a contract
  • Follow the contract
  • Remember this phrase – “It’s Business.” (coined while editing the Blacksmith Series) Don’t take it personal, it’s business.

Aly sent me the Prologue and First Chapter for Vivatera and my jaw hit the floor. Unlike Oliver’s 1st person narrative, Vivatera is 3rd person limited view. It spines a vivid cast of characters, all across this world I created. Aly asked several questions about the characters before starting, comprehensive questions about region and dialect, audio samples and word pronunciations. We also audio chatted in :22-ish audio clips, just bouncing back and forth about specifics while I was in my car.

From what I have heard, this will be an audio experience. Aly is an actor, storyteller, a dialect coach, a creator, and for me, a very fortuitous friend to have in my life. Contract is drafted and I’ll have more details later.

I can’t wait to share this with my grandma, and all of you when it comes out. Stay tuned!

**If you are interesting following Aly and her projects, please click on her Patreon link here: Whimsy and Artifice

 

 

FanX 2017 – Supporting Local Fantasy Authors

Authors Rebecca Rode, Me, and Jen Greyson, with the talent Kermit the Frog and his handler (getting his name now)

 

Today, I’m reflecting on my past experiences as I get ready for another FanX.

Lissa (amazing editor) and I FanX 2014

My first FanX was an experiment. It was only me and my family and friends helping out. I was NOBODY – a fledgling author with one book and a BIG award. I coughed up the money (YIKES!) for a booth without any special discount beyond being a repeat vendor. (I think they were nervous it would suck.) Along with my book VIVATERA, and a short story in an anthology, I was eves away from my second book CONJECTRIX, being published. I met my editor for the first time – Lissa – and I was placed on the end RIGHT in front of Patrick Stewart’s and Karen Gillan’s line. It was hard, HARD work. I filled it with other Xchyler’s (my publisher) books, those who could participate, and did my best at selling them.

Xchyler Authors 2016: Jay Barnson, Scott Taylor, Ben Ireland, Jon Olsen, Sarah Seeley, and ME!

Last year, we collaborated as Xchyler authors, plus having our sponsor Kelly Olsen, in a booth together. We were generating some buzz at other conventions. Still hard work, but completely worth it. I got the chance to grow in friendship with some of these amazing people. The experience also set me in a new direction as an editor.

This year for FanX, I’m helping other authors get the chance to let their books shine by hosting a booth for Local Fantasy Authors. With both FanX and Salt Lake Comic Con, I have established relationships and respect within the community, something I feel very humble and honored to have. I get to participate again as a panelist and special guest at this convention. The idea still blows me away. But with that, I can help others make their mark in the community. Attending these conventions can be expensive, but the exposure is VITAL. And WOW I’ve got a great crew with me for this con.

The authors are:

Badges for the authors! AWESOME!

I’m incredibly impressed with the talent in our little booth. We have Amazon top sellers and award-winning talent, among some stunning new fiction. If you are in Salt Lake City attending FanX, we are in booth 721. If you don’t get the chance, check out the links and look at these wonderful authors.

FanX is so much fun – hard work, but so worth it. I can’t wait to be an author again.

Serendipity – the Beginnings of Billy Blacksmith

ser·en·dip·i·ty

serənˈdipədē/

noun

the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

 

I think out of all the words that I have ever encountered (that being a LOT) Serendipity is a special word that I have always admired. I remember reading the little Serendipity picture books like Morgan and Me, Bangalee, and The Muffin Muncher (all my favorites as a kid), so I grew a subconscious association with the word that, to me, embodied magic and imagination.

In this quick definition, it doesn’t express the feeling of Serendipity. Many times a person doesn’t know that a moment is serendipitous, only on reflection can it be seen. This is very true in my personal experience with this strange cosmic event called “Serendipity.” Though, as it was happening, there was a certain feeling pulling me along, alerting me of how special this was. I wouldn’t call it fate or kismet, that makes it imply that I didn’t have a choice. But in this case, I clearly did have a choice, and this is how my choice led me here…

The Occurance

February 2016 – LTUE: Life, The Universe, and Everything Writers Conference, one of the best Sci-fi/Fantasy writing conferences there is. I was very involved this year, being on ten panels and subbing on two. It kept me very busy.

ltue-2016-crop
Actual picture of our first meeting

Ben Ireland, fellow Xchyler author and Moments In Millennia contributor, had just moved to Utah. He had contacted me back in December about getting more involved in events here. I was the right person to contact about that, I have my fingers in all sorts of pies. Truth: Xchyler is much like a family, so adding another member was very exciting, plus I felt a strange kind of kinship with him after working on MIM. And me, being very active in the writing community here, felt a specific need to befriend him, a need I did not understand at the time. I invited him to LTUE, and got him to take part of the large author signing event.

I had been very busy, as I said, and hadn’t noticed him come in and set up at a table close by. I was rather struck by my great fortune being positioned directly across from Brandon Sanderson. It took me a good while to notice that he was sitting kitty-corner from my seat. I could only see the back of his head, but I knew it was him. I grew very nervous – people online can be very different in person, but I couldn’t just sit there. I got up, casually went over, and tapped him on the back. He was excited to see me and glad I was there. We immediately hit it off and my friend Mike from the media team nabbed a picture.

My 12 year old daughter and I had a casual lunch with him the next day during the conference, where he asked her, nearly in passing, if she would be interested in reading a YA fantasy he had been developing. I was curious about it, but he didn’t say much, just that he wanted her opinion. He sent it to me, and I in turn sent it to my girl.

Development of Events

My daughter is rather flaky. I love the guts out of her, but she starts things then gets distracted by squirrels. She read about 50 pages before she started doing something else. I was curious about the story, but I had so many other things to do, like finishing writing a few books, one being the final book in my series. I couldn’t justify time in reading it. And at this point, Ben had not asked me to read it.

About a good seven weeks later, Ben and I met up yet again in the Xchyler Booth at FanX, a geek convention in Salt Lake City. He kept mentioning this YA story. And here I was, a YA fantasy author. I knew he was dying to talk about it. So, I simply asked him to tell me about Billy Blacksmith…

…and the flood opened and he shared with me so much. He was so excited to talk with another author who understood creation and world building. I mean, Ben completely lit up. I tried to catch everything as he filled my ears with this world of Billy Blacksmith, all while walking the wide convention floor eating overly priced chocolate ice cream.

This is what I caught:

  • Billy is a big kid, out of shape, lover of cupcakes, amazing at baseball
  • Has ultra cool friends, Greyson Ash and Ash-lea Gray, very cool
  • He has demonblood

But it wasn’t until…

  • Giant demonic spiders and a little girl that this giant spider had to protect

…did I wonder how complex this story really was.

And then he killed it by saying that part was actually in the second book. But, after everything, and me as a YA fantasy author, he really wanted my opinion. Now, know I have a hard time reading books from my friends. I don’t want my author friendships to become delicate if I don’t like it, you know? But, there was something, I’d nearly call it a magic charm, calling me to read this story. I started reading and told myself that I would try and keep my personal friendship out, remove my writer self, and just enjoy the story.

I failed.

By chapter three I had a problem – I really liked the story. It surprised me. It was funny, funny, funny. The characters were super engaging, especially poor, larger-than-life Billy. But, my stupid author brain would not shut up. The story had great potential, but I could tell it was more complex than what Ben had original told me. A boy that swings a bat really well did not scratch the surface.

So, lucky as I am, I went to the author with questions. And there Ben blew my mind with a creative

billyblacksmithfinalcover
COVER REVEAL Pre-order Billy Blacksmith Available January 2017

world constructed of three realms: Humans, Demons, and Angels, and the wars that befell them. About the different demonic races and classes, about a different kind of hero story, filling me with mystery and admiration, the kind that makes me wish I had created it. This manuscript screamed at me, and it wasn’t even mine.

And then I read a chapter called, “The Demon Who Loved a Maid and Saved Mankind,” and I feel in love with the story. It talked about the sweet beginnings and love story that started everything. I couldn’t help myself. This was good – really good, but there were problems that I could see and Ben couldn’t. Ben writes thrillers, not YA fantasy. YA sometimes needs a gentler hand, or something that appeals to that age. And YA is something I write and I knew I could help. This is what Ben wanted when he first talked to me, someone within the writing world to believe in Billy–and I, in some strange cosmic serendipitous way, was there.

In A Happy or Beneficial Way

At this point I warned Ben, “I can’t shut off my writer brain, so if I see something that could be improved, can I add a comment?” He was so excited that I offered, he said “Yes, please.” And thus, started a back and forth writing process that soon developed a trusting friendship and partnership as author and editor.

That’s right… Editor. New hat, but I like how it fits.

Over the past months working on this, I’ve learn how important it is to have creative people. Though ideas may be different, artistic types, and especially writers, speak the same language of art. It was this language of writing, world building, and creative storytelling that spoke to me. Writers need writers to speak to, bounce off ideas, learn from, and share with. We all have loved ones who believe in us and in our abilities, but having other creative minds believe in it too is validation that you are doing something right, something worth while. The imaginative beauty of this project wrapped around me, and instead of simply encouraging the idea, I got involved, because I believed in it and desperately wanted it to succeed.

I love writing. I love storytelling. I love making a difference. I love being a small part of Billy Blacksmith.

Serendipity only works when you act on it.

Congratulations Ben!


 

Billy Blacksmith: The Demonslayer

Billy has spent his whole life keeping his head down in school and trying to survive the endless parade of foster homes. When a three hundred pound spider emerges from under his bed intent on drinking his blood, Billy discovers he is the main player in an ancient war between demons and humans. With his best friends Ash-lea and Greyson, and a reformed demon as his ally, Billy prepares to face an invasion of demonic spiders and the General that leads them.

Sign up HERE for a chance to win a signed copy of Billy Blacksmith:The Demonslayer

 

Vampire-ish Cover Reveal – Hypochondria and a Hybrid Author

Big News! I Got Rejected!

mockup7c
Monica is amazing. Ampersand Book Covers

Before you all start crying for me, don’t. Rejection happens a LOT as a writer. And it’s something you truly never get over. Artists tend to be protective of their creations, and it takes a lot of bravery to release it – every single time. So, to be knocked down and kicked in the stomach repeatedly starts to ware on the spirit.

But, there is a point when you need to come to grips with the rejections you get. Each one you can learn from, so there is a process of improvement, but sometimes, it has nothing to do with your writing, and everything to do with personal preference.

I submitted to an open submission in January. In March, they requested the entire manuscript. Then June 1st, I received their polite rejection and how it doesn’t fit with their current readership.

In my current case, it comes down to genre. And let’s be specific. . . VAMPIRES.

People hear Vampire and automatically turn away. “I don’t read Vampire fiction.” “I’m not into Twilight.” “Vampires. Why are you writing about vampires? That’s ten years ago.” I get rejections from agents strictly because of this. So, I researched who would want vampire fiction. And you know what I heard back? “This is not a vampire story. This is a story that happens to be about a vampire.”

Yep. All true. And I won’t lie, I’m not a vampire reader either. So, why did I write a story about a vampire? Well, sit down and let me tell you a story about me, and also, introduce you to Oliver Brixby.

Stories have origins from someplace. Right? That’s why I always carry a notebook, because I never know when I’ll be inspired. I got the idea of Oliver when, in my day job at the time, a co-worker got splashed in the mouth with platelets.

What in the world kind of job is this? Well, I have spent the last several years working IN a Blood Bank. Who better qualified to write vampire fiction then a vampire.

“Oh, are you a nurse?” No. I work in a laboratory.

“Do you draw blood?” Nope, that’s a phlebotomist.

The short of it, I prepare blood for the nurses and doctors to transfuse. It’s not like the medical dramas that you see stream. Blood is a tricky and highly regulated substance. I understand the mechanics that go into saving a live. It’s really a rewarding and unusual job.

So, going back to my friend and being splashed. Platelets are the white cells that swim in plasma that initiate clotting (oh no, big words). The bag of platelets had ripped during transport and somehow (still don’t know how) splashed him. We all gagged at the thought. But he smiled and said, “Actually, it wasn’t so bad. It tasted like condensed milk.” And me being a total smarty pants commented, “Oh, if vampires only knew.” We giggle at the thought of high society vamps with swirling platelets in their champagne flutes (because they need to be continually moving, eh? Blood Bankers, anyone?) And this single idea led me to Oliver Brixby, the world’s worst vampire.

Socrates once stated,

“No human condition is ever permanent.”

I never comprehended these words. I figured he talked about death or about the improvement of one’s self, but now, I consider an alternative, he actually knew something the rest of us didn’t.

My love for the philosophies of life, which I’ve studied over my epigrammatic college career, led me to a new conclusion, “Socrates must have known about vampires.”

I began writing Vampire-ish 5 or so years ago. The idea of a hypochondriac getting bit by a vampire and learning how to deal with his everyday existence, when squeamish at the sight of blood, absolutely delighted me. I thought for sure it would get picked up. During that time my fantasy series DID get picked up and has since sent me head first into a writer’s life. I remembered Oliver every so often, and sent him off to see if he could do anything good in the world, but as I stated before, no one was interested in vampire fiction.

On June 1st, after another disappointing rejection, something inside me snapped. Several things collided at the same time, my third in the Everstar series had been sent to the editor, as well as a new collaboration with a talented writer, so I really didn’t have time to focus on Ollie and his band of NY vamps. But, I couldn’t leave my disappointment alone. This story needed to be out. Every time I talked about it, people would say, “Oh, I’d totally read that.” So, then the thought came to me even stronger than before – why wait? Oliver’s story needs to be read. And the best publisher is me.

I quickly contacted some of my self-published friends about what I needed to do – cover artists, ISBNs, formatters, marketing. By noon, I had already talked to someone about a cover (Ampersands Book Covers), I had set up a self-publishing profile, I had figured out my marketing strategy, a possible formatter lined up, and I felt encouraged by other writers around me that I was doing the right thing. This was really going to happen. But, now…. I had to actually READ it and see if it was as funny as I remember.

I hadn’t touched this thing in years, so I really needed to do some serious editing. I laughed out loud at some of the things that happen. It plays out in moments, like a situational comedy. And what a tremendous joy I felt when I read THE END. Oliver is coming, and I couldn’t be happier.

Vampire-ish: A Hypochondriac’s Tale will be released at the 8th Annual Northwest Book Festival in Portland, Oregon July 30th. You will find it on Amazon and coming to Salt Lake Comic Con Sept. 1. If anyone is willing to do a book review on Amazon or Goodreads, or even a blogpost – fill out the form below. ARCs will be available shortly.

The world needs to know Oliver Brixby. He needs to know you. And I’m ready to share him with you.

Rejection – not such a bad thing sometimes.