On Releases

Hello all! As you know, I released my debut novel on the 27th of last month. I’ve been published previously in anthologies, but this was the first time it was all me all the time. It’s been a great experience so far. There’s nothing quite like having your book in your hands and seeing all the selfies of people with your book. So I thought I’d talk to you a little bit about what it’s like to release and some of the things that helped make mine what I would consider a success. I mean after all, I did set a modest goal for sales in a month and met it in the first couple of weeks. So let’s look at some of what I did.

Obviously this isn’t going to be an extensive list of what I did, but I did want to share some of my thoughts. I used to only use my Facebook author page to communicate on Facebook about my writing. But I realized a few months ago that people on my personal page were excited about my book coming out and wanted to know more. So I started sharing stuff on my personal page and found a lot of support from friends and family. Now that’s not to say I spammed them with buy my book links. In fact, I made sure not to post about my book at all more than once a week. And I didn’t start telling them about it six months or more in advance. I started teasing stuff out like excerpts and my cover reveal two months before release day. And I definitely didn’t include the links to buy each time. I tried to make it more personal and engaging than that, and it wasn’t all about getting people to buy my book. It was more just sharing my book and my excitement with the world, and I really think that translated well. I’m friends with a lot of authors on Facebook, and quite frankly, we all get sick of the book links spamming that goes on every day over and over again. I didn’t want to be that person. So keep in mind your friend list cares about you as a person, and not just an advertisement for you to get their money.

I’ve also been working hard behind the scenes to do local signings. A lot more people than you think like to support local authors and people in their community. Now I deal with a lot of anxiety, especially social anxiety, so this isn’t the easiest thing for me to go out and do. But I know it’s good for me and for the community. The first signing I set up is at a local library branch. I’m offering a Q and A on writing and publishing, since I work for a small press, so I’m hoping to help people better understand the publishing process and not just sell copies. And we are advertising it this way, as an opportunity for others to learn a bit more on how to get published and not just to meet little ole me. I’m also happy that the library will be doing its own advertising for the event. So it’s not just all on me (though you should be prepared if it is). I’ve started to let people know that I have an event in January coming up and will start to seriously promote it as it draws sooner. I find if you invite people too early, they forget about it and just don’t think about it. I’ve also got two more venues asking me to do a signing with them. It’s nerve wracking, but also exciting.

I also did special things to celebrate my release. On the day of, I hosted a small Facebook party where me and some friends talked about Angelborn. My editors and some friends who had read it all participated, but it wasn’t your typical takeover event. The focus was on my debut novel and not just them selling their books to my audience. This gave more people a real idea of what my book was all about and didn’t take the focus off of it. They did still introduce their writing at the end of their segments, along with where you could find them online, but it was really my special day. Not saying that everyone can take that approach. I think these people really loved me to do things this way and have so much to say about my book, but it’s something to consider if you really want to acquaint your friend list to your book. It also really made me feel great on release day. I kept it short, only 4 and a half hours long. I find that things really die off when events go too long. And afterwards, I was able to enjoy my night, going out for sushi with my sissy and spending quality time with the fam. I also made my party feel more like a real party. Since my guests were all talking about my book, I didn’t have to go crazy trying to “sell” it. I posted pictures of the special cake my sissy made for the day and shared some cocktails another friend of mine had designed for my series. Team Angelborn and Team Demonkind drinks special just for me! It made for a more fun environment, and I liked the laid back approach. Think about ways to get engagement up.

But the party doesn’t stop there. I decided to host an in-person event for people to help celebrate my release. It’s on Sunday, and I am so excited for it to happen. I will be selling copies of my book for people to have signed by me, but it’s not the focus. There will be lunch, prizes, games, making bookmarks, and a small reading by me before the signing. It’s a tangible way to have people show their support for you and really celebrate all the hard work you went through to get to this stage. I’m a big believer in celebrating these victories in your writing career. We rented out a hall for a great price (while supporting veterans) and like I said we have prizes! My publisher uses Red Bubble for their merch and my amazing designer came up with some fabulous stuff. (Here’s the link to check out my pub’s merch for ideas, and my specific merch, the Angelborn merch based off my cover and Team Angelborn and Team Demonkind merch so people can pick a side to rep). I’m doing some small and big prizes based on raffles and the games we have going on. It costs a little money, but with people out in the world showing off your merch, that’s free advertising. Plus I’m happy to share this awesome stuff with my family and friends, because I really do love their products. And the best part of Red Bubble is there’s no up front costs. As long as you have the designs, you just upload them. They don’t print until they have an order, so you don’t have to pay to make a bunch of merchandise to have to turn around and try to sell just to get your money back.

Well, that’s all I have time for to talk about today. Maybe I’ll let you know later how my in-person party went and more about my local events. Hope you find this helpful, and if you do want to snag a copy of Angelborn, it’s on Barnes and Noble online.

Happy releasing!

Julia

Find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for inspiration, memes, and weekly prompts.

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Angelborn Blog Tour Kickoff!

So Angelborn releases on the 27th! In preparation, there’s a blog tour going on starting today with author interviews with me and book reviews of Angelborn. Angelborn is about a girl who thinks she’s a normal teenager until she gets a bruise that won’t heal and starts having strange dreams. She’s thrust into a world she never knew existed and has to stay out of the hands of a powerful half demon while keeping her loved ones safe. Follow along with Ginny’s adventure by pre-ordering for the sale price today at Amazon.

Here are some excerpts from the book

Quote 1 Version 3Quote 2 Version 2Quote 3Quote 4

The tour kicks off with Our Write Side at https://wp.me/p9SAMH-fe

And here are the other stops on the tour. Stop by and check them out!

9/15: Author Interview http://afstewartblog.blogspot.com/p/interviews.html

9/16: Book review: www.thephantomparagrapher.blogspot.com

9/19: Book review: Hines and Bigham’s Literary Tryst | Indie Authors Helping Other …

9/20: Release announcement: https://rebekahjonesy.blogspot.com/2018/09/angelborn-by-jk-allen.html

9/22: Author Interview: https://rebeccarpierce.wordpress.com/

9/27: Author Interview: https://plotmonster.wordpress.com/

9/27: Author Spotlight: https://timothybatesonauthor.weebly.com/

9/29: Book spotlight: https://timothybatesonauthor.weebly.com/

9/30: Book review: Crliteraryblog.wordpress.com

10/2: Author interview: https://rebekahjonesy.blogspot.com/2018/09/author-interview-with-jk-allen.html

Don’t forget to check out these stops to learn a bit more about me and my debut novel. In the meantime, happy writing!

Julia

Scath Oran Interview with Stacy Overby

The Wee Folk. The Fae. Fairies.

Whatever you may call them, they have whispered secrets in this collection of poetry plucked from the halls of Tír na nÓg. But, be forewarned, not all is as it seems on a journey through the shining realm. Come, take a step into the fairy ring as songs of the Fae drift on the damp night air.

 

Today we are here to talk about a special project, Scath Oran by Stacy Overby. This is a speculative poetry chapbook based on mythology that explores several different forms. It’s an ambitious project, but one that I really enjoyed exploring. So without further ado, here is my interview with the mastermind behind this collection.

 

How long have you been writing poetry?

I’ve been writing poetry on and off for about 25 years. Yes, I still have those angst filled notebooks of poems from high school. And, no, I’m not going to share them, at least not at this point.l

 

What draws you to poetry?

I grew up loving music. I also grew up in a family where history was important. Understanding where we came from and who we are. In the course of these two things, I discovered we, as human beings, have a rich history of oral storytelling. This was some of the first poems I discovered and fell in love. This is what keeps bringing me back to poetry, that lyrical, rhythmic way of building layer upon layer of meaning in such a short and memorable time frame.

 

What do you find different writing speculative poetry than other topics?

I think speculative poetry can be a bit more challenging in that you not only have to sell the poem itself, but the notion that this completely fictional scenario is real. Even if the poem is beautifully written, not convincing the reader the banshees are really out there howling in the storms will still lead to a poem that falls flat. It’s that added challenge of building a connection with readers.

 

Where did the idea for Scath Oran come from?

Oh boy, let me see if I can put it into words that make sense. There were a couple things that came together and influenced the birth of Scath Oran. First, a writing group I am in had the challenge to create a personal project within a certain time frame–I don’t honestly remember how long anymore. At that same time I had been working some with an amazing poet, Dusty Grein, on classical forms and, particularly, meter. Then throw in a liberal dash of my love for all things speculative, and some of the early poems for Scath Oran were born. From there I decided to try to make a collection out of it.

 

Take us through your process of writing poetry.

Process? There’s a process? Oh, wait. I’m not supposed to say that am I? Honestly, a number of these poems started off pretty off the cuff. Watching clouds drift by creating crazy shadows on the ground or the way thunder rolled through a valley one day when I was out camping. Then it’s dash the words down on paper. This collection was also about exploring a number of classical forms as well, so I tried to pick forms I hadn’t used too much in the collection. The meter part came with the form, at least as much as I could at first. Then it’s the refining and editing parts. Is the meter correct? Should I break the meter or form in a particular spot? Do the images stand up? I had lots of help with these last bits. Each revision was about honing the piece to capture the essence of the poem, that image, as quickly as possible.

 

What did you learn from writing Scath?

It’s hard! Well, not hard, but man, the work that goes into a poetry collection is crazy. Are each of the poems lending something to the whole? Should one–or more–be taken out? Should something get added in? In what order should the poems be in the book? What is the overall message and theme of the book?  How should they be laid out? What fonts? Should titles be fancy with the body of the poem cleaner? The list goes on and on. Way more than what I feel like there are for a novel. But, I also learned through all these questions, that this is what brings a classy book to the table. The art of poetry is as much in the presentation of the final poem as it is the words of the poem itself.

 

You used a lot of form poetry in this chapbook. Do you prefer form to freeverse? And why?

That’s a tough call. Some of the underlying intention in this collection was to focus on forms. Free verse seems so much bigger, I liked the idea of veering away from it. I also find I love the challenge of fitting my poem into the mold of a particular form and meter–which are additional layers to build emotion upon in a poem. However, with free verse, even though there are no real rules for this, there is the added challenge of creating a stunning poem without anything to guide you. In the end, I’d have to say each has its place and I like both directions for different reasons.

 

What’s your favorite form? Why?

I don’t know if I have a favorite form. The sonnets were fun because they are so recognizable as a form for most people. Triolets are a challenge due to the repetition used in this form. The most interesting form I used was the paradelle. This form was originally created by Billy Collins as a joke. Here’s a link to the form itself and you’ll understand why it is such an interesting form to try to use effectively: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/poets/poetic-form-paradelle.

 

What does writing mean to you?

Writing is my sanity, sometimes literally. I am the director of a dual diagnosis adolescent treatment program. We do TONS of trauma work with the teenagers in the program. There’s no way a provider can work doing the things we do and not run the risk of secondary trauma from listening to all the horror stories these teenagers have lived through. Writing is one of my major outlets and coping mechanisms for staring into that abyss as much as I do and plan to continue doing.

 

What other genres do you write?

I also write speculative fiction.Anything in the fantasy, science-fiction, or even along the fringes of horror is fair game for me. Keeping it speculative allows me to write some of the things I deal with at work in a way that protects anyone who may have influenced the writing. Plus, this is what I was raised on. My dad loves this stuff and passed that love of “what if…” on.

 

Tell us about your future projects.

I am working on the edits for my first novel, Tattoos: A Black Ops Novel. It’s a space opera exploring devotion to duty versus personal values and what happens when views of what the perfect world looks like collide. A couple short stories from this world have been published in Rhetoric Askew’s Askew Anthologies series.

 

Where can we find you to learn more? 

I can be found at www.thisisnothitchhikersguide.com for my blog. For social media, I’m at www.facebook.com/thisisnothitchhikersguide, www.twitter.com/dontpanic2011,  www.instagram.com/mamawisper78, and https://www.pinterest.com/thisisnothitchhikersguide. Come chat with me! I love the company!

Pick up your copy at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GSZNWCP to explore with the tricksy fae today!

Thoughts on Editing

So I’ve been super busy lately. As you may know I am actually the Head Editor for OWS, while also being Head Poetry Editor and an Executive Board member. Which means I do a lot of editing and work when I’m not writing. Lately, my editing schedule has been a little crazy, so I thought we could talk about editing today. Just a casual chat. So here goes.

 

There are a couple different types of editing, developmental (or substantial) editing and line (or copy) editing. These are very different from each other and it’s important to know which type of editing you would like or need when hiring an editor. Dev edits are the big holistic changes you need to develop your story. Things like looking for consistencies and plot holes, structural or organizational changes, strengthening weak writing, adding or deleting scenes or chapters, developing characters, etc. These are the big changes to make sure your story is strong. They are not the polishing we usually think of when we think editing. These edits are also a lot of work, so are more expensive when you’re hiring an editor. But they are definitely worth it, especially early in your writing career when you’re unsure of what you need to strengthen and work on in your drafts.

 

Line edits are the polishing stage. They are called that because they focus on line by line. So word choice, sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation. Are your word choices strong and adequate? Are your sentences varied? How do they flow and transition from one to the next. Is your grammar solid? These are the things you focus on for line edits. If your story is solid, then these are the edits you would look for.

 

The important things to remember when editing is to give yourself time in between first drafts and edits and to do edits in passes. For dev edits, group issues into like categories and then tackle them in passes. For example, you can first go through and look at structure. Are you hitting all your necessary plot points for the structure you’re using? Is this the best order for your chapters? Does your timeline make sense? Then go through and look at characters. Are they all developed and three-dimensional? Are they consistent and distinguishable from each other? Then do dialogue and body language. And so on and so forth. With line edits you can start with sentence structure and flow before moving on to spelling and grammar issues. But the most important thing is to wait long enough before you start. When we finish our first draft, it’s so tempting to keep going and start editing. But this is a mistake. You need to be able to look at the draft with fresh eyes to see the issues and mistakes. You need to give your brain a break to be able to see what’s missing from the story and what’s unclear. I think a month is a good amount of time, but take at least two weeks. Then give yourself the same break between dev edits and line edits. And don’t worry about spelling and grammar until the very end. No point in polishing when you have big changes to make.

 

You may be wondering why I talk about self-editing and hiring editors in the same post. It’s because I believe in both. We should always self-edit before we pass on our stories to anyone else. If we don’t, the drafts are too much of a mess for an editor to go through and make the best possible. If it’s a lot of work, they may not be able to finesse as much as if you had given them a cleaner draft. It will also cost you a lot more. More of their time and effort means more money. So don’t just think that editing is all their job. You’re responsible as well as the writer. They are there to improve, but you should do some work first. Also, if you are self publishing then I strongly recommend hiring an editor to make sure you are putting the best work out there. Self publishing makes it easy for you to get your book out there fast, but you don’t want it to be subpar. Especially if you are not an expert when it comes to editing. If you publish traditionally then you will have an editor assigned to you. It’s up to you whether you want to hire an editor before you query, for example. It can be a good idea to put your best foot forward when shopping around your MS, but know it will be edited again through the publishing company.

 

So those are some quick thoughts on editing. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below and happy editing!

 

Julia

 

Follow my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for inspiration, memes, and weekly prompts.

Angelborn Cover Reveal!

So sorry this is a little late in the day, but the time just got past me today. But it’s here! The final cover reveal for Angelborn. If you’ve been following me on social media, you’ve been privy to each stage of the project (if you haven’t, you can check out my links at the bottom of this post to catch up). So, without further ado, here it is!

AB wrap final (1)

This went through several stages, and I was fortunate enough to be able to be involved in each step. My cover designer was great and really listened to my opinions on colors and other details that really went into making this so eye catching. I was so nervous about the process, since I’m not a designer myself, but it was all a very great process that I was happy to be involved in. Not all authors are so lucky.

Angelborn is also available for pre-order at D2D and Amazon! And it’s on sale. Pre-order today and save some money!

As always, I’m glad to share this process with each of you and shed some light on my experience with publishing. A lot of people advocate for self-publishing or traditional, but it all really depends on your goals for yourself and your book, and on things like what you can realistically invest yourself in the process. This includes time, money, and marketing. And of course, the press makes all the difference with what they do to help or harm you. There’s no one answer, but I am happy to answer any questions, if you have any.

Thanks for sharing in my reveal today and be sure to stay tuned for more!

Julia

Find me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for inspiration, memes, and weekly prompts.

Cover Reveal Stage One

So I know this isn’t the day I normally post on here, but I wanted to share my cover reveal which I will be doing all week. I may not post each stage on here, but you can see it on my other social media sites, which I will link to at the bottom of this post. I am revealing the cover by posting all the stages and transformations the cover went through until the end where I will post the final version on the first. So here it is, the first stage of the cover reveal.

woman faded

It all started with this figure, which I love and captures some of the emotions of the book perfectly. Ginny, the protagonist, goes through some turmoil and mixed emotions as she discovers she is half-angel and that her father is alive. Here’s the blurb.

High school is all about boy meets girl, girl gets demon mark, and girl finds out she’s half-angel. At least that’s how it is for Ginny Gracehurst.

Sixteen year olds have a lot going on in their lives, and Ginny is no exception. Grades, homework, pimples, oh and now the sudden appearance of a demon mark. And discovering her father, who she thought was dead, is actually the great angel Grace. Who is very much alive.

With unforeseen powers growing, she has to figure out who she really is. While also staying out of the reach of a powerful half demon who is hell-bent on bending her to his will. The Alliance, an organization that is supposed to help people like her, is threatened by her potential gifts. They are more invested in their own hierarchy than in upholding their divine mandate. It’s up to her and a new friend, Aiden, to protect not just herself, but the ones she loves.

And in case you missed it last week, here is a short excerpt from the story I posted on my social media.

Quote 1 Version 3

So be sure to tune in for the final cover reveal on the first!

In the meantime, happy writing!

Julia

Find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for inspiration, memes, and weekly prompts.

Tips to Write Like a Pro

So a couple of months ago I attended another writer’s conference in my area. I’ve meant to share some of what I’ve learned with all of you, so that’s on the agenda for today. One speaker, Brian A. Klems, talked about some tips to write like the pros. I won’t go over all of them with you, since we’ve talked about some of them already. But I will go over some of the ones that stood out to me along with my thoughts about them.

Don’t just open with action, open with conflict

Get your readers hooked from sentence one and sympathizing with your character. And action doesn’t just mean a car chase or an explosion. But the character shouldn’t just be sitting around and thinking. Move the plot forward from the beginning towards the inciting incident and the rest of the story.

Speaking of the inciting incident, it is crucial to your story

It is the impetus to the rest of the story and builds to the climax. For a good example of what an inciting incident is, let’s look at the Hunger Games. The inciting incident occurs when Katniss’s sister is picked for the Reaping and Katniss volunteers to go in her place. The rest of the story couldn’t happen without this event and it sets up the conflict for the rest of the story. The inciting incident isn’t the same as your hook. Your hook is what starts your story and pulls the reader in and gets them asking questions. The inciting incident comes after, unless you are using the Fichtean Curve as your story structure.

Don’t include too many adjectives and adverbs

These don’t work as well as strong verbs and concrete nouns. And adjectives can often be vague. Pretty doesn’t tell us anything about what she actually looks like. And don’t use things like ran quickly, use sprinted, dashed, or raced. Stronger verbs are always better than adverbs.

Avoid passive voice

Passive voice is where the object of the sentence becomes the subject. So instead of “Bob threw the ball,” we have “The ball was thrown by Bob.” If you’re unsure whether a sentence is passive or not, see if you can add “by zombies” at the end of the sentence. If it makes sense, it’s passive and should be changed to active voice. Active voice is easier to read and much more immersive.

Hooks aren’t just for the beginning of your story

Keep raising questions for the reader in each chapter to keep those pages turning.

Characters are a priority and should be complex

Each main character should be unique and memorable. All characters, even the minor ones, need three things; a goal, a flaw, and motivations driving them. This will make your characters well-rounded and drive the plot forwards while creating tension. After all, goals conflict between characters. And without conflict, you don’t have a story. Flaws are important to make your characters relatable and believable to the reader. This is crucial and a good step towards getting your reader to care about your characters.

Watch your verb tenses

Don’t switch back and forth between present and past tense, for example. It’s jarring for the reader and should be something you catch in editing. The same applies to POV. Don’t switch from first to third, unless it’s intentional, such as when writing journal entries versus exposition.

Stay consistent

If you use the Oxford comma, use it each time. If you spell it grey instead of gray, stick to it. If you use OK instead of okay, keep to the acronym. Stay consistent.

Those were the tips that really stood out to me that I wanted to share with you. What do you think of these tips? Do they help you progress? Share your comments below and happy writing!

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