Indie Spotlight – Christian & YA Author Patricia Bell – How bullying led me to become a writer

Today, we welcome Christian and YA author Patricia Bell who discusses her experiences with bullying and how it led her to become a writer and advocate for young people.

And the gods of coincidence have shined down on us today because “From House to Home,” the first book in the Karina Journey series, is FREE on Kindle from August 14th – August 18th. Update: this is a more direct link to the free Kindle version.

For fifteen-year-old Karina Murberry, Life is about to change. When her drug dealing mother lands in jail, she finds herself sleeping on a park bench. What’s a girl to do? Just as she’s resolved herself to the idea of entering a group home full of bully’s and cockroaches, her principal discovers a mysterious emergency contact in her file.

 

How being bullied led me to become a writer

Growing up, I was not the prettiest or the most popular. As a matter of fact, I didn’t fit well into any group. I wasn’t athletic or particularly smart. I wasn’t a stoner or a nerd. I was mostly out of place. I had very little self-esteem and was picked on, sometimes relentlessly. It took a long time, to realize that I was loved by at least someone. God the creator. If only someone had been there to encourage me as a child.

It’s funny, really, now that I think about it. The way other children can get under your skin, and make you feel worthless. If the same thing were happening now, I’d probably let it roll off my back or at least pretend it did, and then go home and cry where no one can see.

But as a child, and being the youngest of seven, I was an emotional basket case. Kids would call me names and I’d cry. They would befriend me only to treat me badly. And somehow, I never learned. Then of course I would go home, and my brothers and sisters would pick on me some more. “Stop being a baby.” They’d tell me.  It was always the same thing. My mother would say. “Don’t you cry. That’s what they want.”  I’m sure that was true, but when you wear your heart on your sleeve, crying isn’t an option, it’s a heartfelt reaction. It cannot be shut off like a leaky faucet.

I think if just once, I’d have been given a hug instead of a lecture, I may have grown up with more confidence in myself and my abilities.

At the age of seventeen, I wanted to be a writer. I would write stories and poetry. I was artistic and loved all kinds of creativity. After entering a poetry contest and being told that I would never be a good writer because my poetry rhymed, I put the pen away and didn’t pick it up again until I was in my thirties.

To those who feel less than adequate, or did so as a child and still suffer with it as I sometimes do, I want to be a help. To be an encourager. A lover. And I want to show the love of God, in everything I do.

As a Christian author, and one who has a heart for children and teens who struggle, I wrote the Karina’s Journey stories to engage the hearts of those who are either teenagers who are going through a similar situation, adults who are as passionate about saving our youth as I am, and those who just want a nice, feel good story.

The Karina’s Journey series  is about a teenage girl who struggles with her identity. Like many teenagers, she wants to know who she is. But unlike the average teenager, Karina’s entire life is made up from lies. Throughout her journey, she finds love and friendships in the most unlikely places.

Patricia Bell is an Arizonian, who has traveled much of the world. Growing up a military brat and joining the Navy herself, at the age of eighteen, has allowed her to see many places and experience the world. She’s also served on Mission trips to Uganda, Africa, which has greatly changed her perspective on life and living.

She has since settled down and now writes YA and Mystery Novels. She is an Avid reader of Christian fiction of any kind, and sometimes dabbles into the unknown world of Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and John Grisham.

She’s married to the love of her life and has three children who are now grown and facing the world on their own. Years of raising her teenagers has given her plenty of experience in the YA realm. As a matter of fact, if you read her stories, you may glimpse some of their characteristics within.

INDIE SPOTLIGHT – YA AUTHOR MELODY DELGADO: PERSEVERANCE PAYS OFF

Today we welcome Melody Delgado, an accomplished YA author whose new book, Royally Entitled (link below), has just come out and looks like great summer read. Melody discusses the value of persistence and perseverance in your writing/publishing goals. Take it away, Melody.

Many writers grow up wanting to be authors. While being an author wasn’t something I first considered, I did want to be work the arts. And I did just that. I was a vocalist for many years as well as a music educator and loved being able to work in a creative field.

In order to stay certified as a music teacher, I had to continue taking college level courses. After enrolling and sitting through music courses on topics I already knew backwards and forwards because I was teaching them, it became clear I needed to take courses that would be of interest. Courses where I could actually learn new information. I enrolled in a writing course, wrote a short story, had it published in a magazine and I was hooked on writing ever since.

As most writers know, however, writing a short story and writing a book are two entirely different animals. While several of my other stories were published in anthologies or magazines and I was also lucky enough have two picture books published, again, writing and publishing a longer work is a different kind of battle. Not necessarily harder, but different.

It took me years to write my first novel. It’s a humorous novel for young readers called OOPS-A-DAISY and it is coming to print, audio and digital platforms on September 5th. (I actually got interested in children’s stories while reading with my own children.) Even though OOPS-A-DAISY is only about 40,000 words or 160 pages long, it still was a bear to write because of having to  make sure my writing would still be readable by children in third or fourth grade.

Once my middle-grade novel was completed, I set out to write a novel for teens. I’d always been interested in European history and loved medieval stories featuring knights and princes. Since I didn’t want to be bound by actual historical events I created my own country, the nation of Brevalia. My protagonist had to be someone many people could relate to, so I made her a farmer’s daughter. That’s how ROYALLY ENTITLED came to be. It was released in May of this year and is available on all digital platforms.

What does all of this have to do with perseverance? Well, I started writing novels when my daughter was a toddler. She is now in college. I didn’t land my agent until 2016 and did not sign a contract for a novel until 2017. By the end of this year, I will not only have released two novels, but will be working on sequels of each novel, because my agent got me a contract for a three-book series for both The Brides of Brevalia, with ROYALLY ENTITLED as book one, and The De La Cruz diaries, with OOPS-A-DAISY as book one. Sounds like a lot, and it is. (Especially typing wise!) But none of this would have happened if I’d given up or allowed myself to become discouraged.

Many of us, writers and readers alike, will go through tough times or have to travel on long journeys in order to reach our goals. But if we give up, we won’t get to see where the journey may take us. Both of my main characters had to deal with adversity. Both Anika Pembrie, only 17, and Daisy De La Cruz, only 12, had to become fighters in order to beat the odds and strive for their goals. I won’t ruin the stories by telling you if they reached them or not. But I will tell you that both of them persevered and gave it their best shot. And in the end, that’s all that any of us can do.

Melody Delgado has been a published writer since 2000.  Her short stories have appeared in national magazines such as AIM (America’s Intercultural Magazine), VISTA, and CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE LATINO SOUL.

 She has published two picture books. TEN ROARING DINOSAURS was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and DO YOU KNOW HOW I GOT MY NAME? was recently published by Little Debbie/McKee Foods.

Her inspirational, historical romance for women and teens, ROYALLY ENTITLED, was released digitally by Clean Reads in May, 2017. It is the first in a three-book series called The Brides of Brevalia. A humorous children’s novel, OOPS-A-DAISY, is coming to print on September 5th of this year and is also the first in a children’s series, The De La Cruz Diaries. It will also be published by Clean Reads.

 

Indie Spotlight – Tara L. Ames – How much heat do you like in your romance?

Today, please welcome romance writer, Tara L. Ames. Her new book The Risk Taker looks like a real steamy page turner and you can find the link to it at the bottom of this post. Tara is talking about the different types of and the level of ‘heat’ in romances, today. Take it away, Tara…

Romance is a billion-dollar industry and still leads the market in sales compared to all other genres. Readers want to escape for a while and be swept away to that wonderful world of fiction, whether it’s a sweet love story or an erotic adventure. That’s the beauty of books, there is something out there for everyone. And that includes varying degrees of heat in a romance novel.

Heat Scale 1-5

0-2 Clean Romance

If writing a sweet, clean romance, the hero and heroine may not kiss until the very end of the book, when all their troubles have been resolved and they discover they can’t live without one another. The TV series and movies aired on the Hallmark Channel is a perfect example of this genre. My favorite series is When Calls the Heart.

3+ Steamy Romance

While some readers prefer their hero and heroine to only hold hands or kiss each other lightly on the lips, other want the heat turned up a few notches between their two main characters—such as with mine in The Risk Taker, Book 1 in the Alpha Aviators Series. Top Gun Navy Aviator LT Commander Michael Merrick wanted Commercial Artists Samantha Jackson to be a distraction, not the main attraction, morning, noon and night. I can assure you they are doing a lot more than just light hand holding and spooning—but not to the point where it involves other couples or whips and chains or colorful dialogue, which leads me the next two degrees-whew!! These will really sizzle you.

4 -5 Erotica vs Erotic Romance

Erotica romance actually has a plot, three dimensional characters, who have problems to overcome or resolve. Their love scenes, however, may involve colorful dialogue, sex toys, more than one partner: Vampire/Werewolf/Shifter (V/W/S), M/M/F, F/F/M—the initials go on, but you get the jest of it. Many books include BDSM (Bondage/Discipline, Domination/Submission, Sadism/Masochism) scenes. Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James is a perfect example of this genre.

Erotic Romance has two or more characters and the whole story may be nothing but getting it on. I don’t think I need to go into any more detail here.

Most importantly, as a writer, if you state you write sweet and clean or erotica romance then your book better be at that expected heat level, or you’ll really upset your readers. Thank you for having me. Feel free to check out my website at https://www.taralames.com. The Risk Taker, the first release in the Alpha Aviators Series, is on sale at the following retail sites: iTunes  Amazon  KOBO  Nook  Google Play Newsletter 

Have anything you’re dying to know about romances? Feel free to ask Tara your questions in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indie Spotlight on Traci Sanders: Ten Tips I Learned About Publishing a Book

Today’s guest post is from author Traci Sanders, on the topic of publishing. Her new book, Beyond the Book” is currently available at Amazon in both print and digital. Take it away Traci.

At the time of writing this book, I have self-published eight books in various genres. (romance, parenting, children’s, and now nonfiction/tutorial) Each book that I released taught me a little more about the industry, my strengths and weaknesses as an author, and relationships with my friends and family.

Here are a few things I have learned since becoming an indie author:

1.      Writing the book, for most authors, is the easy part.

2.      Some authors edit their own work, and do a great job. But I have learned that professional editing does pay off, and IT’S NOT THE SAME as general (or even college-level) editing. These guys know more about comma splices, fused sentences, correct tense, passive and active voice, and the use of single and double quotation marks than most authors. Most of them became editors because they enjoy the technical side of writing, whereas most authors simply enjoy the creative side. This is not to say that there aren’t some excellent author-editor superheroes out there. But chances are, they either received formal training on editing, or they took the time to research the process and became better with each book they published.

3.      The cool thing about researching editing tips is, once you learn them, you tend to not forget them, which saves you time and money on future published books.

4.      Most authors are too close to their own work, and too emotionally invested in it to be able to edit thoroughly. Many times, it’s because they know their story inside and out, and tend to skip right past common errors – such as passive voice, proper tense, and omitted words.

5.      Asking for reviews from friends and family is like asking them to help you move. They love you, and want to help, and even want to be able to come visit you in your new home from time to time (i.e. – read your book); but if it conflicts with their lives or schedule, it’s probably not going to happen.

6.      Friends and family are not always going to tell you when your book needs work, again, because they love you.

7.      Marketing is an everyday endeavor that most authors dread; however, the greater level of online presence and engagement you have, the higher your sales will be. And you will receive more reviews.

8.      Success doesn’t usually happen overnight, but new connections that lead to success, can!

9.      Supporting others goes a long way in the industry. One hand washes another. Eventually, YOU will be the one with clean hands! Until then, you must keep digging in the trenches.

If writing is your dream, just keep at it. Passion tends to be an infectious thing … it eventually spreads to others. If you write what you are passionate about, eventually, you will find others who share your passion!

From Writer Chick: If you have any questions about indie publishing, please feel free to post them in the comments and Traci will respond.

 

Traci Sanders is a multi-genre, multi-award-winning author of ten published titles, with contributions to three anthologies.

An avid blogger and supporter of Indie authors, she writes parenting, children’s, romance, and nonfiction guides.

Her ultimate goal is to provide great stories and quality content for dedicated readers, whether through her own writing or editing works by other authors.

 

What to expect when you self publish

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Self publishing is a new thing to me. Very new. But I have to say even in a few days I’ve learned a lot. I humbly pass what I’ve learned onto you:

Things will go wrong. For example when I sent the check to the formatters to have my files converted to digital files, little did I know that Florida would have a week of heavy rain, flooding and delayed mail delivery. It set my schedule back nearly a week.

You’ll learn what sleep deprivation really means. I haven’t slept in two weeks. My dog is afraid of my cat hides and me whenever she sees me coming. Although the hallucinations are interesting and might make for some good inspiration for a horror story somewhere down the line.

You’ll have energy you don’t know what to do with. All the hype all the anticipation all the worry, excitement, and jitters do not go away after you press publish. Actually, it is set free and you’ll find yourself wandering around thinking you have something to do when you don’t. Everything you attempt to do will go unfinished and your attention span will have reduced to that of a gnat.

Your expectations won’t be met. You’ve told yourself you won’t expect anything. You’ll publish and see what happens. But you do expect things. No matter how hard you try to act casual, you won’t be feeling it. You’ll wonder why your aunt Myrna didn’t buy a copy of the book. Why everyone you ever met hasn’t called or sent you a congrats email, why everybody else is going about their business as though nothing has happened.

You’ll have yet another thing to obsess about. Yup, just what you need. A new obsession. That shiny object is known as the Amazon author dashboard. In real time, you can watch your sales and page reads change. Or not. Or not fast enough. You’ll tell yourself that you’ll only check it twice a day – first thing in the morning and last thing at night. But you’ll check it every hour. Every half hour. Every five minutes. It’s too cool not to be obsessed by it. It’s the magic of technology.

You’ll want to cry – if you’re a guy, you may want to punch something. You won’t necessarily know why you want to cry. And you’ll resist it. You’ll try to reason with yourself. Convince yourself there is nothing to cry about. That everything is going fine. But it won’t matter because all that stress, worry, anticipation will have you hopping around like a Mexican jumping bean. Let yourself. Cry. Cry it all out. Or punch something – not a human of course, but walls can be repaired, punching bags are made for such things. You’ll feel a bit better afterward. Really, you will.

You’ll feel like you should be doing something but you won’t know what it is. Leading up to publishing you’ve had a list and you proudly checked off each item as you accomplished it. Now, you don’t know what to do. Should you keep tweeting and face booking your carefully constructed promos banner one more time? Should you do the laundry that has been piling up for a month? Should you try to get your cat out from under the bed. Chances are you’ll just check your sales dashboard again and alternate that with playing online solitaire or mahjong..

You’ll think of details you should’ve added to the books, or edited out or changed. You may even be tempted to take the book down and do another round of edits before re-publishing. Your mind is a cesspool of shoulda, woulda, coulda.

How to get some perspective

Okay so this completely new world of self-publishing is exciting but now that you’ve done it, clearly you’ve got a case of the crazies. And if you don’t get hold of yourself, you may end up

It’s understandable. You’ve spent months maybe even years preparing for this and now that’s it has happened you don’t know what to do with yourself. The following may help:

Tear yourself away from all of it. Yup. Go to the beach, go hiking, check into a motel in the mountains for a couple of days. Unplug. Leave your devices at home, or at least locked in your trunk – and forget about all of it for a little while. You may go through a little withdrawal, but after a few hours, you’ll feel better.

Stop stalking your friends and relatives with helpful suggestions on how they can buy your book. Chances are, most of them probably will – eventually. But people resist being told what to do. If you leave them to their own devices, they’ll come around. And some of them won’t. And you have to be okay with that. Though this is a milestone in your life, it’s just one more detail that buzzes by them in a blur.

Come up with a plan. After you’ve gotten some sleep, some space and some decent food, sit down and come up with a rational plan on how you will promote your book (if you haven’t already). Even if you had a plan before publishing, now that you’ve had a taste of the reality, you may need to tweak it. If you simply don’t know what to do spend some time on blogs of those who have blazed the trail already: Anne R. Allen, Hugh Howey, Chuck Wendig and Joe Konrath all have great blogs filled with useful advice for self publishers.

Start your next book. This may sound crazy. You’ve just spent months, maybe years writing the book you just published and I’m suggesting you start your next one? Yup. That’s right. If you are in this for the long haul, the next book should be foremost on your mind. When readers discover you and like your work, they’ll want more. Be ready for them. It’ll also give you something to focus on and pour all that crazy random energy into and likely be a calming influence in your life.

Keep notes. After you publish, keep a log of all the promo actions you do – large and small. Because I guarantee if you see a spike in sales, you’ll want to know what caused it. If you have a record of the actions you’ve taken, you’ll be much more able to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Above all else, don’t become discouraged. Nothing happens overnight. Even though it may appear to be that way. It just isn’t true. There may always be the exception to the rule, but chances are you won’t be that exception. Chances are you are going to have to work hard, go through a lot of trial and error, fail and succeed continually to get to that sweet spot. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t good, that your books aren’t good, that people don’t want to read them. It just means there is a learning and experience curve. Slow and steady wins the race, or something like that.

Be proud of yourself. You did it. You had the courage and persistence to write that book, polish that book and publish that book. Of the millions of people who ‘want’ to write a book, you are one of the few who did. Be proud. That is an accomplishment. Now go write the next one.

Annie

Who Won the Hugos, Why it Matters & Other Good Stuff

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Who won science fiction’s Hugo Awards and why it matters. By Amy Wallace. A very long and detailed article about the controversy leading up to the Hugos and the results. For me, it provided some clarity on what all the ‘debating’ has been about over these last several months. Good read, but it’s a long read, so get comfy.

Simple Promo Tip: Nailing Your Email Subject Line by Sharon Bially. Nice, straightforward advice on email marketing for authors.

The Holy Grail for Authors. 5 Reasons to Self Publish by Sheri McInnis. Trad published author is going indie – she tells us why.

Six Magic Phrases You Can Use to Sell More Books by Sandra Beckwith. Yes, yes, and yes.

Best Colors for Book Covers. Is a great little gem that discusses basic design, color choices and images for book covers. Highly recommend. 😀

Meanwhile, I’m on track to make my August 30th deadline. Stay tuned.

Annie

Writing, secrets and self-publishing

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Much of the creative world is built around secrets. Creatives and those who market, manage, and leverage them are very hush-hush about projects – lest someone steal it or leak it. Surprise I suppose is the proffered reason. And controlling the message. And probably most important – ensuring no one else beats you to the punch.

The publishing industry is no exception to the rule. Which may be why so many authors find it exceedingly difficult to break in to the inner circle of successful authorship. And even of those authors who do manage to break in, the majority of them:

  • Make little to no money
  • Don’t gain a strong readership
  • Lose their rights to their work for life
  • Never get to quit their day jobs

Although many mainstream best-selling authors offer advice, write books, create courses, and espouse formulas that they followed to become successful – as far as I can tell – these offerings do little to nothing to help hopeful authors actually succeed.

Independent authors exceptions to rule

Then Amazon did this wild and crazy thing – they created an eReader. And then created a platform for writers to publish and sell their own works to a practically limitless audience. And authors started to succeed on their own where the publishing industry had let them down.

Say what you will about indie authors and criticize them all you like but in my mind there is a significant difference between them and mainstream traditional authors. They talk. They don’t keep secrets. Most of them will tell you everything they did, with copious details, to succeed. Because they aren’t beholding to a publishing company or contract. They are free to create and share any and all of their experiences. Often with wild abandon. Because they want to help other authors succeed. And they want readers to have more choices. Secrets by and large don’t seem to matter to them. Go figure. More books, more choices, more readers seem to be the priorities.

Indie author up close and personal

I’m about to self publish a 3-book mystery series and as part of my prep leading into the release of the books I have a list. One of the things on that list was to pick a successful indie author and study them. So last week I picked a well-known indie author and read his entire blog. It took me about five days to read five years of blog posts. I was totally immersed in this fellow’s world and journey for nearly a week and I have to say I learned a lot:

The good

The good news is that anyone who is willing to do the work, can publish and succeed. And that success can be and should be defined by the author. You want to be a best seller? Great then go for it. You’d be happy to be a working author who can quit your day job and live on your author earnings – you can do that too. As long as you do the work.

The bad

You have to do the work. You have to make choices. Sacrifices. You won’t get there by turning out one book every two years. You won’t get there by sitting around playing video games. If you don’t approach it as a business and accept that you are also a publisher and have all the attendant duties and obligations of a publisher it won’t happen. And it can and probably will take years. It ain’t a sprint, it’s definitely a marathon.

The elating

There is no editorial censoring. You can write the stories that you want to write. The stories you feel you were meant to write. You don’t have to write formulaic drivel because that’s what sells. You can maintain your own true voice and creative integrity. And you can find a readership who wants to read your stories.

The frightening

It’s all on you. There are no editors or publishers to blame. There are no agents to bitch about. There is only you, your work, the quality of your work and your own marketing efforts. And luck too plays a part. Being at the right place at the right time. That is something over which you have no control.

The take away

I believe the one thing that all indie authors have in common is a pioneer spirit. Though they may be nervous or afraid they are still willing to explore the unknown. To blaze new trails. To go in their own direction and take a risk on themselves. To invest in themselves. And to accept each step as its own lesson, even if that step fails. They may not succeed but it won’t be for any want of trying. And if they do then that success is all the sweeter because they did it their way. They bet on themselves and won.

Is self-publishing for everyone?

I don’t know. But I don’t think that it is. There are some authors who want the security of a publishing company. They want to have someone else provide the infrastructure and follow a game plan that in large part is set by someone else. Or perhaps they need someone to keep them on the path, to issue deadlines, to insist they do the work. When you self-publish that all falls on your shoulders. There is no one watching to make sure you do what you’re supposed to do. That you keep writing, that you continue to produce, sell, market and do the work. And that’s fine. All authors should follow the path that works for them. If you want a publisher then absolutely go that way. If you’re willing to take all the risks yourself then go that way. The great thing is that you can choose and aren’t forced into choosing a path you don’t want.

So as I approach my own self-publishing adventure, I look forward to it with elation and fear. I truly have no idea what will happen. Or if anything will happen. Not one clue. It’s a crap shoot for sure. And I’ve already started the next series because that’s what I do. Write. Will I ever be on that list of best-selling indie authors? It’s anybody’s guess. But like they say, go big or stay home. Right?

How about you? What do you think about indie authors? Are you an indie author. Do you plan to self publish? Or have you already? Any tips or lessons learned you’d like to share?