Tag Archives: author

This is so awkward…

I did a thing.

You guys know how I’m trying to stretch myself a bit. Not just in my work, though I am taking on new challenges there, but in my attitudes, my lifestyle, and my actions. I’m trying to push myself out of my comfort zone so I can learn to be more at home in the world outside of my house and maybe add more to it.

Well, one of the things that’s way outside of my comfort zone is any form of public speaking. Or any speaking, unless I’m with people I’m comfortable with. Writing is just easier, so I like to talk through my fingers. It works most of the time, but my discomfort with speaking is likely a huge part of my social awkwardness and desire to never have to go out and talk to anyone in person.

And my anxiety over making phone calls, actually.

So I’ve started a vlog. It’s not a big thing in the grand scheme of the universe, but it’s a huge step for me. It’s another way I can connect with you guys, too, and that’s important when I have no idea how many people actually read posts here. It’s a little more interactive, a little more challenging for me, and hopefully a little more fun for you. Videos will be short. The first one is 11 minutes, but I’m going to try to keep them under eight. I know you’ve got things to do.

Know what I’ve got? A Canadian accent, apparently. That’s been the big comment so far. At least people seem to enjoy it…

Anyway, here you go. Please enjoy my fumbling first attempt at letting the world see what I’m actually like when I’m not hiding behind my keyboard. Some day I’ll release the outtakes so we can all laugh. O.o

I’ve got a page of ideas for things to talk about (mostly non-writing), but if you have questions or ideas for topics, I’d be happy to fit them in. If I know what you want, I can give it to you. 🙂


Writing Resources: For Love or Money by Susan Kaye Quinn

A quick book review today, and one that will be mostly of interest to writers.

Okay, almost strictly of interest to writers.

You might be familiar with Susan Kaye Quinn from her book The Indie Author Survival Guide. If you haven’t read it, you’ve probably heard me mention it (assuming you’ve been around long enough. Hi, new guys!).  It’s a fantastic resource for any indie writer, whether you’re new to this* or an experienced author looking to brush up on how to approach book production and marketing.

That book is the kind of how-to guide that feels like an older sister (a nice one, not the kind who puts gum in your hair) holding your hand and guiding you through the scary stuff.

For Love or Money is a different beast altogether. It’s not about how to write, or how to publish. It’s about crafting the rest of your career after those first few books, about figuring out what your goals are, why you’re writing and publishing, and how best to reach the top of your chosen mountain.

It’s about writing for love: Telling the stories that move you, the ones you’d write even if no one ever read them.

It’s about writing for money: Figuring out the market and discovering your own voice within a tight genre framework.

And it’s about doing both. Ms Quinn writes “mercenary” fiction (strictly for money) under a pen name, and she talks about finding joy in the work she does there. She talks about taking ideas that you love and shaping them so that they fit the market, thus allowing the books you write for love to become money-makers. And she talks about how it’s just fine to have both kinds of books out there.

I enjoyed this book enough that I read it in a day (during a long reading slump, no less). I’ll share a few of the lessons I took away from it, but it’s definitely worth grabbing a copy and reading it for yourself (though you should definitely read IASG first, as this one refers back to it).

My take-aways:

  • Not every book has to be a bestseller. When one book (say, a first book) has some measure of success, there can be a lot of pressure to repeat that with every new project or series. It’s comforting to know that if I decide to work on a project I love that might resonate with fewer readers, that’s okay. Writing for love is healthy, and sales will vary over the course of a career.
  • Writing for the market, aiming to please a larger number of people by writing books that cater to the genre tropes people love, is not selling out. It’s a unique form of creative challenge, and one that can net huge rewards (even outside of the money). There’s nothing wrong with actually wanting to make money off of our hard work, and predicting what will sell isn’t impossible.
  • I have my whole career ahead of me. If I decide to genre-hop instead of staying with a successful world and premise, that’s okay. It may put the brakes on things, but not burning out is just as important as maintaining sales numbers. Playing in another sandbox might keep me happier, and therefore help me do better and more meaningful work when I do return to the genre and world that kicked things off for me.

That’s not all, but those were the things I most needed to hear.

This book helped be choose the mountain I want to climb: writing stories I want to read, shaped to enthrall a large audience… most of the time. I don’t think I’ll ever be a mercenary writer, churning out dragon porn to make a quick buck (though I could totally kick ass at that, guys). Stories that are purely “for love”, i.e. too non-genre-specific to find much of an audience, will go on the back burner until I’m at a place financially where I can afford for them to flop and not have to stress out about it.

Reading this book helped me step back, look at my career goals, and decide where I want to go.

And that’s huge.

Check out Susan Kaye Quinn’s site here for links.

*New to this as I was the first time I read it, that is. In fact, the IASG, Be the Monkey (Konrath and Eisler), and Let’s Get Digital (Gaughran) were the three books that convinced me that indie publishing was the path I wanted to take, and I’m mind-explodingly grateful to the authors of all of them. If not for these books, Bound could still be making the rounds of slush piles, or badly published and nearly unread. *shudder*


Street Team: Great Idea, or Kind of Silly?

I’ve heard a lot about author street teams lately. The concept (for those who haven’t heard of it) involves a group of fans of an author’s work who are excited about promoting it. Those special readers hand out bookmarks, leave honest reviews, maybe request or donate library copies in their town, recommend the books to friends, or mention the titles in relevant Facebook posts. In exchange, they might get advance copies of books, paperbacks, or other swag. Maybe they become the author’s inner circle, the devoted fans who the author asks to beta read new work, or who have the author’s ear when they have questions about the stories.

And, of course, they get the author’s eternal gratitude. It’s about connection, not bribery.

Ideally, it’s a win-win situation. As an author, I wouldn’t be comfortable asking people to help out with promotions if they weren’t getting anything but warm, fuzzy feelings in return…

…but then, people do that anyway, don’t they? I know I do, when I read a book that I love. All of Bound‘s early sales came from word-of-mouth promotion. People read advance copies and reviewed on their blogs, or bought copies and recommended the book to their friends. A few people suggested it to their wine-drinking clubs book clubs, and they all bought it and read it together. And that led to enough sales that Amazon started recommending it.

It continues now. People will write and say they loved the book and are recommending it to everyone, and I just want to hug them. But I don’t. Because that would be uncomfortable for everyone.

Also, internet hugs get weird.

But I’m starting to think that a street team could be fun. I know there are people out there who are reviewing and recommending, and darn it, I want to give them stuff to make that easier. I want to send them postcards with book covers on them. I want them to be the first to know when a limited number of advance review copies are available. I want to wish them happy birthday (from their favourite character, if that’s what they want).

I want to thank them.

IMG_5663

Like… all the swag. I should get more.

 

So, how to do it?

A Facebook group seems like the obvious answer. This would be better than a page, as it would ensure that people actually see my posts (unlike my page, where posts reach very few of the people who have signed up and said they want to see them). It would allow people to interact with each other and share ideas, and I’d get to know them a little better, too, as I’ve done with a few readers through my Facebook page.

Or would it just be a time-suck? I’d love to do fun things like awarding points for achievements (sharing promo posts on Facebook and elsewhere, recommending the book or nominating it for things like readers’ choice awards, leaving reviews, etc.), and then send out prizes like book charms, exclusive bookmarks, paperbacks, etc.

But that could get complicated. I mean, I can’t even use Excel to track this stuff, because I’m no good with computer… thing. And I kind of need to use my “spare” time for writing. This isn’t something I’d take time away from writing to do, but I could definitely set it up and maintain it on days like today, when the kids are home and I can’t do my “real” work.

And there’s the expense. Mailing anything bigger than a few postcards gets really expensive when it’s coming from Canada.

So my questions for all y’all: 

AUTHORS: Do you use a street team? How do you keep in touch with them? What do they do? Is it what you hoped it would be? How do you make it worthwhile for your readers, those wonderful people who make your professional world go ’round?

READERS: Would you be interested in something like this? Say, a closed Facebook group where you’d be the first to learn about my new books and promotions, see things like teasers and new covers, and have first dibs on advance review copies? Would you be willing to help out with occasional promos in exchange for these things, or do you prefer to recommend books for no reason other than the fact that the moment seems right? If you were on a street team, what would make it fun for you? Points? Raffles?  Just-for-fun, random party games a few times a month? Group chats? Constant AMA author access?

And also: What would my team be called? “You Guys” is probably taken. O.o

And P.S: I am so grateful to those of you who are already doing this stuff. Those who are sharing Bound with people, writing reviews, tweeting about books, recommending to your book clubs, clicking “helpful” on positive Amazon reviews, commenting on Facebook… the one teacher I know of who stuck a copy in her classroom… I appreciate it, and you, so much.

 

 


Fall Into Fantasy: The Darkness & Light Series by KL Schwengel

Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!



Week 1: The Darkness & Light Series

Book One: First of Her Kind

Book Two: Emergence

Book Three: Edge of Darkness (Release date 2015)

 

 

It seems everyone wants to dictate what Ciara does with her life: Serve the Goddess, destroy the Goddess, do as you promised your aunt — all Ciara really wants is to keep the two magics she possesses from ripping her apart.

And that’s not going to be easy.

Not only is her earth magic in complete opposition to her other power, blood ties pull her in divergent directions as well. And then there’s Bolin, the man sworn to protect her. There’s no denying the growing attraction between them, but is it Ciara he wants, or her power?

None of which will matter if Ciara can’t overcome her fear and learn how to use her gifts. No one knows the depths of the ancient power she possesses, or what will happen if it manages to escape her control. Will she lose herself entirely? Or be forever caught between Darkness and Light?

Buy the e-book: Kindle Nook

Or the paperback: Amazon  Barnes & Noble

The battle for Ciara’s power has drawn the full attention of the Emperor and the Imperial Mages, forcing Bolin to put duty above safety and take her to Nisair. It won’t be an easy trip, even with an Imperial escort and a Galysian elder accompanying them. Especially since Donovan has found himself some new allies, one of who wields a dark magic that has literally gotten under Bolin’s skin.

For Ciara, coming to terms with the increasingly tangible manifestation of her power could destroy her. Even if they make it to Nisair–something that grows more unlikely by the day–there is no surety of safety for Ciara, or any of them. Not with Donovan willing to gamble everything to achieve his goals, or Bolin’s uncharacteristically reckless behavior, the result of which is the attention of something that has everyone worried.

Loyalties will be tested, lives will be lost, and no one will emerge unchanged as they find things are not always so clear on the line dividing Darkness and Light.

Buy the e-book: Kindle  Nook

Or the paperback: Amazon  Barnes & Noble

 

ABOUT K.L. SCHWENGEL

K. L. Schwengel lives in southeast Wisconsin on a small farm with her husband, a handful of Australian Shepherds, Her Royal Highness Princess Fiona the Cat, and assorted livestock. Growing up as the youngest of nine children, and the daughter of a librarian, Kathi spent many hours between stacks of books, and secluded away in dusty archives, drawn to tales of medieval heroes and conquering knights. With so many characters and ideas spinning in her head, she had to get them onto paper or risk what little sanity she possessed. She has been penning wild tales of magic and mayhem as long as she can remember, but opted to follow her artistic muse first. After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts and spending many years working as a freelance artist, grocery clerk, art teacher, graphic designer, stable hand, advertising account coordinator, dog trainer, and process technician (among other things) she answered the call of her writing muse. When not writing, Kathi trains and trials working Australian Shepherds, still paints, dabbles in photography, graphic design, and anything else creative her assorted muses send her way.

Connect online at…

Blog  Facebook  Pinterest  Twitter  Amazon Page  Goodreads

Want to get involved with the Fall Into Fantasy promotional tour?

  • Don’t forget to join us at the Facebook party here
  • If you are interested in joining up as a blogger, you can always sign up here. We are happy to welcome more bloggers into the fold as the promotion continues. 
  • If you are an author or blogger and want to sign up to help with the party, please fill out this form.
 
 
Note from Kate: KL Schwengel is one of my writing friends, a sharp-clawed* beta reader, and host of WIPpet Wednesdays. She’s also a great writer. If you like your Fantasy with a darker edge, check out the Darkness and Light series (samples on Amazon, and she’s posting chapters from book 1 on Wattpad). I had the privilege of beta reading Emergence, and the series is only getting better as it goes on. As for what’s coming in the future in another series… ARRGH, I can’t wait! But we have to. *puts on big reader panties and waits*
 
Hey, don’t forget to click on that link to the rafflecopter giveway!
 
 
*and I meant that in the most wonderful way possible

Character Interview: Emergence

KL (Kathi) Schwengel, author of the Darkness and Light series, recently presented me with a most unusual proposition. An offer I couldn’t refuse, really. I mean, how many beta readers not only get to have characters from the book visit them, but get to be interviewed by them? I’m a little nervous about having Bolin over; I may have made some comments in my beta reading notes that weren’t exactly flattering. But hey, that should be fine, right? He has no idea. At least Donovan’s not coming, which is good. He’s quite a nasty bad guy. Oh, and Kathi promised to bring Berk, who’s a new character in Emergence who I kind of… well, he’s adorable. And I’ve admired Ciara since First of Her Kind, so–

*knock at the door*

Eek! Oh, and for anyone not familiar with the conventions, asterisks like those up there denote actions, everything else is speech.

*Kathi enters the room beside Ciara, followed by Bolin with Berk trailing behind. Kate welcomes them warmly, taking Berk by the arm and guiding him to a seat beside her on the settee. Kathi and Ciara claim chairs on the opposite side of the low coffee table. Bolin stands beside Ciara, one hand resting lightly on her shoulder, the other on his sword, finger tapping the pommel. His eyes narrow on Kate, and Berk shifts uncomfortably.*

Kathi: Hi Kate, I’m so glad you agreed to let us stop by. Thanks again for taking the time to Beta read Emergence. I really apprec–

Bolin: I read your comments.

*Kathi sighs. Kate opens her mouth to reply–*

Bolin: It seems you’ve lumped me into the same general category as Donovan. I’d be insulted if it weren’t so ludicrous. Is there something in particular I did to earn your ire?

Kate: *glares at Kathi* It’s not you. It’s me. I mean, it is you, but I… Some of your attitudes seem to… *eyes Bolin’s sword and shifts closer to Berk* You’re growing on me. Really.

Ciara: You have to understand, Bolin is under a lot of pressure. *glances Kathi’s way* It’s really not his fault.

Berk: *grins, flashing those adorable dimples, and leans closer to Kate* I read your comments, too.

Bolin: Did anyone ask for your input, soldier?

Kathi: Ease up, General. We’re all here to ask Kate about her experience Beta reading Emergence. This isn’t an episode of the Dating Game. *ignores Bolin’s scowl* So, Ciara, let’s start with you. What would you like to ask Kate?

Ciara: What would you say was the hardest thing about…*waves hand in the air* What’s it called? Bayduh reading?

Kate: *tears gaze away from Berk’s dimples* I think the hardest thing for me is always finding a balance between enjoying an amazing story and acting as a critic. In this case, there were times when I was able to find constructive things to say, but I held back a bit, knowing that a lot of the things I wasn’t comfortable with were just because my world tends to be a bit less dark than yours. I fall in love with these characters and then see them– you– go through horrible things, I get caught up in the story and still have to be critical of what’s working or not for me as a reader…

Actually, that’s a lie. The hardest thing is sending notes off and then living in fear of Kathi’s flying monkeys paying me a visit in the middle of the night. All that other stuff was second-hardest.

Anybody want another drink? It’s getting uncomfortable in here. I mean, warm.

Kathi: We don’t want to put you to any trouble, Kate. Berk, do you have a question you’d like to ask?

Berk: I’d love to. Was there anything that surprised you when you read our tale? Something–or someone–who caught you off-guard?

 Kate: Well, since you mention someone, I’d say that yes, I was caught off-guard several times. Without spoiling anything for readers, I wasn’t expecting Bolin to have any competition for Ciara’s affections.

Kathi: Crap! Kate, don’t–  * Ciara blushes. Bolin’s knuckles whiten around his sword grip.*

Kate: Especially such charming competition. *Berk tries his best not to look at anything, especially Bolin.* Usually in a situation like that, it’s fairly obvious that one guy is THE ONE TRUE LOVE and the other is a distraction. Not so, here. I actually had no idea how this was going to end. Ciara’s a lucky lady.

But not just that. I also wasn’t expecting to see the villain roster fill out so much, which was a very pleasant surprise. Instead of just continuing with one Big Bad Guy (and one terrifying hag), we got a whole lot of bad coming from a few different directions. Not much fun for all of you, I imagine, but it made for compelling reading.

Kathi: Well, Kate, I think we’ve taken up quite a bit of your time. *glances Bolin’s way* Um, before we go, are there any questions you have for me, or any of the others?

Bolin: I don’t get to ask her a question?

Kathi: I believe you already did. It’s Kate’s turn.

 Kate: I’m actually curious about Bolin’s question… unless “ask her a question” is a euphemism for “stab her repeatedly,” in which case we’ll just move along.

Bolin: I would never raise my hand to a lady. Nor would I stab you repeatedly. One clean thrust is all that’s needed.

Ciara: Bolin!

Kate: Um. Yeah. Oh, so many questions! I don’t want to spoil anything for future readers, though. I guess my question for Berk would be “do you want to hang out here for a while,” but I’m expecting my own characters back soon, and that could get weird.

Male voice from another room: It’s only weird if you let it be weird!

Kate: Oops…

Berk: I’m not sure what ‘hanging out’ is, but I wouldn’t mind–

Kathi: Probably not a good idea, Berk. We don’t want to start any inter-novel squabbles or anything.

Kate: *sigh* Well, this has been fun, and I’ve enjoyed meeting all of you. You know, I think I’m actually going to let my questions rest for now, wait and see what happens as the story continues. Also, I think any question I ask is only going to piss Bolin off more, so… actually, one question for Bolin. Can we call a truce here? I know we’ve had our differences, but I do respect you as a character, even if you occasionally rub me the wrong way. *winces* Can I say that and not have you hurt me?

Bolin: *tips head politely* It has been a pleasure, lady. I look forward to our next visit. *offers Ciara a hand*

Ciara: Fare well, Kate. I hope we meet again. And good luck with your adventures. I’ve heard they’re very exciting.

*Bolin holds door for Ciara and Kathi, glances Berk’s way.*

Berk: I am, technically, off duty. Are you sure I couldn’t stay for–

*Bolin raises a brow, Berk frowns and leaves the room.*

Kathi: Thanks for putting up with us, Kate. And huge thanks for being such an awesome Beta reader. Now, shouldn’t you be writing or editing or something?

Kate: Yeah, yeah.

Male voice from another room: Make it “or something!”

Kate: *yells* You have no idea what you’re in for when I get back to writing, mister! *to Kathi* Merfolk, am I right? Wow, thanks for bringing your people by. I must be the luckiest  beta reader ever!

Kathi: *pauses at door, glances toward the other room, bites her lip.* Um…tell you what, why don’t you all go on without me. I think I’ll stay and visit with Kate for a while. See you back in the dungeon! *waves and quickly closes door* Now, who’s all in the other room?

Annnnnnd… scene.

If you enjoyed this and would like to get to know these characters better, check out First of Her Kind and Emergence, available in ALL THE PLACES! Click here for links.

Thanks to Kathi for bringing her characters by, and for leaving the monkeys at home. It was fun! Weird, but fun. 😉

coverreveal


Newsletter Sign-Ups!

Maybe. I hope.

Yesterday, I spent an afternoon struggling with getting this thing set up, trying two different services on for size (MailChimp and Mad Mimi), and digging the wrinkle-of-confusion between my eyebrows ever deeper. Technological stuff? Web design? HTML? I might as well be an amoeba trying to understand algebra. I can’t even format a manucript in Word.

Even with templates, MailChimp is beyond me. The site’s just too confusing for my poor, magic-addled brain.

It ain’t happening. We’re going with the more user-friendly Mad Mimi, at least until MailChimp becomes vastly more cost-effective.*

Why a newsletter, you ask, and why would you want to subscribe? Because I have fun stuff to share! Newsletter subscribers will be the first to receive news on upcoming releases, will have access to sneak-peeks not available anywhere else (even here, sorry!), price promotions, invites to cover reveals, contests, bonus content and more.

Newsletters will only come out three or four times a year, plus a bonus mailing a few weeks before a book launch featuring said previews, etc.  I don’t want to spam, I just want to connect and offer some extra value to friends, family and everyone else who’s been kind enough to show interest in my work.

So… shall we try this? I promise nothing. This link might not take you to a sign-up form at all.

Did I do it right? More importantly, did I spell my own name correctly?

If you want to find out, and join in on the fun, click here (or up there) and add your name and e-mail address. It’s that simple!

For you, anyway. *grumble grumble*

So tell me: What would you like to see in a newsletter? What would make you excited to open an e-mail? What would make you want to delete one without reading? 

*Cost footnote: This would happen around 10,000 subscribers. I have trouble imagining getting to that number, so it’s  not an issue for now.


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