Friday, September 4, 2020

 In A Rut?

Five myths and one truth about writing and publishing you need to know


If I've written about this before, please forgive me. 

I hear these myths all of the time, and for a while when I was just beginning my career as a writer, I believed them. You may even hear them yourself at writer's conferences or from other authors.

Here they are in no particular order: 

Myth 1: Self-published books look like self-published books.

Used to be this was true, but no more. Whether you find an illustrator (look at number 4) or create your own cover through stock photos or your favorite photographer, your cover can and should look, professional. I have worked my way through this process; not all of my book covers were great in the beginning, and I am upgrading them. The interior, if you get some help or do it yourself through studying how this is done by traditionally published books, is necessary for the book to look professional inside and out. If you don't know how to layout a book, get some help. Don't try to do it yourself. 

Myth 2: Write what you know, or what you have personally experienced.

I used to think I could only write stories that took place where I lived, where I vacationed, or where I used to live. Not true. Once you study something, you know it. Sure, it's not exactly the same thing as 'being there' but you will be amazed at what is out there that you can know about. For example, I wanted to know how the sea of Galilee looked and sounded for my recent book, "Receive Him: New Testament Stories of Faith & Healing from the Least of These." 

Have I been to Isreal? Nope.

But I found this:


Myth 3: You can write a great book in six-weeks.

Okay, this one comes with a caveat. If all you do is write for six weeks, with only bathroom breaks, and food on the side, (while you're writing), I can see how this can happen. For most of us, in between work and kids, we need at minimum six months to a year. 

Myth 4: Save money. Illustrate your own book.

Nope. It will look like it. Unless you have schooling or art training to back you up. Has someone purchased your illustrations? Then illustrate your own book. It is difficult if not impossible to manage characters throughout a picture book story, for example, if you are not a practiced professional. How do you make Jim on page one look like Jim on page four? Through experience and training. 


As you can see, this book was illustrated by Cheryl J. Sachse


Myth 5: You can edit your own book.

Also a big, fat no. But I'm going to tell you something that some big-time editors may not like. They are expensive, and if you are a newbie author or even an author with multiple books published making a part-time income, you may want to consider a different breed of editor. (If you choose to pay the bucks, make sure the editor has had experience; talk to a couple of his/her clients. There is a difference between a good editor, who keeps your 'voice' in your manuscript, and a bad editor who changes it for his or hers). 

I use my reader friends who READ, READ, READ, and have a flair for grammar. I also use a combination of men and women who read. It is amazing what a man sees and what a woman sees. I also use Grammarly. Yes, this is a little advertising for them, but they are FREE for the basic service. I also use my voice. Yes, I read my books aloud when I can. Recording yourself is even better, and listening back. I need to make more time for this because I always catch mistakes this way.

The truth is, you will not be a great writer in the beginning. Just accept that. For 99.9% of us, we have to write and write and write and read and read and read, and even then, our book may not be a best-seller. But that's another story.


Monday, August 31, 2020

Marvel Fans have Comic-Con and FANX. Gamers have the Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3. What event is there for lovers of literature?

[I will be joining literature lovers at this event! We would LOVE to have you participate with us!]

For questions or to volunteer, email Rebecca at  rebeccaenglesmith@gmail.com

A few of my books. There will be many, many more from various authors

Literature has the power to thrill and delight us. Books can comfort, inspire, teach, and guide us—even motivate us to take action. We can explore possibilities, expand our horizons, solve problems, and discover our genuine identity through the written word. 

Where would science and medicine be without documented research?  Where would teachers and education be without books to study? What compassion and healing would be overlooked without autobiographies? How dull would the world be without a romance, fantasy, or thriller novel? 

So, I ask you again. What event is there where literature can be CELEBRATED?

ARRIVING SOON: 


AUTHOR-CON 2021: A CELEBRATION OF LITERATURE FOR ALL!

This two-day event consists of a festival, conference, VIP mingling with catered dinner sessions, expert panels, book signings, tips & training, 

Come and learn with us!

discovery corner for interactive children’s activities, contests, give-a-ways, concessions, vendor booths, discounted shopping, and wholesome entertainment suitable for the whole family. Whether you are a reader, writer, author, or professional in the field, this event is sure to make you smile!

Please join us on 11-12 June 2021 at the Mountain America Exposition Center in Hall 5. INSANE EARLY BIRD TICKETS are on sale now! Check our website for details at  https://authorcon.co/ 

For questions or to volunteer, email Rebecca at  rebeccaenglesmith@gmail.com

 


Saturday, August 22, 2020

What a Real Teacher Looks Like - 3 things you need to know

School is starting, and we all know what that means. 

Get up early.

Work, work, work.

Come home.

Homework some more.

My granddaughter wins an award
2018-2019 school year

This year, in particular, things are a bit more crazy than usual. Here in Utah, many students will not be attending on Friday and will be doing remote learning on that day. Monday through Thursday, masks will be worn, hands will be washed, social distancing will be put in place [hah!] and stuff children have previously taken for granted will be off-limits.

Playground equipment use, unless they have someone cleaning it constantly.

School library use.

Even side-hugs.

Teachers of all grades have their work cut out for them. Some will be teaching online for the first time. Others will be trying to keep already rowdy classes safe and listening.

I have had many teachers in my life, from those I've gotten to know during my school years, to college, and other teachers who have been a part of my spiritual and physical life. What the good ones have in common is not as common as one might think.

 1. Listening ear. Too many teachers talk and don't listen to their students. The ones who do take a front-row seat with me.

2. Creative mind. Teach me, but don't teach me like every other teacher does. I realize that there is a curriculum to follow, but how does a great teacher follow it?

3. Open heart. If I'm having a bad day, harsh words will never heal my heart. A kind word will.

As a teacher of writing, I have to remember these three things. If I don't, I may lose my client, but not only my client, my friend. A real teacher connects with his/her students. He/she doesn't stand over them. She becomes a part of their life.



  

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

5 things that are stopping you from writing - the real reasons


What is keeping you from writing?

We've heard them all, or we think we have.

Lack of time may be on your list. (It was on mine). Not enough focus, not enough experience. 

I believed these excuses for years. I may have even written about them. :) 

Here are the 5 real reasons you're not writing, and another five to get you out of the slump.

1

Perfectionism. I am a perfectionist, in every sense of the word. I do not just clean the kitchen, I find the nooks and crannies everyone else misses. I expect my writing to be the same. The first draft must be perfection, or I refuse to continue. Every word must be flawlessly placed within the sentence. And the word must be the best word. I must check over every line as I go to make sure there are not no grammar issues. 

The truth is, there will be many mistakes, especially in the first draft. Expect it. Believe it. Just write.

My grandson collects rocks like words. 

2

Embarrassment. If I share this, someone will laugh. Someone will think I am the dumbest writer they've ever read. I will expose myself. People will see my flaws. 

The truth is that sometimes you will be embarrassed. Sometimes readers will laugh when a laugh is not what you intended. They will not like your writing. They will see you. And that's okay. Really. We are all human, not one of us is perfectly divine right now. All of that comes later, so just get used to being flawed. I have. 

3

Squirrels. Dogs like squirrels. They might be obediently walking by you until they see a squirrel. Then they are gone. I'm not talking about focus here, or lack of it in the general sense, I am talking about day-in and day-out squirrels every second of the day. I have to clean now. I have to go to work now. I have to pray now. I have to go shopping now. I have to eat now. I have to sleep now. I have to take a walk now. I have to go to church now. I have to go to school now. I have to do my homework now. Are you still reading? Good. I have to take a shower now. I have to make my bed now. I have to...

The truth is, you will never write that book - period. It's just not that interesting to you. You'd rather go skiing, or boating, or skydiving, or bowling, or camping...

...or looking at cars. 
...or dumping out water for your sunflower because you need to water all of the other sunflowers.


4

Television. You might think that television goes into the category above. Yes, it is a squirrel, but a squirrel of a different breed. You didn't know televisions were squirrels, did you? Well, they are. Television sucks you in. And so does every other electronic gizmo on the planet. So what do you do? You use it, then let it go, and write. If you don't let it go [I am thinking of this very blog even as I write this] the electronic thing will cling to you like a serpent. It will cling to you and suck all of your blood out. And once your blood is out you will not be able to write. Why? Because that d______ thing has taken all of your words! 

The truth is, television can be a good thing - in moderation. As can every other electronic gizmo on the planet. But it clings, I tell you. It clings.

5

Ignorance. You not only believe you can't write; you do nothing to stop it. Ignorance, no matter what anybody says, is NOT bliss. It is emptiness. It is floating around without anything to latch onto - no, not even your television set! Knowledge is bliss! Learning what you need to practice to get better is bliss! Learning from your mistakes is bliss! Editing is bliss! [I saw you frown]. And yes, even writing that twenty-fifth draft is bliss. Why? Because you DON'T HAVE AN EMPTY BRAIN! You are learning something! And you are writing it down!

The truth is, learning new things creates excitement. It creates better characters! Better dialogue! Better everything!

Isn't that what you really want?

Now, get to it.










Wednesday, August 5, 2020

5 Questions You Must Ask Before You Self-Publish

Just because you want to self-publish, doesn't mean you get to skip some steps. Self-publishing just means you have everything to do - it's all on your plate.

I also do business cards and postcards for my books

Since I've learned a thing or two about self-publishing myself and helping other authors to self-publish with a little assistance from our hybrid publishing house, Idea Creations Press, allow me to share with you five questions I always ask myself before I consider my manuscript - finished. 

1. Has my book been edited? Once you've edited your work, allowed it to sit at least two weeks before going over it again - maybe even longer - you still need another set of eyes (five is a good number) to look over your manuscript. I use Grammarly when I do my final check. And even then, things get missed, so always, always have those last-minute eyes read over your book.

2. Is my book cover the best it can be? Get some feedback. Trust in this feedback. I have one book right now that has gone through two book covers. I am still not completely satisfied with it. It's okay to update a cover after a few years, but you want the cover to be as professional as you can make it right out the gate. There are many places you can buy stock photos that you can then create a book cover from. Some of them are pretty inexpensive. For picture books: PLEASE get a professional artist/photographer unless you are a professional artist yourself, meaning you have sold some paintings, and/or have your work in an art gallery. The pictures in picture books have to be outstanding or the text will not be able to stand on its own.

At Amazon

3. Especially if this is your first book published - Do I have a website/blog already running? And if so, when was the last time I posted? Daily is best. I don't post daily because of time limitations, but if you have time, do it! If you don't currently have a blog/website, get it going yesterday

4. Is my social media in place? Do I have a Facebook account? Twitter? LinkedIn? Pinterest? Instagram? GoodReads? Google+? Author page on Amazon?

5. Do I have some advertising ideas ready? If you can't afford a lot, check into Facebook and Google advertising.

Bottom line. When you self-publish, you want your book to look professional, and you want to have some ideas in place BEFORE it's published. If you are reading this after your book has already been published, never fear! Start today! 

Friday, July 31, 2020

Book Signing aka ice-cream gala

Sometimes, especially now, you just have to get out.

The library is located at 210 N. Tremont St., Tremonton, UT

Sure, it's hot, (the event will be outside under the wonderful trees) and you have to wear a mask, but you get to eat ice-cream and spend some time with books and their authors.

Tremonton City Library will be holding its Author Only Extravaganza on August 3, from 4-7. It's really a summer reading party with a little hot fudge Sunday on the side, and you'll not want to miss it.

Social distancing will be in play, so come and have a little fun.

You know you want to!

The event is FREE - including the ice-cream.

I will be there too along with all of my books

My newest is a picture book entitled, "The Human Bean."

 
The Human Bean by [Kathryn Elizabeth Jones, Daniel B. Minson]




Tuesday, July 21, 2020

In college? How to write that book


I've been to college. I know how it is.

Every possible living and breathing moment is spent listening to lectures, doing your homework, taking part in a study group, studying for tests, taking tests, eating...

...and maybe sleeping.

Who has time to write a book?

Granted, with seemingly fewer hours to write your book, you're probably wondering why I broach the subject in the first place. 

I am tackling it because there's interest, that's why. When I was in college I still wanted to write that book, but I always used the excuse that I really didn't have time. Besides, I was ornery, tired, and overwhelmed. 

Working for the school newspaper took care of a lot of my anxiety, though it didn't clear it completely. And I need to be honest here, I was never disciplined enough to write a book while in college. But once it was all over, I began to take a look at it.

One of my more recent books shared at "Touch a Truck"
in West Valley City

This is what I see looking back.

Writing a book would have cleared up much of my anxiety if only I'd spent a few minutes a day on it. I'm not talking huge sprints, just short jumps whenever I had it. 
    
Television/YouTube. I used television as my escape. When I was stumped on a math problem or I just couldn't figure out what to write my essay about (imagine that) I turned to the tube. What if I'd worked on my book?

Television, or any other electronic gizmo, can suck you in.
Big time.


Bathroom duty. Some people read while on the pot, why not write?

Dinner. Right, you just want to visit for a minute or two. A couple of times a week, take a night off and write while you eat.

Nightmares: I had a few of these while in school. I never wrote them down though. 

Dreams: The same holds true for cool dreams. There may come a scene in your book where a dream comes in handy.

Summer vacation: So, you don't attend school during the summer? Start your book then. You'll have at least three solid months of  'school side' uninterrupted time. Once back in school, you can move forward, having written a big chunk of your book before other duties start waggling their ugly heads at you.

What we spend our time doing during our "free"
time will ultimately get our book finished
or shelved for a later date

Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter break: This is a given. Even if you decided to use only one of the breaks writing, you would make a lot of headway on your book.

Driving/Walking to class: Write your book via electronic means. Once in the car or on your feet and off to school, instead of turning the music on, speak the next portion of your book into your phone. Times like bathroom duty and dinner can easily be used to make a plan on how your book is going to go. 

This little guy is much too young to drive
or go to college, but he is cute

Between classes: How much time do you waste between classes? Are you always studying? Are you often visiting? There nothing wrong with visiting all of the time unless you have a book to write. 

You've also heard it's a good idea to keep a notebook by the side of your bed. This same notebook should go with


you to school and wherever else you go. When was the last time you worked on your book while waiting for the dentist or doctor? Hum, some pretty scary stuff there.

What I'm trying to get at, if you haven't figured it out already, is all of the moments on a given day you really have time to write. 

Sure, I've been to college, but I also know this. Excuses never helped anyone write a book. Not even me.


 






 
    

Thursday, July 16, 2020

DIY Marketing - 2 things you can do NOW during COVID-19 to connect with readers

Do it yourself marketing is kind of like remodeling your bathroom with a cheat sheet. (Pretty good going so far, but I'll get with you again after the pipes are cut to fit the new vanities). There is always trial and error. Stuff you've never done before. Videos to watch, books to read on the subject. Time to spend.

You may not finish it in a few months like you thought. :)  

 
The difference between bathroom remodeling and DIY Marketing, however, is obvious. You will more than likely enjoy the results of your new bathroom for a few years, but when it comes to marketing, the minute you think you've got it all down, it changes to something else. 

Consider your teens favorite hair color as an example.

Enough said.

Now, with COVID-19 keeping readers pretty much at home I've had to rethink DIY marketing all over again. I will be at an event at the Tremonton City Library on August 3rd, (outside) but the focus is "still" books, so there isn't much of a surprise.

Here are two new things I am doing right now, during COVID-19 to connect with readers.

Thing 1:

Facebook Interviewing


I have recently done a video interview with Celeste Martin. She has a health and wellness group on Facebook called Wellness Wise. She exercises and posts what she does, posts inspiring quotes, and the week this blog was written, her focus was on books. She asked if I'd do an interview with her on how writing affects our wellness. I was excited to do this. I have interviewed before, but never "off paper" so you can imagine I was a little nervous. 

But I loved it! DYI interviewing is great! And I've decided that this is a step-up that I'm going to continue to take. So many people are online, on their phones, especially now, and it doesn't cost anything but your time to put something together.

Thing 2:

Blogging with My Reader at Heart

Sure, I want to sell my books, but I also want to turn my readers to books I haven't written, or teach them a writing skill I have just learned. I want to answer their questions.

No matter what you may think, blogging isn't really about YOU, it's about all those people who have questions about how to write, how to sell, how to meet people, how to do anything that you may just have the answer to!

I used to blog whatever I wanted to. Now, I hope you can see a change in the way I blog. I do a bit of research to discover what YOU WANT. DIY Marketing should be a hit because most writers do it themselves. They can't afford to pay someone else. 

I have learned some great things from other authors out there, as well as marketing gurus that know more than a little about things like keywords, headlines, plugins, Google analytics, and more.

Take some time, and take some free classes to improve your blog. I am in the process of learning more as I write this post.

Now it's your turn.


Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Mountain Climbing for Writers 101

Writing for me is a little like walking up a mountain – you never know what you’re going to find. Sure, there are the things you expect. A pathway, rocks, trees, and hopefully, a stream or waterfall.

A cool looking tree at Silver Lake

But you may forget about poison ivy, sunburn, and tired legs. I write because I love the journey, but the journey, as in hiking, is not always easy.

Big Cottonwood Canyon

My Journey

This last week my husband and I hiked up Big Cottonwood Canyon to Donut Falls. It was a fairly tough hike. My legs got tired (my butt, but I didn’t tell you that), I got muddy, some places were steep, and there were far more people hiking up that day than I expected. But I loved it. The waterfall was beautiful, and so was the hike up to the top.

Donut Falls

A few days later, my husband and I made a second attempt up Big Cottonwood Canyon with our grandchildren. We took them to Silver Lake which is a little farther up. This hike was a lot easier. There were no climbs, everything was flat, and the lake was beautiful. The kids took pictures of each other over playing their usual games on their phones, and just as we were leaving (we started earlier this time) the place was getting busy.

Beginning of the hike at Silver Lake

Smooth and Rough Hikes

Sometimes writing will be like the second hiking experience. Everything will run smoothly, the journey will be beautiful, and everyone will have a good time (including your characters). But then there will be those times when the opposite is true. Mixed with the great experience will be hardship; times we will want to quit but don’t because you want to make it to that book publishing deal or that marketing opportunity that will finally “work” for you.

Silver Lake

Mini Hikes

Often the hike is a bunch of mini hikes experienced on different days. We may reach the top, but the next day, the hike changes (we’ve published our book, now we have to market it, or we’ve been marketing the same way for years without the success we “expected” and are finally open to trying something new – (that would be me).


Silver Lake

New Hikes

We may be just starting the hike and have no clue what we’re doing, or think we have a clue only to find out down the trail that we don’t (kind of like a teenager who thinks they know everything, only to discover up the trail to adulthood that they don’t know as much as they thought).

My grandchildren, Heather, Christian and Bekah at Silver Lake

We may be up the first book trail of our lives, about mid-way, not really knowing if we have the talent or desire to keep going, or we may have been on many and varied writing trails with no clue what to write next (I have been there a few times, scratching at the poison ivy).


Me and my husband, Doug, at Silver Lake

Today’s Hike

The best news about our hike, especially the hike we’re on right now, is what we’re learning from it as we go along. What stuff do we have in our pack that we’ve learned to carry on previous hikes? If this is our first hike, what have we studied before the hike to prepare us for the journey?

Your writing journey should be planned, but what happens after that isn’t always what you expect. And that’s okay too. Just remember to keep walking.

 


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Hybrid Publishing



Through the years, I have had many people ask me where I publish my books. 

When I tell them I published with a local publisher for my first book, later bought the rights back, and now publish strictly through hybrid publishing means, they want to know more. 

What is Hybrid?

Hybrid, like cross-breeding flowers, means taking the best publishing methods and making something incredible from both sources. Hybrid is the middle ground between traditional publishing and self-publishing. It is a place many are turning to simply because it's so difficult to get their work published the traditional way; plus, they have more control over what happens to their work. Here are some thoughts to consider:

Money talks

With hybrid publishing, you pay upfront for the service, but you make a higher percentage from sales on the back end - up to 70%. There are a few companies out there, so check to see how they do things. The company I run, Idea Creations Press, has the writer pay their upfront fees, gets the book done, and the money made after that goes completely to the author. Not all hybrid publishing companies do that - in fact, most want a small percentage of the book's sales, so make sure you know what you're getting before you sign on the dotted line.

The importance of an editor

You want to have an editor look over your work before it becomes your final draft. This is important with both traditional and hybrid publishing. In traditional publishing, what the publisher says usually goes, even if you don't agree with the changes. In hybrid publishing, after the suggestion is made, you can take it or leave it.

Book cover design

With traditional publishing, you have little to no say on the cover. With hybrid publishing you do. You can create your own cover if you want. You can study what makes a great cover by looking over those published by traditional publishers. You can hire out who you like.


To decide on the cover for this book I went to the library and perused the shelves for book covers I loved. Once I had a few in my hand I went through the reasons why I loved the cover. What I finally decided on (and found online when I returned home) was a simple stock photo mostly in white. I wanted readers to imagine themselves sitting here. I like the light that comes through the window lighting the room. The photo was purchased (inexpensively too) and my husband created the cover.

Me and my husband, Doug. We work together on all of my books.


Marketing mayhem

Marketing is perhaps the best reason to go traditionally, and yet, even traditional publishers need you to do most of the marketing. They may get your work there to the general public through electronic means like a website or snail mail, but it is up to you to do book signings, send your work out there through social media, and to create whatever else is necessary to get your name known. 

Flower for your thoughts?

Don't get me wrong. There is a place for traditional publishing. Book stores for one. It is difficult, if not impossible, to get your hybrid book into a huge bookstore chain like Barnes & Noble. Sure, you can get your hybrid book on their online bookstore, but not always will hybrid books make it onto the shelves of a national book store chain. You can, however, more easily get your hybrid published book into a local book store, and that may be okay with you. 

I am open to traditional publishing, again, if and when it opens up to me, and the publisher is the right fit. I love having everything wrapped up in a pretty package and seeing how others envision my work. But there is also something to be said for wrapping the gift yourself.



Wednesday, June 24, 2020

How to Hand Sell Your Book Without Getting a Paper Cut


Okay, so it's a weird title, maybe even an unbelievable title, but hear me out.

The best book sales I get don't come from online purchases, although I do get those. They don't come from FREEbies I offer when I have a new book come out, the second in a series, and I want the reader to read my first, though some sales have come that way. The best book sales don't even come from my family members or friends, though many of them buy.

Most of my book sales come because I've hand-sold them.

Flowers from my yard often get more attention than my books do.

You might think that having published my books since 2002 I would have it all down, that readers are tramping down my flowers in the front yard to get to my latest "best-seller" but frankly, NOPE.

Depressed?

This has depressed me more than once. I have even stopped marketing more than once. And then, a day arrives that speaks to me just a little differently. It says:

Why do you write anyway?

Because you have to.
Because you love it.
Because you love people.
Because you want to connect.

Care for a paper cut?

Hand-selling your book is a little like taking care of a stack of papers on your desk that have been there, you know, FOREVER and going through the entire stack without getting a paper cut. Your book may have been out for forever, you may have written it 20 years ago, and the stupid thing still isn't selling.

I have more than one like that. 

When I started doing "events" for my books (I call them events because rarely do I do book signings in book stores) I was pretty scared. I was sure folks could see the little fear critters in my eyes. 

Scared?

Yes, I got scared - a lot - made some initial mistakes (you know, like the ones some car salesmen make). I corraled some to my table. Emotionally speaking that is. I may have used guilt - can't remember - though I do recall a few fearful faces as they left my table.

So how do you hand-sell your book without getting a paper cut (i.e., a dirty look, the silent treatment, the invisibility cloak [you are underneath the cloak], or the "don't look at me. I do not want to come over to your table, and no amount of staring at me with your loving eyes will get me to change my mind."

Listening?

And then I realized something, and this is a BIG something, so listen up. Readers and non-readers alike want connections too. They want to visit for the most part. They want to get to know new people for the most part.

So this is what you do, you give that to them. You connect. You find out about them. You discover what they like to do. You are not offended if they say they don't like to read. You lay off the pressure and instead show forth the kind of stuff you like to get. You know, the authentic stuff with no strings attached.

Is this hard when in your heart-of-hearts you are out there at the "event" to sell your books?

Are you real?

You bet it is. But people can smell a plastic, fake person a mile away. And if they don't, they will see it the first time you open your mouth and try to sell them like a car salesman.

I still remember those times when a sale came because I connected with a reader. And I remember when I connected with a reader and my book still wasn't bought. But you know what?

The connection was made, and this connection, honestly given and returned, has produced more book sales for me than trying to coerce sales in every other way.









Wednesday, June 17, 2020

How to Unlock Your Writing Genius

Doors are hard to unlock unless you have the right key.

This is the front door to my office.
(Man, it needs some painting).
I need to use the right key to unlock this door;
not any key will do.

The same is true of your writing genius. Dreaming about being a writer never got anyone anywhere - just ask my brother who has been dreaming about becoming a writer for more years than I can remember. He has great ideas too. Ideas that would sell. But what does he do?

Dream. 

Dreaming is good if you take the time to do something about it. 

Make the time.

"Time waits for no man", the old saying goes, and it doesn't wait for women either. If you want to unlock your writing genius, if you want to learn how to become a writer, even the best writer you can be, then you must make the time. When I first thought about writing as a career I didn't have a lot of money to spend on classes. I couldn't afford to go back to school.

What did I do?

I checked out books at the library. I wrote. I attended a writer's
group.



These are some of my books, and some of the books of other writers I have published
through Idea Creations Press.
None of them would have happened
had I not stayed on the wobbly bike.


Learning how to become a writer is a little like dusting off your bike, getting on the seat, and taking yourself for a ride. You might have peddled a few times before, but not lately, and as your bike wobbles, as you try to gain your balance, you realize you've still got it. You can still ride.

My personal belief? We can all write, but not all of us apply ourselves. The juice is in us, but we don't apply what's already there. 

Write more than you watch television or play games on your phone or...

Writing not only takes time it takes a lot of focused time. You've more than likely heard of morning pages, or writing a page a day - or about 500 words, but what of writing 500 words a day on a particular project? Rather than writing 500 random words that come to you, and then wondering what else you can possibly share later, you're just so exhausted getting it all out, why not use those creative juices right off the bat?

Say you're interested in writing a book about your childhood. Start your day by remembering an event that happened to you. You don't need to start at the beginning, just start with one remembrance. The next day, follow it up with another remembrance, and so on. Once you get enough written, you can then consider how you'd like to organize your book.


My first book was a mixture of true experience
and fiction as Samantha deals with her
parents' divorce.

What if you're interested in writing a novel? One of my favorite techniques is finding a picture, either from a magazine, a painting, or a book that reflects my vision. I look at that thing and start to write whatever comes to me. Will it be the beginning? Probably not. But it will be something. And the next day I can look at it again and see what else comes to mind. I may find my beginning on day three or day ten, but if I use my creative juices the day will come and I will know when my book has begun. And who knows? Those other things I have written may just be chapter three or ten!

Throw negative critiques out. 

Story bashing never helps. "Story helps" do. You will know right away what type you're receiving as you're learning how to become a writer by how you feel. Defensive? Bash. Time for a crying jag? Bash. "I really like this part right here." Help. "That's exactly how I felt as a kid." Help. "What were you trying to say here? I really want to get it." Help.

Negative critiques of your writing, especially in the beginning may create within you a desire to STOP. You will hear them, and when you do, let them go. Pick up your pen. Go to your computer and write. 


I usually write on my computer unless I'm away from home. 

But stay focused. Don't rant. Keep going.

Share your work.

Yep. I know, after hearing that you'll receive negative critiques as you learn how to become a writer, you may not want to share your work with anyone. Do. And continue to share even after the negative critiques, especially when you receive the negative critiques. As a writer, I am still learning, and I have been a published book writer since 2002! I was learning before that as well because I started as a newspaper reporter. 


My first draft on a paper for college
received a C-.
My final, an A as I remember.

I am still learning, and expect to be learning until my dying day. I still share my work. Not everyone likes it. And that's okay. I keep writing, and so should you!








Monday, June 8, 2020

Best Audiobook Narrators Don't have to Cost You



Getting your book on audio may seem like a daunting task, kind of like frosting a cake with your eyes closed.

Fortunately, the first time I discovered the value of an audiobook narrator in 2014, the narrator came to me. Her name?

Nancy Peterson.

Nancy was looking to begin her narrating career, having spent the last few years as an actress playing parts in movies such as Ephriam's Rescue and Friendship's Field.

What was out of this world great about Nancy is that she wanted to get her "narrator name" out there, and she was willing to share in the profits to do that. That means it didn't cost me a penny to have her narrate my books. We split the profits after the audio was published.

Nancy told me about a marketplace that matches authors with narrators. The company, ACX.com is connected with Audible.com, which sells the audiobook (along with Amazon and iTunes) after it's produced.  

I worked with her on the first audiobook, 

 Conquering Your Goliaths audiobook cover art
the second,

The Feast audiobook cover art

                                                   The Feast: A Parable of the Ring," 

and the third,
 
The Gift audiobook cover art
Since then, Nancy Peterson has become one of the best audiobook narrators out there; take a look at what she's doing now.

By the time I was ready for her assistance again, however, she was no longer available for a 50/50 split. She is now charging for her services, which is what many of the best audiobook narrators do once they get their feet wet.

From 2016-2018, I worked with a narrator named Lauren Holladay. We found each other online and she worked on my mystery books and the first of my two science/fantasy novels for middle readers. Unfortunately, she got sick recently and hasn't been able to use her voice for narration, but she was terrific.

LightShade: The Space Adventures of Aaden Prescott audiobook cover art

Why am I telling you this?

If I could find two narrators - and get going without so much as paying a dollar upfront, so can you.

Begin Your Search

To begin your own search for one of the best audiobook narrators out there, you'll need to go to ACX.com first, to see who is listed as a producer. 

Go to this link: https://www.acx.com/help/authors/200484540. Start with confirming your audio rights. Get your profile set up and find a producer. You can listen to sample narrations and/or review auditions from producers looking for work. When you're ready to make a deal, you will see two options. Either the narrator will be open to a 50/50 split, or royalty share deal, or they will want their payment after they have finished with your project. Some audiobook narrators are open to both ways of payment, others are not.

Find the Best Audiobook Narrator for Your Book

What follows is a sample, ACX calls a 15-minute checkpoint, where the narrator does a reading of your book. If you like what you hear you can move on. What's great about this process, is that you can approve the book in segments, chapter by chapter. Consider the tone of the narrator and the speed at which he/she speaks. Make sure that the narrator's voice fits in well with the subject matter or main character of your book.

Sell Your Audiobook!

Once your audiobook is approved by you, your book is distributed to Audible.com, Amazon.com, and iTunes. You can then promote your book, though there are opportunities through the process to let your readers know where you are in the narration, and when they can expect the audiobook to be released during key times offered by ACX. You will also receive 25 free promotional codes so that you can receive reviews from listeners. From there you receive a digital monthly statement on sales from Audible.com.




Monday, June 1, 2020

Digging deep.

I have been working on some short stories as a book compilation. I know short stories aren't really the 'thing', at least when it comes to book sales - they're a little like poetry with a narrower audience, but the idea came to me one day when I was thinking of Malchus from the Bible. His name is mentioned only once, though the story is told more than once in the Bible.

You may remember it. Jesus has just finished praying at the Garden of Gethsemane when he is approached by a multitude - one of them being Malchus. There was Judas, of course, one of the twelve who betrayed Jesus with a kiss. As you may know, one of the disciples "smote the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear" (Luke 22:50). 


How did Malchus feel about the healing? Was this the first time he'd seen Jesus? Probably not. He was a servant of a high priest, maybe even the servant of Caiaphas. He would have seen some things near the temple. He may have even listened at the temple. If so, what effect would listening at the doors mean to him later when he was healed?

I had so many questions, not many answers, but it seemed to me the answers were there. In a matter of a week, I had the first draft done. I sent it off to two readers with positive results. 

One of them said, "I loved the story. Your style is very reflective, with the narrator and key actors in contemplation. I wish that I could write like you!"

The other reader wondered if I should change the name of Jesus Christ to Messiah because that is how he was known in those times. A keen observation. I made the change.

I am now working on the second story. It is about the widow of Nain whose son was raised from the dead. We don't even know the widow's name in this story, though her son was probably about twenty and she was more than likely middle-aged, probably somewhere in her mid to late 30s. 

Why would Christ come all the way from Capernaum for a woman and her son? He probably had to walk all night to reach the widow at just the right time the next morning. Not to mention that Nain is about 30 miles southwest of Capernaum and the journey is an uphill climb... 


Being at home so much I've had more time to reflect on things. What are the priorities of my life? Is what I do a reflection of my priorities? What do I want to weed out of my life that really isn't important? What do I want to plant?

I'm digging deep.



Saturday, March 28, 2020

New Picture Book for Kids Who Hate to Eat Their Vegetables

Love Dr. Seuss?

You'll love The Human Bean!

Years ago, when my writing journey began; even before I began writing for local newspapers, I had an idea for a picture book inspired by my mom.

As a little girl, she once asked her mother: "Are these human beans?"

Get this great book at Amazon

And so I ask you...

Are beans human? Divine?

Your guess is as good as mine.

One thing’s for sure – after reading this rhyming tale, you may finally decide to eat your vegetables.

Or not.

In hardcover!