Thursday, 28 March 2013

Calling All Authors!

Have you written a book?  Are you one of the lucky ones to have been picked up by an agent and a publisher?  Or maybe you took the route of self-publishing?  Well this is your chance to hopefully get yourself out there and gain some more readers.  I've organized a blog hop to help you promote your book.

April Blog Hops, Bring May Book Ops...opportunities that is.  So here's what's in store:

Week 1: Meet & Greet (May 1-7)
Week 2: Introduce us to your book (May 8-14)
Week 3: Give us your best one line pitch (May 15-21)
Week 4: Pass it on, let's cross promote (May 22-31)

Stay tuned for more details to come.  I'll post them just before each week.

So you wanna join?  Just follow my blog and sign up on the linky list.  You've got the whole month of April to get ready.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Anyone looking for an editor?

For those of us who are considering self-publishing, besides perfecting our manuscripts, passing it through critique partners, and all the other hullabaloo, one very important step in the game is selecting an editor.  I realize this may not be for everyone since we're not all swimming in a sea of excess dough, but if you're really serious about producing your best quality work before presenting it to the world, perhaps it's a step that shouldn't be overlooked.

After interviewing Jamie Tingen (one of my new favourite authors, author of Butterfly Messages), I came into contact with her editor and I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to offer self-published writers (or those considering it) a glimpse into the mind of someone who could become one of your best friends...Annette Mardis.

How long have you been an editor?
I've only edited a few books so far, but I started editing newspaper stories in the late 1980s.

That's a long time, which is great because you definitely want someone with a lot of experience!

How did you get into editing?
I started out in journalism as a features writer for the Clearwater Sun in January 1980 and transferred over to news writing a few years later. I was promoted to my first editing job with that same newspaper. I edited stories written by news reporters who I supervised. The job also involved planning, assigning and directing news coverage.

As a reader, what's your favourite book?
Answering that question is a lot like eating only one cashew. But if I had to choose just one book, I'd say it was "To Kill a Mockingbird."

I know for anyone with a love of books, this is THE hardest question, but I love her response.  To me this shows she also has a sense of humour, which is something I personally like to find in everyone I interact with, business or personal.

As an editor, what was your favourite project?
I've been involved in a lot of memorable news stories, including hurricanes, high-profile criminal trials, the execution of serial killer Ted Bundy, local reaction to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush's re-election campaign visit to New Port Richey and, most recently, the Republican National Convention in Tampa, just to name a few.

Some other books you've edited that we can find?
Before "Butterfly messages" by Jamie Tingen, I edited "Secrets of Havenridge" by Chris Coad Taylor, another self-published author. I just finished a book by a third self-published author and have started editing the manuscript for a fourth self-published novelist.

I haven't read 'Secrets of Havenridge', but having read Butterfly Messages, I can vouch for the excellent editing because not only was it a fantastic read, but it was also hard to find an error in this book.

Have you worked with published authors? Or just self-published?
Just self-published so far. I'm editing on a freelance basis.

Can you edit something you don't enjoy? Or do you have to be invested in the story?
It's certainly a lot more fun to edit something that's well-written and captures my interest, but it's not a prerequisite. Editing is work; it's not like reading for pleasure, although I find myself mentally editing everything I read, from books to street signs.

Do you encourage revisions and suggest certain changes, or do you simply edit for grammar? Basically what's your style of editing?
One of the most challenging things for an editor is to preserve the writer's voice. That means avoiding making changes just because I would have written it differently if I were the author. As a newspaper editor, I took responsibility for the story once the reporter turned it in. I tried to work with a reporter to come up with a finished product we were both happy with. But because of deadline pressures, I sometimes didn't have time for such give and take. And I had the authority, and the duty, to overrule reporters when we disagreed.
Working with self-published authors, though, requires a different approach because, ultimately, it's their book and their money. The author can accept my suggestions, or not. Some changes are no-brainers, such as misspellings and grammatical and factual errors. But I also make sure that the writing flows well, sentences are well-constructed, the plot doesn't have holes or inconsistencies, the characters are well-developed and the dialogue is crisp and realistic.

I found her response very encouraging, you definitely want an editor that understands the importance of the writer preserving their voice.  It's also great to see that she looks for so many things some of us writers struggle with, like the character development, dialogue, and plot holes.

What are some of the most common mistakes you see in writing?
I see a lot of misspellings and punctuation errors, misuse of words and imprecise word choices. I'm really amazed that I see so many mistakes in books by best-selling authors. It seems as though books by big publishing houses aren't as well-edited as they used to be. And it's amazing how many people who become professional writers are not good stewards of the language.

I have to agree with this, it always surprises me when I find an error in a book.  With the reputation self-publishing has, we might be a little more lenient on such things, but in a book that's been picked up by one of the big publishing houses...  However, I do remember reading somewhere that some people intentionally inject errors into their work so they don't come across as so 'perfect'.

Any tips or advice you could give to writers?
Find your voice; don't try to write like anybody else. Read a lot and pay attention to how other writers put words together and structure their work. Use active verbs. Don't just string adjectives together when describing something. Include details and anecdotes that help the reader form a mental picture. Proofread your work and always use spellcheck. Have a dictionary handy -- and use it! Build your vocabulary, but don't use words just to show off. Take responsibility for making your writing as clear, concise and error-free as you can possibly make it.

That's a lot of great advice!

Annette Mardis has also written book reviews for The Tampa Tribune and for  She has a lot of experience with editing and I've heard nothing but good things about her from her client (Jamie Tingen).  If anyone would like to get in touch with Annette, you can contact her through email  You can also check out her Facebook page called PostHereReaders, it is open to anyone who wants to visit and discuss books, articles, etc. they have read or written.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The exciting, fantastic, terrifying road of self-publishing

Having found myself more seriously considering self-publishing as of late, I've taken a great interest in other self-published authors. Some seem to have had great success and great experiences and I'm so excited for them.

This time on my search through smashwords, I came across Butterfly Messages By Jamie Tingen.  I feel so lucky to have stumbled upon this read because so far it is my favourite self-published title.  I love the fact that the main character was an older lady and not the typical young blood I'm used to in most novels.  I love the subtle messages about enjoying life and living each day to the fullest without any regrets, that are scattered throughout the novel.  And best of all, I love the fact that this book brought me to tears a couple of times, because for me that's the sign of a really good writer, that's what makes a book a favourite on my list.

Cover for 'Butterfly Messages'

Did you seek agent representation before self publishing?
Yes, but they did very little to promote the book.  I was very disappointed.    I should have done more research on this agent.  My fault.
This was kind of shocking to me, but I suppose the same goes for anything in life, you have to be careful.  But perhaps this is another plus for self-publishing, you don't have to worry about ending up in this situation.

What made you decide to self publish?
I got my fair share of rejection slips.  It was becoming evident that self-publishing was gaining popularity. I like the idea of being in control of my destiny.

I agree, I like the idea of having control and not having to wait around for someone to tell you what's going to happen next with your book.
For me it seems like a bit of a daunting task, Did you have any difficulties? Or was it easier than one would think?
I knew absolutely nothing about the computer work that's involved, so I got some help. As it turns out the people who helped me were not that knowledgeable and I had several do-overs.  Very frustrating and time consuming. I  finally found some very competent people who got me back on track.
Have you done anything to promote your book?
I contacted our local paper and got some  publicity announcing the finalist awards.  I advertised the book for sale at Christmas, attended a festival, had several  signings, made bookmarks that I've left at various businesses, posted the book on  Smashwords, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble Nook.  I contacted classmates, friends, family, everybody that I personally knew.  I don't use  Facebook, Twitter,  Blogs, etc, but it's a great way to get exposure.  Also, I belong to the Fla. Writers Assoc. We meet once a month and have excellent speakers.  It's a great way to network and help each other.  Also I entered 3 book contests and was named a finalist in all 3.  They also spread the word. I'm sure I've done other marketing, but I can't remember everything I've done. 
It seems like she's on the right track for marketing, these are a lot of great ideas!

Would you take on an agent if they offered representation now?
That depends on the agent  and what they have to offer me.

Was this your first manuscript?
Yes.  I've written short stories, poems, etc.  In my youth I said I wanted to write a novel someday... and I did.

I'm glad she did!

How long did it take you to write it?
I'm not sure. I had free time at work so I wrote it in long hand, then typed it at home. 
I did the same thing with my novel, I'm so glad I did too after all the computer issues I've had/been having.  It might take longer but at least you have a hard copy of your work to hold onto.

Did you have it professionally edited?
It was edited by a couple of people who overlooked some errors.  I found a lady (30 yr. (journalist) with impressive credentials. She did the final edit so it should be perfect!! 
Get the best!!!! This is very important!!  Also the best when you're doing the cover!!

How many different critique partners did you have?
Only the people who edited initially. In retrospect... maybe not the best.
In my opinion, this worked out because I enjoyed the book immensely.

After reading your book, this seems like a bit of a funny question to ask, what with your recurring theme of living in the moment and having no regrets, but... If you could change the way things have gone with your writing career, is there anything you would change?
I wish I had written the  book sooner, but I don't dwell on that. That's in the past.  Life is uncertain, so, like a butterfly, savor the sweet nectar of the moment

I personally believe that life experiences help us along our journey as writers, so perhaps if she had written it sooner it would have worked out differently, everything happens as and when it should.

I've searched and haven't found any other books by you, do you have any out yet or are they still in the works?
I'm thinking about a sequel to Butterfly Messages where the mother and daughter get together.  I've written a few pages...still trying to decide.
I enjoyed Butterfly Messages so much, I would pick up the new book when it gets written!

Butterfly Messages was a wonderful book, what made you decide to give it away for free?
To snag readers and hopefully get a nice review from people like you.
:) I would have paid for this book willingly, I would love to have a copy for my bookshelves (not just my virtual ones).

Butterfly Messages was a wonderful book and in my opinion, Jamie Tingen is an excellent writer.  I loved the book and didn't want to put it down.  I hope you'll take a look and love it as much as I do.  Wishing a fabulous author the greatest success on her writing journey!



Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The exciting, fantastic, terrifying road of self-publishing

Having found myself more seriously considering self-publishing as of late, I've taken a great interest in other self-published authors. Some seem to have had great success and great experiences and I'm so excited for them. 

Rummaging through the overwhelming amount of books on smashwords, Trouble by Jamie Campbell caught my eye.  I'm not usually one who goes for short stories and was quite disappointed that it was only thirty-some pages, as I wanted to continue reading, but the story was enjoyable and intriguing nonetheless. 

Cover for 'Trouble'

Did you seek agent representation before self-publishing? If so, how many queries did you send before deciding to take a different route?
I'm always seeking agent representation, I have a few of my favourite books that I'm holding onto for that elusive golden ticket. So far I've probably sent over two dozen queries. Querying is part of my process, just as much as self-publishing.

Only two dozen queries?  I've heard so many stories of the 47th agent, the 61st agent, the 72nd agent finally being the one.  I wonder how many is too many?

What made you decide to self publish? 
I really wanted to get my stories out there. The thought of people reading my books and enjoying them made me unbearably happy so I thought, why not? The industry is starting to lose the stigma attached to self-publishing and I think it's a great way to connect directly with readers. Writer's write for the readers, not the publishers.

Well said, I agree.  I believe most writers want to have their work read and enjoyed.  Of course the added bonus of money coming in would be lovely, but at the end of the day, I think it's more about creating something that others can enjoy.

And where did you self-publish?
I self-published with Createspace which then led me to ebooks. I now publish with Amazon and Smashwords, who in turn allow me to access iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and a plethora of other retailers. I always get a thrill when I see my books amongst others on the iBook shelf.
Did you do it all yourself, including the cover art? Or did you have help from friends or professionals?
I did it all myself. I enjoyed the challenge and I couldn't invest too much money into it. Now, after being in the business for a little while, I'm starting to outsource parts of it. My next full length novels will have covers created by graphic designers, but I still enjoy being a part of the design process. That's one of the great things about self-publishing, you can have full control and you make all the decisions yourself.

Again, I agree.  I've recently discovered that when publishing through a traditional publisher, when it comes to the cover art, the author has little or no say.  :(  I'm not so sure I think that's fair.

For me it seems like a bit of a daunting task, did you have any difficulties? Or was it easier than one would think?
It seemed daunting at first but writing is what I live for so I just had to do it. I read numerous books about it, scoured the website instructions, and tested it all before I actually began. Once I had done my first novel, it became much easier. Now, I consider it an easy process and actually enjoy it.

That's certainly encouraging.  The good ol' tried and true, practice makes perfect.

Did you do anything to promote your book?
I'm always promoting my book. Always. You have to connect with the readers which can be difficult in such a large marketplace that is already swamped with books. Not a day goes by when I don't do some kind of marketing - it's much harder than actually writing the book!

This is an important thing to consider.  Once you've finished writing the book, depending on what your desires and dreams are for the journey of your novel, your job might not be over yet.

Would you take on an agent if they offered representation now?
Yes. I'm at that point now where I'm ready to get back to just writing and leaving the rest to someone else. It would be lovely to say 'talk to my people'.

I've noticed on smashwords that you had other books as well, which was your first manuscript? Or is it not published?
My first manuscript was "Ashes to Ashes", which I have recently made available on Smashwords and Amazon (it was previously published in hard copy format only by a third party).

How long does it take you to write each book? I know this can vary greatly so maybe you're favourite or your first?
Each book normally takes about two months. I write every single day without fail. I set myself a word threshold of 1,000 words and cannot quit until that's done. Yet then I reach that word count and continue on anyway. I enjoy writing immensely so if I'm not writing, I'm thinking about my plot or characters.

Wow!  Two months!  I'm not even done editing and revising within two months!  Great dedication spawns greatness.

Do you have your work professionally edited?
I have a proof reader who helps get all the bugs out. I also have a group of people who read my books before I publish to ensure they make sense and are enjoyable. I edit my books at least four times before I'm satisfied they can be fit to send out into the world.  

How many different critique partners did you have?
I entrust my books to a few people who give me honest feedback. None of them are writers so they focus more on the plot and characters rather than writing structure. If they like the books, then I proceed.

This is a very smart idea.  I think many writers are so used to hanging out in writing circles, their critique partners are generally writers also, which certainly helps.  But having a pair of non-writer's eyes on your manuscript is definitely a good idea since they'd be able to offer critique from a different point of view.

How much success have you had with your self-publishing. Do you know how many copies you've sold?
Let's just say that sales are directly correlated with the amount of time I put in. If I'm not actively out there marketing, then no sales magically appear. It's the whole adage of you only get out what you put in.

Oh, with the exception of my short stories that I list for free - they "sell" like hotcakes!

Lol, very true, I myself am guilty of greedily gobbling up almost as many free books as my eyes land upon.

If you could change the way things have gone with your writing career, is there anything you would change?
It would have been nice to get published the traditional way immediately. My goal is to get on the best seller list so it's a long and windy road without already having established a name for yourself. I'll still get there, it will just take me a little longer.

Love the positive attitude!  I think we all need to hold this belief and just keep pushing on. 

Jamie Campbell has several different books out at the moment, Ashes to Ashes, Gifted, and two free short stories.  I thoroughly enjoyed Trouble, the plot was very interesting and left me curious to find out just what was going to happen.  I encourage you to take a look and have a read.  Sending a hard-working writer all the best wishes of success for her future!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

A-Z blog Challenge

Through the wonderful world of blogs, I have encountered this fantastic challenge.  It starts in April and you post every day (except sundays).  I've read that it's easier if you have a theme and I have to agree, at least it seems to help narrow in on your topics.  If you want to learn more, or check out the long list of fabulous bloggers who are participating, stop by here:
My theme is parenting.  Keep posted for A: Anticipate Accidents.

Monday, 4 March 2013

The Matchelor

I found this wonderful event at Falling for Fiction.  This is for anyone and everyone looking for one of the most valuable things a writer could have... a critique partner.

Having had a hard time finding one myself in the past, I'm sure I'm not alone.  So get out there, it only takes a minute or two to fill out the short questionnaire.  You never know what you might find.

Good luck!!

Saturday, 2 March 2013

phlegmatic: Having an unemotional and stolidly calm disposition.

I'm not so sure I trust those who are phlegmatic... at least not to an extreme degree.  I mean I suppose it is possible to have complete control over your emotions, but is it possible to be completely unemotional?  I think I'd rather not be anyways.  I enjoy my emotions, even the wild ones.  I feel like it's part of what makes me human.  I know I'm not perfect and I'm okay with that (mostly).

For me, it just seems like those who manage to keep a completely straight face, have something to hide.  I realize this is nothing but an opinion, but a phlegmatic composure is often times accomplice to a lie, or at the very least withheld information.  Which in a sense is just a fancy way of dressing up a lie.

Then there are those who require this ability for their profession (police officers, psychologists, even doctors are a few that come to mind).  However good these people's intentions are, there is a degree of secrecy that is required in their profession, thus the need for being phlegmatic arises.

Personally, I'm the farthest thing from phlegmatic.  I don't think I could hide a single thought or emotion that crossed my mind.  But I suppose that could be a good thing, at least I'm easy to read, and I'm a horrible liar.