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Archive for the ‘writing in general’ Category

 

It’s sad to see that I’m only managing to blog on these once-a-month Indie Life occasions, but with a rambunctious seven-year old boy, an early terrible two-er, and another baby on the way, I find that I only get to write in small little spurts throughout the day. I don’t know why I keep thinking that I’ll get to write so much during the summer. Now if I was a big name, traditionally published author I could hire people to take care of my little ones so that I could finish my last book asap, but alas, this is the plight of many indie writers struggling to finish books along with another job.

So these are the stolen moments I try to grab throughout the day in order to make slow (but steady) head-way on my final book in the series:

I wake up with my laptop right beside my bed. I try to get a good fifteen minutes in before anyone is aware that I’m awake. It’s enough time to check all my accounts and answer any important emails.

I keep my laptop nearby for those rare moments the kids settle down and watch something on the TV. I try to jump right back in where I left off the night before. Even if I add only a paragraph I feel it’s progress.

When I’m driving around, taking the kids to programs, I always have my iPhone with me to jot down notes. This is a great time for brainstorming and thinking little details through. Some of my best thoughts come through in these busy moments.

When my one-and-a-half year old naps, I try to get my seven-year old occupied with a craft or book so that I can get at least an hour of writing in. Some days are more productive than others 🙂

During doctor’s appointments (and there have been a lot of them lately!), I bring my research books along with me. I always have a pen handy to write notes directly in the margins.

Unfortunately, with the late night fireworks recently, my kids’ sleep schedule has been thrown out of whack and they’ve been going to bed near the time I collapse. I’ve been trying to move it slowly back every night since that is another time I can get a good hour of writing in (if I turn the TV off that is).

The weekends can be even more chaotic since we try to get out to enjoy the east coast summer. I feel guilty staying inside while my kids are being kids. I may take a half-hour here and there, but I try to stay focused on my family.

So this is why my books take some time. Not only do I spend a lot of time researching and plotting out the whole storyline, but with only an hour here and an hour there, it’s a wonder I even get books finished at all!

The new baby will be due in the early fall and I know that even these hours will be reduced to fifteen minutes here and there, but every paragraph that’s written is progress and it will get done if I keep working on it. Of course I wish I could magically stop time to write to my heart’s content, but this is the reality of the part-time/sometimes/not-enough-time writer.

What about you? Where do you steal some time to write?

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Corey M.P. (author of newly released HIGH) tagged me for the Next Big Thing Blog Hop weeks ago. I’ve been so busy trying to get my third book of my series out that I’ve pushed this post off. While I’m waiting for the formatting, I thought it was a great time to discuss Infinite Loss.

Of course I would love to talk about the novels of the future that are rattling around noisily in my head, but I’m committed to finish out my series and have only allowed myself to outline upcoming projects. So, in all honesty, the next big thing is getting my third novel of the Infinite Series released. I haven’t said much about the third book so maybe answering these questions will give a little sneak peek!

Here are my answers:

1. What is the working title of your book?
InfiniteLossCoverWeb

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

It is a continuation of the Infinite Series where I extend Maya’s spiritual evolution with past lives centered around loss and the lessons it teaches her. I took the opportunity to write three past lives in some of my favorite time periods: the early Native American Plains, the American Revolutionary War, and the early nineteenth century in America.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

This is still hard to pin down. I list it under historical fantasy, although reincarnation fantasy best describes it even though it is a specialized genre.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

If a movie was based on my series it would be unique in that different stars could cameo for all the different lives as they change gender and race throughout time. As long as each character retained the same eyes and markings, you could use many stars for each role. This is the only way to make it authentic to the countries and times involved in my books. Buckheimer, call me 🙂

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
With lessons and lives of sacrifice and devotion behind her, Maya must continue the journey into her next incarnations as a young and passionate Lakota warrior on the Great American Plains; the dashing British spy Major John André, fighting the tide of a great revolution; and the desolate master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Self-published and loving it!

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

One year.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I don’t know of any other books that attempt to evolve a large cast of characters throughout so many incarnations. I think at this point, my series is unique.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

It’s a combination of the love of history and the fascination with reincarnation.
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I search out the most hidden parts of history. I strive to surprise my readers with fresh look at a culture or time period, avoiding the usual stereotypes and historical clichés.

 

Instead of tagging five people I want to extend the invitation to anyone who would like to share their current project with us (who hasn’t been tagged already by this point). Just post the link in your comment so we can go and check it out.

Thank you again, Corey, for the tag. I’ve enjoyed it!

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bookbub.com

Just thought I’d check back in after having the flu for a month and taking a break from the final edits of Infinite Loss to talk about the benefits of Bookbub.

“Bookbub is a daily deal email newsletter exclusively for digital books. More than 600,000 people with eReaders have signed up for BookBub to learn about free and deeply discounted digital books that match their interests.

Authors and publishers pay us to promote their limited-time digital book discounts and freebies to our subscribers. We can advertise promotions running at any retailer including Amazon’s Kindle Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, Apple’s iBookstore, Google Play, Kobo, Smashwords, and others.

Like other daily deal emails, BookBub is an “advertorial” newsletter. This means that although our daily email consists of paid advertisement listings, we have an editorial team that approves only the listings they think are the best deals for our subscribers.”

You can find out more information here.

I was leery of putting down money for advertising. In the past I’ve tried all the free promotion sites and a few inexpensive advertising ventures. I’ve learned  very quickly that it’s a waste of time to spend the whole morning writing to all the different freebie websites and focused on the ones that gave a big surge in sales like Ereader News Today, Pixel of Ink and Free Kindle Books and Tips. The websites that charge $5 or $10 didn’t seem to make much difference for me.

Bookbub is fantastic since it targets a large readership that has signed up for specific genres of interest. Bookbub sends an email directly to the reader along with a few other deals of the day—some of which were best sellers, which is nice to get on their also bought lists!

Before Bookbub ran my promotion (December 27) my books were not performing well. Infinite Sacrifice was at #5,459 ranking on the free bestseller list and Infinite Devotion at #177,466 on the paid list with no sign of a holiday surge.

The price to run the ad (for a free book in the historical genre) was $125 and they are selective in regards to reviews and ratings. They feature both indie and traditionally published books.

Here are the results:

  • Author rank reached #16,901.
  • Highest ranking for Infinite Sacrifice ever #36 of all free books, gave away over 20,000 free copies, and it stayed under #2,000 since the promotion.
  • Infinite Devotion reached #12,646 of all paid and stayed under #40,000 since the promotion.
  • Practically doubled my review numbers and mailing list subscribers
  • I’ve sold four times what I normally bring in a month (not just on Amazon, but across all vendors)

I will definitely do it again and hope that more sites like this crop up to assist readers and authors. I can’t wait to run another ad again, since Bookbub doesn’t allow you to list the same book within 90 days. That gives me some time to decide if I should pick another genre my book falls under since it’s just been seen by the historical fiction subscribers. It might be smart to send my book out to the fantasy readers next (plus it’s much cheaper).

So, if you have a some good reviews under your belt and a nice star rating, I would definitely suggest reducing the price of your novel in order to purchase a promotion with Bookbub. The ad paid for itself in a few days. Hurry though, because prices are rising. The same ad will now cost me $130. Bookbub has steadily been increasing their fees as readership increases.

Even if you aren’t interested in investing in an ad or maybe don’t have a novel ready yet, it’s a great program to sign up for. I’ve joined and I’m filling up my kindle quickly!

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Just wanted to share my recent book trailer. They may not sell books, but they are so much fun to make!

If any of you are interested in making one for your novel, I re-posted an old instructional blog below.

Phew! The Book Trailer is Done!

July 6, 2011 by laurenwaters | Edit

Wow! That was so much easier than I thought and I’m so pleased with the results. I’ve posted it up on my Book Trailer page and please let me know what you think!

Even though I’d been searching and collecting images for a bit before, the actual process of creating the video clip took me about a day and a half. I never used iMovie before so this was learning completely from scratch. I wanted to let everyone know exactly how I did this so anyone can create one themselves–and I’m no techy so seriously anyone can do this.

Step 1) First, I opened up a new project on iMovie and titled it. Then I downloaded all the images I collected free and some I purchased to iPhoto (not sure if there is a direct way to just download it to iMovie, but remember I’m figuring this all out on my own and this way worked). When I clicked on the camera icon on my iMovie page there was all the photos I wanted when I highlighted last months photos. I was able to just drag each photo to the desired placement of my new project.

Step 2) Once I got them all in the order I wanted I went to Kevin MacLeod’s website, searched the mood I wanted, and I sampled some fantastic choices. I knew immediately which song I wanted to go with and I downloaded it to my iMovie. I clicked on the musical note tab to drag the song to my project. The music shows up as an encompassing highlight around your pictures. It will go as long as you have pictures or when the song ends. I found I had to delete a few images to fit the song time (click on the clip and press delete).

Step 3) Now I tried it out with the music by hitting the play button. I realized I needed to change timing to get each image in time with the music. Each image gets a default time of 4 seconds so in order to change them you must click on the image until clip duration pops up and you can type in exactly how long you want the image to appear. If you want all the images that duration you check the box to apply to all clips, otherwise leave it unchecked to specify this one clip. I found I needed to tweak each time to fit perfectly with the music and this did take some time.

Step 4) When doing step 3 be careful not to be completely exact since you need to put some transitions between clips to make it all smooth. Next to the camera icon and the musical note icon is an icon for transitions. Click on that and you can highlight each option to display how the transition appears. I decided to use two different transitions to decipher between the lives and within the lives. I used a flash between the lives and the cross dissolve between the others. Drag the transition and place between the desired clip and click on it to set the timing of the dissolve.

Step 5) Hit the play button again to perfect the timing EXACTLY to the music. This takes some time.

Step 6) To finesse the look further you can apply cropping, Ken Burns effect, and even video effect. Click on the image and under the clip duration box you see Video Effect. It defaults to None but when you click on it you get so many options to play with such as flipped, black & white, dream, sepia, and so many more. Once you choose the desired effect click on the cropping icon next to the microphone. On the side bar of your clip you’ll see three options Fit, Ken Burns, and Crop. I mostly chose the Ken Burns since it allows you to zoom and move the image however you want. This looks wonderful since it adds movement to the stills. When you click this effect a red and green box appears on the image. If you click on the green ‘start’ box you can control the size and placement of where the image will begin. Then you do the same for the red ‘end’ box and by overlapping or separating them you get as much movement as you would like. This is another part where you need some time to get it just the way you want.

Step 7) Now you’re ready for text. It’s best to try to be as laconic as possible. Write out a script on a piece of paper and try to remove any unneeded words. Your job here is to give your potential reader the impression and feel of the book. A brief outline of what’s in store for them and to entice them into going to your website to read more and hopefully buy. You’re trying to grab them, so the fewer words the better. Go hit the upper case T button between the camera button and the transition button. You’ll get some different placement options and text effects. Once you’ve picked the one you want drag it to the clip. Click on the clip and the text box will appear where you wanted it. Type in desired text and if you’d like to change the font, click the font button that appears above the image your working on. You’ll get some options of text, color, size, style and alignment to play with but if you want more text options you can click on System Font Panel. It’s a great idea to always include your cover, website, and planned launch date at the end. You can always go back and take the date out later to use after the launch.

Step 8 ) Watch the whole project again and perfect everything. Once it’s exactly the way you want it go up to the File button and select finalize clip. This will take about 40 minutes. Once that’s done go to the share button and select the YouTube option and upload it (you’ll need to sign up for a YouTube account before this step if you didn’t already have one). Make sure to specify if you want this clip viewed privately or publicly. Since most of us want as many people as we can to see it, most will choose the public option. Click the view option as soon as that’s done and you’ll see your original, amazing book trailer up for everyone to see!

Step 9) You want to be sure to give the specified credit under the descriptions box on YouTube for Kevin MacLeod’s music–and if you haven’t already donated to him for the clip you should do so now.

Step 10) Now it’s time to send this link out to friends and forums to get feedback if anything needs to change. Once you feel confident that it’s as fantastic as you can make it. Email it out to all your contacts, post it on your blog, send it out to guest blogs, feature it on your Facebook account and every possible place you can send it! Let this be your calling card!

So that’s it! Hopefully I made this easier for everyone–remember a special note–I’m not tech savvy and this might have been completely round-about way to do this, but I did it and if you need help follow this and it does turn out pretty awesome if I do say so myself!

Good luck to all you out there and feel free to comment here if you have any questions. I’ll try my (technologically-challenged) best to help :)

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abna-badge_250

Just wanted to let all of my writer followers know that entries have begun for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. The cash awards and publishing deals are pretty amazing, (not to mention the publicity!). I don’t think you have to be published yet to enter, so those of you who are looking for another way around the query process, this contest is for you! Oh, and best of all, it’s FREE!

For contest rules and guidelines, click here.

Hurry, they will stop taking entries on January 27th or after they receive their ten thousandth entry. Why are you still reading this blog post…go!

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I’m waxing sentimental at the moment and heard this song on the radio. Thought it works well as a writer’s theme song.
So, take a writing break, blare this song, and twirl all your query fears or sales woes away!

 

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Aw! But they’re so cute!

There has been a lot of chatter lately regarding prominent self-published authors ( link) and traditionally published authors that have been buying positive reviews by the hundreds or writing reviews themselves. One author has gone so far to write negative reviews on rival author’s novels under assumed names (link).

This started a whirlwind questioning how can we trust Amazon’s reviews if so many are purchasing five-star reviews or fabricating them. Many thought that Amazon should have a policy where there would be a bias to reviewers with hundreds of reviews under their belts. Then the review average would lean heavier towards ‘reputable’ reviews.

I’m glad that Amazon has not changed this policy since I’ve noticed that many of my reviewers (five-star to three-stars) have a few reviews or have left a review for the first time. To outsiders, this may look suspicious, but I know that they’re readers who most likely listened to my plea for reviews in my foreword. When I see these first timers it truly touches my heart that they wanted to help me so much that it compelled them to leave their first review.

Before I published, I never left a review for anything. I honestly never realized they were so important. Of course, I read them when deciding between products, but only now do I go out of my way to leave a critical review. I don’t think it’s fair to judge amazon reviews by how many they’ve left before. Most of my reviews are verified purchases with ‘real names’ and that should sway folks to see that they are not sockpuppets. But even if people thought they were false, I could care less. I know that they’re not and I appreciate each one.
Yesterday, I received a nice review on my second book and I realized what a high I got reading it. That’s when it hit me. I would keep writing, even if I only made back all my costs, for these fantastic reviews. They mean so much to me. They fill me with so much happiness and motivate me to keep writing.

Authors who buy reviews, leave their own positive reviews, or thrash another author’s books aren’t going to get very far. Readers will make their own judgements after they’re enticed to try your book. If you have been misrepresenting your book it will catch up to you. Nothing baits a one-star review more than misleading your reader.
How important are reviews to you as a reader? Do you trust five-star reviews? Are you wary of reviewers who have never left a review before?

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