Free Books

freebooksWe all love FREE books! Who wouldn’t? Okay, maybe a person who doesn’t read, but for those of us who do, a free book is the best gift we could ever get. Even a cheap book is awesome!

Here’s the thing, a free book isn’t always free.

Let me explain. Every author has the option to give away their books. Some opt to set a book as what we call permanently free or “permafree.” This means the author or the publisher has chosen to give that book away, but that is only IF it is on a verified site like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, I-Book, Kobo and so on.

IF you do not see on a verified site, then that book may not actually be free. In fact, it may be “pirated.” I’m sure this is not an unknown term. Nearly every DVD/Blue-ray features this commercial before the movie even begins.

Guess what? It can happen to books too.

And books take a lot of work, just like movies do. The idea for the story and the words begin with the author(s), but they aren’t the only one who works to put that final product together. That product that begins as words on a screen or paper and becomes a solid e-book, paperback, or hardback. It takes multiple people to put together the product that ends up in your hand.

Bookshop thief helping himself to 'How To Help Your Self' book.
Courtesy of Cartoonstock.com

This can include editors, proofreaders, cover artists, and publicists. And that’s only to name a few. These funds to pay those involved in the final production depends on the publisher. For a self-published author, like me, I have two people that I pay for their services—editor and cover artist. A big name or even a small publisher is likely to have all of what I’ve named and more. Which means it could take 4 or more people plus the author(s) to produce one book.

What does all that have to do with a free or discounted book that is not offered by the author or publisher?

If the book is being offered on a pirated website and you purchase it at a discounted rate, the author or publisher do not see any of that money. And if you get it for free, then they see nothing. That means you, as the reader, are taking money out of their pocket.

For the big name publishers this may not seem like a big deal. They have lots of money. But what if the book was produced by a small publisher or independently-published by the author?

bookproductionLet me break it down this way. If you’ve read my prior post on the cost to publish one book as an independently published author then you know where I’m going. If not, we’re going to go through this quickly. One book can cost an author anywhere from $1100 – $4100 to produce. If you want to understand that more, you can read my prior blog here.

Say I got the book out on the lower end of that spectrum. I then publish this as an e-book and set it at a fair price of $3.99. I don’t get all of that. Depending on how I release the book, I get anywhere from 15% to 70% of that price. We’re going to say I opted to put this out on Amazon only, in which case I make 70% of that price. That means I make $2.79 for every e-book that sells. So if I spent $1100 to put this book out, that means I have to sell roughly 394 e-books to break even.

Yes, that’s right. I would have to sell nearly 400 e-books to earn what was spent to produce that one book. It doesn’t seem like a lot when it’s thought of as less than $3 that is being taken from an author. But that increases every time one book is downloaded from a website that pirated the book.

I’m not going to say that every author agrees with me on this. To some, they consider it exposure. To others, it’s inevitable and not worth addressing. To most, it’s a disgrace. piracy-is-theft-typewriter

The next time you see a book being offered for free or seriously discounted, check the website. Does it look sketchy? Can you validate the site? Or the offer? No? Go to the author’s website, check Bookbub, Goodreads, Amazon, or another trusted site. If the same offer isn’t in one of those places, then the book has been pirated and the “so-called deal” is fake.

Fountain of Knowledge

howtochange_750xx2714-1527-0-142It’s well known that the publishing industry is ever-changing. It has come a long way since its inception hundreds of years ago, which means there is always something new to learn. And if you’ve been following my blog over the last several weeks, I have had a lot of guest authors sharing their experiences and their knowledge. Let’s face it, no one person can know it all.

That has been one of my primary reasons for hosting various guest authors. They each had something different to contribute. One person spoke about how social media gave her support, all because it allowed her to find other authors. Another person offered advice from her own experience as a foreign author. Someone else spoke about what it took for him to accept himself as an author. And another talked about what it took for her to get back to writing after a tragic accident.faq

We all come from different walks of life and we’ve all had different experiences. That doesn’t mean we all can’t learn from each other. I read each and every article before I shared it with you all. With every article I learned something. Something that I hadn’t come across before or maybe that I’d only heard about, but never really dug into. At the same time, I managed to meet some great people.

With that in mind, I wanted to keep going along those same lines and share what I have learned over the last few years of my writing career.

  1. Join a writers group. This isn’t just so you can get exposed to other genres and meet other authors, but because it’s a great way to improve your own writing. It also helps teach you how to give proper feedback. And who knows, you may even find another author to work with later on down the line.
  2. Make it habit to go to at least one writers conference every year. Writers who teach the workshops or seminars in these conferences haven’t just made it a career, they have succeeded in making money. Social media conceptThese are also excellent opportunities to network. And some offer more than just workshops. Some conferences have literary agents and/or publishers who schedule interviews.
  3. Share your knowledge. Help other authors by sharing what you’ve learned. It doesn’t just give them a helping hand, but it also helps you network. In the business, networking is crucial. And sharing your knowledge is a great way to build it.
  4. Read, read, read. This probably sounds like a given, but you’d be surprised at the number of authors who don’t read. That is no way to learn anything. This includes keeping up with what is current, not only in this industry, but in your own genre.
  5. Do your research! I cannot stress this enough. And this is SUPER important if you plan to get traditionally published. You don’t want to query a romance agent if you write Science Fiction.
  6. Start building an audience first. Okay, yes, you need to write the book, but that doesn’t have to come first to build an audience. build-audienceYou could blog about a hot topic that you know about, do book reviews, or talk about something that people can relate to. No matter the direction you go, this builds an audience so that when you finally have that book in your hand, you have people who already enjoy your work and are likely to buy it.
  7. Social Media is a must. I get it if you are one of those people who absolutely abhor social media, but we are in the age of digital. If you’re not on social media and interacting on social media, then you’re only hurting yourself. It isn’t just a place to find an audience, it’s a place to network with other authors, publishers, agents and bloggers. And if you want to be traditionally published, both agents and publishers look to see what kind of presence you have online.

This may not seem like a lot, but I promise it’s a great starting point. And if you’d like to learn more, you can sign up for my monthly newsletter which includes writing tips, book recommendations, upcoming events and more.

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required



Writer Envy

Guest Blog by Maggie Grinnell

MaggieGI did not know I wanted to be a writer until college. I wanted to be a vet and work with animals. I applied for a vet assistant job. When I was told I would have to assist the vet in putting animals down, I decided that was not the profession for me.  Therefore, I decided it was time to find another passion. I had a passion for reading but could not find a job where I would be paid to read full time. Therefore, I decided to write fiction. I have a wild imagination already (as I have been told by my friends). I started writing about my high school adventures. In addition, before I knew it, I came up with great ideas for some new fiction stories that were suspenseful. I looked up to suspense writers like Dean Koontz and Mary Higgins Clark whom I both met. So writing suspense fiction became my new passion. envyNow I do not write novels because as a reader, I want to get to the end of the story without many details. So my stories were about 2,000-5,000 words which is considered short stories in the writing world.

I wrote a short story in college that after reading it, I tossed it away. I did not think it was good enough to submit and be published. I remembered that story 10 years later and completely rewrote it. I submitted it and it was my first published story. Therefore, I stuck with short suspense fiction for a while. Then I turned to writing for children, which I think, is my ‘writing voice.’ I have read articles where it is good to find your ‘writer voice’. I connected with a self-publisher and have published three children’s picture books to date. Now these books are only on Amazon but in my dreams that are in Barnes and Noble.

PirateAdventure
Purchase Here

After I got my first children’s book published, that is when the writer’s envy came out. I compared my book with not only other children’s authors but other authors as well. I did not think my book was good enough. That writing envy did not leave until I wrote my next children’s book. Of course, when the second book came out, the green-eyed monster rose repeatedly I compared my book to other authors. My envy deepened when I read a book that I loved and that author has had much success and recognition. I wanted that too. I know I would have to work for success but I felt my stories could do just as well.

Therefore, I tried promoting my books in other venues that I normally would never try. Those venues kind of work. I am still trying to promote myself to get my books out for the world to read.

After my third book came out, I tried to not be envious but envy came back. This time, I told myself that I am a writer and love words and that is all that matters.believe

Therefore, for those writers/authors who get envious, just remember your love of writing and believe in your work. It may take time as in my case but that envy will go away and you will be happy with what you wrote.

If you’d like to learn more and follow Maggie Grinnell, you can find her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Help an Author Out

Guest blog by Shay Stone

ShayStoneHelp an Author Out: 11 Things You Can Do to Help an Author

It’s finally here! For months you’ve listened to your author friend talk about her book. You’ve seen posts about late nights spent writing, teasers about the plot, and snippets of her work. She’s talked about one man so much, you though it was her new boyfriend, only to find out it was a character in her book.

She’s gone home early because inspiration hit, broken plans because “she has to get this chapter done,” and arrived late to events because she was up all-night writing and overslept. You’ve noticed her house could use a good cleaning and the copious amount of coffee she drinks coupled with her failure to change out of bed clothes is starting to concern you. And seriously, what is going on with her hair? Did someone steal all the brushes in the house? Honestly, you’re surprised she has any hair left with how much she talks about tearing it out. I mean really? How hard can formatting be? At this point, you’re questioning her sanity and starting to think the book is a myth.

And then she announces its release.beawriter

Hurrah! You’re so happy for her, and even happier that she finally ran a comb through that hair. You hope her book sells a million copies. You wish you could do something to let her know how proud you are of her and help her book succeed. But what can you do?

Well, if you really want to help, there’s a few things you can do.

  • Buy the book (obviously). Despite what many people think, authors do not get free copies of books. Don’t feel slighted when they don’t go around handing them out free. They are trying to make a living or very least, break even.
  • Write a review. There is a plethora of authors and millions of books for readers to choose from out there. A testimonial that someone not only read the book but gives it a ton of stars and recommends it, can go a long way towards getting another person to purchase it. Think about it. review-an-authorIf you’re trying to decide between two products at the exact same price, are you going to go for the one with no reviews or several? Reviews sell books.
  • Share their posts. Research shows most people have to see something 3-10 times before they buy it. Maybe it slips their mind. Maybe they get busy and forget about it. Maybe they are waiting for pay day. Whatever the reason, repetition works.
  • Tag your friends in the author’s posts. When someone is tagged in a post, they tend to pay more attention to it. If you have friends that read or know someone that reads the author’s genre tagging them could lead to potential sales. And tagging them in the author’s post could encourage them to follow the author as well resulting in future sales. If you don’t want to tag the author’s post, make a post of your own and tag people.
  • Recommend the book to any reader groups you know. Whether you meet in person or belong to one on social media or have a friend that belongs to one, having someone the group knows and interacts with regularly goes further than having a new author pop in and recommend it themselves.
  • Buy their books as gifts. If you know someone that likes to read the author’s genre, buy the books as birthday or Christmas gifts.
  • Offer to be part of their street team. Street teams are volunteers that promote the author and the author’s work simply because they love the author’s books and believe in them. They are essential to an author’s success. hand-holding-book-gift-woman-s-31446233They may hand out bookmarks or other swag provided by the author, leave comments about the books on blog sites, write honest reviews on large platforms like Amazon and Goodreads, and tweeting or post on social media about the author’s books and events.
  • Share! Share! Share! Whatever the author shares about the book, share it. Teasers, guest blog posts they’ve done, book links. I can’t tell you how many times I have written “PLEASE SHARE” in big letters on a post, yet I still have people sending me a private message saying, “I saw your post. Would you mind if I shared it?” You don’t have to ask permission. We want these things shared. Please, for the love of everything holy, share them!
  • Recommend their book. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, or if you are standing in a line and you hear the person behind you is looking for a good book, recommend it.Share
  • Ask your library or local book store to carry it. I know the library may seem a little strange since the author only gets paid once for that book but think about it like this: A patron reads the author’s book and likes it. They go out and buy it for a friend or two and maybe even buy the author’s next book for themselves. Some people won’t spend money on a chance. If they get to see the author’s work, they may become a fan in the future.

Thank-You-PNG-800x500_cKNOW HOW MUCH WE APPRECIATE YOU!!!!! No one person can do it all. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an army to get an author noticed and make them successful. Every time you share a post or recommend us, you are telling us, “I believe in you.” We couldn’t do this with out you and we know it.

If you’d like to learn more and follow Shay Stone, you can find her on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and her website.

Never Give Up

Guest Blog by Shay Stone

ShayStoneHey everyone!

My name is Shay Stone, and I should focus this post on telling you about my new contemporary romance The Rise to Fame. But I’m not going to. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I will share my book information at the end and ask that you buy a copy for yourself and everyone you know because I’m an author and I need to sell books. However, for this post, I’d like to discuss something a little more personal to help you understand why this release is such a big deal for me. I hope it will serve as an inspiration for you as well.

You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but several years ago I was involved in a bad car accident. I’m not going to tell you how many years ago, because, well I’m a woman and therefore telling my age goes against the woman’s code. Honestly, I usually end up telling people I’m a year older than I actually am. I don’t know why. I blame it on the head injury.mentallystrong

Yep, that’s right. I have a head injury. Technically, it is called a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). Among other things, the accident affected my occipital and sub-occipital nerves which affected my vision. My eyes couldn’t focus together. If I tried to read or look at a computer, the sentences would all converge and float off the page or would disappear because my peripheral vision was also affected. For years, I couldn’t read or look at a computer. If I did, I would have body leveling migraines or mini-seizures – which I can best describe by saying it makes you feel spacey and like everything is happening in slow motion.

And if that wasn’t enough, my ability to think also suffered. I confused words that sounded similar. In my head, I knew they weren’t the right ones, but my brain dubbed certain words as “close enough” and substituted them. I once had a conversation with an old boss where I kept saying “astronomical” instead of “astonishing.” It didn’t inspire his confidence in me.

It’s hell. It’s embarrassing. And it’s totally uncontrollable.

NeverSeeMeQuitThat’s why writing this series is such a big deal for me. After intense hours of vision therapy and brain training, or re-training techniques, I kicked my head injuries butt! To be fair, the retirement of CRTs and upgrade to LCD or plasma screens helped. I’m not saying I don’t still struggle or have issues – to this day I still can’t look at a CRT and sometimes I physically cannot make myself say the correct word– but I wouldn’t let myself give up.

And that’s the point of this post. I wanted to be a writer. So, against all odds, I became a writer. At first, it was tough. I typed with the computer screen off or with a notebook covering it and relied on my editor and publisher to fix any errors. But this series, I did everything. I still had an editor, of course, but I was able to go in and make changes and rework things to bring my readers the best story I could. I didn’t give up.

And I don’t want you to either. Whatever you are doing… whatever you want in life… don’t stop going until you get it. Make yourself mentally strong. And when you encounter obstacles, refuse to let them stop you. Go around them, plow through them or blow the damn things up if you have to, just whatever you do, don’t let that negative voice in your head beat you. This is your life.

TH-RISE-TO-FAME-3D-GRAPHIC-available-now_preview
Purchase on Amazon here or Kobo or Apple here.

Make it whatever you want it to be no matter how crazy or daunting it might seem. Don’t settle. Be determined. You can do it. I believe in you. Now believe in yourself.

Please check out my steamy and suspenseful contemporary romance The Rise to Fame available now. It is the first book of a two book series. The second book, The Cost of Fame, is due out September 2018.

If you’d like to learn more and follow Shay Stone, you can find her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and her website.

Timeless Pages of Greek Mythology

Guest Post by Diana Tyler

Diana Author PhotoI have had a lifelong love for, and fascination with, Greek mythology, so it only seems natural that much of my fiction is inspired by it. I love escaping into the ancient past, exploring the sacred Garden of the Hesperides, the wine-dark Aegean Sea, the silvery caves of the Nereids, the smoke-filled forge of Hephaestus… It seems every realm and creature conceivable exists in the timeless pages of Homer, Hesiod, Sophocles, Aeschylus and the like.

I wanted to share with you a few of the notable people and places that appear in book one of The Petros Chronicles, Age of the Ashers. From a heartbroken musician and a ruthless sea monster, to Circe’s bewitched island and the tear-soaked Vale of Mourning, the story is full of interesting – sometimes terrifying –  locales and characters that I’m sure will capture your imagination like they did mine.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at one of my favorite mythological characters, who pops up in Age of the Ashers!

Orpheus

Orpheus…Where do I begin!? A gifted musician, singer, songwriter, and poet, he’s the ancient Greek version of Leonard Cohen or Ed Sheeran.

Orpheus_and_Eurydice-header-696x464
Courtesy of “A Greek Adventure

What sets him apart, however, is that his music was able to charm all living creatures, causing them to completely relax, or in Cerberus the three-headed hell hound’s case, fall asleep! Even trees would uproot themselves to move closer to his music.

Orpheus’ love story is regarded as one of the most tragic of all time. His beloved Eurydice was killed by a viper bite just after their wedding. Overcome with grief, the poet roamed the world, playing mournful, heartrending songs on his lyre. The ballads were so moving, so grippingly poignant, that even the gods of Olympus took notice.

The weeping nymphs advised Orpheus to go to the Underworld and beg its rulers, Hades and Persephone, to grant him his wife back. After singing to them, their steely hearts were softened, and they granted Orpheus his wish, though it came with one condition: he must not look back at Eurydice as they made their way to the upper realm.

Age of Ashers cover image
Purchase Here

Fearing Eurydice wasn’t behind him when he reached earth’s surface, Orpheus looked over his shoulder. The second he did so, he watched in horror as Eurydice disappeared, pulled back into the Underworld, never to be seen by Orpheus again. He’d ruined his one and only opportunity to raise his love from the dead.

As I was planning Age of the Ashers, I asked myself the question: “How can I get Chloe [my protagonist] to the Underworld?” It’s not like she was going to volunteer to mosey down there herself!

I brainstormed a few different scenarios, and soon another question occurred to me: “Is there anybody in the Underworld who would have something to gain by kidnapping her and bringing her back with him/her?” Sure, lots of spirits could be talked into such a mission, especially if it meant possibly earning their life back, but who could possibly succeed? It would require someone suave, someone smooth, someone charming…

I thought of poor Orpheus, trapped in the Vale of Mourning (which I’ll go into detail about in a later post), pining for his Eurydice. He’d literally gone to hell and back trying to save her; I knew he’d do anything, including kidnapping a mortal girl, to try again.

War of the Ashers cover
Purchase Here

And that, in a nutshell, is how Orpheus became an antagonist in Age of the Ashers. If you want to find out whether or not he succeeds in reuniting with Eurydice, you’ll have to read the novel! 😉

I’ll be back soon to share more mythology from Age of the Ashers!

Who is your favorite character in Greek mythology? Send me an email at contact@dianaandersontyler.com or tweet me @dandersontyler and let me know!

“I guess darkness serves a purpose: to show us that there is redemption through chaos. I believe in that. I think that’s the basis of Greek mythology.” – Brendan Fraser

Want to learn more about Diana Tyler, you can find Diana on her websites dianaandersontyler.com and dianatylerbooks.com, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Beautiful and Strong Women

Guest blog by Kimberly Hockaday

kimcolorpicI have been sitting at my desk trying to decide how to write about my new poetry book Beautiful,Strong Women:Poems of The Journey To Overcoming Domestic Violence. I decided to not focus on trying to sell my book. Instead, I want to use my opportunity as a Guest Blogger to discuss some very courageous women. These women I do not personally know and then again maybe I do know them. Just like you may know these women too. These women are young, old, and of different races. These women are all over the world. They live in Domestic Violence Shelters. These women were once victims of abuse until finally finding the courage and strength to escape. I want to talk about these women because even though they have escaped from a dangerous situation, they still need help from the community.

Most all of shelters housing women are kept up by donations. These women have been through a lot and still fighting to start a new life. Inside these shelters they receive every support and service needed to start a new life. But while they are living in these shelters, basic everyday supplies are needed. Most of these women escaped with just the clothes on their back and maybe a few things that they were able to grab before going on the run to safety.  If you would like to help these courageous women, you can donate money or items. You can simply call your local shelter and ask what is needed or you can go to their website and see what items  the shelters seek.

Screen-Shot-2014-12-26-at-3.14.25-PM
National Hotline 1-800-799-7233

Not only do these shelters house women but these women also arrive with children. These children need items too. So anything that you know a child needs, you can also donate. I ask you to not forget about these women and the children. These women have been through a lot of  horrible things but found the strength to say no to another day of abuse.

One of the poems in my book is entitled “Sisters United.” It begins “We are sisters united/ Together we stand tall/Violence against one/Is Violence against us all.” Domestic Violence is a serious problem that we all should work together in fighting.

51kSSlDTxGL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_
Purchase Here

Domestic Violence effects everyone especially the children who get caught up in it. This is why I decided to write my poetry book. I wanted to help shine a light on the issue, applaud the women who made it out, and to memorialize the women who were not able  to survive the abuse.

If you would like to purchase a copy of Beautiful,Strong Women:Poems of The Journey To Overcoming Domestic Violence, it is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble website. I thank you in advance for purchasing a copy and asked that once you have read it, that you donate your copy to a local Domestic Violence Shelter. I have donated a copy to my local Domestic Violence Shelter and I can personally tell you that these women will appreciate it.

 

If you’d like to follow or learn more about Kimberly, you can find her on Twitter.

Foreign Authors

Guest Post by Maria Vermisoglou

mariaToday I am going to talk about foreign authors. Some authors for various reasons write their books in English even if it’s not their first language. Being one of them I am going to try to help as much as I can. This blog post is for them.

After finishing the manuscript, you think, “I am done.” Not quite. Since I am a self-published author I am going to talk more about that process. I didn’t know anything about how things were in English talking countries so that involved a lot of research. I found out that Createspace, a self-publishing company was my best option. Everyone said it was free. But is it?

Not really. You need to hire an editor, an illustrator and sometimes a person to do the formatting.

  • Every author—even those who publish in their language—need an editor. An editor is more important than anything. No book is perfect but a good-looking book is the one with the fewest mistakes. Your book must be looking at its best. After editing the manuscript, yourself then you send it to the editor and while you wait, you can start on another novel.money-tree
  • Your manuscript can’t be looking like a draft.
  • A good cover makes a good book. The cover must draw your reader in. There are a lot of illustrators who can create covers for little money. Also, you can order a premade cover.
  • Beta readers. They are essential to every author. Some are getting paid and some do it for free. You should have at least three beta readers. Make sure you are picking people who read the genre you are writing or unfortunately you are going to get some bad critiques.

That’s it. You are done. You, have read your novel so many times that you know every line of it so that’s a sign you are in the last step.

  • Submit to the self-publishing company. Read the guidelines and after everything is done hit PUBLISH. Congratulations!

Are you done? No! now, comes the hard part: marketing. As a new author, nobody knows you so you have to make people know you. Participate in contests and awards. Ask reviewers, book tubers, and other authors to review your book.

cursedgirl
Purchase Here

Make blog posts, author interviews and generally promote your book. Start a website and get on social media. Update regularly. Go to book fairs if you can. A lot of us live in our countries and English books are hard to be found so it’s not always an option but if you get the opportunity, don’t hesitate.

  • Get involved to get noticed. Help to get help. Help your fellow authors so they can help you. Offer to help for free. Make promos and giveaways. The public loves giveaways. Make one and you will gain followers. Every day, post something. It might be related to your writing, books or a joke. People respond.

I wish good luck to every author and don’t be scared. You might see a dark tunnel and you think you are not going to make it but you will. There are millions of self-published authors around you. They made it so why not you?

Adios!

If you’d like to learn more about Maria, you can follow her on Facebook, her website, Amazon and Goodreads.

Thank You for Social Media

Guest blog by Lucinda E. Clarke

91l7ti29K8L._UX250_It’s a nightmare being a writer. Why? You’re out of step with the rest of the world. For example, you join friends for coffee and as the general chatter swirls around you, you suddenly dive into your bag, grab a notebook and pen and start making notes. You weren’t really listening to anyone, you were miles and years away thinking about your main character when a single word floated past and set your latest WIP off on a whole new track. You had to get it down on paper quickly or you’d never remember by the time you got back to the car.

Writers only live half their time in the real world. The other half is spent pounding the keys, wrestling with new pc programmes and marketing stats or working out the next twist in the tale. Somewhere in between they grab some sleep and hold down a full-time job and bring up a family.

walkingovereggshells
Purchase Here

I only started writing books after I retired (OK I was commissioned by the big 5 years ago but after the first two, I refused a contract, I was too busy scribbling for radio and TV. They paid faster).

Having written for broadcasting, the media, adverts, mayoral speeches, news, brochures – I wrote for anyone who paid me to write and it put food on the table for 2 children, a husband, the cats, St Bernard and the housekeeper and gardener plus families (in Africa, I’m not in the jet set) – I knew I could write, hey, almost 40 years of practice – easy right?

When my editor returned my first draft I couldn’t see the black for the red balloons, I was devastated. I was at kindergarten stage.

This was followed by my first 1 star review and the reviewer was quite rude about me too.

author-collaborationWhose shoulders did I cry on? None of my friends they just didn’t understand the agony, the depression, the hard work, long hours, outings missed as I laboured over the keyboard.

Social media saved me. Yes, it’s embarrassing to admit I sniffed at those pathetic people telling the world what they had for breakfast and showing off the latest advert/friend/acquisition/achievement – goodness no my life is private.

No, it’s not. A year after first publishing I heard the word marketing. Oh! I had to do that too? How? I live in Spain and I write in English. Social media – you mean Facebook and Twitter, and Link ‘din, and Pinterest and Snap Chat and Quora and … and … and …

I dipped my toes in the water and met other writers and made friends and they understood!

Amie 1 Book+Kindle pic 500kB (1)
Purchase Here

I got chatting and swapped ideas, help, experiences. I had such a good time I almost forgot to market my books.

My husband says it’s sad I prefer time on social media than with the flesh and blood people in our town – but you see they are writers and they understand.

If you’d like to follow Lucinda you can follow her on Twitter, Amazon, her blog and website.

You can also find her FREE Reader magnet on Amazon.

Finding A Voice

Guest blog by Karen Ankers

KarenAnkersI write to give myself a voice.  As a child, and as a teenager, there were so many things I wanted to say.  But I knew people wouldn’t understand most of them, or approve of them.  So rather than be locked into silence, I started to write them down.  And now that I’m old enough to have stopped caring what people think of me, I still write them down, because now there are other people who need me to be their voice.  Like the homeless woman I met last year, whose apologetic request for money became the subject of a poem, Meeting At Euston.  Like Dorothy, in my one-act play Frogs, who loves her husband, but finds it hard to cope with his growing dementia.  And Jenny, in my play Still Life, whose life of abuse has driven her to commit a crime she doesn’t even understand. 

And then there is Sadie.  Sadie is not the protagonist of my novel, The Crossing Place, but she is one of its central characters.  

TheCrossingPlace_FrontCover
Purchase Here

The story is woven around her and unfolds as Laura and Paul’s relationship begins to develop.  Sadie is a character I developed a deep affection for.  Difficult as her life was, it is hard for me to think of her as just a victim. 

Writing enables me to be honest.  Brutally honest, sometimes, as I examine the world through my characters’ eyes and try and help them deal with their problems.  It’s a kind of therapy.  But who is the patient here?  My characters are part of me, aren’t they?  I gave a talk to a writing group last week, entitled “Are Your Characters Really Fictional”.  I don’t believe they can be.  Every character I create is an amalgam of voices I’ve heard, faces I’ve seen, stories I’ve observed, and, most of all, needs that I want to amend.  So, as a writer, I can give a voice to the silent.  The barefoot homeless man Laura falls over in the opening pages of The Crossing Place was a real person.  Janine, in my play Good Enough, is all the women who have ever been held back by what family and society expect of them.   Anna, in my play Dance Before Dark, has been imprisoned for her beliefs.  For believing, and insisting, that humankind has to change its behaviour if we are to save this planet, she has been locked up and silenced, like so many women before her.  It was a privilege to give her a voice and let her speak.

writingispowerWriting is power.  I learned that as a child.  I learned that I could write down the thoughts no one wanted to listen to.  I could hide them away until I found someone who did want to listen to them.  And not much has changed.  Now I write the words on a computer and submit them to publishers. When I find one who wants to hear my my characters’ voices, then we work together to find readers who want to listen. 

I write for the lonely ones.  The misunderstood, frightened people who would otherwise live their lives in silence.  Laura, in The Crossing Place, finds her self-doubt magnified by the events which unfold during the course of the novel.  But she also discovers her own strength, so that her reply, at the end of the novel, when asked how she is, is “Never better.”  And that’s good enough for me. 

The novel I’m currently writing, The Stone Dancers, is a new journey, with a new set of characters,  who each have their own story to tell.  And it’s them who tell the stories, not me.  I just operate the keyboard.  Every now and again, I politely suggest to them that three in the morning is not the best time to start telling me the next part of their story, but they don’t listen.  And why should they?  I gave them a voice.  I should let them use it.

To learn more about Karen Ankers you can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or her website.