Archive for the ‘book launches’ Category

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!!

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OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: As you look back on 2017, with all its successes and failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

What a great question! This is the perfect time of year for reflection. Yet, I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to look back at all or get any perspective. November was a rush from start to finish, and so I’m going to post the December question early  and get a head start. I appreciate the prompt to pause, take a minute and think about it.

Things lately have been great, but the start of the year was rocky and hard going. I went through a self-publisher’s nightmare.

I went Indie in 2015, publishing my first book, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta.’ The first volume in the Chronicles of Aden Weaver series was relatively painless, using the services of a local company, BookPrint. They did all the layout and formatting and cover design for me and being local, it was easy to work together.

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At the beginning of this year, for the second volume in the Chronicles of Aden Weaver series, ‘The Sasori Empire,’ I decided to try a new route and use Createspace services. Everyone had spoken highly of them, and I thought they would be a viable alternative, as well as being more cost effective.

It ended up turning into a six month comedy of errors. It ended up costing me double when I had to withdraw my book from Createspace and get BookPrint to finish the job. It ended up making me ill with stress and worry.

I wrote a blog past during that time, ‘Quit or Stay’ post, and Kristen Lamb responded, ‘Life knocks us down, but that’s just life. The getting up? All on us.’

It encouraged me to hear from my idol. I remember I took great heart from the stirring poem Kristen put me onto in her response, How Did You Die? By Edmund Vance Cooke:

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The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce;

Be proud of your blackened eye!

It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts, its how did you fight — and why?

Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,

And whether he’s slow or spry,

It isn’t the fact that you’re dead that counts,

But only how did you die?

The warrior girl in me cried, HUZZAH!

I knew Kristen was right. You have to have skin in the game. And you have to be cool when you get popped in the nose. Emboldened, I fought on. I finally triumphed, and five months later than scheduled, in collaboration with BookPrint, I produced a truly beautiful tome.

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Looking back, what I would done differently in 2017 is listen to my gut. Early on in the piece, I began to get the feeling that this was hopeless. Early on, I had feelings of dread. I didn’t listen to them.

Looking back, what I would done differently in 2017 is listen to the little inner voice, which was saying, ‘don’t spend anymore.’ I didn’t listen. I told myself I’d already committed to online publishing and there was nothing I could do, which was ridiculous, because in the end it cost me twice as much as book one.

Looking back, I think, If only I had listened to myself and honoured those instincts at the start, I could have saved myself a lot of grief.

Once I took the project to BookPrint, everything began to take off from there. The book launch was a success. We celebrated and toasted ‘The Sasori Empire’ and I really did feel triumphant. I guess there’s always that. A victory hard won is all the sweeter.

Looking forward to 2018, I intend to honour my instincts a lot more. I intend to listen to my little inner voice. I intend to pay heed to my gut. That’s the New Year’s Resolutions sorted!

What would you have done differently looking back on 2017?

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Talk to you later…

Keep Writing!

Yvette K. Carol

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 Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce, Or a trouble is what you make it, And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts, But only how did you take it? ~ Edmund Vance Cooke

 

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For me, the truly hardest part of being a modern author is the marketing.

How do you cover your bases as an Indie with limited time and budget?

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For a start, you must do every job you can do, yourself. You hear seasoned authors warn debut novelists, ‘the effort is only just beginning.’ For good reason. Be prepared to dig deep.

On September 20th of this year, I self published, The Sasori Empire. I’ve poured hours into the marketing. Yet, there’s a seemingly endless list of more to be done. I feel the constant pressure like hot breath on my neck, the inner voice reminding me of the countless avenues of marketing which I have yet to employ. There are the latest marketing books to read, and videos to watch on YouTube, social media sites to join, bloggers to visit and palms to grease.

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Paul Rand, president of a major marketing firm in Chicago, said, “Word of mouth is the fastest growing sector in all of advertising.”

How does the stay-at-home mum and Indie author harness the power of “word of mouth” advertising?

There is no sure-fire way of generating “word of mouth” advertising other than doing your part to create a large enough digital footprint and amp up your EP (or digital Extended Presence).

Build a website. Start a blog. Create profiles in the usual places: Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Slideshare.

Do the usual rounds of guest blog posts, school visits, author talks, YouTube videos, book reviews, tweets, and book trailers. Additionally, marketing can involve speaking at conferences, book tours and running workshops. You can start a critique group, join a book club, write a newspaper or magazine column, contribute to community blogs or groups (like those over on Wanatribe), join writers organisations, or participate in interviews.

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Some Indie writers have found fame by tapping into the market for short fiction, and releasing their work in serial form, drip feeding a chapter at a time on their blog or website. This week, a local Kiwi writer sold the movie rights to her debut novel, after gaining popularity through the serial fiction platform Wattpad.

It’s necessary to build a community of friends online, email lists, and connections. It can be worthwhile networking by haunting the chat forums on LinkedIn and Google circles.

Primarily it’s vital to tinker with the SEO of your book, check and double check the marketing copy that goes with your book. Make sure it’s doing the job. Test and tweak how everything is performing by monitoring your status as some experts do, by keeping tabs on your conversion rates on Amazon.chrismcmullen

How does the Indie author do it all?

An Indie author wears all the hats, and the stress of promoting your work is white noise in the background which never fully goes away.

While life goes on: the next book needs to be written, the children raised, the work done, the garden/property maintained and at least a little reading is necessary.

What I do is compromise. I set aside time to write, time to promote, and I also let myself have time to play on Pinterest or Facebook. Everyone needs to goof off now and again in order to keep working. Also, if you can, delegate jobs where possible.

It’s a balancing act every day.

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How does the Indie stay sane?

This week, my critique partner, Maria Cisneros-Toth said adding her YouTube videos to her website had attracted more traffic. I thought, I’ll add videos to mine. Another friend said he was adding a “Facebook shop” to his author page. I thought, I’d better set up an author page too. There is always more graft to be done when feeding the maw of book marketing.

But, you know what, it’s doable. I’ve learned I can live with watching less television during the week in order to tick more jobs off my list. I make more meals at home. I can do at least one thing a day to promote my book.

The other day, friend, author and artist, Teresa Robeson, sagely said, ‘Just rest assured that no matter what you decide, it’s okay. It’s not a matter of life and death. It will all work out either way.’

True. Sometimes you need a reminder from a friend to chill.

Equilibrium is the right attitude to cultivate. A calm mindset is paramount. It’s vital to get the work done while also remembering to savour the in-between! Work is work. Yet, it’s the lulls between the waves, the quiet moments, the soft silence in the sun of an afternoon, these are what make the business of life worth living.

How do you handle marketing your work? Any tips?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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But, you are marketing by word of mouth every time someone reads your post. You’ve got about 5 seconds (or 140 characters) to capture attention. Make sure each message you send builds your credibility. ~ Gina Burgess, Author’s Community

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For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day. ~ Ernest Hemmingway

When you are “post book,” you exist in this strange no-man’s land where you’re not sure what should happen next, but in your secret heart-of-hearts, you’re hoping for applause in some form, hopefully financial.

What nobody can really prepare you for, when you start out as an author is the great echoing silence of self publishing.

A novel requires burning the midnight oil writing the story, and questioning every word, every sentence. After having put “bum-in-chair” for days upon weeks, after suffering the agonies of self-publishing, and the indignities of self marketing, to cross the finish line and release your fiction upon the world, it’s natural to expect reward. It’s natural to want to hear some noise in response.

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There are more books being published every day now than at any other time in our history.

To gain traction, many motivated Indies will ask their “street teams” and friends to share about their release, to write reviews, to generate buzz in various ways. If you don’t dance up a storm, your books don’t sell, you might not be paid. Apart from that self-generated sound, however, there is nothing.

When I put out my first book in 2015, there were some lovely messages on social media from friends and well wishers. Apart from that there was…s i l e n c e. A great white-washed, sound proofed wall of nothingness.

Silence is something we’re not used to these days. In our hyper-connected present, we expect reactions to our every move. We wait with our self worth balanced on likes, loves and comments and shares. We’re conditioned to feedback.

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As yoga-teacher and author, Claudia Altucher said, I find that ultimately there is a little side of me that still clings to the idea of being “chosen” (by a publishing house).

Any writer can relate. With the first book, there’s this great hope of being “discovered.”

“How are things going with your book?” asked well-meaning friends. “Have you sold many?” The mythology goes, all you need do is release work in order to get paid, to get recognition. The truth is the majority of self-published authors will sell less than a hundred copies.

Few authors write a second novel and even fewer a third once the fiscal realities become apparent. After an author visit to an Elementary School in the States, author, Ellen Warach Leventhal, said her favorite response from a fourth grader was, ‘You work hard, you don’t know if you’ll ever get paid for it, and you aren’t rich? Man, not sure I want to do that.’

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The first book is like a trial by fire. If you walk through that flaming doorway without getting burnt, then you carry on writing but as a cleansed, reduced version of oneself with revised expectation.

Nick Ripatrazone’s sage advice to the author is, Share your work, but don’t wait for likes and retweets and mentions. Get off your phone. Get back to your desk.

I read somewhere, the traditional reaction to a book being published at any other time in history has typically been little to none. Authors wrote and released books and went on with their writing. They didn’t expect a parade.

In our digital present, it is easy to forget that silence has always been the most common response to literature and art. ~ Nick Ripatrazone

After I published my debut novel, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ (http://amzn.com/B015K1KF0I), I started developing the next story in the Chronicles of Aden Weaver. The narrative unfolded and it drew me into another world, where I got lost in the creativity. The firestorm was therapeutic. I remembered the most important thing was the art itself.

I understand now why authors advise to get on with writing the next book.

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I published ‘The Sasori Empire,’ (http://amzn.com/B075PMTN2H) last week. This time round, I experienced it differently, with more realism. I didn’t expect mega stardom or even a conversation.

I was ready for the normal silence that surrounds any newly-released work.

I discovered it takes a certain amount of surrender. And, faith, that I can survive the fall. I was prepared for the sudden drop-off of adrenalin and commitment that follows on the heels of each book birth. I’d already bought the chocolate bars. I pampered myself with treats.

My process seems to have settled into a pattern of write-edit-publish-rest-repeat. I relaxed for two days after the book launch. I listened to music, weeded the garden, and I did some baking. For a minute, I thought, I’m free!

Now, I’m writing book three, the final book in the series, ‘The Last Tree.’

How do you handle the silence post-book?

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Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Cherish yourself and wall off an interior room where you’re allowed to forget your published life as a writer. ~ Lan Samantha Chang

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The Or’in of Tane Mahuta

Book One, the Chronicles of Aden Weaver http://amzn.com/B015K1KF0I

The Sasori Empire

Book Two, the Chronicles of Aden Weaver http://amzn.com/B075PMTN2

Launching your first book is like delivering your first baby. There is great cause for much celebration and rightly so, as no one knows other than other authors and publishers, the extent of effort, money and concentration it takes to deliver a fully-formed book into the world. You cross that finish line as a debut author and you throw a party with catered food, fancy decorating and elephants, and you dance till dawn.

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The second book, like the second baby, tends to be a quieter affair. You’re more tired this time round. Your hands are fuller. You take fewer pictures. You have two novels to be responsible for and yet, there is also the third story to write.

At the same time there are the same rounds of media sites which need updating, interviews, and online conversations to be had and bells to ring in order to publicise your new creation to the world. The dreaded self-marketing engine that the Indie author needs to kick into overdrive must work overtime now on promoting that book to the world.

And, sometimes, this conflict of interests can call for new solutions. Enter, the mini-launch. I don’t know if this is a “thing” already, but if not, I’m making it one.

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For the celebration of The Sasori Empire (http://amzn.com/B075PMTN2H), the second novel in my upper middle grade series, the Chronicles of Aden Weaver, I wanted to commemorate the moment and have a party.

The trouble was, I had expended so much time and energy on producing the little dickens that I had nothing left to give. All I wanted to do was recline on a beach in Fiji and sip a cocktail, there was no way I was going to rev up the engines for a massive party as well. So, I hatched the idea of the “mini-launch,” essentially the smallest version of a book party you can have.

~ Here’s how ~

Venue: The first thing is where and when. I simply requested to add the launch of book two into the mix of a get-together I already go to each week, in this case, my local Toastmaster’s meeting. Cost: $0. (Apart from the annual fee, which I would pay anyway).

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Invite list: That way, I didn’t have to worry about people turning up. I knew the crowd of people would be there and they were my friends. You could do the same with your book club or critique group. I also invited one or two other people as guests.

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Catering: I paid a friend who is a baker to make two dozen mini cupcakes. Cost: $20. I bought a bottle of bubbles and a bottle of freshly-squeezed orange juice. Cost: $24.

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Decoration: VistaPrint helped me create two personalized signs. They have the same legend on both sides and plastic stands and only cost $50. A friend donated the dragonfly tablecloth.

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Agenda: When you make your book launch part of an established club meeting, you don’t have to worry about figuring out an agenda or writing the script. All I needed to focus on was writing and learning my speech. At the end of the meeting, the Toastmaster announced that I would be signing books and we broke open the bubbly at that point. I signed and sold my first box of books, and had interesting conversations with would-be authors.

 

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Photos/video: I took along my own camera and tripod. I shoulder-tapped a friend on the day and asked if she would press the record button when I started speaking. And I did the same with the camera after the meeting, getting various folks to take photos. I got a very serviceable video of my speech and some nice pictures of the occasion. The whole thing took an hour and a half. It cost under $100. Whereas my first book launch cost me three times that amount and took double the time.

I’m here to say the mini book launch works. It announces a worthwhile achievement. It sets the book off on its own course in the world with minimum fuss or cost, which is not to say that next time I won’t throw a huge party, it is to say, sometimes when means are limited, there are other ways of commemorating the moment that won’t break the bank.

If you do try your own mini launch, let me know how you go. I want photos!

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” ~ Confucius

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

 

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!!

insecurewriterssupportgroup

June Question: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

I’d say the closest I’ve ever come to quitting happened in the last week.

I began working with Createspace to produce Book Two in the Chronicles of Aden Weaver series in April. As ‘The Sasori Empire’ had been through three rounds of critique, professional editing and had subsequently been vetted by a professional proof-reader, I knew the copy was clean and ready to format. Yet even so, a few minor errors were found in the process of designing the interior of the book. That’s par-for-the-course.

However, I wasn’t prepared for how long each editing change would take to effect. I had to organize, postpone and reorganize the book launch two times. I came close to the point of quitting because the long delays meant a huge amount of extra work for me. When I realized last weekend, that the books were not going to be here in time for the second attempt at a launch, I felt gutted. I didn’t know where I’d get the energy from to start the engine a third time.

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This called a great many things into question in my mind. It was just one of those moments in a writer’s life where you question, is it all worth it? All the sacrifice, all the money and time poured in so liberally when time for everything else is so squeezed and for a short while, I wondered if writing was worth the blood of my life.

I don’t usually ever question it. I’ve always had a facility for story ever since I was a small child, and I enjoy writing, however, I wondered for the first time, maybe my path is not writing books? Maybe I was purely put here to be a mother to three children.

I questioned, is fiction where I should be aiming my efforts? I felt, it’s taking me a long time to master this craft! Maybe I’ll never get there. And so the doubts went on.

Then I saw Kristen Lamb, who is such a warrior writer, was going through publishing woes of her own, and she was taking them in stride.

I read her blog post, Reality vs. Expectations—Remaining Calm When it ALL Goes Pear-Shaped (http://authorkristenlamb.com/2017/06/reality-vs-expectations-remaining-calm-when-it-all-goes-pear-shaped/) and was inspired. Kristen said, “If we never fail, we never learn. Show me a person who never fails and I’ll show you someone who’s never done anything interesting.”

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Why does trying to publish our books cause so much anguish?

“Publishing involves…humans,” said Kristen. “Humans who screw up, make mistakes, etc. Even better? Now that we’re in the digital age? Humans can screw up much FASTER and INSTANTLY.”

Yes. This is the thing, these days, every step you take and every stumble is public property.

“If we allow ourselves to be at the mercy of circumstances? We’re going to be miserable and we’ll never finish the blog or the book. We’ll give up, tap out and take every carb in the house down with us,” she wrote. “One thing we must learn to be successful in this profession (or any other) is to forbid outside circumstances to own, control or derail us.”

I took heart. I began to feel the love of writing fiction return. I felt that I was not alone (!) and it didn’t hurt that Kristen finished the post with this kick ass Teddy Roosevelt quote, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.”

Yeah!

It’s good to be back! Have you ever quit something and returned stronger?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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“Loss is hard and we must grieve but then we must write a new story, with better ending.”  © 2017 LEAH WHITEHORSE  

 

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It means that you must set your standards high and create what I call a grinder. You must set up a system that holds your writing feet to the fire, and makes you get better at your craft. ~ James Scott Bell

The journey of a book, from genesis to garden of inspiration takes us through the valley of many sorrows, aka the editing. The time spent refining and rewriting our original work is a long, seemingly never-ending road. As an author friend said the other day, with her work-in-progress, it took her two months to write it and so far, it’s taken her nine months to edit, and she’s ‘still not finished.’

As the famous meme which went around Facebook showed, as new authors, we start out imagining ourselves spending our days in throes of inspirational wonder, running through fields of daisies with stories in our heads. However, the reality is we spend 15% of our time writing genesis draft and the rest of our time editing the beast, trying to tame this monster we’ve created into something presentable we can show the world.

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Stephen King said, ‘what separates the talented from the successful is a lot of hard work.’

Writers need to be prepared to a) get the copy written, and b) amend and polish their words until they can see their faces in them.

I recently finished working on my work-in-progress, ‘The Sasori Empire.’ My critique partners and I had done all that we could do. I sent the story to editor, Donna Blaber, of Lighthouse Media Group (info@LMG.co.nz). I had worked with Donna on my first book, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ in 2015 * http://amzn.com/B015K1KF0I, and knew she was quick and on top of her game. Nine days later, Donna had sent the fully edited paper version of the manuscript back. It really did feel joyous to work with professional tweaks and changes.

Donna Blaber

Over the following few days, I transcribed the edits into the manuscript. I liked that sometimes instead of taking words out, Donna had linked sentences together and made them longer. Using James Scott Bell’s analogy of critique being “the grinder,” these edits were buffing those last few rough edges off.

The next step in the process, I sent the new version of ‘The Sasori Empire’ to the proof-reader.

This last round of professional editing will take a few weeks. When I have transcribed those edits, it will be time to submit to Createspace for book design, production and printing.

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But, in the meantime, at this stage in the journey of a book, the work of organizing the launch needs to be done. Peer reviews need to come in for inclusion on the back cover, the artwork finalised, the publishing/printing and cover design lined up. A media page is helpful and can be used across platforms to update all social media sites. For the launch party, there’s the venue, the helpers, the speech, catering, the invitation, and the guest list to organize. This stuff can be a lot of fun, and also a lot of work!

One bit of advice I’d give after having published one book, is to be humble enough to ask for feedback on a sample of your work, tapping into the wisdom of friends who are successful authors.

Prior to launching my first book, last year, I asked a friend who is an established author, if he would read the first page and give me honest feedback. He did. Just those few words from a seasoned author’s perspective helped so much. I made a couple of subtle changes that altered the tone and set the first chapter of my debut novel over the edge.

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I wanted to touch the lucky stone again, as it were. I asked, would you read the first page? He very kindly said, send the first chapter. His response came in this morning; again he made a couple of on point suggestions. He said I was giving too much information too soon, and suggested I let the reader get closer to the hero, Aden. I made a couple of tweaks along these lines and voila, it has transformed the all-important opening chapter to a shade above the level it was on before.

They say it takes many a village to raise a child, well, it takes a small town to produce a good book. My advice?

In the final stages of preparing your baby for the world, get as many eyes upon it and voices involved as you possibly can. It makes a world of difference. Good luck!

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Talk to you later.

Keep Writing!

Yvette K. Carol

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Writing is always this: an adaptation of the sacred into smut. Dragging the divine out of his Sky Chariot and into the human dirt. ~ Chuck Wendig

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

Speaking in public, so they say, is the number one fear, surpassing even that of death, for some people. I tried to avoid speaking duties for the first 50 years of my life. In that time, I got roped into giving speeches twice and both times failed miserably.

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Wells, Fargo & Co, CEO, John Stumpf, said his intense fear of public speaking nearly derailed his career. His boss, picking up on that fear, said, ‘You’ve got to fix this. If you can’t, that’s a career disabler.’ Stumpf joined Toastmasters in the eighties. “The feedback I received on my speeches wasn’t always feedback I enjoyed getting. But it was real stuff. It was a life-changing experience for me.”

He said in an interview. “Toastmasters was the vehicle that saved me.”

Last year, in a bid to face my insane fear of public speaking, I joined Toastmasters, too. All I wanted to do was to be able to give a speech at the launch of my first book, without looking like a complete idiot.

By the end of 2015, I had given four speeches, one of them being a ten minute oration at the launch of my novel in September. I know for a fact, that I could never have nailed my speech, not even a two minute one, without flubbing it, if it hadn’t been for Toastmasters. So, I can testify to the fact that the system works.

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Once Christmas had passed, however, I thought perhaps that would be where Toastmasters and I would part ways. After all, who are we kidding, it’s hard!

Yet, I went along to my first meeting of 2016 this week. Something about the friendships, and that unparalleled opportunity for growth that Toastmasters represents called me back. How can you not admire a group of people who are all in the same boat as you, tackling this really intimidating, unfailing challenge of public speaking? These are extraordinary people. And, there’s something thrilling about being around extraordinary people.

None of which makes it any less nerve-wracking. Talk about ‘starting off with a bang.’ I was the honourable ‘Toastmaster,’ and therefore had to run the meeting. I could hardly remember the protocol! Yet, that is the nature of the beast, to be put-on-the-spot and expected to deliver. Just as in the “Table Topics,” when you may get called upon at any moment, to speak for a minute on the topic-du-jour, there’s ever a sense of the possibility of being tested—that prickle of challenge—is always in the air.

Paulo Vasconcelos

Paulo Vasconcelos told a story in the December issue of Toastmaster magazine, that after traditionally avoiding every chance to speak in public, he’d spoken spontaneously at his son’s seventh birthday party. “To everybody’s astonishment, including my own, I spoke fluently and inspirationally about the importance of frequent family gatherings. But best of all,” Paulo said, “I saw my son’s proud face staring at me like never before.”

I knew exactly what he meant. I had the same experience at my book launch, when all three of my sons watched me with pride. It was a great moment and memory.

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Is it scary to have to face your fear each week? Yes. This is the thing; if we don’t tackle the fear, it’s going to feel the same, we have to feel the fear a little bit – in “safe” settings – in order to grow. So, I keep stumbling forwards with this self-development tool. How long will I continue? I don’t know. For now, it helps me to do this thing that I didn’t do.

I’m preparing towards the next speech. I’ll give #5 in a couple of weeks. Wish me luck!

Have you ever thought of joining Toastmasters, or doing the things you don’t do? How do you tackle your fears?

 

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Life should not be comfortable; it isn’t to a person’s advantage to have it so.  Nor should art.  Never have the masterpieces of life or art been pleasant or easy.  They are always rugged peaks to be ascended by the few. ~ Nikos Kazantzakis

 

Each moment we’re given is a building block, a stepping stone, an open door, toward greater self awareness and cultivation of our individual abilities. ~ Gigi Sosnoski

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‘In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success. However, aside from work, I have little joy. Now, I know when we have accumulated sufficient wealth to last our lifetime, we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth…Pursue relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days.’ ~ Steve Jobs (last words)

Steve Jobs

Here in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the 24th of December, Christmas and the end of the year are mere days away.

 

In the past, when we were an agricultural society, the 25th December determined the point when the sun started to move again, and thus, it bore the promise of planting and reaping the crops. This serves to remind us even today of the passing of time, the cycles of nature.

 

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With the coming of the Romans, and then the Christians each utilizing different calendars, New Year’s Day was a “moveable feast” back in those eras. After the Gregorian Year was introduced to modern thinking, however, 1 January was generally accepted in most places as New Year’s Day. And that’s the way it remains to the present.

 

From Christmas to New Year’s Day, this is traditionally a period of introspection, a time for reflection, and a time to refresh one’s spirits before moving forward again.

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At present, a dear old friend of mine is dying of liver cancer. She has decided to die at home rather than stay at hospice. This dire situation has given me a lot more to think about during this festive season.

 

On the way home from visiting her last week, I noticed there was a marked difference in attitude and body language between the kids and I. My boys sat in the back seat, singing. I, meanwhile, drove along tense and upset, completely fraught about the fact my pal was soon to be entering the dark forest and leaving us behind. And the difference between my kids’ chirpiness and my somber contemplation was “time.” My kids have the “blissful ignorance of youth.”

 

I, meanwhile, am a lot older than they are. My mother died this year. My father thinks he’s losing his memory. I know that time is running out. I wrote to my critique partner, Maria Cisneros-Toth, about this dark night of the soul I was walking through, and about my dying friend.

 

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With Maria’s kind permission, I will relay our email conversation:

Maria CT: ‘I am so sorry about your friend. When these things happen, whether I know the person or not, it’s a reminder to me to get done with the writing project I want to complete.

‘Life is so precious; there isn’t a moment to waste. It’s so cliché, but very true. And this is your first Christmas without you mum. That’s tough, too.’

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Yvette C: ‘Yes, it has been a big year, 2015. You’re so right! With Ma’s passing, I decided to draw a line in the sand. The finish line is here. I wanted dad to be alive to see me launch my first book, and, indeed, by pushing ahead to professional proof-reading and self-publication, I did achieve that goal this year.

 

‘Dad was there at the launch of ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ and he gave a speech about how proud he was. It was a wonderful, emotion-filled moment for me. Ma didn’t get to be there in physical form but she was there, nevertheless.
 

‘Sometimes, you get a reminder that life is short. Your mother dies suddenly of stroke in the night. Your friend is dying of cancer. Your husband has a heart attack, right? That’s when you realize our dreams need to be put into action. Now. Today. There is no tomorrow!

 

‘Then it came to me, I understood what my friend, and mentor, Erin Lees was trying to tell us, when she said last year, that we should ‘live as if death were always at our shoulder.’ Aha!’ mum

 

With this perspective, I need to take clear, focused, heart-motivated action towards my goals in 2016. Remember, that Steve Jobs, one of the most successful men in the world said we should ‘pursue relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days.’

 

While I remain heartbroken for my friend who is sick, I am realigned with my purpose and my willpower to strive towards my dreams.

 

What does the essence of this Yuletide and New Year distil for you? Any revelations to share?

 

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Talk to you later…

…in 2016!

Yvette K. Carol

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This was me on my way home from an audition for King Kong where I was told I was too “ugly” for the part. This was a pivotal moment for me. This one rogue opinion could derail my dreams of becoming an actress or force me to pull myself up by the boot straps and believe in myself. ~ Meryl Streep

 

 

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

Christopher Campbell

This week a dearly beloved and heart-inspired project came to fruition. My author friends and I have been putting together a children’s anthology to support our dear friend, Robyn Campbell, and her son, Christopher (29) who lives with the little known or understood syndrome called Sturge-weber.

Our beautiful book, Kissed by an Angel is out now, available on Amazon.

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I thought that I would re-issue this earlier post, detailing the illustration I did to go with my story in the anthology, ‘Grandpa & Loor.’

A Photo Essay for ‘Grandpa & Loor’…

A few years back, I tried using computer software to “draw” but I didn’t take to it. I simply prefer pencils, erasers, pens, colour pencils, and paints. I’m old school. So, bear with me. For some people, this might be a trip down memory lane.

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First, I had to work up a sketch I liked. I borrowed the man’s expression from an old photo of my boys’ father and aged him by adding wrinkles, I borrowed the idea for the hair out of a Santa book from the ’70’s. I was seeking with this illustration to express how we caregivers and parents of special children feel about them, and how they feel toward us. Once I was happy with it on a feeling level, I had a pencil template.

Grandpa & Loor

I painted the background over with a pale wash of pink.

First wash, G&L

Next, I applied the first coat of watercolour. At this stage, I made a timeline of the process, by taking this snap when I started.

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I gave each area a slightly different shade, in order to alter the end look. The lesson I’ve taken from training in oil portraiture is to build layers. That’s where you get your depth.

At that stage, I added the second layer to the characters, according to what I thought the colours might be later.

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As I got onto the third coat, I started to use three or more variations of the shades and add areas of light and dark.

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The fourth layer always makes the tones more solid and real.

At that point, I switched from water colour to gouache, and started using the fine tipped brushes.

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I made the shadows more convincing.
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And, just like that, in the twinkling of a back-breaking eye, I had finally crossed the finish line, thirteen hours later!

I feel victorious. Art is magical, isn’t it?

What sort of art do you do in your life? What’s important to you creatively? Tell me in the comments….

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Keep Creating!

Talk soon,

Yvette K. Carol

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‘I’ve been thinking about my Christopher and how our family could never make do without him. He is the epitome of this quote: “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.’ Robyn Campbell

‘This is the best time in history to be a writer. Today, you can bypass the gatekeepers.’ So said the author, Andy Weir.

 

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It is also said, there will be more books published in the next five years than have been published since the invention of the printing press.

 

“Going Indie” means everyone can publish their own work, which is wonderful news. This effectively means that the author takes on the lion’s share of the burden.

 

Personally? Long story short: In September, I self-pubbed my first book*, then I found mistakes, recalled the book, and have been editing for the last 3 months.

 

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My eldest son asked me the other night, Why are there so many mistakes?

 

A perfectly presented and edited book is not a freak of nature, my son. They do not just happen by themselves, you know.

 

Once upon a time, the large traditional publishing houses were the so-called “gatekeepers.” These big publishers (and loads of smaller ones) employed all the experts in the industry to curate and produce their perfectly-turned out books. Many different professionals had input on guiding every author’s work into an error-free work of art.

 

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As opposed to the past, these days, self-publishing is becoming more accepted and is becoming a phenomenon. Some Indies have done very well at it and made loads of money. Some have ended up being signed to traditional publishing companies. For every Indie author who wins, however, a gazillion fall by the wayside with their hard-won novels fading into obscurity.

 

I’ve blogged before about how I held on stubbornly to my dream of being picked up by a traditional publisher. However, even the rock of Gibraltar is wearing away with the years, I’m sure, and the attrition of the fact that everyone’s doing it had a pumice-type of effect, because last year, for the first time, I began to consider publishing my own book.

 

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I was busy editing the first book in my Fantasy Tween Fiction series, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, called ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ for the umpteenth time, through the critique group process.

 

When I felt it was ready, instead of submitting the manuscript to publishers, I hired an American professional to edit it for me. In my innocence, I imagined that once I put in the editor’s changes, I would be ready to upload and to go to print.

 

Yet, once I did get to that stage, author friends told me, no, no, no, you need to get as many people to read it as possible.

 

Lynn Kelley

 

Therefore, I asked friends who are well-published authors to proof-read it for me. I made more changes to the copy following the editing suggestions. I then had a very kind friend, who has published more than thirty books with a NZ publisher, give the book one last edit, just to catch the last two or three mistakes. Then, I read it myself one last time.

 

Finally, after six months effort, I handed over the manuscript to a local typesetter and printing house, BookPrint.

 

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The same day I launched the book, it came to my attention that there were still some errors in the book. Despite the carefully editing and checking, a few things had been missed. As my author friend said, ‘Your name is going to be on that book forever, how do you feel about that?’

 

I recalled the book.

 

I proof-read another three times, picking up a surprising number of mistakes.

 

The time had come, I realized, when I needed to hire a second professional proof-reader. This girl did a stellar job, finding “70 inconsistencies,” and she delivered the edits within the time she’d predicted.

 

I read it through and edited it another two times after that.

 

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To be absolutely certain, I asked the proofreader to read it through again for me. She did so and found yet more errors. Sigh.

 

*Indies who are reading this, wait, don’t be discouraged. Be informed. Go into this battle arena clear-eyed, focused and aware of your tactics.

 

We Can Do It!

 

Here’s how you can benefit from my experience. When you’re ready to self publish your book:

 

  • Hire professionals, one after the other, to catch what the other has missed.
  • Hire people who come well recommended to you.
  • Double- check and check your work again!
  • Be prepared for everything to take longer than you expect. I think it’s more realistic when planning a self-published novel to do it this way: set a launch date for your book, take that length of time and double it. That’s your realistic projected date of publication.

 

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‘This is the best time in history to be a writer.’ Yes, agreed. We are lucky we can ‘bypass the gatekeepers.’

 

Is it hard? Yes.

 

Yet, you gain the reward, the satisfaction at the end. When you publish your own as-near-perfect-as-you-can-get-it novel, as I did yesterday, the sheer sense of absolute triumph is immense. I felt as mighty as a victorious Viking.

And just in time for Christmas. Squeee!!!

What are you doing as an Indie? Do you have any tips to suggest?

 

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Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Raise your sail one foot and you get ten feet of wind. – Chinese Proverb

*my recently self-published debut novel, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta.’