books

How I sell books (Part 2) – A guest post by David McLain

Now that I’ve scared off half the readers talking about what hasn’t worked, let’s talk about what has. (See Part 1 here.)

So far nothing I’ve said has anything to do with you as a writer. I don’t know you, but if you are reading this, you’ve made it as far as finding my publisher’s blog. That’s a good thing- It means that you’ve probably figured out that self-publishing is, well, a crappy idea. Good for you. So, skipping ahead a moment, I can tell you that roughly 20 weekends a year I can be found sitting at either a booth or a table at either an art show, a steampunk convention, or a comic con, with copies of my last two books, in paperback and hardcover. This is the long, slow grind of indie book sales. People who come over to look at my book nearly always pick up the hardcover copy, admire it, and then buy the softcover, if anything. This is actually by design.

When you are working a show, you need to be able to explain your book in a sentence or two. This is called the strap line. It’s preferable if the strap line makes for a pretty good bit of dialogue, and I think it’s usually best if you keep the number buzzwords to a minimum.

Guy dressed as the tenth doctor: What’s this?

Me: That’s my book, The Traveller’s Resort and Museum.

10 Doc Guy: What’s it about?

Me: It’s the story of a Time Traveller who falls in love with three men- one from the present, one from the past, and one from the future. She misjudges them all.

I feel this compares pretty well with the line the guy at the next booth over was giving people: Okay, so strong female protagonist. Epic fantasy. Some steampunk. It’s a hero’s quest. The dwarves have lost the jewel of…. or something. I don’t remember. I don’t know how the book was written, but the pitch was surprisingly devoid of complete sentences.

coverimagettrmAt this point I have an advantage in that my book is surprisingly beautiful. It as a beautiful painting of a woman with red hair drinking tea and holding a pet triceratops on a leash on the cover. It has two dozen black and white pictures in it, and every chapter begins with a font indicating the location the chapter is set in- so if the chapter is set in the Stone Age the first two words look like carved stone. (By the way, people don’t judge books by their covers. But they do judge book covers by the pictures on them, and when they first pick up the book, all they have is the picture and the title.)

Now, if you ever been to one of these shows, you might have seen someone doing this. Most of them are going it alone, and have basically opened the one author book store. This is a good way to distribute your books to the public and attract a little attention for your work. It’s also financial suicide. So, to make this work, you’re going to need to have something else to sell along with your books. I don’t know what that is, you need to figure that out yourself. If you’re at my booth, you’re usually more likely to buy one of my wife’s embroidered bags with steampunk animals on them than my book. This is OK. The bags are the reason my wife doesn’t have another job, and that I can keep doing this. They’ve made the whole thing sustainable. Sustainability, and a good quality book is the reason I am still signing copies of my second book five years after it came out.

So, someone is holding a book of mine, they’ve looked at my beautiful cover, and they’ve heard my pitch. Maybe they’ve read the back of the book. (This is good. The back of my book is pretty funny.)

They now get that idea in their head- I can get this signed by the author. I think a lot of people picture themselves on the antiques roadshow. “I bought this copy of The Time Traveller’s Resort and Museum from David McLain in 2017 at the East Aurora Barn Art Festival, and I got both him and his wife to sign it. She did the cover.”

And then they buy it! Although I must admit, they don’t usually buy it in huge quantities. I don’t care though. My book gets out there, little by little, and I get to go to shows, and sign copies of my book, and do readings, and sometimes, just sometimes, meet a fan. A real genuine honest to goodness fan, who thinks my work is awesome and wants to read more. Not only that, but over time, the money adds up. Sales of my books are already over 7000.00 gross in the last five years. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a lot to you, but would you turn it down if someone handed it to you? I thought not. I wouldn’t either.

When I go to shows, I frequently ask other writers about the best line from their work, their ‘To be or not to be’ if you will. You know what the most common answer is? ‘I don’t know.’ Think about that. ‘I don’t know.’ I would suggest that means something- that we’re all making this up as we go. Writing isn’t easy. Even Shakespeare quit and became a landlord. Keep at it, and good luck.

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David McLain studied writing at the University of Massachusetts. He is the author of the two novels: Dragonbait, and The Life of a Thief. His stories have been published in the anthologies Metastasis, Penny Dread II, and the upcoming Doctor Who Anthology Time Shadows, as well as over two dozen magazines, including Harvard’s Dudley Review. He has been featured on NPR’s Off the Page and the History of England podcast. He lives in New York.

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Cover Reveal: Spellhaven by Sandra Unerman

The Unseen Spirits must be entertained, so that the city may prosper……

In the summer of 1914, Jane Fairchild, a young English musician, is kidnapped by magic and sent to Spellhaven, an island city ruled by magicians. Here, peace and prosperity are maintained with the assistance of Unseen Spirits bound to the service of the Lords Magician. The Spirits must be kept in good humour by the performance of all kinds of shows, dance, drama and music. Jane is one of many people kidnapped from the outside world and forced to contribute to these entertainments for a set period of service.

Only Jane is having none of it. She will not perform for her kidnapper, Lucian Palafox, but agrees to undertake an apprenticeship with another magician impresario, provided she is taught magic in return. Jane’s forays into magic lead her deeper within the mysteries of Spellhaven, her rivalry with Lucian escalates and the quarrels between them grow strong enough to shake the city to its foundations.

Spellhaven cover

Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Magical Realism
Release Date:  August 17, 2017
Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing
Mirror World Publishing eBook Pre-Order Link:  https://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/collections/poetry/products/spellhaven-ebook
Mirror World Publishing Paperback Pre-Order Link:https://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/collections/poetry/products/spellhaven-paperback
Amazon Pre-Order Link:  http://amzn.to/2tpdL2x

Saphs Book Promotions Visit the Tour Hosts:http://saphsbookpromotions.blogspot.com/2017/07/cover-reveal-spellhaven-by-sandra.html

sandraunermanSandra Unerman lives in London in the UK. When she retired from a career as a Government lawyer, she undertook an MA in Creative Writing at Middlesex University, specialising in SF and fantasy, and graduated in 2013. Since then, she has had a number of short stories published. In 2016, these included stories in Three Drops from a Cauldron, the Midwinter issue and Aurora Wolf, the September issue, both available online. She writes reviews and articles for the British Science Fiction Association and the British Fantasy Society. She is a member of London Clockhouse writers and other writing groups. Her interests include history, folklore and medieval literature.

Connect with the Author:
Sandra’s Website:https://sandraunermanwriter.com/
Sandra’s Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Unerman/e/B0034NS9VM
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6566116.Sandra_Unerman

This book is available for pre-order and will officially launch on August 17th, 2017!!!

 

So Many New Worlds to Explore…

I know I just did one of these update kind of posts, but I’ve been so busy there’s more to tell. Here’s what we’re currently working on at Mirror World in no particular order:

Sandra Unerman’s Spellhaven: I got my first shipment of Spellhaven paperbacks yesterday and they look phenomenal. I can’t wait to share the cover with you on July 13th! Spellhaven is now also available for pre-order. You can order your copy from your favourite book retailer, or directly from us. Or, if you’re a reviewer, you might be interested in the copies we’ve allocated to Library Thing to give away as ARCs. You can claim one of those, here.

Leigh Goff’s Bewitching Hannah: This book is next on our new release list, launching September 17th, with a cover reveal coming in August. I’ve just finished creating the ebook and formatting the print interior and I’m now working hard on finalizing the cover layout. Again, I’m really excited to share this one with you! You can read about this book on our website, or subscribe to this blog or our newsletter to be the first to hear more details as we announce them.

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Rita Monette’s Nikki Landry Swamp Legends Series: We’re pleased to announce that Nikki is back again! Author/Illustrator, Rita Monette, has outdone herself with The Mystery on Lost Lagoon, the fourth installment of the series. We’ve tentatively scheduled this for a November 2017 release and we’re currently working on ideas for the cover.

Joshua Pantalleresco’s The Wandering God: Joshua was the first outside author to join the Mirror World family with his epic poem, The Watcher. Last year, he followed that up with Stormdancer and this year we’re bringing you the stunning conclusion to this epic post-apocalyptic tale. Currently in the editing phase as we wait for Florence Chan to work her magic, we expect this will be ready to launch October 2017.

mixterIn addition to all this, we’re also already looking ahead to 2018 with the children’s book, Mixter Twizzle’s Breakfast by Regan W. H. Macaulay and the quasi-sequel to Spellhaven, Ghosts and Exiles by Sandra Unerman. We’re also looking forward to Book Two of Sharon Ledwith’s Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, Blackflies and Blueberries.

And last but not least, we have Mirror’s Deceit by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred, the third in the Mirror World series. Currently Mirror’s Deceit is being given a once over by our Editor, Robert Dowsett, but will soon be available for beta readers. Whether you’ve read Mirror’s Hope and/or Mirror’s Heart or not, if you’d like to beta read Mirror’s Deceit, please get in touch with us. We expect to be able to have the beta readers start in August.

Here’s the description:

Mirror’s Deceit by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred

Dark Fantasy/Romance – Coming in 2018!

In a seeming utopia, Mirena, a gifted student of majik, is on the verge of graduating from a secret college that will give her a leg up in her political career, when her achievements are overshadowed by the arrival of a mysterious woman with an unknown agenda.  Desperate to keep what she sees as her rightful place in the spotlight, Mirena goes to astounding lengths including taking it upon herself to pose as a double agent to investigate a rebel force plotting to destabilize the government. Unfortunately, her actions cost her the trust of those around her, so when she is proclaimed the Dark Avatar of the Destroyer, she finds she has nowhere to turn.

Public Speaking for Authors

 

Lately, this has been the topic I’ve been tackling in my day-to-day life, so I thought I should tackle it here as well.

Stage-Fright-Holding-You-BackLike most writers I know, I’m an introvert. I prefer to write, read, edit, and generally work behind the scenes. When I go out to network, sell books and meet people, I often find myself needing to hole up and recharge afterwards. It takes a lot out of me. But, it’s also a big part of what I do as a publisher and a published author.

Especially this month. Somehow this month’s schedule got filled with speaking engagements, and opportunities to read my book aloud in public. And all of those opportunities happening to fall within the same week and a half have caused my nerves to fray terribly.

So, how, as an introverted person, do I deal with this?

Be prepared

This might seem like a no-brainer, but picking out what section you’re going to read in advance and/or writing out your presentation or speech beforehand and editing it as thoroughly as you might edit your query letter to a publisher will help you feel more at ease with what you’re doing and it will make you more familiar with what you’re going to be reading or saying.

keep-calm-and-let-s-practice-11Practice

Once you have your words picked out, practice saying them out loud. Read to your cats, or like Murandy did, your baby. Read alone, or to someone you trust. It’s all about practicing in a judgment-free zone until you feel more comfortable.

Try not to dwell on it

Whenever you start thinking about it and you feel that anxiety creeping up on you, try to force it down, or will it away. Find something else to focus on and whatever else you do, don’t wallow in that feeling; that will only make it stronger. Find a friend to distract you, or play a video game or something, it will pass.

Speak confidently and slowly

When you get to the actual moment of reading or speaking start loud and keep that pitch, then make sure everything you say is said with emphasis and that you don’t speed up out of nervousness. Speak slowly and enunciate, just like you practiced.

a076a7851bc423dcd8645975b8d4e2c2Make jokes

If you can get the audience to laugh, you’ll feel loads better. If your subject warrants it, or if comedy helps you feel more comfortable, then use it. Engage with your audience and make eye contact with them when you can so speaking to them feels more like a conversation and less like a speech.

Celebrate afterwards!

Never underestimate the value of rewarding yourself for a job well done. If you got over your fear and accomplished what you set out to do, then go celebrate. You’ve earned it.

Up next: Uncharted by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred

In anticipation of our 2017 releases, I wanted to interview each of the authors, but I’ve tried, and I simply can’t interview myself. So, instead let me just tell you a little bit about where I’m at now and what my upcoming new release is all about.

07bcdcc12df687f02e58c2def519f9a9There’s less than two months left until Uncharted is released into the world and I’m excited and nervous and experiencing all the other feelings that come with sending a labour of love out into the world.

Next month, on March 20th, we’ll reveal the cover right here on the blog. I can’t wait to show it to you. Sara Biddle, www.salizabeth.net, is the extremely talented digital artist behind the Mirror World series, Unintended and now, Uncharted. As always, she has gone above and beyond any expectations we had and created something truly lovely.

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Uncharted, in case you’re wondering, is a love story set in the multi-cultural historical/fantasy world of Ismera (the same as Unintended). In it, a woman named Meredith questions her future as a priestess of the Order of Saegard and runs away. On the night she leaves, a legendary artifact is stolen from the temple and she’s blamed for it. Suddenly a fugitive, Meredith stows away on a ship belonging to an off-duty naval officer and a ex-con man posing as his business partner. Together the three of them must evade the law while they work to clear Meredith’s name and track down what was stolen and why.

Uncharted will soon be available for pre-order and will launch on April 17th, 2017. We’re in the midst of planning what we’ll do to celebrate, so subscribe to this blog or our mailing list to be kept informed.

As you may or may not know, Murandy, my sister and co-conspirator… I mean, co-writer, is on maternity leave with her four-month old, but we’re still writing. We’re in the middle of this years’ #85K Challenge (that’s 85,000 words in 90 days) and we’re a little over halfway through two different projects. The first is the next installment in the Mirror Series, working title, Mirror’s Redemption. And the other is the much-anticipated sequel to our first novel ever written together, Neo Central.

1usWith a passion for media and sales, Murandy has a strong background in public relations and promotions as well as an education in Drama and Communications. Justine is an author herself and has worked in a multitude of industries, including publishing. She comes to Mirror World Publishing after acting as Producer and Business and Marketing Director for First Age Studios, a video game design company.

 

From Blurb to Pitch, how to describe your novel.

Answering the question, “What is your book about?” can be hard to do. You feel put on the spot, at a loss for words, or maybe when you do try to answer the question, it doesn’t sound as interesting and engaging as you know your book to be.

There is a simple way to fix this and the answer is to prepare your response in advance and then practice it until it sounds natural when you say it. That way when asked what your book is about, you’ll answer instinctively in exactly the right way to get the person you’re talking to interested in reading your book.

That one-sentence version is called your elevator-pitch. It’s the same one-sentence that you would presumably give to an agent or editor to get them interested in your book. You could do this in person, say, in an elevator, or like most people you can use it in your Query Letter. You can also use it to tell readers what your book is about so they want to read it.  

elevator-pitch

So how do you come up with that crucial 1-2 sentence pitch? Well, I start with the blurb, or what I like to call the BOB, the Back Of the Book.

This is assuming you’ve already written this. If you haven’t, you might want to check out our last post: How to write a good blurb.

But say your blurb goes like this:

Destiny is not matter of chance, it is a matter of choice.

Fated to be a Priestess of Saegard, Meredith dreams of leading a normal life with a family and a home of her own, something she’ll never have if she swears her life to the Order.  A chance encounter with a stranger in the sacred Celestial Chamber sends her previously well-ordered life into a tailspin of adventure and mayhem as she is blamed for the theft of a legendary artifact. Now a fugitive, Meredith must join forces with Captain Reginald Lawrence, the son of the man who initially brought her to the Temple, and his enigmatic business partner,  the charming yet at times infuriating, Grey Rhodes, to find the Celestial Bowl and clear her name. From the cosmopolitan capital of Saegard to the coast of Ismera and back again, Meredith’s journey will reveal the true nature of her past, present, and ultimately, her future.

By the way, this blurb is from Uncharted which is set to launch April 17th. For more information on Uncharted, click here.USSConstellationVsInsurgente

In order to make your pitch, you want to distill this down as much as possible, preferably to one or two sentences at maximum. You don’t have to do this in one step though. You could take your blurb, trim it down to size, and then adjust the results or you can list the crucial aspects of your story and then try to form your pitch from there.

Let’s try it, shall we? You want to make sure to include your main character(s), your setting, your inciting incident, and a hint of your theme.

For Uncharted, that’s:

Characters: A priestess, a Captain and his business partner
Setting: A fantasy realm, a navy ship
Inciting incident: becoming a Fugitive and stowing away
Theme: Destiny is choice

The Pitch: A fugitive priestess alters her destiny by stowing away on a ship belonging to a naval officer and an ex con man.

I added the ‘ex con man’ part to give more of a hook, but essentially I’ve covered all the crucial bits of information and arranged them into an enticing pitch. I hope this makes you want to read Uncharted when it comes out on April 17th!

What about you? What’s your book about? Let me know in the comments section below!

 

How to write a good blurb

Summarizing a 300+ page novel into a few paragraphs is hard and it’s not something that usually comes naturally to us novelists. It took me a lot experimentation to get good at it, but here’s how I learned to do it.

I read the backs of a whole pile of books, and then I emulated them, practicing narrowing my book’s crucial aspects into 2-3 paragraphs.

At least for fantasy/sci-fi there seems to be only a few styles when it comes to the blurb. But no matter what genre you write in, I recommend finding bestsellers within that genre and critically breaking down their blurbs to see what makes them so successful.

For our purposes, I’m going to break down the two most popular styles in sci-fi/fantasy that I’ve come across. The Plot-Oriented style and the Character-Oriented style.

The Plot Oriented Blurb

Example: Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon.

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another…

First, we have a powerful statement, a hook to draw the reader in. What makes this book interesting, what is it about?

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord…1743.

Next we have the time period (which tells us this is a historical piece, or a futuristic sci-fi if the year was 2750 instead), we have the main character’s name and identity, we have the inciting incident and we have the setting.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire’s destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life …and shatter her heart.

A little more detail about the plot and subject matter of the book.

For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

And then we have the theme, and the last sentence drives the hook home so you want to pick the book up right away and read it.
MH1Descwide copy

The Character-Oriented Blurb.

Example: Mirror’s Hope by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred.

Everything has a price…

The tagline

In a self-serving dystopian society, Mirena’s kind-hearted nature leaves her socially outcast. Daunted by the task of trying to initiate change herself, she tries desperately to conform to the expectations of the cruel society around her.

The setting, the main character and her identity/circumstance.

That is, until she meets Tendro… General to the Panarch’s armies and a rising star in government, no one expects Tendro Seynor to be the prophesied Avatar of the Light, but that’s exactly what he’s become. Alone, he doesn’t have the resolve necessary to follow the path destiny has set before him; but that all changes when meets Mirena and falls in love with her simple faith.

The secondary character and his identity/circumstance.

Brought together by fate, Mirena and Tendro must find a way to change their world for the better or risk the consequences of being on the wrong side of an all-powerful tyrant and his unforgiving Generals. Can they tip the balance of power in their world, or will the lengths they have to go get them in too deep to get back out again?

The inciting incident and a hint at the theme, while giving the hook.

If you’ll notice, all the same crucial aspects are present in both styles: the setting, the characters, the inciting incident, the theme and the hook. They’re just presented in a different order with a different aspect emphasized. As for which style is right to use for your book, it’s probably best to ask yourself, what is the most important aspect of your book? If your story is character-driven, maybe the character style. If it’s more about the setting or the plot, then maybe the plot-oriented style. You can always do what I do and write out a few options in each style until I find one I like.

Thanks for reading!

Have you written a blurb for your book? Share it in the comment section below!

 

Cover Design 101

Cover designer is one of those hats I didn’t expect to wear when I started Mirror World. At the time, I was fairly new to Photoshop and I’ve never considered myself to be an artist. But the most important part of designing a cover for a book is having a vision of what it should look like and being able to communicate that vision to create a final product, whether you end up making it yourself, or finding an artist or another cover designer to realize it for you.

So how is it done, then?

Step 1 – The Vision

As I read or write the book, I try to keep an eye out for a scene or for facets of the book that would make for a good cover image. For Unintended, for example, the scene on the cover is the from the end of the first chapter. It takes place after our main character Kenzie has just accidentally married someone other than her intended prince and looked back to realize that he’s left the symbol of their union, the white flowers, to be run over by a wagon wheel.

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“He was right behind them, hurrying to fall in step with the procession, the white-flowered wedding bracelet shredded where it lay discarded by the wheel of the carriage. As Kenzie watched, the carriage started moving again and the perfect white flowers she had so painstakingly woven together from a rare out of season patch in her homeland were crushed and forgotten.”

If the book is by another author, I usually ask them what they have in mind for the cover and their suggestions, even if they don’t have a full cover image in mind, will usually lead to me having some ideas.

 

Step 2 – The Concept

Once you have a vision of what the cover should look like, it’s time to start looking for concept images. These are images that represent parts of, or the whole of the vision you have in your mind. Keeping with Unintended’s cover, this involved finding a wheel, an example of the white flowers, the cobblestones, and a puddle with the reflection of a castle in it to give the fantasy feel. You want to find examples of the colours you want to use and the things that will appear in the image and get them as close to your vision as possible. It’s also helpful to gather passages from the book that describe the various elements you want to include, especially if you’ll be giving these things to an artist or designer to work from like we did with Unintended.

Step 3 – The Design

Now that you have your concept art, it’s time to put those ideas together and create a cover image. This can be done any number of ways. We have artists who paint, those who sketch, and digital artists, and then there’s also the method of using composite images. For the purpose of this blog, let’s say we’re using composite images. For Black Lightning, by K.S. Jones knew she wanted a certain scene from the novel, but she didn’t want to show her main character, Samuel’s, face. Out of the concept images, I found the ones that most closely described what we were looking for, and that I could blend together using Photoshop to create the image we needed.

Step 4 – The final image

Typically in step three, I will be working with low quality watermarked sample images and playing around with them until I get something that works well. If working with an artist, I’ll be seeing their rough work as they try and recreate what I’ve described to them. In this step though, the design has been agreed upon and approved by all parties, and now it’s a case of making the finished product using quality materials and attention to detail.

After that, you just need to add the font – which is of course another crucial design choice 😉

black-lightning

Black Lightning1.jpg

 

The Many Worlds of Mirror World Publishing

As you may or may not be aware, we offer a membership program. For just $19.95 a year, members get unlimited access to our ever growing collection of ebooks, early access to new releases, a discount on paperbacks ordered from our store, and SO MUCH MORE…

Not sure yet if you want to join? Well, we also offer FREE SAMPLES of our books in each age category. Order a free sampler through our store and we’ll send you an ebook that contains the first chapter of each of the books listed in a given category AND we’ve thrown a bonus short story into each one! Here’re the links:

 Kids                                           Young Adult                                          Adult

At Mirror World, we’re all about the setting, so here’s a glimpse into a few of the worlds you can visit within our books:disenchanted-2 copy

  1. Historic Wethersfield, CT

The small tourist town of Wethersfield, Connecticut is the setting of Leigh Goff’s Disenchanted. Filled with magic spells, witches, curses, ancient family heirlooms and haunting prophecies, Wethersfield is the perfect place for the occult enthusiast. Oh, and don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers in Sophie’s aunt’s garden, or sample some of her fantastic home cooking.Cover SDOD4

 
2. The Kingdom of Dorlith

Elizabeth J.M. Walker’s She Dreamed of Dragons is set in the magical kingdom of Dorlith. Dorlith is home to magic-users of all kinds and cats. Lots of cats. Enroll yourself in Mage Academy, or dance your way to the palace and sign up to compete in the Royal Tourney. Either way, you’ll have a blast, learn a lot, and maybe, just maybe, end up the next heir to the throne!

 

3. Crimson Winter

Officially the planet has no name, but the desert world of the Crimson Winter Trilogy, by yours truly, is certainly a unique place to visit if I do say so myself. Accessible only through the magic of the gods, this planet has gone eight hundred years without seeing the setting of the sun. Water is scarce, and so is shelter, with the majority of the population, the self-named, Roughlanders, living in ancient military outposts and surviving by means of trade caravans from Taiyou, one of the few remaining fertile areas.

ncbook4. Neo Central

A look into the city of the future! In the world of Neo Central, again by yours truly, only one city remains after the collapse of modern society. This city is a marvel of technology and magic, but it isn’t meant for everyone. Those who can’t feel the city’s current and access the magic it uses to run itself are treated as outcasts and left to live in the ancient ruins of York Slums, or in the dangerous catacombs beneath the city; the Tunnels.

 
Thanks for reading!

Give yourself permission to fail

If there’s one lesson in writing that I had to learn the hard way, it’s this one. When looking for ways to motivate oneself to complete a writing project, it’s common to set goals or deadlines. Daily word count goals, for example, can be a healthy way to establish a writing routine and a reasonable deadline to finish your novel by a certain date can help you stay on track. The tricky part comes when your deadlines are not reasonable, your goals too lofty, or when you simply fall behind and suddenly your target seems out of reach.

An important thing to remember when setting goals or deadlines is that life happens. It’s a good idea to leave yourself some wiggle room in your deadlines for when life events get in the way, or for those days you just don’t feel like living up to expectations. You’re going to stumble occasionally, and you’ll be better off planning to accommodate when it happens.

The problem with goals and deadlines comes when you adhere to them too strictly,  or when you are disappointed with yourself for not meeting them. Using them as a means to lift yourself up, to feel challenged and motivated and to count the milestones you pass is great and will have a positive effect, but the opposite can just as easily be true if you feel stressed, ashamed, or guilty for not meeting the goals you set yourself.

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Back when I was working on my trilogy, Crimson Winter, I had written the first book in three months by having a goal of writing 5 pages a day, 5 days a week, totalling 100 pages a month. This continued into book two, which I wrote in a little over four months as it was a longer book. Between book two and three, I went through a rough time in my life and book three took me somewhere between six months and a year. It was by far the longest and most complex of the three, but I was determined to keep myself to my writing goals, which proved to be a detriment. The pace I had set for book one and two was quite grueling, but since I had successfully completed the first two books so easily, I found myself questioning why I couldn’t do it with the third and feeling inadequate for not living up to my own expectations. As a result, I was very hard on myself, which only made me feel worse, which in turn made writing even more difficult. It was a negative feedback loop.

It took a moment of realization at 3 in the morning when I was trying to write on a midnight shift at the crummy part-time job I had taken to pay the bills for me to come to the conclusion that I had become my own worst enemy. By setting lofty unreachable goals and on top of that punishing myself for not living up to those goals, I was being unreasonably harsh on myself. From that moment on, I started giving myself permission to fail. I gave myself some leeway, some ‘get out of jail free cards’ for those times when I just didn’t feel like writing and I tried to remember that I liked writing, that it is a passion first and foremost, and not just a job. And I’ve had a much healthier relationship with myself and my writing ever since.

Thanks for reading. And speaking of reasonable goals, the #85K Challenge starts in just 10 days. The challenge is to write 85,000 words in three months, which works out just under 1000 words a day. Last year, Murandy and I finished the challenge with two weeks to spare, but this year, we’re going to be taking it slower as Murandy is a new mom (see, life happens.) We started the book we’re working on last month, and have been writing approximately 4000 words once a week and we’re going to continue that pace into the challenge to see how far that gets us. We’ll keep you posted on our progress, but if you’re interested in joining the challenge you can find all the information you need here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/85K.90days/15134760_641119006068066_5321651935076382972_n