Weekly Update – You Mean Book Characters Aren’t Real???

Apologies for the late post, friends!  It was a busy weekend and I’m finally able to post!

A while back ago, I made the comment that I tended to know my book characters better than real people.  I meant it as a joke, of course, because as a writer, it’s part of my job creating, developing, and getting to know these characters from beginning to end.  But some of the reactions I got were quite comical, as some thought it meant I really, truly was being isolated from real people!

I had to explain that it was a writer joke, and we all had some good laughs over it, but the truth is there is a special bond that develops between a writer (or even a reader, in many cases) and a book character.  We see what’s inside their head, we learn what makes them happy or sad, we witness their proudest accomplishments and greatest defeats.  And though we know (deep down inside) that fiction book characters aren’t real (unless we’re dealing with historical fiction, lol), we still develop a great love, loyalty, and understanding between them, often similarly like we do with real people.

Though I can’t speak for others, I find myself rejoicing in the fact that I have such a great “relationship” with my characters.  Like real people, I learn about myself and others through my interactions with them.  And though I can’t replace real people with them (as much as I’d love to get a hug from Marcus Peterson, it’s just not going to happen…*cries*), I can still be swept away on incredible journeys and exciting escapes with every page.

I have fun with my friends and I have fun with my book characters, and I’m happy to say that both have made me into who I am today.  Who are some characters that have made a big impact on your life?

Weekly Update – Book Shows!

I had a book signing today at an author showcase – the first in a long line of weekends full of selling books, signing books, and talking about books!  As you can see from the picture above, Ralph the parrot made a special appearance (thankfully not annoying customers like he does for Captain Patty), and the day was a lot of fun!
But what are book shows and what can you expect from them?  When I was a newer author, I wasn’t quite sure what to do or how to start.  Not all shows/signings are the same, and it’s important to learn about them to make the experience less stressful.  

Here are some things I’ve learned after doing a variety of in-person shows…

  • Not all shows are successful…

You’ll learn quickly that some shows will not help you earn money or exposure.   It may be weather, poor turnout, uninterested customers, or just plain bad luck.  Don’t fret – just because a show has poor turnout or sales one year doesn’t mean it will always be that way.

  • …But they aren’t all a flop, either.

Some shows may surprise you.  Even if turnout is low, you may find yourself getting a profit.  Do your best, pray for good weather, and stay positive.  Good shows do happen, and when they do, there’s no greater feeling.

  • It’s a great time to connect. 

I spent a good half hour talking with two readers who happen to be inspiring writers, and it was a blast!  Book shows are a great way to learn what your readers are looking for and what they’re wanting to read.  You also get a chance to share your experiences about writing and what makes your book(s) great!

But readers aren’t the only ones you can connect to.  There are plenty of other writers that you can get to know as well.  Not only can you make new friends, but you also create great connections and find ways to help fellow writers out (or they can help you!)

  • You learn how to market your book(s).

Being at book shows and connecting with others allows you great practice in perfecting your sales pitch.  You’ll learn quickly what hooks potential readers and be able to use that for future shows.

  • You can learn about how other books are doing in your field.

Let’s be honest – we authors are curious about how our peers are doing.  How are sales?  What genres seem to do well?  Is the market changing?  What are good strategies for marketing?  What are good shows to attend?  You can learn a lot through observation and speaking with your peers!

  • You gain increased exposure, even if a profit isn’t made right away.

Even though some shows have flopped, those same failed-signings occasionally brought me good things, such as connections with magazines and newspapers, invitations to other shows, and opportunities to speak at book clubs and schools.  You never know who you’ll meet at a book show!

  • You might improve your eBook sales.

Not everyone wants to spend the extra dollars in buying a paperback, so it’s important to have business cards at the ready for e-readers to take and remember you.  Though I haven’t seen a dramatic increase in my Kindle sales (yet) from shows, I’ve gained a handful of readers through people taking my card and buying the e-book version later.

Book shows can be a lot of fun (and sometimes a lot of work!). The profit isn’t always right away, and sometimes they may seem like a waste.  Weigh your options and see what works best for you, but if you’re willing to give book shows a try, don’t worry!  Just have fun.  🙂

Weekly Update – The Book Cover is Here!

Hi everyone!

In case you didn’t see the news earlier, the cover for Captain Patty and Veronica’s Vengeance has been released!  We’re well into the final edits and the book is almost ready to be published!  I’ll be sure to update you when it’s ready!

You can check out the cover here:

img_2664-1

Here’s the book description:

img_2665-2

If you haven’t read Captain Patty and the Nameless Navigatorbe sure to check it out here as the Kindle version is currently FREE through Tuesday, September 5!

That’s all I have for now.  I’m off to go back to writing in Heir of Vengeance!  Have a wonderful Labor Day!

Erin

Weekly Update: The Power of Words

I had an interesting conversation regarding a short story that was read by myself and two other people this week.

The story, in a nutshell, was about a student getting sent to the principal’s office at school.  As we were discussing the story, however, things took an interesting turn, not so much in what the story was about or what happened, but because of a few simple words: he mumbled

Now grant it, most discussions aren’t often so focused on the wording of a story, but in this case, the word “mumbled” changed the personality of the character, depending on who you were talking to.  For one, the fact that he mumbled meant that he was apathetic to being sent to the principal’s office.  To the other, the fact that he mumbled signaled that he was angry.  It led to an interesting discussion, and we came to the conclusion that we all saw the character in a completely different light.

It got me thinking about how powerful words…even simple ones…can be.  To most, a mumble is a mumble.  It doesn’t really change the characters or their personalities.  But in this case, since the story was so short, it made the difference between an apathetic person and an angry one, and once the character was changed, the plot of the story started to be looked at in a different light, too.

If anything, it taught me that clarity in writing is something we all need to strive for.  Do the words we use make sense to our readers?  Do they fit the character we’re describing?  Are they adding to the plot or are they taking away?  These are all questions we must take into account when writing, because if a reader thinks our words aren’t making sense, chances are they might not be reading our work much longer.

Have you ever come across a word (or set of words) that confused you?  How do you think it could have been written better?

Weekly Update – 08/20/2017

Phew!  Sorry for the late post, but it’s been a busy weekend, and I’m happy to say that I finally have a final draft submitted for Captain Patty and Veronica’s Vengeance.  Though I had an initial draft completed a bit ago, I wasn’t happy with the conclusion of the book, so a complete scrap-and-rewrite was necessary for the final four chapters.  It was tough, and there were a few days where I just sat staring at my computer screen with a blank mind, but the writing came through, and I’m much happier with the new ending and know it will be more enjoyable for readers.

In other Captain Patty news, the first round of the cover design should be available by the end of the week!  The back cover synopsis has also been finalized.  Stay tuned for the front cover and back cover preview in the coming weeks.  I can’t wait to show you!

That’s all for now.  If you’re in the United States, I hope you all enjoy tomorrow’s total eclipse!  Remember to keep your eyes safe.  🙂

-Erin

Weekly Update – For the Writers with a Second Job

I don’t know about you, but being a writer is hard work.

It’s even harder when you’re working another job on top of writing books.

Whether it’s volunteer or paid, working in other areas besides writing can make things difficult.  It’s hard to find time to write.  It’s hard to get a clear head primed for creativity when the day’s stressors aren’t over yet.  It’s hard to get as much done as you could have if you had more hours in the day.

And if you don’t meet your goals, it’s easy to feel guilty or feel like you’re not a good enough writer.

So what are some things one might keep in mind as they work other jobs and write?  Here are a few that help me:

  1. Realize you’re not alone.  There are plenty of other writers (and singers…and actors…and painters…and people in hundreds of other professions) who work multiple jobs, too.  The struggle is real, and we understand it.
  2. Don’t beat yourself up.  It’s not easy trying to juggle multiple tasks while getting things done on time.  Cut yourself some slack and don’t forget to practice self-care.  Be good to yourself because you’re worth it.
  3. Use your other experiences to help with your creativity.  You never know when you’ll be inspired.  Creativity can hit in the most unexpected places, and the experiences you build in areas outside of books will only help further your artistry.
  4. Enjoy your other line of work.  Even if it’s volunteering, there’s nothing wrong with having an interest outside of writing.  For me, it’s volunteering at my church.  For others, it may be helping rescue animals or serving the homeless or mentoring youth.  Whatever you do, learn to enjoy the moment.

Grant it, there are many more things that could be said, and many writers do go on to devoting their time fully to their art.  That’s certainly not a bad thing, and I’m sure many of us who work other jobs would hope to do the same someday.  But if you find yourself having to work as you write, don’t get discouraged.  Keep writing!  You never know – your hard work may just pay off!

 

Weekly Update – Odd Things About Being A Writer

When I first published, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect as an author – book signings, blog entries, late nights writing and editing.  All of these expectations were accurate and came with the job, but there were a few things (okay, maybe more than a few things) that I didn’t expect.

Chances are, if you’re an author or planning on becoming one, you may run into these oddities.  But don’t worry – just like doing any job, you’ll be able to weather any storm with patience and experience.  🙂

1. People will ask you to write their book.

One of the first conversations I had after announcing I was publishing The Ripple Affair was the simple question, “Will you write my book for me?”  Following said question was an explanation as to why this was a good idea to them: “I have so many great ideas, but not any talent to do it.  I can tell you what to write and then you can write it for me!”

No.  Just, no.

Writing a book is hard work.  It takes time, patience, and lots of dedication.  That being said, your story should be written by you.  Grant it, there is the subject of ghostwriting, but that topic aside, there’s something special about writing your own story.  It’s yours and no one else can claim it.  That, my friends, is something to be proud of.

As for having “talent”, rarely does a writer know everything there is about writing.  We’re learning just as much about our language and its syntax as any student.  Writing is more than just typing words on a paper – it’s a growth, one that never stops, even after the work is finished.

2. People will request to help you write your book.

A comment that makes me laugh (or cringe, depending) is when a person comes up to me and says, “You know, I’m not trying to tell you how to write your books, but I have this great idea for a character/story/setting, that I really think you should put in there.”

Again, no.

Trust me – you’ll quickly learn how to say, “Write your own story” in the most polite way possible.

3. You may not want to write on some days.

Writing is my life.  It has always been my life.  But some days, I just don’t feel like writing.

Between stress, volunteer work, family, health issues, and the temptation to drool over all those awesome Pinterest recipes, there are some days when the writing just isn’t flowing like it should.  And you know what?  That’s okay.  We all have days where the creativity takes a breather.  That doesn’t mean the writing will stop or you’re wasting your time.  Like any job, you just have to be persistent.  Don’t get down, and don’t give up!

4. Some people don’t take writing seriously.

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me to “get a real job”, I’d be a millionaire.

There’s an unfortunate stigma that being a writer somehow equals unemployment.  Grant it, writing doesn’t always bring the best pay (or any pay, for that matter), but writing is hard work, and mentally, it can be grueling.

Why?  Because writers today don’t just write, typically.  They also edit, format, illustrate, design web sites, run blogs, market their books, do research, attend conferences, teach…there’s an endless list of all the things writers do in order to publish a book and make it a success.  Being a writer is not a simple 9-5 job.  It’s a passion that lasts all day and all night, 365 days a year and 7 days a week.

Are there oddities about being a writer?  Certainly.  But despite the setbacks or inconveniences, the good tends to outweigh the bad.  Every moving plot, every good review, every connection you make with a reader through the words you write is worth all of it.

What are some oddities you’ve run into as a writer?

 

Weekly Update – Crafting a Villain

In the midst of editing this week, I decided to work a little more on Heir of Vengeance, Book Five of The Ripple Affair Series.  It’s about 80 pages in, and so far…so good…but I can tell that this one is going to be a fun one to write!

Because in this story, one of the biggest villains in the series is about to take center stage.

Now, keep in mind that there’s some spoilers ahead.  Okay, maybe they’re big spoilers.  So you have been warned!  Stop reading now unless you want to be spoiled (or you’ve already read the ending to Book Four, Heart of Deceit)…

Remember, spoilers ahead…

Keep going…

Almost there…

Okay.  If you’ve scrolled down this far, you’ve decided to enter spoiler territory.  In Heart of Deceit, we learned that Malum (the leader of the Velori) is none other than Edward’s older brother, Stephen!  No, he’s not a ghost.  He’s very much alive.  And after years of being amongst the Velori, I can tell you right now…he’s out for vengeance (hence the title).

What’s been interesting about writing Stephen’s character, though, is just how different he is from Malina, the series’ original villainess.  I’ve always imagined her as the kind of classical villain-type.  Egotistical, powerful, no moral code, and occasionally snickering, “mwa ha ha ha ha!” when no one is looking.  Malum (or Stephen, as he will eventually be known), is far from her type.  He’s more centered, grounded, clever…and he still has some good in him (even if it’s buried really deep).

One of the things I’ve been working on this week is some backstory for Stephen.  Just how did he go from the quiet and shy little boy to the ruthless people-puppeteer bent on destroying everything his brother touched?  What is his agenda?  Why was he gone for so long and why is he just now coming back?  Are he and Edward really so different, and if they aren’t…just how are they the same?

As I work on Stephen’s story and how it fits in The Ripple Affair, I can’t help but think back on all of the changes that’s happened just within the last year or so while writing.  Originally, Malum was meant to be a separate character (and Stephen was really, truly gone).  But as anyone who has ever written a story knows, characters often don’t listen to their authors and tend to go their own way.  Stephen is such a character, and once I decided for him and Malum to be the same person, everything seemed to flow a little easier.  Of course, once I started writing him, he was similar to Malina – a classical villain type.  But now that I have to write his backstory, and now that he has a bigger role to play in the overall series, he’s once again changing.  No longer is he the typical villain.  Now, he’s got more conflict, and that conflict may make him more similar to his brother than he realizes.

All in all, I’m super excited to get this written and published so you can read the next installment of The Ripple Affair!  And I’m even more excited about showing you the cover for Captain Patty and Veronica’s Vengeance!  Stay tuned to the blog as I’ll be premiering the cover soon!

Weekly Update – Daydreaming Counts As Writing, Right?

I freely admit that I had trouble paying attention in school when I was a kid.

It had nothing to do with the teachers.  They were great people, always trying to make lessons fun and engaging so we kids could learn.  But despite however hard I tried, I just couldn’t keep focused sometimes.  My mind would wander, and I’d daydream almost throughout the day (unless I got to read out of a book, that is…)

Even during the summers, when I was playing basketball or riding around in circles with my bike in the driveway, I’d daydream.  I’d put myself in stories or I’d create new episodes in my head of TV shows I had watched.  

Daydreaming was a part of life, and it wasn’t until I was in graduate school that I learned that it could also be a sign of being a writer.

As I work on finishing my edits and getting the cover designed for Captain Patty and Veronica’s Vengeance, I find myself occasionally daydreaming, even as I write.  I think of possible routes my story can take or how I can shake up my characters’ lives. I think of how I might want my dialogue to sound or whether I want to expand on a side plot or not.  And even though I’m working on the new Captain Patty, I’m already dreaming about how I want The Ripple Affair to end and how I want its sequel series to begin.

Though I would never recommend daydreaming when you should be concentrating (focus on your school work, kids, or you’ll have to learn the hard way like I did and realize studying is actually a good thing, ha!), it’s always fun to take the time (when you can) to “write in your head.”  Daydreaming is a way that writers plan their work, a sort of pre-writing as many others have called it.  Daydreams allow you to see plots and characters and settings and learn if they could possibly work.  It’s a way to test the product before the product is produced.

As this week comes to an end and a new one begins, may you find joy and happiness no matter what sort of dreams you create.  Have a wonderful week!

Weekly Update – 07/15/17

One of the hardest things about being a writer is finding the time to just sit back and read.  I’m ashamed to admit that aside from the occasional story, I’ve hardly read any books since beginning my writing career.  That’s unfortunate, as reading was what made me realize I wanted to be a writer in the first place.

So this week, that changed.  I sat down and took the time to do some reading.  And you know what?  It was fun!  It reminded me of the days when I’d sneak in pages to read between classes or curled up with a good book while everyone else was watching TV. It felt wonderful being lost in a fantasy world with new characters I’ve never met before, as if I was meeting new friends for the first time.

It’s easy to get distracted or overwhelmed when life gets busy.  Sometimes we can barely find enough time to eat or sleep, let alone relax.  But it’s always important to have that downtime…to have that time where you can sit down and enjoy the moment.  Reading is a form of entertainment that is as classic as time itself, and despite the fun found in our latest technologies, television and games can only go so far in helping us develop our imaginations to enjoy written worlds.  As you go about your weekend, I encourage you to enjoy a book or story and take some time to relax in this busy thing called life.