Authors' Chat

Halloween-An Unusual Holiday

Award Winning B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree Saving Halloween Halloween is an unusual holiday - it's the one day of the year when we're allowed to deceive one another in a spirit of fun. We dress up in costumes, hide our faces, and believe we are someone or something else. We let our imaginations run wild! In writing 'Saving Halloween', I wanted to draw the reader into an imaginary and mysterious world by using deception.  When book-smart Anne Parson meets the lively Halloween Spavento for the first time in the orchard, it may dawn on the reader that something is a bit odd about this free-spirited girl. As more of the Spavento family is introduced, the magic surrounding this household is revealed. But, it's not just the characters and actions that may dupe the reader; their names are significant. The magical family's last name -- Spavento, means fright or terror in Italian. There's more hidden meanings in the names than that and I've included in the back of the book a listing of Italian phrases sprinkled throughout the book. If readers get really curious, they'll look up (Uncle) Fenris's name and discover more quickly how well that describes him. Oh there's lots of mystery and…

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Inspired by Halloween

By J.B. Hawker - B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree The first book I ever published was inspired by Halloween. One warm October day, my son and I were taking a walk around our small Northern California town, enjoying the weather and the Halloween decorations popping up in the neighborhoods. Passing by a particularly grisly tableau, with imitation body parts and fake blood galore, I commented on how easy it would be for a serial killer to get rid of his victims’ bodies by inserting them into such displays. “That’s a great idea for a book, Mom. You should write it,” my son said. So, I did... The book, Hollow, takes place in the imaginary Northern California mountain town of Clark’s Hallow. My working title was Halloween Hollow, but I liked the ambiguous sound of the one word: Hollow. The main character, Bunny Elder, is recently widowed after many years of marriage to a minister. The book is written from a Christian perspective and includes scripture quotes at the heading of each chapter. I didn’t label it Christian Fiction when it first came out, but after a reviewer accused me of trying to trick readers into reading a Christian work by simply calling it…

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How to Respond to Negative Book Reviews

By Award Winning Author Valerie Biel -B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Telling an author to ignore a bad review is like telling a dieter to ignore a cookie sitting in front of them. Rarely do we have the willpower to just walk away. We stare at it, we wonder about it, and it might become all we can think about for a while. I get it . . . I’ve been both that author and that dieter (and God forbid if you get a bad review while dieting—that just not fair.) But I’m here to tell you bad reviews are bound to happen and you should be happy (YES, HAPPY) when you are staring down that two-star or (cringe) one-star review. (Seriously!) That means your book is being more widely read and the more people who read your book, the more likely it is that you will attract a naysayer or two. Intellectually, we all know that not everyone will like what we write. But that is hard to remember when that first stinging review comes in. Remind yourself that you’ve written a great story (because you did) and the vast majority of reviews will cancel out the few who didn’t like…

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Copy-Editor- do we need one?

By Award Winning Author Elisabeth Marrion-B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree You finished your latest masterpiece. Ready to press the publish button? No, wait, hold it there, just for a minute. Have you read and re-read? Did you do so on your computer, or did you print a copy? Printing out a copy is always a good idea, if you can do that. It really is easier to spot mistakes on a printed sheet. Have you been lucky, or brave enough, to have it beta read? Most of us have written more than one book. Do we, by now, have an inkling as to what will be best for our work to shine above the rest? Cost, as always, will be a factor. Proofreading is a must and can be costly. I, at one time, received some really bad advice on how to save on proofreading costs. A mistake I will not repeat. But do we need the extra expense of having the manuscript copy-edited? And bear in mind, that your copy-editor might suggest some changes. Or, worse still, suggest to delete certain sections altogether. This is your work, every word thought about, and the story carefully crafted. And now? A total stranger…

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Getting out there …

By G.J. Reilly-B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree  Usually, I’d start a piece on marketing with “So, you’ve got a brand new, shiny book to sell”, or something of that ilk. But today, it really isn’t working. I could also begin with “Have you ever watched an hour of TV and noticed how many times we get blasted with the same old garbage?” and I’m sure that would probably ring a few bells too. The truth is, if you’re reading this blog, or have any connection at all to Indie BRAG, you’ve done your research and are already marketing your books in some way. So, there’s little point in my spouting analogies at you, or selling you a marketing solution that only works for a small minority of people. So you have a brand new, shiny book to sell. If you’re an author who sells through Amazon, then all you have to do is find your listing to see just how many others are doing the same. The question is: why is it that X many books are higher in the chart than yours (even if you’re in the enviable position of only having 2 or 3 above you)? Okay, here’s a quick…

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The One that Got Away

By Annie Whitehead B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree It’s the time of year when students go off to college/university, and I’m casting my mind back to my own student days ... The Anglo-Saxon world which I studied was rather testosterone-fueled: kings whacking seven bells out of each other, male priests sermonising and occasionally fighting, and of course, those marauding invaders. No matter - I loved the subject when I was an undergraduate, and I still do. As much as I enjoyed my studies, I’d had a yearning to be a writer, and during those lectures, plans were forming. Some names and characters interested me more than others, and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to write about them. But one name really stood out. And this person had no testosterone. We were studying one of the first pieces of propaganda; a document designed to show off its subject in the best possible light - a real piece of spin. It was commissioned by this same high-ranking person and the rewards of studying it lie in what it glosses over or hides as much as in what it reveals. Queen Emma:  married to not one, but two kings. Mother to not one,…

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Three Axioms

Martha Kennedy Award winning Author of BragMedallion Honorees, Martin of Gfenn and Savior As a writer, I’ve learned a few pretty obvious lessons, but, as I have the learning style of a crash test dummy, I had to discover them for myself. It comes down to three axioms. Axiom 1 — Give your ardor time to cool before submitting your work. While it’s cooling… Axiom 2 — Get help with proofreading, solicit comments and help from friends, then hire a professional editor. Axiom 3 — Stay true to your work. ********** Axiom 1 — Submit in haste, repent at leisure.  OR…Don’t do anything with your manuscript while you’re in love with it. Love is blind. In 2005, when I finished (and proofread [see Axiom 2]) the initial, complete 500 manuscript pages of Martin of Gfenn, I was so INFATUATED with it that I couldn’t see that it was an overwritten, error-riddled, repetitive nightmare. Four years later, looking at it with clearer eyes, I saw the full horror of my prose. Unfortunately, I’d already queried every possible agent. I decided (as the revised book was exponentially better than the unrevised book) to query them again. Yes, this is the biggest “NO!…

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How to Wrap Your Mind around Selling Books Without Warping It

A Marketing Paradigm By Jo Sparkes -B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Being an indie author means freedom to explore, try new things. It means being uncoupled from editor notes and publisher calendars. It also means book sales are your responsibility. So I developed – in the school of hard knocks – my own grasp of marketing. It’s remarkably naïve, possibly dim-witted. But it does keep me focused on the forest after tripping over tree roots. First, I learned to drop any emotions that the word ‘marketing’ stirs. Fears of rejection, failure, and that evil nemesis self-doubt. Honestly, they’re useless here. So if any of these worries sneak up on you, just think of all the truly awful stuff shamelessly hawked at us every day. You know what I mean. Rondo knives, vaginal douches. Superman versus Batman. Now, with emotions gone, let’s define this marketing thing as a three step process. Our goal: tons of people rush to buy our book, avidly read it and then race to tell everyone how wonderful it was. The word of mouth is so powerful that nothing else matters. Sweet, huh? Achieving this nirvana depends on three things. Let’s continue working backwards – which ought to warn…

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Writing what you love to write – and read… by Anna Belfrage

Sometimes, people ask me why I write historical fiction. “Why such a difficult genre?” they ask, which in itself makes me a tad irritated, as historical fiction, IMO, is not a genre – it’s an umbrella under which all other genres coexist. In essence, the “historical” in historical fiction merely indicates that the story is set in a non-contemporary time. It says nothing about the content as such, albeit that many people seem to think historical fiction is defined by blood and gore and thousands upon thousands dying in one battle or other. Yes, that stuff happens in historical novels. It also happens in contemporary novels – it happens in real life around us on a daily basis. There are historical novels that are essentially love stories, there are others that are coming-of-age stories, yet another author delivers a well-crafted thriller set in distant times, and quite a few produce so called cosy mysteries a la Miss Marple. As long as all these very different books are set in the past, they end up labelled as historical fiction – and considered comparable. Obviously, they are not. I write books set in the past because I am something of a history…

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Writing Across Genres: How Boldly Following Your Inspiration Can Change Your Destiny

By Sheri Fink A few years ago, a reporter asked me what I’m working on next and I revealed for the first time that I was writing a draft of a romance novel. Seeing that was known only as a children’s author, she followed up with, “Have you ever seen anyone successfully transition beyond the children’s box into women’s fiction?” I paused for a moment and then responded that I didn’t understand the question because I didn’t believe in her “box.” I guess I’ve never believed in the “box.” Instead, I’m something of a free spirit when it comes to writing. I believe in writing from the heart. That means being willing to join your characters on wild and unpredictable adventures. I’m a “pantser” when it comes to writing and I’m often amazed at where they take me, especially when my latest characters took me into the world of romance. I guess readers might have been wondering, “What does a children’s author know about romance?” What does anyone know about romance? I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I’m a hopeful romantic with a vivid imagination for writing a fictional romance. It would be easier to choose the comfort…

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