Authors' Chat

Not Just an Ordinary Day by Carrie Beckort

When I looked through the list of blog topics for the summer, the option “Create a day for yourself and recap it.” jumped out at me. Even though I’m home full-time, I don’t often make the time to do something fun for me. Not counting my 6-day-a-week workouts, I have a handful of regular activities that I do once a month.  I love that they provide me with something to look forward to each month, but I know I need to plan more time to do different things and/or pamper myself. I immediately knew when I would create this day for myself. My husband and daughter take a trip to King’s Island each year in early July, and I knew that would be the perfect time. That just left me with figuring out what to do . . . I started brainstorming, and several ideas came to mind. Visions of movie marathons, non-stop reading, manis and pedis all danced in my mind. The idea was that I would keep busy, all day, for the purpose of this blog post and one other very important reason. You see, I have Binge Eating Disorder (BED). It has been a very long and…

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The Thing About Titles By Helen Hollick

I’ve found that, sometimes, deciding on a title for your story can be harder than writing the whole thing. When my first novel was accepted by William Heinemann for publication, way back in 1993, I had called it The Kingmaking. It was about a man who became a king (King Arthur in fact) so it seemed suitable. We went through the long process of editing, copy editing, proof reading, cover design, etc then a few days before preparing to go to print I was told, ‘We’re not keen on the title. Can you think of something else?’ I couldn’t. ‘Can you think of anything?’ says I. They couldn’t. The Kingmaking it remains to this day. Counter that with my UK published Harold the King and A Hollow Crown. Both books (a duo about the events that led to the 1066 Battle of Hastings) were acquired by a US publisher who decided to change the titles. A Hollow Crown became The Forever Queen (which, I confess, I prefer) but Harold became I Am The Chosen King. Why? Because the publisher said ‘No one will know who Harold is.’ Fair enough – but does ‘I Am The Chosen King’ leave the reader…

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Advertising Budget

Books sales might prove to be slow. We know it is largely up to us to promote our work. True, if you have taken the route of publishing via a small Indie publisher, some promotion will be done for you. However, that will not be enough to propel your creation out there for everybody to see. Therefore, you are starting to search for other options. The problem might be, there are not enough funds available for a large advertisement campaign. Believe me when I say, there really is no need to spent a vast amount of money on one single promotion. I have done this about four times now, without the desired effect. Maybe, we should follow the good old English saying, ´Every mickle makes a mackle´´, or something very similar. Let´s say we could spare 50 Dollars a month and for a while, we are able to stick to it. Now we have set our budget and have to master the art of spending it wisely. Finding a way what works best for the book we plan to promote. Book promotions sites are excellent options, but we have to remember that the same book, using the same site, can only…

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How I Got My Indie Novel into the Library System

by Annie Daylon I had no idea that indie authors could apply to have books purchased by libraries. When the illustrator of my picture book dropped that gem of information my way, I delved into research. At my local library, I spoke with the community librarian who gave me the contact information for the acquisitions librarian. In my application email to acquisitions, I included: a brief bio; cover images of available titles (linked to Amazon); mini-synopses; website link; and contact info. When a couple of weeks passed with no response, I emailed again. Still no reply. Months later, I did a follow up. I phoned the acquisitions librarian who readily explained that she receives scads of email and that she had simply missed my request. She asked me to re-send my application email. I complied. Within a week, a purchase order showed up: two copies of one title—Of Sea and Seed. I was elated! Within a few weeks, my book was in the library system of the British Columbia Fraser Valley Regional Library. Does making an effort to be known by your local library enhance your chances of receiving a favorable response to your application? Possibly. In my case, after…

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That Grey Area of Copyright

By Helen Hollick I read an article the other day about a self-published ‘author’ (hmm, debatable term) who had produced dozens of new books in one year. Someone got suspicious and looked into the details. It turned out this ‘author’ had copied, almost word for word, other books just changing the characters’ names, sex, and altering the location. So Jane Brown became John Black, and London became New York. That in itself was fine, but when an original sentence of: ‘Jane looked out of her bedroom window at the grey, drizzly sky of a London afternoon and sighed,’ became: ‘John looked out of his bedroom window at the dull, drizzling sky of a New York afternoon and sighed,’ things are not so fine. (I made the example up by the way!) What is even more disturbing, it seems this particular person knew exactly what he/she was doing because they had been caught, and cautioned, before. Apart from this is damaging to the original author and nothing more than copyright theft, what did this person get out of it – beside raking in a few ill-gotten pennies? We are not talking big time best-seller here. But then of course, the best-sellers…

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An Author’s Angle on Date Night by Annie Whitehead

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree-To Be A Queen I’m going on a date with a handsome man called Alhelm, a real-life 10th century warrior and nobleman, who held lands in the northern area of the kingdom of Mercia. How do I know he’s handsome? Aethelflaed, from To Be A Queen, seems rather taken with him: “His blond hair, recently cut by the look of it, was sticking out at odd angles, where curls had been shorn, but not short enough to subdue them. His blue eyes were so pale that the pupils shone uncommonly black. A sprinkling of freckles spilled over both cheekbones and spread over his nose. He smiled at her … she felt an urge to smile back but also look away, at once a grown woman yet still a foolish child.” This is when she first meets him, and she is smitten. So I imagine someone who looks a little like this:    Although the reality is probably more like this:  But, I muse while I’m straightening my hair, how can we know what they looked like? The Mercians were the ‘Angle’ part of Anglo-Saxon; Pope Gregory, upon seeing some slaves in the market said they were “Not Angles,…

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Where do you like to take a day for yourself and read?

Tranquil places far from the demands of my keyboard are necessary escapes to keeping my imagination free to travel - anywhere. Less than an hour from our home on the Olympic Peninsula, I've found such an idyllic locale along the shore of Lake Crescent. Last week, my husband and I bundled up on a rainy morning to make the trip along the narrow 101 to the National Park Lodge for a much-needed getaway. After a tasty breakfast, we planted ourselves on two cushioned, wicker chairs in the lodge sunroom overlooking the lake. It wasn't hard to let imagination transport me into a cozy mystery novel in someone's Victorian lake house. With its worn wood floors and floor-to-ceiling windows, I had to work to pull my focus back to the Brandon Sanderson fantasy novel I'd brought with me. On this particular morning low clouds hovered above the water obscuring most of the mountains that border the twelve-mile-long lake. For awhile the view was less of a distraction so the world of the final empire drew me in. Soon the clouds lifted, revealing Storm King and Pyramid Peak. Tourists ambled out onto the wooden dock for selfies. The view and the aroma…

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So, what kind of books do you write? by Carrie Beckort

Genre. It’s like the gender classification for books, except there are more than two options: Literary Romance Historical Science Fiction Children’s Self-help On and on and on . . . Just as it is with gender, a book’s genre classification gives people a set of expectations for how the book should ‘act’. Romance novels should have a happily ever after ending. A Fantasy novel should transport the reader to a world they’ve never before seen. A Mystery novel should have unexpected twists and turns from start to finish. But what if I don’t want to be boxed into one category? What if I don’t want to follow the rules? “Um, that’s great. But tell me, what kind of books do you write?” When someone asks me this question, I know they’re expecting me to respond with a genre classification. In the beginning of my writing career, I would cringe and stutter and overall just make myself look like a blubbering idiot. My books don’t fit neatly into a specific genre, and I didn’t want to pigeonhole them into one. Instead of blurting out a genre, I decided to tell my perspective readers what my books are about. The primary focus…

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IT TAKES A TEAM by Barbara Kyle

I've gratefully learned this lesson in having ten novels published: it takes a team. My Thornleigh Saga is a seven-book historical series that features a middle class English family's rise through three turbulent Tudor reigns. The latest is The Traitor's Daughter. For this series my publisher wanted a book a year, and for me that's a challenge. I couldn't achieve it alone. I'm happy to say I've been blessed with a support team, three people that are definitely an "A" team. I sing their praises here. First is my agent, Albert Zuckerman. Al is something of a legend in the publishing world. He founded Writers House, one of the largest literary agencies in the world. He's been midwife to dozens of bestselling books, many of them blockbusters such as Dr. Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, Michael Lewis's Moneyball (made into the film with Brad Pitt), and Ken Follett's mega-bestsellers like Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. I'm honored that Al names me as one of his leading clients. Years ago, when I was a rookie in this business, peddling my first novel but knowing nobody, I sent queries out to a slew of agents, as all…

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Self-Publishing: An Author’s Experience

Today B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree G.J. Reilly is talking with us about his self-publishing experience. G.J., when did you decide you were going to self-publish? When I sent out my first manuscript and it took close on a year to receive a reply. Okay, that’s not really fair. A major publishing house had an open submission window for a very exciting new project. ‘Inquisitor’ was barely finished, unpolished and pushed through editing using the bare bones of MS Word. By the time I’d received my first inevitable rejection, ‘Inquisitor’ had changed and evolved and I was so close to it that I really couldn’t tell if I was deluding myself, or whether it was actually worth reading. I’d had a few beta readers, but nobody who’d ever really written for themselves and, although trusted their opinions and they were very honest, I felt like I needed completely impartial feedback. However, just about every article on the internet was telling me that getting feedback is like winning the lottery on Friday the 13th. So, instead of wasting professional time, I decided to read as much as I could about self-publishing in the hope that readers might leave reviews. It took a long…

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