Posted in authors, friends, support, WFWA, writers

Finding your audience

We spend hours perfecting our craft, regardless if it is books, art, photography, dance or the theatre.
But even with the perfect masterpiece, without an audience to share it with, what is the point?
You can say it is for personal satisfaction. And I believe we must be our own biggest fan. Perhaps it is therapy. Very possible, but for most of us the process can be as stressful as it is therapeutic.
The vast majority of artists are looking to share their masterpiece. So where does this audience come from? Certainly the Internet has helped by leaps and bounds, but the Internet is also as vast as the ocean. As great as we believe our work is; it is a minnow in a ocean.
I would love to hear from readers on how they announced their work to the world. What worked? What didn’t? Did you pay huge amounts on advertising to make a few sales? Or did you find a niche to market your work that cost little but reaped great rewards?
Step up folks. Tell us your best and your worst marketing experiences – regardless if your product. Art, music, books … We can all learn from each other.

Posted in authors, characters, children, conflict, fiction, love, support, writers

California girl, Patricia Yager Delagrange writes about women’s struggles.

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It is a pleasure to have Patricia Yager Delagrange with us today for Author Interview Friday. Patricia was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, attended St. Mary’s College, studied in her junior year at the University of Madrid, received her B.A. in Spanish at UC Santa Barbara then went on to get a Master’s degree in Education at Oregon State University. She lives with her husband and two teenage children in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco, along with two very large chocolate labs, Annabella and her son Jack. Her Friesian horse Maximus lives in the Oakland hills in a stall with a million dollar view.

Joanne: What was your motivating factor to becoming a writer?

Patricia: In 2009 my daughter came home from school and said her friend asked why her mommy didn’t work. I had been a stay-at-home mom since giving birth to my son and loved being an at-home mom. However, when my daughter asked me that question I realized both my kids were becoming more independent and indeed, I did have more free time. I went to the Apple store, bought a MacBook and told myself and my family I was going to write a book. That marked the beginning of my “new” career.

Joanne: Well, thank God for children’s inquisitive minds. That is certainly a different answer than I have ever heard  before. How long did it take you to write and publish your first for manuscript?

Patricia: It took me maybe two to three months to write my first book, but after I wrote “The End” the real work started. After entering several contests I discovered not only was I “not” writing romance but I was “telling” the story and not “showing” it. I took several online classes and joined online writing groups, made hundreds of changes to my book from the comments made by the contest judges then began sending query letters to agents. I received literally hundreds of rejection letters. So I hired an editor. She taught me how to “really” write and not long afterward I signed a contract with Musa Publishing for my book Moon Over Alcatraz.

Joanne: That is very exciting. Some authors write for many, many years before getting a contract. Do you always write in the same genre?

Patricia: I write women’s fiction though I didn’t know that’s what it was called when I started. All my novels have a romantic element but the woman’s journey is the central focus of the story.

Joanne: Has your style or narrative changed in the course of writing?

Patricia: My first four novels are written in first person POV. My fifth novel I wrote in third person from the female main character’s point of view. I enjoyed that POV the most and may continue writing in that same POV or in a different third person POV for the next one but I haven’t decided yet.

Joanne: What does the term “finding your voice” mean to you and how did you find yours?

Patricia: I didn’t find my “voice” until writing my fifth novel. I’d read over and over again about your “voice” but never was quite sure what it meant nor whether I had one. I figured I didn’t have a voice since I didn’t know what the heck it was in the first place. Then, voila’, I finished my fifth novel and wrote “The End” and started the months-long editing process. That’s when I saw it. Or, I should say, I felt it. When I was re-reading that novel I realized I had my voice. It was there on the pages I’d written and it read differently than the other four books. It was “me”.

Joanne: Who are some of the authors whose work you admire the most, and why?

Patricia: I love Barbara Freethy, Jodi Picoult, Susan Mallery, Debbie Macomber, Nicholas Sparks and Richard Paul Evans. I love their writing because their books, in my opinion, are character-driven. I get bored when reading a novel that has too much description of every little thing to the nth degree because I love dialogue and like to get to know the characters. The authors I like write in a manner that lets me know the characters and shows just enough for me to get a feel of the environment in which they live.

Joanne: I couldn’t agree more. Jodi is my all-time favorite author as well. Do you consider yourself to be a “pantser” or a “plotter?”

Patricia: Oh, I’m most definitely a pantser. The only real planning I do before writing a novel is a list of the characters and their ages and professions, a blurb on what the book is about, and finally a short description of the first few chapters. Then I “take it away” from there and usually go off on several tangents but I know where I’m going. I look at my writing as coloring with crayon inside the lines of the story.

Joanne: Do you have any advice for new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Patricia: My advice to new writers would be to write the novel and perhaps while doing that, take a few online classes to help you out with ideas to enhance your writing, always with the rule in mind of “show, don’t tell”. And, if there’s any way you can afford it, get yourself an editor. My editor taught me how to write. I couldn’t have done it without her.

Thanks Patricia. What a pleasure to have you part of  Author Interview Friday. Your novel sounds like a gripping story of life struggles that many people could relate to. I can’t wait to read it.

Readers; below is a short synopsis of Moon Over Alcatraz followed by a few chapters right from the book. Links to buy her book are below.

Here are links to buy Patricia’s novel.

Musa Publishing   http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=150

Amazon  http://www.amazon.com/Moon-Over-Alcatraz-ebook/dp/B006UJEE3E/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1327940072&sr=1-1

Barnes and Noble  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/moon-over-alcatraz-patricia-yager-delagrange/1108112331?ean=2940032996682&itm=1&usri=moon+over+alcatraz

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/patricia.delagrange

Website:  http://www.patriciayagerdelagrange.com

Blog:   http://www.patriciayagerdelagrange.com

trailer: http://bit.ly/NPvxx0

Blurb about  Moon Over Alcatraz

Brandy Chambers was looking forward to the birth of her first child.  She and Weston move from San Francisco to the small town of Alameda to start a family, she’s writing her second book, and Weston has a fantastic job working on the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge project. Having this baby would make her already-wonderful life perfect.

But when the baby dies after a difficult birth, Brandy’s perfect life blows up in her face.  Stricken with grief, she and Weston pull apart. This new distance leads them both to disaster. Not until a chance encounter with her high school friend, Edward Barnes, does Brandy pull herself together. Brandy and Weston agree to recommit to each other, striving to forgive infidelity and recreate their previous existence.

Everything is once again going according to plan–until Brandy discovers she’s pregnant. While she struggles to cope with this new obstacle, Edward Barnes returns to town and discovers she’s having a baby, while Weston is torn between his love for his wife and his anger at her betrayal. Can Brandy manage to keep her marriage to Weston together?  Will Edward be a part of Brandy’s life if she and Weston separate?

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Sneak Peek into Moon Over Alcatraz

“What are you doing?  Where are you going?  Please, let’s talk about this.”

“I work my ass off in New York while you’re at home screwing other dudes?”

I pulled the sheet around me, ran over and grabbed his arm.  “I wasn’t screwing other dudes.”  He ripped his arm out of my grasp.  “I was the one who was all screwed up.  Then you went to New York and all we ever did was argue on the phone.  You don’t tell your secretary you’re married and she treats me like crap on the phone…”

By now, he was fully dressed, shoes and jacket on, wallet grabbed off the bureau.  His hand hovered above the door knob.  His face looked void of emotion, wiped clean of all expression.  “I can’t do this,” he mumbled.

I sobbed, knowing I’d hurt him and betrayed his trust.  I felt like a slut.  “I’m sorry.  I made a mistake.  But I love you.”

He stood near the door, shaking his head, tears dripping from his chin.

My legs shook.  My stomach cramped.  I had to make him understand.  “I know I’ve hurt you and that wasn’t my intention, but I wasn’t thinking straight.  I’ll regret it forever.  You don’t deserve this but I’m asking you to forgive me.”

His eyes swam with tears and his chin quivered. His Adam’s apple twitched up and down as he swallowed. “I had sex with Carol Smith.”

Posted in authors, fiction, support, writers

Beta reader needed

Okay readers. Calling on all your knowledge out there. A very dear friend of mine has written what I believe to be a most amazing story. The problem? I don’t know what I am talking about. This story is far out of my realm of understanding that I fear I may be giving him all wrong advise. It is what I call modern mythology or a form of sci-fi/ fantasy/ with a lot of historical elements. It is a novella of about 25k words.
He needs a beta reader to take a look-see before he starts querying to agents. If anyone out there would like to be his beta reader, for free, I might add, please email me or leave a comment here. You would be expected to sign something protecting his story from someone stealing it— although I know none of you would really do that. Would you? Help please.

Posted in authors, characters, children, conflict, parents, support, writers

Building conflict in your characters

“Your characters should, more or less, always be having a very bad day.”

Dan Barden made this statement in a wonderful article entitled The Art of Conflict in the July/August edition of Poets & Writers.He goes on to say that Story=Conflict and conflict creates character growth, and without the growth, you have no story.

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book and happy face

What I still am unclear on is the how. I would love to hear from other authors on how they build the inner conflict of their characters.

Perhaps some of you can even give me an idea on my WIP. My narrator and protagonist is actually the mother of the central character. Her teenage daughter has committed a violent crime. She could either be sentenced to life imprisonment if she is found competent to stand trial, or be sent to a mental facility with a chance for release at some time if she is NOT found competent to stand trial. This is the struggle of the mother dealing with the most horrific of circumstances. It is completely written in the mother’s POV.  Any suggestions on how to build her inner conflict?  She is obviously upset and feels powerless to do anything since it is entirely up to the court to decide her daughter’s fate. But growth? That stumps me.   Or maybe I don’t really have a story at all.

Please leave some comments or suggestions. I value all my writer colleagues out there.

Posted in authors, love, support, writers

Author Diana Symons didn’t give up after her first novel flat lined and she gave it a vanilla file funeral.

“I started writing Speculative Fiction, being a geek at heart. It was that novel that I took to my first writer’s conference and brought it home covered in blood, I mean red ink. There was so much that I needed to learn about novel writing. I tried to resuscitate life back into it, but it had flat lined, so I buried it in a plain vanilla file.

After that, I found myself writing contemporary women’s fiction/romance. It really is the story of a woman who happens to fall in love, so it’s not fair to call it romance where the focus is the love story.” Diana Symons

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Diana Symons, Author

Joanne: It is such a pleasure to have Diana on Author Interview Friday. I am always curious how people get the inspiration to be a writer. Diana, when did you first know you wanted to write?

Diana: I’ve been writing forever. When I was kid, I would cut pictures out of magazines and write poems about them. I started a dozen versions of the Great American Novel, but I was never good at finishing them. It wasn’t until I was laid off of my marketing job during the dot com bust that I gave myself time to take my writing seriously. So, I guess unemployment was my particular inspiration to get started!

Joanne: Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Diana: I was an English minor in college, which meant that I took advanced writing seminars. But it was writing conferences and fellow writers that helped me the most.

Joanne: Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indi publisher to a colleague?

Diana: I went self-publishing because I had problems finding an agent. This book is very edgy and not a great fit for CBA. Also, I went to an e-book publishing conference and was won over. I love the idea that you can control your own book. You release it and it stays available regardless of how well it sells. A hardcover book will get pulled for slow sales and it’s essentially dead. An e-book has life for as long as you want to keep it live. That allows for a long period of growth and history.

I have just released Crucible Heart as a hardcover edition through CreateSpace as well. It should be available on Amazon any day. Quite a few people have asked when the “book” is coming out because they don’t use e-readers. With print on demand, there’s no expensive inventory to tie up a huge chunk of money.

Self-publishing requires a team effort. You have to work with people who know what they’re doing—an editor who will make your work wonderful and layout and design people who will make your cover beautiful. I tried to do it all myself once, and found out the hard way that it’s best to let talent work in areas where talent is needed.

Joanne: Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

Diana: My earlier writing was always third person, but this book is first person. It’s all through the mind of the main character. It’s the first time I’ve done this, and I really love it. To me, it’s so much easier than third person. However, one comment I got back in a review was the wish that there was another voice telling the story. I will consider that for future work. I don’t always like switching POV when I read other books, but I see that some people like it.

Joanne: For many of us authors, marketing can be one of the most difficult aspects of the business. What techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Diana: I actually spend more time on this part than working on my book. I write about finding God. My books will always be focused on the path to knowing Him. So I started a blog some time ago where I write a daily devotional. My goal is to build that site up to get a lot of traffic and get a lot of eyes on the link to my book. The plan is to develop enough quality material that people searching about God online will come to me rather than me going out to find them. Five million people every month search on the word “God” in Google. Five million! People around the world are searching for answers about God, and I want them to find me.

So my blog has two functions. One—to help people who want to find God. And two—get lots of eyes on my book. Inbound marketing as opposed to outbound marketing. This will take some time, hence the positive aspect of e-books and print on demand that allow for long sales cycles.

Of course, those blog posts go to Facebook, Twitter, my Amazon author page, Goodreads, etc. I also use an email app called WiseStamp. It embeds a link to my website and whatever my current blog post is to the bottom of my emails.

Joanne: Are you a pantser or a planner?

Diana: I’m a plonster. I’m training myself to plot more. I started using Scrivener with my second book and it’s very helpful to lay out the chapters on a “corkboard” and see the flow of the story. If I want to add a scene or chapter, it’s very easy to insert it. I found that it was a lot easier to sit down and start writing if I knew exactly where the chapter was going.

Joanne: I can’t wait to read Crucible Heart. Although our ending are quite different I am sure, in both your book, Crucible Heart and my book, Accident, a woman is sent to prison for killing someone in a car accident do to her negligence. Thank you Diana, for being a part of my blog.

Readers, here is a sneak peek into Crucible Heart and the link to purchase your own e-reader edition

Crucible Heart

Crucible Heart

Jenna Johnson did two years in prison for killing a child while texting and driving. Living with the guilt made her suicidal, until she met Jess. Jess’ constant encouragement that God can fix anything finally broke through Jenna’s thick walls of protection. But the road to redemption was a learning curve, and Jenna had a lot to learn. When she finally understood the truth of the Bible, her hard won victory was shattered in a devastating moment of truth. Only her new found faith could save her from her own self-destruction.

You can purchase Crucible Heart at the links below.

http://dianasymons.com

http://www.amazon.com/Crucible-Heart-Jenna-ebook/dp/B00CHA31ZW/ref=la_B002BMORAO_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1369078305&sr=1-2

Posted in authors, friends, love, support, writers

Networking with other writers

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Happy 2nd Anniversary Marco Island Writers

I  started this writing journey thinking I was all alone in the world. It can be a solitary occupation, with my nose buried in my PC as I type or dig through libraries for research material.  Then I discovered that there are many ways to connect to fellow writers. I joined a local writers group shortly after its inception in 2011. This past week, we celebrated our 2nd anniversary as a group. It all started with two people, then it doubled to four, then to eight and so on and so on.

Today the group has forty paid members and over 100 that still receive the email newsletter. This is pretty amazing since we are a very seasonal town, with the population dropping to about a third off-season. (Off-season for us is summer, when all the snow-birds have flown back home to Ohio, Michigan, New York and the Jersey shore.)  This group of people are nothing short of amazing. The skill levels range from “only dreaming about writing” to well-known authors like Sue Monk Kidd. Our genres are just as diverse. We have journalists, poets, editors,  non-fiction and memoir writers and every type of fiction novelists you could mention.  We have learned together with wonderful speakers and workshops. We have celebrated the victories of publication of our authors. If I am counting correctly, 21 of the 40 members are now published. That is a huge accomplishment.  I think most of us would agree we could not have done it alone.

Besides my wonderful friends at Marco Island Writers, I also belong to a wonderful online group, WFWA, Women’s Fiction Writers Assoc. which is a God-send for me to learn from the writers of my own genre. We’ve talked about character, and point of view, of  Indie publishing and how to find an agent for traditional publishing. Our last loop was discussing the pros and cons of profanity in our books. Talk about diverse. Whew!

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My writing started like this.

 

Early on in my writing endeavor, I was part of a wonderful online group through Writers Village University. Five women from different parts of the world; England, Mexico, Ohio, Colorado, and Illinois, started on a journey to critique each others work, chapter by chapter, line by line until we reached “The End”  It took a full year. Of those five, I believe every one has either already published or is currently working with a publisher for publication.

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Eventually it became this.

 

Without the support of the writing community. I know I never would have finished my first novel, Accident, or be working on my 3rd WIP (the 2nd only made it to the “Save for Later” file.    I want to thank Marco Island Writers, WFWA and special core group at Writers University (you know who you are). Without all of you, I would have given up.

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My finished debut novel on Amazon.

 

Who has been your support team pushing to go forward when the words get stuck, when the rejection letters pour in, when you are just sick of the nine hundredth revision?  I would love to hear. Please leave a comment and give your support team the recognition they deserve.