9 Ways to Read Like a Genius: By Ariel Abke
Every once in a while we like to featured blogs we run across. Today that happens to be a blog by Ariel Abke. You can find her original blog here.
9 Ways to Read Like a Genius: By Ariel Abke
I wasn’t expecting it to explode like that.
Have you ever made a goal, then become so absorbed in it that you surpass your goal by miles? That was me and reading.
A year ago I was not a reader, but in January I wrote a post about how awesome reading is for you, and I shared my goal of reading 12 books in 2015. I had a huge to-read list, and jumped right in.
It’s been less than six months, and I’ve already read 17! I’m not stopping at 17, though. I’m going to up my game! I read a lot of books this spring, and I’ve learned that there are certain things I can do to get the most out of each book.
Here are nine ways to read smarter:
What are some smart reading tips you’ve discovered?
Both a Writer and a Marketer
Social media is a great way reach potential readers. Authors of all kinds need to learn how to use it effectively in order to do so.
“Effectively” has different meanings for every writer. With new technology and new social media platforms forming everyday, this task can seem unreachable to some. There is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and the list really does go on… Don’t get so carried away in the networking you forget about writing. Decided what you can handle and make that work. It is better to have a strong online presence on a couple platforms then a weak presence on all of them.
We strongly suggest prioritizing these platforms, Facebook, Personal Blog/Website, Twitter and Instagram. Decide which of these platform you can handle on a day to day basis and then go from there.
If you are new to the social media world here are a few guidelines to follow.
Content Is Key
Keep your post interesting and full of emotion. Share links to articles or other online content that you find interesting. This includes posting links or tweets from people YOU follow. Doing so creates a good relationship with the person whose work you're sharing, and it gives your followers interesting content.
Be Real and Be You
Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Your followers will catch on and they WILL unfollow you. Try not to blast new followers with links on where they can buy your book. You wouldn’t walk up to someone you’ve never met and try that so don’t do it online either.
Social Social Social
Be social on social media. You would think this one is easy, however, several people don’t do it right. Make meaningful comments on other people's posts, engage in sophisticated conversations and share information your followers will read.
Try hard to stay away from constantly promoting your book but please refrain from doing so. The occasional promotion is fine. Updates on releasing new books so on and so forth should be kept to a minimum. Make social media about creating and building relationships and sales will follow after.
Get Published, Market your Book and More!
We are looking for clean stories for young readers, young adults and adults. We accept both fiction and non-fiction work. We cover all publishing costs and then, after the publishing costs are covered, we will split the royalties with you 50/50! Please see our media kit here to learn more!
You do not need an agent to submit your work to BYCT. Please email a synopsis and manuscript, either full or partial, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Then please give us 8-12 weeks to go over your work and reach a decision.
Thanks for your submission. We hope to include you in our stellar list of authors!
Welcome to our writers' corner. Here we'd love to share what we do, what we can do for you, how it works, what people have to say about us, and more. Look around, and when you think of questions - and you will have questions Don't waste any time getting answers. Please feel free to email us at email@example.com or fill out a contact form on our website.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
WHAT WE CAN DO FOR YOU - (Please note that there are NO COSTS to you & NO HIDDEN FEES)
•Answer your questions.
•Evaluate your submission & offer critique & encouragement.
•Work with you on revisions.
•Develop a professional front and back cover with your input.
•Professionally edit your manuscript and discuss changes we feel are needed in collaboration with you.
•Professionally proofread your manuscript through multiple readers.
•Obtain ISBN numbers (print & digital.)
•Submit advance reader copies and solicit Beta readers.
•Format and Typesetting of manuscript.
•Submit for print and conversion to e-book formats.
•Establish price point and establish a pricing range with you.
•Assign free and promotional opportunities.
•Send you a proof copy for final inspection/corrections.
•Secure and assign an Internet domain name for your book.
•Develop book web page to market your book.
•Develop Facebook author fan page.
•Work with you on development of social media markets including Twitter, Google +, Facebook and more.
•Develop and submit press releases, media marketing materials, articles, self-generated marketing items to general and specific media markets.
•Set up author interviews and book signings locally, as available.
•Make copies of book available to you at cost. (Note: You have no obligation to purchase any.)
•Submit quarterly sales reports to you.
•Encourage you to write more books.
[Note: These are actual questions that have been sent to us. If you have a question you would like answered, scroll to the bottom of the page.]
• How many rounds of editing need to be done? Would I be charged if additional editing is required? No charges are incurred by the writer at all. After the book sells we equally share the royalty. We aim to get a great book out and each book is different and requires differing levels of editing. I cannot say how many rounds of editing will be needed, however, I can tell you that there is no cost to you.
• Will I have any input on the final naming and look of my books? Yes - we work WITH you. We will make suggestions based on our experience. As the writer you can express your ideas, although the goal of working with BYCT is for our experience.
• I don't see BYCT quoting reviews from anywhere other than individuals and Amazon. Are review copies sent to newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, and online book review sites? We send reviews , articles, videos, sample copies, bio sheets and more to the above named outlets. In addition, we target independent bookstores and specialized stores. We are always in the process of getting feedback. As for an online book review site, they are either paid or comprised of individuals who read the book. We have quotes from people who read the book and were not paid. Right now we are focused on getting our books (both in print and e-formats) to as many people as we can, to get their reviews and quotes. Like all things, that does takes time.
• How are covers designed? We have professional graphic designers working on our covers and print layouts. Graphic art comes from a variety of sources including original designs and composite works. It all depends on the look we are after. Authors are included in the design process.
• Why does the BYCT catalog appears to only contain a handful of titles? This does not constitute any kind of track record. Books You Can Trust is a relatively young company. We were formed in January 2013. That is not a secret. The formation of this company is based on the experience of the key players and those backing the company. This experience spans decades of writing, editing, graphics, sales and marketing both in the field of books, newspapers, magazines, as well as digital formats. It should be noted that our titles are free of graphic violence, graphic sex and profanity, as mandated by our publishing policy. With our recent acquisition of new titles, expect to see the number of books increase rapidly.
• Wouldn't it make more sense to get a mainstream publisher? Absolutely. We believe our company to be your #2 option for publishing available. Read PUBLISHING OPTIONS. The likelihood of you getting a mainstream publisher as a new author is slim. I won't depress you how slim, but here is a quite from a best selling author, Ian Irvine who wrote: "Lesson 1: Got expectations? Lower them. Feel free to write the most beautiful, thought-provoking words in the English language. The public will feel equally free to ignore them. Here's the sad truth: most people who write a book will never get it published, half the writers who are published won't see a second book in print, and most books published are never reprinted. What's more, half the titles in any given bookshop won't sell a single copy there, and most published writers won't earn anything from their book apart from the advance."
Read the whole article - it answers a lot of questions http://www.ian-irvine.com/publishing.html
• Your contract grants you total control over your work for a period of time, after which his control automatically extends unless you take action to terminate. During the period of control you pay for nothing, and you might expect some editing fees, billed to you during rewrite. And the rewrites may be substantial. The contract requires you to provide whatever rewrites the publisher asks for ("We don't like the ending; you must write a new ending").
I am not sure WHAT contract you are reading; but it is not ours. Our contracts offer many choices. They run from a one year to a five year term, the latter offering a higher net royalty. Many publisher contracts run longer. The reason we want a set period is to be sure that after we have provided all the services you see on our services page, you do not just say "goodbye" and go sell your professionally readied book elsewhere. We sink in about $4000 - $6000 worth of services that cost you nothing. There are NO editing fees, nothing is billed to you at all. We are not publishing dictators - we work with you from start to finish, a collaborative effort. During the period of the contract we want your book to sell well. You can renew the contract if you want. If not, 60 days written notice and you are done and your book is no longer exclusively ours to sell. Since we are a business built on reputation, it would defeat the point to create a negative image or the wrath of writers posting across the Internet. In this age of mistrust it is easy to pull anything apart. We have tried to be as upfront, transparent and clear about how we work. If we have missed anything let us know. We will post the answers here.
• It looks to me like you are a fairly typical vanity publishing deal: the publisher takes total control of everything, the writer pays for a list of incidental expenses and the publisher provides little real service to the writer.
I am not sure what site you are looking at. You are not describing our company at all. We do not have total control over everything. The writer pays no incidental expenses. We provide a lot of services. Vanity Press publishers charge a fee, require certain book quantities to be purchased by the author, and they will print anything submitted since they make their money from the fees. Our authors have no costs. We earn our money when the book sells and we still share the royalty with no hidden fees or costs.
If you are already a published author, either self or with another publisher, please see our media kit to find out how you can sell your book in our BYCT bookshop!
Media Kit 2017
The Guide to Starting a Novel
Where should your story start? With the characters? The plot? Well we have made this guide to help new and experienced authors begin the writing process.
Authors have tendencies to be constantly mulling over ideas for new novels. When brainstorming a new idea it’s important to jump right into writing a summary and then let your ideas settle. Come back and reread and then think on it for a few days. Sometimes our really good ideas are great and then other times not so much.
2. Make a Schedule
Obviously writing is mostly made of creativity however, it’s important to remember the logistics such as editing and formatting. Creating a schedule will help ensure you will reach your goals.
3. Character Outlining
Characters are developed throughout the entire process of writing. Usually characters won’t be complete after the first draft. As you go onto more drafts add more characterization into each character. Make sure each character can stand on its own and will be interesting for the reader.
4. Point of View
Who will your audience be and what characters are most important? Is the story going to be in present tense or past? It’s a lot of work to change your mind so make a decision before going all in.
Conflicts should be developed along with the characters. This will help define the plot and each character strengths and weaknesses.
6. Start Writing
After you have the basics down and the idea has been mulling over start writing. Focus on where you would like the story to begin. This doesn’t have to be the first chapter per say but make sure every chapter has a point and by the end it accomplishes something. If it isn’t relevant to the story as a whole, leave it out.
7. Developing the Scenes
Do this in several phases. We suggest starting without the fluff. After the initial scene you can add more descriptions and characters. This will help nail down exactly what you are trying to get out of each scene.
Every writer has what works for them. If you are new to writing these are good suggestions or if you’re looking for a changed this is a great place to start.
Quick Guide to a Perfect Romance...Novel
In light of it being Valentine’s Day we wanted to bring some Romance to the blog today. There are so many rules in writing when we start talking romance. How do you know where to even begin? How can you make your book a bestseller? Well today we’ve mapped out 3 basics when it comes to writing a best selling romance novel.
1. Woo Your Reader with the Perfect Title
If you’re like most writers, coming up with plots and subplots, descriptions, background, characters, and love scenes is easy for you. But when it comes to deciding on something as simple as a title, your brain freezes. A catchy title is going to be your readers and publishers first impression. A title that is irrelevant or boring is the equivalent to wearing pajamas to a job interview. Remember to keep titles as short as possible but still interesting. Looking towards your novel to find a title is a great way to keep it relevant. The best titles stem from the heart of the story. Ask questions about your characters' obstacles or reflect on the theme of the story in a few words. Make sure your title isn’t generic or it will be passed by on the shelves. When a title is too generic many times it gets lost amongst other books and doesn’t give enough information to “woo” your reader to pick it up and read the back. On the other hand, avoiding silly titles is just as important. You want your readers to take your book as serious as you do. Finding the right balance between simple and interesting is the best way create a thoughtful romance title.
2. Ditching the Drama while Writing Emotional Scenes
Obviously the emotional scenes are essential to any good romance. Romances are about two people falling in love and overcoming difficulties together. However, sometimes emotional scenes mixed with conflict can be too dramatic and feel forced. Make sure your characters are strong and independent when standing on their own and make their actions match their personality. Forcing a character to do something unnatural is one of the worst things you could do in a romance novel. Love should be natural and your readers will be able to tell if the love is sincere.
3. Smooth Conflict and Resolution Transitions
Writing a good conflict in a romance is only half of the equation. Resolutions are equally as important and they both should be smooth and believable. Avoiding coincidences is vital to this because although it makes the story easier to write, it is harder for the reader to believe. The only way the problem should be solved is logically. That being said it doesn’t mean you can’t have coincidences within your novel. They just can’t be the fairy godmother to fix all the problems. Your readers expect the hero and heroine to have a long lasting relationship and logical solutions will give that them just that.
If you haven't had the chance to read our most popular Romance series now you can! We are offering a free ebook version of Book 1, The Brylee Hawkins Saga. Download today!
The Brylee Hawkins Saga
Author Jan Hill was born to write romance and family values. Always searching for love, acceptance, and the right to express how she feels and what she believes, Jan takes her readers to places that are both exotic and fun, promising that they'll not be disappointed to discover that life seldom takes people where they're prepared to go. She was born on a farm in rural Idaho, about as far away from excitement as anyone could possibly be, but that hasn't stopped her mind or heart from traveling to the four corners of the earth through study and reading on her own. Each person she meets presents her with a unique vision of life. Be prepared! Your essence just may show up in one of her books as hero or villain. It's hard not to love every character. They're totally committed to what they do.
8 Reasons Reading Makes You a Better You
Think back to the last time you read a book. Like a real book. One with chapters, characters, a story-line and possibly a happy ending. Most people get their daily reading through the news, Facebook, tweets, and directions on the back of their frozen dinners. Reading novels have significant benefits and by skipping daily reading, you could be missing out. Here are the top 8 benefits to reading daily…
1. Brain Upgrade
People who read have higher GPA’s, higher intelligence, and general knowledge than those that don’t. In Anne E. Cunningham’s paper What Reading Does for the Mind (pdf version), she found that reading, in general, makes you smarter, and it keeps your mind sharp.
2. Stress Reducer
Books are a great way to forget about your everyday stressors and get away. It can be like taking a trip without actually ever leaving!
Reading everyday is important for a clear mind. Reading forces you to sit down after or before a busy day. With instant text, messages, videos, our minds and bodies can use a quiet space to revitalize ourselves.
4. Problem Solving
Cunningham’s studies have found that analytical thinking is boosted by reading. People can improve their general knowledge by picking up a book and reading. More importantly they are able to spot patterns quicker and solve problems easier.
5. Expanded Vocabulary
Reading improves vocabulary more than talking or teaching. Reading forces people to look at words that they might not have seen or heard recently in daily conversations.
Reading helps retaining information. Simple as that.
7. Enhanced Memory
By reading daily you can increase your memory. The brain-stimulating activities from reading have shown to slow down cognitive decline in old age.
8. Deeper Sympathy
The study, conducted by Rose Turner from Kingston University in London, found that individuals who enjoy reading are more friendly and understanding.
Of course everyone has a different taste in reading. However, I promise there is a genre for everyone. Whether you are into romance, sci-fi, biographies, there is something out there that can push your imagination and get you turning pages. Find what gets you excited and start reading for a better you. Next time you have some spare time, put the phone down and pick up a book.
If you haven’t looked through our selection today, click the button below!
Welcome Lauraine Henderson
Welcome to our blog today! We were lucky enough to be able to interview our newest author, Lauraine Henderson. She is currently working on a novel with us called Building A Life. We have enjoyed working with her in this short time and are excited about her upcoming writing. It has been a pleasure reading through her interview as there is always more to learn about a person. Enjoy this exclusive interview and comment with anymore questions you have for Lauraine.
Author Interview Questions:
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m the youngest child of three and only daughter in my family, growing up mostly in Beaverton, Oregon, where I met my husband while participating in a ballroom dance group. We currently live on 68 acres of woodland, about 40 miles north of Portland, Oregon, having returned to the area two years ago after a twenty-year absence. We have three grown children, two of whom are married. I don’t have any grandchildren (which is fine, by the way). We also have a golden retriever and a black cat. We’ve lived in Utah, Hawaii, and Arizona. I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but grew up as a Lutheran. My father passed away when I was 18, limiting my ability to attend college. Besides writing, I love to read, paint (oils, watercolors and acrylics), sew, knit, crochet, and make beaded jewelry. I’m an indoor girl. I would rather curl up with a book than go outside. I was a professional secretary for years and loved working in an office. My later work evolved into bookkeeping. I started writing when I was 10, short silly poems. I continued writing poetry in high school and began writing stories in my early 20s but never finished more than a few pages. I re-discovered a love for reading about 15 years ago which led to writing my first complete manuscript.
What were you like at school?
I was a good student, but didn’t really like school and never truly pushed myself. Because of that, and limited funds, I didn’t continue school after high school until now. I am currently a freshman in college.
Were you good at English?
I was always good at English. As a senior in high school, my teacher bumped me into the accelerated English class, which I aced.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I would love to simply continue writing the stories in my head and share them with my readers. I have been a professional bookkeeper for over 30 years and would love to sell enough books to retire from bookkeeping and write full time.
Which writers inspire you?
There are so many. I especially love writers who bring humor and/or inspiration to their story. Among my favorites: Cindy Roland Anderson, Rachael Anderson, Diane Darcy, Heather Horrocks, Cami Checketts, Regina Duke, Shannon Guymon, Taylor Hart, Shanna Hatfield, Marcia Lynn McClure, Lucy McConnell, Jennifer Peel, Regina Scott, Brooke St. James, Staci Stallings, and Amy Vastine,
So, what have you written?
I published my first novel in December, 2016 - The Triple Date Dare. I’ve been writing as a hobbyist since 5th grade when I started writing poems. But other than elaborate journal entries, I didn’t start writing seriously until about five years ago. My next novel to be published is called Building a Life. I’m also preparing to self-publish a novella called The Spirit of Christmas.
(*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)
Where can we buy or see them?
(* include American, European and any other relevant links. Free, free promotions or prices can be included) The Triple Date Dare can be found on Amazon. Print is 9.99 and eBook is 2.99. Click here to buy a copy of my novel.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
In Building a Life, Sara Castleton is a young, pregnant widow who has been emotionally controlled by her late husband to the point of being left without job skills and friends when her husband dies in a car accident. In going through his things, she discovers he was about to build a house on speculation (available for sale after completion). With a slight background in building (her father is a general contractor), she decides to hire the necessary sub-contractors and complete the project. She also needs to hire a framer and finish carpenter. She is like the phoenix, rising from the ashes of a loveless marriage and the fear that accompanies being pregnant, alone, and unemployed. Through her journey of building the house, along with our hero, the carpenter (Nick Bradford), and giving birth, she discovers her inner strength and a connection to God. This inspires her to reunite with her parents and embrace the church, along with falling in love with our hero.
What are you working on at the minute?
I am currently preparing for publication my next manuscript, a novella titled The Spirit of Christmas. In addition, I am nearing completion of a new novel called Daisies in the Driveway.
What’s it about?
The Spirit of Christmas is an adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with a romantic twist, set in modern day. Daisies in the Driveway is about two un-related grandchildren who are given the responsibility of running an inn and campground so their respective grandparents can marry and retire. Their story revolves around fun and frightful incidents at the inn and learning the downfall of unfounded judgement.
What genre are your books?
Inspirational, clean romance.
What draws you to this genre?
I love happy endings and romance. I want to write stories that are fun, entertaining, and leave my readers feeling uplifted.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Amy Adams (only with dark hair)
How much research do you do?
So far, I write about things I know, so my research is rather minimal. When I need factual information (such as whether or not a fire extinguisher can be refilled), I do enough research to make sure I know what I’m talking about before including it in my work. My stories are mostly about relationships and I use personal experience and the little snippets I hear from those around me for inspiration, as well as my own imagination. I also use my daughter and son as references for realistic “young” thinking.
Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?
No, but I would love to be a part of an anthology.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I have always been a writer. Sometimes, like when my children were little, I didn’t write a lot, but it has always been there. I wrote journals and poetry when I was younger. I decided to become a professional writer when I moved from Hawaii to Arizona in 2014 because I didn’t want to be tied down to a full-time job any longer and I wanted to create something with residual income.
Why do you write?
I can’t not write. The stories come to me and I have to write them down so I can get them out of my head. The stories, characters, back-story, or scenes play through my mind until I’m so distracted, I can’t think of anything else. I simply must write them down.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
I love to read my genre. When the story ideas came to me, I couldn’t stop thinking about them until I started writing. I attended a wonderful writer’s conference (LDStorymakers) and felt encouraged to turn my writing into a real book.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
At the moment, part time, because I still have a part time job and I’m in college.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? My time is extremely flexible; however, I find it difficult to write if I have other things that need to be done hanging over my head. So, when the dishes are done, the laundry is folded, my schoolwork is completed, and my regular (very part time) job is done, then I write.
Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
I work every day, but it isn’t always writing. When I’m writing a new book, I try to write every day, except Sundays.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
My inspiration comes mostly in scenes, so I aim for completing a scene or chapter when I sit down to write. If I’m working well, that usually amounts to 2-3,000 words at a sitting, but sometimes, it goes longer, if I’m still inspired. Often, I’m working through the plot based on a very sketchy outline and the story may deviate as I write it. When that happens, I wait for additional inspiration.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
Mostly, I write on a computer. I use a software especially for authors: Scrivener. I also have a portable keyboard that is light-weight and easy to use. I can transfer what I write on the keyboard to my computer automatically.
Where do the your ideas come from?
I know it’s cliché to say they come from God, but honestly, sometimes, I truly believe that. The story of Building a Life came to me one day when I was driving home from work. I was rounding a curve in the road, and bam! Story idea. It never ceases to amaze me that these ideas appear in my head.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I usually have a basic outline of where the story begins and what events lead to the conclusion, but as I write, there are times when the story has a life of its own and I follow, making adjustments along the way to my outline.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’m not sure how to answer that question. The more I read, the better I write. I think of a character as a person and try to put myself in their shoes, thinking their way, and feeling their emotions. The more I do that, the more creative I can be.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Making sure the story is interesting and entertaining. Writing humor.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Building a Life – I wrote it during NaNoWriMo in November of 2015. I sat down every day and that book simply wrote itself. The hardest part was figuring out how to make it better. I rely a lot on my beta readers and my editor to find the holes I can’t see from up close. The Spirit of Christmas – The hardest part was staying true enough to the original work, but making it a stand-alone story as well.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
When I write, the scenes and characters are like a movie in my head. I actually close my eyes sometimes, when I’m writing a scene so I can see it more clearly. I love that part of writing. That is when the story writes itself and I’m just taking notes.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
It really depends on the story. I wrote the original manuscript of Building a Life in five weeks, but there has been hours and hours of re-write and revision.
Do you ever get writer’s Block?
Yes. My current project, Daisies in the Driveway, another NaNoWriMo effort. Around Thanksgiving, my thoughts just sort of faded away. I realized I needed to back away from the story and let it simmer until I was inspired once again.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Write anyway. The best advice I ever received was “you cannot edit what you haven’t written.” It’s important to get the words out and then go back and make them the best you can.
What are your thoughts on writing a book series.
I keep thinking I’ll write a story about the sister of the protagonist in my first novel, but I haven’t been inspired to know her story yet. If I am ever inspired to write a series, I will.
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I prefer ebooks because I can take my entire library with me in my purse. I always have my Kindle with me.
What book/s are you reading at present?
I am just finishing a series of anthologies called Heart Warming Holidays. (for the second time)
Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
I do a lot of proofreading, but then I have my manuscript professionally edited.
Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
Yes, but not always because that’s the plan. Real life sometimes gets in the way and I’ve been known to leave a work for months before I get back to it. It’s actually a good test of whether it has staying power for me. If I still like the story when I read it again after several weeks, it’s worth finishing.
Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
Sandra Meaders is my editor. She was recommended to me by Books You Can Trust and she has done a fantastic job.
Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.
The cover of my first novel was selected by Createspace.com. I published through them and paid for their design service. I don’t have a cover finalized for Building a Life yet, but hope to have it center around the building of the house. I am currently working on a cover for The Spirit of Christmas.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
I know there are a lot of opinions about cover art. When I buy a book, I don’t pay as much attention to the cover as I do the story snippet. However, I believe covers that are clean of clutter and titles that can be easily read are important.
How are you publishing this book and why? I am publishing Building a Life through BooksYouCanTrust.com because they offer a marketing arm and take on the initial costs of publishing. They also will put my book on Amazon which will make it easy to find for my readers who liked my first novel.
(*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
I like self-publishing because the books get to market faster and the royalties are bigger. I have been cautioned that traditional publishing houses no longer promote individual books. However, there is a lot of work involved in self-publishing that takes time away from the actual writing. By publishing myself, I didn’t have to go through the arduous task of finding someone who would publish my book or deal with rejections. That being said, sometimes I would like to turn it over to someone else and let them work their magic.
How do you market your books? Mostly, I told everyone I knew about publishing my first book, I had bookmarks created and handed them out to people I met, and I participated in a Facebook party through a book promoter who was a friend. I had a sale during my book promotion. I was told the best way to sell Book 1 is to write Book 2, so that’s what I’ve been doing.
What do you do to get book reviews?
I ask my friends and family who’ve read the book to write a review. Then, I simply depend on readers to write reviews. I usually mention something at the end of my novel, encouraging people to write reviews.
How successful has your quest for reviews been so far? Pretty good. I have reviews on Goodreads that I didn’t solicit. I have a number of reviews on Amazon and they are all good.
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? I use reviews when I decide to buy a book, so I read the reasons people say a book is good or not. I also read the reviews to see if the romance is clean. I don’t like the graphic stuff. Still, if it’s an author I like, I may buy the book without reading the reviews.
Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? Not so far. It’s something I need to learn more about which is why I started working with Books You Can Trust.
Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?
Word of mouth. Also, I passed out a bunch of bookmarks.
What do you think of “trailers” for books?
If by “trailers” you mean, excerpts from the book on the selling page, I don’t read them. I read the book description and if I want to buy the book, I do. I also don’t read “first chapters” at the end of a novel either. I don’t want to get sucked in and not be able to continue reading!
Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
I don’t really know. It’s hard to give away books. Especially when you have only one available for purchase. I gave away two books as part of the Facebook party I participated in and that was okay. Maybe when I have multiple books published, I’ll consider giving away books to entice readership.
Did you format your own book?
I did not format The Triple Date Dare or Building a Life. I did format The Spirit of Christmas.
In what formats is your book available?
Print and ebook.
If formatted by someone else, how did you select them and what was your experience?
Createspace formatted my first book. I learned about them through LDStorymakers. They did a wonderful job. Books You Can Trust Publishing will format my second novel as part of our agreement. I also found them at the LDStorymakers conference. We are still in the process of fulfilling those services.
How do you relax?
I read. I also paint, sew, knit, crochet, and make beaded jewelry.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
You can’t edit something you haven’t written. (just a classic phrase about writing)
What is your favorite positive saying?
It’s not about where an adventure ends because that’s not what an adventure is about.” (Benjamin Mee)
What is your favorite book and why?
All time favorite book: The Count of Monte Cristo. Favorite romance: If You Believed in Love by Staci Stallings. The Count because it’s long, involved, totally engrossing, and because there’s been two movies made from it, I can see the characters from the movies while I’m reading the book. The romance because it’s about a college English teacher who talks about English literature the way I wish my teachers would talk about it. And at the same time, it’s a great love story. Then again, there’s always Jane Austen…
What is your favorite quote?
“It is only with the heart one can see clearly; What’s essential is invisible to the eye” (The Little Prince by Antoine de St. Exupery) – except I prefer the French: “On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur; L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux”
What is your favorite film and why?
A Good Year with Russell Crowe. I like it because it’s about a man who chooses a simple life and love over money.
Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?
In five years, I hope to have at least three more books published and be writing full time.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Take more chances. Don’t be afraid. This is a bigger story because part of having the courage to write a complete novel and then publish it was the product of overcoming a life-long fear of being underwater. It doesn’t sound related, but when I became a certified scuba diver, I felt like I could accomplish anything.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Jane Austen. I would love to talk to her about her stories and how she wrote them.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Pride and Prejudice. Because it’s a classic and has lasted though generations. Yet, when you read it, it’s really just a lovely romance.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read a lot. Write a lot. Then find a good editor.
Where do you see publishing going in the future?
I’m not sure I have a pulse on the publishing industry, but I see a lot more of everything going digital, so I suppose that’s where the future lies. I see a lot more people self-publishing and therefore, a lot more weeding to do to find good authors.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
When I was turning 50 years old, I felt like my life had stagnated. I read a lot, and painted some, but didn’t do a lot more than that. When we had an opportunity to move to Hawaii, we took it and from that point forward, my life changed, including beginning my writing career. Sometimes, we have to put ourselves outside our comfort zone to reach new heights. Writing has been that for me. New heights. I’m loving the ride.
How can readers discover more about you and you work? On Facebook: Lauraine Henderson, author. I have a blog: laurainesnotes.blogspot.com. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And find my books on Amazon.
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Today on our blog we are featuring more of Jan Hill's interview. You can read the first part of her interview here. Jan is a great author and we love having her be apart of our team here at BYCT. To read more about Jan or to purchase one of her books click here.
"I was raised on a small farm in Milo, Idaho, the second of seven children. I often define my life in stages because they were pivotal points when I could have chosen very different paths and might not even be here today. When I was five, my mother blamed me for the accident that nearly ended my younger brother’s life and left him handicapped. It was something I never recovered from and made me want to protect and take care of everyone. I never learned how to relax and be a child.
When I was in the third grade, I contracted Rheumatic Fever and spent six months in bed with no one to look after me because my mother was working away from home and my father was in the fields. The illness damaged my heart and I was never able to do anything physically exerting. I couldn’t even take P.E. The next year, my violin teacher molested me, but in those days, children were not believed. They were just left to suffer in silence.
My father died when I was thirteen. I had two more bouts with Rheumatic Fever before I graduated high school, and something associated with one of the outbreaks caused half of my hair to fall out. My mother had a nervous breakdown when I was a senior, and I ended up leaving home, never to return again except for an occasional visit. Being separated from my siblings was probably the most difficult thing I ever went through because I was truly on my own after that.
My beloved grandmother died when I was a freshman in college. I didn’t get married until I was twenty-three and that was not a healthy relationship because I didn’t know how to find one. I suffered numerous miscarriages and was never able to carry a child to term, but I was blessed with two amazing children – a son and a daughter whom I adopted. They have been the greatest joy of my life.
In my thirties, I had an emergency hysterectomy right after losing my last baby. Eight different types of uterine tumors were found, each in a different stage towards malignancy. That plunged me into the darkest depression of my life where I wandered down by the river at night for months wondering why I just couldn’t die. I pleaded to be given the strength to keep it together for my children. That was lovingly granted to me, along with a lot of other insights.
When I was divorced a few years later, I was told by my principal to watch my back because the good people of my home community were out to crucify me even though I had done nothing wrong except remove myself from a very toxic situation that was hurting everyone in it. I had to start over with nothing to fall back on. I have lived with severe bouts of despair, anxiety and a total loss of self-esteem.
All I’ve ever wanted was to be in a loving, committed relationship but that has never happened, and the more I interact with other people, the more I come to understand that few lives are turn out as expected. That’s why I write what I do. I want people to understand that no matter what horrible situation they may find themselves in they are not alone. There are other people who share their pain, and God is always there to lift them when they cannot make it on their own any longer.
The Brylee Hawkins Saga:
As a series, this story has been amazing to write. It started as a way to keep my sanity at school during the last two years when I was a lead witness in a federal court case – something new and terrifying that nearly destroyed my physical and emotional health. I’m not even sure how Brylee came into being. One day she just appeared on paper heading off into an unknown future where the past and the present would collide and where she would be faced with making decisions and coming to terms with things she never dreamed possible.
I loved her from the beginning because she had tenacity and spunk, yet she was terrified of making wrong decisions and hurting other people. She wanted to forgive her father and accept what he’d done because her religious beliefs told her that was the right thing to do, but she was very human and had a great deal of trouble resolving anything. Like so many of us, she got caught up in circular thinking and hoping things would automatically change. It took multiple experiences until she was able to accept that what she had planned for her life might not be what God intended. When she finally let him in and quit trying to retake control, she was given the strength and the courage to accept his will, not hers.
All the other characters were equally as important to me because they faced their own struggles and had diverse ways of dealing with reality. They were like any other family – complex, human and sometimes not very lovable – but I’m very glad I got to know them and hope other people will too. They teach us that family really is everything, and with God at the helm we can accomplish anything.
Hardest and easiest things about writing:
The easiest and most fun is allowing my mind to wander wherever my characters want to go. I don’t mind where they take me because I can always figure out the omissions later like what prompted the experience, who else might be involved, or how it will eventually turn out. I just sit back and enjoy the journey whether they’re doing something mundane like I do most of the time, or are off having an adventure I will only be able to picture in my mind. That’s the wonderful thing about imagination – I can still be young and can enjoy everything I missed out on – if only vicariously. I love rereading parts of the story and wondering where it came from because it’s so different from any occurrence or emotion I’ve ever had, at least consciously.
The hardest part is all the rewriting and editing so the story flows and makes sense to someone other than me. I treat each word individually and try to decide if it’s worth keeping. Some writers can’t bear to give up anything on the printed page, but I’m not like that. If it doesn’t work or something would sound better, I’m perfectly happy to erase words or entire paragraphs. It’s hard and tedious work, and most of the time it takes far longer for me than writing the original manuscript. It’s the part where I wonder if I really want to do it, or if I’d rather just play around with ideas for the rest of my life.
My books are like my children. I want to enjoy them, and I don’t want anyone else to ridicule or censure, but sometimes it just has to be done. That’s what brings growth and understanding. It’s the most difficult part of any life experience, but it can be the most rewarding because it can show us just how far we’ve come.
Thoughts on writing a book series:
I never thought I’d actually write a series. All of the books I’d written in the past had been easily concluded in about 350 pages. Brylee’s story was originally one very long book. When it was accepted for publication, Andre told me that since it was so extensive it could easily be made into four books. That was an impressive idea but I never imagined it would eventually turn into seven books. I worked for several months making the breaks in the story like he suggested. That meant adding a little more to each portion so it would be the necessary length, but it also gave me time to explore each character in more depth and add interesting tidbits about their lives that would help move the rest of the story along and give them more depth. The last three books were a real joy to write. I completed the first draft of all of them in less than six months. That meant working some really lengthy days – up to seventeen hours in front of the computer. The characters told me what they wanted to say, and the conclusion was just the ending to part of their story. There are still many things Brylee, Jake, LeAnn, the twins and both Trevor and Jackie could say. I never know when one of them might move me to action again. All of the characters in the series have become dear friends, even the ones I didn’t like, and I’d like to know what happened to them. Maybe someday I’ll find out.
That said, I love writing series now and have started on a new one that will be at least five books in length. When that is completed, I plan on taking all of my earlier books and combining them into an ongoing series under an umbrella title since they touch on so many important issues that are relevant today like the inability to have children, the loss of a spouse, divorce, abuse, peer pressure, career choice, overcoming incredible odds, staying the true course, trying to make righteous decisions in a fallen world and many other things. It will be fun visiting those characters again and finding out what they’ve learned.
Best Books and Blogs of 2017
Recapping at the end of each year is a great way for us to see what our readers and followers like. As much as we like writing about things we enjoy, we are more fulfilled when are readers are happy too! We wanted to highlight our top three blogs this year and our three best selling books in the bookshop.
#1 3 Gerunds That Change Literature
This was our number one viewed blog for 2017. One of our main goals for 2017 was to keep things positive. So writing a blog post on our tagline seemed perfect for this trend.
#2 The Structurer or The Explorer
This was one of our favorite blogs to write. Understanding where you are on the scale as a writer helps the writing process go more smoothly and clears your mind for imagination and creativity.
#3 Ten Mistakes That Prevent Writers from Being Authors
Our most viewed blog posts always seemed to offer something valuable to our readers. This year we are going to continue to giving tips and advice for those who are looking to get published!
Best Books of 2017
Fulfilling a promise to her fiancé, Brylee Hawkins, must travel back to where she was born, the Australian outback, and forgive her father for what she knows as an unforgivable sin. Yet when she arrives, as memories flood back, she begins to learn the truth about what really happened, exposing old secrets, including the family she never knew.
Based on the premise that the current generation is made up of newly-evolved humans, Preparing the Millennial Parent takes the stand that traditional parenting styles of parenting will be generally unsuccessful in achieving the parenting goals of parents and care-givers. With that understood it offers a comprehensive and unique view to parenting in orderly and purpose driven steps.
“The Union of Brothers” is a fictionalized account of my great grandfather's life, his service in the Civil War and his struggle to make it home. Firman Kirk was a nineteen year old lumberman in the Mountains of Central Pennsylvania when he was recruited to join the 1st Rifles, 13th Reserves, 42nd.Regiment of the newly formed Pennsylvania Reserve Corp. This unit is more commonly known as the "Bucktails." He meets a young woman, Ophelia, on the eve of his departure for army training at Camp Curtin. She becomes his foundation of strength when he doubts the chances of his living through battles from Antietam Creek, Gettysburg and through other historic battles far from home. His survival of Andersonville prison rest with a lock of hair from Ophelia, whom he hopes to marry after the war, sent in a previous letter. How did he survive? How did their love endure the many battles? This historical fiction novel will keep you turning pages.