Tag Archives: read

West Texas A&M Writers’ Academy

Every year I escape to a writer wonderland in Canyon, Texas. The Writers’ Academy. It’s a week-long, intensive workshop setting where writers come in as one person and leave as somebody completely different.

When I completed my first novel, I didn’t even know there were other people like me out there. I mean, I did. But I didn’t know there were any close by. I reached out to a creative writing teacher I had when I attended Wext Texas A&M in 2009 and asked her for some advice on publishing. She gave me the contact information for a local writer named Jodi Thomas.

I did some research and learned that Jodi really knew her stuff. She was a New York Times Bestselling author and she was living only a few hours from me. I emailed her, not expecting to get an immediate response, but within a few days, I’d received a follow-up from her. She said that she would be in Lubbock the next week and asked if I wanted to meet for dinner to talk about writing.

Um. Yes, please!

So, we met and I got to talk to someone who was just like me. Someone who breathed writing like it was her life source. Then she told me about the Writers’ Academy. I had to come, she said. It would change my life.

And it did.

Imagine. An entire workshop of 50 or so people that are obsessed with the same thing you’ve been obsessed with for years. People who don’t think it’s strange to carry around journals or to jot down interesting names to use for a character. People who are filled with words just like you. This was my idea of paradise. And now I return every single year.

This year I will be taking Bethany Claire’s class on Self-Publishing. As a self-published author, you might think it would be pointless for me to take such a class. But I know I have so much to learn about this craft that is truly a business. Sure, I can write a book. I can write several books. But getting them out there when no one knows (or cares) who you are is more difficult than I ever imagined.

I’m excited and nervous. Nervous because I know I’m going to learn about the things that I should have done with my first four novels. I’m nervous because I know this class will be the catalyst I need to get my email list up and running and all the other stuff that goes along with publishing a novel. Self-pub or traditional.

I’m nervous. But I’m ready. 11048719_1092639154083643_1582680029528583240_n

 

That is SO overdone. (Shut your face.)

You know what annoys me? When people say “stop writing things like this” or “characters like this are overdone.” Then YOU stop writing things like that and YOU write about different characters.IMG_0581

If a writer, especially a new one, wants to write a YA story about a teen girl that gets saved by the dark, handsome, misunderstood, brooding, and totally unrealistic guy…then let them.

I’ve written eight books. My first book is admittedly WAY more juvenile than my eighth. It is riddled with cliches and crappy dialogue. But that’s how you learn to write. By spitting out what you are used to, what you’ve already read in a thousand other books a thousand times. Quit telling people what NOT to write. If they are writing ANYTHING at all, then they should be proud of that. I’m honestly tired of all the articles whining about how nothing is original anymore and that “so and so” characters are tired and overdone. So the eff what? Things like this make new writers second guess their stories and maybe even give up on it entirely.

We can’t all write the next great “wherever you live” novel 100% of the time.

Just write.

Let writers write.

Let’s Talk About Es-Ee-Ex.

So, I’m pretty professional in blog posts for the most part. And I’m not quite sure why because my books are turning pretty mature as I, you know, mature. Like today. I just wrote a sex scene that actually talks about a guy getting hard.IMG_6673

GASP.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal–especially if you are the type to read erotica–but it’s sort of a big deal to me. I love reading that shit. So hot. Love it. Especially fanfiction. Give me some dirty Harry/Draco sex scenes and I’m golden. But writing it is so different. At least it feels different to me. It’s weird. It’s awkward. I’m not a sexpert. I don’t know all the poses and weird words and how the hell you’re supposed to make some of these things sound sexy.

Initially, I wrote YA, which is very “behind closed doors” and I was totally cool with that. But then I started writing older characters (New Adult, I guess) and they were naturally more sexual. As you would expect young twenty-somethings to be. But I still have that “Nooooo. This is naughty. Stop this.” voice inside my head. It’s stupid, I know. But I got my start with YA and my only published books are YA and I’m just picturing all the young readers who enjoyed my Underground Series reading my new books and freaking out.

So, I’m determined to read more books with sex in them. To…I don’t know…make me feel more comfortable. What are your favorites? Doesn’t have to be erotica. In fact, I’d probably prefer to read books that just have sex scenes in them, but the rest of the novel is about other things? IDK. I’m rambling now.

Anyway. Advice? Book suggestions? HELP!?

Giving it All Away (Free E-Book Option on Amazon)

IMG_5044

Okay, maybe not giving it ALL away. But I did set OAKEN to FREE for 3 days. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I still don’t know how all of the math-related statistical whatchamacallit stuff works on Amazon. I just decided to set my book to free when I released my second book, ASH, blindly hoping that maybe some people would download it and then go on to get the next book. Maybe. What happened, though, blew my mind.

IMG_5051 IMG_5053

People started to download it.

I’ll admit, the first day I probably refreshed the “sales” page and my book’s page a million times to see the numbers go up. By the end of the first day, 2,844 people had downloaded Oaken.

IMG_5074

Then, somehow, I managed to go to sleep. I randomly woke up at 1:33 AM, and, of course, checked the page to find that Oaken was #1 in the FREE Paranormal Fantasy category. What’s very strange to me, though, is that I never put my book into that category…because it’s not really paranormal in any way. This is one of the things I need to find out more about because it’s truly fascinating to me. It was almost as if Amazon was putting my book into the category it would do best in–the category where it would be ranked the highest.

IMG_5068

In the Young Adult Fantasy category, I reached the #2 spot and stayed there for the next two days. (Damn Relic wouldn’t budge.)

IMG_5064

And in the TOP FREE 100 I reached #46! MY MIND WAS BLOWN.

IMG_5072

On the very last day, I received an email from ebookdaily.com that my book would be featured that day in their Fantasy selection of free e-books.

IMG_5149

I’m telling you guys, I have whiplash from how fast and hard all of this hit me. So, I wasn’t making any money off of Oaken? So what? Look how many people saw and downloaded my book with the potential to buy my other books later. It was so incredible to experience. Truly.

IMG_5170

By the end of the last day (and apparently 49 units after midnight) 7,414 people downloaded OAKEN. 7,414 people that, let’s face it, probably wouldn’t have taken the leap to actually purchase the book for $3.99. I get it. There is a lot of self-published crap out there. But there are also a lot of jewels, hidden in the mountain of books online. It’s an overwhelming thing, really. So, I get why people wouldn’t want to take a chance on a self-published author like myself. But there is nothing to lose when they can download the book for free. And, if they like it, maybe they’ll keep coming back. 🙂

One of the coolest things, though, is that, even after the FREE period ended, I saw an enormous jump in sales. (45 PAID units total by the very end of the day on the 20th)

IMG_5186

As it stands–wait, lemme go refresh the page and give you the latest–Oaken is #82 as of 9:00 AM the morning of June 22nd in the Top PAID 100 of the Young Adult Fantasy category. (This number changes every hour. Yesterday it bounced around from 98 to 117. This morning it was 76) The top 100 is golden, though, y’all, because this means your book is visible. Amazon only displays the top 100 books per category and many people won’t venture much further than this.

IMG_5224
So, if you are self-published, or thinking of self-publishing, and are unsure of whether or not you should take advantage of the FREE book promotion Amazon offers, I can say from personal experience that there is NOTHING you can lose by doing this. It’s basically free advertising for you, thanks to Amazon. Whether 100 or 1,000,000 people download your books, that’s just that many more people who now know who you are, who know about your books. By setting your book to free, you have nothing to lose and SO MUCH to gain.

Trust me. Just do it.

Revelations

IMG_4904

Hello, all!
This will be a quick post because it’s nearly 1am and I have to wake up bright and early tomorrow morning! We are creeping up on the mid-week-hump of the WTAMU Writers’ Academy (longer post on this later) and I am soaking up every ounce of creative energy I can this week. While plotting my Zodiacal Dystopian story, I had the realization that really had nothing to do with it–or with the story I am currently writing.

Do you ever just feel like a story is calling to you, asking for attention? Well, that’s how I felt today about the third book in The Underground Series, Alder. It’s the last of this series. My favorite of the three. And I feel like I need to dedicate more time to going through it. I think I got so caught up in the whirlwind of this past year. First writing a book in 6 weeks, then writing another book in 3 months, then finishing another book in ONE month (NaNoWriMo). Then, of course, I published Oaken and jumped into editing Ash and getting it ready for publication. All of these things somehow made my writer’s brain think that it always has to be moving forward, pumping out product, delivering something and in a timely manner.

But the fact that Alder is pushing at my brain when I’m really “supposed” to be writing Soren (the second book in The Halo Series) has to be a sign of sorts. I realized…it’s okay to not always be producing. I’m not a machine. I’m not a publishing house. Creativity will run dry like a once-damp rag that’s been aggressively twisted into a tight cord, wringing out all of those juicy ideas. I’ve always been–well, except for my first book–a tight writer. I’m an English teacher and a grammar freak. I make sure that my book is at least grammatically clean the first go around. So, I’ve never done much deep editing.

But I feel like I should take a closer look. Go a little deeper. I feel like Alder is telling me to do that, and I feel like that’s why Soren has been such a pain to write. I don’t think I’m supposed to be writing it this moment. I thought I was supposed to be writing because it’s been a whole–gasp–six months since I’ve completed a novel! That just won’t do! I must write! I must produce! I must deliver! Well, I must also deliver a quality product. Forcing my creativity and skimping on editing in favor of more writing will not deliver quality.

We live in a world where people feel they can demand artists to create for them because they are used to binge watching/reading things now. In the age of Netflix, we crave that. We don’t want to wait. “Give me more books!” “When are you going to put out your next one?!” “Hurry up and write the next one!” But I think instead of saying, “Okay, okay, I’m working on it,” I’ll calmly say, “All in good time.” Because that’s what each of my books deserves. Good time.