Tag Archive | writing

Writer’s Block? It’s okay to take a Break… Really.

Half of the planted garden

Half of the planted garden

Is Writer’s Block a real thing? Yes, and no. As authors, you walk that strange little tightrope if you complain you haven’t been writing because you have writer’s block. If you do, you’ll usually get one of two responses. The “Oh, don’t worry, go read, draw or take a break and it will all come back to you in due time,” to “Seriously, that’s such a lame excuse, just write and stop being such a pansy, whiny baby.” Now, maybe other writers really don’t call us whiny babies, but we feel that way.

Tulips growing around the house

Tulips growing around the house

I guess the question is, “are you writing to pay the bills, or writing for fun?” I write for fun. Sure, I’d like to pay the bills and do this full-time but at the moment, even with seven books in market and another on the way, my editing, covers and formatting cost more money than the royalties I’ll bring in for that book in a year. I’m not complaining, it just is what it is.

But writer’s block. Is it real? I think it is. I think it’s like your back hurting or being exhausted. Sometimes I think our brains simply need a break. It’s like working out the same muscle over and over. If all you do is squats, or ab work, you’re going to burn that area out. Sometimes you just have to break up the exercises to allow other areas to get trained. So for me, when I’m struggling to work on a novel, before I stress out too much and pull my hair out (yes, I’m not immune to this as I’m at this point right now still stuck on chapter five of the Kelsey Porter series, and have been stuck for two sort of frustrating weeks), I suggest doing something else to occupy your mind. Draw something, go on a vacation, go to a museum, garden. Do something that’s interesting and makes you happy. There’s nothing worse than allowing ourselves to get stuck within our own minds and making ourselves crazed. Writing is fun, but it’s hard work. It’s REALLY hard work and anyone who thinks differently has never done it.

dahlias

dahlias

While I struggle through book #3 of my series, I put together all my horror short stories into an anthology that is being released next month. It’s called Ricket Row and is at the formatter now. Once that got sent to the formatter, since I still struggled with the book, I put together all my science fiction short stories into another anthology and now I’m editing THEM. While I’m not necessarily writing, I’m editing and still creating. I won’t lie, I wish this third story was coming easier, but at the moment, it isn’t. I pull it up, and think about it nearly every day, but it is what it is.

So instead, I try to keep myself busy. I do these editing projects above, I garden (I put out my entire veggie garden the past few days) and I planted tons of flowers and bulbs. These things make me happy. Things are growing and I feel like I’m creating.

So I leave you with this… when you struggle, take a teeny step back. You’re not giving up, you’re simply resting your brain. Do something to “find your happy.” I guarantee you that your writer’s block will end at some point. Just give yourself the permission to let it end at its own pace.

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Book Launch: THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB, #2 in the Kelsey Porter Series

Book #2 in the Kelsey Porter series

Book #2 in the Kelsey Porter series

Launching 2/28/15!
Book #2 in the Kelsey Porter Series
THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB

On the heels of THE HUNT FOR XANADU, Kelsey returns from Tibet with Desmond to begin a new life in New York City. But peace is not to come to her. One night, a stranger appears at her door with a note from a man from her past, begging for her aid. It involves her parents and Kelsey leaves for Egypt to learn the truth. But the truth is more than she bargained for. What secrets did her parents hide? Why is she now plagued with odd aches and pains and why is she having nightmares again? Kelsey must find answers and the only way to get them is to confront her demons and solve the ultimate mystery: The Quest of the Empty Tomb.

Kelsey Porter

Kelsey Porter

Book #1, THE HUNT FOR XANADU introduced us to Kelsey Porter who was on a mission to hunt down her parent’s killers. That novel was steeped in Tibetan spiritual mysteries and took us from New York to the monasteries of Tibet. Book #2 starts with Kelsey getting a letter from an Egyptian archaeologist who needs her help, and she believes it stems from a visit she took to see him when she was six. We leave New York and travel to Egypt. This novel is steeped in the lore of the Egyptian sky gods and again, Kelsey learns that everything is not what it appears to be.

Book #1 THE HUNT FOR XANADU can be purchased here: Porter Montage (1)

US AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1CEvEab
UK Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Cp2awz

Book #2 THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB can be purchased here:

US AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1EvXExO
UK AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1JSRNqT

My thanks to everyone that has supported me for these novels. I appreciate you so much. If you can, I’d love for you to consider leaving a review for either novel – it helps more than you know.

Happy Reading and if you ever want to chat about the books, please feel free to email me and sign up for my newsletter here: http://www.elysesalpeter.com/contact-me.html

Querying Agents… yet again…

dream bigI think I might be a masochist. The definition is “someone who receives gratification through humiliation and physical pain.” I mean, here I am, I have seven books I’ve indie published and now I’m attempting to get back into the hybrid mix and see if my new fantastical thriller, THE EXPERIMENT, could get picked up by an agent.

You see, all along, I’ve always wanted to have an agent and a publisher behind me. And I did at one point. But life happens, companies fold, agents can’t sell your work and you are left with your polished babies that need to get out into the world.

But, there’s this little part of me that still wants that “space on the bookshelf” or that “acceptability, or cool factor to say I have an agent.” I know, it’s crazy. Is it a validation of my worth? That someone “likes me enough to represent me?” I can make more selling ebooks (though I’m not there yet), but I keep thinking that having an agent and a publishing house behind me will help push me into a situation where the other books might also gain some traction and get better exposure. There’s that added little carrot of “Hollywood TV and Movie dreams” that keeps sitting in the back of my mind, as well.

Maybe I’m a dreamer. I think all of us need to dream to some extent, because if you didn’t dream, how could you ever get the guts to do this in the first place, right?

Which brings me back to THE EXPERIMENT. Starting in 2007, for five years I tried to get this book published. Over those five years I sent the books to twenty-three agents. I did the requisite waiting around for months at a time, giving exclusive reads to those that wanted… waiting two, three, six months at a time for a reply. But no agent picked it up. Then, three years ago I decided to ditch the process and work on getting my other books to market. I’ve done that and now, well, I’m back with this little tale sitting in front of me.

So, I’ve written a synopsis and I’ve started the query rounds again. I forgot how defeating this is. So far I’ve sent out thirteen queries and four responded no. I forgot how much I dislike waiting for people to respond to me. These days a “no” from an agent is not even a “no thanks” but a complete “ignore.” Gosh, I hope that doesn’t happen again. I really hate being ignored. Just tell me it’s not for you and I can deal with that, please. But, being the optimist I am, I’ve decided to answer every single no with another query.

Look, maybe I’m crazy, or maybe I’m not, but if you don’t dream big, you might as well go home.

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Now, there are just a few more days to enter my contest to win one of five signed copies of THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB, launching 2/28.

fanshoutoutAll you have to do is upload a snapshot of yourself holding a copy of THE HUNT FOR XANADU, or of you with the cover showing on your iPad or Phone and UPLOAD it to Instagram, Twitter or my FB author page, with the Hashtag #xanaduquest – Don’t forget the hashtag #xanaduquest as that’s how I’ll find you. I’ll keep a record of all the names and FIVE people will win a signed hard copy of THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB in a random drawing. You could even get on my fan shout-out on my webpage! Here’s what it looks like right now!

Contest ends on 2/21/15. Want to grab a copy of THE HUNT FOR XANADU? Grab it here:

US AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1CEvEab
UK Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Cp2awz

And the best news? I’ve reduced the price of THE HUNT FOR XANADU down to $2.99 where it will now live for its lifetime. Happy reading!

Killing off Beloved Characters

killDo you ever read a book and one of the main characters, or a beloved character, dies? Do you get upset with the story itself or do you actually get upset at the writer? I was once on a business trip and the movie Message in a Bottle came on. It was really late, but I’d never seen the movie and really wanted to watch it. I ended up spending a few hours, well past midnight waiting for this awesome ending, (spoiler alert here) only to be incredibly disappointed. I couldn’t believe I actually “wasted” three hours of my time.

As an author, you have to grapple with the fact that sometimes characters need to die. Look at the most popular books, movies, and television shows out there. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones? They’ve made killing characters a normal occurrence, but for some reason, authors still get vilified for doing it.

The World of Karov

The World of Karov

I wrote a dark fantasy series and Book #1 is called THE WORLD OF KAROV and it is definitely not a pink princess fairy tale. There’s a lot of violence in this book, but come on! We’re dealing with war and a great evil spreading through the universe. My characters are not having tea parties. That said, one of my aunts actually called me up and yelled at me for ten minutes about what I did to one of my characters. In fact, she refuses to read the sequel thinking I’ll do the same thing, though I assure all of you I haven’t, and Book #2, THE RUBY AMULET, ties up everything nicely.

Sometimes characters need to die. As the author, it makes total sense, but sometimes readers get upset. And that’s a good thing. You want to elicit an emotional response and if the death makes sense in the context of the story, it’s a good thing. Looking back, occasionally I’ll second guess myself if I should have been more kind to my characters, but then I check my reviews. What mollifies me so far is the 15 five star and 10 four star reviews I’ve received. At least some people liked it and understood what I had to do.

So, for this post, I leave you with this… sometimes people have to die in your books. Don’t sacrifice the scene because you’re afraid of what readers might think. Unless you’re only writing for a reader and not to be true to your characters.

Have any of you experienced this? Love to hear.

Should You Ever Change Your Book’s Cover?

This is a very difficult question for authors, and for me specifically. I have no design eye. It’s why every wall in my house is painted “cream” or “off white” and our style of decoration is a touch above IKEA. To put some color in the house, I simply chose to add artwork, knick knacks and area rugs from the “fall hue family.” Meaning, if it’s an autumn gold, a deep green, a navy, a rustic red, or a mustard I’ve used it and hoped it all sort of meshed together.

So, when I am posed with creating a cover for my books, I’m clueless. My first published novel, FLYING TO THE LIGHT, was published by Cool Well Press. This was the cover they made for my novel about a young deaf boy who knows about the afterlife and now people are after him for the answer. It was dark, really just a few muted colors, but we loved the image of the little boy looking towards the light and the wonderful birds in the background. flyingwebresize

When that publishing company closed, I was given the book back. It was agented, but he couldn’t sell it. He suggested I change the cover and self publish it to get it back out to market. I sought out LLPix Photography and here’s what we came up with. We wanted something brighter… and to scream thriller, to show the relationship in the book between the two brothers and not just have it be about the little boy. And, to show that this book is still dark. I think the mood she created was really nice and spoke to that.
Flying to the light FINAL

I had polled a lot of readers on Facebook as to which cover they liked better. It was a very mixed review. Some folks who have already read book #1 liked that first cover, though they did feel it may have been too “religious looking.” Many new readers felt Cover #2 had a much better vibe.

My problem is that I always want too much in a cover – the entire kitchen sink, so it’s important, for me, to seek out a professional who can scale me back. But, the going consensus in the industry is that your cover is EXTREMELY important. It is the first thing a potential reader sees and if you can’t grab them immediately, you’ve already lost them. If the book isn’t selling, and you are certain it’s a good book, it doesn’t hurt to try a new cover.

So, which cover do you like? Would you pick up the blue cover or the dark cover if you saw both sitting on the shelf?

And for those interested in purchasing the novel, here is the link: http://amzn.to/1h3u6ZB
Book #2 in the series is going to be called FLYING TO THE FIRE and it’s with beta readers right now. Then back to an editor, a proofer and it will be in your hands. If you would like to get on my mailing list for announcements about new releases, please do so here (fyi – I will never give out my list to anyone or sell your name to anyone). http://www.elysesalpeter.com/contact.html

Of course, before I do anything for book #2, I first have to make the cover! Don’t get me started on what I want in THIS one!

Tired of Giving Your Books Away for Free? Then Stop.

freeIndie Authors: Are you struggling with how to get your books in front of readers? Do you feel like you’ve done everything you possibly can and it still is not enough? Do you resort to giving your hard earned work, after paying for edits, covers, trailers, away for FREE? Or, just 99 cents in the hope someone will pick it up? Does that dream of writing for a living just seem to drift away in a sea of 33 cent royalties?

Maybe it’s time we started asking for the same respect as the authors in the Big Six. We are doing the same work, and even more. We are learning the craft of social media, we are the ones blogging, tweeting, posting and trying every single promotion under the sun. But maybe it’s time we sat back and said, “You know what? My book is worth more than free.”

My good friend Denise Vitola has a blog this week that resonated with me and she’s allowed me to post some of her content here and offer her link to folks that would like to read more.

http://thomas-talks-to-me.com/blog/blog.html – Denise’s Blog (you should follow her – she’s also a phenomenal editor and edited six of my books)

Denise has a few rules in the publishing industry. “The most important rule? Act like the professionals you are. Write a great book. Have it professionally edited. Hire an artist to create a cover that will attract attention. Market your books like your pants are on fire.

The second most important rule? Charge what your books are worth—what your time and talent is worth. Do not listen to the bleating of Old World propagandists, for they open their mouths to spit out bull twinkies. They want to see you fail. They want to see our Indie Publishing Industry go belly up.”

She’s got a point. Another one is this:

“Personally, I buy Indie books all the time and most of those e-books are in the $6.99 to $8.99 range. I feel like I’m getting a good book when I pay more for it, and I’ll bet I’m not alone. Mr. Joe Reading Public looks at the value of things the same way I do. Sometimes, cheap is not better. Sometimes, cheap is just cheap.”

While I’m not going to go and bring all my books up to $6.99, I did move my full length novel THE WORLD OF KAROV from $0.99 to $2.99. It’s Book #1 in a series and it has 27 reviews. That’s nothing to sneeze at. I paid hundreds of dollars editing this baby, money to make a professional cover and a book trailer, too. It’s really enjoyable if you like dark fantasy tales and is definitely worth more than $0.99. And the fact is, at 99 cents it wasn’t even selling, so what’s the point? I’ll use that price point as a special promotion, rather than keep it there permanently. The only thing I will ever do for a freebie any longer is a short story. That will give my fans the chance to read something of mine and get a taste of my writing. As a result, I’m going to put up more short stories (professionally edited, of course) on Amazon and only use those as my freebies.

I’d love to know what other indies think? I have read all of your efforts and celebrated with you when your freebies generated thousands of “sales.” I won’t tell you the pain I actually had for you, knowing that had you been able to get the value of your worth, you could have actually made some money on this — money that you earned for all your hard work. Honestly, because of what we’ve all done I’ve had many people tell me “Oh, you wrote a new book? Tell me when it’s free and I’ll “buy” it.” Did you hear what I just said? Tell me when “it’s free” and they’ll consider reading it. That’s pretty horrifying and I know I’m not the only one who has heard that. We need to change reader’s perceptions. It starts with us.

Trust me, the Big Six aren’t giving anything away for free.

So I leave you with this… your work is valuable… but first you have to believe in it yourself before anyone else will.

Food for thought.

Things I can’t do… Write Poetry – But others can… and brilliantly!

poetryI love to write fantasy/thriller fiction, mixing real life scenarios with the fantastic. What I can’t seem to write is poetry. This beautiful form of expression simply eludes me. But, there are some excellent poets out there and this week I wanted to showcase two lovely poems for your reading enjoyment.

Wapiti Meadows
by Richard L. Weatherly © 2012

A keening wind howls
through lodgepole pines,
rays of golden sunlight shines
glistening on quaking aspen leaves
and dance in the frosty morn.

The powerful bull elk crashes
from tree line,
tossing antlers like tree branches,
sharp tines, ready for a fight.

With dark-brown head and mane,
he prances forth – tawny back and shoulder muscles ripple.
Bull elk trumpets his mating call,
warning rivals, and an invitation to the herd.

Hot vapors hover over a verdant meadow
Brisk morning air, valley sprawls
beneath a hovering mist.

Home to the herd of elk cows with calves,
gathered while grazing,
drawn to gurgling
in the rippling brook.

A cow answers the bull elk’s call.
Life’s cycle is serene
in the valley of the meandering stream
where Nature’s beauty reigns supreme.

For more about Rich Weatherly and his writing, see: http://richweatherly.com/my-writing/
Richard L. Weatherly © 2012

“Lindi”
by Rachel Weisserman

We would bind feathers to our feet and run
across the waves to where sea met sky,
clouds washed white by wind.

We’d dare each other to stroke the scales
of the snake that curled around us,
big and warm and sleeping.

I would race to touch its nose
and dash laughing over the sea

but you would stay to brush
your fingertips along its scales,
shining in the sun like waves.

I tore you away when it moved,
the tail shaking, the tongue flicking
from between its blunted lips,
my legs shaking as I thought of its teeth.

But your hand stayed outstretched,
wet and shining like scales,
wet and shining like waves.

You can reach Rachel on her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/thespiritspit

Wow, right? These two poems were so good I thought I’d start with them. I’m sure the authors would love to hear your comments – please let us know what you think of them.