Titles – Often the Hardest Part of the Whole Book

Image purchased from Adobe Stock

Image purchased from Adobe Stock

If you’ve ever tried your hand at writing advertising copy or even had to come up with a title for a paper in school, you’ll understand how difficult today’s blog challenge topic is.

“How I Choose a Book Title”

It’s such a seemingly innocent, easy answer. But that’s like calling a crocodile gentle.

I don’t have a set process for picking my titles, but I’m going to try to break the basic idea into steps:

  1. Working title – I usually start out with some idea of what the book is going to be called, even if it’s really rough. Been Searching for You was called Romance all the way through the end of the first draft because I couldn’t think of anything better. Morgan’s Story and Isolde’s Story are called just that right now. However, when I’m lucky, like with Madame Presidentess, the book idea comes with its title and it doesn’t change. But that doesn’t happen often. When I don’t know, I go with instinct or anything that makes sense. At that point, I’m the only one who sees it and only a handful of people hear it, anyway.
  2. Research – I always look on Amazon to see if a book with my title already exists, and if it does, if it is in the same genre. If not, I go with it. If it does, I look to see if I think readers will get it confused with others. (Have you ever tried to search for a book called Hide without knowing the author? There are like a million. That’s the situation I’m trying to avoid.) Been Searching for You got its title after someone else beat me to publishing a book called He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (which was its second working title). But that turned out to be a good thing because its current title fits the book better.
  3. Marketability Polling – Once I come up with a solid idea that isn’t already taken, I ask a few reader friends what they think. They have a pretty good barometer for what resonates with readers and what is pretty snooze-worthy. I’m going for something that will grab you and tell you something about the book. One of my pet peeves is titles that don’t have anything to do with anything. Like Twilight. What the hell does that have to do with vampires? Nothing frustrates me more than finishing a book and not understanding the title.
  4. Cover Art – I’m usually certain of the title by the time I get to this point, but seeing it on the cover is the clincher for me.
  5. Series – Series are difficult because you want all the book titles to tie together somehow. That makes it easier for readers to know the books are all connected. For example, I knew way back when I started my Guinevere books I wanted the titles to be in the format of “x of y.” Book 1 was originally called Guinevere of Northgallis. When I decided that was too boring, I held a poll of blog readers and also consulted my best friend. Somehow, all of that resulted in Daughter of Destiny. I wanted Book 2 to be called Queen of Camelot, but there’s already a book with that title, so I settled for the very similar Camelot’s Queen. Book 3 has always been called Mistress of Legend. I just liked it because it evokes something we all know about Guinevere (that she was unfaithful to Arthur) and ties in the idea of an enduring legend. Similarly, I’m hoping to have all of the Chicago Soulmates books have titles that tie in the idea of searching/finding/looking, etc. that started with Been Searching for You.

I know some people take a line from the book as the title, but I haven’t had any yet that sound like they’d make good titles. I’m sure traditional publishing houses have their own scientific methods to make book titles attractive. If anyone ever finds out what they are, please let me know!

Authors, how do you choose your book titles? Readers, what makes a book title appealing to you? If you had to rename any of my books, what would you call them? Ideas for Isolde and/or Morgan’s book titles?

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Music as Muse

untitled-1Appropriate timing for this week’s blog challenge: Music to Write By, as I was just a guest on Roz Morris’ Undercover Soundtrack earlier this week, talking about songs that inspire my books.

I’m also participating in the #authorlifemonth challenge on Instagram, where a few days ago the topic was writing music.

Each of my books has a playlist, which you can listen to on Youtube:

But when a scene doesn’t have a specific song, I fall back on about a dozen or so movie scores that always work for me (see picture on the right). I love listening to movie scores for a few reasons: 1) I can’t listen to music with lyrics when I write; it’s too many words in my brain at once, 2) they have built in moments of emotion and drama due to the storylines they go along with, and 3) I see stories in my head when I hear classical music. Even if I know what scene a song goes with, often my mind gives the music a totally different story. In this way, the music acts as inspiration.

A few others not pictured that I love:

  • The Last of the Mohicans
  • Becoming Jane
  • The Dutchess
  • North & South (BBC 2004)
  • Mansfield Park (1999)
  • Jane Eyre (2011)
  • Northanger Abbey
  • Wuthering Heights
  • Cider House Rules
  • Chocolat
  • Pretty much anything scored by Alexandre Desplat, Rachel Portman or Nico Muhly

What is your favorite music to listen to? Do you like film scores? If so, which ones? Do you imagine songs to go with your favorite books? If so, what’s on your list?

PS – Yes, I skipped last week’s blog challenge. I was busy and it was about hobbies – I don’t really have any outside of reading, writing book reviews, and research, which are related to my writing. 🙂

Mea Culpa! My Top 5 Common Writing Mistakes

Quick Writing Update
I’m busy working away on my non-fiction book on Guinevere – three research books away from writing. I’m going to try to do my own cover and format that myself. Right now I’m thinking a summer release. I’m also researching for Mistress of Legend. I already have some great new ideas on how to improve the draft I have. I’ll probably be writing on that one in late February. I’ll get back to more book-related blog posts around that time.

I’ve also decided to take a break from social media (Facebook and Twitter) for a while. It’s just not fun right now with all the political stuff. I’ll still be on my FB author page, Instagram and Pinterest, if you want to interact. If nothing else, this will give me more time to read/write.

On to the Blog
This week’s blog challenge is “Sorry, Editor! My Common Writing Mistakes.” No one is perfect (even though I like to think I am). No matter how hard I try, there are some mistakes that I make over and over again. My poor editor and proofreader are probably so sick of them. To compile this list, I went back and looked at previous edits to see what they pointed out.

  1. Comma splice – This is by far my most frequent offense. My proofreader is probably sick of writing “Comma splice. Em dash or ellipsis recommended if you want to pause for effect.” Here’s an example of a line I did wrong: “We didn’t have much experience seeking out the spirits; usually they came to us, and privately at that.” It should be “usually they came to us – and privately at that.” I seem to think commas are enough of a pause when they don’t really function the way I think they do in these cases.
  2. “Was” phrases – Because I write in past tense, I have a tendency to say things like “I was walking to the door when it suddenly opened from the other side.” Many times that can be better phrased as “I walked to the door…” The “was” makes the sentence more passive. I have to break myself of that habit.
  3. Forgetting “had” – Again, because I write in past tense, I sometimes forget that when you are talking about the past in a past-tense book, you need to use “had” to indicate the action took place in the past. For example: “My suggestion of a theme had come at the end of a long brainstorming session…” My tendency is to want to write “My suggestion for a theme came at the end…”
  4. Redundant phrases – I think a lot of people have problems with this, partly because of the way we speak. It’s common now to say things like “she was just a tiny little thing.” You really don’t need both “tiny” and “little” since they both mean the same thing. My most common mistake here is “sit down on the chair.” Where else are you going to sit, but down? You can sit up, but when you’re talking about being seated, down is the only way you can go, so you don’t really need that word.
  5. Typos/misspellings – I used to be an okay speller, but as I’ve gotten older and learned to rely on spell check, I’ve gotten bad at it. Part of it is because we don’t always say words the same way they are spelled. Plus, there are some words I have a mental block against, like “convenient.” Typos are more of an early draft thing, but sometimes they make it into the published book. (Eeeeek!) Missing words tend to be most prevalent, I guess because I’ve read it so many times I see it as it is supposed to be rather than how it is. Also, my brain moves faster than my fingers so sometimes not all the words make the transition from mind to keyboard. I seriously love readers who point out the typos they see so I can get them fixed.

Plus, every writer has tics that show up in a book. In Madame Presidentesss, everyone smiled and nodded a lot. In Been Searching for You, people pointed with things a lot – pens, forks, etc. In Daughter of Destiny, I kept emphasising Morgan’s red hair to the point that my editor commented something like, “OMG, she has red hair. We get it.” Whoopsie.

 We all write in some form or another, whether it’s in email, social media, blogs, for our jobs or for books. What are some of your bad habits? Please tell me I’m not alone!

Updates and I Admit to Being a 1st Person POV Author

Sometimes this is how I feel when writing in first person POV. Plus, I love this movie. And it    IS all about me, darn it!

Sometimes this is how I feel when writing in first person POV. Plus, I love this movie. And it IS all about me, darn it!

  1. I’ll be attending the Chicago River North RWA Chapter’s Spring Fling event next May. Because I’m hoping to do a signing there (it is the city where the book takes place, after all – Annabeth will be so happy!), I’ve moved the publication date of Been Searching for You up from May 23 to May 16. That doesn’t really affect anything now, but thought you would want to know.
  2. On Friday, I’ll have a guest post at Daemons Domain about the All Souls Convention that was September 12 in Los Angeles. It was so much fun! Be sure to check it out. I’ll post a link here once it’s live.
  3. Been Searching for You (under its old title, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not) made the final-final found in the Molly contest! Results will be announced in October.
  4. I have the proofread copy of Daughter of Destiny back and as soon as two more sets of eyes (and mine) read through it one more time, it goes off to the formatter. It’s starting to look like a real book..

Okay, so my point in writing was really to finally admit I’m a first-person POV author and likely always will be. I think I’ve just gotten used to it after writing Guinevere’s books for so many years. Plus, I tend to write fictional biographies, so it makes sense that my characters would tell their stories in their own words.

I tried third person with Victoria in Madame Presidentess mainly because it came out of my fingers that way – plus I didn’t want to look like a one-trick pony – but I’m now planning on changing the POV of the whole book to first person. A lot of work? Yes. But I feel that it’s necessary.

I came to this conclusion after several rejections from agents saying they just didn’t connect to Victoria emotionally. I think some of that may be due to the narrative distance that third person (even deep POV) gives you. So I’ve decided to go back and change the whole thing, plus take another agent’s advice and add in a section at the beginning showing you her early years. I think that will help you understand why she does some of the things she does later in life. Thank God this one doesn’t come out until July!

Looking forward, I envision a few books that will have multiple first-person POVs. I’ll use the person’s name at the beginning of each chapter so you know whose head you are in. I can think of three off the top of my head. One will have only his and hers chapters that will likely alternate and another will have *counts on fingers* four different POV characters (well, five, but one takes over after another one dies…). That will be an interesting experience to write, especially when I get into the male first person characters. The other will also be dual time period, so that might get tricky, but I’ll figure it out.

Long story short, if you pick up a book from me, it’s 99% likely it’s going to be written in first person. I’m just not good at third. But hey, they are my stories and I have to do what’s best for them, right? And I’m likely to write in past tense. Present tense doesn’t make sense to me for historical fiction and irritates me a lot even in contemporary books.

Do you have a POV preference as a reader? Do you care or are you more interested in the story? Personally, I think there’s an intimacy to first person that third usually lacks in all but the most skilled of hands. Agree or disagree? Why? Do you think an author should write in a range of POVs or stick to what he/she knows? Discuss.

New Book Titles Selected

I wasn’t thinking it would happen this fast, but my best friend Courtney and I did some brainstorming yesterday and came up with new titles for both books. Thank you to everyone who gave suggestions.

The new titles are:

Daughter of Destiny (was Guinevere of Northgallis)
(Other two books in the series are Camelot’s Queen and Mistress of Legend)

Been Searching for You (was He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not)

I’ll be able to tell you in a bit why I needed these new titles. You will be very happy when I do. Now I need to go and change them throughout this site.

Your Help Needed: New Titles for 2 of my Books

book titleI’m excited to finally be able to involve all of you loyal readers in an important part of the book creation process! Two of my books need new titles and I’m looking to you for help and suggestions. If your title is picked or your word suggestion is key in coming up with the final title, you will be mentioned by name (unless you tell me otherwise) in the acknowledgements included in the book, and you will receive a free digital advanced copy of the book as soon as it becomes available. I’ll report back on the final decision here once I’ve made it.

Here’s what I need from you: What titles do you think fit the descriptions of the books below? If you don’t want to think of a full title, what words or phrases would make you want to pick up the book? Short titles tend to stick in people’s minds better, so I’m aiming for no more than four words. (I’ll do the research later as to whether or not a title is already taken; you don’t have to worry about that unless you want to.)

Re-title #1: Guinevere of Northgallis
This was always a working title and I’ve never been happy with it. This is the story of Guinevere’s life before King Arthur. I want something that says Arthurian legend (but not literally) when you read it. I want you to know right away that this book is connected to the story of Camelot, but is Guinevere’s story. The two other books in the series are titled Camelot’s Queen (book 2 – someone else already took Queen of Camelot, darn it!) and Mistress of Legend (book 3) – these are final titles that I love. I want something that fits with these. The trilogy will collectively be called Guinevere’s Tale.

Book description (This may well end up being the back cover copy):

Before queenship and Camelot, Guinevere was a priestess of Avalon. She loved another before Arthur, a warrior who would one day betray her.

In the war-torn world of late fifth century Britain, young Guinevere faces a choice: stay with her family to defend her home at Northgallis from the Irish, or go to Avalon to seek help for the horrific visions that haunt her. The Sight calls her to Avalon, where she meets Morgan, a woman of questionable parentage who is destined to become her rival. As Guinevere matures to womanhood, she gains the powers of a priestess, and falls in love with a man who will be both her deepest love and her greatest mistake.

Just when Guinevere is able to envision a future in Avalon, tragedy forces her back home, into a world she barely recognizes, one in which her pagan faith, outspokenness, and proficiency in the magical and military arts are liabilities. When a chance reunion with her lover leads to disaster, she is cast out of Northgallis and into an uncertain future. As a new High King comes to power, Guinevere must navigate a world of political intrigue where unmarried women are valuable commodities and seemingly innocent actions can have life-altering consequences.

You may think you know the story of Guinevere, but you’ve never heard it like this: in her own words. Listen and you will hear the true story of Camelot and its queen.

What are your thoughts? Please let me know in the comments below.

Re-title #2: He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
I LOVE this title, but unfortunately, someone else recently released a book with the same title. There is no rule or law that two books can’t have the same title, but it causes confusion when readers search for the book and I’d like to avoid that.

This book is a light, beach-read love story. I consider it a romantic comedy. Beyond the love story, it’s about maturing and learning to trust, as well as the power of literature and education to change lives. It’s not a steamy book, but that was done on purpose (in fact, my historicals are way more graphic), though it is made clear who is having sex. There’s plenty of snark and adult language to distinguish it from the inspirational side of sweet.

I’m looking for something that says fun, entertaining love story. One thing that may help you in thinking of a title is that the book takes place in Chicago, and the location is very important to the story.

Book description (not finalized):

Annabeth is a hopeless romantic who believes in soul mates. In fact, she’s been writing to hers each year on her birthday since she was 16. Now, at 34, she’s still holding out hope of finding Mr. Right even though he’d be fighting an uphill battle to gain her trust, thanks to a traumatic experience years before with her childhood friend/college boyfriend, Nick.

When Annabeth meets a handsome literature professor named Alex on her 34th birthday, she thinks her quest may be at an end. But things don’t quite go as planned, so Annabeth resolves to do everything she can over the next year to get over her issues and find the unknown recipient of her letters. This leads to many awkward and humorous dating incidents, culminating in the unexpected reappearance of Alex, her handsome birthday boy, as a work client. Just when Annabeth thinks her life can’t get any more confusing, Nick comes crashing back into her life, turning her world on its head and forcing her to face all of her old insecurities and unresolved feelings.

Written in the tradition of Bridget Jones’ Diary, Kim Gruenfelder’s A Total Waste of Makeup, and Melissa Pimental’s Love By The Book, this novel shows love on the sweet side and would be right at home on the Hallmark Channel or Lifetime.

Thoughts? Ideas? Please leave them in the comments.

I really appreciate all of you and I hope you have fun with this. I really want to involve my readers in the book process as I can and I hope you enjoy this first opportunity to help shape the books you’ll soon be reading.

 

Summer Writing Challenge: Beach Witch

I don't know the source of this, but it would be my ideal book cover for Beach Witch. If anyone knows whose image it is, please tell me. I'd love to give credit.

I don’t know the source of this, but it would be my ideal book cover for Beach Witch. If anyone knows whose image it is, please tell me. I’d love to give credit.

The Challenge: Can a Midwestern, land-locked writer successfully tell a contemporary tale set in a magical (fictional) seaside town in Virginia using only these things as inspiration?

  • A local man-made lake with a beach
  • A pool
  • A CD of ocean waves
  • One day on Santa Monica Beach in September
  • Her imagination
  • A Pinterest board

I hope the answer is yes, because that’s what I’ll be spending the next few months doing! Because of other trips I have planned (like the one to LA in September), I don’t have the time/money to visit the real-life area the town is located in, so I’m going to have to do the best I can with what I have access to.

I can’t wait to introduce you guys to this town, because I love it. The plot is still taking shape, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to end up as light (read: happy) women’s fiction with a bit of magical realism, which is ironic because I don’t normally like magical realism. The working title is Beach Witch (which I don’t like and will change, but it has to have something for now). It’s about a 30-something woman’s struggle to find her purpose in life with the help of her family in this strange little town. And yes, there is a love story. Think of it as Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells meets Barbara Davis’ The Wishing Tide.

Also Happening: I’ll also be researching my next historical fiction novel, which I hope to start in the fall. I can’t say who it’s about, but it’s another 19th century American woman who is little known. Her story is totally different from Victoria’s and she isn’t in any way involved with politics or women’s suffrage. It also takes place in a totally different part of the country, which is going to stretch my research and writing skills and my imagination. But it’s one I HAVE TO TELL NOW. She’s in my head and she wants to be heard.

Plus, I’ll be starting my DIY MFA as I finish plotting Beach Witch. Will let you know how that goes.

Any other suggestions for bringing the ocean to a land-locked girl? Thoughts on Beach Witch?

DIY MFA

DIY MFA copyAs anyone who knows me will attest, I am a lifelong learner. If I had known when I was in school that being a scholar was a valid career choice, I totally would have done it (history or religion). But as things are, I have two jobs, a day job for which I’ve gotten a master’s and professional accreditation (that’s as far as I can go as a PhD would make me overqualified) and my job as an author. I really, really want to advance my knowledge in the craft of writing, but I really have no desire (nor the time or money) to get a traditional MFA.

So, to that end, I’ve created my own course curriculum, based on books and DVD and online courses I want to take in my areas of focus (general craft, historical fiction and romance). I have no idea how long this will take me to complete, but I will do regular updates here to share what I’ve learned, give you an update on my progress and give myself a method of accountability. I plan to use what I learn as I write my next several books (I have a few contemporary love stories in mind and at least two historicals. I’ll be using my alpha/beta readers, critique partners and future agent as the criticism part of an MFA.)

I know I won’t end up with a piece of paper at the end of this, nor will I will able to add to the letters behind my name, but I should emerge from all this learning as a stronger writer, and that’s the whole point.

If you want to come along this journey with me, all of these sources are available to anyone, either from Amazon, or in the case of the Great Courses or Lawson Writer’s Academy, on their respective web sites. I have no idea what order I’m going to do things in, but you are welcome to journey along with me. In fact, I’d love to be able to discuss these books along with you.

Here’s my course of study:

(List updated 09/30/16. I’ve added more and crossed out those I’ve already completed as of today.)

General Craft:

  • Building Great Sentences (The Great Courses)
  • Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques (The Great Courses)
  • Nail Your Novel (Book by Roz Morris)
  • Writing Characters Who’ll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel (Volume 2) (Book by Roz Morris)
  • Writing plots with drama, depth and heart: Nail Your Novel (Book by Roz Morris)
  • The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction (Book by CS Lakin)
  • The Short Fuse Guide to Plotting Your Novel (Book by Connor Goldsmith)
  • Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish (Book by James Scott Bell)
  • The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life (book by Noah Lukeman)
  • 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters (book by Victoria Lynn Schmidt)
  • A Writer’s Guide to Characterization: Archetypes, Heroic Journeys, and Other Elements of Dynamic Character Development (book by Victoria Lynn Schmidt)
  • Story Structure Architect (book by Victoria Lynn Schmidt)
  • Story Engineering (book by Larry Brooks)
  • Story Physics (book by Larry Brooks)
  • Page Turner (book by Barbara Kyle)

Writing:

  • The Architecture of the Historical Novel (In-person course with Larry Brooks – HNS USA 2015)
  • Attitude & Altitude of Historical Novel: (In-person course with Larry Brooks – HNS USA 2015)
  • Writing With Emotion, Tension, and Conflict: Techniques for Crafting an Expressive and Compelling Novel (Book by Cheryl St. John)
  • Elements of Fiction Writing – Conflict and Suspense (Book by James Scott Bell)
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers (book by Renni Browne and Dave King)
  • How to Capture Your Reader in the First 10 Pages (Lecture by Michael Hauge)
  • Writing Screenplays that Sell (Book by Michael Hauge)
  • Story Fix: Transform Your Novel from Broken to Brilliant (book by Larry Brooks and Michael Hauge)
  • Diving Deep into Deep Point of View (Lawson Writer’s Academy – Course instructor: Rhay Christou)
  • Digging Deep into the EDITS System (highly recommended for a unique perspective on editing) (Lawson Writer’s Academy – Handouts Available for Purchase)
  • Advanced Deep Editing: A Master Course (Lawson Writer’s Academy – Handouts Available for Purchase)
  • Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues (Lawson Writer’s Academy – Handouts Available for Purchase)
  • Empowering Characters’ Emotions (Lawson Writer’s Academy – Handouts Available for Purchase)
  • 30 Days to a Stronger Novel (Lawson Writer’s Academy – Course instructor: Lisa Wells)
  • The Hero’s Journey, Parts I & II (DVD by Michael Hauge)
  • The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers (book by Christopher Vogler)
  • The Virgin’s Promise: Writing Stories of Feminine Creative, Spiritual and Sexual Awakening (book by Kim Hudson)
  • Save the Cat (book by Blake Snyder)
  • Writing the Other: A Practical Approach (book by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward)
  • The Secrets of Storytelling: How to Write Compelling Stories (Webinar by Jerry Jenkins)
  • The Story Toolkit: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Stories that Sell (Book by Susan Bischoff)

Romance Specific:

  • On Writing Romance (Book by Leigh Michaels)
  • Writing Romantic Comedies (Lecture – Michael Hauge)
  • Writing Romantic Comedies (Book by Billy Mernit)
  • Old RWA conference workshop handouts
  • How To Sell Romance Novels On Kindle (Book by Michael Alvear)

History/Research:

  • The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World (The Great Courses)
  • Daily Life in the Ancient World (The Great Courses)
  • The Story of Medieval England (The Great Courses)
  • The Information-Literate Historian (Book by Jenny L. Presnell)
  • From Reliable Sources: An Introduction to Historical Methods (Book by Martha C. Howell)
  • The Craft of Research (Book by Wayne C. Booth)
  • Historical Fiction Writing: A Practical Guide (Book by Myfanwy Cook)
  • How to Write and Sell Historical Fiction (Book by Persia Wooley)*
  • Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders (book by Susanne Allyen)*
  • Writing Historical Fiction: Advice for the Digital Age (book by Marilyn Weymouth Seguin)
  • Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction (book by Emma Darwin)*

Non-fiction

  • The Non-fiction Proposal Demystified  (Book by Nina Amir)
  • The Short Fuse Guide to Book Proposals (Book by Gordon Warnock)
  • Step by Step Pitches and Proposals by Chip Macgregor

The Business of Writing/Marketing

  • Authorpreneur: How to Build a Business Around Your Book (Book by Nina Amir)
  • The Author’s Guide to Marketing (Book by Beth Jusino)
  • Getting Published in the 21st Century: Advice from a Literary Agent (book by Carly Watters)
  • How to Market a Book (Book by Joanna/JF Penn)*
  • Business for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur (Book by Joanna/JF Penn)
  • SMART Social Media for Authors (Book by Chris Syme)
  • Guerrilla Marketing for Writers (Book by Jay Conrad Levins)
  • Opening Up to Indie Authors (Book by Debbie Young and Dan Holloway)
  • Green Light Your Book: How Writers Can Succeed in the New Era of Publishing (Book by Brooke Warner)
  • Online Marketing for Busy Authors (Book by Fauzia Burke)
  • How to Get Publicity for Your Book (Book by Natalie Obando)
  • Red Hot Internet Publicity (Book by Penny Sanseivieri)
  • 52 Ways to Sell More Books (Book by Penny Sanseivieri)
  • How Authors Sell Publishing Rights (Book by Helen Sedwick and Orna Ross)
  • Successful Self-Publishing (Book by Joanna Penn)
  • The Naked Truth About Self Publishing (Book by Dorien Kelly)
  • Author Identity: Build Your Brand, Sell More Books, Change the World (Book by Angie Mroczka)
  • Let’s Get Visible (Book by David Gaughran)*
  • Library as a Discovery Platform (IBPA Webinar)
  • Wherever Books are Sold: How to Convince Huge Chains to Sell Your Books (IBPA Webinar)
  • Audiobook Marketing Tips & Tools (IBPA Webinar)
  • Book Marketing with Internet Media (IBPA Webinar)
  • Sell More Books with Less Social Media (Book by Chris Syme)
  • Talk Up Your Book: How to Sell Your Book Through Public Speaking, Interviews, Signings, Festivals, Conferences, and More (Book by Particia Fry)
  • Public Speaking for Authors and Creatives (Book by Joanna Penn)

* Indicates I’ve started this book/course

What do you think about my DIY MFA program? Is there anything you would recommend adding? Have you read any of these books/taken any of these courses? Will you be joining me for all or part of this journey? If so, which part(s)? 

2014: Year in Review

happy-new-year-2014-colorful-fire-wallpapersHi everyone! I emerged from the writing cave yesterday with a first draft of my next book weighing in at 107,000 words. It’ll get smaller as I edit it, but that’s two weeks away.

For now, I thought it would be a good time to look back on 2014.

Favorites
Moment:
Meeting Deb Harkness and my WISH sisters at Hedgebrook Second place: Meeting Elizabeth Gilbert
Book:
Tie between Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell and Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
Blog Post
(on this blog): There were a lot but these two rise to the top: General: Hell Yes, We Need Strong Female Characters and Historical: The First Black Friday, 1869 – Stocks, Not Shopping
Memory: Getting the words “write” and “create” tattooed on my right wrist
Music:
Book writing music: The score to Belle, composed by Rachel Portman. General music: Wrongchilde’s Goldblooded.
Quote:
“Historical fiction writers are just as qualified to write about the past as historians, if not more so.” Deb Harkness
Unexpected Occurrence:
Joining the Romance Writers of America. Never thought it would happen, but I’m so glad I did it. Oh, and connecting with Sarah Kennedy, Patricia Bracewell and Nancy Bilyeau via the Historical Novel Society was pretty cool, too.

The Year of “Bloom”
On January 1 of this year, I declared it the “Year of Blooming.” While I didn’t bloom publicly like I expected to, it was still an appropriate choice for the growth and confidence I gained this year. The goals I outlined were (and progress actually made) were:

  • Delivering book 3 and another non-related book I’m working on to my agent by the end of June. I did this. Book 3 is still in a first draft that needs work stage, but at least I’ve got my ideas down on paper. The non-related book was He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, which went to her on time. I also delivered 80% of a non-fiction book and its proposal, which I haven’t talked much about because…reasons. I’m still hoping you’ll see it someday. I just have no idea when.
  • Finally being able to announce when Guinevere book 1 will be available to the world. I really shouldn’t have made this a goal because it’s out of my hands. I still don’t have any news here, but please know I haven’t given up on making it happen.
  • Researching and beginning writing another Celtic era historical fiction novel. This was put on hold in favor of the 19th century American novel I just completed.
  • Attending the Sirens Conference with several of my writer friends in October (and possibly speaking there if I can come up with a topic and get it approved). I decided not to do this because of lack of funds. But I was able to speak at the Lit in Lou festival here in town, so I consider that a win.
  • Finding balance in my life between my day job, writing and all the other demands of life. *snort* I don’t think writing three books in one year along with working a full-time job is considered balance according to any definition.
  • Getting healthier so that I can have more energy to devote to the things I love. Not so much. See above.
  • Being more active on Facebook. (I’m already on Twitter all the time.) This kind of happened. I scheduled weekly posts all year on Facebook, although with as much as they monkey with who gets to see it and who doesn’t, I really wonder about the value.
  • Traveling for research (cross your fingers that I’ll have an announcement on this soon) for book 3 and my current non-related book. Travel for Book 3 didn’t happen, but instead I got to take a week-long creative writing class from Deborah Harkness at Hedgebrook, which honestly, was way more beneficial. I did get to travel to Chicago to research He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not and I will share some of that with you as soon as the book gets a contract – whenever that may be.
  • Continuing to find new ways to use this blog to reach out to Arthurian/Celtic fans, book lovers and writers. Honestly, I’m not sure what I had in mind for this one. I didn’t do a lot of Celtic topics, but there were a few that came out of the non-fic book.

Writing
If I have learned one thing this year, it’s that trying to write three books in a year while holding down a full-time job is INSANE. That’s not a feat I aim to repeat again. At least not until I can write full-time. But it is really mind blowing to think that one year ago today, those three books didn’t exist; all I had to my name was the three Guinevere novels. Now I have:

  1. He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (romantic women’s fiction)
  2. The non-fiction book
  3. A first draft of the 19th century strong political woman book (histfic)

Reading
Goodreads told me that I read 70 books this year, but that doesn’t include the five I’ve finished since they put out their tally, nor does it include the 30 something research books I used for the non-fic and the 19th century book. So my total is more like 100. How did I do it? A lot of audiobooks (sometimes two at a time), along with reading every spare moment. That’s about it.

Blogging
I know I was a little sporadic in 2014, especially toward the end of the year, but I’m coming to realize that when I’m focused on finishing a book, blogging is just going to have to take a back seat. I love you guys, but there is only so much of me to go around. BUT, I’m hoping the quality of content I give you weekly in between will make up for it. WordPress did this silly little year in review thing for my blog, so here it is in case you want the details: https://nicoleevelina.com/2014/annual-report/.

So I think that’s about it. Is there anything else you want to know about my 2014? I’ll be back tomorrow with another blog and several more this week, so stay turned!

Happy New Year. Let’s make 2015 the best yet! I love you all!