Wanted: Someone to Read my Urban Fantasy Novel

As I’m preparing to publish my new novel, BLOOD & HOLY WATER, I’m looking for some high-level feedback on the story.

Is anyone interested? It should be a fairly quick read.

I can send the file over in word, adobe, google docs, .rtf, or many other formats.

BHW finalSecond Order Angel, Ava, is sick of helping elderly women cross the street and strategically placing spare change where the poor can find it. She wants to be promoted and finally earn her wings. An angel promotion takes more than Ava’s hard work and determination though. It takes a miracle – literally. Unfortunately, her miracle is impossible, as it involves a vampire.

Fin, the vampire in question, has a different agenda. He doesn’t deserve a miracle and can’t be bothered helping a naïve angel earn her wings. He’s busy enough keeping the Blood Board off his back. Fin has spent his entire life as a vampire avoiding his own kind, and now it seems his luck has run out. When one of his secrets surfaces, it seems nothing can help him short of a miracle. Too bad he scared the angel away.

Contact me below if you are interested.

Here is a link to the FIRST CHAPTER if you’d like read before deciding.

–Joy

Creating a Mailing List

Since February, I’ve been struggling with getting a mailing list sign-up on my blog. The value of a mailing list for authors has been cited in numerous articles I’ve read. In fact, you should be creating this list as soon as possible – well before finishing a novel.

I finally figured it out and wanted to share!

First, I created an account through http://www.mailchimp.com/ and designed a mailing list. I learned that having a wordpress.com site only allowed me to embed a POP-UP subscription window. I didn’t want the annoyance of a pop-up. Personally, I don’t want to be a pushy sales-person.

What I wanted was a subscription column added to my widgets on my blog home page. It turns out, using the wordpress.com platform, this isn’t possible – you need wordpress.org to do this. And I’m cheap – I couldn’t justify switching platforms at this point. Well, I found a work around.

Through MailChimp, I created a launchpad signup and added a link to this on my sidebar. It works great! (Assuming people actually see it!)

Simplified directions:

  1. Create MailChimp account
  2. Create a list through MailChimp
  3. Create a signup form (general form) through MailChimp
  4. Take this link and add it to your wordpress.com sidebar (customize format à widgets àadd text à add link for your signup Launchpad from MailChimp – here’s directions for getting the link in html format: https://en.support.wordpress.com/links/text-widget-links/ )

As I’m working on obtaining subscribers, I’m trying to figure out what I’ll do with this list. Here are my thoughts:

  1. Ask for beta readers of new books
  2. Offer free books in exchange for reviews on Amazon and/or Goodreads (advance reader copies)
  3. Give free short stories away (as a cheap ploy to drive traffic to the novels)
  4. Announce when new publications are coming out
  5. ????

 Mailing List

(If you’re interested, click here for the link to sign up for my mailing list)

Do you have an email subscription list? What do you use it for?

How to Write an Enticing Book Blurb

What pulls you in to actually read a novel? Many things. It starts with the cover… Maybe the reviews or a friend’s recommendations? But the book blurb seals the deal.

Today I set off to write a blurb for both my novels. I figured a good blurb I could use for self-publishing, enticing beta readers, and, with a little modification, for query letters. Here is my walk-through of creating a blurb and how I applied it to my two novels.

This is a combination of formulas from: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/4-easy-steps-to-an-irresistable-book-blurb/ and here: http://writerswrite.co.za/how-to-write-an-irresistible-book-blurb-in-five-easy-steps

Here are the components:

  1. Situation/Setting: Describe your main character and their situation/circumstance.
  2. Problem/Conflict/Inciting Incident: What situation is causing your character’s to need to react. This part often starts with “But…” or “However…” or “Until…”
  3. Hopeful Possibility/Possible Solution/Objective: What do your characters need to do to overcome their crisis? This should be what makes the reader want to read the story/ offer the reader hope. Good word to use here is “if”.
  4. Mood/Emotional Promise: Tell them how the book will make them feel and what type of book it is. This sets the mood/tone of the book for the reader.

Now, here is how I applied them to my novels. I’ll definitely work on tweaking these more, but a general structure.

LLC Cover - FinalLove, Lies, & Clones:

(1) Thirty-year-old June’s biggest struggle isn’t that she’s a clone. (2) It’s that her father disappeared and the police aren’t doing enough to find him.

Maybe they’d be more interested if June confessed his involvement in illegal human cloning. But then, he might face the death penalty when, or perhaps if, he’s found.

(3) Torn whether to tell the police everything or keep her father’s secret, June decides to put her troubled past behind and search for him herself. When Elliot, a man AWOL from the military, insists June’s father is the key to finding his missing brother, she reluctantly agrees to a partnership.

With each clue they uncover, June learns more about the twisted experiments her father used to create her. Her whole life she’s been taught to not trust anyone with her secret, but as the bullets begin to fly, she’s left with no choice.

(4) This speculative fiction novel, set twenty years in the future, is packed with mystery and romance and will leave you wanting more.

BHW final Blood & Holy Water:

(1) Second Order Angel, Ava, is sick of helping elderly women cross the street and strategically placing spare change where the poor can find it. (2) She wants to be promoted and finally earn her wings. An angel promotion takes more than Ava’s hard work and determination – it takes a miracle – literally. (3) Unfortunately, her miracle is impossible, as it involves a vampire.

(1) Fin, the vampire in question, has a different agenda, no miracle needed, no helping a naïve angel earn her wings. (2) He is busy keeping the Blood Board off his back. Fin has spent his entire time as a vampire avoiding his own kind, and now they are forcing him to work with them. (3) When one of his secrets surfaces, he needs the help of an angel — too bad he scared her away.

(4) Blood & Holy Water is a romantic story of the blurry lines between good and evil told from alternating perspectives.

Do you have a blurb you’ve written? Share it below, I’d love to read it!

(Also, I’d take any suggestions you have on mine.)

I Wrote a Novel (or Two), Now What?

I’ve read that only about 3% of novels are ever finished. (Keep in mind, 99% of statistics are false. 🙂)

So here I sit with two manuscripts, asking myself… “There. I’m done. I said I’d finish… But now what? It’s a shame to just let it sit in a pile or on a file on my hard drive.”

I began doing my research and holy crap is the publishing industry confusing. Where does one even start? Ten years ago, I would have had a quick and easy answer to that. Find an agent and get a publisher, of course. Now, that whole philosophy is changing.

The first decision I need to make is between the two main types of publishing, traditional publishing versus self-publishing. After this decision, there are many choices within each publishing umbrella. Agent vs. direct to the publisher, large press vs. small press, Amazon vs. Smashwords, $3.99 vs. FREE.

Urgh! I’ve never been good with choices!

I could write a blog laying out these choices, but I thought it would be better to just link some of the good ones here:

Pros and Cons of Traditional vs Indie Publishing: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/self-publishing-vs-traditional/ (There’s a little propaganda here, but it lays it out nicely.)

And for lighter reading: http://annerallen.com/ive-written-book-now-what-22-steps-to/

So where does that leave me? I had to get down to my PURPOSE for writing. Besides enjoying it, I want to write stories that will bring many people entertainment… So, how do I get my writing into as many hands as possible?

At first, I figured I’d self-publish and GIVE my novels away for FREE. The more and more I researched that, the more it concerned me. First, I still am not certain that people would find and take the stories seriously, even if they were FREE. Secondly, would I be insulting the whole writing community by doing this? (And thirdly, how would I justify spending $1000-$2000 dollars on a novel cover, book editor, formatting, etc. of self-publishing with no return?)

So, I moved off that thought… (Though, if anyone asked me for my story, I’d be happy to send them a free copy.😊 I can’t say no.)

Next, I moved on to self-publishing, but struggle how to get readers. That’s my goal, right? To have people actually find my story and read it? I love the control one has in the publishing process, but if I wrote a story to have nobody find it? That would be heart wrenching.

I feel that breaking into the traditional publishing market is like finding a needle in a haystack… Or maybe a field of haystacks, but I read that the experience of trying, is probably a learning experience every author should have… Small press publishing may be easier, but I feel readership is probably similar to self-publishing.

So… I have two books and know I’ll have more in the future. Since I can’t make up my mind, I’m going to query agents for LOVE, LIES, & CLONES and self-publish BLOOD & HOLY WATER. The best of both worlds, right? I’m excited for the experience of trying both methods and comparing the two.(Both of which, I’ll update in this blog.) I’m shooting for only 10 rejections before I turn to self-publishing.  I know that’s not enough, but I’m not sold on traditional publishing anyway. When all is said and done, I’ll probably end up self-publishing both books.

What are your thoughts on the publishing industry?

WIN_20160809_142431

Blood & Holy Water – First Draft Done!

It only took me nearly TEN years and multiple first attempts, but Blood & Holy Water has a completed first draft! It feels fantastic!

PLUS I feel it’s the best first draft I’ve ever written. This story I wrote with the help of a critique partner (who I found on GoodReads) that went through each chapter as I wrote it – helped me with plot holes and grammar issues as I wrote… Which left me with a First Draft I’d actually show more people.

I started June 26th with the actually writing and finished today… 41 days to 60K. Not bad, but this novel practically wrote itself (it should have, I had 10 years to think about it!)

Next step: August 15th I’m participating in a novel swap though Scribophile where we swap novels with 3 others writers. I haven’t participated before, but we each will end up with three critiques on our novels. There’s still time to sign up (it’s free) if you need a read through of your novel. There are alpha reads and beta reads.  I have 10 days to zip through what I wrote one more time and make sure it’s ready for the swap.

Also, here is the first chapter of Blood & Holy Water if you’re interested.

Thank you for following my journey!

–Joy

Blood & Holy Water Cover

 

Week 4: Camp NaNoWriMo – Not The End

When I first heard of November’s NaNoWriMo, I thought it was an insane idea. How can anyone write 50,000 words in one month? Anyone that does it must not have a family or a full time job, right?

Well, now, I’m realizing that it is possible. During July’s camp, my goal was 25K in the month and I surpassed it, reaching 42K. (I started my novel the last week of June, because I couldn’t wait, and I’m currently at 50K.)  I think if I wasn’t editing my other novel and reading a few manuscripts for others, I could have easily hit 50K this month. And, that’s with a 40+ hour per week job, a husband and two children at home (though, I probably didn’t really cook or clean this month – which I’m not complaining about), and a few little family weekend trips squeezed in.

I only have 6-7 chapters to go and I’ll have completed TWO novels in 2016 so far. With November’s NaNoWriMo, that’ll be THREE novels. And to think that when I started this blog I swore I’d never try to write another novel again!

Well, August’s goal is to figure out what to do next. What do you do with a finished novel? Is it ever really finished?  Stay tuned for my step-by-step saga. That whole process seems quite overwhelming.

So November, here I come! I’ll get to 50K, I’m sure of it. Now, I just need a new novel idea and I can begin outlining.

What I learned this July:  with a good outline, the writing part is easy.  Coming up with the story is the difficult part.

How did July’s Camp NaNoWriMo go for you? Did you reach your goals? (I hope so!)