Kidnapped by Imaginary Characters!

Help! I’ve been kidnapped and am being held hostage by my characters. They won’t let me go. They’ve invaded my mind and silently watch, waiting for their opportunity to remind me they have strong voices that demand to be heard. Strong wills and desires they can no longer hide. Just when I think I’m in control, they pounce like a feline. They grab hold of my situation and twist it to their personal agenda. They massage my thoughts and intertwine them with their own insecurities.

Happy November to all the NaNoWriMo participants – and to everyone else as well. I’ve been feverishly cranking out words towards my new novel, ‘The Secret Lives of Superhero Wives’. We’re 12 days in, and I’m 22K words into my 50K goal. All of a sudden, I’ve felt on edge: anxious, insecure, stubborn, depressed, lonely, and a whole slew of other emotions I can’t put my finger on. I can’t figure out if I’m overtired, putting too much pressure on myself, or if my life is just going down the toilet.

Alas, this morning, I solved my problem:  My characters have taken over my life!!!

Yeah. My life is good and there is no reason my perception is being twisted by these emotions. Each thought I’m experiencing is what I’ve been writing about. THEY ARE NOT MY THOUGHTS. THEY ARE WHAT MY CHARACTERS WOULD THINK. The problem: my lines between the written word and reality began to blur. But the first step in a cure is recognition of the problem.

I’ve always been way too empathetic, now, I’m doing it with imaginary people!

My new novel has three different story lines, following three women and the superhero in their life. (And yes, we’re talking literal superheroes… with superpowers) The balance of three main character’s personalities is exhausting. Plus you add in their (ex)husbands personalities, and you end up with a tornado of emotions… no, a hurricane.

Novel premise: The superhero always gets the girl, right? Ever wonder what happens next?

  • Ariana is recently married. She struggles with the challenges of adjusting to married life.
  • Victoria is divorced, but her ex-husband won’t leave her alone.
  • Emma’s been married six years and struggling with a husband whos duty seems to come before her.

I have two hopes.

  1. That I don’t have this backwards and my emotions are actually taking over my characters or that seeing the characters display their flaws gives me permission to do it too.
  2. That all this turmoil  will make the characters come to life on the page for whoever ends up reading this novel.

So… The moral of this story? My next novel will need to have an intelligent, witty, caring, and… CHARMING protagonist. I give that one permission to take over my life. Maybe I should give up on NaNoWriMo today and start that story instead!

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Who’s in charge? You or your imaginary people?

Happy NaNo-ing.

–Joy

hostage

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Queries, Rejection, & Self-Publishing

For LOVE, LIES, & CLONES, I promised myself  I’d send out queries the traditional publishing route until I received ten rejections, then I’d self-publish. I know, ten rejections is not nearly enough, but I really want to self-publish. I’m interested in the idea of controlling all the aspects of my book – cover, editing, marketing, pricing, etc. In fact, I’d love to have the freedom to give it away free – if I want to.

Well, I’m sticking to my commitment to send out ten queries. I’ve sent out seven in the last week and received two rejections already… Only eight more rejections until self-publication. It’s a funny feeling – these rejections coming in aren’t discouraging. I actually feel relieved to see them.

I just heard of a program through Amazon, Kindle Scout. Anyone out there tried this? It seems like a hybrid between self-publishing and traditional publishing – but I could be completely off base. You post your book (it has to be completely done) and then readers/authors vote on whether they think Amazon Publishing should consider the project. I’m torn – you give up control, but Amazon does some advertising for you.

I’m off… I need to find three more agents to query.

–Joy

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Facebook Author Page

I finally broke down and made a Facebook Author Page. I don’t know what I was waiting for. I had thought it was going to be super complicated, but it was exceptionally easy.

I’ve read a lot about creating an author page vs. using your personal page and I was torn. I choose the author page for the potential of advertising later on, but I never thought of using a personal page. Here was an interesting blog on that: https://janefriedman.com/5-reasons-use-facebook-profiles/

Now, I just need to figure out what to do with my page! I’m not quite ready for book launches yet.

If you don’t have one yet, here are the directions. I only know how to make one from a regular Facebook page (which I already had).

  1. Log into your Facebook account
  2. Click the down arrow on the toolbar on the top of the page on the right.
  3. Click on “Create Page”
  4. Click on “Artist, Band, or Public Figure”
  5. Keep following the directions

Once I had that set up, I made my banner header using http://www.canva.com/ Free easy to use.

I added a link to sign up for my mailing list. Once my books are ready, I can add a link to purchase the book. (Both of which are very cool.)

FB cover

Do you use Facebook to promote your writing? Feel free to post your link and your tips on how you found Facebook helpful.

Here’s my link if you want to see (or like me!): www.facebook.com/joynelljschultz

As always, thanks for reading!

–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?

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?

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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!)

Week 3: Camp NaNoWriMo– Be The Villain

camp nano

I’m late for my update. Well, I won camp! Woo Hoo! (Since I didn’t technically win April’s camp.) I’m currently well ahead of my goal! 40K done of a goal of 31K and I still have 7 days left this month. (Which is good, because I still have 10 chapters of my 27 chapters to write.)

I’m approaching the climax now. The middle of the book is HARD! I was stuck earlier and took a day off from writing to plot the story out. I obsessed about it and couldn’t function in the real world as I tried to figure out how to get from point A to point B.

To get me out of this, I put myself in the mind of the villain, forgetting my protagonists. I wrote a few chapters of the middle of the story from the villain’s perspective. (I planned on putting then in the novel, but cut them when I realized it took away from the mystery/suspense.) This was an amazing technique to keep the story moving and add some depth.

My brother tells me he loves the villains. I never understood, but now have a new appreciation. They are flawed. They take action to make things go their way. They make the story happen.

How do you get through the endless middle section/act 2 of your stories?