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“To Kill a Wizard” is Available on Amazon

I know I just published my first short story on Amazon, introducing people to the world of Tarak, but now the first novel in the series is also available. It is absolutely amazing to see two and a half years of work finally being “completed.” So much about being a writer is working alone, just hoping that someday, someone, might see your work. To be at this point feels even more incredible than I ever imagined.

If you’d like to check out my book, here is the cover and the blurb:

Book- Without Back Cover- 1500Pixels

When eighteen-year-old Rose is chosen to join a mysterious order of women known as The Protectors, she hopes to escape a forced marriage and a miserable life. Instead, she unveils the dark secrecy surrounding The Protectors, and uncovers the horrific truth behind their power source. With her loyalty in tatters and her best friend’s life held hostage, she must learn to unlock the powerful magic slumbering deep inside her.

But time is running out.

The Undead Wizards, a dangerous enemy, have re-emerged from the Underworld, plunging The Protectors and the kingdom into a brutal war. Unfortunately, The Fates decree that Rose is the answer to the war may cost her more than she ever imagined. To win, she must decide whether to join them and betray the man she loves, or risk the annihilation of all she holds dear.

Book Covers and Blurbs with that Extra Something

Creating a cover is such an emotional process. “They” say the two things that help to sell your book the most are the cover and the blurb. It’s heart-wrenching to create a book that makes you sing with pride, but worry that no one will ever read your story if the cover and blurb aren’t good enough.

Luckily, I have a friend who has some computer magic and was excited to use it on my book cover. It was awesome to sit down together and come up with an idea of what I wanted it to look like, but then to actually have him create it. Because the truth is, I have some skills, but creating an amazing cover is not one of them.

I also luckily have an amazing group of writers, the 7 Evil Dwarves, who were willing to look at my blurb and help give it that extra something. Most people have no idea how hard it is for a writer to try to sum up their book in just a few paragraphs, but trust me, it’s painful. A special thanks to Jami Gray who sprinkled some writer-magic on it.

After several drafts, and countless hours spent constructing my vision, here is the cover to my first young adult fantasy novel, along with the blurb:

Book- Without Back Cover- 1500Pixels

When eighteen-year-old Rose is chosen to join a mysterious order of women known as The Protectors, she hopes to escape a forced marriage and a miserable life. Instead, she unveils the dark secrecy surrounding The Protectors, and uncovers the horrific truth behind their power source. With her loyalty in tatters and her best friend’s life held hostage, she must learn to unlock the powerful magic slumbering deep inside her.

But time is running out.

The Undead Wizards, a dangerous enemy, have re-emerged from the Underworld, plunging The Protectors and the kingdom into a brutal war. Unfortunately, The Fates decree that Rose is the answer to the war may cost her more than she ever imagined. To win, she must decide whether to join them and betray the man she loves, or risk the annihilation of all she holds dear.

What are some of your favorite blurbs or covers?

Like my posts?  Check out my personal blog: Lisa Morrow

Books by Lisa Morrow: Lisa Morrow Author Page

Publishing My First Novel, Using CreateSpace

Amazon CreateSpace

Publishing a novel really does take an entire team, or a writer willing to learn a lot of new skills. Recently, I published my first novel (which is available for pre-order): To Kill a Wizard, through Amazon. Even though I’m definitely not an expert, I thought others might benefit from my experience with CreateSpace.

CreateSpace:

  • This is an author friendly program, if you know how to use it. Otherwise, make sure you’re a member of some author groups where you feel comfortable asking questions.
  • Youtube is your friend. After reading a number of step-by-step guides, I found it so much easier to visually see what I needed to do.
  • Use their cover creator program. I uploaded a completed cover and struggled with why it wasn’t meeting their requirements, because I couldn’t actually view the issues with it. In the cover creator, they have a template for covers that are completed. It was much easier to use. I will say, however, I still had my cover rejected twice, before one was accepted. Each time it took about a day to discover if I’d been approved, so leave yourself some time.
  • The inside of the book requires a certain structure, including making sure you have mirror indents, so it actually looks like a “real” book. You might also need to spend some time messing with the font size and spacing. After asking a number of authors, I realized everyone sets their books up differently. Some people use size 14 font, others use size 12. Some people insist it must be double spaced, others use single space, and still others use whatever looks right. But playing around with everything takes time. And sometimes everything looks perfect to your eyes, but it won’t pass review for one reason or another. I know I uploaded at least ten different versions of my document before everything “looked” right and passed their requirements.
  • After you’ve created your book, you can order a proof. This was the most exciting part for me! I’m still waiting to actually be able to hold the book in my hands, but I’m beyond excited about it. This is the moment when everything becomes real.

I’ll continue to share my experiences with the publishing process, even though right now I’m working on the two short stories I plan to release before my novel is available to order at the end of June. If all goes well, I’ll have my hands full with a lot of fun projects!

Like my posts? Check out my personal blog: Lisa Morrow

Books by Lisa Morrow: Lisa Morrow Author Page

Waving the White Flag

whiteflag

Around this time of year I become the Tasmanian Devil. Zipping around like a whirling dervish, I try to meet the seemingly endless holiday demands. Battles need to be had with mobs at the grocery store. The house needs a spit shine because friends and family are descending. Gift shopping needs to get done. Food needs to be prepared. Undoubtedly, I’ll have to tear apart the newly cleaned house trying to locate Grandma’s handwritten sweet potato casserole recipe.

There are holiday parties, potlucks, and birthday celebrations to plan and attend. On top of this, someone in my house invariably gets sick. This Thanksgiving my son came down with a bad cold while my husband ended up with the flu.

The end result is that my carefully structured writing schedule goes out the window. I know I’m not alone in this. The holidays have a negative impact on the productivity of many writers.

In the past, I’ve fought back by sacrificing sleep to regain my writing time. Unfortunately, I usually end up looking and acting like the zombies in my novels. Stumbling through my son’s second Christmas wasn’t a proud moment.

So this year, I’m waving the white flag. The holiday madness wins. The word count loses. But come January, game on! I’ll be making up for lost time.

Do you have any strategies for writing through the craziness of the holidays?

If you get a chance, check out the latest blog post on my website (www.tararane.com).

Indie or Not?

The publishing market today is in a constant state of flux. Things are changing fast, and it can be difficult to keep up.

I recently attended a panel discussion, at the Desert Rose Romance Writers’ Conference, on the different options with publishing. There were six different authors and six different opinions. I thought I would share some of the pros and cons each author mentioned to help others, like myself, navigate this intricate world of publishing.

 

Virginia Nelson

She traditionally published in the past, and with three contracts in her hand decided to self publish.

Advantages: She wanted control over her product.

Disadvantages: She had a lot of research to do on self publishing. She had to initially pay out for her covers, editing and formatting, and self promotion was all on her shoulders.

Vijaya Schartz

She has published several books with small press.

Advantages: They will pay for your editors and bookcovers. Bigger royalties than larger publishing firms.

Disadvantes: No promotion or marketing. No advances.

Advice: Do not put all your eggs in one basket. Small publishers may close their doors. Do not put all your books with one publisher. (Those with a larger publishing firms agreed with this as well.)

Shelly Coriell

Shelly is an award winning author who published her young adult series with Amulet (a bigger New York publisher). She also has an adult suspense series with a different large publishing company.

Advantages: Book advances. Book tours (for her personally, not everyone). They cover all promotion. Great cover art. Three to five different editors to help perfect manuscript.

Disadvantages: No control of tour schedules. Smaller royalties because of advances. Not as much of control of book.

Advice: She was a big proponent of traditional publishing. But she does have a more personal novel that she plans to self publish so that she can have more control.

Erin Quinn

Traditional publishing for over twenty years with some independent publishing as well.

Advantages: Simon and Schuster is her publisher, and she loves their quality editing. Large publishing houses have great marketing as well.

Advice: She does publish novellas independently to supplement her other income.

Jennifer Ashley

She is a New York Times Best Selling author who has been traditionally published since 2002 and began self publishing as well in 2011. Berkley is her current publisher.

Advantages: One of the biggest advantages she discussed was that large publishing houses are able to make the back end deals no one else can. If you want your books in Costco, Walmart, Target, etc. You have to have a large publishing house to sell your books.

Disadvantages: You don’t have as much control of your book with a larger publishing company.

Advice: “Nothing sells your book like your next book” and “Your newsletter is gold.”

 

One piece of advice that several of them gave, was if you choose to go the indie route make your book the best you can. You may want to submit to agents to get feedback even if publishing yourself. Overall, self promotion and lack of professional editors seemed to be the biggest challenge to self publishing. While, lack of control was the biggest disadvantage to tradition publishing.

I hope this helps some of the newer writers out there, or those thinking of making a switch. We have of variety of publishing methods at the swamp and often discuss upcoming trends and issues. Whatever route you choose, do your research and keep asking questions.

I ain’t got no time for cupcakes!

I’ve written two books for NaNoWriMo. Both were ‘wins’ in the NaNo World. I hit 50K words during the month of November, but neither will ever see the light of day.

I love NaNoWriMo because it gave me a win. As a new writer, still wondering if writing was something I could even do, I needed a win. I needed to accomplish…something…but I knew that I wasn’t going to write a best-seller on my first go-round, or second or even third. I needed a goal. Something to shoot for. NaNoWriMo gave me that goal.

I went into them knowing fully well they were practice books. Little foothills on the climb up the slope. Try/fail cycles if you will. I needed to tell myself that yes, I can sit down, start a story, and finish it. I can see a character or two through a journey. Yes it will suck and no, my wife can’t read them because I’m too embarrassed, but they accomplished the intended purpose that I had laid out for them.

So what about this NaNoWriMo? Being my fifth book I’m still dubious that it will be publishable, but I can see a vast improvement in my own writing over the last four to five years. This might be the one, or the next one might be the one. I don’t know, and I don’t much care right now. I do know that I don’t need the ‘win’ like I did in years past, but I still like this time because it’s my ‘winning’ time. It’s become somewhat of a tradition. It also helps that this year I planned on writing a 50K word book…coincidence? I also outlined a ton, more than I’ve ever done before…but more on that next week.

Some things I keep in mind while doing NaNoWriMo:

First off, realize that this month of furious writing is really just a fun way for a bunch of people to get together and get their Great American Novel written. That’s it. Don’t read into it too much. It’s fun.

It’s a tool, one of many, to help schedule your time and focus your energy. Talk to your loved ones, explain your goals and that, even though you might be missing a lot during this time, you’ll be back in December and life will get back to…more normal.

Write. This, obviously, is important. You carved out that time, you’re missing your loved ones, do them proud by actually completing the project. No wasting time on the internet, playing games, etc. Write. Turn off the damned WiFi if you have to.

Don’t edit. Bar yourself from fixing misspelled words if you have to. Yes, to that extreme. I see you hitting backspace to fix that word! Don’t do it!

Your goal is to finish the book. Not fix words or ‘tweak’ anything. This is a chance to actually complete a book. So complete it.

You will have to edit, probably edit a bunch, but you will edit in December and January. Embrace that and be okay with the fact that you might actually say “I don’t know what to put here.” Into your text. Seriously, type that over and over so you don’t break your rhythm. I have done that. It’s amazing what your mind comes up with after writing that line four or five times.

But most of all, have fun. Enjoy it. Relish in the lack of sleep for a month as you pound out 1000 words an hour…You are writing a thousand words an hour aren’t you? Alright mister, time to take the backspace key off your keyboard…

Cover Art

It’s such a surreal thing to be designing the cover art for my upcoming book. But I’ve also realized something that shouldn’t have been surprising; it’s harder than I thought to convey the image in my mind to someone else.

I’ll describe the image down to the smallest detail, feeling confident that I’ll know exactly what the artist will create… only to see their design and feel completely shocked.

My first instinct was I’m a writer. I should be good at getting across the image in my head to someone else. But then I remember that every writer wants their readers to fill in some of the details for themselves, and that no two readers will likely have the same image in their head. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a shock for a cover artist to have a different vision in their head from what I’m describing.

But I will also say, when your cover comes together, and looks awesome, there is no greater feeling in the world. It’s become the background on my computer. I like to look at it and just think about the day I’ll actually be able to hold my book in my hands.

What an exciting time in my writing career!

What is your favorite book cover and why?

How to Write a Best-Seller

In-between editing and blogging, I’ve been reading a few books on how to write. One of those books is “How to Write a Dirty Story” by Susie Bright. There have been quite a few interesting tips and bits of advice in this book. But one of the sections I just finished reading was about how to have a best-selling novel. One of the things that surprised me most about this section is that the two main requirements seemed to be #1 A Great Idea, and #2 An Ability to Market Oneself.

What do you think about this?

I was a bit shocked.

Coming from my inexperienced place, I’d assumed the most important thing was to be able to write something extraordinary. Books like Harry Potter didn’t necessarily have the most original idea (at the most basic level). How many stories have you read about a boy-wizard, after all? But it is her writing that makes this story come alive. She creates this perfect mix of tension, awesome characters, as well as, a unique world.

But if rumors are true, J.K. Rowling was rejected by a number of agents and publishers, who didn’t see the originality in her work… or perhaps, who didn’t even bother to read it.

This makes me wonder what is really required to have a best seller. As a writer myself, I wouldn’t say that I have any plans to put a huge focus on my marketing as I write more and more. Yes, I’ll have to do a bit, but I can’t imagine myself making appearances and taking interviews and all that jazz. Yet, in today’s world, is that a requirement of becoming a best-seller?

Many of the writers I meet are quiet people (not all by any means) who, like myself, might hesitate to become a public figure. I’d like to think that with a little promotion, word of mouth alone will be able to sell my book. But, perhaps, I’ll change my opinion one day.

What do you think? How much of being a best-selling author is good marketing and how much is good writing?

Why I Chose First-Person Point of View

A few people have told me that first-person point of view is not as popular in novels. I think they may be right, but that didn’t stop me from writing my current series in this POV.

One of the reasons I chose this is to challenge myself. Writing in first person is not always easy. You have to really pay close attention to how often you use “I,” as well as, how much you use phrases like “I heard,” “I saw,” etc. What’s more, you’re limited to only what your character knows and sees to explain your whole world and the other characters.

Other than challenging myself, one of the other reasons I wanted to write in this POV was to get “closer” to my character.

For example:

Third-Person POV: Shera bit down on her tongue, tasting a coppery-burst of blood.

First-Person POV: A coppery-burst of blood filled my mouth as my teeth sliced into my tongue.

I like forcing myself to remove that separation between the character and author, because it also removes that separation between the character and reader. I know it’s possible to do this through third-person POV as well, but this was even more difficult for me.

Also, because I am writing a YA fantasy novel, I thought my readers would really enjoy jumping into my heroine’s mind. I know first-person POV can sometimes be a bit jolting, if you are not used to it, but I am hoping my readers will give my novel a chance.

What is your opinion? Do you enjoy reading or writing first-person POV? Do you still think it is an unpopular way to writer?

Equinoxes and Godesses and Autumn Creativity

This weekend everyone’s talking about it being the first day of fall. And their lovely weather.Free Danish Autumn Stock Images - 870214

Sigh.

Here in Arizona, we’re still hitting over 100 degrees during the day, but I’m (im)patiently waiting for cooler temps. Send em on over 🙂 I love sitting outside and writing in the cool air. And reading on the back porch, the kids hanging out around the trees, is a blast 😀

For some reason, this time of year–fall, cooling temps and Halloween just around the corner–makes me feel more creative. I love planning new worlds, and for some reason, I get more ideas during September through October than any other time a year. 

Of course, once November hits with the holidays, I get no ideas LOL so maybe it all balances 😀

Since I’m in the middle of such world building and researching mythology and recently came across this again, I thought I’d share this tidbit (From a post in 2012)

***

In the pagan religion, the autumn equinox (the time of year when day and night are equal), is September 21st, and is the celebration of Mabon, or the first day of fall.

Mabon is named after a Welsh god who was stolen from his mom when he was barely three nights old.

If you enjoy Greek or Roman mythology, there are similarities between Mabon and Persephone, both being taken captive to the underworld during the autumn equinox, only to be rescued and allowed to come back during the spring equinox every year.

But the main theme of the celebration was that of thanksgiving.

In older ages, this was the time of the fall harvest, and the gods were thanked for the bounty of food to see the village through the oncoming cold winter.

***

 

I love fall, we don’t get the pretty leave turning or even much of a transition here (we go straight from way-too-hot, a few days of just-cool-enough, then straight to get-out-the-jackets weather) but it does mean cooler temps finally:)

So my Q4U: What’s your favorite time of year and why? And for writers, when is your most creative season?

~ Amber

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