Monthly Archives: April 2015

Kaukauna Public Library Visit

Wow, what an amazing group of kids! Kaukauna library has an after school program every Tuesday afternoon and I was lucky enough to come and talk to them today. There was a group of about 10 girls from 5-7th grade and they were interested, vocal, and had so many questions. It was such a treat to come and see such enthusiastic young readers and writers at this group.

I came to the KPL not having a set structure of things to do, but an idea of what I wanted to talk about. The kids were filtering in and out for the first few minutes, but in that time I got to talk to them and pass around a copy of The Healing Pool. They were eager to talk and I connected very easily with them. They wanted to know how long it took to write and publish the book and if my book was in any book stores. I explained to them how self-publishing works and they were all very impressed! I had to explain that it was expensive but worthwhile to come and meet all of them and sell the books. They were really glad I came, and they all promised to read The Healing Pool. One girl even gave me a pinky promise to read the next book too!

The highlight of the visit were the questions the girls asked. Many of them wanted to know what to put in a story. The formula for a book. I told them that they had to be honest and write what the book needed and not to worry about anything or anyone else. If they enjoyed it, someone else would too. One girl wanted me to write a book based on an idea she had. It was a cool idea, but I’m not going to take that from her. Hopefully she will start it. The best was when the kids wanted to know the difference between adult fiction and middle school fiction. It was hard to explain that without rightly saying “sex.” Not sure how that would have gone in the public library…I instead talked about how much more graphic adult books were and how there was harder vocabulary and more words in general. I think they bought it.

The kids also wanted to know if my book had any pictures. They all love graphic novels, but unfortunately visual art is not my thing. I told them they could draw the characters for me, and they jumped on it! The librarian said next week she’ll ask the kids to draw art for me and then email me the pictures! I am so lucky to have found a talented group of fan artists to help promote The Healing Pool.

It’s visits like this that get me going and keep me optimistic. I sold 2 books (2 more than I expected) but more importantly I connected with the kids. The librarian said she was impressed since this group doesn’t always speak. I was honest with them and they respected that. They asked me whatever they wanted and I told them the truth from the realities of being rejected as an author to how much money I make per book. They want to know what it’s like and I think it’s important for them to know. They see me as someone starting out and working hard. They all wished me good luck and acknowledged that I am doing a lot and trying to get myself out there. It was encouraging also to see kids who wanted to read. I know books compete with things like Netflix and video games, but there is a charm to a good book in your hands. I think since I connected with them so well they all wanted to support me too. They all asked for my autograph on their books/bookmarks/and even a post-it. I heard once that kids are more interested in an author’s personality than in the book itself. I think today proved that. They wanted to read the story, but I think they also respected my honesty and how approachable I am. That’s what they will be talking about.

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Filed under author meet, booksigning

Meeting Julie Mata

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Julie Mata, a local author in the Appleton area. My friend Alicia from the APL set up a meeting for the two of us to talk and share our experience as writers, authors, and the publishing process. Julie’s book¬†Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens¬†is a childrens/MG novel represented by Disney. However, despite having an agent and a great publisher, the two of us are pretty equal on the playing field.

Unfortunately for new authors, publishers are not terribly helpful. While Julie did receive a “down payment” for her book from the publisher, most of the marketing is on her. They do little advertising for her, but since Julie is not the biggest name in the industry, they don’t put a lot of money into getting her books out to the public. While this is disappointing, it was so helpful to hear from an author what her experience has been and how what I am doing now will eventually help me in the future if I do push for an agent.

Self-publishing and traditional publishing are both such difficult processes. It was amusing how as we listened to each others’ publishing process we were amazed at how much work the other did! I had to put down the money and make sure to get the proper editors, cover artists, and publisher of choice. Julie was paid for her book, but she had to query 50 agents and revise it 5 times before the book snagged an author.

It just goes to show, nothing about the industry is easy.

Yet, despite how much work it is, I love being published. I love being an author and creating a story. I love shameless advertising everyone I run into and talking up the book! I love the publishing process from getting 3,000 editor marks on a word doc to finalizing the cover art. I call writing my second starving artist career, but at this point in my life I would not change a thing. I know there’s no money in it (yet) and that it may take years before I am represented by an agent and people recognize my name. Even though the process is stressful as all h3ll I know I am in the right field because I can find the exciting bits in every process. I am revising book #2 and writing book #3 and while I may not get to work on one or both every day, I look forward to the small hours where I get to dig my hands into the world of fiction or tear apart chapters and make them better and more real. Talking with Julie got me excited again. It reminded me that it is possible to get an agent and it is possible for other people outside of my friends and family will be waiting for my next book. I cannot wait to start the query process soon for book #2!

(Also, check out Julie’s book below! Love the cover!)

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Filed under author meet, julie mata

To series or not to series

I’m working on another MG fantasy right now and I’m worried that it is turning into the beginning of a series. This might sound silly, but I have never had the desire to write a series of books! It seems like a lot to handle while still keeping the story interesting. I can’t tell right now if I’m rambling too much, but it appears that my characters want there to be more mystery and drama than I originally anticipated. I have written about 20,000 words, but based on where I am I know I need to go back to the beginning some more and develop some of the random side characters that have come to the forefront.

It’s so funny how books write themselves. I’m sure most if not all authors have had that moment where they are writing and think “I didn’t know that!” I love that moment. I love when the characters take over and dictate what is going to happen next. They might not write the whole story for me, but at least they have some idea about what’s going on!

At this point I think I will just keep going until the story ends or until it is officially too long to be one book. If it does turn into a series I might finish the first two in case an agent wants to get them out close together. That way I’ll have less pressure to complete the next book!

I can’t see this story going beyond three books. However, what happens if it is only two books? I feel like three is the magic number for series and only two books is awkward for some reason. I’ll keep plugging along with the book and hope it turns into one or three books. The last thing I want, though, is for the third book to read like it is a desperate attempt to keep the story going. I want it to flow and be as natural as possible to keep the readers engaged.

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Filed under series?, writing