Pirating Books

Pirating books. You’ve probably seen this topic in the news over the past couple of weeks and heard the heated discussion revolving around it. In short, a website called OceanofPDF, known for hosting pirated books, was recently shut down. Publishers like Penguin, HarperCollins, and Random House issued tons of take down notices, and eventually the requests went through. You can read more about it here.

This should be a good thing, right? A site that’s allowing people to essentially steal an author’s work is no longer able to distribute the pdfs. Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of backlash in which authors are being called “Elitist” and selfish for wanting money for their work. Now granted, some of the people do have a good point. If they’ve already purchased the books and something happened to them, shouldn’t there be a way to get them back? Or what if they bought a paper version and want an e-book for the road that came out later?

First, if you lost the book, I’m sorry, but if you lost a DVD or music, you’d have to pay to get that back, too. If you want the e-copy, some authors will sell packages of e-books and the paper book, so you can just get it that way. Or just buy the e-book. Generally, e-books are priced a lot cheaper anyway. My paper book is $15, but my e-book is $3.99. I’m not asking you to pay full price for the e-book.

Some people have argued that 1. they don’t have the money for books or 2.  they can’t get them from the local library. Generally if you speak with a library about wanting a book, and there are enough requests, the library can buy the book or even loan it from another location. If you get the book around the time it launches, many authors put their novels on sale. Or they’ll do low sales or offer giveaways.

We’re not dragons stealing your money and cackling on top of our glistening hoard. Most of the money we actually make off of our books goes towards expenses in order to bring more books to you. Spend money to make money. So to have our work put on a site without our permission and to watch hundreds and thousands of people download it without us seeing a cent from it is…how is that fair?

I want to give you a look into how much it costs to actually publish a book. It’s different for traditional and self-published authors, but we all put money into it.

First, it starts with our time. I work a full-time job, and I spend most of my free time (what little I have), writing my novels. This is not just a casual hobby. This is something I want to turn into a profession, so I dedicate my time to it. I’ve taken courses in writing, storytelling, plot development, creative writing, (which costs money,) so I can create my books. It also causes a lot of emotional strain to do what I do. See Writing with Depression for clarification.

And then there are the other expenses once I’ve actually written the book. I have to pay for things like:

  • an editor
  • proofreaders
  • sensitivity readers
  • cover artist
  • promotional materials
  • book swag
  • programs like Scrivener and Adobe DC to format the books or a designer who can do it for me
  • buying the books themselves
  • tables at conventions to sell my books
  • hotels/gas/meals to travel and sell

It all adds up.

Most of the money that I’ve made from sales have gone back into my book or is being used to take care of costs for the next one. I’m not rolling in money, so yes, every dollar does help. Some people say, “Well, I’ll give you a review. That’s payment enough.” Look, any review is wonderful, and I’m grateful for it whether it’s good or bad. But the thing is, if everyone decided that’s how they were going to pay for the book, I’d have hundreds of reviews, but no revenue.

We pay money for movies, music, theater, etc, but when it comes to art and books, suddenly it’s just too expensive. I understand our economy is awful, and I’m drowning in debt as well. But it’s heartbreaking to realize that something I spent months or even years on is being handed out for free. If I want to give it away for free or drop the price, that’s my prerogative, and I would promote it so that people who are having trouble buying my book can get it for cheaper. Some say I get more readers if my book is given away for free. Hey, that’s great. I love getting more readers. But what about all the time and effort writers put into their craft? Does that mean nothing?

If it was just happening here and there, that would be one thing. But there are whole sites dedicated to this. I give books away. I reach out to libraries to see if I can get my books there so people who are low on cash can at least borrow the book. But that’s my decision and my right to do that.

I guess what I really want you to understand is that being a creator and doing something I love doesn’t mean that I don’t put a ton of work into it. I’m providing a service. Is it so bad that I would want compensation from it so I can keep creating and bring more stories to my readers?

I’d love to hear your opinions on it.

 

Self-Care for Writers

It seems fitting that I’m writing about self care after having to take time off of work due to a migraine. This is also why my post is coming out on a Wednesday. Normally I would have fought through it, kept working, and made it worse. The fact that I was going to write this post made me rethink my decision because, truthfully, if I’m going to tell you how to take care of yourselves, I need to listen to my own advice.

I’ve covered some of this in other posts, but I wanted to create a comprehensive list for anyone who feels burnt out or needs some support in regards to taking care of themselves. Many writers don’t know what kind of self care they should do when they feel low or if they need self care at all. Here are a few warning signs to start off.

  • Anxiety/depression
  • Exhaustion
  • Lack of desire to write or writer’s block
  • Irritability
  • Self-doubt or feeling hopeless
  • Overwhelmed

Some are you going to say, “Well, Erin, I feel this all the time!” I understand. I feel a lot of this as well, but when it’s starting to affect your everyday life, you need to step back and take care of yourselves so you can stay healthy. A healthy mind and body will lead to better writing.

  • Take a break/ Do something you love: If you’re feeling low and the depression is creeping in, try to take a break and do something you love. Even if you think it’s just “wasting time,” it’s not if it makes you happy. Play video games. Read a book. Go to a pet store and play with some critters. Host a movie night. Watch youtube videos. Or sleep! Basically do anything except write if writing itself is causing so much stress. Contrary to what others say, you don’t have to write everyday.
  • Sleep: Writers are pretty bad about getting enough sleep. Either we stay up too late or get up too early trying to get those words out. Consider adjusting your sleeping schedule so you’re getting more rest both for your brain and body. You’ll find you’ll become more productive and feel better.
  • Get off social media: If you’re struggling with self-doubt or comparing yourself to others, get off Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest, etc. Shut technology down for a day and focus on you. Studies say that people often become more depressed after seeing all the accomplishments or exciting adventures their peers talk about on facebook. I know when I’m feeling overwhelmed, shutting down technology is my best route to recovery. It’ll still be there when you log on the next day.
  • Shower/Take a bath: If you’re stuck with writing, take a shower. Some of my best ideas come out there. And if you just want to get away from ideas and relax, take a shower or a bath for your body’s sake. I love how the water pounds across my ears and silences the world. For a moment, I just feel safe and like the world doesn’t need me. I’m doing this for me.
  • Take time for yourself: Make sure you’re taking enough time to rest and relax. If all you’re doing is overworking yourself to get that book done or meet social media standards, you’re going to burn out very quickly. Take time, again, to do something you love, or take care of yourself. Even setting aside a half hour a day to watch a favorite show or sit under happy lights is a great way to decompress.
  • Chores: This may seem like a strange thing to add in here if you’re stressed, but sometimes getting chores done helps me unwind. Cleaning, paying pills, making medical appointments, going shopping, etc.. Sure, it might be boring or frustrating at the time, but by the end of the day, you’ll have accomplished so much. Last Sunday I managed to get a bunch of chores done and that cleared my mind up to write for a little while.
  • Therapy: If you’re struggling with crippling self-doubt, depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, consider talking with a therapist. I see one regularly to help me keep my head on straight. People will say, “Oh, others have it worse” but whatever you’re going through is valid. If something is making you upset or hurting your quality of life, then it’s important to get that treated. Seeking out therapy is not a weakness. It shows strength.
  • Listen to your body: If you’re getting sick a lot, or you just don’t feel well, listen to your body. It may be telling you that it’s time to slow down. We only have one body and one brain. If either goes out on us, we’re in trouble. So take care of yourselves. If you’d tell someone else to go to a doctor, take off of work, or rest if they feel like you do, then please take your own advice.
  • Support team: Build a support team so that, when you’re struggling, you know who you can turn to. Maybe you just need someone to listen to you as you struggle through your writing ideas. Maybe you need a hug or a reminder that you’re enough. Either way, reach out when you need support. You don’t have to go this alone. That’s what’s both so important and wonderful about having a writing community.
  • Write your feelings: We may all get writer’s block, but I guarantee we can all write about how we’re feeling. No one else has to see it or know that you’re writing it. Create angry poetry, construct short stories, write a blog post…do whatever feels right to help you acknowledge your emotions and work through them.
  • Hydrate: When we get wrapped up in writing, it’s easy to forget some basic needs like drinking water. And sometimes we can forget that tea is a diuretic. So make sure you’re hydrating your body (even if it does mean a lot of pee breaks away from your computer).

These are just a few tips to keep in mind when things feel rough. I’m sure you all have your own self-care methods, so feel free to share them below!

Just remember, you matter, what you feel is valid, and you are worthy of self care.

Let’s Talk About Plagiarism

By now, I’m sure most of you are aware of #copypastecris that’s been going on in the romance community. In short, “author” Cristiane Serruya has been accused of plagiarizing lines/paragraphs from other published authors. According to bestselling author Nora Roberts, the total count is up to 51 books and 34 authors plagiarized. Serruya at first claimed a ghostwriter was at fault on twitter, but she’s since closed virtually all of her social media accounts. In another instance (and I hate that I can’t find the article for this), at least one ghostwriter claimed that Serruya fed them lines/phrases to put into the book, but the ghostwriter had no idea they were plagiarized text.

It’s been quite the scandal, and it has writers up in arms, and for good reason. No one wants to have their work stolen. Writers spend days, weeks, months, and years perfecting their craft. To see it in someone else’s book…I can only imagine how that must feel. I know I’d be enraged and feel betrayed as well to see the language from The Purple Door District pop up somewhere else.

So what do we take away from all of this? What can we do to fight against these acts?

Well, first off, if you notice that a book you’re reading has familiar phrases from other books, please report it. The more we catch plagiarizers, the better chance we may have of exposing them and taking them out of the market.

When it comes to ghostwriters, let’s take a breath. I’ve seen a lot of facebook frames going around that say, “I write my own books,” which is great. But at the same time, I think it can belittle ghostwriters. Sadly, I’m sure there are ghosts who plagiarize on purpose, just as there are named authors who do the same. But many ghostwriters are also just trying to make an honest living. They write for people who don’t necessarily have that talent but still have a story to tell. They create articles, posts, books, and more. Just like authors, they’re trying to survive on their skill without even having their name on their written piece. And, in some cases, established authors will become ghostwriters if a publishing house has a similar idea as a query they pitched and the house wants to keep the rights.

Ghostwriters aren’t bad, just as Indie authors aren’t bad. There are ghostwriters, indie authors, and traditional authors, however, who give everyone else a bad name. There’s been a lot of hatred towards ghostwriters as a result of this debacle, so I ask you all to remember, not everyone in the business is like that.

Plagiarism is a very serious issue. Even when we were kids in school, teachers always warned us about the horror and dishonesty of plagiarizing. It’s hard to see it happen to authors, people who have spent their lives perfecting their craft and world.

You’re not just stealing someone’s words. You’re stealing their hours of long work, their many sleepless nights agonizing over their plot, the tears of anguish and laughter they shed, the countless days they crafted the book until it was ready to go to the publisher. And with a little action of copy and pasting, someone can just take all of that hard work away so they can make a quick buck.

The publishing industry is a competitive one. We shouldn’t have to worry about our work being stolen. All writers are just trying to find a way to survive and share their stories with the world, but the best way to do it is honestly. Stand by the authors and ghostwriters who create their own work, especially those who have had their literature stolen. And if you’re a writer, be an honest one and create your own stories.

Additional Sources: 

https://www.latimes.com/books/la-et-jc-cristiane-serruya-courtney-milan-plagiarism-20190219-story.html

https://bookriot.com/2019/02/19/round-up-of-copypastecris/

Updates: Novels, and Contests, and Summits, Oh My!

Well, it has been quite a few crazy months since The Purple Door District launched. Within a month, I sold about 100 copies, and I anticipate that future conventions will see even more sales. I really appreciate all of the support from the community!

With that being said, let’s get into some updates!

The Purple Door District: Wolfpit / Patreon

The second Purple Door District book is slowly coming along. After a rough few months of writer’s block, not to mention some mental health issues, I’m finally getting back into it! I’m about 50,000 words into the book, and I finally have the back cover mostly written up, which I’ll share with you guys soon.

In the meantime, I posted a short story from the world of The Purple Door District to Patreon called The Magus and the Vampire. The story is set a year before PDD and reveals how Gladus and Trish first met. If you’re interested in reading it, stop by Patreon. As a patron, you’ll have access to all original chapters from the first PDD and you’ll get to see PDD 2 before anyone else.

For those of you who haven’t picked up the book yet, The Purple Door District is available on amazon, on my website, and through bookstores like Prairie Lights, M and M Bookstore, and The Makers’ Loft.

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Contest

I‘m currently in a contest for best cover through AllAuthor. If you have a chance, I’d greatly appreciate it if you went and voted here.  There are 2 days left in this round. This site is also a great way to showcase your own books and covers! It’s now open for March submissions, so be sure to get your book in! 

 

 

 

Women in Publishing Summit!

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What if I told you I could get you a free ticket to a week-long event that is all about all the tools you need to help you write, publish, and sell that book you’ve either been dreaming of writing, trying to write, or have written but need help with #allthethings? And even better, that you don’t have to even leave your home to participate?
Good news! The Women in Publishing Summit is coming! A week-long, FREE, online event!
March is Women’s History Month. It’s an awesome time to to celebrate, honor, and learn from a line-up of amazing women in the writing and publishing world who deserve some applause.
The Women in Publishing Summit sponsored by Thinkific, runs March 4-8, 2019, covers all things related to writing, publishing, and selling a book. It’s Created FOR women, BY women, for women who want to write a book, have written a book, are in the process of writing a book, or perform some kind of function related to writing, publishing, and selling a book! You are not going to want to miss it.
Register for your FREE ticket now. https://erincasey–writepublishsell.thrivecart.com/free-wip-registration/
I guess this is the part where I also mention I am one of the speakers! During the summit, I’ll discus how to find the “write” community. Where can you find fellow writers? What makes a writing group right for you? And more!
This summit is being hosted by my friend, Alexa Bigwarfe. She is an author coach and publisher and noticed that there seemed to be a real void in the female voices present in online conferences and training programs on writing and selling books. So, she set out to change that. And I thought it was a great idea too!
Here is the schedule of topics for each day:
Day 1: The Big Picture for Your Book
Day 2: Your Path to Publishing Success + Mindset
Day 3: Production, Distribution, Legal – Editing, Design, Taxes, Copyright, etc
Day 4: Book Launch Strategies, Marketing, Marketing and more Marketing
Day 5: Tools and Resources for Writing, Publishing, and Marketing Your Book
I hope you’ll join us!

Upcoming Showings and Events

March 2nd, 2019: Author Signing at M and M Bookstore
March 4th-8th, 2019: Women in Publishing Summit
April 18th, 2019 (6pm): Ottumwa Public Library Book Reading
May 17th-19th, 2019: OWS Cycon 2019 (online event) 
June 29th-30th: Book Signing at West Valley Mall
September 7th-8th: The Writers’ Rooms Presents: I.O.W.A. 
Once again, thank you for everything, and I hope to see you at my upcoming shows! I’m already signing up for ones in other parts of Iowa, and I’m hoping to do a few in Chicago since that’s where PDD is set.

Happy reading and writing!

Depression and Writing: Don’t End Your Story

People often ask me why I write. I give them plenty of answers like, it’s what I was born to do (cheesy, I know), it’s as vital to me as the air I breathe (also cheesy), I love to create new worlds, I have stories to tell, etc. etc. Writing is also my outlet when I’m stressed or depressed. When I slip into the text and the world falls away, I feel a warmth in my chest that dissipates every awful thing I’m feeling. I’m lost in the story, and everything feels right with the world. In a way, my writing saves me from my negative emotions.

But what about those times when it can’t? What about the times when writer’s block is so strong is drives me into a downward spiral of depression?

I’ve written about anxiety, depression, and writing before, but what happened a week ago is very different.

On February 2nd, my depression almost won. I won’t go into great detail, but I checked myself into a psychiatric ward with the guidance and support of a friend so that I could take care of my mental health.

So I wouldn’t end my story.

You see, I love writing, but I do the same thing many writers do. I attach my self worth to my craft. If I can’t write, I feel like something’s wrong with me and I stress myself out more than necessary. It’s habit. It’s worse when I have a block on a big project I want to complete such as Purple Door District 2. For months I’ve struggled and felt disconnected with my craft. That’s bad enough, but when writing is supposed to be an emotional outlet, and I lose that, I sometimes feel like I lose my purpose too.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of things compounded over the months to make me so depressed, but not being able to write was a huge part of it. Writers tend to forget about their mental health when they’re so busy creating. We get swept up in what we should be getting done or how we’re not doing enough that we forget the warning signs our brain sends us when we’ve pushed ourselves too far.

-Lack of interest in the things we love

-Unable to deal with daily stresses

-Losing sleep over worry

-Beating ourselves down for not writing because we see ourselves as failures

Sound familiar? I was feeling all of this, and yet I didn’t realize just how depressed I was until it was almost too late. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m not shy when it comes to talking about my mental health. Several writers on twitter have been told that they shouldn’t discuss their emotions or mental health because it’s “unprofessional” or “no one wants to hear their drama.”

Bullshit.

Talking about how you feel makes you more real. It makes you more human and relatable. If Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and blog posts are your outlets and the only places you feel safe talking about your emotions, then do it. The United States has such a stigma about mental health, like it’s a hush hush topic that no one should talk about.

Again, I call bullshit. If we talked about it, then maybe more people would know when to reach out for help. Maybe more creative minds would realize they’re not alone in their struggles and there are people who care what happens to them.

You are not your craft. Your worth is not measured by your word or page count, or your amazon reviews, or the number of books under your belt.

One of the things that struck me the hardest about going into the psychiatric ward was when the therapist said, “You’re a writer? Oh yeah, I’ve probably seen most of the writers in the city here.” What does that tell you about us creative folk? We push and push and beat ourselves down when we should be lifting ourselves and others up for our/their accomplishments.

So in case no one has said this to you today, you matter. You are amazing. You are loved. And you have a purpose. No matter how lonely you feel, there’s a community out there that understands what you’re going through. If you’re too nervous to call someone for help, then try #writingcommunity on Twitter, or any number of writing hashtags on instagram. Believe me, you’ll find that there are more people like you than you even realize.

And during those really bad moments, when you feel like the world is coming down and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, please consider calling the suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255.

Your story isn’t over yet, and the world wants to hear it. You’re not alone.

Character POVs: What Should You Choose?

When you start writing a book, one of the first questions you have to ask yourself is what point of view are you going to focus on? There are several different paths you can take and explanations about why you might want to choose one over the other.

  • 1st Person POV: These are the “I” stories, books that are generally only in a single person’s POV. The narrator is the main character. You see this quite often in YA books like Hunger GamesDivergent, and The Lightning Thief. In some cases, a 1st person POV might have multiple character views. One of the Mercy Thompson books, while primarily told from Mercy’s view, switches to her mate, Adam’s view partway through the book. This is effective so long as you indicate that you’re switching the POV. Generally though, you want to just stick with one character. KA Applegate wrote a series called Animorphs in which each book had a single POV, but it switched characters from book to book. In one book you read about Rachel. The next focused on Tobias. Still, each individual book was through the eyes of one person.

 

  • 2nd Person POV: These are the “you” stories, ones that make the reader the main character, essentially. This is an excellent POV to use when you’re writing a choose-your-own-adventure book or blog posting. I’ve also seen this work well in poetry. Some examples of 2nd POV books include The Night CircusBright Lights, Big City, and All the Truth That’s In Me. Arguably, second person point of view is one of the hardest POVs to write. If you don’t do it the correct way, readers can become confused or lost in your writing. In some cases, they might feel offended, feeling that the writer is saying something wrong or rude about them. You have to remember that this is just another form of writing.

 

  • 3rd Person POV: There are a couple versions of 3rd person point of view that we’ll go into. In general, these are the “he/she” stories, so it’s the author telling a story through other characters. Third person POV is likely the easiest way to tell stories from multiple POVs. Some good examples, in general, include The GiverEnder’s Game, and The Game of Thrones series.
    • 3rd Person Omniscient: In these stories, the narrator knows all the thoughts and feelings of each character and doesn’t focus on just one. Everyone, more or less, gets page time and there aren’t many secrets that the reader doesn’t know. Some examples include Redwall by Brian Jacques.
    • 3rd Person Limited: Limited means that the narrator only relays the thoughts and feelings of particular characters. In essence, the narrator zooms in on a character and gives a closer look into that person’s thoughts and habits. No longer does the read know what everyone is thinking. Some good examples include Harry Potter and Alpha Omega.  

The next questions to ask are, why choose these different POVs? What works best for my book? Should I just have one POV or many?

That really depends on what you’re writing. If you have an epic fantasy with different races and locations where battles occur, you may consider writing 3rd person so you can explore more of your realm. Think of Lord of the Rings. Initially, we follow everyone on the journey, but eventually, the characters split off with Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli headed in one direction, the hobbits going in another, and Gandalf going a third.  You get to see what’s happening to everyone through the story without having to hear it from another character.

If your book is focused on a single character and you want to make sure the readers can get into her head, then you may consider first person instead. Hunger Games and Divergent both let you see the world through the eyes and minds of the primary character. Could it have been told through multiple POVs? Possibly, but it may not have been as effective.

Sometimes you may write a book with multiple characters in mind, only to realize later that it’s better to have one focus. Or, in the case of a dear writer friend of mine, in order to enhance her romance book, she had to include a brand new POV. She admitted it made the book that much stronger.

Experiment. Play around and write a couple chapters and see what works better for you. You may not realize your book is missing a POV until you finish it or a beta reader suggests that they wanted more information from another character. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to rewrite part of the story. I had too many POVs in one of my books and I dropped out everyone but the main character and that made the book more focused and much stronger.

Good luck, and happy writing.

Prologues

To write a prologue or not to write a prologue? That is the question, and it’s one that’s been frequenting message boards and twitter. I thought I might as well throw in my two cents about this somewhat controversial topic.

The first, and most important, question to ask yourself is, what purpose does your prologue serve?

Prologues are generally used to introduce something important in the story that can’t happen in any other way.

  • Is a prophecy told?
  • Does something happen in the past that’s vital to the present?
  • Are there characters who need a brief introduction at the beginning so their presence makes sense later?
  • Are there Gods or Goddesses at work that demand their own part of the story lest they curse you with writer’s block?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you might consider writing the prologue.

However, if your prologue only serves to:

  • introduce information that can easily be told through flashbacks or exposition (ie info dump),
  • create an entire world that you completely obliterate at the end of the prologue because you want to start your story with more action,
  • make the story seem more epic,
  • prolong getting to the heart of the story,

then maybe it isn’t for you.

Keep in mind that readers tend to decide if they’re going to continue reading the book after the first chapter or the first few lines. You want to wow them. If you write a prologue that’s long, dry, and unimportant to the rest of the story, you’re going to lose your reader before they even reach the main plot line. It can also distract readers from your main story, leaving them to wonder why the prologue was put in place at all.

On the other hand, prologues are great for pulling readers into your world. It stands alone and can be used in many different capacities. Say you write the majority of your story in one character’s POV. Your prologue can serve to be another character’s POV. If an ancestor plays a big role in your main character’s life, the prologue might be the place to first introduce them. Is there an epic battle that takes place in the past that foreshadows the rest of your story? A prologue is a good place for it.

Every book is different, and so while a prologue might work for one book, it may fail for another. You, as the writer, have to judge for yourself what your book needs. If you give your book to beta readers and they indicate that the prologue doesn’t add anything, listen to them. If they say they feel like they’re missing something at the beginning, then you may very well need to include a prologue.

Prologues don’t have to be long either. They could be as short as a few sentences, imparting vital information to the readers before they step into the main part of the story. The prologue could be several pages, perhaps reminding readers what happened in previous books if you’re working on a series. Experiment with it. You might be surprised what you come up with.

In the end, while prologues may have fallen out of favor, they’re neither bad nor good. They exist for the sake of the book. If there’s a purpose to it, then that’s all that matters.

Why Did I Indie Publish?

Since self-publishing The Purple Door District, I’ve received a lot of questions about why I decided to go that route. Well, I want it to be clear that I actually hope to become a hybrid author. My goal is to self-publish some books and traditional publish others.  I want to experience both worlds and see which one works the best for me. For all I know, indie publishing will win out.

The first answer to this question is easy. The Purple Door District is a component of a larger series called Fates and Furies that I write with my co-author, AE Kellar. We decided early on that when we published the books, we wanted to go the indie path. We’d have more freedom that way and we could keep all the important elements in the book without the fear of having a publisher take them out. We wanted control of the cover and the publishing schedule. We both have tight schedules and sometimes we just can’t write together. We didn’t want the pressure of a publishing house coming down on us, insisting we had to have work done at a certain time when it just wasn’t feasible.

Now, that being said, we still want to put work out consistently, but indie publishing is more flexible and more forgiving when it comes to time frames. If we have to push publication dates back to make the book better and stronger, then so be it. So, The Purple Door District was guaranteed to be self-published.

But what about my other books like Dragon Steal or Traitors of the Crown? Why not self-publish those?

Well, again, I want the experience, and I feel like those books might do better with publishing houses that focus on the same type of topic.

Indie publishing is an adventure, to be blunt. You have control of everything. Writing. Editing. Choosing editors/proofreaders. Finding the cover. Marketing. Formatting. Publishing. Distribution. You wear all of the hats, and while that can be daunting, it can also be extremely enjoyable and rewarding. I went from having this book I was just posting on patreon with a rough cover to a published copy in my hand and in bookstores. I spent six months doing my marketing and printing campaign, and I honestly couldn’t be happier.

I was relieved that I could choose my own cover. Often in traditional publishing, you don’t get a say in it. In my case, I found an artist, and she and I worked together to perfect the cover. She willingly listened to my suggestions and adjusted the art so it turned into the lovely piece it is today. Likewise, I found artists who could make character images for me, and I was the only one who could say if it matched my vision. I had the final approval. You don’t always get that in the traditional world.

I also was able to choose my own editors and proofreaders. I went with people I trusted, who had worked with me either for a long time or had demonstrated a passion for the craft and my book. Our relationships became harmonious, and we were able to message each other without having to worry about a publisher watching over us.

Indie publishing is no longer as taboo as it used to be. Authors are spending money to acquire editing services, and more freelance editors are appearing everyday. One of the biggest things I love about indie publishing is working with the community. I’m not the only one benefiting from publishing the book. Editors, proofreaders, artists, PA specialists all have a hand in the book and receive payment for their work. I’m proud to have met so many incredibly talented people and it brings me great joy to promote them on my website.

Indie publishing is a lot of work and a ton of money (depending on how you want to do it). You can indie publish and not spend a dime except for purchasing books. Or, you can put more of your cash into it to create a bigger marketing strategy. Again, the choice is yours. You have control over your own process. And you don’t have to worry about a publishing company folding and dropping the series you’ve been working on (it’s happened before).

I’m not waiting for anyone to promote my materials or set up book signings for me. I do it all myself and go where I think I’ll have the most success. Walking this path has turned me into a stronger and more knowledgeable writer that I’m not sure I would have received from traditional publishing alone. Yes, in traditional publishing you still have to help market, but not to the same extent as indie.

I give a lot of credit to those who have self-published before me, and those who will after me. I feel like may of us have become a close-nit community because we all know the struggle of creating and promoting our books. The writing community is incredible, and no matter if you choose to self publish or traditional publish, I hope you’re proud to be part of the community.

A Writer’s Therapy Pets

As I write this entry, I’m curled up on my couch with my parrot, Aladdin, fast asleep on my chest. Sometimes he grinds his beak happily, and I feel the vibrations, which help bring down my anxiety. On some of my worst nights, I know he’ll be willing to cuddle and slow my pounding heart.

aladdin1

There are no words to describe the importance of therapy pets. For writers, I think having that constant furry, scaly, or feathery companion is extremely important. Writing can be a solitary project, and when you feel alone in the world, it’s nice to feel needed by a little critter.

I’m not shy when it comes to talking about depression and anxiety. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I deal with both, and sometimes they make me hate my writing as well as myself. On the darkest nights, I’ve even had the thoughts of not wanting to wake up the next day. I can’t count how many times I’ve gone into the aviary and picked up Aladdin, or my other parrot, Orion, and just held them so I could feel their little bodies against my heart. Their warm presence reminds me that I’m needed, and even if, at times, I feel cut off from the world and alone, I’m really not. They need me. And I need them.

Now, having pets doesn’t come without it’s drawbacks. There are days when the anxiety gets so bad that even the slightest squawk or noise can set me off, in which case I know I need to walk away. My babies are pretty forgiving, though, and always welcome me back. I just hope they all understand just how much I love them.

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I see writers post pictures of themselves with their pets, and it makes me so happy. There’s nothing better than settling in to write and having your furry/feathery companion with you to keep you company. While Aladdin snoozes under a blanket on me, Orion likes to perch on my computer screen and fall asleep. I feel lucky to have them, as well as my doves, Luna, Apollo, and Nova, and my finches, Zeus and Venus.

finchies

So if you’re a writer, and you’re feeling particularly alone (and you know you can take care of a pet), consider bringing a companion home. There are always animals available, especially those in the shelters, looking for homes.

Most of my babies are rescues of some sort. Nova, my dove, came from a bad home where she and her mate were used in videos. She was discarded because she was too much work after her mate died. I don’t think she even had the opportunity to fly around much because she grew exhausted quickly when she tried to fly at my home. It’s taken a few years, but my little girl is a happy bird who adores Orion and spends her days playing with him, warming her eggs, or hanging out with me at the computer. Without me, it’s likely she wouldn’t have found a home in time to save her. And without her…well, I don’t know what I’d do without my little honey bird.

orionandnova

Luna came to me ill and I spent weeks nursing him back to health and making sure that Apollo didn’t come down with the same sickness. Zeus, Venus, and Athena (rip), were cast aside by their previous owner, so I brought them in. Aladdin was deemed a “mean bird” and no one wanted to buy him at the pet store. He was there for 10 months before I brought him home. While still bitey at times, he’s such a little lover, and I can’t imagine my life without him.

They’re part of the inspiration behind my writing. My main character in The Purple Door District is a werebird after all. Don’t be surprised if you see a little parrot show up in one of the stories. Besides helping my anxiety and depression, they act as my little muses too.

If you have pets at home that help inspire your writing, feel free to post them below. I’d love to see them!

Happy writing!

aladdin2

 

Sequel Struggles

It hasn’t even been a month since I published The Purple Door District, and I’m already feeling the dreaded sequel struggle. You know the feeling. You finish book one in a trilogy or series. Ideas blossom in your head for the next story. Your characters weave their tales and are ready to continue their journeys. You sit down to write.

Nothing.

Yes, this is going to be one of those raw blog posts where I talk about my struggles and then still try to provide some advice thanks to the help of other incredible writers.

Right now, I’m trying not to throw my computer at the wall because I’m so frustrated with the book.  I managed to write part of the story during NaNo, but now I feel stuck. One reason is because I’m intimidated by book one! I’ve received a lot of really good feedback, and while I know I can still make changes, I don’t want to write a sequel that’s subpar. Not only that, I’m not working with the same exact cast. New characters are popping in left and right, and they’re making the story that much more detailed and difficult.

Don’t get me wrong, the second book was meant to be more detailed and have bigger stakes, as it should, but I didn’t think it would cause me quite this much stress and fear.

I reached out to an incredible romance writer named Eliza David who sent me one of her blog posts about writing a sequel. You can check it out here. She provides some incredible tips such as taking notes of your characters from the first book, and also allowing characters (and conflict) to grow. Check it out!

As I’ve worked on my sequel, I’ve learned a few things that I thought I’d share as well. If you have tips, let me know!

  • Character Bios: Make sure you have character bios and descriptions from the first book and keep adding to them for the second book so you don’t have to keep researching and remembering who has what eyes or hair.
  • Talk it Out: I spent part of the day talking to my co-creator about book two. She had a bunch of valuable advice, and you can do the same with a fellow writer, especially one who has read your book. Outline the next story for them to see if it makes sense and if your book is going to hold your readers’ attention as much as the first.
  • Read Your First Book: This might seem obvious, but I didn’t really think about it when I started in on the sequel. I’d spent so much time editing PDD 1, I thought I wouldn’t have to read it again. Boy, was I wrong. I think it’ll help me stay in the groove of working with some of the same characters once I review it.
  • Outline: Outline your sequel to see if it makes sense in the world of book one. And if you have another book after the sequel, try to outline that book as well so you know where number two needs to end. Granted, this is more for the plotters rather than the pantsers, but I think it’s beneficial to both.
  • Allow Yourself to Feel Frustrated: Seriously, writing a sequel is scary and hard, so if you get frustrated, it’s completely normal. Allow yourself to feel (kick, scream, and cry if you need to), then get back to work. It’s better than keeping it all in.
  • Remember First Drafts Suck: Don’t get intimidated by your edited writing in book one. It started off as rough and unpolished as the sequel. The most important thing is to get the words on paper. You can clean it up later.

Believe me when I say you’re not alone in your dread of writing a sequel. Do what feels right for you, and look up suggestions for how to get through blocks and over hurdles.

My biggest suggestion is try to find a way to embrace your book and not be afraid of it. Because if you’re afraid what could happen, the only person who will ever know the story is you.

Write it.

You can do it!