Writing for a YA Audience: Say Cheese

Writing for a Y.A. Audience

“Go on Instagram,” said my publisher.  “That’s where the teens are.  Post pictures of your books.  They’ll eat it up.”29740613_2086786601596966_6289468774466715648_n(1)

I was new to Instagram, but I called up the website on my computer and attempted to join, only to find out you have to post using the app on your cell phone.  That put a damper on things – I don’t have a smart phone.  My phone flips up, costs $100 a year, and it does everything I need it to (as in, it sometimes sends texts and usually makes a phone call).  My husband has a smart phone, so I download the app onto his device, put on a smile, and snapped a picture holding my book.  I didn’t look all that great.  I snapped a few more, and ended up just taking a picture of the book cover.  It got a few likes. They were from people who already knew me on Facebook.

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I posted a few more covers and the likes trickled in, still from people who were already my friend.  It seemed I needed a new strategy.  I needed to attract people who didn’t already know me.  I took some pictures of just me doing cute poses or wearing cute outfits.  The same thing happened – the same people “liked” my pictures.  Next, I tried posting pictures of my cat.  That earned me more likes, and a couple new people.  While she is adorable, my goal for Instagram was to get my book out there.

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I reached out to author friends for advice.  Based on their feedback, I started posting inspirational quotes and setting up my books in gorgeous spots.  I propped my book up on the porch.  I set the book in a bed of flowers.  I put the book on my actual bed.

I like to think I’ve gotten better at posing my book in different way.  The books are models and I’m their photographer.  A very poor photographer.  Likes and hearts trickle in, and now they’re coming from people I don’t know.  I’m getting there!

Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author.  If you would like to follow her on Instagram, she goes by JayliaDarkness.  The username is a shout-out to the YA fantasy series she’s currently writing. 

You can connect with Jordan via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.

 

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“Writing to be Read”: 2018 full of surprises – 2019 promises more

From Old to New

This is the time of year when I like to take a look back over the year to see what worked and what didn’t for Writing to be Read, but there are exciting changes coming as well. So let’s move forward in the logical order and talk about the old first. Let’s take a look at the past year on Writing to be Read. For me, there were several surprises and if you are following, they may surprise you, too.

I feel like we had a really great year in 2018, featuring two rounds of Ask the Authors, with two wonderful and diverse author panels sharing writing tips and advice in many aspects of writing with almost seven thousand views. Now that may not seem like a lot to some, but when you consider that it’s over three thousand more views than in 2017, that’s not too bad.

Ask the Authors

For those who don’t know Ask the Authors is a twelve week blog series, where an author panel responds to questions on the many aspects of writing. Panel members in the original series of Ask the Authors, which ran from February through April, included author and ghostwriter DeAnna Knippling, dark fantasy author Cynthia Vespia, Y.A. author Jordan Elizabeth, literary author Margareth Stewart, action novelist Tim Baker, action and speculative fiction author Chris DiBella, women’s fiction author Janet Garbor, multi-genre author Chris Barili, and Y.A. author Carol Riggs. Round 2 ran from October through mid- December with the first four authors from the previous list as returning panel members and seven new panel members, including multi-genre author Dan Alatorre, nonfiction author Mark Shaw, pulp fiction author Tom Johnson, thiller author Ashley Fontainne, romance author Amy Cecil, multi-genre author Art Rosch, and speculative fiction author R.A. Winter. I’d like to thank them all once again for taking time out to share with us here.

Wednesday Line-up 2018We also were blessed with three new Wednesday blog series with three new team members. The team member from the 2018 Wednesday line-up with the most views was Jeff Bowles with Jeff’s Pep Talk, but Jordan Elizabeth and Art Rosch brought in their fair share with Writing for a Y.A. Audience and the Many Faces of Poetry, respectively.

To my surprise, the team member with the mosts post views over 2018 was Robin Conley, who is currently not an active team member, but readers continue to seek out her writing advice in her writing Weekly and Monthly Writing Memos from 2017; the most popular was her Weekly Writing Memo: Word Choice is verything, which had the second most views of all blog posts this past year. Right up there with that is her review of Pride and Predjudice and Zombies, with over one hundred post views.

I was also surprised to learn the most viewed interview was tied between children’s author Nancy Oswald from the 2016 series Pros and Cons of Traditional vs. Independent vs. Self-Publishing and action novelist Tim Baker from the 2017 series Book Marketing; What Works. But those interviews were focused more towards information on publishing and marketing, respectively, so I don’t really count them in the same category as author interviews, because readers may view the series posts for different reasons than they would author interviews.

My author interviews provide a focus on the author, so in this category the most post views came from my interview in 2018 with screenwriter J.S. Mayank. My interview with author Alexandra Forry was next in line, and my interview with performance poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer recieved the third most post views.

In 2018, the top book review was Dan Alatorre’s dark fiction anthology, Dark Visions. Another surprise – the second and third most post views in the review category are both from 2016, with my review of Simplified Writing 101 by Erin Brown Conroy coming in second, and Wild West Ghosts by Mark Todd and Kym O’Connell Todd coming in third.

2018 Top Reviews

The other review that I feel is worthy of mention is my review of Mark Shaw’s new release, Denial of Justice. I did the review in December, so it hasn’t been available long enough to acrue a great number of views to rank in the yearly statistics, but it is a tale that deserves telling and Mark did a smash-up job of telling it. I’ve no doubt this book will be as popular or more so than the original tale, The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, because we all love mystery and intrigue, and the story of Dorothy Kilgallen is a true life tale filled with both. I am privilaged to have been allowed to review both of these books.

Along the lines of other content, again my 2016 post Why is Fact Better than Fiction recieved the most viewed, and surprisingly, a post from 2011, The Process Takes Time close on it’s heels, with my 2016 post, A Writer’s Life in No Bowl of Cherries following not far behind them. Not one of my top three posts was from this past year. My post from 2018 which recieved the most views was Join Me in My Protest Against Facebook, a rant I did about Facebook and their changing policies after I got blocked from posting in groups, including my own group, for a twenty-four hour period. I think this post was my cry in the dark from the frustration I felt as a busy author who promotes her own work and limited time. It makes me laugh to think it was my most popular post published last year. 

Views outnumber visitors, so I’m thinking that the increased views of all the older posts comes from new viewers who popped in to read a newer post and decided to browse the site, which is great. If I gained some new followers due to this, I certainly won’t complain.

Overall, it was a great year and my following has steadily grown, as well as post likes and comments. I have to extend thanks to my readers, my followers, my team members and my guests on Writing to be Read for helping me make it happen. I couldn’t have made such strides without all of you.

Writing My Way Into the New Year

Logo Switch2019 promises to be an even better year for both Writing to be Read and for me, and I’m excited to share my plans with you here. To start, this site will be getting a facelift: a new theme which will coincide with my new WordCrafter website and a new logo. The WordCrafter site will be the new home of Write it Right Editing Services and WordCrafter Copywriting, now housed here, as well as WordCrafter Press and WordCrafter Online Courses in the near future. Writing to be Read, although remaining here, will operate under the WordCrafter trademark. I was hoping to launch it tonight to start the New Year off right, but time constraints have not favored me. The launch of my WordCrafter and new image and logo for Writing to be Read will happen sometime in January. That’s the revised goal.

On Writing to be Read, look forward to some great new content beginning in January.  To start the year off right I already have scheduled reviews for Freedom’s Mercy, by A.K. Lawrence and Fanya in the Underworld, by Jordan Elizabeth, and an interview with western author Loretta Miles Tollefson.

Growing bookworks 2Let’s not forget the new addition to the Wednesday line-up. Starting in January, children’s author Robbie Cheadle will be joining us with her blog series, Growing Bookworms. You can learn more about Robbie and her exciting and creative new series in my introduction and welcome post last Monday.

I also have an exciting new monthly blog series planned for the third Monday of each month, called Chatting with the Pros. Starting in January, I will interview a successful professional author in a different genre, who will graciously allow me to pick their brains for tips and tidbits of writing wisdom from authors who are making it work. I can’t reveal the guest line-up yet, but it shows promise of holding some well known names. And I’m thinking about doing a writing contest, with entrants recieving an invitation for inclusion in an anthology and other cool prizes.

A third round of Ask the Authors is also in the making for this coming summer and I’m planning an Ask the Authors book to follow, which will include material from all three segments. I already have a cover for the book, created by D.L. Mullen of Sonoran Dawn Studios. I hope to have it out by the end of the year.

WIPs

And of course, you’ll be able to get updates on my other works in progress: The Great Primordial Battle, book one of my science fantasy series, Playground for the Gods; The Homecoming, book two of my western series, Delilah; and my memoir about losing my son to teen suicide, His Name Was Michael. I hope you will all join me in the coming year. 

With that, I’ll just say see you next year.

Until then, happy writing!

Happy New Year

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Writing for a YA Audience: Hyde Hall

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My mother and I are obsessed with visiting historical destinations.  On our way to the heart of Cooperstown, NY, we passed a sign for Hyde Hall.  Our curiosity got the best of us and we investigated this Hyde Hall.  It turned out to be a British-American country house first constructed in 1817 that you could tour.  Just what we wanted!

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Winding, back country roads took us to a beautiful gatekeeper’s cottage like something from a Regency Romance.  Luscious green yards stretched out to overlook a glimmering lake.  1002476_10201474543922911_1529264417_n

We parked, paid our fees, and a tour guide walked us to the stone house.  Columns supported a balcony and chimneys reached for the cloudless sky.  Stepping inside revealed partly furnished rooms left over from a different time and a differed lifestyle.

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One room led into another into another… I could have stayed all day in the library.  Actually, I could have moved in!

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The deeper into the house you go, you encounter rooms lost to decay.  They have yet to be repaired, giving the house an air of being lost.  It was at this point in the tour that we learned the house is supposedly haunted and was featured on Ghosthunters in 2013.  That was such an added bonus for me, the ghost fanatic.  Unfortunately – or fortunately – we didn’t see any ghosts, but some rooms, the nursery in particular, gave off the feeling of being wanted, as if little hands reached for you to play with them.

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Touring Hyde Hall reminded me of the Gothic novels I loved to read.  Combined with the want of living in a stone mansion this grand inspired me to write SECRETS OF BENNETT HALL.  The characters are all inventions of mine, but I pictured Hyde Hall as I wrote about Bennett Hall.  The lake of Bennett Hall is much further away – a bit of forest serrates it from the fictional mansion – whereas Glimmerglass Lake is close enough to Bennett Hall that you can see it from the massive windows.

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If only I could be like Adelaide and move into Hyde Hall to be a governess…but without the secrets and lies!

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Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author.  If you’re looking for her in the evenings, most likely you will find her with a Gothic novel in hand.  You can connect with Jordan via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.

Want to be sure not to miss any of Jordan’s Writing for a YA Audience segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


Writing for a YA Audience: School is in Session

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I might be a writer, but I’m also a teacher.  Ever since I took my first class – ballet, age 3 – I wanted to teach.  I taught my dolls whatever I learned.  I taught my maternal grandmother.  Beneath the expert tutelage of a child age 5, she learned yoga, tap, jazz, and Spanish.  I contribute a lot of my success in Spanish (as in, I passed) to the hours spent teaching it to her.  Teaching was what I wanted to do.

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I went to college for elementary education.  I imagined a classroom of eager faces mirroring my grandmother’s.  We would do the best projects and everyone would love learning.  I walked in with my arms filled with my favorite books, materials for astronomy models, and a skip in my step.

Instead, I was faced with mandatory testing and parents angry that their child had homework on the night when they watch reality TV.  After college, I switched to teaching young adults in a collegial setting.  I fell in love with teaching all over again.  They were eager to learn.  (Well, most of them.)  I didn’t have to deal with parents who used foul language while screaming at their kid for using the same foul language.  There weren’t days spent learning how to pass a mandatory test instead of mastering the material.  Anyway, I digress…

I went from teaching adults at a local community college to teaching  adults for a financial institute.  On the side, I started teaching classes in one of my passions: writing.  Libraries in the area were willing to give me time on weekends or weeknights to teach writing to anyone who wanted to come, free of charge.  The classes ranged from general writing tips to fantasy-specific discussions to how to get published.

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Still today, even though I’m no longer teaching as a day job, I lead classes at local libraries.  The classes are always small and intimate – five people to ten.  This gives us the opportunity to have one-on-one discussions and to have the attendees share selections of writing for feedback.  Most recently, in August, I got to teach a two-part fantasy workshop to youth for a library summer program.  The ideas they came up with were complex and original.  They weren’t afraid to write out of the box.

The best part about teaching a writing class is observing the passion in everyone’s face.  Whereas my grandmother’s passion came from helping me better myself, these students have a passion for the written word, and I’ll do anything I can to help them expand that passion.

Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author.  If you’re a teacher or librarian, she would love to talk to you about leading a workshop or giving a presentation.  You can connect with Jordan via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.


Writing for a YA Audience: Do ghosts really cast no shadows?

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Anyone who knows me knows I’m obsessed with ghosts.  Recently at work, someone drew a house on a whiteboard and everyone added something to the picture.  I added a ghost screaming from an upstairs window.

Writing a short ghost story has always been a fun activity for a rainy afternoon.  After compiling two steampunk anthologies, I decided to take a turn compiling one on ghost stories.  I imagined it sitting on the shelves of local gift shops; the cover would show a ghost girl floating down a hallway of peeling wallpaper and cobwebs.  With this in mind, I reached out to my critique partners, author friends, writing workshop attendees, and writing club members.  They had a year to get me a short story or two.  I wrote a few, and as stories trickled in, I put them together in a word document.   We brainstormed ideas for a title and settled on “Ghosts Cast No Shadows.”

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Once I had a selection of almost thirty stories, I submitted the manuscript to the publisher.  The majority of the stories were accepted, but a few were rejected, and I had to break several hearts by telling writers their story didn’t make it in.

After the list of accepted stories was finalized, it was time for editing.  Each story went across the desk of an editor twice, followed by a once-over with a proofreader.  The proofreader was a different editor who could come into the anthology with new eyes.  With the editing process over, we got to work on a cover.  We’d originally submitted a worksheet of cover ideas, but the publisher felt a different style would be in order.  The talented Eugene Teplitsky put together the current cover depicting a man haunted by his past and plagued by death.  Ghost books, they felt, were too involved with Halloween.  They wanted our anthology to be marketable year-round.  This strategy meant we would need to change the title.  “Ghosts Cast No Shadows was shortened to “Cast No Shadows.”

Shadows Cover

The book was in place and the release date was set for October 6, 2016.

We organized a cover reveal and blog tour for the release.  Reviewers offered their services to help spread the word.  I tentatively set up signings for the end of October through December.   I had to hurry because my son was due October 18 of the same year.  I didn’t want any of the release buzz to fall through the cracks.  (I also naively assumed I would feel up to doing a signing despite just having a baby.)

The book came out to meet with rave reviews.  (You can read Kaye’s review of the book here.) The blog tour sparkled.  While the ebook sold, the paperback remained unavailable.  My son arrived earlier than expected, and in no way did I feel like doing a book signing.  They were postponed to the spring.  Because of technical difficulties, the paperback still wasn’t available in the spring, and the signings were cancelled until further notice.  When the paperback did release a year later, we were all set to push it.

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The group of us who live locally (listed in order as they appear in the picture above: Elizabeth Zumchuk, Joan O. Scharf, Tracina Cozza, Jordan Elizabeth, Jeremy Mortis, W. K. Pomeroy, and James McNally) did our rounds wearing matching CAST NO SHADOWS T-shirts.  The libraries welcomed us and in front of audiences, we talked about what inspired our individual stories and read the first pages.  We sold copies to eager readers.   Every October we do our rounds again.  We stand together in our shirts with the books open in front of us.

It feels so mysterious to stand in front of an audience telling the story of a ghost who wanders dilapidated hallways seeking a future she will never find.

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Interested in reading CAST NO SHADOWS?  The book is available on Amazon or you can get a signed copy off Jordan’s official website.

Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author.  CAST NO SHADOWS is her third anthology published by Curiosity Quills Press.  Jordan can be found wandering the empty houses and shadowed woods of Upstate New York searching for ghosts.


Writing for a YA Audience: Boo! There’s a ghost behind you.

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Ghost stories have always fascinated me.  I’m obsessed with history, so I see ghosts as a link to the past.  They’re our chance to communicate with those who came before.  Plus, the mystery surrounding ghosts is fascinating.

Ghost stories are prevalent in young adult fiction, as well as non-fiction.  Whenever I visit a new locale, I always check out books on local ghosts.  You can see I love ghosts, right?  They tend to drift into my writing more often than not.  My young adult novel, VICTORIAN, centers around ghosts in an abandoned village where visitors come to relive the past.  ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW features a ghost child trapped by a witch’s curse.  TREASURE DARKLY tells the story of Clark Treasure, a young man who receives the gift of communicating – and raising – the dead.

Oftentimes, I’m asked if I believe in ghosts.  That’s a big yes.  I’ve even experienced a few ghostly happenings.

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Ever since I was a small child, I’ve had people say my name, voices no one else hears.  It doesn’t happen all the time and the voices never answer if I reply.  I always turn to find no one behind me.  The earliest time I can remember was when I was driving by Lake Delta.  A voice came from beside me on the back seat.  “Jordan!”  No one was there and my parents hadn’t heard it.  More recently (a few years ago), I was working in a renovated woolen mill.  This building of weathered brick was infamous in the neighborhood for its hauntings.  I never saw or felt a presence, but twice a female called my name from directly behind me when I was alone in an office with a closed door – and the only other person in the building was a male custodian.

I was a recent high school graduate when one of my grandmother’s close friends passed away.  She and I were in her bedroom when the phone rang,  My dog – the only one else in the house – was also in the bedroom.  While my grandmother was learning about the passing from her friend’s daughter, a box of candy flew off the kitchen table and slid across the floor.  It had been on the center of the table and we hadn’t experienced an earthquake.  Nothing else in the house moved.  I like to think it was the friend’s way of saying goodbye.

The other ghostly goodbye came while I was at my then-boyfriend’s house.  I suddenly had an eerie feeling.  The world wasn’t quite right.  After a few minutes, I went to get a drink.  As soon as I walked into the other room, a female voice said my name directly behind me.  Almost instantly, the eerie feeling passed.  I learned the next day that my father’s aunt had died.  I’d only met her a few times, but perhaps she had done her rounds through the family to say farewell.

I’ve been on plenty of ghost tours, but only once did I catch an orb on film.  A local church is connected to a mansion with giant pillars, beautiful windows, and embellished rooms.  The mansion is breathtaking.  A friend hooked my parents and I up with an exclusive tour.  Many people have claimed to have experienced ghostly happenings, but we didn’t see or feel anything.  I did, however, catch a clear orb in a picture of the upstairs sitting room.  Ghost or dust?  I like to think it’s a ghost saying hello.

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Have you had any ghostly experiences?  If you have, share them with us below!

Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author.  She may or may not be staring at a supposedly haunted house trying to see faces in the windows. You can connect with Jordan – and point her in the direction of some paranormal activity – via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.


Writing for a YA Audience: CLICK YOUR CONVERSE HEELS TOGETHER

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When I write contemporary young adult stories, I draw on my own experiences growing up.  A huge part of my childhood involved wearing Converse sneakers.  Okay, you’re probably thinking that’s a sad childhood, but bear with me.  I was always obsessed with shoes.  I liked the old-fashioned ankle-boot style.  I liked the shiny Mary Janes.  I hated regular sneakers.  They weren’t cute enough.  I endured sneakers only for gym class.

In Junior High, I started seeing the other children wearing Converse sneakers.  They came in all sorts of patterns and colors, and they went over your ankle.  They were unique, and even though almost everyone had a pair, everyone had a DIFFERENT pair.  Some kids even wore mismatched sneakers or used fancy laces.  I went home to tell my grandmother I just had to have my own Converse sneakers.  (If you aren’t familiar with Converse sneakers, you have got to check out their incredible selection.)

She took me to the coolest sneaker store in the mall (I don’t remember the name of this wicked awesome store) and got me…a pair of knock-offs.  They were black and came below my ankle.  I fell in love with them because they had a side-pocket.  I wore those sneakers until they fell apart.

In the meantime, my grandmother and I went to the nearby outlet mall.  We would go once or twice a year.  At their shoe store, I saw a beautiful array of colorful Converse sneakers.  She bought be an official, high-top pair.  They were black with white pinstripes.  I wore them so much they started to fall apart…so now I don’t wear them much to preserve their life.

After that, I got a pair each time we went to the outlet mall.  I even got a pair that reached up to my thighs!  I now have twelve pairs altogether in my collection.  Converse is still my favorite brand of sneaker.

Why am I talking to you about my Converse obsession?  Well, Converse sneakers were a huge part of my childhood, from shopping for them to wearing them almost every day.  I loved wearing them to gym class with fishnet stockings.  I always write about my young adults wearing Converse because that’s what I wore.  I didn’t realize how prevalent the brand featured in my writing until an editor called it to my attention.  I went back through my writing and almost every girl character has a pair at one point in their individual stories!

If you were writing about shoes, what shoes would you mention?  What shoes are most important in your life?

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Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author.  Her latest book, a post-apocalyptic novella entitled ROTHAM RACE, released July 14th fron CHBB.  If you’re wondering if it features Converse sneakers, you will have to read it to find out.

You can connect with Jordan via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.