Book Marketing – What Works? (Part 6): Interview with author Chris Barili

Barili and Books

In Part 1, of Book Marketing – What Works?, dark fantasy author, Cynthia Vespia, shared her insights in social media vs. face-to-face marketing, and we heard from co-authors Mark Todd and Kym O’Connell Todd in Part 2. We’ve also about how they launched a digital media marketing strategy which they’ve found to be effective. YA author Jordan Elizabeth talked about her street team and social media marketing experiences in Part 3, and in Part 4, author Tim Baker talked about branding.

Today, I have the privilege of talking with my friend and cohort, author Chris Barili. I have reviewed all of his books here, on Writing to be Read: The Hell’s Butcher series and it’s prequel, Guilty, and his paranormal romance, Smothered. As a hybrid author, Chris walks both sides of the publishing line with works published independently, as well as a work published with a traditional publisher. Like many of today’s authors, Chris may be the picture of the prototype for the author of the future. Many authors who have been traditionally published successfully are now looking at the independent publishing route, because authors still left with bearing the bulk of the marketing and promotional burden.

Unlike the enthusiasm of last week’s guest, contemporary and historical romance author Amy Cecil for social media marketing strategies in Part 5, Chris doesn’t find it very productive, but I’ll let him tell you about that.

Kaye: Would you share the story of your own publishing journey?

Chris: I am a hybrid author, so I have two stories. The first is my traditional publishing journey with Smothered as B.T. Clearwater. That book was my MFA thesis, and when I finished it, I didn’t know what to do with it. Got no replies from a couple of major romance publishers, so when Winlock/Permuted press held a contest for their new supernatural romance line, I entered and I won! About four months later, the e-book hit the virtual world, and this past July, Simon and Shuster did a limited print run of 450 copies.
The second story is my self-publishing journey with the Hell’s Butcher series of novellas. I wrote Guilty, the pre-quel, as an assignment for my MFA, and submitted it to a themed anthology. While the editor praised the story, it didn’t quite fit their antho’s theme, so it was rejected. And rejected. And so on, until I finally got the idea to write a novella series based on Frank becoming Hell’s Marshal. Knowing there wasn’t much of market for novellas, and that weird westerns a smaller market anyway, I decided to self-publish. That meant hiring a professional editor, a cover artist, and a formatter, but I did it! There are three books in the series and more to come!

Kaye: What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

Chris: Readers of Smothered might not guess that I’m a guy? LOL. I think most wouldn’t guess that I have Parkinson’s Disease, as I try hard not to mention it in my writing. I do slip in the occasional hand tremor or other symptom, but I don’t mention the disease itself.

Kaye: You recently ran a free promotion, where you offered Guilty for free for a limited time. I’ve often wondered about the logic behind that type of thing. How does offering your book for free help increase book sales? Or does it?

Chris: I offered Guilty for free in hopes of pulling readers into the series, so they’d buy books one and two. Did it work? I don’t think so. I gave away something like 55 or 56 free copies of the book, and sold 13 paid copies. And while sales have been steady since then, I don’t think the free giveaway had anything to do with that.

Kaye: You’ve participated in book release events on Facebook. How did that work for you?

Chris: Not a fan. I have yet to see significant sales tied to online functions like that for any of my books. However, I know authors who swear by Facebook promos like blog takeovers, release parties, and so on. Maybe I’m just doing it wrong, but they never work for me.

Kaye: What works best to sell books for you, as far as marketing goes?

Chris: Hard f**king work. My highest paid sales month was October of 2016, when my good friend Amity Green and I decided to have a contest and see who could sell more books by Halloween. We used Amazon marketing campaigns, Facebook boosted posts, and our own social medial blitzes. We were pimping and fluffing and promoting our books like crazy. She ended up beating me by six copies, but that remains the most lucrative sales month for me, and I believe it is for her, as well. Problem is, you can’t maintain that pace of advertising for long, if you have a job/life.

Kaye: You have a traditional publisher for Smothered. How much non-writing work, (marketing & promotion, illustrations & book covers, etc…), do you do yourself for your book in comparison with what you do for your Hell’s Butcher series, which you self-published?

Chris: A little marketing. Winlock/Permuted had me do a blog, which I need to resume, and they tasked me with finding podcasts and reviewers. I’m still working on both of those items. For Hell’s Butcher books, I do it all. I pay for the cover, the editing, the formatting. All of it.

Kaye: Do you participate in KDP Select on Amazon? One of the requirements for the KDP Select platform is that you must agree not to use any other platforms, giving Amazon the exclusive. Do you feel this program is conducive to selling books?

Chris: I do for now, but I am dropping it as soon as Guilty is through it at the end of October. I don’t see a benefit. I’m getting it out there on Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and so on.

Kaye: What do you do for cover art on our self-published books? DIY, or hired out, or cookie cutter prefab?

Chris: I contract Michelle Johnson of Blue Sky Design. Look her up on Facebook. She offers a deal where she does the e-book cover, paperback wrap for Createspace, Facebook cover and profile, and Twitter cover and profile at a reasonable price.

Kaye: What do you see as the pros and cons of independent vs. traditional publishing?

Chris: Independent gives you more control, but requires a lot more work and usually won’t sell as well. Traditional is less work, but you also have less control and make much lower royalties.

Kaye: What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Chris: Self-publish and go tradition. Hybrid is the future of authorship.

Kaye: Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?

Chris: I am an avid mountain biker, and I do martial arts, both of which are fun and help me fight my disease. I also like to read, of course.

I want to thank Chris for being here with us on Writing to be Read and sharing his thoughts on marketing from both sides, independent and traditionally published. If you’d like to know more about Chris Barili, B.T.Clearwater or his books, visit his Amazon Author Page.

Be sure and catch Book Marketing – What Works? next week, when independent author DeAnna Knippling will share which marketing strategies have worked for her.

 

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An Adventure in Social Media Marketing

Delilah and Horse Web Cover

In my post, It’s All in the Packaging, I interview cover designer, Dawn Leslie Mullan and I issued a plea for your help and support as the cover art for Delilah made it to the second round in a book cover contest on Facebook. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it into round three, but I want to thank all those who took the time and went to the effort to vote. Delilah has a great cover that fits her story, and I appreciate everyone who jumped in a tried to help us win. I also want to thank DL Mullan for providing such a great cover and Robin Conley for nominating it.

Although I have participated in release parties, it was my first experience with an event like this on social media, so I learned a lot from the experience. I think there are several reasons why we didn’t make it to round three. The promoters of the event were romance authors, and many of the covers we were up against were romance covers, especially the ones which got the most votes, which leads me to believe romance readers were the majority of the audience attending this event, so I considered it lucky that I was able to get the votes I did. Again, all those that voted, whether from my previous blog post, or from my massive marketing campaign to gain votes, you guys are great, and greatly appreciated.

I also learned what not to do when hosting an event like this. The event promoters laid out a set of rules for voting, which had participants clicking and liking various pages, and although the rules were laid out, it seems several of the participants failed to do so, because in later rounds, new “Rules” posts were put up, saying those who failed to follow each step would not be counted. Also, at the end of round two, they announced that hearts did not count as votes, only ‘likes’, but this was not stated at the beginning, so anyone who had someone who loved their cover enough to give it a heart was disqualified.

I think these events should be made as easy as possible to participate in. Think about it. We’re asking people to take time out to go to a page and vote, or play silly games to win prizes in the case of release parties. The games should be fun, or at least funny. The prizes should be something that will be viewed to have some value. And voting should be quick and easy, only taking a few minutes of their time. And for heavens sake, if someone does accept your invitation and attends, or votes for you, show some appreciation and thank them. I know I do, and it keeps readers coming back for more.

I was happy that the cover for Delilah made it to round two, and disappointed that it didn’t go to round three. Maybe next time. Although, I am wondering how effective these social media events really are. A couple of authors I’ve talked said they’ve participated in release parties, but haven’t seen any real increase in sales from them. That could be partly because they are attended mostly by other authors, so we may be playing to the wrong audience there.

I’d be interested in hearing from other authors who participate in these events. I’d like to know how beneficial they really are. Do they bring in sales of your books? Or are they a waste of time? If you’d like to weigh in, leave a comment here, or contact me at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.

 

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Interview with Author Kristy Centeno

Deliverance.Ebook

Today, we have the pleasure of chatting with author Kristy Centeno, who recently had her latest YA/NA paranormal romance released, Deliverance. In addition to being the author of the Secrets of the Moon saga and Keeper Witches series, and now, Deliverance, Kristy is a wife and mother to five children, and she holds down a day job, as well. This interview will kick off her book blog tour for the book with Full Moon Bites author promotions, so let’s give her a good send off.

Kaye: Your most recent paranormal romance released is Deliverance, and I hear it has received some great reviews. Would you like to tell us a little about it?

Kristy: Deliverance depicts the story of a young man who has been imprisoned in an Institute his entire life. Created in a lab, he has no clues as to what he is. Only that he’s not human. Tired of a life of suffering, he escapes to seek the assistance of a man that can help permanently free him and the other prisoners from his creator’s clutches. To do so, he requires the assistance of a young woman—one that will come to challenge everything he believed his enemies to be.

Deliverance delves into the paranormal, with a hint of romance, and some mystery thrown in as well. It took me a year to complete this project and enjoyed every minute of the process. Tiger wasn’t an easy character to develop as he isn’t quite your average hero. He’s both fierce and vulnerable. Strong yet weak. A potential killer yet innocent. As readers go through the story, they’ll better understand what I mean.

Kaye: Deliverance is listed under both YA and NA paranormal romance. Would you talk a little about what the difference in these two genre categories are?

Kristy: Young adult is basically geared more toward the teenage audience with coming of age scenarios that help shape the young character’s future, personality, or outlook in life. The main characters are usually in their teens, experiencing, learning, experimenting things for the first time.

New Adult, however, portrays characters that are a bit older and perhaps, a tad more mature. Think college age adults who undergo a series of scenarios that might have more of an impact on their lives than it would a younger person. They might have to deal with things that might not be an issue for someone in their teens.

Kaye: You are currently working on a sequel to Deliverance. Any hints as to what might be in store for your readers there?

Kristy: There is a bit more background story for some of the main characters as well as information on how the Legion works. It gives some insight on what Gerard’s next plans for the main characters were. And, of course, another mystery unfolds. One that will flip Tiger and Kristina’s worlds upside down.

Kaye: You have a large family, including five children. What are your secrets for juggling writing with family?

Kristy: Between my day job and my five children, finding time to write isn’t always easy. To be honest, even when I find time, I struggle between heading off to bed early to get some rest or get the next chapter completed. My days are full, but I try to make the best of what time I do have.

Most days, I get some writing done after the kiddies head off to bed. It’s nice and quiet. Not having anyone vying for my attention provides me with at least one to two hours of uninterrupted writing.

Basically, the way I work around my schedule is by tending to the kids first, house second, and then my writing. If the kids need something or the house is unorganized I can’t concentrate on my writing either so when I sit down to write, no matter what time of the day it is, I have to make sure that my to-do list is complete. Then and only then can I devote my full attention to those that live in my head.

Kaye: What is the one thing you hope to teach your children?

Kristy: There’s so much I wish to teach my children that I could go on forever naming each. But one thing that’s important for me is that they learn how to love themselves first and everyone else second. With so many issues about body shaming and public ridicule for being different, I don’t want my kiddies to feel as if they have to be like everyone else just to fit in the crowd. I always tell them that it’s okay to be different and there’s nothing wrong with being a little weird.

Kaye: You have two blogs dedicated to author promotions and writing. Would you like to tell us how they came about and what one might find there? How do you come up with enough content to keep them both active?

Kristy: When I was first published, I realized right away that one of the most difficult things to do as an author was, and still is, promoting. I had to develop an online presence and that took time. Fortunately for me, I found a network of authors that were willing to lend a hand when it came to promoting my work, offering advice, and some constructive criticism when needed.

While I was establishing an online presence, I found many new authors that like me, struggled to promote their work and would benefit from the same kind of help I received when I first got started. Thus, the idea was born to create not one but two blogs where I could assist anyone that needed it.

It didn’t take long at all for my inbox to start to fill up with requests from authors all over the States, Canada, and even the UK. I keep a calendar to track which author I’m hosting on what day due to the sheer volume of requests. Many of the authors I’ve worked with over the years also help cross promote my work on their sites/blogs, which is fantastic. Plus, I get to learn about new authors and their fabulous work that I’d probably have a difficult time locating if I didn’t hear from them directly.

Now, I also host blog tours for various book blogging companies as well. It’s something that I’ve come to enjoy over the years and continue to do as a hobby.

Kaye: What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

Kristy: I’m a bit of an introvert. Most people don’t believe this because I’m generally outgoing. Though at first I’m a bit shy, once I’m comfortable with someone I tend to talk a lot more and joke around. But I prefer the comfort of my own home as opposed to going out.

Kaye: What is the biggest challenge of being a writer?

Kristy: Aside from getting published and struggling with promoting your work once it’s published, I’d say one huge challenge is overcoming the dreaded writer’s block.

Kaye: Would you share the story of your own publishing journey?

Kristy: My story isn’t that different from most authors. At least, I don’t think. I must have queried close to thirty agencies that first year, receiving nothing but rejection after rejection. It was very disappointing, not to mention it really made me suffer through periods where I had serious self-doubt about my work and myself as a writer.

I didn’t understand that even if your first manuscript isn’t the best, you tend to improve overtime. I wasn’t in that state of mind though. I considered quitting before I even got started. That was until I heard a positive response from a publisher that was interested in reading the full manuscript of the first book I ever submitted.

They decided to pass, but that rejection ended up helping so much. When they got back to me, they were kind enough to say where my strengths lay and where and what I needed to improve. I took their advice to heart and worked on my manuscript some more. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it read a lot better. When I submitted it again to another publisher, I was once more asked for a full manuscript. Three months later I was offered a contract. I was elated!

From there it has been easier but I’m still learning. I’m sure there’s still so much room for growth and I don’t mind. I love evolving my skills and developing my voice as I go along. With every publisher and every editor I work with, I learn something new. I learn where I have to improve and what areas I should focus on. It’s a never-ending cycle but one I don’t mind repeating.

Kaye: What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Kristy: “No matter how hard life knocks you down, you better get right back up again and plow through. Life will never stop trying to knock you off your feet so don’t ever stop getting right back up again.”

Kaye: You are fortunate enough to have found a publisher for your books. How much non-writing work, (marketing & promotion, illustrations & book covers, etc…), do you do yourself for your books?

Kristy: Fortunately, the book covers are taken care of by the publisher. However, I do most of the marketing for my book. I organized takeovers, hire book blog companies, spread the word via social media, send emails, etc.

One of my publishers does quite a bit in terms of spreading the word about our books. They have put our books in local libraries, they send out newsletters with interviews, guest posts, etc. and we occasionally do author takeovers and Facebook events as well.

Kaye: What strategies and promotional tools work best to sell books for you, as far as marketing goes?

Kristy: It’s hit or miss with marketing to be honest. I have found that when I book a tour via a book blogging company, some will do extremely well and I immediately see an increase in sales. While there are other times when there’s barely a difference. However, I’ve found that when I do character interviews, guest posts, or giveaways my book does well and there’s a lot of online activity, which is great.

I prefer to schedule release tour weeks in advance to get the release off to a good start. Usually, this is when I see the most impact when it comes to sells as well as reviews. Giveaways do very well too so I have tend to partake in them more and more nowadays than I used to. Especially if I’m giving out a signed copy of one of my books. People respond positively to that.

Deliverance Banner

I want to thank Kristy for joining us here, on Writing to be Read, and for sharing a little bit about herself and her paranormal romance, Deliverance. You can purchase Deliverance on Amazon, iTunes, B&N, Inktera, and Createspace.

To find out more about Kristy, or her books:

Her Website: https://booksbycenteno.com/

Blog: http://therightbook4u.blogspot.com/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Kristy-Centeno/e/B00BR7KQ4U

Goodreads Author Page:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6580510.Kristy_Centeno

Or check her out on social media:

Facebook

Twitter

Google+

Pintrest

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“Unpredictable Webs” Keeps Readers Guessing

Unpredictable Webs

Unpredictable Webs by international award winning author, Darlene Quinn, is an intricately plotted and tightly woven story of mystery and intrigue. A vivid cast of characters, who all think they know what’s best keep the pages turning. Although the book is a single piece in a much larger tapestry, it easily works as a stand alone for those who have not read other books in Quinn’s Web series.

As moguls of a major department store chain, Conrad and Ashleigh Taylor are open targets for attacks from all directions. Whether from protesters, who don’t want the iconic name of John Stewart’s to be swallowed whole by their Jordan’s conglomerate, or predators who see only dollar signs when they consider the wealthy couple, the threats are always near. When one predator goes after one of their twin teenage girls in a kidnapping gone awry, there is no telling what will happen next, and the Taylors will stop at nothing to get their daughter back.

Unpredictable Webs is a complex tale of suspense, which keeps readers on their toes with skilled crafting and well developed plot. I give it four quills.

Four Quills3

 

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs at no charge. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


It’s All in the Packaging: Interview with Writer, Poet and Cover Designer, Dawn Leslie Mullan

 

They say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, but we do all the time. So, when sales for Delilah was faltering, I decided to change it up. Actually, I ran into an awesome cover designer, who came up with a great cover for not only Delilah, but one for Last Call, too. Subsequently, the sales for Delilah went up some. The new cover just came out for Last Call, so it remains to be seen if it will have the same effect, but I’m anticipating some positive results. It all goes to show just how important it is to find the right cover designer for your work. If you don’t believe a book cover can make a difference, take a look at the original cover for Last Call, below and compare with the new one, above:

Last Call Cover

Today I am fortunate to be able to interview my awesome cover designer, DL Mullen of Sonoran Dawn Studios, so I can share with my readers just what a talented cover designer this lady really is. And she’s so much more. Also a writer and poet,  Dawn Leslie Mullan spends a lot of time getting creative.

Kaye: In addition to being an accomplished poet, you have your own design company, Sonoran Dawn Studios. How did you get into cover art design?

Dawn: I got into cover design because I knew that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. People are attracted to book covers as well as read tag lines and brief synopses to make their decisions about purchases. Since I have had my digital art shown across the country in various exhibits and at conventions, the creation of my own cover art was a natural fit. Sonoran Dawn Studios is the intuitive progression from an artist and writer to designer and publisher.

 

Kaye: You’ve self-published two books of nature poetry, Effloresce, and Rain: Monsoon in the Desert and two books of dark poetry, Memoirs of a Psychotic Painting Elephant, and The Descent. Would you share the story of your own publishing journey?

Dawn: My publishing journey is much like many other writers’ careers. I have been writing since my formative years, but the confidence to write for publication did not happen until higher education. When I was exposed to literature and professors who understood the dynamics in literary context, my world expanded a thousand-fold. I was no longer in this cocoon of sensory deprivation. The experience allowed me to dream.

As I grew older my dreams also grew, but some obstacles were thrown in my way. I became disabled by Environmental Illness, so the future book tour I had envisioned for myself was replaced by severe reactions to an array of chemicals and molds. A collapsed immune system does not a national book tour make. With the help of natural doctors, nutrition, and lots of bed rest, I have been able to balance my disabilities with my goals. I began my website, Undawnted, to feature my writing. Later, I created Sonoran Dawn Studios to publish what I produced with the dream of helping other writers accomplish their goals of publications in the future.

Just because life happened while I was making other plans does not mean I still cannot fulfill my life’s purpose.  Creativity is more than a hobby; creativity also brings about choices through true authentic problem-solving. As a testament to my originality and perseverance, my publishing journey has become a triumph over adversity.

 

Kaye: Would you publish through Lulu again? Why or why not?

Dawn: Yes, I love publishing through Lulu. The ebooks I can disseminate are endless. I am researching beyond Lulu for other Print on Demand services to see what the best modality for my print books may be. I want to make sure my readers are taken care of, while not being intrusive or creating confusion. I do foresee my ebooks finding their way into print sometime in 2019.

 

Kaye: What is the single most important quality in a poem for you?

Dawn: The most important quality in a poem is based in the five W’s of journalism. What, where, why, when, and how. What image is the reader left with at the end? Where has the poem taken the reader? Why would this poem be important to the reader later on in life?  When will the poem reoccur in the memory of the reader long after the poem is read? How does the poem leave an indelible mark in the emotions of its audience?

Anyone can write a poem. The best poems are the ones that linger in the recesses of a reader’s mind. To stir there, be forgotten until an emotion brings up images of the poem that can only be satisfied by reading the poem again. Poetry is more than words and rhymes; poetry is the exercise in conveying emotions through imagery.

So, what do you see when you write?

 

Kaye: Where do your poetic inspirations come from?

Dawn: Everywhere. That is where my inspiration comes from. I am in awe of this world and our universe. I keep a child’s naïveté and wonderment lurking around every corner of my imagination. I view circumstances with that innocence as if I am seeing lightning, touching a cat, hearing a siren, or feeling the sun for the first time. Every time.

That juxtaposition allows me to combine youthful honesty, integrity, and virtue with the aged heartbreak, candor, and wisdom. No emotion is off limits to experience inside my soul. Every creative dimension is then available to express whether that would be in the forms of poetry or prose.

Inspiration is everywhere… you just have to feel it.

 

Kaye: What’s your favorite social media site for promotion? Why?

Dawn: None of them really are my favorites for any kind of promotion but I go where my audience travels. Social media is the ghetto harbors of the internet. Our creativity and objectivity are trapped in programmed cages that reverberate and sometimes crescendo our own confirmation bias. Social ghettos like their city namesakes limit opportunities for those individuals seeking advancement and relegate people into an inferior stasis with poor resources and tyrannical mismanagement.

I’d rather own my own website away from social media, but finances impede that dream at this moment. So I am stuck in the ghettos of Facebook, Google plus, and Blogger. I hope someday people realize how confining social media is so we can return to a time of free expression.

Won’t you join me?

 

Kaye: You are a creative person, writing award winning poetry and designing some pretty awesome cover art, etc… Were you creative as a child?

Dawn: Thank you. I have always had an active imagination. My formative years began in solitude, but after my family moved to the west coast, we ran a daycare, and so there was no shortage of company.

The lack of companionship, however, is a different matter. I knew I was atypical from other children of my age. I observed. I understood far beyond my years. I intellectualized, but I also empathized.

Creative maturity has given me the ability to recognize those evocative reactions and morph the feelings into a seasoned response. Empathy is a strong connection to other people and their plight, the trick is to find a positive way to express myself through art, writing, and problem-solving to avoid the pitfalls of negativity.

That is why so many creative people are depressed and feel rejected by society: improper context of sensory stimuli. Creative people need to step outside of a given situation and see all the moving parts. The ability to walk in another’s shoes is a gift, but when that gift creates blinders to the other parts of life, that is where creativity can destroy instead of uplift.

I had to find that balance. I had to find my own wisdom. Meditation and energy work are beneficial. A balanced perspective is everything.  I had to learn that being a creative child did not mean I had to be an explosive, renegade adult… that is what my characters are for!

Let your imagination work for you. Be calm, cool, and collected with your interactions with the world. Allow your creativity be the solution.

Make your characters say and do what society frowns upon. In creativity, you are free. In living imagination, you are the creator.

So design a better reality to inspire change: one person can make a difference.

 

Kaye: How would you describe yourself in three words?

Dawn: Innovative. Dynamic. Trendsetter.

 

Kaye: What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Dawn: I really have no idea. Maybe it was: don’t play in traffic? Or, don’t stick your fingers in the light socket? I do not believe I have ever been given a lot of advice.

I have always been a self-starter. I am a person who walks forward in life. There have been some obvious setbacks, but I set short- and long- term goals. Whatever is attainable, I achieve. Whatever does not work for me, I change to fit my new timeline.

So I do not believe my life has been about being advised as much as it has been about who can keep up with me.

 

Kaye: You’ve had many poems published and won awards for quite a few. What is the biggest challenge in being a poet?

Dawn: The biggest challenge in being a poet, or an artist in general, is discovering new ways to compete with myself. How can I outdo my last creation? Achieve a better response? Create something thought-provoking or truly distinctive?

As a writer, I challenge my own status quo. I am in competition with no other person but myself. So the creative balance I endeavor to maintain has helped me restructure my point of view. I strive for self-betterment to take my writing to the next level.

This fresh perspective allows me to mature as a writer as well as be a cheerleader for other authors. When I removed the ego-driven, quantity over quality focus from my writing career, I discovered how the release from those negative aspects took my creativity to new heights.

I spent more time creating than worry about the industry, agents, publishing houses, and other writers. I could then help others without feeling jealous or anxious or petty. I could be happy for other writer’s successes because those writers were never in direct competition with me. That is an illusion I had to shed.

Once I realized that each person has their own goals and life path to fulfill, then I understood the dynamics with which creativity really springs: inside my own internal genesis.

People on a parallel career path weave branches from the same tree on which my creativity sprouts. Each branch is different from the others and reflects the health of the common root. If we do not tend to our roots, fertilize the soil, and water regularly, then the tree will falter in a coming storm. Angst ruins everyone’s creative efforts. So why bother with it?

That is a summation of the writing craft and our individual responsibility within our community. We must become the best writer we can be and also give a helping hand to another writer regardless of his or her success. Wisdom is in the balance.

Of course that also frees me from the cookie cutter manufactured industry standards I see dominating the writing craft. So watch out world! I don’t have a compass. I don’t have a quota system. I am following my own branch that is reaching for the stars.

And, everyone can change their stars.

 

Kaye: What advice do you have for aspiring writers and poets?

Dawn: Writers need about ten years to season well, marinate in their own juices. Raw writers tend to give their hearts but when constructively critiqued, lose their minds. So I advise aspiring writers to go in search of criticism, negative criticism. Take courses for a community college certificate or degree in creative writing. Go out and join your local Professional Writer’s Group. Seek out people who will guide and help you without sparing your feelings. Those people are gems.

When you receive constructive advice, use it. Correct your writing and erode your ego. Writing is not about dissecting words and mincing phrases, but about dismantling your hubris.

Once a writer can get out of their own way, their writing takes on a profound quality. Stillness. Wisdom. Maturity.

One should always know and understand their craft through hard work and education. One should also write from the heart. Writing from the ego only speaks to other egos. When a writer writes from the heart, their story resonates at varying degrees within their audience and their writing is called: literature. Then a writer can build a loyal readership and just not simply have hapless followers.

On that same note: never believe your own press. I have had forum critique comments like: that was the best poem I have ever read! Only to look a few comments down and read: I really didn’t think your poem was all that great.

You just have to laugh.

When a writer has been through the crucible of their own development, then a writer can discover their weaknesses and strengths. Until that level of discernment is achieved, a writer is not ready to meet the world. The world is full of wolves ready to take your money and tell you whatever you want to hear.

An educated, informed, and mature writer can espy the wolves, escape the traps, and only do what is right for their needs.

So become the writer you have always wanted to become. No one else can do it but you. What are you waiting for?

 

Kaye: What time of day do you prefer to do your writing?

Dawn: Any time is fine. I write during the day or night. I do like night though when I really have to concentrate and do not want to be disturbed. No phones. No television. No distractions.

I do write when the muse descends. When I first began writing as a hobby, I would wake up from a dead sleep to jot down notes or a poem. My mind was active during my dream state. Now with my own creative structure, I find myself less inclined to be so impulsive. I write until I am done with that scene and I move on to another activity.

I also rotate from art to poetry to nonfiction, and then fiction writing. It is very noticeable trend on my personal social media status. Those breaks help avoid creative lulls and downright boredom. Writing for me is a metamorphosis of the psyche more than it is a time and place.

 

Kaye: You’ve had to face some huge obstacles to get to where you are now. Would you like to talk about them?

Dawn: Which obstacles? Chronic illness, abandonment, or near death experiences? My life has run the gambit, but direct participation in life events is what writing is all about. When I go through a challenge, I meet the impediment head on. There is no sense in hiding from life.

Do whatever you have to do short of hurting yourself or others; I do not abide by those types of negative expressions, but if you must throw your shoes or scream out the window, then do it. Then learn from your interaction with the world so you can check your emotions to respond with a healthy regard to life instead of having meltdown reactions to it.

The more you deal with life’s ills; the more those issues become underwhelming. Oh, the car broke down in triple digit heat… that problem interfered with my day but not unexpected given the circumstances. If you structure your life with good planning, sensible organization, and attainable goals, then you can respond to the world from a point of important but not urgent. So when the car breaks down, everything else takes care of itself, and you do not feel overwhelmed… just slightly irked.

With my brain inflammation and neurological issues, I have had some unflattering behavioral repercussions. In a short amount of time, I have learned what my body needs to combat this inflammation so I can deal with life as it comes. For my emotions, I write to express my discontent with research, citations, and good ole-fashioned sarcasm. My awareness blog for my neighborhood news can be incendiary at times, educational and informative at others, but entertaining to thousands of people a month.

So huge obstacles are what you make out of them. I find that I must navigate in a sea of challenges that most people would just give up and let a shark eat them. I am not like most people. I will take your shark, fry him up for dinner, and raise you: writing and publishing careers!

It comes down to simplicity: you can spend your life saying: oh crap, not again. Or, looking at challenges from a different point of view: at least my toaster oven still works.

Well what did you expect? I react to microwaves.

 

Kaye: Which poet, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with? Why?

Dawn: Just one? I kind of do this exercise with my poetry. I call my brand of talking with the creative masters as response poetry. I take a poem from Poe, Dickinson, and then write a response. Upon Reading Edgar Allan Poe is a literary take on many of his works. Death Responds to Emily Dickinson is the Grim Reaper’s rebuttal to her I Could Not Stop for Death.

If I had to pick between the two, I would like to sit down with Poe. Not because it’s “Poe,” but because Edgar was a literary critic in his time and quite combative with his contemporaries, which I find entertaining as well as educational.

What were Edgar’s pet peeves in writing? How did his critics respond to his opinions? Did his critics give constructive criticism to Edgar’s work or did they just attack out of ego-driven defensiveness?

As writers and critics, we can learn from the advice, mistakes, and behaviors from our forefathers, and foremothers. If you do not know the past, you are doomed to repeat it. Art and writing, much like society, cannot go forward always repaving the roads of the past. We must create new exits onto the roads less traveled by. The best way is to learn from the master artists, poets, and writers from their works to their own personal views of the craft itself.

On your journey, is your road already built or are you walking in a forest that has no name?

 

Kaye: What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

Dawn: I am overeducated.

Seriously, I have never met a topic I did not like or want to know more about. I do have six college degrees including a Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning with Technology. I have degrees ranging from general studies, foci in biology and geology, emphasis and focus in history and biology, and organizational management. I was also working on creative writing, marketing, computer science, and publication creation before I became disabled.

I was an active community member. I have lectured and had speaking engagements about technology, art, and the role of girls in our technotronic era. I have paneled at science fiction conventions. I have exhibited and won awards for my digital art. I have ghost hunted as a history major and aspiring medium. I have experience in film and stage. In addition, I have a background in medicine for about a decade as a family member’s caretaker.

My greatest achievements have not been the cords, ribbons, or degrees. Although I am grateful for the honors I have earned in their formation of my character as well as giving me the skills to navigate our ever-changing, technological world, I am interested in more intangible achievements at present. I am on a spiritual path to investigate the human condition. I seek to answer the mysteries of our universe and impart that wisdom onto others.

With that said, I feel my greatest achievement is leaving a creative and educational legacy. My illness precludes me from having offspring, but with management of my health, I have endeavored to become the person I have always wanted to be. I am a work in progress. I can be grumpy and irritable at times, but I am more patient and charitable than anything else.

I guess that comes from living a life less traveled by. I have shrugged off convention for a spiritual road on the superhighway of life. I may be in the slow lane, but I am not obsessed with the destination. The journey is my classroom and I am an enthusiastic student.

Will you like to hitch a ride?

 

Kaye: What is the one thing that is the most unusual or unique thing you’ve done so far?

Dawn: Strange is what I do. I combine real life scenarios in my creative works to give the contrived a reality check. When a reader experiences my characters and their challenges some of those obstacles may be rooted in my own life. I will not tell which is which, what fun is that?, but I will say that creative writing allows me the indulgence to work out some past issues in a positive and productive manner.

So the most unusual or unique quality to my writing is that I use creative fiction and nonfiction as my camp counselors.

Have a problem? Fantasy about justice? Do not have the energy to bury a body in a remote location? Then you need to become a writer. You have innovative ideas, a spark of madness, and a tinge of laziness that comes with sitting down at a computer to let your fingers do the trash talking.

Shovel, anyone?

Thank you Dawn, for joining us today and sharing your unique take on life, and writing, and shoveling. And thank you for allowing me to use you for the purposes of illustrating the important role cover art is in the sale of your book. You could write a masterpiece, but no one will ever know it if they never crack the cover to read the words inside.

We Need Your Help!

This post came at a good time, because today Dawn and I have some exciting news to share. The cover art for Delilah has made it to round two in the Joandisalovebooks Summer Loving Book Cover EVENT 2017. This is great news because it is a really great cover, but we can’t do it alone. The winner in each genre category will receive a great marketing package, which would be great for the promotion of Delilah.

We need your votes, so we can win first prize in the western genre category. You can find more information on how to place your vote at Sonoran Dawn Studios, where Dawn has been kind enough to lay out step by step instructions for you. So, if you are a follower of Writing to be Read, a fan of Delilah, or someone who has just discovered Kaye Lynne Booth author, please take a few moments to clink on the link and cast your votes for us. It will be greatly appreciated.

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“A Slapshot Prequel Box Set”: Good Stories, Bad Editing

Slapshot

A Slapshot Prequel Box Set (Slapshot Prequel Trilogy Book 4), by Heather C. Myers is a perfectly good story line, offering the POV of three characters, in three alternate stories, running parallel to one another. Nicely done. If you’re into hockey, A Slapshot Prequel Box Set (A Slapshot Prequel Trilogy Book 4), by Heather C. Myers may be just what you are looking for. The set contains three separate stories, which unfold simultaneously, the first a murder mystery with a romance element, the second and third romances.

In Blood on the Rocks, Serephina must learn to manage the hockey team she just inherited, and figure out who killed her grandfather at the same time. The problem is, she doesn’t know who to trust, and she finds herself strangely attracted to the prime suspect in her grandfather’s murder. In Grace on the Rocks, a romantic relationship is the last thing Emma is looking for. That is, until Kyle Underwood, the handsome young hockey player, skates right into her life. In Charm on the Rocks, Madison is a college student who goes for brainy guys, not athletic ones, until she meets Alec but she can’t let her dad know she’s a Gulls’ Girl, scraping ice for the Newport Beach Seagulls hockey team, or she may lose his love as well as her tuition, and Alec Schumacher provides a means for her to gain her independence, making her finally admit that she is interested in him.

I was glad this set is labeled prequel, because the overall story, doesn’t feel complete. In fact, I can’t be sure what the main story that ties these three together is. So it was good to think there’s more to come. But then, it is also labeled Book 4, so I’m not so sure about the continuation. I hope there is more to come, because the most serious conflict in any of them is the revelation of Serephina’s  grandfather’s killer.

The biggest criticism I have of A Slapshot Prequel Boxset was the editing, or lack thereof, distracts and pulls the reader out of the story repeatedly, to the point of annoyance. There are so many spelling errors, typos, and repetitive wording that it pulls the reader out of the story repeatedly. The stories were interesting enough to keep me reading, but the errors were bothersome and annoying at times.

The three stories in A Slapshot Prequel Boxset are nicely overlapped, but definitely feel like only three parts of a whole. Although the story lines are good, they are lacking true conflict and, combined with the poor editing, I  give it three quills.

Three Quills3

 

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs at no charge. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


“The Day My Fart Followed Santa Up The Chimney”: A Unique Children’s Christmas Story

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Most kids dream of hitching a ride in Santa’s sleigh at one time or another. In The Day My Fart Followed Santa Up The Chimney by Ben Jackson and Sam Lawrence, Timmy doesn’t get a ride, but his little fart does. Timmy’s Fart is a cute little green guy, kind of a cross between a Smurf and a chubby baby dragon.

The Day My Fart Followed Santa Up The Chimney is a delightful children’s picture book, which explores the magic of Christmas and takes Little Fart on a great adventure. It wasn’t what I expected, (I expected a lot of fart humor from the title), but I was pleasantly surprised. I give it four quills.

Four Quills3

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs at no charge. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.