Starting Off the New Year with YA Author Jordan Hallak

Jordan Hallak

I’m pleased to be able to start the New Year off with a YA author who I have interviewed for both my Book Marketing -What Works? series this past year, and my 2015 Pros and Cons of Traditional vs. Independent vs. Self-Publishing series. I’ve reviewed many of her novels, (Escape From Witchwood Hollow, Cogling, Treasure DarklyVictorianThe Goat ChildrenRunners and RidersThe Path to Old TalbotWicked TreasureKistishi Island)as well as collections featuring her short stories, such as Darkscapes, Cast No Shadows, Under a Brass Moon, Chronology.

If you’re feeling a little confused right now, that’s okay, because all of the interviews and reviews were done for an author named Jordan Elizabeth, and in the very early reviews she was booked as Jordan Elizabeth Mierek. However, she’s starting off 2018 as Jordan Hallak, and we’ll hear an explanation for the different name soon. In addition to being the author of at least ten young adult novels and countless short stories, Jordan is a wife and mother, as well as often having a day job on the side. She runs a tight juggling act to keep it all balanced and still manages to craft some quality stories which are all quite entertaining. Join me in giving a warm welcome to Jordan Hallak today, on Writing to be Read.

Kaye: You’ve had a change to your last name. It threw me off and might throw of readers who know your work under the name Jordan Elizabeth. Were you recently married?

Jordan: I got married over a year ago, but I didn’t change my name right away.  I still write as “Jordan Elizabeth,” but little by little I’ve been altering Mierek to Hallak.  The most recent thing I changed was my name for my gmail account.  Even though I signed things as “Jordan Hallak,” people were getting confused who Jordan Mierek was.  I was getting documents for work to the wrong name!

Kaye: What are your secrets for juggling writing with family?

Jordan: Haha, I haven’t mastered it yet!  Most nights now I’m too tired to do more than scroll through facebook.  When I push myself, though, I have my husband watch the baby for an hour and I do all my writing.  Once the baby goes to bed, then I do my marketing because it isn’t as emotionally draining.  Writing leaves me breathless.

Kaye: Other than the last name, what do you think will be different for you in 2018, and why?

Jordan: My marketing budget is a lot different for this year.  I’m only going to be using what I make off royalties.  This might ruin my marketing plan, but we’ll see.  2018 is the first year where I won’t have a full time job starting out.

Kaye: What’s in store from Jordan Hallak in 2018?

Jordan: Other than my goal of landing a full time job, I want to write more novels and work on my marketing techniques.  I usually fly by my seat for the year, but this time I want to concentrate on planning out all my marketing events.  I’ve heard that’s better, so we’ll see.

Kaye: Is there anything unique or unusual about your writing process?

Jordan: I can’t plan.  I start writing with a general sense of where the story will lead.  If I try to plot, the book becomes a chore.  It never follows the written storyline anyway.

Kaye: Any New Year’s resolutions?
Jordan:  Oh, man, this question!  Nothing really comes to mind.  I usually make resolutions as I go along.  I guess I’m going to try to get more writing time in and I’m going to try to stick to my exercise routine.  I fell out of it while I was pregnant, and then I picked it back up, and fell off the wagon (so to speak) when I got a temp job where I was working 10 hour days.  I miss exercising.  For exercise, I do yoga and belly dancing.  I also have an exercise routine to help with diastis recti.

Kaye: What is the working title of your latest book?

Jordan: My newest book will be Secrets of Bennett Hall.  It is going to be a steampunk Gothic.  I’ve always been entranced by Gothic novels, and I love the steampunk genre, so I decided to blend the two and see how it came out.

Kaye: How do you decide the titles for your books? Where does the title come in the process for you?

Jordan: The titles always come at the end.  I usually call the book by the main character’s name as I’m writing, and then I see how it feels when I’m all done.  Secrets of Bennett Hall started off as Adelaide.  Adelaide is the main character who moves to Bennett Hall to work as a governess.  Secrets from the past – both her past and the estate’s past – return to haunt her.  Secrets of Bennett Hall had more of a Gothic ring to it.

Kaye: In my review of Runners and Riders, I identified the book as a part of your Treasure Chronicles Apparently, this isn’t the case, as it is the first book in a series of its own. Would you like to share how that came about?

Jordan: Runners and Riders features the same world as in the Treasure Chronicles.  I called it a “companion” novel because of that, but it was mislabeled as a novella in many places.  It is a full-length novel, and it was getting a lot of heat for being “misleading.”  People who hadn’t read the Treasure Chronicles weren’t willing to give it a chance.  It will now be book one in Return to Amston, with Secrets of Bennett Hall being book two.  Secrets will be in the same world again, but with a new cast of characters.

Kaye: So, tell us a little about this second book in the Runners and Riders.

Jordan: Joseph from Treasure Darkly will make an appearance. Remember him as Amethyst’s spurned lover?  I always felt bad about how things went down with the two of them and I wanted to give him his own story.  As I started writing about Adelaide, he just fell into place as her love interest, and they are perfect for each other.  He deserves a sweet, but strong, girl like Adelaide.  In the novel, Adelaide loses her teaching job in Hedlund and finds a new position as a governess.  Once she arrives at Bennett Hall, she meets its handsome occupant – Joseph – as well as some shady figures.  People in the village warn her about the darkness on the estate, but it isn’t until she sees the Villain lurking in the forbidden wing that she begins to believe the rumors.

Kaye: A lot of your books are of the steampunk genre. What is it that appeals to you about steampunk?

Jordan: I love the nifty inventions paired with corsets and long skirts.  I am obsessed with corsets and long skirts.  You should see my closet!

Kaye: Most of your work has been published through Curiosity Quills Press, but it sounded like you might be striking out independently. Will this second book in the Runners and Riders series be independently published?

Jordan: Secrets of Bennett Hall will be published by Curiosity Quills Press.  I haven’t decided to go the self-publishing route yet, but I might someday.  I know people who have left their publishers to try self-publishing with great results.  For now, I like having a publishing house behind me.  The support I get has been awesome.  I’m currently published by Curiosity Quills, CHBB, and Clean Reads.

Kaye: When will Secrets of Bennett Hall be available?

Jordan: Secrets releases January 30.

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

Jordan: It is so hard to get your book out there.  I know people are sick of me always talking about my books, but that’s the only way to spread the word.

Kaye: What’s the most fun part of writing a novel or short story? What’s the least fun part?

Jordan: The best part is actually writing it.  I become lost in the setting and the characters become my best friends.  I have an awesome time visiting this new world.  The least fun part would have to be the marketing that comes after.  When you have to push people to review and when you have to pay for ads, you start to doubt if your writing is worth it.  Then you write a new story and remember how much it is worth it.

Kaye: If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

Jordan: I wouldn’t worry about money anymore!  I would be happy being a stay-at-home mom and full-time writer.  There would be a lot of traveling.  I need fresh fodder for my stories.

I want to thank you, Jordan, for joining us on Writing to be Read to start the New Year off right. I wish you the best of luck in 2018, and I know Secrets of Bennett Hall will be a huge success.

Until next time, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year!

2018 Happy New Year

 

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Book Marketing – What Works? (Part 3): Interview with YA author Jordan Elizabeth

Jordan Elizabeth and Books

In Part 1 of Book Marketing – What Works? we heard from self-published author, Cynthia Vespia, and in Part 2, we met traditionally published co-authors Mark Todd and Kym O’Connell Todd, to get a glimpse into their marketing strategies. While Vespia preferred face-to-face marketing strategies such as conferences and book signings, the Todds use Internet marketing such as websites, blogging and social media. Today, we’ll talk with an author who utilizes paid advertising via the Internet.

Small presses may take some of the publishing duties away from the author, such as cover art, and of course, the actual publication of your book, but even then, a lot of the marketing and promotion may fall upon the author. Therefore, traditionally published authors are faced with the same challenges of getting their books out there where readers can find them as independently published authors are.

I’m pleased to welcome Jordan Elizabeth to Writing to be Read today. Jordan is a talented young adult author, who is published with a smaller independent press. I have reviewed many of her books and anthologies where her short fiction has appeared, and she’s weighed on publishing, with an interview in my ten part series, Pros and Cons of Traditional vs. Independent vs. Self-Publishing. Although she may not have as much control over the publishing  details, she maintains the brunt of the responsibility for the marketing of her books.

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

Jordan: I always knew I wanted to write.  I had written a ton of stories by high school (none of which will ever see the light of day).  I finally wrote my first “real” manuscript sometimes around 12th grade and started sending it to publishers.  They rejected me right away.  After some research, I understood you need an agent to get your foot in the door.  I queried over 4,000 agents before I landed mine with COGLING.

Kaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

Jordan: I get most of my ideas from dreams, but I would say the strangest inspiration was for VICTORIAN.  I volunteered at Fort Stanwix and worked for the Victorian Leisure Fair, both in Rome, NY.  The positions involved dressing in costumes and explaining history to visitors, while having fun.  I had the best adventures in Rome!

Kaye: Have you ever had places that you travel to end up in your books?

Jordan: Yes!  I love to travel, and we used to do 3-4 vacations a year before I had my baby.  The places I go to especially come out in my fantasy novels. The homes in COGLING were based on a lot of historic sites and tour houses, such as President Buchannan’s house in Pennsylvania.

Kaye: Do you participate in KDP Select on Amazon? Do you feel this program is conducive to selling books?

Jordan: All of my published novels except for one are on Kindle Unlimited.  It depends on the publisher’s rules, so I don’t have a say if they are or aren’t.  I do find it conducive, as someone who might not want to buy my ebook has the freedom to borrow it for “free.”  I’ve heard from quite a few people that they used Kindle Unlimited to read something I wrote.

Kaye: Do you use social media to promote your books? Which social media is your favorite for promotion and why?

Jordan: I use Facebook and Twitter.  In the past, I’ve found Facebook to be the best, but the world seems to be moving away from that.  I’ve had bad luck with my past few Facebook ads.  I’m going to try to utilize Twitter more and see how that goes.

Kaye: What type of marketing strategies have you tried with your books? What worked and what didn’t?

Jordan: I post on Facebook and Twitter, aim for one book signing a month, and take out ads.  The ad in BookBub was amazing.  I’ve also had good luck taking an ad out in Fussy Librarian.  The more reviews you have, the more people are excited to read your book, so I am always open to giving a blogger a book in exchange for an honest review.  That hasn’t always worked out in the past, as some bloggers will take a book and never read it.  Book review tours have never worked for me.  I’ve paid for multiple companies to send out my books to x-amount of reviewers.  Each time, I’ve only gotten a handful of reviews.  It hasn’t been worth the price.

Kaye: You have publishers for your books. How much non-writing work, (marketing & promotion, illustrations & book covers, etc…), do you do yourself?

Jordan: The publishers all take care of editing and book covers.  I do about 85% of my own marketing.  It takes a lot of time and effort, but I enjoy it.  It gets my face out there and helps me connect with my readers.

Kaye: You and I made a connection through a member of your street team, when I reviewed Escape From Witchwood Hollow, and I’ve been reviewing your books ever since. Could you explain what your street team does for you? How do you go about building a street team?

Jordan: My street team has actually disbanded, but I did have a street team for many years.  It started when a few girls told me they loved my books and asked me about the process.  When I told them how I’d gotten published and all the time spent on marketing, they asked if they could help out.  Of course!  They contacted reviewers for me to see if anyone would like to read one of my books in exchange for an honest review.  I had an awesome group of supporters and we had fun brainstorming new marketing ideas.

One girl dropped out of the street team to concentrate on going back to college and the other two started getting hate mail from reviewers because they felt that I should be the one contacting, not them.  I personally don’t see anything wrong with having someone else contact a blogger on your behalf, but I also see where it can become tricky.  You don’t always know if the personal contacting you is legitimate.

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

Jordan: Taking out ads and book signings.  In those cases, I know how many I sell.  I don’t know why people who buy my books on a day-to-day basis bought them.  Did someone tell them about the book?  Did they see it on Facebook?  At least when I see a jump in sales on the day an ad runs, I know it is because of the ad.

Kaye: How much work do you contract out? Book Covers? Editing? Marketing? Etc…?

Jordan: I don’t contract anything out.  Ah, if only I had that luxury!

Kaye: What kind of Chinese food do you order all the time?

Jordan: Peanut noodles are my favorite.  Oh, and Chinese donuts.  I eat the entire container in one sitting unless my husband grabs on first.

Kaye: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Jordan: Don’t give up, because you need to write for yourself.  Even if publishers aren’t biting, write because you love it.  Also, make sure to understand marketing is going to fall on you.  I was surprised and a little taken aback at first.  Authors need to realize that publishers have 100s of books out there.  They can’t donate 100% of their time on marketing your book.  You need to do your share of the legwork too.

I want to thank Jordan for joining us today and sharing her marketing experience with us. You can check out my reviews of Jordan’s books and anthologies in which her work appears by following the links below.

Reviews of Jordan Elizabeth Books:

Escape From Witchwood Hollow

Cogling

Treasure Darkly

Wicked Treasure

Victorian

The Goat Children

The Path to Old Talbot

Riders & Runners

Kistishi Island

Reviews of Short Story Collections from Curiosity Quills Press Featuring Jordan Elizabeth’s Short Fiction:

Chronology

Under A Brass Moon

Darkscapes

Be sure to check back next week for Part 4 of Book Marketing – What Works?, where I’ll interview a veteran author that has traveled both the traditional and self-publishing routes and will share what his learned about marketing after writing books for ten years, author Tim Baker. Don’t miss it!

 

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“Kistishi Island”: An Unbelievable YA Journey

Kistishi Island

I recently had the pleasure of reading Kistishi Island, by Jordan Elizabeth. This YA novel was a well-written story, with a plot that comes full circle. Although the names are a bit difficult to pronounce, the characters are interesting and likable, especially Corvo (goddess of crows, and Krieg, goddess of war). The main character, Serena, is portrayed to be a teenager with depth, but still a teen, and you won’t be able to help but like her.

When Serena talks to her imaginary friends, they just don’t feel imaginary. The kids at school taunt her and she winds up in trouble all the time. Her aunt thinks she’s crazy and wants to send her to an asylum, her mom is off on archaeological digs all the time and is never around, and her imaginary friends are the only friends she has.

What will happen if she learns her imaginary friends are really goddesses watching over her? We’re about to find out, when she runs away to the Island of Kistishi to find her mom, where the walls of the ruins suck you into underground dwellings and other people see her friends, too. Besides learning that her friends aren’t imaginary, Serena also learns that she is capable of depending on herself, and that she’s capable of having real friends.

This story is well-crafted and perfect for YA readers, (or older readers who secretly love YA stories but don’t want to admit it). It is a fun and exciting read. I give Kistishi Island four quills.

Four Quills3

 


“Wicked Treasure” is a Wicked Story

Wicked Treasure

Wicked Treasure, by Jordan Elizabeth is a read you won’t want to put down. Elizabeth captures the reader’s attention from the first page. It’s a truly enjoyable read. Wicked Treasure is the third novel in her Treasure Chronicle series. Preceding it are Treasure Darkly and Born of Treasure. As with all of Elizabeth’s YA steampunk romance novels, (including Runners and Riders, from her Return to Amston series). Wicked Treasure is an enticing adventure that leaves you wanting more.

Garth and Amethyst are thrown into sleuthing out a new mystery, when the kidnapping of their daughter  throws them onto the trail of a diabolical conspiracy of government cover up that threatens to rock the entire country. Exposing the cover up threatens to rock the very structure of the government, making all Treasures and Grishams dispensable liabilities and they find themselves in a race to save their own lives. Full of twists, turns and outright surprises, Wicked Treasure keeps readers guessing and pages turning.

Wicked Treasure is a well crafted YA steampunk novel, filled with suspense and intrigue, that holds readers’ interest from the very first page. I give it five quills.

Five Quills3


“The Path to Old Talbot”: A YA Novel That Deals With Tough Real Life Issues With Sensitivity

The Path to Old Talbot

The Path to Old Talbot, by Jordan Elizabeth appears on the surface to be a novel about a doorway leading to another time, and it is that. But it is also a story about how a young girl and her mother cope with her father’s mental illness. It’s a tough issue. What does a teen do when their parent has mental problems. It may be something that isn’t talked about, so the child or young adult must deal with it internally, not expressing their feelings outwardly. Our heroine, Charity, expresses her inner thoughts and feelings to the reader, even when they are thoughts and feelings she can’t express to friends or family, giving readers a unique insider’s view of a tough love scenario. It is a difficult issue and I give Jordan Elizabeth kudos for tackling it in a realistic, but sensitive manner.

When Charity and her mother discover a door to the past in their new home, they can hardly believe it, but they quickly take advantage of to make brief escapes from their own reality. But with each visit, it gets harder for Charity to leave her new found friends from the past to their fates, as she digs up the past in the present. But can the past really be changed or is it preordained?

The Path to Old Talbot is a well written and engaging story, perfect for today’s YA readers, who may be dealing with similar issues in their own lives, (mental illness, not time travel). 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.

 


“Runners & Riders”: Steampunk at it’s Best

runners-and-riders

Brass glass! Jordan Elizabeth has once again created an extremely well crafted steampunk romance in her latest addition to her Treasure Chronicles series. Runners & Riders is filled with mystery and intrigue, as well as plenty of steam powered gadgets and inventions that bogle the mind. Elizabeth captures the Victorian tone in every detail, taking readers of all ages on a steam powered journey that won’t soon be forgotten.

There’s an age old battle going on in New Addison City between Runners and Riders. A bored young Juliet Darcy finds herself smack dab in the middle of it all when she falls in with the notorious Runners, a brutal gang of thugs who take what they want, by force if necessary, terrorizing the city. Jonathan Montgomery is the newest young Rider, sworn to bring the Runners down after they murdered his parents when he was a child. Add an ancient mechanical princess who navigates the tunnels beneath the city with an agenda of her own and you have the makings of a great steampunk adventure.

Princess Arlene enlists the help of Juliet, who after being betrayed by the Runners, teams up with Jonathan to bring them down. But the Runners are ruthless, with little regard for anyone who stands in their way of their goals. Jonathan and Juliet risk it all to destroy the Runners and their merciless leader, but to do so, they must stay one step ahead in this deadly game.

Runners & Riders is well structured and full of surprises at every turn. I give it five quills.

Five Quills3

Kaye gives honest book reviews and she does not charge for them. If you have a book you would like reviewed contact Kaye at kayebooth[at]yahoo[dot]com


Pros and Cons of Traditional vs. Independent vs. Self-Publishing (Part 6): Interview with Independently Published YA Author, Jordan Elizabeth

jordan-elizabeth-books
Hello and welcome to Writing to be Read, where I am interviewing authors from the three models of publishing: traditional, independent and self-publishing, to explore the pros and cons of each. To date, we’ve heard from self-published authors Jeff Bowles, Tim Baker and Arthur Rosch, and with traditionally published authors, Stacia Deutsch and Mark Shaw.
This week , in part 5, we’ll hear from independently published YA author, Jordan Elizabeth, who publishes her steampunk novels, ghost stories and historical novels as well as several short stories, with Curiosity Quills Press. Jordan’s publishing credits, many of which I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing, include Escape from Witchwood Hollow, CoglingTreasure Darkly, Born of Treasure, The Goat Children, Victorian, Runners and Riders, and three short story anthologies, including Gears of Brass, Chronology, and Under a Brass Moon.
Kaye: When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Jordan: My fondest childhood memories involve making up stories into a tape recorder and having my maternal grandmother write them down. Authors have always been my role models. While others fawned over movie stars, I fawned over the authors of my favorite books. One of my favorite childhood authors was Bruce Coville, and a few years ago, I actually got to meet him!
Kaye: Would you share the story of how you ended up with Curiosity Quills Press?
Jordan: My critique partners have always meant a lot to me. I decided to compile an anthology – GEARS OF BRASS – with them in hopes of getting it published. One of my critique partners, Eliza Tilton, shared it with her publisher, Curiosity Quills Press. They accepted it and asked if I had any full length novels I could show them.
Kaye: What do you see as the pros and cons of independent publishing?
Jordan: The biggest con is the stigma. Many times I’ve had people tell me that going with an independent publisher is no better than self-publishing, (as if there is something wrong with that, too). At book signings, I’ve been asked who published my work. When I tell them, they’ll ask if it’s indie or traditional. These people will usually put my book down as if it is tainted.
The biggest pro is having a great, close-knit network. I know authors who have traditionally published and they’ve told me about long delays in questions being answered and feeling distant from the work force behind the book.
Kaye: You mentioned the stigma surrounding independent and self-publishing. What do you see as being the main cause of that stigma?
Jordan: I think the stigma comes from there being a lot of bad, self-published books.  I hate to say that, but I’ve seen them myself and people have told me this at signings.  There are some great self-published books out there…and then there are the books where the author published the first draft with no editing.  Here is my real world example – I met an amazing girl at a book event.  She wrote vampire erotica and I bought a copy of Book 1.  I asked her what she thought of the event and she told me her mom was making her do it.  She was mad that her books weren’t instant best sellers (I think we can all understand wanting our books to be loved by millions).  I asked her what her favorite writing websites were, and she told me doesn’t use things like that.  She doesn’t believe in editing because that just ruins the book.  After I read her story, it sorely needed some editing.  There were many typos, characters changed names and features, and there was no plot.  I could definitely see potential in it and you could tell that she loved the world she had created.  We kept in touch, and I offered to help her with Book 4.  She cut me out of her life then, but did get in touch a few years later to let me know she was quitting writing because of how many negative reviews she had received.  I still feel bad about that.  I hate to see anyone give up on a dream.
 
Kaye: What do you see as the pros and cons of traditional publishing?
Jordan: I haven’t worked with a traditional publisher yet, so this is hard for me to answer from a personal standpoint. I will say that I’ve heard from author friends, traditional publishers push the big authors and tend to let the smaller, new authors flounder.
As a pro, bookstores are more apt to carry a traditionally published book. Magazines and newspapers are more apt to run a feature on the book. More people know your name.
Kaye: How much non-writing work, (marketing & promotion, illustrations, book covers, etc…) do you do yourself, for your books?
Jordan: The publisher handles the book covers and editing, however the marketing and promotion falls to me. Curiosity Quills does do a little. I am in charge of my own cover reveals and blog tours. I seek out bloggers asking for read-and-reviews (my street team is a great resource and helps me out a lot with that). I try to spend at least an hour every night on marketing.
Kaye: You mentioned your street team, which is in fact, how I ended up reviewing Escape from Witchwood Hollow back in Februaryand meeting you via internet. I’ve been reviewing your books and other authors you’ve sent me ever since. Could you talk a little about your street team to let my readers know who and what they are?
 Jordan: I have a street team of 3 women who got in touch with me after reading my first book.  They said they loved the story and were excited that it takes place in a local setting (although names are changed to protect the innocent – and of course there is no cursed hollow), so they asked what they could do to help with promotions  Currently they are helping me to find new readers.  I don’t mind giving out review copies – I just want to share the story with the world, no matter how cheesy that sounds.  They also let me know if they find any coll websites to advertise on and I love getting book recommendations from them.
Kaye: Would you recommend independent publishing as a good path to publication for emerging writers?
Jordan: I would. I feel like going with an independent publisher has helped me to understand the publishing world. I know what makes my website pop, I know what online magazines to advertise in, and I’ve made amazing connections. In the future, I hope to be traditionally published, but I’ll never forget where I got my start.
I want to thank Jordan for sharing with us here on Writing to be Read. You can learn more about Jordan and her published works at www.jordanelizabethmierek.com. Be sure and catch next week’s interview with an author who has published work under all three models, middle grade author, Nancy Oswald. It should prove to be very interesting.
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