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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Patrick Dati

An Interview

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Patrick Dati. My heart started to pound, the tears threatened to escape, and my questions got lodged in my throat.

What an amazing survivor. His recounting of the events that changed his life were matter of fact and slightly detached. I could only wonder whether or not I would have the courage to stand up and speak out if something so tramatic had ever happened to me. The strength and the courage that would take would destroy a weaker person.

But Patrick is not weak nor is he going away quietly. His message is clear: stop bullying, become aware of what is happening around you and don't let your fear and shame get in the way of telling someone what happened to you.

Read my entire blog @ www.venturegalleries.com

And visit Patrick's website to find out more @ www.youandmecanstopbullies.com

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Venture Galleries

Marketing

I am proud to announce that I will be working closely with Venture Galleries, a small publishing and marketing company, to promote my books.

I met Caleb Pirtle at the Giddings, Texas book signing I recently went to and was impressed with his professionalism and his goals for my books.

As part of my requirements, I will be writing a blog once a week on their site that will address teenage topics and other book related ideas. I'm excited to be entering into this new phase of writing and hope to continue getting my books more exposure.

The great news is that he is looking for new authors right now, so if you are interested in joining the team, now is the time to do it.

You can find more information on Venture Galleries at their website here. http://venturegalleries.com/

As always, I will continue to post blogs here as well in order to help with publishing and editing those books you keep sending me!

MG Villesca

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Finding Time To Write

At the Texas Word Wrangler Festival, I had the opportunity to talk with fellow writers, and I had one questions that I really wanted to ask them:

When do you find the time to write?

Answers varied from making the time on Sundays to scribbling something down during work to taking a notebook into the restroom and hiding.

I teach so, unfortunately, I can't write at school. I have 45 minutes in each class period to teach what I can. It's not enough time to do anything extra. I can't see myself using the restroom and writing at the same time and my Sundays are filled with softball tournaments, games, washing dishes and family time.

I also found out that most of the writers at the festival happened to be retired. I look forward to the day in which my only job is to write and devote my time to my novels but right now, I have to STEAL time.

I stay up late at night, I take my lunches in my classroom, I take what I can and still a week will race passed me with nothing to show for it. It is frustrating me to no end. I have four children who require me to be the taxi, the cook, the secretary, the bank and the nurse just to name a few.

I sit here with guilt heavily weighing down on my heart because I'm typing this blog instead of typing my novel or editing or marketing....but I had to let out my frustration.

I heard someone say once that frustration can be eased through writing - we will see in five minutes if that's true.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Giddings Texas Word Wrangler Festival

Recently, my husband and I went to Giddings, Texas for a book signing. I wasn't sure what to expect but I knew that I would use the experience as a learning tool. Being able to look at other author's tables and books was an exciting experience.

But the one thing that stood out last Friday was the people of their community and the volunteers in the library. It was an amazing sight to hear the people talk of their town in such a loving way. True small town values were present not only in the adults that visited but also in the students from their schools.

My husband and I left town with renewed faith in people and their compassion and want to do good for others. We truly felt like part of their family if only for a little while or at least until next year came around and we could go again.

If you have the chance to be a part of that festival, you should do what you can to attend. We sold our books, made wonderful friends, and were a part of something that will stay with us for a long long time.

Thank you Giddings Public Library.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Melva Henderson

Melva Henderson

When I first came into the publishing and writing scene, this wonderful individual was a shining light in the chaotic abyss. She quickly and efficiently answered my questions on different sites such as CreateSpace, Shelfari, and Goodreads (even though she didn't know me).
It was a pleasure interviewing her and learning that we have many thoughts and ideas in common.
Thank you Melva for sharing your experiences and knowledge.


1. Where do you get your ideas?
Maggie: The Early YearsI normally get my ideas from things in my life or from the lives of others.  An idea might come from something I see on the news, in a magazine, or from events described by friends or family.  Ideas might come from childhood memories.  Some might come from dreams, whether sleeping or daydreaming.  For me, sometimes ideas can just pop into my mind as a visual picture.

2. When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?
I knew I wanted to write in grammar school.  I became responsible for the care of my three younger brothers at the age of 9 while my mother worked.  I began babysitting other children at that time as well, and my brothers and the children I sat with enjoyed the impromptu stories I made up on the spur of the moment in order to entertain them.  It was lonely during the winter months because we lived so far from town.  A wad of modeling clay or a pad of paper and crayons became my mode of entertainment.  I enjoyed art, and a story might go along with my drawings as a child.  I was always accused of having a rather vivid imagination, and storytelling became second nature.

3. What’s the most critical step when you go from an idea to a book?
The most critical step for me is getting the idea down on paper.  I’m not like the conventional writer; I merely begin to write without ever making an outline.

4. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?  
The advice I would give to aspiring authors is to write every day, whether they are working on a novel, short stories, poetry, story ideas, bits and quips of nothing, or writing in a daily journal.  It makes no difference what they write; they just need to put the words to paper or type thoughts or ideas using the keyboard each and every day.  Write, write, write.

5. Did you go through self-publishing or a traditional publisher? What is better? 
I went through self-publishing after years of frustration with enough rejection letters from traditional publishers to fill a landfill.   Attempting to engage an agent was equally as frustrating.  If you aren’t a published author an agent wants no part of you, and so with traditional publishers.

Red Sky (Sequel to Maggie)6. What is the biggest misconception about being a writer?
The biggest misconception about being a writer is the concept that a writer is an outgoing, social individual who makes wads of money through their craft.   To be a writer often requires a degree of isolation, and the monetary returns are far less than one would earn in any other endeavor taking half as long to accomplish.

7. What did you do before you became a writer?  
Before I became a writer I worked as an instructor for developmentally challenged adults, which was a very rewarding experience.  Before that I worked with my husband for eighteen years as his mechanic’s helper and bookkeeper for his heavy duty Detroit Diesel engine repair service.

8. Do you plot out your novel or do you just go with the flow?
I don’t plot out my novels.  The novel seems to write itself, flowing from my mind through my fingers onto the keyboard.

9. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I hear from friends who are my readers, but seldom hear from the readers outside of my circle of friends.  Those outside of my circle of friends have commented on my writing style on occasion as being easily read and they find they lose themselves within the story.  A write hopes to invoke an emotional response from their readers, and several of my readers have commented that my writing has accomplished that.  If a writer can rouse a reader’s emotions, they have accomplished the feat in essence of touching their reader’s soul.

10. What do you think makes a good story? 
Return Of The Trogon (Sequel to Red Sky)I think the thing that makes a story good is when the story lingers with the reader long after they have put it down.  If the story leaves the reader with a sense of having been a part of the story somehow, the writer has accomplished conveying their message and the story has seen success.

11. What’s next? 
I have numerous stories still in the works at different stages of development.  Next?  That depends on the day.  Tomorrow the goal might be different.  Next in line is always writing, no matter what it is I am writing.  Right now I am in the process of compiling a collection of short stories, and working on several novels I would like to complete for publication in the future.

For more on Melva Henderson or to order her books, please visit:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Upcoming Release

I've had an overwhelming request for a sequel to the book Getting ME Back. Because of this, I've decided to start writing that in November after the release of book #3 The Truth About ME.

It has been a real pleasure reading the reviews (some good and some bad) for the last two books and a special thank you goes out to those who've contacted me on my Facebook page as well as through my website.

The Truth About ME is taking longer than we expected simply because it has been harder to write. Sexual molestation is hard to read and harder to write but I am trying to do Julie justice by spending a longer time telling her story. I think my readers will appreciate all the work.

Thanks again to all my readers for sticking with me.

MG Villesca

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Query Letters

I've been diligently rewriting my query letter simply in the quest to fulfill a dream of taking the series into a new level and trying to grab the attention of a larger publishing company.

I know every author reading this blog is looking, praying, and hoping to land that wonderful contract in which you receive $100,000 bucks, outrageous media coverage, and a spot on the New York Times Best Seller List.

Well, most of those authors on the best seller list have been through the chaotic uncertainty of creating a query letter.

In my quest to include the right things in my letter. I realized that there are many people who differ on what exactly should be included in a query letter. Therefore, I've taken the plunge and decided to post my query letter in the hopes to help others, glean something from my mistakes from the followers, and find those brutally honest readers as they tear my query letter apart.

So Here Goes!

Dear Agent,

Linda Balle, a self-conscious teenage cheerleader, must find the courage to get her life back after a tumultuous relationship with Victor Balentez results in her date rape and the death of her best friend, Lucas Castaneda. Following a lengthy, heart-breaking trial full of lies and shame, Linda runs from her friends, her family and her life to finish high school in a town far away from her pain.

Five years later, after years of plastic surgery and seclusion, Linda is summoned back to the small Texas town. In court, she has the opportunity to overcome her shame and tell the truth—to make sure the very person who dominated her high school years and tore her life apart stays in prison.

She must make the decision to continue to run from her fears or to face her demons.

Standing patiently in the side lines, Jack Santiago, an often over-looked friend, weaves an intricate web of love Linda can’t seem to avoid—but will Victor be able to let Linda live a life without him?

GETTING ME BACK, a 102,000 word young adult novel, is written as a first-person point of view narrative with excerpts from Linda’s diary.

This is the second installment of The ME Series, but each novel can stand alone even though the characters intertwine.

The Bully in ME, released in May 2010, tackles bullying, death and suicides. The Truth About ME, a novel regarding self-confidence and shattered home life issues is set to release August 2011. Drawing on my own life experience and working as a teacher in middle school have given me a rare insight into the issue surrounding our youth today and the ability to write in language relevant to today’s youth.  

I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you for your time.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

10 More Tips

I promised to have 10 more tips and although they are a little late . . . here they are.

1. Write - You should write at least 30 minutes a day. Do whatever it takes to accomplish this goal. If you don't write everyday, you will never finish. Writing a novel is a great accomplishment even if you only sell a few books. Only someone who's written a book realizes the time and effort put in to the project.

2. Don't Edit - Now, before you go crazy - I mean - don't edit until you finish. I can't say it enough - finish your book. Many writers will write a few pages then go back every time they write and change and change and change things. Don't do that. Finish the book. Believe me, the editing process is long and extensive.

3. Read - Many great authors are avid readers. When I finished my first book, I started to read and view books in a different light. I noticed scenes, dialogue, plot, and chapter structure. Read books from authors you want to be like. Think about their writing styles, word usage, and word choice. Why do you like their books? What makes them different or stand out?

4. Save Your Files  - a few months back when I finished my book, I saved my copy on a USB memory stick. Unfortunately, my file became corrupted and I lost the file. Luckily for me, I continually saved my files in different places so I was able to go back and find the most current file but I lost about a months worth of work.

5. Write What You Know - I'm a teacher, a mom, a wife, and a writer. My array of subjects should be based on my experiences. I should not (nor would I ever) write about decorating or gardening. My skills on those subjects are atrocious and I have NO business writing about a subject in which I have no interest or skill.

6. Start Promoting - I know you think it's crazy to start promoting before you finish the book but you really do have to get your name out there and some kind of following. I'm still working on that and I've already written some books. Start a blog, promote yourself, get your name out there.

7. Write Where You're Comfortable - I have to write when my kids and husband are asleep. I find comfort with a warm cup of coffee, my laptop, and my characters. I've read that some people rent a hotel room, or go to their beach house, or close themselves off in a room in their house. I don't have the luxury of a beach house so I have to settle for my living room. Luckily, I'm a night owl.

8. Website - Get a website and get your name and your book out there. Offer advice or something else. If you're writing a book on gardening, offer seasonal tips or the best places to get plants. Anything you can do to get people to your site the better.

9. Brainstorm - My editor and I have had a few dinners in which we hash out all the details and ideas. It's great to have someone who knows the story line and where you're going with the book. It's a way to get a second opinion and get some great ideas that you'd never think about without going over it.

10. Join Writer's Groups - Get to know other authors. Networking and asking questions will help you in the long run. I've had several authors call me to pick my brain and I've gladly picked right back. Shelfari, Goodreads, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter are all great tools to start your networking.

Let me know if you have any more tips. I'm sure the readers would find them interesting and insightful.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tarrant Smith

Tarrant Smith Interview - The Darkly Series 

Cover for 'Bound Darkly'Throughout the chaotic realm of publishing black holes, I have frequently found myself relying on Tarrant Smith for her insights in marketing and technical issues. She has a strong and varied following as well as an abundant wealth of knowledge. Tarrant has also agreed to giveaway one signed copy of Bound Darkly (Book 2 of the Darkly Series) to the winner of my choice (which I will take from my followers).

I was excited when she agreed to be interviewed. This is what she had to say . . .

Where do you get your ideas?

Let me first say, my preferred genre is romance. And although all good stories must have well-rounded characters, in a romance the entire plot of a story hinges on the interaction between the hero and heroine. So my writing process begins with creating a hero and heroine that I can get excited about, characters I want to live with for the next year. For me the old rule of “you write what you know” is true. My character ideas begin with the real people who have moved through my life. Once I have established the emotional inner-workings of my characters, both fey and human, I then rely on my knowledge of folklore, the laws of magick, and relationship dynamics to weave a compelling story line.

When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

I realized I wanted to be a writer while in college. I have to give my English literature professor credit for opening that creative door. She saw a glimmer of skill in my papers and encouraged it.  Sometimes you don’t see the talent in yourself until someone points it out.

What’s the most critical step when you go from an idea to a book?

I know a lot of authors who outline their ideas in order to judge whether or not it has enough substance to be a full-length book. I don’t outline or plot chapters. Instead I have a compelling beginning scene which establishes a conflict. This, for me, is critical. If I’m lucky, I also have a twist in mind that will complicate the relationship between the hero and heroine. Then I simply write. The process of writing is definitely critical to the idea developing into a book. Like the reader, I don’t know how the story will end until the characters tell me.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Seek out other aspiring authors who are serious about their writing. Creativity and growth is infectious. The only other advice I would give is… discover your vision, your unique voice and then stick to it.

Did you go through self-publishing or a traditional publisher? What is better?

I first tried traditional publishing. I sent queries, submitted chapters and synopsis. But after receiving many, many positively worded rejections, I investigated Ebooks and print on demand (POD). After embarking into the world of self-publishing, I unexpectedly received the coveted publisher’s contract that I had been seeking earlier. It came from a small publisher, but it was very gratifying—a kind of validation from the traditional publishing world. After doing some soul-searching and the nuts and bolts math, I declined it. Keeping creative control of my vision for the Darkly Series was more important than the validation, and in the long run, more profitable than handing my rights over to a publisher.

What is the biggest misconception about being a writer?

The biggest misconception is that writing is romantic and that advances and royalties support us. Most writers have a job and write, rewrite, and edit in their spare time. Its hard work filled with doubt and soul-mining.

Cover for 'Enchanted Darkly'What did you do before you became a writer?

What haven’t I done! I’ve been a retail manager, dog trainer, checkout clerk, horse trainer and breeder, bookstore clerk, sous chef, waitress, baker, photo lab owner, photographer, website designer, magazine publisher and staff writer, graphic designer, pet-sitter, and yoga instructor. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few.

Do you plot out your novel or do you just go with the flow?

It’s a combination of both. I went with the flow for the first book, which provided me with a jumping off point for the second book. A friend suggested using political intrigue as a backdrop for Bound Darkly. By the time I finished book two, I realized that my subconscious had been working on a larger story line for this series. Suddenly I had plot points that I had to accomplish within the next three books. Not wanting to forget a single detail, I loosely outlined the bigger story.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I hear from reader quite often. I write about the small town I live in, so someone usually comes up to me in the local coffee shop to ask a question, or say something about the book they just finished. The most asked question I get is whether or not I’m empathic like Jennifer Mackell in Enchanted Darkly. My answer depends on whether an honest answer would make them uncomfortable.

What do you think makes a good story?

If a reader is still thinking about a story long after the last page of the book has been read, then it is a good story and one worth telling. Several ingredients contribute to a story having this kind of power; archetypal characters that resonate with the reader, surprising twists that capture a reader’s imagination, and conflicting truths that might challenge a reader’s preconceived ideas. Any number of stories contain one or more of these elements, but a really good story contain all three.

What’s next?

Well, right now I’m finishing the draft on Kept Darkly, book three in the Darkly Series. Its release date is set for the spring of this year. I’ve already started the beginning scenes in Surrendered Darkly, book four, which I am very excited about. For the present, this steamy paranormal romance series has my full attention. But, like any busy author, I do have other project ideas in the wings just waiting to be developed.

For More Information on Tarrant Smith and The Darkly Series - Visit her site
www.tarrantsmith.webs.com/

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Important Tips For A Writer

SOME Tips - By No Means All!
At my last book signing, I was approached by several writers who asked me to tell them the number one tip when writing a book. Unfortunately, I couldn't answer their question.
I couldn't narrow it down to just one. Sure I could’ve said something like, “Finish your book” or “Don’t give up” or something they’d probably heard a million times but I don’t think that was what they were looking for, so I promised them a list instead.

I will list 10 here and add more next week.

1.  Conflict - Something or someone has to have a problem that needs to be resolved. This keeps   the reader interested and is vital to the plot.

2. Setting - Let the reader know where the story is taking place. Using their prior knowledge about a particular place will help the reader picture their surroundings as they read.

3. Character Development - Make sure your characters stay the same - you don't want to   introduce a character as being polite and well-mannered and then have them yell at a waiter - unless of course it's part of the story line. You want the characters to be real in the eyes of the reader. Someone they can relate to or someone that reminds them of someone they know or knew. Also, make your characters more than one-dimensional.  Give them thoughts, emotions, ideals, and opinions.

4. Interest - Because we are self-published authors, we don't have the luxury of waiting for something interesting to happen halfway through the book. You've got to catch the attention of the readers, agents, or publishers.

5. Use Figurative Language - In my first book, I was writing for a YA audience particularly for boys. I didn't want to bore them or scare them away from the book so I felt like I had to "dumb it down." I wish I could write that book again. It's important to use words that create imagery and voice. If you want to describe a car crash - like in my second book - don't just say the car hit the pole or something ridiculous like that. Where were you  driving? Who did you pass? Were you speeding, swerving, looking at your phone? What was the character thinking? These are details that readers want to know - they really do.  Include it.

6. Dialogue - When you write dialogue, write like someone would talk. Most people don't go around talking in complete sentences. They use lots of slang, contractions, and don't go through a long diatribe. Break it up into shorter passages when a character is long winded. Give your character some action in-between his/her dialogue. Sighing, pacing, running her fingers through her hair, etc.

7. Verb Tense - I wasn’t aware of how important my verb tenses were. I ended up having to go back in and change tense for 15 chapters. If you’re writing about something that happened in the past - stick to past tense verbs. I went from Present to Past to Present. It was hard to do but not as hard as going through and changing 15 chapters. Learn your lesson.

8. Dialogue Tags - I know you’re probably sick of writing he said or she said. I like to change it up and give the character action before he says something so that I’m not constantly saying that word. I’ve read many opinions on this though and it seems that some authors will use said instead of anything else because they want the reader to focus on the dialogue. I personally like to change it up. I think it makes things more interesting.

9. Metaphors and Simile and Idioms- I know I said figurative language before but using these literary sentences do give your writing more depth and voice. Even if they are some you’ve heard before or read somewhere, use them.

10. Outline - I know I recently said that I don’t do outlines at the beginning of my writing but I’ve found myself creating one at some point during the novel’s creation. It really does help - even if it’s not detailed or long. Organization is important. This also helps to give you ideas on what you can add or take out.

I will add ten more next week.
Thanks to those of you submitting comments, sending me emails, and reading my blog.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Writer's Block

I don't know about you but I get writer's block every now and then. I seem to have a bad case of it right now. Sometimes I can sit down and write until my eyes start to droop but other's - well, I've found out that I can stare at a blank screen for hours....

Some authors tell me they reread their last few pages and inspiration hits them, others tell me there's no cure. I happen to think it's something in the middle. I had a dream a few months ago that ended my last bout of writer's block. Maybe because subconsciously it had been on my mind. All I know is that it worked.

Come on dreams!

What do you do for writer's block? What advise can you add to our small but important member list?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Book Cover Design

How Do I Decide On A Book Cover?

Now that you have a completed your copyright page, purchased an ISBN, and an editor (along with several other trusted people) have gone over your manuscript with a fine tooth comb, it’s time for you to consider your cover.
This, in my humble opinion is the most important part of your book. The front cover is the first thing a reader or interested buyer will look at. If it looks cheesy or unprofessional – no one’s going to look twice at it. Remember that most buyers only take 2-3 seconds when their scrolling down a long list of possible purchases. It’s not a lot of time to make a sale.

I did a small survey when I was working on my book covers. I, fortunately, had someone I hired to give me more than one cover. He was awesome and I will continue to use him as the designer. I wanted the cover to look professional, clean, and catchy.

I placed three possible covers in front of students, teachers, and librarians and asked them which one looked better. Which one caught their attention and asked them why. Many chose for color, picture on the front, title of the book, whether the cover had too much or too little, some even complained about the font.

I finally went with the cover that didn't show a full face. Have you ever read a book and then went to see a movie? Most times you don't agree with what the producer's vision is when selecting a character. Same with covers. If you give them a person to focus on when they are reading they will not be able to use their own imagination when reading the book. This is what my students have told me anyway.

I also realized (and later found several articles) that found that drawn or painted book covers are often overlooked especially by young adult fiction readers.

If you’re creating a book cover on your own, make sure you do your homework and have a professional program like Photoshop, InDesign, or find a program online you like. There are several available for free.

Go to the nearest bookstore, library, or browse through the books you’ve purchased and analyze books that are in your genre. Think about what it is that catches your eyes and draws your gaze to that particular cover. Take a look at the best selling books as well. Is it the font? The colors? The picture? What is it about the cover that made you look twice?

Also, be sure to follow the requirements set out by the publisher. Their printers will have specific specs that you need to follow. Many will have a template. I would download it and use it as a guide. Just be sure to delete the lines before you save for publication or they will print. Happened to one of my friends. Not a good thing.

I am interested to know what you, as the readers, have to say about cover design and programs. Post a comment for others or questions if you have any.

By the way, if you want a quote for cover design, shoot me an email and I will forward it to the right person.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Copyright Page and LCCN

Getting the Copyright Page Right.

My apologies to my new readers, I typically post every Sunday but I was unable to rid myself of the migraine that penetrated my brain this week. Finally it has let up enough to think - enough of that and on to more important information.

The Preassigned Control Number (PCN) program assigns a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) to titles most likely to be acquired by the Library of Congress as well as some other categories of books. An LCCN is a control number for the bibliographical record not the book record. The PCN number is a preassigned number given to work that has not been published yet. For a detailed explanation about PCN and LCCN, visit their site. Library of Congress.

Is an LCCN Important?

Absolutely. You’re going to see, in your search for the truth, acronyms like CIP, PCN, PCIP, EAN, BIP, etc. It's important to know and be able to distinguish which number(s) you must have on your copyright page. You want to register and apply at the Library of Congress for a number in advance so that you aren’t waiting for weeks to publish your book. In my case they gave me a number the same day but I’ve heard of nightmare stories where it’s taken weeks. Be prepared.

Along with all those important LCCN, ISBN and CIP numbers, you should also have a disclaimer, website, and publishing information in your copyright page. I also added important information like book, cover, and editor information.

In order not to mess up my beautifully constructed masterpiece with a copyright page full of errors, I went to the local library and checked out various books. I wanted to see what professional copyright pages looked like and I focused on copyright pages from books that were close to my genre. You can take a look at mine when you see the look inside feature on Amazon.

Don’t just look at one book either. Take a look at several and see which one fits your book and your message. Also, make sure you add your summary. In our library the first thing the librarian does when showing students a book is that summary in the copyright page. Make it interesting - something that’s going to grab the reader’s attention.

The copyright page should be a smaller font as well. Take your time on this and make it look professional.
  

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Getting and Understanding an ISBN

ISBN

When I first started writing, I had no idea there were ISBNs and LCCNs and all those other acronyms I've encountered. Feels a little like the military but here's the low down on ISBN.

First of all, ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. This unique number identifies the book's language or country, the publisher and the title. It comes in a ten-digit or thirteen digit format. The last number in the ISBN is called a Check Digit - they get this number by adding or subtracting or multipying all the other numbers to check for accuracy. If you want to go into all the fine little details, feel free to look it up. Wikipedia has a good explanation.

The book's ISBN is important because it allows libraries, booksellers, and universities the ablility to easily find a specific title. ISBNs are sold in bulks of 1, 100, or 1000. You can get one ISBN for about $150 or ten for $250. If you're publishing one book and you'll never write another book or have it made into a kindle or audio, then purchase one. However, I would advise you to buy ten. Simply because it's cheaper per ISBN if you buy in bulk.

Go through the Bowker site and set up an account. There are other sites who handle ISBNs but I feel safer going to them. They will assign you an account where you can register each ISBN.
The most frequently asked questions is - Do I need a seperate ISBN for audio, e-book, or other format? The answer is yes. When you assign an ISBN to your book and you decide to create an audio book or an e-book, you have to get another ISBN. It's fairly easy to assign the ISBN.

If you publish through CreateSpace, you have the option of getting your own ISBN or they can assign one to you. But if you decide to publish somewhere else then you can't take that ISBN with you. It's easier to get your own but if money is tight then use theirs.

Bowker will give you a barcode but CS will put one on the back of the book for you so will other self-publishing companies. There are also online sites that will create a barcode for you for free.

Be sure to list your ISBN on the copyright page in your book.

Be sure to come back next week when we discuss the LCCN and your copyright page. Also, check out the new author interview page.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Doug Hiser - Interview

Author Interview Featuring Doug Hiser

A few years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Doug Hiser during our teacher certification courses. He had already written several books and was (and continues to be) very passionate about the art of writing, creating, and illustrating. He has accomplished so many goals that I thought it only fitting he would be featured first.
This is what he had to say. . .

  1. Where do you get your ideas?   My imagination is filled with stories and images and if I had the time I could write hundreds of books.  I am also a professional wildlife artist and painting takes away half of my writing time.  I balance the two fields of creativity.  Sometimes I dream stories and parts of novels, actually when I was writing Montana Mist, my new novel out on January 19th on amazon.com, I dreamed the entire final hundred pages, woke up and wrote all day long finishing it that night.
  2. When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer? When I was 17 I read Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne and fell in love with "cool" sentences.  I wrote a terrible first book when I was 18 and it still sits in a box, still terrible.  I began writing poetry and then again at 26 I wrote my second novel, which sat around until 2001 when I did a total rewrite and published it in 2002, Cavern of the Eggstone, a fantasy Young Adult novel.
  3. What’s the most critical step when you go from an idea to a book? "Critical"  well Critical would be writing that idea down on paper.  You might not get to start right away and then years later you come back and find it written down and BAM -NOW you're ready to write it.  Happened to me with my novel, The Midnight Jungle, which I just finished the first draft this May 2010.  I wrote most of that idea back in 2004, sat it aside, wrote 2 other novels, picked it back up in 2010 and finished it.
  4. What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Join a critique group, join a writer's league or group, hang around writers, poets, artists, film makers, creative people and just soak up everyone's enthusiasm about the creative process.  Find your passion.  Don't write about stuff you know nothing about.  Write about what interests you.  That intense passion always shows through in your writing.
  5. Did you go through self-publishing or a traditional publisher? What is better? Both.  POD too.  I actually like POD for so many reasons and especially because you keep almost half the profits off each book sold.
  6. What is the biggest misconception about being a writer? Most people think every writer makes millions of dollars and that writers are all reclusive introverts.  Only a very few writers make millions.  I make much more now than when I first started turning out books, but it took a while to get a reputation and a following.  I am NOT an introvert but an outgoing intense people person.
  7. What did you do before you became a writer? I'm an art teacher and a soccer coach.  I am first a professional wildlife artist and a conservationist.  I've been creating art long before I ever took writing seriously.
  8. Do you plot out your novel or do you just go with the flow? I have never plotted any of my 18 books.  I have the inkling of a mood or an idea and I just let my characters go with me following them like watching a movie in my head.  When I first start I don't even know what genre it will turn out to be, no wonder I have a thriller/mystery novel, 2 fantasies, a love story-coming of age novel, a nature-love triangle- adventure novel, and so on...
  9. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? Oh yes, all the time and I love every email.  Most respond to my bestseller, The Honey Bee Girl, because love stories always touch people in their hearts and in their memories.  I have a website, https://webmail.brazosportisd.net/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.Art-Escape.com, and also I send out a newsletter featuring my artwork, writing news, speaking engagements and more.  I get all kinds of requests and comments.  I have readers all over the USA, Canada, a big group in Bombay, India, New Zealand, Denmark, Germany, and probably many other places.
  10. What do you think makes a good story? "Conflict"  Emotion, "voice" mystery.
  11. What’s next? Well, let's see, more art shows this year coming up.  Montana Mist (Winter of the White Wolf) my 2011 novel is on sale on Jan 19th with my worldwide book launch to drive it to number one on amazon.com  Go online and get your copy on the 19th.  Watch the movie trailer here:  https://webmail.brazosportisd.net/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDLXoHyCWHQ  I have two finished novels ready to follow in the next couple of years, thriller mystery-The Texas Sugar Pussy Kat Murders, and my epic massive huge awesome fantasy, The Midnight Jungle.  This summer I will start working again on a novel I started last summer about the tribe of very small prehistoric people that inhabited the islands of Komodo.  The komodo monitor lizards were the largest predators on the islands, still are today, but the people were only about three feet tall according to National Geographic explorers.  My novel follows the life of one of the small people, a shark hunter, as he struggles to survive, exiled from his own people, in love with the girl he can never have and taming the wild pygmy elephants that were also once roaming those islands, now extinct like the tiny tribe of those lost people.
Thanks Doug!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Okay, I've Finished My Novel: Now what? Editing!

You've probably heard (more than a few times) that you need an editor. Well, you're going to hear it again.

Nothing kills interest more than a novel full of errors. Errors make the reader stumble through a passage, pauses or stops the flow, and causes repeated reading of a sentence. If your first chapter is full of them, interest wanes and most readers (like myself) will stop reading the book. Maybe you're thinking that it's okay because the person's already bought the book but in reality word-of-mouth advertisement is golden.

So, once you're done writing your masterpiece, find an editor. I don't mean find a friend or a family member or a person who likes to read. I mean find an editor. Someone who will go through your book and know the ins and outs of grammatical rules. I have an English degree. I teach grammar and writing and I'm ashamed to say that I had so many errors in my first book that I seriously wondered if I knew anything about grammar.

But if you're like me, you write without thinking. You just write.

It's okay to write and get your next best-selling novel out of your head. It's important for you to focus on the creative aspects and worry about all the little things after you've got the book complete.
Writing for me, as I've said before, was the easy part. Editing and revising is a tedious, horrible, and consuming job - but one that has to be done.

I was blessed to have an editor that really knew what she was doing. I'll give you her email address at the bottom of the post but I can't stress enough to find someone who knows editing.

After you find an editor and he/she rifles through your novel with a fine tooth comb, find someone else. Now you can go to those friends and family who are willing to give you honest and sometimes brutal advice on structure and plot. Have them look for errors at the same time because editors are human and they will miss a few things. The more people who've checked your novel before it goes into print - the better. I gave my novel to several people and they found a major error that would have really hurt had it gotten published.

Beg and plead to those around you to help you read through your novel. Buy them something nice, make them dinner, put their names on the acknowledgements page - anything it takes.

Here at Greli Publishing we have a wonderful editor. You can reach her at skinney@grelibooks.com. Send her a brief summary, number of words, and expected publishing date. She will send you a price.

Be sure to come back next week when we cover ISBNs.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

First Things First

First and foremost.

I've been reading through countless emails that have suggested coming up with a book idea without writing the book . . . then submitting this to agents and publishers. I personally couldn't conceive of doing this. Getting plot, structure, characterization, and dialogue correctly is something you can't just create in a matter of days. Writing isn't easy regardless of what you say or other's say. It takes so much time and effort to create a book. Those of you who have completed your book - my hats off to you.

Finish the book. Finish the book. During my book signings, I can't count the number of people who have come up to me to tell me they've been writing a book for years but haven't finished.

If you're like my friends, you generally put the book down then come back to it for a few days eager to start. After a few days you toss it into your very own little slush pile for a few months. When you decide to come back you go to the beginning and make changes without ever finishing the book. It becomes a merry-go-round circus in which you tell yourself next week is that day when I start (in earnest) on the book.

It doesn't work. Finish the book!
No more excuses, no more changes! Finish the book!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Learning To Blog

This is my first post.

I've been told that blogs are a sort of journal so I will start by saying that I'm excited to share my novel writing, creative outlets and frustrations that come along with publishing a book.
So Here Goes:
When I first started to write I wrote without thinking about my commas, verb tenses, dialogue tags, orphans and widows.
I just wrote.
I enjoyed it—that is until I finished writing the book. Shocked and excited, I ran around my house like a crazy person. Never had I imagined that the real hard work lay ahead.

After many weeks of research on the subject I had written about, I decided to create my own publishing company as well as self-publish my book. For anyone who has ever attempted this, this is no easy feat, regardless of who you are and how much time you truly have—this is not an easy thing to do.

But me, in my wisdom, thought I could do it. Others had so why couldn’t I? I worked up a market plan (which is a necessity) and started on this hectic, frantic yellow brick road to insanity. What I learned on this never ending road, I will share with you.