Saturday, July 30, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
The Road Less Taken
Every so often the subject of why I choose to self-publish comes up. There are those who say such a road is foolish and only taken by those who can't endure the rigors of traditional publishing. There are those who say self-publishing is "vanity" and that those who take it are just not willing to work hard enough to get their work "really published." They complain that self-published work is riddled with mistakes, of poor quality, and not worth the time and money to read.
I suppose all of those could be true for some, but for me, I did not choose this road lightly. I did not go into it thinking it would be a one-way ticket to fame and fortune. As a former high school English teacher, I did not blithely think I would skim through the work once, throw it together, and put it out. I knew very well what went into making a manuscript print ready, and I had the skills to do so.
In fact, I have helped several other authors to become traditionally published, so it's not like I couldn't get my writing to fit inside the box traditionals want you to be in. However, for me, it's not about fitting into someone else's box. I'm not particularly worried about the money--if it comes, great; if not, that's not why I write anyway. I have no need to "prove" myself to anyone. I simply love to write. I love to write what I write and how I write it, and because of self-publishing, I've found many readers who love the way I write too.
Four Reasons I Choose To Self-Publish
One. My work is my work. I like my voice--the way I write and how I write it. I like the freedom to be able to explore issues that traditional publishers shy away from. I love to write characters who are lost spiritually and then brought back into the embrace of God. Often the traditional publishing route for a first-time author is to go through the lines, which is great if you like the lines. Me? I like characters who are really off-the-rails, who struggle--not against physical conflict but against emotional and spiritual conflict.
Too often the lines are simply too short of a genre to gently weave a detailed story. In them, you are limited by word count (nearly half of what my typical word-count is) and by editor's expectations. For example, you can never mention underwear, kissing has to be limited, and you can never mention showering or bathing or have two unmarried characters sleep in the same house. Not to even mention no drinking or dancing.
For me, these "rules" put all characters in a box I'm not willing to put them in. And so for me, the lines are not an option. That's not to say they are not for some people. I know authors who love those boundaries. I'm just not one of them.
Two. The first book I released, I went through a quasi-traditional publisher who gave me an editor. The editor was a wonderful, nice guy, and I was so eager to please him that I let him strip the life right out of my book. In fact, that was the sixth book I had written. A year or so later, I self-published the fifth book I had written, and I had a lady come up and tell me how much my writing had "improved." Now, really. I wrote the sixth after the fifth. How much could my writing have improved going backward?
But that's what editors can do--they can strip you right out of the book. They can actually make good writing worse and great writing not-as-great. Sounds strange I know, but I've seen it happen countless times. If you decide to go traditional, be adamant that they don't change you.
Three. With three kids, a husband, two businesses, a house, a full-schedule of fund-raising at two schools, and teaching Sunday School and VBS, I simply don't have time to be at the beck-and-call of an agent or editor. I have friends who send a manuscript in, don't hear anything for months, and then suddenly get it back with, "Can you make these changes by Friday?" My schedule right now just doesn't work like that. When I was first published, I got assigned a publicist who seemed to think that my life was now her job to run. She scheduled me for TV appearances (exciting, I know) at six in the morning. My husband had work, and we had little kids. One of those appearances, it was a huge deal for me to even get there, but when I got there, I found out I wasn't even on their schedule! It didn't take me long to figure out that I don't do well with someone else (other than God) running my life.
Four. I can put out what I want when I want. If it works to put out several at a time in various venues, I can. If it doesn't, I'm not locked in. I'm not on contract to "pump out" a set number of stories a year. So my writing is free-flowing. If an opportunity comes up for an article, I have time to write it. If I want to work on a book I've been working on for a couple of years, I write on it. If a new idea comes up, I'm not committed to other projects that have to go first. I can write what God gives me to write when He gives me to write it. That cuts down on the pressure to produce. And production for me is not a problem. I've written 30 full-length novels, two short story compilations, a twice-a-week blog, writing for other blogs, and writing for my church. Self-publishing just gives me the freedom to go where I'm needed at the moment.
Self-publishing is not for everyone. If you are not strong at editing, look for someone who is. Get help. Learn the ropes. Do your homework. Enlist your English teacher if he or she is willing to help. Write everything you can get your hands on. Do writing contests at your school to get objective feedback. Write a journal. Write poetry. Write your own stories. (The best way to learn to write is to write!) Join groups that can connect you with people who can help. Just don't fall for the lie that traditional is the only "right" option out there. Follow your heart. Consult God. See what makes the most sense for you, then do that.
I have taken the road less traveled, and for me, that's made all the difference.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
I turned on the light, then blinked in disbelief. Philippe was not in bed. And there was a frightful caterwauling coming from outside the darkened window. I went to it and peered down. “Philippe! What are you thinking, you silly boy? Frenchmen don’t serenade their ladies!”The caterwauling stopped. “I know, my own, but…”“Besides!” I said. “We’re already married.”“Yes, dearest, but it was the only thing I could think of to make you jump out the window.” His voice shook in urgency.“Jump? Why on earth - ”I saw Philippe’s face freeze, and at the same time, a smooth gun muzzle prodded my neck.
I turned on the light, then blinked in disbelief. There he was. I had seen him before and was glad to see him. However, when he appeared, it was rarely a good sign. He extended his hand and, as it grasped mine, he whispered, “The Kingdom is under attack. His Majesty wishes you to join Him right away. Will you come?”“Of course.” I nodded. I knew exactly what was fast approaching, for it had been foreseen long ago. Bursting through the window, he extended his long, feathered wings. The elation of flight almost chased away the looming knowledge of what was to come. I was soaring to war.
I turned on the light, then blinked in disbelief. The bottle of wine looked out of place on my kitchen counter—I never bought wine anymore. Something wasn’t right.Movement to my right caught my attention. I wasn’t alone. My pulse quickened.“Hello, Courtney.”Nerves on edge, I whirled toward the voice…and froze.He was here. Gerald, my spurned lover and unforgiving tormentor. Slivers of fear pierced my chest. The witness protection program had promised safety…and yet, he had found me.“The boss has another job for you.” He grinned in sick pleasure.Panic clutched my heart as I found my voice. “No…I won’t kill for you again.”
I turned on the light, then blinked in disbelief. My brother had been gone for so long, and now here he was sitting on Mama's feed sack quilt!"Rick! You're home!"I climbed on the bed and wrapped my arms around him. Then I noticed his empty sleeve. I touched it and frowned."A Japanese bullet took it. It's lucky it wasn't just a few inches to the right." He traced his finger over to the place near his heart."God brought you home safe." I put the sleeve around my shoulders.He stared at the hand he had left. "Why me and not Warren?”
I turned on the light, then blinked in disbelief.My brother, my twin, the other half of me that had disappeared nine years ago, stood in front of me.My breath seemed to be caught in my chest, suffocating me. “Sam,”His eyes were sunken in; it appeared life had not treated him well since he had left. He looked older than his twenty-four years. “Hi, Annie.”My whole body trembled. “What are you doing here?”His smile left his face, “I need help.”Sam stepped back and revealed what was behind hm. A car seat; carrying a baby.
I turned on the light, then blinked in disbelief. After living in shadows and darkness for seventeen years, I could finally see. The operation worked. I looked around the hospital room at my family. They eagerly stared at me as if they were the ones seeing me for the first time. My mother has curly brown hair; my father has hazel eyes. "How many fingers am I holding up?," my sister asked. My eyes filled with tears, but I forced myself to blink them back: I didn’t want the tears to blur my first few moments of sight.
I turned on the light, then blinked in disbelief. Seven stuffed rabbits and a magician’s hat dangled from my ceiling on fishing line. I looked down at the keys in my hand. Did I unlock the wrong apartment? I ran my free hand over my eyes to push out the sleep from my 2 AM convenience store shift. I wasn’t dreaming because I could still smell cigarette smoke and cold recycled air on my uniform.Then with a start I realized I’d seen this before. The Magician had been on the news, or rather, the aftermath of his murders had been on the news. He had come for me.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
In 2007, my very first book, Midnight Angel, was published through The Wild Rose Press, in their White Rose Inspirational line. The Wild Rose Press was a brand new POD Publisher, which stands for "print on demand". POD means that each book is printed one at a time after they are ordered, as opposed to how traditional publishers print a "print run" (an often unknown number of copies of your novel, anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000) at one time.At the time, I had no clue how anything worked in the industry, and was just thrilled to know I was having a book published. I didn't have to pay to have it published, but I didn't get an advance, either. I only received royalities on copies sold (typical for a small publisher. Today, The Wild Rose Press does pay a small advance) Naive, I barrelled ahead full force, thinking my novel would be in bookstores and would become the next big thing.But it wasn't, and it didn't. Bookstores wouldn't order copies to put on the shelf,because they were afraid of not being able to return them. Because TWRP wasn't a traditional publisher, and because it was POD, my options were very limited and my sales minimal. The book, though only about 50,000 words, sold online at Amazon for $11 - a little high, considering that my Love Inspired Books now of 60,000 words sell for $5.75. I ended up discovering the best way to make money was to buy a ton of my book with my author discount, then sell them outright to family and friends and church members myself and keep the cash. I was in charge of all my own marketing, etc, which I also hadn't expected. There were a lot of surprises and I learned some life lessons. Looking back, I soon felt that my book wasn't completely ready to be out there, yet in regards to editing and structure and design but...there was it.A few years later I acquired an agent, who sold RETURN TO LOVE to Love Inspired, and I've had 5 LI's published with a 6th one coming in April 2012 (my 5th one releases August 1st) The differences between small press/POD publishing and traditional is huge in regards to money, advances, marketing, and sales. That doesn't mean small press/POD publishing is bad, it's just different. My experience with POD was a positive one over all, and I made friends with my editor and was able to network and take those stepping stones to the next level and learn a LOT about the industry along the way. However, I do wish someone had been there to warn me up front about the differences of POD/small press publishing vs. traditional, to prepare me. :)
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
In her life before writing, Carla enjoyed a career in nursing and raising her family. Now that their four sons are married and they’ve become empty-nesters, she and her husband relish the occasional weekend getaway and delight in the adventures of their six grandchildren.
Carla enjoys a good cup of coffee, great books, and hearing from you, her readers. You’re invited to contact her and learn more about her writing at her website.
Friday, July 15, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
“No one wanted to be here,” she admitted. “Probably nerves.”“Gwen.” The knife was cold in my hand.She swept the bangs from my face, all business. “They’ll crown him at the platform—”“No,” I whispered. “I can’t kill the king.” Panic blossomed within me. The people wouldn’t realize the nation would fail if a king was crowned now.I’d be condemned. Probably hanged.“Listen,” Gwen said firmly, lifting my chin. “We’re with you. Together, we’ll save everyone.”“I guess.”“Sure we will. Now get going.”I nodded, dizzy. It was time.I was the Assassin.I had one life to end—millions to save.
No one wanted to be here. Even so, I think I desired it the least of all. The last four years of my life, spent climbing up to the top of my class, brought down in an instant. Of course I had to be part that handful of hoodlums that were too slow to make it out the back before the police came in. I stood with my hands to the wall, awkwardly trying to avoid placing my palms on the many portraits that lined the wall. It was as if their smiles mocked me.
No one wanted to be here. We’re waiting as long as we can, watching the sea of black disappear through the church doors. Ryan had always run with the wrong crowd, but this came as a shock. A few months ago, she’d turned her life around. She had been a different girl.The ring of the church bell startles me and I notice we’re alone. It’s time to head inside before Coach comes for us. The team follows me through the doors to our pew. As we file in, I notice a note. I pick it up and freeze as I read:You're next Rachel Forester.
No one wanted to be here. Not the crowd, nor the convicts. I was a convict.I stood in line, my hands bound in front of me, awaiting my death. Every time I heard the trap door engage, I shut my eyes down tight, and wished that my hands were free so that I could clap them over my ears. And each time another group of innocents died; still another group was pushed closer to their deaths.Bang!A single gunshot rent the air. The thunder of other firearms reverberated in reply.A man materialized before me, cutting my bonds. The ropes fell. I was free!
No one wanted to be here. I forced myself to kick, to keep afloat. The dark unforgiving waters pulled at my courage. My shipmates' panic was fueling my own. Through the hull I heard muted gunfire and screaming, constant screaming. Floating debris rammed my chin as someone moved towards me. Funny, I didn't feel anything.“Chase?” my buddy's voice shook.“Yeah.”“It's bad, isn't it?” I hated that I knew the answer. Taking five torpedoes, the Oklahoma couldn't last long.Nearby drilling made us freeze. If they cut through too slowly, we'd lose our air-pocket and drown. A crack appeared. The water rose.
No one wanted to be here. Their eyes said it with sparkling tears and low lids stained purple and teal. Not a single girl met the policeman’s gaze when they entered the room.He told them to stand against the wall, chalked with thick black lines that ran ragged over concrete, and face the camera without blinking and without smiling. Their faces glistened when they composed themselves enough to look up. No one blinked and no one smiled. The camera fired off three shots, white enough to be lightning, and then, just like that, their faces were captured forever for the Milton County Correctional Institute.
No one wanted to be here. This seemingly never-ending transfer of me and the other young men in my company served only to weaken the tyrants in my mind.I winced as the iron door clanged shut. The sentinels shouted to each other like clockwork in the polished corridor outside. So here we were, in yet another of the dictator's antechambers. A young man near me sighed.A moment of silence reigned until we heard the sentinels' shuffling. Then the mechanized lock-door swung down over the outside of the iron door and sealed us in. It was all too familiar.Great.
No one wanted to be here. Not heavy-set Bud Tompkins, not lean, aristocratic Luther Hunt, and definitely not me.But, as the youngest sheriff in Smithers County, I was obliged to always look intimidating. Even when my little office sizzled with the heated glares of two rivals."Glad you c'ud come, gentlemen," I said, linking sweaty hands behind my back. "Set down, an' we'll settle this dispute quick as an eighty-acre claim."Tompkins grunted, while Hunt sniffed and adjusted his expensive leather vest.I rubbed my temples and knew that this job was going to be as dirty as a swamped cow.