I’ve been nominated!

I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Blog Award by Deb Palmer, a fellow author. The idea behind the Liebster Award is to discover and give a nod to new bloggers.

As part of the nomination, I must answer the following questions:

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 29, and find line 4. What is the book and what does it say?

Long Time Coming by Edie Claire. “I was afraid to leave him even for a moment.”

2. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?  

Savannah, GA. I visited back in 2008 and I fell in love. The city is exquisitely beautiful and full of history. I could live there very very happily. 

3. If you could change one thing about the world, what would you do?

A bit cliched but change the world’s view on women.

4. Is the glass half empty or half full?

Half full always!

5. When is the last time you ate a homegrown tomato?

Too long ago, and plus I don’t like eating raw tomatoes 

6. What did you want to be when you grew up?

A lawyer of all things…and maybe wife to a Backstreet Boy

7. What is your favorite time of the day?

Dusk. I love how the setting sun creates all those beautiful colours. I love sitting at the window and watching the sun go down. 

8. What inspires you?

My family and friends 

9. What is your favorite childhood memory?

I have a few, but the one I remember the most is spending time with my grandmother. (I spent a lot of time with her as a young child while my mother worked) 

10. What three things in nature do you find most beautiful?

Butterflies, horses and birds

 11. Who are your Nominees?

TBA

Rejections

Rejections are a part of every writer’s repertoire. I’ve received hundreds in my years of submitting – I even have a folder in my email dedicated to them, though I dare not to look!

For new authors, rejections are hard to swallow. Feelings of inadequacies often follow. Is it me or do they hate my writing?  I thought like that for years, and hated my work because of it. But you must never take it personal. Agents or publishers don’t dislike you as a person- your work doesn’t suit them at the time or they didn’t feel a connection to the work.

I’m currently in submission for my historical WIP Unspoken. I’ve received nothing but rejections for 2 months. It stings but I keep on trucking. Someone out there will like this work, a book I spent 12 months pouring blood, sweat and tears into.

I submitted to a well known publishing house recently and they seemed keen on reading the work. I heard back from them today and I knew the email wasn’t going to be an offer. They said the work had great detail but read like a soap opera. I don’t disagree with them – I see it, but I never intended for the “drama to go on and on”. It needs cleaning up obviously, despite having 3 beta readers and two edits by me. A book can never have too many edits.

They mentioned it needs a good copy edit and my past tense is all off. Unfortunately that’s my weakness; I can’t seem to grasp past and present tense well enough. My current publisher is always pulling their hair out because of it.

I expect a lot more rejections to come with this new revelation. I wish I had spent more time editing it before submitting it to 20+ publishers. I get too impatient and can’t wait to submit it.

I’ve spent so much time and effort on the book I couldn’t wait to get it out there and out of my mind. Never listen to your head! If the book doesn’t feel finished, don’t send it out!

Rejections are a part of life and something you must never take personal. Just think: JK Rowling was rejected by dozens of publishers before being sold. When a publisher or agent rejects your work, they are not rejecting you as a person and its only one person’s opinion. There are many other avenues out there for you work. Just keep on writing!

What are book advances?

cashBook advances. The word gets thrown around a lot in the publishing world. As a new author or a seasoned one, you have most likely heard fellow authors discuss their advance from they’re publisher.

Some publishers offer advances to their authors, some do not. These can range from $30 – $20,000 depending on the author and if their agented or not.

So what are advances? Advances are based on the number of copies the publisher thinks the book might sell upon release. If it’s a potentially big book they’ll increase their marketing budget to help ensure that the sales are high.

An advance is a payment against royalties. If the publisher thinks your book will sell 10,000 copies they’ll work out how much that means in royalties, so that amount will be your advance. Then you’ll not receive any further payments until your book has sold those 10,000 copies, as you’ve already been paid for them.

If your book sells more copies you’ll start receiving royalty cheques: they’re usually paid twice a year by the bigger publishers who focus on print sales. Publishers who focus on ebook sales predominantly pay them more frequently, such as quarterly.

If your book sells fewer than those 10,000 copies you’ll not receive any royalty payments–but you won’t have to pay back any of your advance. Good, reputable publishers won’t require you to do this.

The start of my writing career

We all started writing one day – whether it was a hobby or to vent some frustrations. I started my writing career young. The earliest memory I have is penning a story about a fairy. It was about 4 sentences long but that’s where my love for the written word birthed.

At school, I used to love creative writing classes and can recall an English class where the teacher asked to think of a story and to ensure we filled out the ‘beginning’, ‘middle’ and ‘end’ forms provided. I had so many stories in my head I didn’t know where to begin.

Believe it or not, I credit the Backstreet Boys on giving me my creative voice. When I was about 12, I started writing a book, about a girl who met the group when they got lost and appeared on her front door. In my mind, if I wrote about it, it would happen!

This story ended up becoming a series. I wrote 5 of these novels where the main character Joelle, grew up and married Nick Carter. I was a kid, okay!

I handwrote these books in binders and kept them hidden in my closest. No one ever read them. I threw them out when I moved out of home in 2005 and I cringe at the thought if anyone came across them. If I never saw the Backstreet Boys on TV back in 1997, would I be writing today?

After that, my writing bloomed. When I was in high school, I wrote a fan fiction X Files book and a Saving Private Ryan clone called Resistance to Fear. I loved to write. After school, I would fight my sister on the computer and write my novels. I would save them on my floppy disks and keep them somewhere safe.

I was naive to the publishing industry and didn’t even consider publishing my books until further in life.  Back then, I thought it was normal to pay to have your book published. (More on that later)

Once I had established a bit of a writing bug, I penned a book called Giblin the Conquerer. It was a sci-fi/fantasy novel, inspired by Emily Rhoda’s Rowan of Rin series. I don’t recall how long it took me to write but I was so proud of it when I completed it. I’ve since lost the manuscript. I had printed it out and misplaced the floppy disk so I have no idea where it is!

My writing halted for a little while when I finished high school in 2003. After that, my next big project was ‘All She ever Wanted.’ At the time in my life, I had moved away from home to live in Sydney and start an actual career. I wrote any chance I got – on my lunch break, at home after dinner, on the weekend. It took me 12 months to finish it – with a 6 month gap in between. I found what ‘writer’s block’ truly meant.

When I was satisfied it was finished, I asked a work colleague at the time about publishing my book. She suggested a vanity publisher her sister had used. Back then, I had no idea paying to have your book published wasn’t ‘normal’. It cost me $2200 at the time and it felt good to have the book in my hands. It was released in 2008. A copy was sent to the National Library and I even got an interview on SWR FM.

I  was now a published author and very proud of my accomplishments. During this time, I penned another novel, The Guardian, which never got finished. Looking back on it, it could have become a good piece, but I lost my passion for it and my writing waned again.

I took another ‘break’ and began researching my novel ‘Darkness before Dawn‘ in 2011. I had such a big lapse in writing, I had no idea how long it would take me to finish it. After a year of researching, writing, beta reading, revising and editing, it was ready to go in 2012. This novel was truly a challenge for me, but I loved every minute of it. The first draft is so different to the version that got published that it really showed me how much I matured as a writer and a person. However I cringe at my earlier work!

Since that moment, writing has become a staple in my life. I have since published 4 books traditionally, with another to be released in 2015. I look forward to the next ten years in my writing career and where it will lead me!

I would love to know your writing journey. Please comment in the section below.

Christmas Submissions

christmas-tree-isolated Christmas isn’t far along and its usually the time when many companies begin the ritual of shutting down for the holidays. What about book publishers?

From my personal experience, I’ve witnessed publishers shut down a week or so before Xmas and don’t open again until late January. It’s a frustrating time for an author because you’ve spent many months (or years) refining your work, you submit and then you have to wait 6-12 weeks for a response.

There is never a good or perfect time to submit. The market is fickle and publishers are looking for more niche novels. You can submit on Xmas Day or Easter but expect the waiting or rejections.

However, as I say that, I’ve noticed that times have changed. Many publishers and agents are opening for longer or keeping their submissions open during the holidays. As past experience suggests, submitting during the holidays is like throwing your work into a black hole. I’ve sent many, many submissions over Christmas and never heard anything from them. They could’ve rejected it or it could have been lost in the mass of emails. I think its the latter.

I’m ready to begin querying my WIP however this time of year has hindered my plans. If I submit now, will the agent or publisher remember my work in the new year? I’ve asked many authors the same question: when to submit?

The large majority say whats the harm in doing it now? The publisher or agent may even take your work home with them and read it over the holidays. I like to think that may be the truth, but I want my work to be fresh in their minds.

After receiving new feedback from a beta reader, I’ve decided to query agents for now, though won’t submit full manuscripts to publishers until the book is completely finished. It won’t be sold until the new year but I’ve accepted to wait until 2015.

I guess I think this way because I’ve put so much work and effort into this novel that I’m super excited to get it out there. But excitement can wait. There’s no point putting out a half finished work that will most likely get rejected.

Waiting is hard. Will you submit during the holidays or wait until people return to work? I’ll love to hear your thoughts.

Why I use Beta Readers

I’ve been writing for a very long time, but only recently been introduced to beta readers. When I wrote my first big historical fiction, Darkness before Dawn, I had no idea how much work was needed before publication. I submitted it to an online forum and it got pretty good feedback. This feedback helped improve the book. I, like most writers, are frightened by criticism. What if they don’t like it? Is the book boring? If other authors don’t like it, what would readers think?

These questions circled my mind. I knew the feedback would greatly improve my book but I was scared of what other people thought of the novel, the idea, concept, characters, accuracy. Did Stephanie Myers or Suzanne Collins  rely on beta readers for their novels? Maybe. We might never know.

I incorporated the beta’s ideas and started to submit. Darkness was offered seven contracts in the year of 2012, but I knew it wasn’t ready. I declined all offers and got back to editing. When I did find my current publisher, the book editing process wasn’t as arduous due to the feedback I received previously.

Sadly, I didn’t use this method when I wrote three books after Darkness and they took longer to find a publisher. Was it fear of rejection? Laziness? Lack of time? It was all three.

I just didn’t have the time or passion to seek other’s advice. Looking back, I paid for it greatly. Those three books weren’t the highest quality and the editing process was very difficult and time consuming.

Nowadays, I have learned from past mistakes. As I write my current WIP, Unspoken, I have sought feedback from three beta readers. Each one has provided different feedback. That’s the beauty of beta readers. No two betas are the same. One might pick on a character development, sentence or even dialogue and the other might pick on something else.

I have been a beta reader for two authors now. Not only does it give me the opportunity to make friends, it also allows me to see what other writers are writing, to see their dreams and hopes in their work.

I used to fear beta readers, but now, I rely on them. You only need to know where to look. Sign up to author forums or follow a fellow author on Facebook or Twitter. Make contact. Some people are quite happy to read one’s work for a free read in order to provide feedback, while others are keen to ‘swap’ books. Some are writers, some are hardcore readers. Either way, using a beta reader improves your book tenfold. They might pick on something the publisher might not see.

I have seen great improvement in my WIP by using my betas. I enjoy reading their work and keeping in touch. We are all aiming for the same thing: To be published.

Every author pours their blood, sweat and tears into their work. It takes courage to hand it over to a stranger, an unbiased reader, and allow them to tear your work apart word by word. Honestly, I would rather give my work to someone I didn’t know, compared to my husband, or family. It’s too close for comfort and I don’t like people I know reading my work.

Invest in a beta reader. They are truly an author’s best friend.

Have you had any experiences with beta readers, good or bad? I’d love to hear your stories.