Wrapping up the Year

fireworks

Weapenry and Patchwork Press are getting ready to make 2016 our best writing year yet, and we want all of you to dream big with us. This week, authors are coming together to start thinking about the coming year and all of the books we’re getting ready to write. If we dream big and write all year round, we can easily make this our best year yet!

What is your favorite writing memory from 2015?

 My favorite writing memory from 2015 come from recent work that won’t be published for several months yet. I am working on a follow on series to The Akasha Saga about a powerful witch who prefers to relinquish control to those who most want it, and it isn’t always the good guys. My favorite passage to explain her feelings (one that I hope to quote again and again) is:

     There was no denying it; I loved it when he gave orders. To me, it felt safe. With Greyson in control, I couldn’t be held accountable for my actions. And with powers capable of destroying everyone and everything around me, freedom from responsibility was the most seductive force around.

 What story are you most looking forward to working on in 2016?

Definitely this first book of the follow on series to The Akasha Saga. I feel like I’m getting back to the basics! The book is tentatively titled, ‘The Forever Witch’.

Are you the type of person who makes New Year’s resolutions? Why or why not?

 I have made resolutions in the past, but I tend to shy away from them. When I do make a resolution, I always make sure they are not definite goals but rather guidelines that tend to peter off sometime in February.

 What area of your writing/publishing process are you going to work on improving in 2016?

Marketing and outreach! I always say I am going to take a break from writing in order to do more marketing. But I do this for the love of writing, not for the love of marketing and my characters are constantly calling out to me. Writing is my release, my therapy, and my love – marketing can be interesting at times but it is definitely not my passion.

How would you describe a successful publishing year in 2016? What goals are you working toward?

My trend is two books per year, and I plan to keep that going for 2016. Of course I would love to finish out this series in 2016 and publish all three next year. Wish me luck on that!

If you had to guess, what do you think your biggest challenge will be when it comes to publishing and writing next year?

Finding the time! Right now I am waking up about an hour early before the kids, and that is the only time I have to write besides the 2 to 3 hours I might get in on weekends. I just need to pick a schedule, turn of all distractions (like Candy Crush) and get to work.

How far ahead do you plan your writing schedule? Do you prefer to prepare or to see where your muses take you?

I have definitely discovered I am not an outline sort of girl. When I start a chapter, I have no idea where it is going to take me and that is sort of the thrilling aspect about writing for me. It’s still an adventure. If I try to stick to a pre-determined outline, it turns into more of an obligation and I find myself quickly losing steam.

Tell us about something non book related that you’re currently looking forward to for 2016.

My family just took in two foster children that come from extended relatives. While the adjustment period has been difficult at times for all of us, I am looking forward to strengthening my own relationship with these children and watching them bloom. Can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for our family of seven!

If you could offer up one piece of advice to other authors and writers for 2016, what would it be?

Write bold. If you are going to put the time and effort into writing a book, put it all out there! You might just find your niche, and your readers might just find their new favorite author.

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What about you? What goals (bookish and otherwise) are you planning to work toward in 2016? Let us know in the comments! Weapenry will be giving away ebook packs of both Refilling Your Inkwell by Kellie Sheridan, and Surviving First Drafts by Erica Crouch to three randomly selected commenters across the posts going up this week. Be sure to either include your email address or to Tweet at us @patchwork_press along with your goals so we can get in touch if you win!

Bookish Style Christmas Decorations

Don’t know what to get book lovers, other than a Kindle gift card? How about this:

ornament good

I made these myself using clear ornaments, Epsom salt, and cut and curled pages from my favorite book. I asked the recipients what reading means to them, and included the word as part of the ornament. This has led to some great ornament ideas for my own Akasha Series; but next year!

Things don’t always come together this easily for me. I started out with the idea of pasting strips of pages around an ornament. Didn’t turn out quite right, but it is nothing a dash of glitter won’t solve, right? Wrong:

 ornament bad

Epic failure, considering how it was supposed to turn out:

 book ornament

Anyway, on to some sweet stuff. Last year I was left with an extra gingerbread house, and plenty of extra frosting. So I do what I do most – I got creative:

 gingerbread enter gingerbread water gingerbread air gingerbread fire2

I’ve been holding onto these pics for a year, and now that I look at them – they aren’t as good as I remember.  But, what they hey, I am not one to waste frosting. Maybe I’ll do ‘Earth’ with the extra gingerbread houses this year, or maybe I should quit while I’m only slightly behind…

 Hope everyone has a great holiday season and a very happy new year!

Between the Covers – Final Segment!

We are wrapping up the series of talks between me and author Christopher Starr on how these writers write. If you haven’t already, be sure to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. Now – on to the fun stuff!

Terra: How do you handle reviews – the good and the bad?

Christopher: Oh reviews! The joy and bane of every writer’s existence. We write in solitude and then exist for feedback, praying someone loves what we tried to do or an at least appreciate the point we were trying to make. When they do and they grace us with more than a couple stars and give us those nuggets of opinion, it’s fantastic. Until we realize they didn’t like it. And resist the urge to respond.

Like everyone, I just want an honest review on the merits of the story. But it’s always a little more complicated than that; I’m sure you can agree. My subject matter is fodder for plenty of discussion; it’s only a matter of time before I get not-so-savory reviews. I handle negative reviews immaturely—at home. I’ll rant and rave and finger point and curse but I’ll never respond to a review on any medium. I’m pretty adamant about that. If I get a fantastic review from a blogger and we have a relationship, I’ll thank them. If it’s on Amazon or Goodreads, that review, positive or negative, belongs to the consumers. I figure I’m breaking some great author-reader contract by intruding on their playground.

Some reviews I incorporate or might comment more broadly in a blog post, particularly if the point is good. Someone made a comment about why some angels die and why others regenerate. I addressed it in the book I’m working on now. Another person talked about the world I’d created and it spawned one of the most introspective blog posts I’ve written in a while. Reviews have been good for me.

Terra: Reviews were one part of the job I was not prepared for. Of course, I knew I needed them. And of course, I thought I would be receiving nothing but 4 and 5 stars. In my eyes my books are awesome. So when some readers didn’t think my books were so awesome, I was pissed. Some flat out hated my books; and I was shocked. Heartbroken almost. I did the same as you; rant and rave at home. I was all ready to respond to reviewers and maybe explain some things they overlooked in my book. But then I followed the advice of my husband, and I let it go. Eventually, I was able to take some advice from bad reviews, and I believe my writing is better for it.

Christopher: How do you separate yourself from the subject matter you write? You have some pretty tough stuff in your books—did you have to take a shower just to wash it away and be normal? Or was it more clinical for you—just a day at the office? And, once you wrote, how did those closest to you react?

I can tell you I killed a character my wife was very fond of (the character was actually based in part on her). She’s been hot with me for a while, even said I have to add a new strong female lead to fill the gap. I laugh about it now but I cried about it when I did it. I liked her. And that why she had to go.

Terra: Writing is sort of a form of therapy for me. I have all these plots, scenarios, and characters running around in my head – I don’t know how they get there, they have nothing to do with my life, but they would absolutely drive me crazy if I didn’t get a chance to hash everything out on my keyboard.

I do have tough stuff in my books; and friends and family react differently. All are supportive of course, and all have their preferences. My mother-in-law helps me edit – she likes to cross out all the sex scenes. My husband tries to get through my stuff, but fantasy just isn’t his thing. My Catholic grandma calls my books page-turners and when I call her she’s like, “Why are you on the phone? You need to be writing. I have to know what happens next!”

Christopher: My grandmother’s the same way—best advice she ever gave me was “Be good. If you can’t be good, be careful. And if you can’t be careful, name it after me.

So, what’s next for you? New series? Are you staying in the same genre?

Terra: Yep, new series. Mermaids and werewolves! Though I have been experimenting a little with Sci-Fi (short stories and such), so we’ll see where that leads.  How about you?

Christopher: The plan is to finish the Heaven Falls Series before jumping into something else. That’s the plan, mind you. I’m in the middle of the second book right now and it’s going along so swimmingly that I consider a new project daily. Still I’d like to say I finished it and I’d like my readers to have the complete story before I move onto something else. I think I’d be mad if, instead of telling me if Darth Vader was really Luke’s dad, George Lucas did Red Tails.

After Heaven Falls, I have a number of ideas and series that I’m considering. And I’m sure I’ll switch genres—my goal is to be like Ray Bradbury and write some of everything before it’s all over.

Terra: That about wraps it up! Thanks so much for doing this with me, Christopher. It was by far one of the most fun interviews I have done to date. Let’s stay in touch and good luck with everything!

Christopher: This has been remarkably amazing and refreshing to me! Writing is such a solitary endeavor, It’s always good to know you’re not entirely crazy as a writer. That what we do and go through is a bit more commonplace. That helps. In spite of the myriad voices in my head, they all generally arrive at the same sort of consensus. My overall world view doesn’t change. it’s cool to see things from someone else’s point of view. Thanks so much for letting me peek in your head.

 

“Did you ever notice how in the Bible, when ever God needed to punish someone, or make an example, or whenever God needed a killing, he sent an angel? Did you ever wonder what a creature like that must be like? A whole existence spent praising your God, but always with one wing dipped in blood. Would you ever really want to see an angel?”–Thomas Daggett, The Prophecy (1995)

Michael the Warrior.  Lucifer the Fallen.

Gabriel the Watcher.  Raphael the Healer.

For eons, these princes of Heaven have done the Father’s will, His way.  From the war between the angels to the second coming of Christ, the Heaven Falls series is their stories in their words.

From the Beginning.  Until the End.

The Road to Hell: The Book of Lucifer by Christopher Starr

Between the Covers…continued!

This is part 3 of an ongoing dialogue with Christopher Starr and myself. Catch part 1 here, and part 2 on Christopher’s blog here.

 

Christopher: Here’s my other question for you: you’re a mother, a wife, a professional and somewhere in there, a writer. How do you balance all the demands on your time?

 

Terra: And that is the big question, isn’t it? Lots of people want to write a book. A few less eventually start a book. Significantly less finish a book – and very few people keep on writing after their first book. There are lots of excuses to stop writing; discouragement, health issues, work, kids….life. I try to look at it as little pieces at a time. Baby steps. Not to get all self-help on you here, but baby steps really do work. My consistent goal is 1,000 words a day. This comes out to about two pages, depending on how much dialogue there is. It is very manageable. My secret to making sure it gets done is doing it in the morning. I wake up by 5 am, and do it before anything else. Ok, I’m lying. I hit the bathroom and have coffee first. But THEN I do it before anything else.

I won’t even open e-mail, check twitter, or look at news or weather first. I ignore the mess in the kitchen. The dogs have to wait to be let out. I work until the kids wake up (anywhere between 7 and 8). If I hit 1,000 words and can keep going, I do. If I don’t hit 1,000 words I make it a priority to make that mark at another point in the day; even if it isn’t until 11:00 at night. It has turned out to be a good, sustainable habit. Most of the rest of my day is spent at my day job and soccer games or swim lessons for the kids. If I have extra time that is when I’ll do the marketing for my book. But writing always takes priority over marketing, at least until my first series is finished.

Christopher: 5am? Man…I’m having a passionate love affair with my snooze button at 5am. Curiously, given that I’m a night owl and you’re up at the crack of ass in the morning, and that I live in Seattle, I think we’re actually both up writing at the same time. And that, my friend, is synergy!

So for me balance is really about choices. I work at home so my big thing is getting outside at all. When my kids are in school, they get my time from when they come home until they go to bed. My wife does too. So does Game of Thrones. 1000-1500 words a day is pretty good but it’s not always on a book. I’ve learned a lot this year about the value of blogging and maintaining a consistent relationship between my blog stuff and my readers. I’ve been doing a series on villains for the last 6 months and that has really helped me improve readership and make relationships with readers. And provide focus. That gets me writing on a regular basis.

I tend to write in the evenings (well, at night) and am willing to sacrifice being sleepy in the morning for progress at night. But when I’m writing the books, I’m all in. They really do take over and I struggle to turn it off to focus on the rest of my life. This is my long-winded way of saying I have pseudo-balance. The image of balance. I’m still working on the reality.

Terra: That is funny, we probably are up at the same time. I tried writing at night for a month, but I kept falling asleep and my laptop took several falls to the floor. In the interest of saving my stories, I bought an external hard drive for back up, and I started writing in the morning.

I absolutely love Game of Thrones! Haven’t read the series, but can’t wait for Season 3 to come out. I’ve been told the TV series follows the books pretty closely, so I may just have to pick up a book instead of waiting until next spring.

Christopher: I haven’t read the series either but I did buy the first book to see if the fuss was worth it. I’m about halfway through it now. The fuss is worth it: it’s amazing. And the TV series does follow the nooks exceptionally well. Gotta give George RR Martin his credit: homeboy can spin a tale.

 

 

Thanks for hanging with us and check back in with Christopher next week to see the next installment!

One Year Later…

It’s nearing the end of July, with only one month left of summer. Almost a year ago today, I self-published my first short story, ‘Gleaming White, Book One of the Kindred Curse Anthology’. Since then, that short story has turned into five prequels that made up the entire anthology, and I’ve published the first two novels in my Akasha Series, with the third to release in October.

It’s been a whirlwind year, and although sales aren’t quite enough to quit my day job, they are picking up. I’ve learned so much from the community and most importantly, I’m having…FUN!

This summer, I’ve been busy working on the print versions of each book. The formatting is completely different from e-books, and in my opinion more difficult to do. But finally, they are available:

All are on Amazon.com (The Kindred Curse may not appear on their website for another two weeks). So if print is your thing, pass the word along! Don’t forget, ‘Water’ is still free as an e-book.

So, we’ve got one month left, what are you going to do with your remaining summer? For me, it will be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, The Orangeberry Summer Splash Tour, and a short trip to the beach!