Saturday, March 25, 2017

Indie e-Con 2017 Winners and Prizes!

Hello! I'd like to thank everyone for coming this year to Indie e-Con. It was terrible fun, and I might have a cramp now in my arm from all of the typing and writing I've done. (Yes, writing. I keep handwritten notes of everything so that I don't loose them.)

Seriously, though, I posted more posts this WEEK than I did in my first three years of blogging combined, and my blog got more views each day than I normally get in a month.

So, first off, the games. If you click back to them I now have filled them all in with the answers. So who won the shiny books that they promised?

All of these are ebook prizes:
Day one - Match the Opening Line: Erika Mathews (All Correct) Wins: Her choice of one of E. Kaiser Write's Books.
Day two - Match the Quote: Erika Mathews (11 Correct) Wins: Adela's Curse by Claire M. Banschbach. (Although the randomizer gave me Promise's Prayer the first time ... she doesn't need her own book)
Day three - Match the Cover Art: Kelsey Bryant (All Correct) Wins: Promise's Prayer by Erika Mathews.
Day four - Match the Blurb: Sarah Allerding (All Correct) Wins: Marketing your Book on a Budget by Kathryn Jones.
Day five - Match the Upcoming Book: Erika Mathews (All Correct) Wins: Her choice of one of Faith Blum's books

The Grand Prize Winner: Erika Mathews. (She accumulated a grand total of 141 points!!!) She wins Marketing Your Book on a Budget in paperback!

Now for the participation prize.

There were a lot of you who did a lot of commenting and sharing, but there was one person who just took the cake and blew all of you away, accumulating 137 tally marks in my notebook.

Savannah Grace!!

And now for your prize. 

You get: A birchbark bookmark provided by Tammy Lash, an ebook of your choice from Katy Huth Jones, an ebook of your choice by Jesseca Wheaton, and either an ebook of your choice by me or the chance to read any one of my WIP's (though I recommend one with an asterisk).

Everyone, email me at with your choices (if you have choices) and address (if something physical needs to be shipped to you.) You were all awesome!

Check out the awards for the WRITING CONTEST, the BOOK AWARDS, and the WORD WAR.

Now, onto the future of Indie e-Con.

It will not be here on this blog. Sometime in the next week, I'll be launching a new blog, this one dedicated to the writing craft and, in particular, to providing resources to Indie authors to take them from "good" to great. Info to come on that. I will be copying all of the posts from THIS Indie e-Con to this blog, as well as any other post that I have in my backposts about how to write.

(Don't worry, this blog will still be where I talk about my own writing. I'll still be filling out tags here. Talking about my life here.)

I am continuing the radio show I had this week, on Friday nights, 8:00-9:00 CST, where I'll be interviewing Independantly-published authors. For the first half-hour, we'll talk about the author's work, and the second half, some form of writing advice. Also, my dad will have a show on Sunday Nights on that channel.

I do already have a theme picked out for next year (and for the year after that), so, yes, it will be happening. I'm going to begin work on it much sooner in the year than I did with this one, though, and hopefully, find some other people to help with the organization work. I intend to make it much bigger, better, and more exciting than this one.

To do that, I'd like your opinions, so if you could please go and fill out this survey, I'd very much appreciate it.  And, yes, the giraffe is relevant.

Also, I have put together a mailing list with which I shall notify people of updates to Indie e-Con, as well as of promotional opportunities. You can sign up as a reader, author, or service provider, and it'll be awesome. You don't want to miss out on what's to come, so you don't want to miss out on this mailing list. (In fact, share it with all of your author and indie-book-loving friends)

Again, thank you so much to everyone who attended. You made this amazing, and I'm truly humbled by how this came together.

And now I'm going to go bed. I'm exhausted.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday Wrap-up

And, here we are, at the end of Indie e-Con. Well, except for the prizes tomorrow. Stay tuned for that. I'm currently on the air over at Eagle Nest Broadcasting.

And you guys have until the show ends to send me your guesses for the daily games and to vote on the book awards. You have midnight CST to comment on all of the posts for the Participation Prize.

Comment below by midnight CST with your wordcount for today AND your week's wordcount. Stay tuned tomorrow for the winners!

Continuing a Series with Katy Huth Jones

Hello! I have Katy Huth Jones here with us today to talk about continuing a series. As some of you might be aware, I write series. Mutliple of them. They're terrific fun.

I've not read any of Katy's books yet, but they're on my kindle waiting on me. And I won a dragon from her once. You can't go wrong with dragons.

Follow her on the Interwebs:

Continuing a Series
by Katy Huth Jones

Have you ever read "The End" in a book and wondered what happened next? A good stand-alone novel should tie up all the loose ends and leave the reader satisfied with the ending.

Sometimes, though, we grow to love the characters so much, we imagine what their lives might be like after the story ends. Readers often write fan fiction in response. Writers who can't let go of their characters write series.

I actually hadn't planned to write a series with my first fantasy. It was supposed to be a stand-alone. But my editor asked me, "Is there more to this story? Can you write a sequel?" And I said, "Uh, I can try!"

It was more difficult than I imagined. I had to brainstorm for a couple of weeks, bugging my main character to tell me what happened in her life after she returned from Finian Jahndra (which spurred the idea for the sequel as well as the title--Return to Finian Jahndra).

Once I started asking, "What if?" questions, a plot gradually took shape, and I even found a way to give the MC, Leandra, a realistic happy ending. Several readers, though, have asked me, "Is there more?" So, I hope to write the third and FINAL book once I'm finished with my WIP. I have some notes and a title: Aspen's Tale.

Speaking of my WIP. When I originally wrote fumble-fingered drafts of this fantasy, not knowing what I was doing, I envisioned three books from the beginning, you know, the typical fantasy trilogy. Since it took me more than twenty years to get book one into a publishable form, the story grew and grew, and it will now be five books, each one averaging 130,000 words. Yes, I'm crazy! But this is epic fantasy with a cast of hundreds (thousands, actually, though they don't all have names) taking place over fifteen years in a made-up medieval world meant to feel like twelfth century Britain but populated by dragons of all sizes.

It would be easier if I was more organized. I make copious notes about the characters, minor as well as the main ones. I distract myself from actually writing the story by coming up with family heraldry, finding pictures on Pinterest, drawing maps, adding to my "Cast of Characters," but they are not all in one place, so sometimes I waste time looking for details to make sure I don't have two characters with similar names, use the same horse for two different people, or accidentally resurrect someone who has died.

I highly recommend that while writing a book, every book, in fact, you keep all your notes in ONE notebook. Even if you're not planning to write a series, your story might become one, and you'll be glad when you reach book 5 to more easily find the name of that guard captain who appeared in book 1, so you don't have to reread entire sections to find the information you need.

Oh, and make sure you resolve all your threads by the last book. ALL of them! Another good reason to keep good notes.

One last device that holds a series together is to not only have individual story arcs in the books, but to have an overall series arc. Since I've always thought of my epic fantasy as one long story, it's been easier to do than with the shorter fantasy. In fact, the climax of book 4 is so powerful, it almost feels like the climax of the entire series, so I'm paying extra attention to the plot in book 5 to build up to the resolution, not only of book 5, but of the series. I want to end with a resonant gong. No pressure, right?

I can already tell you I know several readers who are going to say, "What happens next?" Maybe they can write fan fiction. Or maybe, after I finish some other projects, I'll have to revisit this world with some short stories. After all, because I know the characters so well, I can tell you what happens in their lives and their children's lives for many years to come....

"Help! My Characters All Sound Alike" with Tammy Lash

Hello! I have Tammy Lash here with us today to talk about a problem that is incredibly frustrating. When your characters all sound alike. I know I rather struggled with this between Clara and Robin. Both headstrong ENFP girls who love swordplay and hate sewing. It's a tough struggle, but readers say that I did pretty good, and I'll believe them.

Tammy Lash's book is only available in paperback, so I've unfortunately not had a chance to read it, because I'm poor. It looks interesting, though.

Follow her on the interwebs:

“Help! My characters all sound alike!”

Our home phone doesn’t ring much anymore—four out of the five of us have cell phones. Texting is now the chosen method of “keeping in touch” and our handsets are slowly becoming dusty, nostalgic pieces of the past. Conversation is individualized and no longer is the whole family involved in the mystery of the phone’s ring.
“Back in the day” when our phone did ring and someone other than myself actually got up to answer it, there was usually always confusion involved on the other end. The confusion belonged to grandma. Not only did all my kids look like me (sorry daddy), but apparently they also all sounded like me as well. My daughter would laugh at the weekly “you sound just like your mom!” speech. The boys, however, didn’t find any humor in their grandma’s giggled confession. Time, thankfully, remedied the situation for the boys, but before that happened the kids learned to announce who was speaking if grandma forgot to ask.
My family’s phone struggle isn’t all that different from the problem many of us wrangle with in writing. How do we give our characters their own distinct voice when they can’t be physically seen or heard? How do we keep their voices from sounding the same? We can help our readers differentiate our characters from one another by remembering GRANDMA and her need for information to keep her grandkids apart. Each letter in her name holds the key to help us as writers keep our own characters voices clear and recognizable.

Be giving! Follow the examples of grandma and shower your characters with all your love and creativity. “Spoil” them with plenty of traits. Push beyond the boundaries of eye and hair color and zero in on unique physical traits.
For example: Think about scars, birthmarks, or perhaps a handicap or an injury. I personally have a distinct feature, though it has to do with my eyes. It’s unique. One of my blue eyes has a large splotch of brown in it. It’s shrinking the older I get, but it’s there. I’ve always been proud of my almost-brown eye. It sets me apart from everyone else. I don’t know anyone else who has eyes like mine. Tubs, a character from White Wolf and the Ash Princess, has the tip of his thumb missing. The injury helped shape his nickname and the mystery of his real name kept his fellow characters—and readers—guessing what it was throughout most of the book.
Give your character a magnetic personality. Whether hero or villain, help your reader to “see” who they are through word or action.
 These “gifts” will set your characters apart and they will become as real to your readers as they are to you.

Not everyone is a conversationalist. Remember who your character is while writing. Don’t make your shy character ramble on for pages if that’s not who they are. It’s not the quantity of lines of conversation you make for your character but the quality.

Ask yourself questions about your character (the physical and spiritual) and list them and your answers in a notebook. Dig deep. Physical features are important but it’s the characters insides that the reader will connect with. What do they fear? What/who do they love? Hate? What hobbies do they have? What does their past look like? What do they desire for their future?

Be thoughtful when it comes to naming your characters. Readers love it when they discover their hero’s name was chosen because it has meaning. It’s an effortless way to add another stroke of color to your character.
For example: In White Wolf and the Ash Princess, there are several American Indian characters. All of their names were chosen to showcase their unique personalities. The main Native American of the book, Mikonan, is Ojibwe and his name means “I find it among many other things”. His name was an opportunity to further display his loyalty and perseverance.

The description I’m speaking of is the “filler thoughts” in between dialogues that are just as important as the words the characters are speaking. None of us speak what’s truly on our minds. Much of it stays behind our tongues. Fill in the moments in between conversation with your characters true thoughts—the thoughts he/she can’t or won’t voice. Your readers will develop a deeper understanding of your character and this will tighten the bond between reader and character. I like to think of this as “diary writing”. Readers get to hear what isn’t voiced. It’s like whispered secrets from the author.

None of us speak without movement. Move your character during conversation but with movements exclusive to them. Does your character speak with his/ her hands? Or do they hide them by stuffing them in their pockets? Do they have nervous energy while speaking and come across as uncomfortable and fidgety? Or perhaps they’re confident in chat and do so lounged and comfortably stretched. Whichever personality type, visualize them in their speech and describe what you see so your reader can see them to.

Everyone has one, though most of us will say we don’t. My Michigan accent sounds funny to my southern niece (she has the accent, not me!). She finds our lazy pronunciations hysterical. We get in debates over the correct way to pronounce ‘roof’. She asks why we Michiganders call ‘milk’—‘melk’, and she marvels at our word ‘yoosta’. She says it has no business being a word—it’s the phrase ‘used to’! Giving a character an accent can be tricky. Give them too much distinctive speech and their dialogue will become more like code deciphering. Subtle differences is key.
For example: White Wolf’s Ojibwe characters don’t speak with contractions. Taking this speech short-cut away instantly makes their voice sound different.
Another way to play with speech is through punctuation and phrasing.
For example: “I don’t care.” Vs. “I. Don’t. Care.” The first we can imagine is spoken with a shoulder shrug of indifference. The second is more focused and precise. This person is obviously irritated. Through periods, dashes and word choice, have fun discovering through marks and words your characters unique voice and tone.

Once we know who our characters are, the dialogue will naturally come. Remember, grandma needs clear and concise communication to distinguish “who’s who”.  Follow her guidelines and your characters voices won’t be confused with another again. They will have a sound of their own!

                                                                                     Written by Tammy Lash

                                                                        Author of White Wolf and the Ash Princess

The Urge to Revise with Kendra E. Ardnek

Hello! I'm here today to talk about the URGE TO REVISE. This is something that is going to hit you a few weeks/months after your book is released. No matter how good you think your book is when you hit that button, sooner or later, you're going to find a scene that you wish you had written differently, you're going to find that odd typo that somehow escaped you, you're going to discover something new in the sequel that you wish you'd referenced ... or someone will leave a scathing review.

The beauty of Self-Publication is that, depending on the publication platform you use, it's easy to go in and tweak. But should you?

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As many of you know, I just released a revised version of Sew, It's a Quest.

(It's currently free until midnight tonight, btw)

And this wasn't the first revision that I did for the book. I did a small polish and added two scenes about a year into its publication when I changed the cover. But this was a full-over revision where I retyped EVERY word. Added scenes. Completely rewrote one chapter.

But I do not, typically, recommend that an author do what I just did. Here's why I did:

1. The book had been on the market for five years. I have thus had five years of growth as an author.
2. I really had rushed the book's publication five years ago.
3. The book is the first in a series that I plan to be writing for many years to come (I have nineteen books with confirmed titles, and a number more after that) and Sew being sub-par has impeded my ability to (a) promote this series and (b) write the next book.
4. I currently have Grammarly Pro, and want to get the most of it before my year's subscription is up.

So, that said, why I don't recommend that authors do this.

1. It prevents you from moving forward. If you're stuck revising last year's book, you're not writing this year's.
2. Your book is never going to be perfect.
3. It can annoy your readers to have the book constantly updating.

And here's why it annoys your readers:

1. If they have a paperback, they're going to have to REBUY your book to get your updated version.
2. If they have a kindle ... well, kindle's nicky* about updating a reader's copy. So they're going to delete their copy and REBUY it. And you can be nice and set your book for free for a bit, but if they miss that...
3. They're scared that you'll change, or even remove their favorite part.

*A word I made up based on persnickety and another word that I can't remember. It basically means very annoying and stubborn and doesn't do what you want it to.

So, if you're considering revising your books, I want you to ask these questions:

Why I want to revise?

Because I found typos: On this one, go ahead and fix them. As authors, we have a duty to look professional and provide books that are easy to read. Typos disrupt a reader's reading experience. So, since we have the power to fix them, we should do just that.

Because I want to change this one scene: Ah, but what if that was a reader's favorite scene? Unless you have readers specifically targeting a scene saying that it was badly written, I'd leave it alone.

Because I discovered something in the sequel: Up to you on this one. Just bear in mind that you might confuse readers who read the unrevised book one and are unaware that you changed it, or don't have the option of getting a hold of this revised version.

Because readers were taking issue: If your negative reviews outweigh your positive, then, yes, give them a grain of salt and consider revising. If it's relatively few, remember that you aren't ever going to write a book that everyone likes. I do recommend examining what they're taking issue with, though. For instance, with Sew, one of my readers mentioned that it seemed to her that events that took place over a month only seemed to take place over a couple days, and thus one of the romantic relationships felt rushed. So I went back over the book, saw that, yes, it did seem that way, and that was one of the issues that I addressed.

How essential is this book in your writing career?

Sew, It's a Quest is the first book of a series that I plan to be writing for pretty much the rest of my writing career. Its first three books are very order-dependant, and the books after that, moderately so. As such, it's a book that I cannot bury under my list of books. It's a book that I NEED to be promoting for many years to come. Thus, it was crippling my sales, and my ability to keep writing the series.

However, if your book is a standalone, or even part of a shorter series, I'd recommend leaving it alone. Everyone who is going to buy it has probably already bought it. Move on to the next project and make it bigger and better. Some day, someone will come back to your old books and smile and shake their heads, but you don't need to use it as your first impression.

How much have I learned since publishing this?

When I published Sew, I was sixteen. It was only my second completed book. I had not found my writing voice yet, I had not matured in my writing skill yet, and I there were things that were in my head that I failed to convey onto my paper (essential things like - how long they were sitting under the Big Tree).

Five and a half years later, I have published seven more books, I have found my voice, matured a LOT in my skill, and now see where I failed to convey things like that.

Do I have loyal readers who would be annoyed with me if I changed things?

Bookania has a few loyal readers, and I actually conscripted some of them as my beta readers as I did my revision. However, largely, it's a far less popular series than my Rizkaland Legends. As such, I could get away with larger changes.

Still, I did keep things mostly intact. There was only one chapter completely rewritten, and I did cut a few paragraphs here in there ... but those paragraphs had been "padding" that I'd written to reach my word count in NaNo, and didn't add anything to the story.

And, then, for my revision, I didn't rerelease it in the same purchase link as the previous edition. If a reader has the old version, they can still read it. And they can purchase this new edition (or get it for free today, and I plan to put it on permafree in about three months) and read it.

However, there's one thing that I see a lot of authors doing that annoys me to no ends, and it's this: REMOVING their books from the market.

When you hit publish, you make a commitment for your book to be available to readers. For it to ALWAYS be available to readers. See, there's a book I really like, I won't name names, but it was the first steampunk that I'd ever read and I'm pretty good friends with the author. Now, the book had issues. The author loved mixing up homonyms. Her most recent book, she published traditionally ... and had an actual editor - and realized how bad her previous books were.

Then promptly pulled all five of them from the market. From following the author's blog, I read that she's planning on COMPLETELY changing one of my favorite characters. And this scares me. Plot-wise, I really liked that book. She only needed to clean up her homonym act.

If you are going to revise your book, only pull it when you're about to release the new version.

So, yeah, bottom line. Only revise if you have to, and be as nice as you can to your readers about it.
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