Amanda Thrasher, Article, author, Book Marketing, books, Cereal Authors, chapter books,, Children's story, educators, Fiction, Life, Literary, parents, publishing, Sharing, Social media, Teens, tweens, writer's life, YA

TLA 18 – What’s this all about?

Signing copies of Bitter Betrayal in the featured author area at TLA 18.

Sooooooo the coolest thing that I believe as an author, Amanda M. Thrasher, and organization, Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, that we are a part of on an annual basis is the TLA (Texas Library Association) Conference. I have attended this conference for years, signed as a featured author for at least five years, and we have committed as a publisher, for now, four years.

Being an author first, and a co-owner and CEO of an independent press founded by authors, we continually try to locate and find ways that bring the most ‘bang for our buck’ for our authors. What exactly does that mean when it comes to TLA? In case you are not familiar with TLA, it is a professional organization promoting librarianship and library services in Texas. Through legislative advocacy, continuing education events, and networking channels. The conference usually has between 5000 to 6500 attendees, if not more, and often consist of librarians (academic, public, and private), educators, consumers, category buyers, publishers, vendors, to name a few. 

Being that it takes place during the week, most attendees go on their companies time and dime. This is good for us, (publishers and authors) because the visitors are pre-registered and literally plan up to a year in advance to attend the conference which brings a different type of ‘crowd’ versus people just look for something entertaining to do. So what do all of those people do?

Signing ‘The Greenlee Project’ at TLA 18

Everyone attends sessions as they listen and learn about new techniques, equipment, products, and don’t forget they all get to network and socialize as well. Meeting the authors is always a big draw, especially the featured authors, and so many fantastic publishers are represented such as Penguin Random House, Scholastic, McMillan, Disney, Chronicle Books, Capstone, Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster, Little, Brown, Book Co., to name a few…. Oh yeah, and us 🙂 as well, Progressive Rising Phoenix Press.

I am not big on the author to author events (me personally), that become book swaps. However, I will always tell our authors, or any other that ask, that I believe in this particular trade conference. This one is worth saving your $’s for and vesting in the trip. It moves yearly, location, but is always in Texas. We network; share our work with the librarians, teachers, and readers. Sign books, and pick up book orders. I have attended and signed at ALA, BEA, and TLA. For us, PRPP, I still believe we receive the most value for our vested dollars in this event. If you have ever considered going, as a company, but you are not sure if it is worth it or if you are an author and you do not know if you should spend the dollars here are my top reasons for doing so:

1) It is a professional trade show; attendees are pre-registered, and that means a guaranteed X amount of participation.

2) Attendees are there with a purpose to do the following: Place book orders for their locations, receive free books for review, and to share new talent or books with their districts. If you have a new title or an old title with limited exposure, it is the perfect place to share your work with the experts or potential real buyers.

3) It is expensive, yes, but with a joint effort it can be done and is worth the $’s spent due to the added benefit of buyers, readers, vendors, librarians, educators, all under one roof at the same time.

4) Networking with different schools, librarians, teachers, readers, is priceless, especially when they are all book lovers and want to be there with you.

5) We have placed multiple bulk orders through this conference, introduced new titles and authors, and re-launched older titles.

6) Negotiated contracts for services authors cannot receive on their own, such as Lexile scoring, contact made through TLA.

7) Received great submissions & we do not solicit authors.

8) Met librarians, teachers, educators, and others that we have stayed in touch with and shared our catalog, and new titles over the year. They have come back, and picked our latest work, sharing it with their districts.

9) Featured author area: the authors are reviewed and scheduled to sign. The advertising is great, and visiting with people as you sign your work is fantastic, but having them come back year after year, remembering you from the year before as they look for your new work….is…..priceless.

10) Often it seems as if we accomplish more at this one trade show than at ten regular author events. Those often seem time-consuming, turn into author swaps, and end up with minimal unit sales.

TLA

Copyright © Amanda M. Thrasher 

Amanda M.Thrasher

Progressive Rising Phoenix Press

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Amanda Thrasher, Article, books, Cereal Authors, Children's story, childrens stories, educators, Fiction, Life, Literary, parents, publishing, Sharing, Social media

What was your proudest professional moment?

Many of us belong to groups including social media groups. Often added without our knowledge, some groups I know nothing about the subject matter at all, and yet there I am, added. I won’t lie; I spend very little time socializing online, socializing period. I’m not necessarily an unsocial person, but like most people these days I’m spread pretty thin, and I’m incredibly busy. Between my family, personal writing time, and work, spare time is a real issue. But recently a social media group sent out a question that ended up in my inbox, and it caught my attention. It was a great question, which made me stop, read the question and think.

What was your proudest professional moment?

I thought about that question for several minutes. We all have proud personal moments, kids and family rising to the top of the list. But the proudest professional moment, I hadn’t given that particular question much thought till right then.

I think on a personal, professional level, having Barnes and Noble Small Press Division, NY, at one-time purchasing three of my titles, little author, and a small press was a huge professional moment for me. They don’t stay there long, store category buyers list, and it’s not the same as .com. line. That was a huge accomplishment at the time, knowing we have great titles with sales under their belts, large author platforms, that have been declined over and over again for the category buyer store purchase. That ranked pretty high for me, as an author, as a proud professional moment. Starting a business with my business partner, a press founded by authors, in a competitive industry and personally being invited to discuss our company with our print managers at LSI/Ingram in TN was huge. Touring the plant, negotiating a contract that was feasible for us as a company and beneficial for our authors was also a proud professional moment. But one of the proudest moments I can remember, professionally, was the day I received a letter from a Site Director, Jeremy McNair, for one of the after-school programs that he managed at an elementary school on behalf of another organization. I had been asked to conduct a month-long workshop with multiple sites. Listed as one of my locations the letter stated the following:

Dear Amanda,

My name is Jeremy McNair, and I am the Site Director for the YMCA program at Butler Elementary School. This past Monday, you came and spoke to my students about your book and the writing processes behind them. The past two days since then have been completely filled with the kids telling me how much they learned and enjoyed your presentation. I wish I could take the time to tell you every story, but I’ve typed up several of the letters that they’ve written to you and copied them to the end of this email. Your drive and passion were well received and noted by all the children and staff, and I know that your impact will resonate in a huge way in all of their lives.

Thank you so much for your dedication to your craft, but even more than that, thank you for sharing it with the children at Butler. They were left truly inspired.

Sincerely,

Jeremy McNair

This touched me in such a way, as did the letters from the students below (read them, and you’ll see what I mean, precious) that it reminded me of why authors/writers do what we do. Why we share our work, spend time, and encourage our future young writers to tap into and use their imagination to create beautiful future works. Over the years I’ve participated, completed, and accomplished many things that other people would be proud of, but this to this day ranks as one of my proudest professional moments.

Letters from the students below (they’re in a laminate paper for protection) but click on the image to enlarge and read.

Amanda M Thrasher Website

Article, author, books, Cereal Authors, JD Holiday, Writing Process

Text-To-Speech: An Editing Tool

           Text-To-Speech: An Editing Tool by JD Holiday

Reading apps are not just for you to read Ebooks. Text-to-Speech software or apps, TTS, are intuitive apps that read to you. This is a good way to proofread and spot then easily correct mistakes in your own manuscripts, articles and school papers for anyone not just people with dyslexia.

Of course, some of you might know this already but for those of you who don’t, this can be a stroke of luck. Imagine listening to your own words read back to you before anyone else has read it. For me, hearing my own words read to me was a treat.

BUT there was a great benefit. I was able to hear any mistakes and fix them easily. Now, my main problem is switching words, a problem caused by dyslexia. I might type where or were for here or there. OR, what for that, or and for can. Really. It is a mystery to me even. It’s a problem that has to be weeded out of my manuscripts. So Text-to-Speech software is just what I needed.

I tried a few Text-to-Speech apps and found that Voice Reading (Read Aloud) by Microsoft Word worked the best for me. Microsoft developed this text-to-speech software to help people with dyslexia as well as editing. This app reads to you from these formats: EPUB, PDF, DOC, DOCX, TXT in either a male or female voice. It’s not perfect. It some cases, the borders are not aligned and you can’t move forward without clicking to the next page, which I found annoying at times, and the read voices are not all the natural.

Screenshot (15)
This is how I edited. I set the Read Aloud app to one side, and the manuscript to the other. When I hear a mistake, I stop the app and fix the problem.

Before you start looking for a text-to-speech app though, look on your devices to see if they have them as part of the operating system. I know iphones, androids, and some tablets already have some versions of a Text-to-Speech on them.

Last note:  I did try the Natural Readers free app without success. I found that their free text-to-speech app posts an ad to buy their other versions on just about every page. It flashes up and you have to delete it every time to continue the app. It also would sometimes malfunction when you tried to get it to go back a page or two.

So the FREE Voice Reading (Read Aloud) by Microsoft is worth tryingFind out more about the Voice Reading (Read Aloud) by Microsoft Word at:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/readaloud/9wzdncrdn3ms

©JD Holiday 2018

Amanda Thrasher, Article, author, Book Marketing, books, educators, Excerpts, Fiction, Life, Literary, parents, publishing, Sharing, Social media, Teens, tweens, Uncategorized, writer's life, YA

The Dangerous Side of Teen Dating

I have two teenage daughters at home. My son, now grown, survived the teen years. I’m certain my girls will as well, though they’ll likely receive a few bumps and bruises along the way. Heartache, fallouts with friends, and decisions about future life goals will leave a few scars.

Dating, according to many teens these days, is often nothing more than a hook-up. Sound shocking? Yes! But according to teens, it’s normal. In fact, they rarely call dating, dating anymore. It’s often just referred to as hanging out. I’m hanging out with so-and-so, and then onto the hook-ups. This behavior of hooking up and even random hook-ups is considered normal for many teens. How do I know? I spoke to groups of teens and they spoke candidly and with no fear of their behavior. Local Dr’s told me they treat teens on a regular basis of two to three times a week for STD’s. I know… WHAT?! Scary? It is! It’s not that parents and schools aren’t talking to these kids about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases or having sex too young because they are, it’s that kids, especially teens, often think that they’re invincible and nothing can happen to them. Some teens were treated over and over by the same Dr. for the same STD, and this is a national problem, not a community issue. In addition to the physical dangers of this type of behavior, the kids often aren’t prepared for the emotional and complications that can come along with behavior that they’re not ready for.

But hanging out and worrying if your kid is hooking-up isn’t the only danger that goes along with teens social lives today. Dying to grow up, surrounded by social media promoting just that, some kids think they’re more mature than they really are, jump into physical relationships taking on more than they can emotionally handle. The problem is they often don’t understand the dangers of that until the emotional rollercoaster starts. Some teens are forced into sexual situations prematurely, especially if they’re not thinking clearly because they’re impaired by using drugs or alcohol. Obviously, the fallout is devastating and can be life-altering.

Concerned about the accounts that I heard from teen after teen, fearful my teens would find themselves in a dangerous situation themselves, I set out to write a novel that would imitate a true-life threatening situation. The situation that occurs in the book, takes place too many times and affects too many young girls/women and boys/men. This type of situation, as in the book, becomes increasingly complicated when the relationship has been a lasting one and something terrible happens. Lines are crossed, emotions are suddenly confused, and lives are forever changed. My hope is that if only one person reads the book, thinks twice about getting into the type of situation described, then I’ve done my job as an author and accomplished what I set out to do with the message in this piece.

I believe I pulled the overall message of Bitter Betrayal off in regards to showing how the dating situation effects young boys/men and girls/women differently due to their emotions and how they handle a dating situation. I believe the scenes that show the destruction of the relationship depicts what happens to some teens when they find themselves in dangerous situations.

I’ll be one of the authors on a panel at the TeenBook Fest by the Bay, speaking to over seven hundred teens about this book. It shows the dangers of miscommunication while being impaired and how great kids make terrible mistakes that affect them for the rest of their lives. The book has won two awards, The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA), Gold, which evaluates products and services created for children, families, and educators. The program is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products, and services, and the New Apple Literary Award, both for YA. If you’re a teen, parent, educator, youth group leader, or a librarian, this book may interest you.

Here’s an excerpt of the book:

Bitter Betrayal by Amanda M. Thrasher Text Copyright © 2017 Amanda M. Thrasher – All rights reserved. Published 2017 by Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, LLC

Sweet as Sugar, Bitter as Poison

Picking a college wasn’t turning out to be as easy as Reece had hoped. The school he wanted to attend was out of state and hadn’t made him any kind of offer yet. His coach had written letters of recommendation. His grades were good, game films highlighting his plays were in the hands of several recruiters, and services that assisted students and parents were working on his behalf. But the waiting part was no fun. His parents wanted him to stay in Texas, but agreed not to stand in his way if a school he liked came knocking.

Reece wanted two things: to attend a D1 school and receive an out-of-state offer. Truthfully, he hadn’t thought too much about Payton or what she thought. There were 347 D1 schools that he was aware of, scattered across forty-nine different states. Some colleges were smaller, private schools and some larger universities, but the odds of Reece receiving a full scholarship were excellent. Coach had said a full ride was more than a realistic possibility; it was a probability, especially riding on his brother’s reputation. Reece idolized his brother and wanted to follow in his footsteps, not easy to do, but he never once felt jealous or envious of his brother’s success. Coach always bragged about Royce and Reece. Proud to have coached them both in their high school years.

“Just like Royce, son. You are capable of playing for a D1 program,” Coach Duncan would say. “You know, those programs can generate millions of dollars in revenue annually for the schools. And like your brother, you could handle the pressure of performing and the expectations of winning.”

Reece believed Coach and worked hard at proving him right. Payton cringed when Reece talked about the schools he wanted to attend, because she knew it meant the inevitable—he’d be leaving. He’d get so excited. His eyes would light up and he’d get animated as he talked. She was happy for him, but sad for herself. Despite the heaviness she felt weighing on her heart and in her head because she missed him already, she tried her best to encourage him. He called her to tell her about an email Coach had received asking about his eligibility. He could tell she was down by how quiet she got on the other end of the phone. Now he knew why he hated to call. He’d rather send her a text than talk.

“You know we’ll stay in touch every day and hang out when I come home.”

“Well, yeah,” she replied, kinda shocked that he had to actually state it. Surely that was understood. Wasn’t it?

“Just checking. You sound down or something.”

Payton shook her head, and then realized she needed to answer. He couldn’t see her through the phone.

“Sorry. I’m fine.”

“I’m almost there. Are you ready?”

“I will be by the time you get here,” she said. “If you let me off the phone!”

When Payton climbed in, Reece raised the console divider in the front seat so she could sit next to him. He’d crank the aux and she’d lay her hand on his leg, unless he was holding hers in his. She loved Friday nights, even more than Saturdays. It was the excitement of spending real time with him after being in school all week. They were going to the movies with Reece’s friends. Aubrey didn’t have a date and even though she could have joined them, she opted out. Payton didn’t mind. All of her attention was on Reece anyway.

“You smell good,” Reece said as soon as Payton climbed into the truck and turned to give him their customary kiss hello.

She knew the perfume she’d sprayed all over her clothes and neck was his favorite perfume; smiling coyly, she kissed him again.

“Trevor might bring some girl,” Reece stated nonchalantly.

Payton laughed. “Like just some random girl, seriously?”

Reese shook his head. “Right! I didn’t ask. He said he might bring some girl. I don’t care who.” He took a sip of Coke. “But I think her name begins with an S. Samantha, Sydney, Sophie, something like that. Chase is coming as well, but I doubt he’ll bring anyone; no one will date that loser.”

As they turned onto Trevor’s street, they saw Trevor outside, leaning against his car with a pretty girl standing next to him. She was tall, slim, and blond. Payton didn’t recall seeing her before, but gave her a quick once-over as they walked toward the truck.

“This is Stacie,” Trevor announced as they climbed into the back.

“Stacie,” Reece repeated, glancing at Payton.

“Hi, Stacie, nice to meet you.” Payton made the introductions for everyone.

Reece looked at Trevor as the girl climbed into the truck and gave him a nod of approval. How did Trevor score a date with that? Trevor looked as if he hadn’t quite figured it out either; he seemed to know exactly what Reece meant as he grinned big, shrugged his shoulders, and threw up his hands. No complaints from him. They had met during one of his classes. She was a transfer. Totally used to rejection, Trevor was bold enough to ask her to go out with them that night. Shockingly she had said yes, and here they were. She was undeniably hot and he wasn’t. Weird.

“You never know if you don’t ask, bro,” Trevor muttered as he patted Reece on the back.

Payton leaned over the back of the seat and spoke to the girl.

“You’ll get used to it. They talk to each other as if we’re not here, and they do a lot of things in groups.” She laughed out loud. “They say girls are bad about doing everything together. OMG! These guys. Stick around, you’ll see.”

Trevor grabbed Stacie’s hand, not sure if he’d actually see her again after that evening, but she didn’t seem to mind. More of Reece’s friends were waiting for them at the movies than they’d expected. Doug, Shane, Tristan, and Lisa. Additional introductions were made, tickets bought, and seats found. Sci-fi was not her thing, but Payton was just glad to be there. The boys enjoyed it, though; she knew because they were relatively quiet throughout the entire show. Unusual.

“Where to?” Payton asked as the credits rolled.

“Lake. Tiger’s trail,” Trevor suggested. “Denis said there’s a party up there tonight.”

Returning to the truck, Reece nodded, turned up the music, slipped his hand into Payton’s, and they took off. Trevor was right. Trucks, cars, and kids were everywhere. There was no telling how long they had until someone called it in, but they were there now. The typical classic red plastic cups found at every teen get-together were being passed around. Beer was drunk by most, but others were slamming liquor brought by kids who could get their hands on it. Some of the kids pretended to drink it. Peer pressure. Payton was one of those kids. She held onto a cup that was handed to her and pretended to sip what was in it. Fake IDs were something else that kids seemed to have easy access to. Payton was dying to look into that, but hadn’t quite been brave enough to attempt it yet. Reece didn’t need one. If he needed anything, Royce took care of him. It was common knowledge that teens were able to get their hands on just about anything they wanted or needed if they had a few dollars. If the price was right, someone always seemed to know someone who could get it or whom to ask. At these parties vodka floated around because it looked like water, was easily found in most homes, and easily mixed with soda, juice, or just about anything else. Every time Payton was handed a drink with vodka in it, her mom’s voice would ring in her head. Kids on booze: not only illegal, but lethal. Her mom had recited these words for years, hoping Payton would avoid the teen drinking scene. Payton was an observer and Reece for the most part was too, unless he was planted somewhere for the night and even then he didn’t usually overdo. But he didn’t mind enjoying the scene with his friends and usually he had fun no matter what, especially with his girl by his side. Handed a beer, Reece shook his head and pointed to his truck.

“Dude, I’ve got a full truck tonight.”

His attention turned to Payton as he reached for the cup and handed it to her.

“Babe, yours is gone, you can have it.”

She wanted to shake her head and decline as well, but against her better judgment she held out her hand. Noticing the hesitation on her face, Reece pulled her toward him and whispered in her ear.

“You’re good, you’re not driving. Plus, you’re with me.”

He put his arms around her waist, leaned forward, and kissed the back of her neck. She turned around to face him and he pulled her even closer, kissing her with such intensity that her stomach filled with butterflies. She kissed him back just as hard. As he pulled away from her, he whispered something so softly she wasn’t quite sure what she’d heard. Were they the words, as in the real form and not a version of them, like he usually said, or number digits in his texts? That’s what they sounded like; surely she hadn’t missed the words? Tugging at his sleeve, she asked him to repeat what he had said.

“Wait. What? What did you say?”

“You heard me,” he countered with a muffled voice so no one else would hear him.

“No, really. What did you say?”

“I love you, babe,” he whispered again, bashfully the second time. He kissed her on the cheek and turned back toward his friends, joining their conversation as if he hadn’t just said the most important words she’d ever heard.

Seriously, the words! First thing she wanted to do was say them back, but she couldn’t because he was talking to his friends. Then she wanted to text her BFF, Aubrey, but she couldn’t do that either, because Aubrey would want details. Super excited, madly in love, how could she have known what would happen next?

Author Website Amanda M. Thrasher

 

Article, publishing, Rachel Rueben, writer's life

Advice To Self-Published Authors

instagram_9a796db7c8
Image via Pixabay

In 2009, I decided to become an author, unfortunately, I had no idea what kind of journey I was signing up for.  As I threw my hat into the race, publishers were closing left and right due to the Great Recession.  Also, Amazon had just started challenging the U.S. publishing industry by creating the Kindle e-reader and their Kindle Direct Publishing company.  Now in 2018, the publishing industry has changed so much, today, many authors are choosing to go indie and major publishers are being even more selective about what they acquire.  So what would I say to an author just starting out today?  Well, I gathered some of the best advice I could and decided to publish it all here.  Hopefully, you too will pass it on to the next generation of newbie authors who don’t have a clue about how the publishing thing works.

 

  1. Educate yourself on the business and keep up with industry news. ~Rachel Rueben

 

  1. My advice to authors is to EDIT EVERYTHING WELL! If you aren’t confident of your own skills, hire someone. Yes, it gets expensive, but it’s worth it. We all make mistakes, miss things, or simply don’t know the correct way to say something. Research your would-be editor well. I’ve seen professionally edited, big company published, best selling authors, with grammatical errors. Apparently, neither they, nor their editors, knew the correct grammar. Find someone who will do a good job at a fair price. If you can’t afford an editor, then read your manuscript until your eyes bleed and your brain melts.” ~Dellani Oakes

 

  1. Avoid vanity presses they accept your manuscript but they charge you for the privilege of getting published.  It’s fine if you have money to throw at the endeavor but you are better off self publishing on Amazon.” ~Karen Vaughan

 

  1. Best advice? Decide how much control you want in the decisions about your new work. A finished story can be like the writer’s baby, so that writer has to decide how they feel about letting it go to another for the “growing up” process. Whether to self-publish with a POD, an ebook indie publisher, or try for the traditional publishing houses, it can be a matter of time and persistence. However, the bigger the publisher, the less control a writer might have on the decisions of cover, marketing, or even the edits. So, a new writer will have to choose whether they want to take the time to submit queries, submissions, and find agents so that they can possibly get more notice (and hopefully money) for their work, but have to let the fine details go to someone else and start working on the next. Or, if they have the tenacity to market themselves, they can have complete control of their baby and self-publish. An indie ebook press can offer a range between these two. Some have their own artists and editors, some let the author have the final say. But, once you have your “baby” fresh from your brain and “on paper” (as most books are files rather than typed manuscripts anymore), you need to decide which path of hard work, long hours, and promotion you want to do. It’s a lot of tedious work either way. As a self-publisher, I like having a say in what my books look like, but I sure would appreciate someone else doing the editing and marketing sometimes. Having a strong network of fellow authors is always good to have as well, no matter how you decide to publish..” ~Ruth Davis Hays

 

  1. Business is business, dead weight is just that, dead weight. If they are not contributing revenue they will drain your resources, cut them loose.” ~ Mike Thrasher – Chief Sales and Marketing Officer – Apex Capital From Amanda Thrasher

 

  1. On verbal agreements: “Some states do not honor verbal agreements. Others do. If one of the parties in your contract is from one of those states, then you could be agreeing to something you think you’ve mentioned casually over the phone.This one fact alone is why I do not conduct telephone negotiations with anyone on any project for any reason.

    People who want to negotiate with me must do so by letter or, these days, by email. I print those emails and keep them as work product for any agreement that we come up with, or don’t come up with, as the case may be.”  ~ Kristine Kathyrn Rusch

 

  1. You can definitely build an author platform and generate good sales from free marketing – but you will pay with your time.” ~ Joanna Penn

 

  1. About mistakes he sees authors make on social media:  “Shouting, ‘buy my book’, ad nauseam, on Twitter. No one is listening.” ~Mark Dawson

 

  1. Whatever you may have heard, self-publishing is not a shortcut to anything. Except maybe insanity. Self-publishing, like every other kind of publishing, is hard work. You don’t wake up one morning good at it. You have to work for that. ~ Zoe Winters

 

Here are a just a few books worth reading if you want to learn more about self-publishing:

  • (APE) Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki
  • Write. Publish. Repeat: The No Luck Required Guide to Self- Publishing Success by Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant and David Wright
  • Closing the Deal on Your Own terms by Kristine Kathyrn Rusch
  • Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook, Second Edition, by Helen Sedwick
  • How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn (This is book 2, in a series.)
  • Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran

Also, if you want more information and resources you can check out: Important Resources for Indie Authors Parts One & Two, right here on the Cereal Authors blog.

 

Happy 2018, if you have any advice that you would like to impart to the next generation, please share it in the comments section.

 

Article, Book Marketing, Rachel Rueben, Social media

Instagram For Authors Part 2

Instagram for Authors Part 2
Image via Pixabay

In my last post. I talked about Instagram and how authors can use it to build a social media following as well as what type of content to post.  Today, I’m going into the specifics on how to use Instagram to promote a book.  I’m also going to give a few ideas on when to post as well as how to maximize your time spent there so that you don’t spend all day posting pretty pictures.  So without further ado…

A Free Feature Authors Can Use For Book Promotion:

Instagram recently released a new feature (copying SnapChat) called, Instagram Stories where you can post a series of pictures, or videos for 24 hours.  Why would somebody want to do that?  It’s to create a sense of urgency and trigger the impulse mechanism within a human brain which can be ideal for things like:

  • A presale
  • A limited sale
  • A book giveaway
  • Or even a contest

The images or videos appear as a slideshow and you can post throughout the day. The only drawback is, there’s no ability to interact with your followers because there are no comments or likes for these kinds of posts.  If you’re interested, here’s a post from Instagram’s own blog which goes into further detail.

Instagram Carousel

Last year, Instagram launched a feature of slide shows posts called Carousel where users can load up to 10 photos or videos to one single post just like the Stories feature but without the time limit.  Like the Stories feature, users can spread their posts out over a period of a day or several weeks building up to a big sale or your even the release of your next book.  It’s all up to you.

Here are more ways authors can use Instagram’s Carousel feature:

  • Post a set of teasers from your work
  • Reveal a book cover
  • Announce a book release
  • Have a book sale
  • Hold a giveaway
  • Host contests
  • Post a series of book trailers

A refreshing example of an author using the carousel feature wisely is author Krystal Sutherland, who used it to display her book covers in various languages.  Also, blogger Ana Hoffman, took the feature and used her pics to introduce herself, as well as her work to her followers.  These two ladies knocked it out of the park.

Instagram Polling Stickers

One big complaint that many users had about Instagram was it’s very basic features.  I mean, there really wasn’t much you could do to engage your followers outside of responding to comments. So in response, Instagram recently introduced polling again, copying SnapChat’s Polly service.

Ways authors can use polling:  

  • Ask about questions about pricing for example: Is $5.99 too much for an ebook?
  • Opinions on book covers.
  • Thoughts on book titles.
  • Ask about various characters for example: Do you think Character A deserves his own book? Should Character B get the ax?

This feature can be very helpful to authors wanting to mine data from their followers.  And the good thing is, people love to give their opinions so it’s not considered intrusive.

Scheduling Apps Are A Complicated Business On Instagram

Sadly, Instagram doesn’t allow third party apps to post to their site.  But, there are several companies that have gotten around that by offering reminder services, where you create a post on an app and after you schedule it, it sends you a reminder to your phone.  When you receive this reminder, you can post it through your phone.  It’s a roundabout way to get past the obstacles that Instagram has created for users.  If you’re wondering why do they do this?  It’s to keep people posting through their (Instagram’s) mobile app and not via a desktop or third party app.  However, there are a few rogue services that break those rules but I won’t mention them here, because if you’re caught, your account can be suspended.  Remember, Amazon is still suing multiple companies as well as several individuals that repeatedly broke the rules on their website.

I have to admit, I do make it a point to preschedule things just so my account doesn’t lie dormant for months at a time while I write my next book. However, I only use the services approved by Instagram, I’ll list those later on.

Before I do that, I’ll discuss why authors should consider pre-scheduling apps.  During a book launch, you might be asked to do interviews or even write a guest post on a popular blog.  Most hosts would appreciate it, if they don’t require an author to promote the project on their own social media sites.  Now I know that sounds like common sense but you’ll be surprised at how few authors actually do this.  It’s not because of ego or the fear of marketing but usually because during a book launch, authors are busy or just plain nervous.  Nonetheless, this can be seen as rude or unprofessional by those trying to help promote us and our work.

What can scheduling/ reminder apps help authors promote or remember?

  • Book signing dates
  • Radio or television interviews
  • Online or offline book tours
  • Holiday posts: Wish your followers a Happy New Year or World Book Day. Yes, that’s a real holiday.
  • Post while on vacation or even while sick.

Many authors use these scheduling apps for pretty much all their social media accounts, though I don’t recommend relying solely on these apps to post, I do believe they can be aides in helping keep authors organized.

The more popular scheduling/ reminder apps are: 

There you have, it more tips and ideas for authors who want to use Instagram for their book marketing.  If you have anymore tips, please let me know in the comments section.

 

Amanda Thrasher, Article, author, books, Cereal Authors, Dellani Oakes, Excerpts, Fiction, interviews, publishing, Ramblings, review, Romance, So Much It Hurts, Social media, Uncategorized, writer's life, Writing Process

‘So Much It Hurts’ ~ Another hit by Dellani Oakes

Dellani Oakes

Many authors hold multiple positions in other areas of our lives. However, regardless of how busy we are, nor how many books we have written, it does not change the fact that each time we have a new release we feel the same as any other author exposing themselves to the world for the very first time. Feelings are often are the combination of joy, nervous anticipation, excitement, and a slight element of fear (at least for me). Dellani Oakes is no exception to the rule of a woman with multiple roles; she is a busy wife, mother, Blog Talk Radio host, publisher, and an author. She lives in Florida, grew up in Western Nebraska, has lived in multiple states, and being a people watcher by nature, this has given her the opportunity to gather information over the years for her work.

She’s written multiple novels, but now has a new romance, set to release November 1, 2017, from Tirgearr Publishing, titled – So Much It Hurts. I’m thrilled to say I had the opportunity to interview Dellani about her work and her new novel.

The main character, Pia Donovan, Pia has just moved to the City from a tiny town in Nebraska. Overwhelmed by the fast pace, and after a long day of getting lost in the worst part of the city possible, she finally arrives at her destination, a historic, grand hotel in the downtown area. Picking her way across the rutted ground in front of the building, she loses her balance, practically falling into the arms of Flynn Chancellor. Handsome and friendly, Flynn presents a happy distraction for a girl who’s trying to recover from a broken heart.

Questions:

Amanda M. Thrasher

Amanda:

1) You have written several novels. Is this your first romance?

Dellani: I have written other straight romances, but this is the first published romance. The others are either romantic suspense or sci-fi.

2) Does Pia resemble anyone you know?

Dellani: She resembles me in several ways. First of all, she’s an academic brat. My father was a college professor. For Pia, it’s her mom. We both grew up in Nebraska, though she’s from the east and I grew up out west. It’s still the small town girl vibe. Also, her musical loves are mine – hands down, exactly like me.

3) Is the protagonist, Pia, a heroine, victim or neither?

Dellani: She is certainly no victim, though she has some hurt in her life. She does suffer a little in the story, but she rises above. I wouldn’t call her a heroine, as there is no real villain. However, she is a strong female lead.

4) When I think of romance, I often think of love stories. Is this a typical love story?

Dellani: It is a love story, with a bit of a surprise. If you’re asking if this follows the standard romance formula, no. But it is a sweet story of loss, love and redemption.

5) I am sure some scenes maybe steamy. How would you rate them, R rated or X?

Dellani Oakes

Dellani: This particular story is very mild. There are some heavy make-out scenes and certain acts are mentioned, but there is no graphic sex in the story. It’s more of an understood thing. Because there are some sensitive people out there, I would give it a light R. It would be appropriate for 17+

6) Being a visual writer (myself), do you have to visualize your scenes. If so, how fun 🙂 but on another note, is it emotionally draining at times being in someone else’s relationship?

Dellani: Yes and yes. I see the scenes play out in detail. I hear them talking in their individual voices, and try to capture their individual styles.

There are times when character’s don’t get along. That’s inevitable. It’s hard when the actions of one character adversely affect another. Sometimes, there’s reparation. Other times, there’s an irreparable split. Those are hard, especially if I really like both characters.

7) I know by nature you are an observer; the material is all around you, but writing romance, is it hard to find good relationships to mimic these days?

Dellani: I don’t really try to mimic any relationships. If anything, their couple dynamic is similar to my own marriage. We’ve been together 35 years and still have fun together. Our style is a little avaunt-garde but it works for us.

8) If you had to tell your audience/readers one thing about this book that you want them to know?

Dellani: Don’t pick it up expecting a “typical romance”. Anyone who knows my work already knows this, but new readers don’t. I have never followed the boy meets girl, boy and girl fight, boy and girl makeup and live horribly ever after. I can’t even imagine people hating one another throughout a book, then realizing they are in love. I give it a year—maybe.

My couples meet, feel a spark and work together against conflict. They resolve their issues and work through them together.

9) Flynn sounds as if he is gorgeous and delightful, but is he a nice person? Don’t answer if it gives away your story 🙂

Dellani: Flynn is a great guy, but he has some baggage that even he doesn’t recognize. He’s learning and growing as a person. I love Flynn. (I love Yancy and Pia as well) 🙂

10) While writing romance is hard to put original spins on twists that are already out there and make them your own?

Dellani: Yes, it can be. People have certain expectations for romance, which I don’t give them. I do my best to find ways to bring my characters closer, not drive them apart. Not to say they don’t have problems, but at least they try. Finding a new spin isn’t easy, but I hope I still deliver a good story.

11) Greenlee honestly could have been any kid, in any town, anywhere in America. Could Pia be any woman, anywhere, in any small town or is she special?

Dellani: She’s very universal, in my eyes. Although she is a musician, she could be anyone, anywhere—a displaced small town girl in the big city. I love that she’s like that, but retains her individuality – just as Greenlee did. (I love her)

12) Who is your favorite character in this book, and why?

Dellani: I love all my leads, but as far as favorite – I’m gonna have to go with Oz. He’s not a major character, but he is pivotal. Oz is special, a young man with Asperger’s, who lives down the hall from Pia. He is fiercely loyal, intuitive and sees into a person with a great clarity. He talks to Pia about seeing the pattern. At first, she’s not quite sure, but when she sings for a group of the residents, she sees it quite clearly. Glancing at Oz, she realizes that he knows what she’s seeing. It’s a cool moment.

13) What would you tell your fans excites you about this release?

Dellani: I love this book! I fell in love with the characters, I love the plot twists and I can’t wait for it to be out so that they can enjoy it too.

So Much It Hurts by Dellani Oakes

14) Did you learn anything about your self while writing this piece?

Dellani: Yes, I learned that I’m very sarcastic and have bizarre sense of humor. Oh wait, I knew that already. Let’s say that the dialogue made that abundantly clear.

15) I cannot go back and reread my pieces for a long time. I would change too many things (it is a personal author/writer thing). Now your new book is ready for release, is there a single thing you would have written differently and will you ever go back and rewrite it?

Dellani: Usually, I’m the same way. I read my books later and find things I’d change. This time, I can’t say that. I am really pleased with how this came out. Of course, five years from now, I might feel differently, but right now, no.

16) Will you write a sequel to this piece?

Dellani: I’m not sure about a sequel. It’s possible, but I think I tied up the loose threads successfully. However, I’m very likely to bring these characters into other books set in the same city. There are a few incidental characters that the three core characters encounter, who are featured in other of my books (which aren’t published yet).

17) Is there an element of mystery to this romance?

Dellani: For once, there is no real mystery involved. Since I mostly write romantic suspense, I thought it would be interesting to break away from that for once. I think I was successful.

18) How do you define success as an author?

Dellani: If I get positive feedback from readers, I feel I’ve been successful. I would love to be the writer making millions (who wouldn’t?) but I’m realistic. Those contracts are rare. If I make even one reader laugh, cry or sweat, I have done my job.

19) Define the best makebelieve day as a writer?

Dellani: My best makebelieve day would be to have a movie company call me up and tell me they want to turn one of my books into a movie and I can pick the leads.

20) If you could speak to a stadium full of Dellani Oakes fans about this book, what is the very first thing you would say after the initial introduction?

Dellani: I think I’d channel comedienne Minnie Pearl. I’d walk onto the stage in a big, flowered hat, wave my hand and say, “Howdy!” Once I had everyone laughing, then I’d start to talk.

Excerpt:

“You weren’t kidding about how close it all is. I’ll have to explore Making Music soon. I can’t go long without a fix.”

“We can go in now, if you want.” He turned to face the store.

The front window was filled with shiny saxophones, sparkling flutes, and tantalizing objects Flynn couldn’t name. It caught his artist’s eye, drawing him in.

“Today’s goal is campus.”

“As the lady wishes.” He swung her around to face the way they’d been going. “I should see if they’ll let me do a camo piece there. I could have fun with all the shiny objects. Matching things like metal and leather is tricky.”

“I imagine so. The textures and the way it catches the light. And suede versus tanned hide would be an additional challenge.”

“You must have taken painting classes.”

“A few. Mom thought we should all have a well-rounded education. Her granddad was an artist in Mexico. Quite well known. Maybe you know the name. Rafael Dominguez?”

Flynn stopped in his tracks. “No! Really? Shit!” His hand flew to his head, searching for a cap that wasn’t there. He grasped his hair instead. “I am the hugest fan of his work. My first copies were of his Santa Rosada Sitting. The colors are so hard to match, I couldn’t do it justice. It’s phenomenal.”

Pia’s eyes watered and she sniffled. “That was my great-grandmother. He painted that of her just before she died.”

“The play of light…the textures…his use of bold colors. It just leapt off the canvas. Incredible! Is it true he made his own paints?”

“Yes. Mom even has some containers of his original paints. Would you believe, they’re still good? We don’t use them, of course, but Mom has his recipes. Virtually unintelligible, though. We’re hoping someone will be able to read through them and figure them out. He used a very bizarre shorthand, since he couldn’t read or write.”

Flynn dug his hands into his pockets, biting his lower lip. “I need a project for my final semester. I chose the work of Rafael Dominguez. Do you have copies of the notes, or could you get them? Because I would be honored to try to translate them.”

“I do! Well, Mom does. We loaned the originals to a museum, along with some of his paintings, and sketches. They scanned them for us and put them in a display case. I can make that happen.”

Swept away by the moment, Flynn grabbed her face and kissed her. It was brash and impulsive, but he didn’t even think. As soon as he realized what he was doing, he considered stopping, but Pia took his face in her hands and kissed him back. From there, it took on a life of its own and he couldn’t stop. Sighing contentedly, Pia disengaged and smiled up at him.

“Unexpected,” she murmured. “Nice.”

“I’m sorry. I got carried away…”

“Don’t apologize unless I rack your balls.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He pulled her close, resting his forehead against hers. “Does that mean I can hope for another?”

“We’ll see.” She cut her eyes at him, grinning. Swishing away, she walked down the street.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

Links: I’m lots of other places, but these are spots where I actually share posts.

Dellani Amazon page

Dellani Oakes FB page

Blogspot http://writersanctuary.blogspot.com/

WordPress 

Twitter 

LinkedIn

Google+

Blog post by Amanda M. Thrasher

Article, Cereal Authors, JD Holiday, Truth, As Strange As Fiction, writer's life

Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Desperate Mind

perfume-labTruth, As Strange As Fiction:

Desperate Mind
by
J.D. Holiday*

I have come crossed a few people in my life who for one reason or another have found something or other about themselves that they were afraid would be found out and to cover it they made up an unbelievable story to hide their secret.
This person is the first I came across to come up with such an elaborate lie to hide they’re desperate secret.
It was the man who hired me at my lab job in a cosmetic factory where I was a a sample girl at the time back in the early 1970s. My job was making samples for the customers and taking bacteria samples and sending them for quality control. The man’s name was Mark* and he was intelligent, and probably attended a ivy leaque school, attractive, well dressed with brown hair and long sideburns always neatly trimmed. But he was also insufferable to deal with. He had to habit it of making everyone feel they were stupid because he knew so much more than they did about the cosmetic business and his reprimands would be sharp, loud and everyone would hear when he told you with attitude, ‘go back and think some more about what you were doing and do it correctly’ eye roll and all. I, myself, was afraid to disappoint him for fear of being reprimanded. But in retrospect I think that made me do my very best. As for Mark, new looking back with what I learn about him, if that was his only flaw I would have to say it wasn’t much at all.
I never look at people and see them through their religion, their color, gender, their looks or anything else, and never dared to assumed their sexual preference. As a child I remember learning for myself that if I smiled and was nice to people they would do the same to me. Well, you know how that turned out, but I’m a dreamer and really liked being liked so I kept that up through most my life. Simply, I treat people as I want to be treated and if that’s one basis flaw, if it is a flaw, I have.
As the boss of this lab Mark’s main skill was to make sure that the samples were exactly what the customer ordered. And boy, was he good at it! He could take any mistake a lab techs made whether it be the eyeshadow, face makeup, creams of all kinds, mascara, you name it and he could name what was missing or had too much of in it to made it right. Nothing left the lab to be sent to a customer unless Mark approving it. And he was rarely wrong.
Mark was friends with one of the owners’ son, Harry* who was the supervisor in the factory making sure that production ran well. Harry was a skawny guy, with drooping shoulders, losing his short whitish blond hair and wearing gray overalls daily.
Very different from Mark in every way.
The lab itself was made up of cheap kitchen cabinets along four walls of the lab with two rows of cabinets occuping the center back to back. My station in the lab was in the far dark corner, against a wall and pretty much hidden from sight by a make-up formulas filing cabinet, and far away from the long glass picture windows. Mark and Harry’s desks were side by side right in front of my station.
The two of them spent many an hour just sitting at their desks which happened to be right in front of me and they did nothing but talk as their jobs required just to monitor things on occasion, but most of the time, with little to do there they sat. If they weren’t friends they certainly spent a lot of time together in the lab.
As part of my job I not only made samples but I had to take care of the sample room where samples of every product ever made in the company’s 40 years or so was housed and I was in charge of it. The only other key was in Mark’s desk. I had to add a sample of everything made daily by all the lab technicians. So I spent part of my time away from my desk and when I was at my desk I didn’t pay any attention to what Mark and Harry talked about so I have no insight into how close they really were.
But all hell broke loose one day after I was there about 6 months.
Backing up a little, the company bosses hired the pill popper, Bromilda* (see: Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Man With A Gun for more) to be Mark’s assistant three months earlier to this event. She had a mediterranean look, was medium built, nice wavy brown hair that I admired but not a smart dresser. Why he needed an assistant I have no idea but management had known her years ago when she was a young lab tech in their lab but left to join another company and was now returning. Though way after this all happened, I wondered if the bosses had a ulterior motive.
There were eight other lab techs and most of them are pretty boisterous all day long, laughing and joking with a few of them constantly maligning others behind their backs when anyone left the room. I felt Bromilda fit right in with the latter group. Once she join that team, as it were, she mainly sat at her desk all day too, though located at the far end of the room away from Mark and Harry.
Now others may have known more about this than I did before hand but I only learned about it the morning it happened. And I was so surprised I can’t even say that I ever had an inkling that this event was going to happen.
As I remember it I believe it was a Friday in October and the days are just starting to get cold when on arriving at work and was about to take off my coat when Bromilda approached me and taking my arm, said, “I have something to tell everybody, come with me,” as she dragged me along with her to the front of the lab. Talking loudly to be heard she took the others to listen and said that Mark’s fiance had been killed in a car accident overnight. I had never heard that Mark had a fiance and was very shocked. I felt so bad for him and I could tell the others did to as the whole day was a solemn one.
Now Bromilda and I did not get along from the start. But she came to my desk and asked me what I knew. But there was nothing I could tell her as this news about Mark was new to me. For the life of me I can’t remember what I did that weekend it was pretty much uneventful but Monday morning once again there was a crisis at work and it about Mark. The place was in a hush. And you could feel the tension in the room as Bromilda (in Harry’s chair,) and Mark sat at the desks in front of mine. There was no sign of Harry.
Bromilda and Mark whispered their shouts at each other. And I couldn’t describe it as anything but. What could possibly have been the matter especially with Mark just losing his fiance what could this be about? Mark was in distress. You couldn’t help feeling bad for him. The two of them did a lot of hands flinging out, heads bobbing and animated gestures. Once in a while I would turn and look that them. It was mind-boggling without knowing what could possibly be the matter other than the obvious.
At some point they got up and left the lab. Once they were gone though the rest of us seem to settle down and able to concentrate on our work. After some time had past I had to go to the sample room in the back of the factory and as I made my way there I looked around for both Bromilda and Mark and findng no sign of them. It was at the door to the sample room that I saw the door was ajar and I I heard Bromilda’s voice. “But why lie about it,” she was saying, “it’s just you don’t need to. You need to talk to someone.” I seemed frozen in place, and at that point they turned and saw me. Mark’s head went down. Looking away from me, too, Bromilda said, “can you come back later?”
“Sure,” I croaked out and left more bewildered than I was before.
Mark never came back to the lab! The next day, Bromilda set in his place. And while I was at the Bunsen burner preparing lipstick samples with a glossy shine, someone whispered to me, “Mark never had a fiance, he made it up. The company sent flowers to a funeral home and the funeral home says there was no such funeral going on there.”
I remember saying something like,”that doesn’t make any sense.”
Someone else added, “Mark’s gay and he was trying to cover it up.”
Another said the boss called him and he had to admit it.
Others piped-in and the discussion was about how Mark wanted Harry and Harry said no but in was much more colorful description than I will use here. We never saw Mark again. He called someone in the company to say he had a job in California and was going there, that’s what he wanted to do.
Bromilda slid into Mark’s job. A few days later Harry was back and he was sitting in the chair he used to occupy when it was Mark’s desk.
I have known desperation in my life, but I never had to hide who I was nor absorb or deal with denying it. What happened to Mark has probably played out one too many times. ~ JD Holiday

My other lab story: Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Man With A Gun
https://cerealauthors.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/truth-as-strange-as-fiction-man-with-a-gun/

* Names have be changed to protect the innocence. 😀

Article, books, Cereal Authors, Rachel Rueben

Humor & Sarcasm In Writing: Examples of Laughter Throughout History

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I was asked by Dellani Oakes and Karen Vaughan to participate in a blog series about sarcasm and humor so I decided to find out what was considered funny in literature.  This quest took me way back in time before Terry Pratchett and Mark Twain even before Shakespeare.  I actually found one-liners from ancient Rome, and even further back to the Eyptians.  Below I listed some of what you could call an evolution of humor throughout the ages.  Most of these come from literature, while others are of unknown origins.  One thing to keep in mind is that what people may have found funny in ancient times may have us scratching our heads today.  Nonetheless one thing unites all cultures, people loved to laugh no matter the time or place.  I  really enjoyed researching this subject and hope you enjoy it as well.  So without further ado..

Ancient Egypt:

“I do not see a stoneworker on an important errand or a goldsmith in a place to which he has been sent, but I have seen a coppersmith at his work at the door of his furnace. His fingers were like the claws of the crocodile, and he stank more than fish excrement.”       –Satire of the Trades

Ancient Greece: Aristophanes’ Rant About Modern Poets:

“A disgrace to their art. If ever they are granted a chorus, what does their offering at the shrine of Tragedy amount to? One cock of the hind leg and they’ve pissed themselves dry. You never hear of them again.” –The Frogs

frog-1037251_1280
Image via Pixabay

 

Ancient Rome:

A man is taking care of his departed wife’s burial. Someone asks him: “Who is it that rests in peace here?” The man answers: “Me, now that I’m rid of her!”  –Source Unknown

China:

After his wife had beaten him badly, a man crawled under his family bed. “Come out this instant!” his wife screamed.
“I am man enough to do as I please!” he said. “And I’ll come out when I’m good and ready.”  –Ming Dynasty Tales

 

Shakespeare:

CHIRON:  Thou hast undone our mother.
AARON:  Villain, I have done thy mother.

Titus Andronicus: Act 4, Scene 2

Ben Franklin:

In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria.  –There is debate if Ben actually said this but it’s funny, so I included it.

Mark Twain:

To create man was a fine and original idea; but to add the sheep was a tautology (redundant).  –St. Louis Post-Dispatch (30 May 1902); also in Mark Twain : A Life

Dorothy Parker:

You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think.  You Might As Well Live: The Life & Times Of Dorothy Parker

 

Dorothy Parker Quote

 

Douglas Adams:

“In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”  –The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe

Bill Bryson:

“I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.”  –The Lost Continent

Terry Pratchett:

“Just erotic. Nothing kinky. It’s the difference between using a feather and using a chicken.”  —Eric

Terry Pratchett Quote

So what are your favorite one-liners from history, tell us in the comments section.

Bio: Rachel Rueben is author of YA, supernatural as well as romance books.  Her work can be found her on the Cereal Authors blog as well as Wattpad.  She is also a blogger at Writing By The Seat Of My Pants where she discusses self-publishing and rarely refers to herself in the third person.  😉

Article, History, Rachel Rueben, Writing Process

The Research Process That Went Into Miss Mary Mack

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Image via Pixabay

At the beginning of most writing projects there is a bit of excitement as well as fear when it comes to approaching certain topics.  Many authors love stirring the pot but at the same time we need to be sure that we’re making sense.  No matter how desperately we want to be articulate or intellectual, if we’re not making sense we’ve failed as artists.  For example, in one of my scenes in Miss Mary Mack, I had several scenes where the children were in school and back in the 1930’s, school was a much different place than it is today.

I wanted to begin the chapter with the children saying the Pledge of Allegiance however, there was problem with that, the Pledge of Allegiance wasn’t officially accepted by the U.S. Congress until 1942 and even then it was revised in 1959.  So I had to find the right version for my book to recite.  That was my first hurdle, the next would be another scene where several kids were chosen to raise the flag but as you guessed there was a problem.  You see the flag we know today was different back then because there were only 48 states.  Alaska and Hawaii were still only territories.  So my scenes had to be rewritten to reflect that.

Regrouping & Redeploying

To say I was annoyed by all this would be an understatement but I was determined to learn how schools functioned back then.  I found interviews and historical sites that filled in the gaps and learned everything you possibly could about school.  I learned about burn barrels which were used for waste disposal in country schools and even what types of lunch children brought to school (mainly leftovers from dinner or breakfast).  This type of information enabled me to make this world more tangible and relatable.

Including Myths & Folklore

As I mentioned last month, Miss Mary was a compilation of people but she was mainly inspired by the character Rosa Carmichael, a matron of a Civil War orphanage.  Rosa was an infamous character who was accused of abusing children in her care however, there is no proof that she ever existed.  The story goes that she was tried and acquitted of abuse only to be ran out of town after being accused a second time.  There are no court documents mentioning such an event and no grave was ever found belonging to Rosa.  Yet this doesn’t stop the tale from being told by locals as well as tour guides.  I took pieces of the story and wove them into my own, for example, folklore says, that in the cellar of the orphanage, there were chains where children were beaten and tortured.  However, the folklore forgets to mention that the orphanage was commandeered during the Civil War and it was most likely POWs that were shackled in that cellar.  So in my story, I make the cellar a place where unruly children are disciplined.

Why Fuss Over Minor Details?

It’s true that most people won’t notice the finer points if you don’t tell them so would it have mattered if I had the children in my story saying the Pledge of Allegiance in 1930?  Probably not, but it would’ve been embarrassing if someone did notice.  Yes all books have mistakes or inaccuracies but that doesn’t let us off the hook.  It’s our responsibility as authors to make sure our work is as great as it can possibly be.  Things don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to be professional.  If you can go the extra mile, why not?  Who knows, maybe your readers will go the extra mile for you and tell everyone about your book.  🙂

Bio: Rachel Rueben is author of YA, supernatural as well as romance books.  Her work can be found her on the Cereal Authors blog as well as Wattpad.  She is also a blogger at Writing By The Seat Of My Pants where she discusses self-publishing and rarely refers to herself in the third person.