I Wrote a Book! Now what?

Tuesday Tips (1)

It’s Tuesday, and the Great July Hiatus (which ended up not being much of a hiatus, really, if we’re honest) is OVER! Which means it’s time for another tip or trick!

We talked a lot about writing down our ideas and finishing a project in June… so it seems logical to move on to the “Now What?” question. You’ve finished your book. What do you DO with it?

**Disclaimer: In the following post I am not saying you’re NOT an author if you haven’t finished a book. I’m just moving along with my series which left off with discussing the importance of actually finishing a project! If you are a beginning author simply brimming with ideas, an author struggling with the middle of your first story, or someone stuck at how to write an ending… or anywhere in between… congratulations! You are an AUTHOR!**

Well, that kind of depends on you. The first thing you really need to ask yourself is WHY? Why did you write this book? What do you want to accomplish with it?

Perhaps you simply wrote it for yourself. Maybe this was something you needed to get off your chest and now it’s done. Maybe it’s extremely personal. Maybe you have no desire to share this story with anyone.

THAT’S OKAY.

Seriously. You can celebrate with a cookie and move on with your life, content in the knowledge that you achieved something few people ever do: you sat down to write a book and finished it. You are an author.

But maybe you do want to share your book. Maybe you don’t want to go through the hassle and effort of polishing it and making it perfect, but maybe you want to let your family and friends read it. That’s great, too! There are several affordable options for doing this that won’t end up with your unpolished book available for everyone to buy on Amazon.

Share your story with those you love. You are an author.

But maybe you want more. Your dreams include the word “published” before the word “author” in your title.

That’s where hopefully this post can help you get started. Because there are a lot of things you need to think about if you want to put your work out there for strangers to read. I’ll dig into these more in the coming weeks, but here are the things you need to focus on next.

1. Editing

2. Cover

3. Platform

4. Blurb

5. First chapter

These are the most important things to your book’s success. The order might change slightly depending on who you talk to, but from what I’ve heard and observed and the people I’ve talked to, I believe most authors would list all of these somewhere in their Top Five.

But there’s a moment here you’re not going to like much. Because it’s the thing you need BEFORE these five things can be addressed.

You have to be prepared to accept criticism without getting defensive.

If you can’t do that, you’re not ready.

I’m not saying you need to take every single piece of advice an editor gives you. I’m not saying that at all! But you do have to be able to hear someone give you honest feedback about where your story loses the reader’s attention, which scenes drag, which characters are unenjoyable, where there are gaping plot holes, places where you need to do more research because what you wrote does not make sense, and more.

Find a good editor. If that means you have to save up to pay somebody, then do so. If your book is not worth it to you to make sure it’s the best it can possibly be, how can you ask anyone else to spend money on it to read it? Be kind to your future and potential fans and don’t skimp on this.

Some people will tell you not to let friends and family edit your books. I disagree. I firmly believe that friends and family CAN be good editors, as well. If you know someone who is willing to call you out on places where you can improve, or someone who is nit-picky about grammar, punctuation, spelling, and more… AND they’re willing to work for chocolate… grab onto that person and NEVER LET THEM GO!!! (Or, you know, encourage them by telling them they’re awesome at this and watch them set up an editing business and realize that from now on you’ll probably have to pay them in something more currency-like than 2-pound Reeses Peanut Butter Cups… not that I’m speaking from experience, or anything) haha!

Editor Tears

 

The important thing is to make sure that whoever you get to edit your work is willing to tell you the truth, even if it hurts your feelings. (This works both ways, if you are going to get defensive and hurt and cry a little about their notes… make sure they never know about it. A good editor will make you cry a little. This is healthy and helps your story grow. If they know they make you cry, AND they are a friend or relation, knowing this will make THEM cry and they may decide they love you too much to hurt you again, and you’ll have to find a more expensive editor).

Again, I’m not saying you have to take their advice, agree with their comments, or work every single one of their notes into your story. It’s still YOUR story. But you have to be willing to hear that advice, read those comments, and parse through it to find out what you do agree with, and what you do need to change.

It takes a thick skin to be an author.

But I guarantee you this: wounds from a friend (or editor, or editor-friend) can be trusted. And you would rather take those criticisms from an editor, when you can still change things, than have to deal with a bunch of hurtful reviews from readers who hated your book and don’t care about YOU, either.

Wounds from Friend

 

So… you’ve written a book. Now what?

Edit. Edit. Edit.

And then?

Well… that’s another blog post!

~ jenelle

Water Princess, Fire Prince

wpfp 2017 formatted coverThe June pick for the Fellowship of Fantasy book club was one I’ve been wanting to read for a while, but hadn’t gotten around to it because: life. And because I had an old copy of the paperback and knew the author had since updated and edited the book, and I wanted to read the new version. So, as per usual, the FoF book club provided me the excuse I needed!

I had read the Bookania books a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed them and the fun fairy-tale world setting. Rizkaland is not the same as Bookania, and I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it as much… I needn’t have worried. Rizkaland is unique and every bit as much fun as Bookania, but in different ways. The world is cylinder-shaped, science works differently there, and of course, portals exist between our world and there, so our hero and heroine are not native to Rizkaland.

The main characters, Clara and Andrew, hail from our world, and get pulled through a doorway into Rizkaland in order to fulfill a prophecy and save multiple kingdoms from Amber, the dragon who threatens their world. However, Clara and Andrew aren’t certain they want anything to do with this destiny that has been thrust upon them. And they certainly have no interest in falling in love with each other, as the prophecy seems to imply must happen!

Things I Loved:

The Writing Style – It’s hard to describe a writing style, as each reader is going to have a different sort of taste or preference, but Kendra’s writing just sort of draws me in and invites me to pull a warm blanket around my shoulders and settle in, because I just know I’m about to embark on a fun adventure.

Andrew – Andrew is my favorite character in this story. He is responsible, caring, compassionate, and exactly the sort of person you’d want on your side if you had to go up against a dragon. I love that he represents a more “hearth-like” sort of fire, the steady, gentle glow that keeps you warm, rather than the raging inferno or devouring monstrosity that “fiery” personalities usually engender. But that doesn’t mean he’s weak, on the contrary, it might take more to get him riled, but Andrew is no slouch when it comes to protecting the people he cares about. He has a core of steel.

Clara – Although it took me longer, I did eventually grow to enjoy Clara. She got on my nerves a bit in the beginning, but she was frightened and so I suppose it makes sense that she felt the need to be prickly. I also have a soft spot for feisty, talented female protagonists who are a bit marshmallowy inside than they seem. Clara’s not as tough as she’d like you to think she is.

The plot - From mazes and puzzles to solve, journeys across foreign lands, quests to find each other, hints that not all is as it seems, and the culmination of an epic battle… this story was fun to read!

The references – Clara quotes things. I quote things. I think, on that front, we’d be kindred spirits. It makes me happy that I “got” every reference she made, and it was entertaining to come across these little quote-nuggets throughout the book.

Things I Didn’t Love:

As I mentioned earlier, Clara took a while to grow on me. She starts out kind of obnoxious, and I sort of wanted to shake her every now and then.

There were a few places where the story felt like it dragged a little and nothing seemed to be happening.

The battle at the end sort of felt like it ended too easily, like Amber had been hyped-up a bit too much… I guess I was expecting something a bit more epic and grand in scope.

The “it’s all going to end okay” use of prophecy throughout the story kind of grated a bit on my nerves. Don’t get me wrong, I love the prophecy trope (I wrote one, myself!), I love books with happy endings and I always want the good guys to win… but I don’t want to know a quarter of the way into the book that the ending WILL be happy and that the good guys will win. For me, that detracts from the adventure. Everything was spelled out so neatly in the prophecy, it wasn’t a mysterious prophecy, it was a “this is what is going to happen, so get on board and go do it” kind of prophecy, and for me, that made it hard to get too worried about the characters.

These are minor quibbles, however, and overall the story was an enjoyable read. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, or Inkheart.

A solid four Dragon Eggs to this one.

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~ jenelle

Ellie and the Prince

I’ve been wanting to read this series ever since I first heard about them… of course, I never get the jump on them that I want to, since I almost exclusively read paperbacks (kind of a problem when it comes to following and reading so many Indie Authors… since they’re not as likely to be in my local library) hehe. However, I recently did grab the paperbacks of books 1 and 2 in this series and, as I was in the mood for something light and whimsical… as the covers seemed to promise, bumped them to the top of my TBR pile.

I was not disappointed!

Ellie and the Prince is an adorable, magical retelling of Cinderella. Set in a magical and yet modern world that has unicorns and sprites alongside jet-skis and flashlights… this is not your typical fairy tale.

Ellie Calmer is a delightful protagonist, with a heart of gold and a mysterious past that even she doesn’t remember. However, she is fairly happy at Faraway Castle, a resort for the nobility, where she works as a magical gamekeeper and has a crush on Prince Omar. The resort Director doesn’t like Ellie much, and is always looking for a reason to fire her… and encouraging Omar’s attention is plenty of reason…

Omar is another great character, and while the story is mostly told from Ellie’s POV, Omar does not suffer from the OUAT formula of “all the princes are kind of idiots” syndrome, which I found refreshing. He is a worthy man, and does not hesitate to take action when it is needed.

Prince Briar was a bit of a mystery to me throughout the story, and I was a little concerned about a potential love triangle… but I needn’t have worried. He is nothing but honorable… and the culmination of his story came as quite the unexpected and gratifying twist of all!

I loved the unique setting of modern and magical to this tale. The characters were delightful. The tone was whimsical and sweet. It was exactly the sort of story I was hoping for when I picked it up. There was just enough danger and worry about the resort Director, and just enough mystery to keep the story moving along and exciting… for most of the book, I sort of forgot that this might be a Cinderella retelling, so the Cinderella elements that came in to play later in the story actually sort of surprised me… in the best kind of way!

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading fairy tales with a few unique twists and turns!

Five Dragon Eggs

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~ jenelle

Interview with Annie

Today I am pleased to introduce you to Annie Richards. I am a little embarrassed, because I was supposed to have this up a couple of weeks ago, but then packing and traveling took over my life and some things did not get done.

However, I hope you will all join me in welcoming Annie to the blog today! Annie is the protagonist of Sarah Ashwood’s newest fantasy novel: Aerisian Refrain.

Following the prophesied Artan’s victory over the Dark Powers, the land of Aerisia is finally at rest, until ancient beings, long imprisoned, begin to stir…

Eight years after Annie Richards’ stellar voice and musical talents skyrocketed her from rural Oklahoma to international fame, haunting visions have begun threatening her sanity. While she’s returning to her childhood home to convalesce, creatures straight from her nightmares bring down her plane. Annie wakens in a parallel world, Aerisia. Here, she discovers her musical gifts translate into magical powers—the legacy of a banished race who have been invading her dreams.

Mistrusted by Aerisia’s most powerful factions because of her heritage, Annie finds allies are hard to come by. Supporting her are one Simathe warrior, Cole, who refuses to label her as evil, and one woman willing to stand against anything and anyone to help a friend: the Artan herself. Seizing control of her destiny will mean defying both her ancestors and the Aerisian leaders. Mastering her magic may mean making the greatest sacrifice of all…or risk becoming the reason Aerisia itself is torn apart. 

I’ve been wanting to read Sarah’s Aerisia books for a while now, and I definitely need to get my hands on this newest addition! So when InterFiction decided to send me into Aerisia to interview Annie Richards, I was very excited.

As the light from my badge fades, I find myself standing in a large hallway. Over the top of a door to my left a horse pokes his nose inquisitively in my direction. I grin and go over to pat the soft nose, murmuring softly. Down the hall, another horse is standing in cross-ties and a dark-haired girl is brushing him with long, gentle strokes. Considering that nobody else seems to be around, and that my badge is fairly accurate, I assume this must be Annie Richards, the character I am here to interview. I walk over, clearing my throat so as not to startle her or the horse. She peers around the animal at me, her violet eyes striking in her deeply tanned face.

“Hi, Annie,” I begin, giving a friendly wave. Although we are in Aerisia, Annie is originally from my world, so I figure I won’t confuse her too much with a friendly wave. “I’m Jenelle Schmidt with InterFiction Gazette. I was wondering if you would mind answering a few questions? My readers are very interested in you and your story.”

The girl looks at me and nods, so I pull out my notebook and survey my questions. I decide to start with an obvious one. “You’re originally from Oklahoma, correct? Can you tell my readers how you ended up here in Aerisia?”

She sort of chuckles. “Well, now, that’s an interesting question. Like everyone else on Earth, I had no idea Aerisia existed until I wound up here. I was living my life, pursuing my career as a singer, an entertainer, when I started having these—these haunting nightmares. They eventually got bad enough I couldn’t sleep. I was afraid to sleep! I tried therapists, tried burying myself work, and in running, which I love. I tried all sorts of things, but nothing helped. In the end, I was so bad off I was willing to walk away from my career, and I did. I was on a plane going home to my father’s ranch in Oklahoma, when creatures right out of my nightmares brought down my plane. I woke up here, in Aerisia. Took me awhile to figure out I’d crossed to a parallel world, a world where magic is real.”

I scribble away, trying to capture her words. “That must have been rough. What was it like, adjusting to the reality of a different world?”

Her face turns troubled. “I would say…once I actually figured out what was going on, I adjusted fairly well. Of course, it was a huge shock at the beginning. I didn’t know parallel worlds existed. Did you? But once I met Hannah—sorry, that’s Aerisia’s Artan. She’s also from Earth, like me, but she was brought here before me to fulfill a prophecy of becoming Aerisia’s Artan, or savior. Several years ago, she successfully defeated the Dark Powers, and is now a mainstay in Aerisia’s political system. Anyway, once I met Hannah, the transition became much easier. I had someone who understood exactly what I was going through, and could answer lots of my questions. Hannah and I became friends quickly, and that really helped ease the transition between worlds. Without her help, it would’ve been way harder.”

“That makes sense,” I nod. “I’m glad you were able to find someone who could help you through the transition. Do you have any other allies here? Can you tell me a little bit about them?”

“A few is right,” she sighs. “Most of the regular folks are very welcoming, but I seem to have stepped on the wrong side of Aerisia’s fairies right from the beginning, as well as most of the Simathe. The Simathe are a group of immortal warriors, and Hannah is married to their High-Chief. Which puts me in an awkward position. I don’t know why they don’t like me: I haven’t done anything wrong that I know of. 

Still, a couple of people are taking my side. As I mentioned earlier, Hannah and I become friends almost instantly. I also clicked well with Rittean, Hannah’s Moonkind cousin. But, uh, my other…friend would be Cole. Sorry, Lord Cole. He’s Simathe, like Hannah’s husband. Lord Ilgard, the Simathe High-Chief, comes across to me as very cold and stern, but Cole is much kinder. Friendlier. He’s gone out of his way to make me feel welcome here. He’s uh…he’s…a pretty amazing guy, actually. “

I grin at her. “Hm… do I detect a romantic interest, perhaps?” She sort of blushes but doesn’t answer, so I continue with my next question. “I’ve read that you had a talent for singing in our world… but that you have a different talent here. Can you describe or explain that for my readers?”

Annie continues brushing the horse as she talks. “Shocking as it sounds, I’m slowly figuring out that my voice, which made me my living on Earth, is bringing me something else here. Magic. I don’t understand it all myself at this point. What I do know is when I sing or make music here, things happen. Fairies are summoned. Dragons are tamed. Ravens appear. In some ways, I’m terrified to find out why, even though I need to.”

“That sounds both terrifying and exhilarating. It seems like you’re having a fairly level response to all this, though I can imagine the temptation to either run screaming or misuse such power might be rather strong. But can you tell me a little bit about what your task is here, and what is at stake? It sounds like you have quite a bit of weight resting on your shoulders currently.”

Annie shrugs. “To be honest, I don’t have a lot of jobs here. Hannah is currently handling peacekeeping negotiations between several Aerisian tribes who’ve had longstanding feuds with each other. I’m just trying to keep busy by helping out around the palace, where she lives and where I’m staying as her guest. As for the weight? Yes! Like I said already, the Simathe and the fairies dislike me, and I’m not sure why. I suspect it has to do with the fact that, here in Aerisia, my voice is tied to magic, and the magic seems to be coming from a very unexpected source—the creatures who wrecked my plane and brought me here. Who are they? I’m still trying to figure that one out. I’ve seen them in my dreams here, and I’ve even met one in real life, but I still don’t know exactly who and what they are. Figuring out the ins and outs of all this is weighing on me heavily.”

“If you could have just one wish granted, what would it be?”

“Honestly?” Annie eyes me, putting one hand on her hip as she continues brushing the horse. “That Cole and I weren’t in such a difficult spot. I like him. I admit it. I really do. I’m drawn to him like I’ve never been drawn to another man. But I don’t know what good that does me when his lords openly dislike and distrust me. He’s been so nice to me, but does he like me enough to defy their authority?” She releases a heavy sigh. “I just feel like there’s no hope for us, given the circumstances.”

“I have taken up a lot of your time already, but I have a final question. Is there anything you’d like your Author to change about your story?”

Annie ponders this for a moment, dropping the brush in her hand to her side. “Well, she made my transition to Aerisia easy enough in some ways, but she hasn’t made my stay here easy at all. She didn’t have to tie me to nightmarish creatures, make several powerful races hate me instantaneously, and make the man I liked belong to one of those races. Sometimes I wonder how nice she really is.” 

I nod and put away my notebook. “Authors can be cruel… but usually it’s for the good of the story. I wish you well with yours, Annie. Thanks for chatting with me.”


Author pic 2Don’t believe all the hype. Sarah Ashwood isn’t really a gladiator, a Highlander, a fencer, a skilled horsewoman, an archer, a magic wielder, or a martial arts expert. That’s only in her mind. In real life, she’s a genuine Okie from Muskogee who grew up in the wooded hills outside the oldest town in Oklahoma and holds a B.A. in English from American Military University. She now lives (mostly) quietly at home with her husband and three sons, where she tries to sneak in a daily run or workout to save her sanity and keep her mind fresh for her next story. 

Sarah’s works include the Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy and the fantasy novella Amana.

To keep up to date with Sarah’s work and new releases, sign up for her newsletter. You can also visit her website, or find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. 

~ jenelle