Interested in Self-Publishing But Don’t Know How?

A group to which I belong, Indie Author Hub, is kicking off its first writer’s conference in June, and I’m a presenter (on Dialogue). If you’ve ever thought about writing a book and getting published without jumping through all the hoops necessary in traditional publishing, this is the conference for you! Or if you know others with those same aspirations, spread the word.

It will cover the nuts and bolts of writing, actual book creation (both print and ebook), marketing, the business of writing, and more…and it only lasts one day, all for only $59.

The keynote speaker will be NYT Bestselling Indie Author, Amy Harmon, and we’ve scheduled 21 different classes.

So think about joining me at the Courtyard Marriott in Provo, Utah on Saturday, June 7th, beginning at 7:30 a.m.

To register and get more details, go to

Indie Conference Ad Color

Originally posted 2014-04-10 06:00:14.

“Wednesday Writer” – Kathleen Ellis

I am an equal opportunity author interviewer. That means that, whether I read the genre or not, I’m interested in the writer and his/her process. I think today’s interview is a first, since Kathi Ellis writes what I would call spiritual self-help books. So she’s breaking new ground for me, but I doubt it will be my last interview in this category.

Kathi EllisME:  As someone who ended up writing a book entitled THE DARKNESS CANNOT KEEP US: CHOOSING A BETTER TOMORROW, how would you characterize or describe your childhood? Where did you grow up and do you have any regrets? (I’d love to post a picture of you as a child.)

KATHI:  Actually, the book begins in the womb of my mother. Although most people would consider this an odd place to begin a story, it seemed fitting to me. I have discovered some amazing things about my own life, and the processes in it. My childhood was incredibly difficult. 

The book describes the life my brother, sister and I had. Our family was being torn apart even as I was developing in the womb, and we were all placed out for adoption. There were six living children. The oldest two had died at birth. We were placed in an alcoholic and abusive home with no love, no nurturing in our family.

Kathi as a child(Kathi as a child…it’s amazing she could smile)

I grew up in South Dakota. My greatest regret about the childhood of my brother, sister and me was that we didn’t know our birth family, including our parents and siblings. I eventually grieved a childhood lost.

(I suspected the roots of your book began in your childhood. You certainly wrote about what you knew.)

ME:  What did you want to be when you grew up and how did that evolve as you got older?

KATHI:  When I was young I always wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to help people. I think it was mostly because of the lack of nurturing I received as a child. I think on some level I knew I was meant to help people as part of my life purpose. Through my book and workshops I am able to do that now. Writing and speaking are passions of mine.

ME:  Did you go to college and, if so, what was your major? When did you realize you had a gift for writing?

KATHI:  I went to college to study nursing, but found after the first year I was too empathic toward my patients and could not deal with their pain on an emotional level.

I have always loved writing as well as reading. In high school, my teachers told me many times I had a gift for writing. I have written many unpublished essays and poetry and did publish one poem in a National Poetry Association anthology, as well as my first book, THE DARKNESS CANNOT KEEP US: CHOOSING A BETTER TOMORROW.

The Darkness Cannot Keep Us

ME:  Part of the description of the book on your website says “the author shares insights that took her from the depths of despair to fulfillment and love in every area in her life.” You’ve already touched on it, but when and why were you in “the depths of despair,” and how did you get there?

KATHI:  I was born into the depths of despair as the reader can experience in the book.  My mother was in the throes of severe post-partum depression, as I was the youngest of eight children, and our family was being torn apart even as I grew in the womb. By the time I was 18, having grown up in an abusive adoptive home, I made a decision to commit suicide. I talk about the miracle that changed that path of my life in the book. 

I felt compelled two years ago to change the direction of the book I had previously written.  As I have grown and changed throughout the years, I finally came to a point that caused me to have meaning and understanding about my early years. What I discovered was a process called cellular memory and how it affects everything we think, say and do on a totally unconscious level. Once I understood what was going on with me, I was able to heal a lot of physical and emotional pain, and correct the direction of my life. 

The depth of despair was a cumulative effect for me all through childhood. Getting to fulfillment and love was a journey that I describe in the book. I encourage others to consider the elements I have found that produce love and fulfillment in our lives.

ME:  What led you to write about your journey from despair to love and fulfillment?

KATHI:  When my youngest brother was dying in 1995, we had just lost our birth mother.  He asked me to promise him that I would make sure our lives made a difference, and would tell our story. I began this book at that time in part as a tribute to him.

When my brother passed away, he left me a book called “Hands Of Light”. It talks about the body’s human energy field. I was fascinated by the material so I decided to take some courses on it. I have studied the human body’s energy field for a long time, and became a Reiki Master over fifteen years ago. That knowledge, together with the study of cellular memory, has helped me to understand more completely how much we are in charge of our own destiny, physically, mentally and emotionally.

ME:  How did you become a motivational speaker and at what point did you develop your workshops? Please describe briefly the kind of workshop you put on and how it relates to your book (if it does).

KATHI:  I have always loved public speaking. It started when I took speech and debate in high school. In my adult life, I was active in political and social activities that called for public speaking. In the late 80’s, I joined a Toastmaster group because I was teaching adult education courses at the local college where I lived and wanted to improve my humor. Public speaking got into my blood as I began competing in Toastmasters. 

In 1994 I had the opportunity to become a Professional Development Consultant through the National Professional Women’s Network, and was trained and certified and began doing seminars. I also had the opportunity to contract with a national speaking circuit to do personal growth workshops. I lost my $50,000 investment, however, when the company was shut down by the Federal government as illegally operating a pyramid scheme. 

Now, I conduct personal growth and goal setting workshops to help people focus forward toward a better tomorrow. I know from my own experiences that what we focus on we will move toward.

ME:  Please describe the writing process you followed to produce your book.

KATHI:  Because of the promise I made my brother, I began by journaling. It was important for me to just start somewhere. The more I wrote in my journal, the more I began healing myself. 

It’s important for people to remember that all of us have a story within us. The most basic concept begins with going inside to find and touch that seed that will grow into our story.  Once we can get that story out on paper, we can move forward in our own lives. It doesn’t matter if you put your story out as fiction or non-fiction; it’s just important that you start somewhere.

(Well said. And I agree–we all have stories in us.)

ME:  Which came first, the workshops or the book? And can we expect other books from you in the near future?

KATHI:  I have to admit the workshops started before the book. However, I realize that since I wrote the book and had it published, the context and tone of the workshops has changed entirely. Writing this book has changed my life. After my youngest brother died in 1995, we had another 12 family losses and 6 of our best friends pass away in eight years.  My two older brothers passed away two years later three months apart as well. It literally sent me to my knees. (I can well imagine!) 

Two years ago, I picked up the book again, and began re-writing. I had an epiphany one morning during meditation that totally changed the direction of the book.

I will be writing more books. As a matter of fact, I have three titles in front of me to work on.  My readers are asking when the next book is coming out, so I guess that means I had better keep my nose to the grindstone and keep working on them. 

I have been really busy with the promotion of this book. Having self-published through Balboa Press, I find that much of the work is my responsibility. I’m sure it would be easier if I had a publisher that took care of all of that work for me, but right now I am arranging my own book signings and speaking engagements, etc. It keeps me pretty busy.

(Actually, unless you get signed with a big publisher, you’re still likely to have to do a lot of your own marketing. Writers rarely catch a break.)

ME:  Finally, please describe your writing space or office, and list the five things in it that make it unique to you. (And I have to have a picture of it.)

KATHI:  I have a beautiful office! My husband hung a chandelier in it because he said every queen has to have a chandelier. It has my favorite colors on the walls, a muted purple and a purplish taupe. I like lots of light in my work place. I want cheerful and warm but serene at the same time! I have light colored plush carpet on the floor. AND I have a cross stitched sign on my desk that says “SHHH – I’m talking to God!” 

I also play beautiful soothing music when I write. It helps me go within to that space where all inspiration is found.

My space is bright and cheerful, and the walls are lined with bookcases filled with books.  Most of my books are spiritual, self-help and motivational works. I have angels, pictures of my kids, grandkids, and friends around me, and a photo of my husband on my desk. He changed my life and is my life!

(And here’s the proof):

Office (3)(A beautiful, well-lit office)

Kathi’s book is available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. If you’d like to learn more about her workshops or writing, please feel free to check out her website or her author page on Facebook.

Next week I’ll be featuring an interview with fantasy author, Candi L. Norman, who also happens to work at our local Barnes & Noble.

Candi L. Norman

Originally posted 2013-10-09 06:00:30.

“Wednesday Writer” – Cindy C. Bennett

I woke up at 4 am for some odd reason this morning, so I’m about ready to keel over right about now (it being 3 in the afternoon). But I cannot give in to a nap, not when that was brought up in my very first question to YA author, Cindy C. Bennett, who has written and published 8 novels, among doing many other things.

Author Photo 2012 smallME:  I have to say that, having read your bio on your blog, I am now completely worn out and need a nap. With all that you have going on (several writing projects, critique partners, a new writing business venture, a podcast here and there, etc.), do you ever have time for a nap? Or are you not the napping kind?

CINDY:  Nap? What’s that? LOL. I do work a lot, so it’s a good thing I love what I do so much. I usually sleep from around 4-6 am until noon or 1 pm. (Talk about a night owl!) So depending on what time I go to bed I might get my full eight, or I might only get five or six hours of sleep. So far it seems to work for me, though.

(I sense an Energizer Bunny…)

ME:  In fact, did you nap as a kid? Please tell us what your childhood was like and the kinds of activities you enjoyed most. Did anything hint of a writing future? (I’d love a picture of you as a child.)

Cindy Bennett age 7(Cindy at 7…Is that a dragon claw she’s sculpting at the beach?)

CINDY:  When I was a kid, I played Barbie’s almost obsessively. Looking back now, I can see that it was nothing more than a precursor for writing fiction, as I was making up fictional stories using my dolls. It was my favorite activity until I was deemed “too old” and then I switched my passion to reading. I could read a book a day, especially during the summer when I was out of school. 

Cindy Bennett age 9

(And here she is at 9…with a teddy bear instead of a Barbie)

ME:  You’ve written about how much your high school English teacher, Mr. Bickmore, influenced you with his 10-minute writing assignments. Can you give us the gist of your most memorable piece created from one of those assignments? (Also, I’d love a picture of you in high school, preferably a shot that includes Mr. Bickmore.)

CINDY:  I wish I had kept those writing assignments. I didn’t keep any of my schoolwork, other than a story my mom found recently that I wrote when I was 12. It’s so horrible; there’s nothing in it that would indicate any talent for writing, so maybe it’s good I no longer have any of those assignments. I wish I had a picture of me with him as well. I was extremely shy in high school, so it would never have occurred to me to ask him to be in a picture with me. That would be too far outside my comfort zone of the time. He now is a professor at LSU and an editor for The ALAN Review, and I’m in contact with him through the wonderful world of Facebook.

steven_bickmore-78_600(I used my researching skills to find Mr. Bickmore as he looks today.)

Cindy Bennett age 16(And here’s Cindy at 16 with a Mountain Man for a date…who ended up marrying her.)

The one of me at age 16 is with my then-boyfriend-now-husband at one of those horrible old fashioned photo places that, I admit, I love. In fact, I made my kids do those almost yearly when they were younger, and which they absolutely hated. Not sure why I like them because, let’s face it, they’re never a good photo.

(Not sure I agree. I think she looks pretty good!)

ME:  Did you go to college or go straight into marriage? And since you’re into YA and romance, just exactly how did you meet and fall in love with your husband? Make us swoon, please. :D (Also, a wedding photo would be greatly appreciated.)

CINDY:  My husband is my high school sweetheart. We met when I was a freshman and he a sophomore. He’d been dating one of my friends, and she hooked us up because she wanted to date his friend. Sounds like a soap opera, huh? It’s amazing he liked me since I was so severely shy and didn’t talk much. He played football and wrestled and wasn’t at all like the kind of guy I thought I’d fall in love with. But he was sweet, and funny, and fun to be around—and had great arms and a really nice chest (remember, football and wrestling). (It must have been all that bear rasslin’.) We dated all through high school and married a year after I graduated, and we’re still together all these years later.

Cindy Bennett wedding photo(The promised wedding photo, which she claims reveals a hideous 80s hairdo and a “ragged” look from crying…Say what? Anyway, here’s her preferred engagement photo.)

Cindy Bennett engagement photo

Because I was so silly-in-love with him, I couldn’t wait to be his wife, so rather than go to college, I attended tech school to become a medical assistant. That’s a career pretty distant from writing, other than I did gather a lot of character ideas. I chose that because I’d had major surgery right after high school, and nearly died because of a pulmonary embolism. It was a nurse paying attention to her instincts that saved my life. I wanted to give back the same kind of care, so chose the medical field. I no longer work in the medical field but I miss taking care of patients on a regular basis. There’s something very satisfying in that.

(Okay, the high drama made up for the missing romantic details.)

ME:  Please tell us about what impelled you to write your first novel (and provide a cover photo).

Cover New Final smallCINDY:  There was a girl who lived near our house who was always outside on her swing set. It didn’t matter if it was 100°F outside, or 5°F with a blizzard, she’d be out swinging. In fact, anytime any of us came home we’d report on whether or not she was out. I’d been thinking about her a lot, and wondering what drove her to that swing set. My teen daughter had apparently been thinking along the same lines, so we decided to write a book together. I didn’t admit, even then, that it was my lifelong heart’s desire to be an author. I’d always been afraid of admitting it—and to this day, I don’t know why. Maybe just because it was something I wanted so bad I was afraid if I admitted it I’d have to do something about it and face possible rejection. Anyway, this was a safe way for me to actually complete a manuscript (I’d secretly begun many but never finished one). I wrote the first chapter then handed it off to my daughter to write the second. She liked the first so much she told me to write the second, which I did then gave it back to her. This same pattern continued until she told me just to write the whole thing, which I did. It became HEART ON A CHAIN, which to this day is my bestselling novel.

(I hope you dedicated the book to her!)

ME:  What is your writing process and where do you write? (I must have a photo of your writing space.)

CINDY:  It’s odd, I know, but I like to write in my family room, in the middle of life happening around me. That way I don’t feel as guilty spending so much time working because I’m still part of conversations that are happening, still part of the family. I bought a lap desk, and my husband converted it to make it work better for my laptop. I work from the time I get up until I go to bed if I don’t have anything else going on (and my house shows it! I wish I had some mice and/or birds to clean it up for me like Cinderella and Snow White). I do most of my marketing during the day, and then write at night until somewhere between 4-6 am as I mentioned above.

Cindy Bennett workspace(Her lapdesk…and you’re not going to believe this, but…)


(I have practically the same sofa set in our family room. Comfy, isn’t it, Cindy?)

ME:  You have tried both self-publishing and traditional publishing. Which do you prefer and why?

CINDY:  There’s something to be said about having an editor who books signings and other events for you, and who can get your book onto shelves at book stores. There’s also something to be said about having complete creative control over your work, and making much higher profits by doing it yourself. I suppose overall I prefer self-publishing because I’m a bit of a control freak, so I do like keeping control over the cover, the book layout, and how and where I can give my books away. And, let’s face it; earning 70% on an eBook is always going to trump 15%. Since you do the same amount of marketing whether you’re traditionally or self-published, it makes the higher profits that much nicer.

ME:  What other books have you either published or have waiting in the wings? (I’ll want those cover photos, as well.)

CINDY:  After HEART ON A CHAIN came GEEK GIRL, then IMMORTAL MINE. Then I wrote a short vampire story for Noble YA, and they published it as RELUCTANCE.

Geek Girl CoverImmortal Mine Cover Final 1200 x 1800RELUCTANCE_200x300I then published short stories for a couple of anthologies through my company, Prose by Design. Those are IN THE BEGINNING and WATCHED.

Find Me smallerwatched smaller(That cover’s scary!)

While writing RAPUNZEL UNTANGLED, which is a modern-day retelling of the story, I published five novellas that are fairytale retellings that now make up ENCHANTED FAIRYTALES, which I recently released. (She’s obviously making up for all those years she shied away from writing.)

Rapunzel UntangledEnchanted Fairytales Cover smallerI have upcoming a book I wrote with Jeffery Moore, as yet untitled, but the working title is RAZARI. It’s a sic-fi, which is outside my usual genre, though it’s still a YA. It should be released within the next month. I’m also writing a book, again with Jeffrey Moore and also Sherry Gammon, which we call THE COLLABORATIVE, though that may change as well.

(Are you as impressed reading this as I am just writing it all down?)

It’s kind of cool. The story is about triplets born illegally into a world that only allows a single child per family, so their parents abscond with them to a planet called Senca One, which is where the overpopulated earth has started a new colonization. There, their parents are kidnapped and the triplets search for them, discovering along the way they have hidden abilities.

We are each taking a chapter and writing it from one of the triplets’ POV, so we each have one character to move the story forward. It’s been interesting and fun to write, requiring a lot of talking about how we want things to be and where the story should go.

(I’ll have to keep this in mind for a future posting about writing a series.)

I’m also over halfway finished with another contemporary YA book that’s more like my first few novels. It doesn’t have a title either—I’m really bad at titles so my books usually get them last minute. (Hey, I’d be happy just to match half of your annual output!)

ME:  Finally, tell us more about your new writing business and what you offer.

CINDY:  Prose by Design is a company I started with Sherry Gammon about a year-and-a-half ago. We’ve recently changed the way we do things. Our intent when we began was to help those who have no idea how to self-publish and market because we were spending so much time helping others anyway. We wanted to do some of the things they might not have the ability to do, such as editing, covers, formatting and layout, and show them the best ways we know how to market.

As it turned out, we were really sort of crippling those authors because we weren’t showing them how to do anything, just doing it for them. So we decided rather than publishing their books and keeping a chunk of the profits, we will instead offer individual services such as those mentioned above. If they want to have to lay out less money in the beginning, we’ll still publish their book and keep a portion of the profits until they’ve paid off their purchased services, at which time ALL rights revert back to them.

We’re also writing a detailed, cohesive book with step-by-step help from writing, to publishing (both self and traditional), including formatting, editing, layout, where to sell your books, how to have a book signing, how to do giveaways, etc. We also have an entire section on marketing which is detailed and will be updatable to those who purchase the book and have signed up for updates. That way, as we discover more marketing strategies, or as things change (as they constantly do), we can keep our readers updated. We’re hoping to have this published by the end of the summer. We’ll also continue to hold writing contests and publish the winners in anthologies. Currently we have a contest for stories for a Christmas themed anthology.

If you haven’t yet checked out Prose by Design, you might want to click on the link. Also, if you want to learn still more about Cindy, check out her website. There, you can find her bio, social media links, and purchasing links for all her books.

Now, I think I’ll take that nap! I need to rest up for next week’s interview with Childrens’ Books author and illustrator, Mikey Brooks.

Mikey Pic 1

Originally posted 2013-06-05 06:00:59.

“Wednesday Writer” – Daron Fraley

Daron has so many interests that it’s hard to know where to begin. While he says his favorite things are teaching and writing (besides his family), he also loves computers, cooking, fishing, camping, music, art, the sciences, and especially religion.

However, I must say that the most impressive thing I read in his bio was that he once fixed a gas clothes dryer using photocopier parts! Talk about a handy, “Renaissance Man.” Let’s delve a bit deeper into this Wyoming-born writer.

Daron Fraley author

ME:  You say you don’t consider yourself a cowboy even though you grew up in Wyoming. Why not? What is a cowboy, anyway, and how are you not that kind of person? (Must have a picture of you as a small boy, with or without cowboy gear.)

DARON:  I’ve known some great cowboys in my time. And most of them are admirable people… good hard-working people. Some of my following descriptions are stereotypes, but true stereotypes nonetheless from my experience growing up in Wyoming.

Cowboys may have:

Boots. Sometimes plain leather work boots, and sometimes the fancy ones made of alligator skin or snake-skin.

A farmer’s tan.

A piece of straw in their teeth that they continually chew on.

A worn-out ring in their back pocket from carrying a can of snuff or chew.

Country music blaring in the cab of their rusted out pickup truck that’s been dented from hitting fence posts and farm equipment.

A bow-legged swagger from spending too many hours herding.

I’ve got none of that. Therefore, I’m not a true cowboy.

Daron_as_a_little_boy(And here’s the little boy picture to prove it. No trace of boots or snuff. Not even a tan.)

ME:  Okay, I’ll buy that. So which came first for you–writing, cooking, or computers? And how old were you when you tried your hand at each? (I’d really like a picture of you engaged in each of these activities…please.)

DARON:  Writing and cooking and computers happened at about the same time. I had my first computer programming class in high school, at the same time that I had creative writing. I discovered that I loved to write. I entered a contest at a community college young authors day, and took 2nd place in my genre. Every summer I worked at the Irma Hotel, there in Cody, Wyoming. First year as a bus-boy, second and third washing dishes, and then I spent my Senior year, spring and summer months as a line-cook. I really enjoyed that!

(You mentioned that you wanted pictures of me writing, cooking, or working on computers. How about one of me fishing! In my hat! In the Henry’s Fork wilderness area below Kings Peak?)

(That will do nicely.)


(Hmm…kind of has that cowboy tan, doesn’t he? Too bad we can’t see his back pocket.)

ME:  Did your two years as a missionary in France do more for your writing or your cooking, and how? (I’d love a picture from your mission.)

DARON:  I didn’t do much writing as a missionary. But my fellow Elders loved the fact that I could cook. :D (I’ll bet!)

Daron_missionary(Il était beau, n’est ce pas?)

ME:  Okay, I hate to keep harping about cowboys, but it seems to me that they’re simply rugged independent loner types, and doesn’t that fit with you since you’re taking the independent route to publishing?

DARON:  Sure. You can call me a cowboy author if you want. Not the kind that writes cowboy stories or poetry, but the kind that goes out and does his own thing out of pure stubbornness.

(Ornery, ain’t he?)

ME:  Let’s talk about LDS Indie Authors, a group you had a hand in getting going. What is its purpose and why is it needed? (Full disclosure: I’m a kind of lurking member, afraid to chime in because of my relative inexperience, but grateful for all the tips.)

DARON:  Authors have been excited about all the great opportunities available to them through the many venues of self-publishing for quite a few years now. I’m a member of LDStorymakers, and I started a discussion one day about how best to serve those who would choose to self-publish. The focus of Storymakers as an authors guild has been to assist writers on their path to publication with either publishing agents or directly with the editors of publishing houses, and then help them with all things pertaining to traditional publishing, including understanding contracts.

As a group, they felt there are enough differences between the publishing methods that a new group would better serve the need of self-publishing authors. Rachel Nunes was part of that discussion, and so when Liz Adair suggested we just do a new group, Rachel took the bull by the horns (note the cowboy motif) (Atta boy!), and started the list. I joined right away.

Why is it needed? Self-publishing is here to stay. And having been published both traditionally, and by self-publishing, I can attest to the fact that in many ways the processes are very different.

Authors want to produce a quality product. If you don’t have a publishing house with content editors, line editors, typesetters, cover designers, marketing professionals, etc., then you have to do all of that work on your own… preferably by acting more as a general contractor, and hiring experienced free-lancers to help you in the areas where you either don’t have the skills, or where it wouldn’t be wise to do it on your own. EVERYBODY needs an editor.

(AMEN! My dad didn’t believe it and asked me to do a post-publication edit of his latest self-published book. After he saw all the marks in the first five chapters, he saw the light.)

LDS Indie Authors provides a forum for authors to help each other to produce the best self-published product possible.

(And it’s well worth it!)

ME:  What changes do you think the Publishing Industry will go through in the next five years?

DARON:  Traditional publishing will probably shrink and consolidate, but it won’t disappear. They will start to offer other ways to publish with them… in fact, some already have made that change. And it’s looking like self-publishing is the new slush-pile. Great stories that make a splash with readers are getting noticed by traditional publishing houses. I look for that trend to increase.

Other than that, I really wish that ebook formats would become more standardized. It would be great if we could produce just one format and have every ebook reader be able to use it. But it probably won’t happen. Besides, a little competition between device manufacturers is a good thing. It keeps them at the top of their game.

ME:  What led you to become an author and why do you write religious science fiction and fantasy? What are you working on now?

DARON:  I felt driven to write. I don’t know how else to explain it. And as far as why I write religious speculative fiction… it’s because I want to write stories that have the ability to inspire. Many genres can do that, but I have the flexibility to talk about God and miracles if I wish.

To be very frank, I believe the stories in the scriptures. Even the fantastic stories from the Old Testament. I believe they really happened. I believe we live in a day when we will see those kinds of miracles again. I hope my stories will help readers to see that the scriptures are full of truth.

(Uh-oh…He forgot to tell us what he’s working on now. Or maybe it’s a secret.)

ME:  Tell us about your writing space (and please provide a picture) in the voice of Pekah from your first book, THE THORN: Book 1 of The Chronicles of Gan.

Thorn_front-cover_medium-200x300DARON: (as Pekah)

My desk is simple, and far too cluttered for my tastes. But I have other pressing matters to attend to, so the cleaning will have to wait for another day. I do have a second sheet of… I will call it light-paper… that is similar to my glow-stone, except that it has words written upon it. Like the light-paper which allows me to write my stories, the second larger one permits me to research the histories of ancient peoples so that I might use their legends to bring my tales to life. Course’ I also got me some Jack Link’s Beef Jerky right handy, in case I get a hungered. (Sorry… Cowboy Joe slipped in there.)



(Ah, the light-paper…in two sizes! I spy the jerky, too.)

ME:  Tell us about your writing journey so far and what it’s taught you about the world and about yourself.

DARON:  My writing journey has been hard at times. My first publishing experience was not a very pleasant one. But I made some great friends, and gained some ardent supporters. They kept me going when I wanted to throw in the towel. That experience was invaluable in showing me the ropes of what editing, typesetting, design, printing, distribution, marketing, etc. was all about.

Over the past several years I have come to realize that the world needs books. Stories are powerful. They change lives. They educate. They cause people to have hope, to have their own dreams, and to work hard for things they believe in. I have also discovered that the scriptures are stories. Beautiful stories of how a loving God interacts with his children. Stories of people overcoming huge obstacles and finding happiness in this life.

I want my story to be like that. I hope the same for everyone.

One last thing… I included a bonus picture. And I’m not telling you what this is… You’ll have to read THIRTY-SIX. :D

(The mark of a true independent writer…always marketing! I’ve got your book, Daron, and promise to read it after I’m done with prior commitments. After all, I need to understand all the pictures I post here.)

Thirty-Six_bonus_picture(Curious bonus picture…click on pic for larger view.)

Okay, now that he’s hooked us all, you might want to check out Daron’s official website, or, better yet, his Thirty-Six website for more information on the series. Here’s a quick synopsis of the story in book 1:

When Aaron Cohen buys a souvenir from an antiques store in Lyon, France, and then sees the police raid the store right after he leaves, he has no idea that this is only the beginning of his troubles.

Back home in Chicago, Aaron is stalked by an old man from the antiques store. Mandie, a single mother in his apartment complex, has asked that they just be friends, but Aaron can’t help developing strong feelings for her, especially now that she is being harassed by her abusive ex-husband. And in the midst of all his emotional turmoil, the souvenir he purchased turns out to be an ancient holy relic that triggers shared dreams and prophetic visions.

A mysterious dream shared with a jewel smuggler whose arrest makes the nightly news. A nightmare of horrifying tornadoes shared with Ethan, Mandie’s eight-year-old son. A dream shared with Mandie that shows Aaron her true feelings for him.

And visions . . .

Visions of historical events, centuries in the past. Visions of the Lamed Vovniks. Visions of dangerous possibilities to come.

And if Aaron doesn’t get to her in time, Mandie will die.

Intriguing, eh?

Come back next week for my interview with C. Michelle Jefferies!

C Michelle Jefferies author pic2

Originally posted 2013-01-02 06:00:12.

Publishing’s Paradigm Shift – Effect on Authors

With all of this movement toward e-books, what can authors expect in the near future? Some of the coming changes may include the following:

•Funding for authors’ advances may begin to be provided by external investors (as they are with films and plays)

•Best-selling authors, who already have a name brand, may turn to self-publishing for higher royalties, making more room for midlist and debut authors

•Until then, the bar is higher and authors may want to consider self-publishing

•Some authors are already serializing their books online to build readership

•Publishers can’t hold on to rights indefinitely by making books available as POD or e-books, according to recent rulings (when such a book is out of print, rights will revert to author)

Average advances today are between $1,000 and $5,000 for debut literary fiction as opposed to the $50-100,000 advances of the past. For commercial fiction: $15,000 or less. And publishing houses are beginning to shrink their lists, so it’s becoming more and more difficult to get picked up as a debut author.

One option is to take your chances with self-publishing and try to find ways to grow your own fan base. One unpublished author is serializing his new book, chapter by chapter on his website where, over the next ten weeks, it will build like a part-work. In the words of a friend, he’s “doing a Dickens.” And he’s making it available for free, betting that many readers won’t want to wait and will go ahead and download the entire book for less than the cost of a paperback. After that, it will go to Amazon, with an iPod version later. A second, already published, author, John Gorman, is serializing his new thriller to a WordPress site. On the site, his Mission Statement encourages people to contribute to the story. He won’t publish their words, but he might run with their character ideas and plot twists, so there’s a collective element to this novel.

For those who decide to self-publish, Publishers Weekly now puts out a quarterly supplement, called PW Select, that announces self-published titles for $149 and reviews for free those they feel are most deserving of a critical assessment. For more information, check

Personally, I went the self-publishing route for my first book and it’s seen very few sales, despite the awards, simply because it’s not out there enough. I won’t go that route again. I’d rather hone my craft and keep writing and querying until I get an agent. An agent will lead me to a publisher who can get my name out there. I’m hoping that a lot of these top authors who no longer need a big publisher will go the self-publishing route, thereby making room on publishers’ lists for more midlist and debut authors.

In my next posting on this topic, I’ll share the thoughts and experiences of some of those who have.

Originally posted 2010-11-15 11:04:47.

Publishing’s Paradigm Shift – Effects on Publishers

Perhaps most anxious about all the brouhaha over e-books have been the publishers. Traditional publishers are worried, perhaps even afraid of all the change, while self-publishing companies (including POD, or print on demand companies) have visions of greater revenues. In any case, I see the main effects as follows:

  • The more adaptable traditional publishers will survive and even thrive after a few bumps in the road
  • There will be more specialized publishers aimed at niches
  • There will be more and more self-publishing
  • Cost of entry for future publishers will be minimal
  • Among the big publishing houses, there will be a devolution from complex, centralized management to semi-autonomous editorial units
  • 50% digital royalty rate may be inevitable
  • Despite all the change, the greatest value of traditional publishing will remain–the editorial process–ensuring their survival

In the latest self-publishing development, Barnes & Noble has now launched their own digital self-publishing platform called PubIt to compete with Amazon’s Create Space. (They’re also coming out with a color Nook to try and take down Amazon’s Kindle and compete more evenly with the iPad.)

As an example of the devolution that is beginning in traditional publishing, in early 2011 Simon & Schuster will reorganize into “small teams of editors, publicists, and marketing specialists.”

According to their new head, Jonathan Karp, each team, comprised of 2 editors, 2 publicists, and a marketing specialist, “will propose, develop, and execute their own publicity and marketing plans, from the moment of acquisition through paperback publication…”

“The chief objective is to create the publishing environment most conducive to focused concentration on our authors,” he continued. “Those who are present at the creation are more likely to bring a greater depth of understanding and experience to the publication of these books. Our authors will benefit from having a dedicated team working on their behalf early in the process.”

Such a development can only be good for writers, who, at times, have had to kowtow to unknowns in the large marketing or sales departments in order to get their books even approved, however lauded their work may be by the editors.

These were the main effects I could forecast from all I’ve read. If you foresee any others, please comment.

My next post will deal with the effects on agents.

Originally posted 2010-10-25 14:01:50.

One Last Bit About the Retreat

For those of you who are still not sure it’s worth your while or money to head up to the far northwest corner of Washington for a two-day writing retreat, here’s a list of all the classes and presentations packed in to those two days:

Thursday Evening:

“Joy in the Journey: The Road to Publication (Or Overcoming the Agony of Rejection)” by Janette Rallison


“First Movies, Then Records, Now Books: Publishing’s Paradigm Shift and What It Means for Writers” by yours truly

“Finding Your Inner Matroyshka: The Six Stages of a Writer” by Liz Adair

“Cutting Off Your Baby’s Toes: Tips on Self-Editing” by Linda P. Adams

“Query Letters–Your Next Big Challenge” by Terry Deighton

“If I Can Do It, So Can You: My Experience in Self-Publishing” by Victoria Boothe

“The View From the Checkout Stand, A Bookstore Owner’s POV” by Chrisy Cope

“Ho-hum to Hilarious, How to Put Humor Into Your Writing” by Jane Still

“The Why and How of Blogging” by Monique Leutkemeyer

“Noah’s Story Arc: Building a Watertight Plot” by Christine Thackeray

“Fabulous Free Verse: Unleash Your Poetic Self” by Lara Niedermeyer

“Writing in Spite of Family and the Universe: Organize Yourself to Write” by Kersten Campbell

“See It/Hear It: Writing Believable Dialogue” by yours truly

“Careening Down the Road to Publication: What I’ve Learned on My Journey” by Ann Acton

“Screenwriting 101: Basics for Beginners” by Christine Thackeray

“How Can We Serve? Devising Literacy Programs for Presentation to Local Relief Societies” by Liz Adair

“How to Relive High School Forever: Writing for the YA Audience” by Janette Rallison

Saturday AM:

“Escaping From the Slush Pile” by Janette Rallison

Now, obviously, everyone couldn’t attend every class, so you had to pick and choose…but there was definitely something for everyone. And I haven’t even mentioned Terry’s Grammar Quickies, the terrific Get Acquainted activities by Marylou Bailey, the morning and evening yoga stretches led by Lara Nedermeyer, the singing led by Bonnie Harris (who’s due to give birth in about a week, by the way), the Critique Group led by Wendy Jones (who also took the awesome group photo below), the plotting and writing exercises, and the concluding meeting where we got to share how we felt about the whole experience.

It really was like Girls Camp…only for writers! Think about coming next year.

Originally posted 2010-10-15 10:04:47.

Our Uphill Battle as Writers, Part One

Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman of Writer’s Digest (and former President and CEO of HarperCollins) passed on a somewhat horrifying statistic bandied about at BEA this week:

“7% of books published generate 87% of book sales. And 93% of all published books sell less than 1,000 copies each.”

Now the encouraging part is that those statistics were quoted during a panel discussion on DIY (Do It Yourself) publishing and how it’s changing the publishing world. Here’s the complete article from Publishers Weekly. If you’re

J.A. Konrath

feeling hopeless about ever getting your book published and into the hands of readers, I encourage you to read the whole article. Apparently, there is life after self-publishing. What kind of life is still up for debate. If you’re an established author like J.A. Konrath, it sounds like the life can be pretty good.

Here’s my quandary: I went ahead and self-published my first novel. Many traditionalists in the publishing industry will say I’ve pretty much shot myself in the foot…I’m branded forever. Any agent reading my query letter for my next novel will note my first book, look it up, and see it didn’t sell anywhere near 10,000 copies and pretty much assume that I don’t have what it takes. (Unfair, I know, but all they need is one little excuse to throw my query away.) So…do I try to publish traditionally under a different name (and does that even work?), or do I continue the self-publishing route? After all, if I can gradually build my own audience, who needs the elite publishing houses of NYC?

But then that statistic smacks me in the face again. Obviously, that 7% is represented by those very houses.

So, on the one hand, we’ve got authors like Konrath paving a DIY way for the vast majority of us writers…and, on the other, we’ve got the likes of Garrison Keillor bemoaning the fact that “book publishing is about to slide into the sea” with self-publishing because “when everyone’s a writer, no one is” in a column in yesterday’s Baltimore Sun.

Here is what he said in part:

We live in a literate time, and our children are writing up a storm, often combining letters and numerals (U R 2 1derful), blogging like crazy, reading for hours off their little screens, surfing around from Henry James to Jesse James to the epistle of James to pajamas to Obama to Alabama to Alanon to non-sequiturs, sequins, penguins, penal institutions, and it’s all free, and you read freely, you’re not committed to anything the way you are when you shell out $30 for a book, you’re like a hummingbird in an endless meadow of flowers.

And if you want to write, you just write and publish yourself. No need to ask permission, just open a website. And if you want to write a book, you just write it, send it to or BookSurge at Amazon or Pubit or ExLibris and you’ve got yourself an e-book. No problem. And that is the future of publishing: 18 million authors in America, each with an average of 14 readers, eight of whom are blood relatives. Average annual earnings: $1.75.

Back in the day, we became writers through the laying on of hands. Some teacher who we worshipped touched our shoulder, and this benediction saw us through a hundred defeats. And then an editor smiled on us and wrote us a check, and our babies got shoes. But in the New Era, writers will be self-anointed. No passing of the torch. Just sit down and write the book. And the New York Times, the great brand name of publishing, whose imprimatur you covet for your book (‘brilliantly lyrical, edgy, suffused with light’ – NY Times) will vanish (Poof!). And editors will vanish.

The upside of self-publishing is that you can write whatever you wish, utter freedom, and that also is the downside. You can write whatever you wish, and everyone in the world can exercise their right to read the first three sentences and delete the rest.


I’d like to think that the stories I write are worth more than the first three sentences. But he does have a point. There are so many more novels being written today, so many more queries being sent out today. The odds of getting picked up by an agent, not to mention a big publishing house, have grown so long that it really does come down to a matter of luck and timing…and that’s only AFTER you’ve written something truly worthy.

I wish I’d started up this path 30 years ago, but I didn’t. Am I going to give up? No way. My knees may be weak, but I’ve got strong fingers. Besides, the higher the mountain, the greater the achievement.

Originally posted 2010-05-26 17:02:24.