Wednesday, June 26, 2013

You asked; I answered.

Over the past six weeks, I’ve done a number of book signings. From trade shows to bookstores, it’s been a fun and exciting time. Along the way, I’ve been asked a few questions, so I thought I’d answer them here.

Question: As an independently published writer, how do you get your books in Chapters?
Short Answer: I picked up the phone and asked.
Long Answer: Each Chapters store operates differently. They all have the ability to stock books on consignment, but how they distribute those SKUs and handle author appearances is up to them. Polite phone calls, brief emails, and making a personal connection with the Events Manager all worked in my favour.

Question:  How long does it take to write a book?
Short Answer: About a month and a half.
Long Answer: It might only take 45 days to write a book, but it takes about a year (and sometimes more) to reach publication. The editing process is what slows things down. I rely heavily on beta readers, my editor, and other writers for feedback.

Question: How long have you been writing?
Short Answer: Since I was old enough to pick up a pencil and loose leaf.
Long Answer: As a teenager I wrote wonderful works full of angst and heartache. As an adult, I needed a job to pay the bills so I worked first as a proposal/technical writer and then as a copy writer. Four years ago, I started writing fiction again and it has become something of an addiction.

Question: How many books have you written?
Short Answer: Three.
Long Answer: Actually, I’ve written several books. Most of them are tucked away in a box, stored on a floppy disk, or have been used to start backyard fires. They make excellent fuel for roasting marshmallows and hanging out with my boys. At this time, only five books are worth sharing. Three are published (Remember Newvember, Reflections, Money, and Masks & Madness), one is with Beta Readers (Liminal Lights), and one is at the beginnings of the editing phase (Shadow Shifts). Currently, I’m writing the third book in the Liminal Trilogy (Seminal Souls) and doing some research for a sequel to "Money, Masks & Madness".

Question: Are your books about you.
Short Answer: No.

Long Answer: Honestly, I think every writer puts a bit of herself into each book she writes. A little piece of my soul is threaded through the text, linking the words back to the essence of me. The stories might not be about my life, but there are elements of my personality, character, morals, and beliefs embedded in them. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fame, Fortune and the “F” Word

Recently, a friend told me I have “a fear of fame”. At the time, I laughed and tucked his comment away into the dark crevices of my mind. Why would he think I’m afraid? Doesn’t every writer dream of fame and fortune? Isn’t that the ultimate goal? We can kid ourselves by insisting we write for personal enjoyment, that we strive towards lofty literary goals – but in all seriousness, what’s the point if there isn’t an extensive readership?  Self-gratification only takes you so far.

Unfortunately, my friend might have been right.

Publicizing my work scares the crap out of me. There. I said it. I hate advertising my books, I hate showing off my accomplishments, and I hate asking for reviews. Not because I don’t think my writing is good enough, but because I am afraid of rejection. Writing is personal – a little piece of my soul is weaved through every book I write, so in essence, when someone criticizes or rejects my work, I take it as a personal assault, even though I know I shouldn’t.

Fear is a powerful thing. It’s what prevents me from querying agents, spending money on marketing, and tackling the kind of writing that digs deep into the psyche. Fear paralyzes, it dissembles, and it makes writing difficult.
It also innervates the brain, helps produce astounding work, and propels us forward. This is when the adrenaline kicks in, your brain slips into overdrive, your emotions go into lockdown, and you’re forced to make an instinctual decision. Fight or flight. Go big or stay home. Use it or lose it.

Just do it.

I have a love-hate relationship with this sly, sneaky thing called fear. For now, I’m going to fold it up, stick in my back pocket and sit on it. It could very well be the kick in the ass I need to get things done. This is one F-word I plan to use to my advantage.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Book Review: Lumen by Joseph Eastwood

This book is for anyone who loves fantasy. Joseph Eastwood’s imagination draws the reader into an alternate reality where magic exists, perils abound, and characters come to life on the page. Daniel is a complex character, both strong and weak, dealing with his changing body, maturing emotions, and new powers he must embrace. Born in the Lowerlands and educated in the Upperlands, Daniel's begins to experience privileges he wasn't meant to have. However, with his privileges comes unexpected danger as he finds himself fighting to stay where he doesn’t belong.

While the story is intriguing and the characters are believable, this book does have its faults. First, it needs a solid line edit to correct small issues such as typos, missing words and awkward sentences (nothing too worrisome, but still all too common in independently published books). Second, there are a few inconsistencies in both the plot and the characterization. I had difficulty figuring out if Daniel was from the lower part of the Middlelands (as suggested at the beginning of the book), or if he was actually from the hated Lowerlands. Technically, Daniel isn’t allowed to leave the island or he could die, and yet he is permitted to go without consequence. Reuban both supports and hates Daniel – which is realistic enough, but he falters between giving the boy privileges and protecting him and setting him up for failure. Not to mention, Reuban breaks character and risks his school, students, and own life in calling for a Luminary without ever  giving the reader a good reason why. There are times when secondary characters know things they shouldn’t. For example, Daniel’s mother doesn’t know what he is, and yet she does when he arrives at her house with Mia at the end of the book.

As the book progresses towards its end, revealing Daniel’s true form, it feels a bit rushed. So much time is given at the beginning, creating realistic characters and a unique world that I wish a little more time had been taken to reach its conclusion. The ending culminates in numerous inconsistencies, leaving many questions (which obviously lead into the second book), and making me feel as though the entire thing was rushed to completion. Again, without giving away too much information, I can’t understand why Reuban waited to carry out his plan for Daniel instead of acting the moment he knew his true form. I also find it hard to believe that only one teacher champions the youth – but not until his life was in imminent danger, and immediately following a scene in which the teacher didn’t care if Daniel lived or died. 

Why would Daniel stay in a place where he obviously wasn’t wanted? Especially if he could leave at anytime without consequence. It didn’t seem to me like he was getting anything out of being there, other than numerous beatings. I also think the character of Jac could have been better defined. His role is important, and the author has the ability to delve into that character’s mind, as he often does, so why not expand on his role in the book earlier to help clarify events and perhaps clear up some of the inconsistencies?

Despite the issues above, could be a good book. With a bit of polish and more attention to detail, this series should meet with success in the YA fantasy market. 

Joseph Eastwood can be found on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter and on his blog