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On Writing with Mary Shotwell of Weariland

I asked author Mary Shotwell to talk about her writing process and to share some info about the sequel to Weariland.

maryshotwell

On the writing process:

I knew what I wanted Weariland to be—a Young Adult, light fantasy/adventure continuing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I wanted short chapters with changing points of view, a la Dan Brown. With a handful of scenes in my head, I started writing in a notebook about various characters and plot points. But before I started typing out the manuscript, I read up as much as I could on writing novels. Sure, I had read plenty of novels and knew the general flow of story. I didn’t feel reading novels was enough. I studied world building (www.pcwrede.com has a great list for fantasy world building), character development, and tricks in writing third person limited omniscient (first learning that is the name of what I wanted to do, then how best to do it).

After studying books and the internet, and taking notes, I typed out my scenes. I started ‘on the fly’, writing a scene and moving wherever the scene led me. In retrospect, this was dangerous. Many times I caught myself writing into a ditch, or editing and re-editing what I had written. The process left me frustrated, and the end goal seemed far off.

Luckily, I had motivators in the form of family pushing me to finish the book. I decided to get serious. I made a notecard for each chapter, outlining the major plot advances and whose point of view I was using. I easily saw the gaps, and what needed work, and where to move the story. I made additional cards for the remaining chapters to write. By far, having an outline was the one thing I did that made the writing process incredibly smoother and more enjoyable. I was excited to pour out the story, knowing where it was going, and when I’d stop, I was excited to pick it back up the next day.

Yes, in my research, I discovered many successful authors outlined their works. At the time I had thought, But I don’t know where the story is going until I write it out. I need to see where it takes me. I tried that way, and nope. Not a positive outcome. Now I know that, for me, the outline forces me to know where the story is going. I will not start a manuscript without having the plot, characters, and setting clearly defined for each chapter.

On a sequel to Weariland:

This is tricky. I don’t want to reveal too much, else the excitement of writing it wanes. Things I am willing to tell you:

I do not have a title yet

It is deeper than Weariland. You will see further into Weariland’s landscape, but also learn more about some of the characters that were only briefly mentioned in Weariland.

It is darker. (What sequel isn’t?)

It will be the second book of…wait for it…a trilogy. In writing the first, I knew the story wasn’t completely finished. I deliberately opened story paths to take on later. In writing the second, and knowing a third will wrap it up, I not only need the outline for Book 2 but know where I am going with Book 3.

More info on Weariland:

Weariland

Weariland

$12.99 print, $3.99 ebook
Author:
Genre: Fantasy
For fifteen-year-old Lason Davies, it all started with a text. “HIDING PLACE.” The last words of her murdered grandmother haunt Lason as she travels to England with her sheltering mother for the funeral. The crime is a sensation, but the clamoring reporters and news photographers aren’t the only ones interested in their arrival. More info →
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Amazon Kindle

 

Weariland Blog Tour October 16-23, 2016

Weariland Blog Tour October 16-23, 2016

Just announced, there will be a virtual blog tour with Weariland and author Mary Shotwell. Join us to discover more about this novel and the author.

Scheduled:

10/16: Guest Blog Post on From Gutter to Gilt

10/17: A review by Meg Barrett

10/18: A guest blog on Making it Happen

10/19: A video review on Dapper Animals

10/20: Q & A on The Cosy Dragon

10/21: A review by From Gutter to Gilt

10/22: Author Spotlight on Hott Books

10/23: A video interview with the author on Merge

Visit these sites to learn more about this book and enter to win a free digital copy of Weariland.

Here is the video trailer for Weariland.

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Blog Tour for What You Don’t Know Now

What better way to celebrate the end of February than with romance, mystery and adventure? These are all the elements of the novel, What You Don’t Know Now, by Marci Diehl.

What You Don't Know Now by Marci Diehl

During Wednesday, February 24 thru Monday, February 29th bloggers will be celebrating the novel and the author by posting interviews, book excerpts, and more. There will also be a giveaway for an autographed copy, an ebook giveaway, and a CD of “Love Songs of Italy”.

To follow the blog tour visit our Facebook Event at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1541149869517750/

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Slip Away by Joel Durham Jr

Slip Away

Slip Away

Ebook 2.99
Author:
Genre: Literary
Imagine you felt cursed . . . Rory and Rudy Orrick know what it’s like to lead a not so charmed life. Struck by family tragedy they are forced to grow up fast in a town where everyone knows you and your secrets. More info →
Buy from Amazon

Now available on Amazon.

The novel follows Rory Orrick, a teen who just wants to live a normal life. After the untimely death of his parents and abandonment of his brother, Rory tries to overcome his past and move forward, which is hard to do in a small town where the residents look down upon or avoid him. In the midst of getting his life together he meets his first love and starts to feel somewhat stable, but his life is cut short when his troubled past comes back to haunt him.
The novel is coming of age story is set in the Adirondacks, and gives a glimpse of a family fighting with depression and psychological disorder. “It’s a story of how someone wants to live a normal life in the face of devastating circumstances,” Joel Durham, Jr says. The novel covers everything a teenager goes through. “The humor, the love, the pain, the confusion, and the heart: It’s all in there.”
Joel Durham Jr was born and bred outside Rochester, NY, and save for a quick year of living in the San Francisco Bay area, lived there all his life. A writer at heart and a computer geek by nature, he wrote more than a dozen tech books and easily a thousand articles on PC technology, video games, and related topics for almost 15 years before his career was cut short due to severe spinal stenosis (back pain). Slip Away is his first full-length work of fiction.

Cover Reveal of Slip Away

Here is the cover of the new novel from Merge Publishing.

slipawaycover

Slip Away, by Joel Durham Jr is a coming of age novel about a boy in the Adirondacks whose family seems cursed by mental disease. This makes it difficult to live a normal life. Rory lives through friendship, his first love, and betrayal. There is also tragedy, death, and comedy is this literary tale.

Joel Durham Jr is writer in Clifton Springs, NY.
Cover designed by Leslie Taylor from Buffalo, NY.

Tell us what you think about the cover by leaving a comment. We’d love to hear from you.

 

A Taste for Death by Don Stevens

A Taste for Death by Don Stevens

Visit the Amazon page to purchase.

Gerard Bellamont, a famous wine critic with French roots, is found strangled with what appeared to be trellis wire at Allenwood Vineyard, where he was one of the guests to a party the previous night. At this party, Bellamont was heard saying something odd when staring at one of the local wine bottles, “I didn’t like it the first time I laid eyes on it”. Investigator Deville, also originally from France, remembers the victim briefly. The crime scene disturbs him, triggering his memory about his own past. He arrived in the United States in an alcohol induced coma which caused amnesia.  Many parts of his past start unveiling itself as he investigates. Many suspects had a reason to kill Bellamont, his wife, his teenage son, the woman he was having an affair with, plus the owners from the winery that he gave merciless reviews. Three wineries are always in the picture: Allenwood Vineyard, Owen’s Winery, and Catalina. Which winery has the most to gain and who was responsible for the death?
A Taste for Death is a mystery set in the Finger Lakes Wine region of Upstate New York. The novel has complex characters with troubled lives. Investigator Deville is a recovering alcoholic who suffers from amnesia. While working on the case, he unravels mysteries of his own past, while trying to repair his current life. Wine critic and writer Gerard Bellamont’s welcome to the Finger Lakes region was far from friendly. Some would even say his murder was of no surprise. The wine owners did not take the critic’s words lightly and his days had been numbered. In addition to writing reviews, there had been more than one lead connecting the victim to the suspects.
Don Stevens lives in the Finger Lakes area and loves local food and wine. He writes and reviews wines for his marketing business and plans on releasing more wine mysteries.

Choosing Your Audience for Your Next Book

It’s easy to think of the creative and marketing portions of your book as two separate things. But, the reality is, the more you overlap the two the more your book will find success. Because a book isn’t good unless it reaches people. It will only reach people if the author knows who its audience it and then brings that audience something that it is looking for. Then, the author can decide the right way to bring that audience the information before starting the writing process. For many writers, that process feels counterintuitive. But successful authors realize that knowing their audience is a key to the entire writing experience.

Choosing Your Audience for Your Next Book

Research Your Audience

The way to find that audience is through research and knowledge of what you plan to write. It’s important to not simply believe you know what your audience wants but to look deeper into it. One of the fundamental flaws writers have when approaching a book is thinking that it can be for everyone. That simply isn’t realistic. All authors appeal to certain groups of people, some larger than others. But the key is pinpointing what those markets are, what they are looking for, and then finding the appropriate way to make them aware of what you are offering. It’s good to identify other publications that the writer is interested in and might be similar to the writer’s topic and then look at their target markets, how expansive they are and how they are targeted. If that range is too large, it would be easy for the work to drown in a deep pool of competition. If the market is too small, there’s a chance of limiting the potential audience to a point that it would eliminate the chance for profitability. The key is finding a happy medium and then allowing for audiences to surprise you with their reach.

Focus On Readership

One of the main obstacles in the process is identifying specifically what that audience is. In some aspects, it’s as simple as looking at what your author brand in, what previous readers were like and how the new work fits into that group. In that case, the writer can monitor online mentions and research that way by joining discussion groups on the matter. If it’s a first book, it’s good to identify other authors that are like-minded and “competitors,” observing their successes and failures and building upon those. Many of those resources can be found online. It’s important that the writer selects a topic that he or she can shed new light on for those already in the know, assuming a solid knowledge base but not going too far in those assumptions while writing in a manner that explains things well without using too much niche jargon. Jargon can limit audience unnecessarily.

Reaching Out

Once the target audience is identified, another factor is then reaching that audience and identifying who the buyer is and who the target reader is. In rare cases, like gifts or children’s books, those two segments are not one and the same. Reaching and identifying that target market is a matter of classifying groups of people using anything from the basics – like age, sex, occupation, nationality, education level, etc. – to deeper thoughts like interests, political and social philosophies, places they visit, things they do and buy, etc. Essentially the more a writer knows about his or her audience the more the author can use that information to increase the effectiveness and ability to reach that audience. Part of that, at this point, goes back to the original identification process.

Find people where they are at and reach them there, leveraging groups and communities that are already in place with like-minded people interested in the author’s work. Are your readers at Barnes and Noble or independent book stores? Are they eBook readers? Amazon or Kobo fans?

By taking all of that into account, the author can know whether he or she is shooting in the right direction and can then change his or her target accordingly.

Small Press Book Publishing Levels Out the Playing Field

Small Press Book Publishing

Writing is generally a tough game to crack. Those who call themselves professional writers must be willing to poor their heart and soul into what they do. There is an inherent need to love the craft and continuously push any boundaries (writer’s block as it’s often referred to) time and time again. Even if a writer has managed to break through the metaphorical wall that is writer’s block and has created something he or she feels is worthy of publication, there is the literal hurdle to overcome with publication. However, these days many writers are choosing to ignore the path followed by most and are instead choosing to go the route of small press book publishing. Getting published through this channel as opposed to through the conventional big publisher route offers jaded writers something more than yet another rejection.

Differences Between Small Press and Big Publishers

Small press publication, such as Merge, offers a real chance to writers who are struggling to get their work out there. It certainly is possible to get books published though well known publishers but it’s very much an uphill battle. With the advent of small press publishing there is now an equal shot for every writer out there. It only makes sense to try this alternative route in order to get one’s foot in the door as opposed to constantly getting rejected. Furthermore, there are a lot of horror stories out there related to writers trying to get their work published with the leaders of the industry. By using small press book publishers there is a greater chance of not only getting work published but also establishing a warmer relationship with publishers. Smaller publishers are very much invested in selecting works related to their specific niches of interest and more often than not the editors will be willing to work with writers to truly create something captivating for the targeted audience. A writer’s book will turn out to be something hand crafted and as unique as it gets. Prospective writers should also be happy to know that their works will stay in publication for a much longer time than with big publishers. Small press publications will not only help struggling writers get their career started but they will also help capture the essence of said writer’s burning passion for the written language.

Small Press Book Publishers Work with Your Niche

After a writer has successfully worked with a publisher, big or small, naturally they will want to get their book in the hands of their prospective audience. Bigger publishers are going to have monumental budgets which means that writer’s have the luxury of having their book plastered in front of many eyeballs. There is no denying that when it comes to advertising big time publishers have the upper hand over small press book publishers. However, this does not mean a small press publisher will not put a writer’s book in circulation. It’s important to remember that smaller publishers are more dedicated to specific niches. So while they might not put a writer’s book in front of millions of random people they will advertise where it counts. These alternative publishers are very well connected with their targeted audience and will do everything they can to get a writer’s book in the hands of that audience.

Consider Small Press Publishers

While many professional writers may consider small press book publishing to be essentially giving up in the world of writing for pay (or leisure for that matter) this couldn’t be further from the truth. This alternative avenue truly offers an even level playing field for writers looking to get their foot in the door. Many times writers even find that they have better luck in the professional sense when using this route of publication. With small press book publishing there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain in the wake of big time publishers never giving most writers the time of day.

Join Merge on #GetBizy

Greetings Merge fans! We will be featured live  on #GetBizy on Tuesday May 27th 2014* *8:00 am PST* (9:00 am MST, 10:00 am CST, and 11:00 am EST)

 

The guest will be:
Don Stevens (Find Don on Google+: http://goo.gl/Hh1jg5)
Marci Diehl (Find Marci on Google+: http://goo.gl/Izlll9)
Aaron Wood (Find Aaron on Google+: http://goo.gl/ebOm4H)

We will be discussing writing, small press publishing, marketing, and wine. If you miss the event you can always watch it here (just bookmark this page).