How Important is Branding to an Unpublished Author or Published Author?

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Branding, we’ve all heard of it. Products such as Tide with the large orange bottle, McDonald’s and those unforgettable golden arches, and then there is Chili’s and the green jalapeno pepper, to name a few. These and many more can be found in nearly every town, on TV, and on the web. Each of them has one thing in common: the use of color, shape, or item represents the company and products they sell.

How does this relate to an author, published or unpublished?

When a publishing house prints a book, the covers are unique to each book, but have you noticed that no matter how many books an author publishes with that line, the font of their name is (usually) the same? If the book is part of a series, regardless of what number it is, the main title will be the same, for example, the Harry Potter series.  The colors change from cover to cover, but the font remains the same.  This allows fans to find it when scanning the shelves of libraries and book stores. Think about it, do you read each and every name on the cover when looking for your favorite author, or do you allow your eyes to find the size, shape, and ever familiar font of the authors name to know you’ve found what you were looking for?

Did you know you don’t have to be a published author to develop your brand? I established mine before I began querying.

Let me tell you how…

In 2010, upon the advice of those around me, I started a blog. The point of blogging was to help me improve my writing skills. The experience taught me how to engage an audience and receive feedback and participation through comments. And while I was nowhere near ready to publish anything I wrote, I did build a following. The more I shared my experiences, the more people followed my blog. I also established connections via popular social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook.  Visitors to my blog connected with me online, and online connections started visiting my blog. It was months before I upgraded my online presence ‘picture’ from a downloaded image of a heart and book to being brave enough to show my face.  And wouldn’t you know it, the moment I put my picture up, my following on all platforms increased!

Without realizing it, my face became a part of my brand. No matter what social networking site I am attached to, you’re going to find the same picture, same name…easy recognition.

Next came creating a brand, or theme, for the books. The Butterfly Memoirs series is a Contemporary Romance novel that features interracial couples dealing with real life issues. I knew from the moment I started writing my covers would not have the typical Man/Woman embarrassing or half naked. I like symbolism in my stories and I carry that theme in my covers. The series covers will always consist of two main elements, a butterfly to symbolize the female character as well as the image of something that represents the male character in the book.

As for the series itself, I have a logo of a butterfly imprinted into a wax seal that says ‘The Butterfly Memoirs’ and my name, thus branding the series. So anytime you see my picture, logo, or book cover, you’ll know it’s me.

Though you may not be writing a series, you still need to build a brand for yourself and for your audience. Here are a few simple tips, and the best part, they don’t cost a thing!

Branding your online image:

Here are a few tips on taking an author picture without spending a lot of money. Remember, your picture introduces you to your readers. As they say, a picture says a thousand words!

  • Photography equipment: If you can’t afford a professional headshot, take advantage of the features of your digital camera or cell phone camera.
  • Setting: Plain back grounds or simple settings work best. The key is to engage with the reader, not have them wonder where you were when the picture was taken.
  • Wardrobe: Keep it simple! Use solid colors that compliment you. Keep away from strips and patterns because they are distracting. Ladies, keep that jewelry simple, guys, don’t forget to shave or tighten up that hair cut! (Of course, if grungy or over the top is what you’re going for as your ‘persona’, have fun!) *TIP: If you study my picture, you’ll see I wear a butterfly ring that is facing the camera and not away. I am pulling my book/series brand into my image. It’s subliminal branding!
  • Posing: Be comfortable! Don’t try some awkward pose that will translate pain in your eyes though your lips are smiling. Be natural, focus on the camera, and imagine you’re looking directly at your reader. Keep your mind clear…negative thoughts will translate through your facial features no matter how hard you try! Sell yourself!
  • Editing: When done, upload your picture and crop it to take out any blank spaces, once again, the focus should be on you. Readers want to know who YOU are. Off centered images with dead spaces are distracting as well as poor lighting.
  • Sharing: Now that you have your picture, share it with the world! Post it on all of your networking sites so readers will recognize you, no matter where they are! Most people recognize and remember faces before names. If you have one picture on Facebook, and another on Twitter, and yet another on Google+, fans will be unsure if it’s you. Keep it uniform! If at any time you change or update your photo, be sure to change it on all of your sites. **Ignore the urge to change it up every few weeks! Even though your name may be sitting beside the image, people recognize faces before names. Again, it’s branding! After all, McDonald’s doesn’t change the color or shape of their golden arches!**

Branding your style as an author:

  • Your writing style and the way you give voice to your characters is a part of your brand. Read books from two of your favorite authors. Notice how the authors writing style/voice varies from one another, yet, when you read more than one of their books, each of their stories have a similar tone, speech pattern, or even use of particular phrases that distinguishes their writing style from someone else’s. So should yours.
  • Interactions with fans on social media can make or break you. How many times have you come across offensive, political, or highly opinionated posts or tweets that have offended you or left you with a sour taste in your mouth about the commenter? Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but beware of using your social presence as a showcase for your opinions. Readers now have access to you online and will pay close attention to what you have to say. Make your post count. There are times to joke; there are times to be professional. There are times when your fingers need to be still on the keyboard and you avoid addressing a comment, even if it stings. The last thing you want to do is turn off a fan due to your political views or personal feelings. Instead, use your online presence as a way to build your fan base, sharing information about you, your books, and upcoming projects. Fans these days love author/reader interaction. As Indie authors, we have a chance to do what many NYT Bestsellers can’t…talk to our fans on a regular bases. Readers love it!
  • Make your online presence known. Websites are the home base of your brand, the place where a reader can be directed and learn everything about you. This can be done one of two ways: 1.) pay for a professional website or 2.) Take advantage of free website tools and build your own. Sites such as WordPress.com, Blogger.com, and Wix.com, to name a few, offer free blog hosting. (I’ve used all three, and WordPress, which hosts this blog/website, is by far the best!) All you have to do is create an account. This takes time and patience, but can be an educational and rewarding experience. Keep your site professional with links to all of your social networking sites, products (remember, your book is a product), and any merchandise (free reads, etc.) The more work you put into it, the more people will be drawn back to it to see what’s new. Don’t publish content and step away. Website maintenance and fresh information is a must in order to keep your readers coming back. Your website represents you 24/7, even when you are not online. Content should include: a picture, a well-written bio, (remember, you’re an author. It should be free of grammatical errors. If you have a poorly written bio, readers will hesitate to purchase your books because they feel they will be written the same way), all sales links and links to social sites where they can find, follow, or contact you. Your site should also include information about your books (book blurbs), and a sample of your work for them to read.

I know it sounds daunting and like a lot of work, and believe me it is! The point of all of this is you’re a writer and it’s what you love. In order to be successful, you have to put in the work. Marketing and discovering your brand is all about knowing who you are and how you want your writing perceived. By the way, I’m not telling you something that I haven’t done. Everything you see on this site was done by me and it took weeks! But it was well worth it! J

#WriterWednesday- Interview with Lisa Orchard!

Welcome to another Writer Wednesday feature! Today I introduce you to Lisa Orchard, who writes mystery novels for young adults.

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Welcome, Lisa!

What inspired you to write?

I was an avid reader when I was a youngster, I loved Nancy Drew!  By the time I was in fifth grade I was writing my own mysteries and playing detective too. J I guess you could say those early mysteries are my inspiration for writing today, but I also feel  that I have a message in each of my stories for the young people who are reading them.

 

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

I write Upper Middle Grade/Young Adult Mystery/Thrillers. I chose this genre because I’ve always loved mysteries and they come naturally to me. That being said, I’m also right in the middle of a coming of age novel that I’m really excited about.

 

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I don’t have a schedule. I write whenever I have the opportunity. Life gets pretty busy with two active boys, so I try to fit it in around their activities.

 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

When I get stuck I first try chocolate and if that doesn’t work I go for a walk or a run. It seems that exercise stimulates me when chocolate doesn’t. But I always go the chocolate route first; after all, I’ve been told it’s an Anti-Oxidant! I tell people I eat it for health reasons.

MJ: LOL! Good one! I’m going to use that! 🙂

 

Are you a pantser or plotter?

I’m a total Pantser. It’s seems that outlining has a negative effect on my creative process.

 

Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?

The stories are based on some of my own experiences.  I wanted to be a detective when I was younger; however, they’re greatly embellished to make the stories more interesting.              

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Keep writing! I’ve noticed that my writing improves with each story that I write.

 

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

I would say that I’m “indie pubbed”. I’m published through Astraea Press, an awesome publisher by the way. 🙂

 

What are your current projects?

I just finished the third Super Spies novel and it’s scheduled for release in early August.  It’s titled, “The Super Spies and the Pied Piper.” I’m excited about this one!  I’m also working on a Coming of Age Young Adult Novel and it’s off to a great start.

Thanks M.J. for interviewing me today! It was fun!

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The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer 500x750

Find Lisa’s books on Amazon!

Find Lisa’s Books on Barnes & Noble!

About the Author:

Lisa Orchard grew up loving books. She was hooked on mysteries by the fifth grade and even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then.  “The Super Spies and the High School Bomber” is the second book in the “Super Spies” series. Her first book was published in March of 2012 and it has received rave reviews.

After graduating from Central Michigan University with a Marketing Degree she spent many years in the insurance industry, pining to express her creative side.  The decision to stay home with her children gave her the opportunity to follow her dream and become a writer. She currently resides in Rockford Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. Currently, she’s working on the third novel that stars the same quirky teens. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.

Twitter     Facebook     Google+     Goodreads     Blog/Website     Email

 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook     Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email


#WriterWednesday- Interview with Tammie Clarke Gibbs!

Welcome! This week I introduce you to author, Tammie Clarke Gibbs who writes in several different genres. Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair and get a chance to know her!

author pic

Welcome, Tammie!

What inspired you to write?

 I’ve always loved to read. When I was a junior in high school, I had one of those teachers who recognized something in my ability. I had a short story class and after my first story, my teacher was hooked and told me I’d “found what I should do with my life.” That was something heavy for a teenager to hear, but it was a turning point for me that changed the direction of my life.

 

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

 My first three novels have all been romantic suspense, gothic and time travel.  I love all of those elements and enjoy writing them. My upcoming release will allow me to return to my roots. The first book in my Legends Series is a Paranormal Thriller that will have a love story, but isn’t a romance in the more traditional sense of the word.

 

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

 I’m very entrepreneurial which means that I’ve owned several businesses. It’s helped me juggle multiple tasks and projects so when I sit down to write I usually write a few thousand words.  The challenge is balancing my full time real estate career with my full time writing career.

Are you a pantser or plotter?

Well, I plot for sometimes weeks just in my head, but then I’m pretty much a pantser. I call it “mulling it over and letting the story percolate”.

 

Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share an example?

My novels have been inspired by accounts in some family history books.

 

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Write. The only way to improve your craft is to exercise it. Then once you feel that you have mastered it write some more and improve some more.

 

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

All three.

 

What are your current projects?

I touched on this above, but I’m really excited about the current work in progress.  Society of Blood: The Immortals, will allow me to write across the genres I love in a fresh new way.

Connect with Tammie!

Twitter     Facebook     Goodreads     Blog     Website     Email

 

sworn to secrecyn1band

 

Their arrival was foretold in a journal and protected by one family for generations.

The time has come and one woman will succeed or fail –

She’ll have to help to fulfill the past, but they’ll have to protect her future.

Dak Bartholomew is a US Secret Service agent. When he wakes up locked in a dark room, it’s just another day until he realizes that he’s not alone. Protecting the woman covered in dirt comes natural, but the feelings she stirs inside him are anything but ordinary.

Elizabeth Porter would like nothing more than to plunge her knife through the stranger’s heart for all the trouble he’s caused, but he doesn’t seem nearly as bad as they said he was. When he looks at her, she fears her heart is the one in danger. .

Together they’ll take an unexpected journey to a time and place they could never have imagined and discover a secret they’ll be sworn to protect.

An unlikely alliance…a love born from the ashes of adversity….but will it be enough to preserve the past and guarantee their future?

 Amazon      Barnes & Noble

 

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

MJ

#WriterWednesday- Interview with A.T. Hicks!

This week I introduce you to another great author, A.T. Hicks! She stopped by a few weeks ago to share how she cracked the mystery novel code. This weeks she’s back to tell us why she writes and offers a few tips to aspiring authors.

Welcome back, A.T.! 


What inspired you to write?

 I wasn’t really inspired to write so much as reminded that I could. One day, desperate, I was trying to figure out where my talent lay. What was I supposed to be doing? At that point in my life, I was a directionless college student without the goals and drive that those around me seemed to have. I prayed. The next day I wrote my very first poem. And within a year I wrote my first novel. Albeit a terrible one, but a novel nonetheless! My inspiration for books lies in the madness of everyday life, in the nuances of human behavior, and…in court TV!

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

At the moment, I’m focused on writing a series of not so cozy mysteries featuring amateur sleuth Peaches Donnelly. I love cozy mysteries and have read tons of them. However, I noticed none were written by black authors. I figured I’d change that. However, I wanted the plot of Peaches and the Gambler, my first cozy, to have plot elements that were far more risqué than your traditional cutsie-cutsie cozy. So, with that in mind, I got to work. So, I guess you could say I chose the genre and not the other way around.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Unless I get really busy with my day job, I write nearly every day. I try to stick to around 1500 words a day. But as usual, this goes awry! Novels generally take me two to three months from start to finish.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

 I write all my novels in front of the television while talking to my husband! In addition, I’m not one of those writers who, if they stop, the writing muse disappears. Quite often, I’ll write a paragraph or two, in between cooking dinner.

MJ: Sounds like me this evening! I was cooking and writing at the same time!

Are you a pantser or plotter?

 I’m a panster with a bit of plotter thrown in for good measure. I usually have an idea and run with it. However, I spend a lot of time in my head plotting. Thus, the characters are already well-developed. I generally know exactly what’s going to happen in a book, save a few minor details.

Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share an example?

My stories are almost inevitably ideas I’ve gleaned from a combination of watching the news, reading police bulletins and watching court TV. The development of the character for Peaches Donnelly was shaped around one of my girlfriends whose life–I swear to God–is a bad comedy. Every time I spoke to her something funny was going on with her or one of her two daughters. She was too funny a character to pass up. She IS Peaches Donnelly! The car chase in my second novel, Peaches and the Baby Mama, actually happened in real life. It was a story I saw featured on an episode of Judge Alex. It was so unbelievable and ridiculous; I just had to use it!

MJ: Ha ha ha!!! Art imitating life!

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

 I know this is probably clichéd advice, but write all the time. Learn how to shut people out. Put down your phone! Also, watch plenty of TV. That’s where I get all of the characters for my books. Nothing comes out of a vacuum and certainly with the characters in my books, this couldn’t be more true.

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

I’m self-published. I’m sorry. I’m an Indie Writer. I believe that’s the politically correct term these days!

What are your current projects?

 I just completed Peaches and the Baby Mama. The next novel in the series is Peaches and the Cross Dresser.

Peaches and the Gambler Silhouette

 

Buy Now!

What does a strip club, a dead man and a Dove ice cream bar all have in common? Peaches Donnelly.

Peaches Donnelly has a major problem: she’s just been fired. Unaccustomed to filling her days with nothingness, she embroils herself in the murder of a childhood friend. However, standing between her and the solving of this heinous
crime are two pesky daughters, a selfish opera singer sister, the diet from hell and two sexy men she can’t resist.

Add to this bubbling pot a hasty decision to go undercover as a stripper and you have a story rife with drama, laughs and a little dash of danger.

Follow Peaches and the always funny cast of characters in this first installment of a rollicking series of cozy mysteries.

 


 

Peaches and the Baby Momma

Buy Now! 

 

Bodacious beauty and Baby Mama Extraordinaire Cecily Washington has it all: a Child Support Portfolio that would make any Gold Digger proud, a sprawling McMansion filled with expensive goodies, and a closet full of designer shoes that would bring a diva to tears.

When Peaches is invited to a party at the uber wealthy Cecily’s home, she jumps at the chance. However, poison is in the air when local daycare owner and president of Peaches PTA, Stacey Howard, storms in and confronts the Baby Mama about the torrid affair she is carrying on with her husband.

When the housekeeper finds Cecily dead the next morning, the victim of a vicious—and some think well deserved—knife in the back, Peaches sleuthing/nosy instincts kick into high gear. Stacey Howard is the prime
suspect. But the list of Cecily Haters is long and illustrious. Accepting a lucrative wager to solve the crime before local police, Peaches puts her amateur detecting skills to work to root out the well-to-do Baby Mama’s
murderer.

 

About the Author:

When A. T. Hicks isn’t penning outrageous fiction, she’s shooing a renegade tomcat out of her garden, trying to prevent her escape artist dog from slipping out under the fence once again and negotiating with her teenaged daughter to complete her chores.

Twitter     Blog/Website     Amazon     Email

Thanks for stopping by to share your books with us!

MJ

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MJ on Writing: Viewpoint Tips and Tricks

WritingOne of the first things I learned about writing was the correct way to write a scene. After years of reading I had become accustom to what is known as ‘head hopping’. For those who may not be aware of what that is, ‘head hopping’ is where two characters point of views are shared in the same scene. This is not to be confused with conversation. I am referring to the scene starting with the heroine’s POV and then in mid scene, it switches to the hero’s POV, and back again or to another character without a change in the scene or start of a new chapter. Sound confusing? Imagine how it feels to a reader!

That style of writing is no longer accepted in manuscripts today, unless of course your one of the old school authors who were allowed to do it years ago. Chances are they haven’t been forced to change. In fact, I know they haven’t. One of my favorite romance authors who have been around for years still does it in every new book. But for the new author, agents and publishers are looking for a more polished style of writing, starting with characters whose POV’s are the only one featured in a chapter. Even if you plan to self-publish, taking these extra steps to polish your writing will make your work stand apart from the rest!

So how do you make this happen? Here are a few tips and tricks to make sure you stay in one viewpoint from the beginning to end or your scene! (I write in 1st Person POV, so I will write these examples in both 1st and 3rd POV when needed.)

Make sure your reader knows who is speaking.

The easiest way to have this done is by having them addressed by name by another character in the scene. Doing this in the first few lines of the chapter will let your reader know who’s speaking:

Example:

(1st Person)

“Hey, Sara, how are you doing today?” my brother asked.

“Things could be better.” I grimaced while holding my stomach.

Or

(3rd Person)

“Hey, Sara, how are you doing today?” John asked.

“Things could be better,” she said while holding her stomach.

As mentioned above, NO HEAD HOPPING!

Doing so destroys the tension your building by staying in one character head. You know the saying, ‘the right hand can’t know what the left is doing?’ When sticking in one POV, it’s the same way. If Phil has a secret that he is trying to hide from Bob, his actions and what he says should say that to the reader, but the reader can’t know that Bob already knows that Phil is guilty.

Example:

Correct:

Phil’s eyes darted from side to side in an effort to keep from looking Bob in the eye. There was no way he would admit to eating the last slice of grandma’s apple pie. He tried his best to ignore Bob when he asked another question, and continued to stare out the kitchen window.

Incorrect:

Phil’s eyes darted from side to side in an effort to keep from looking Bob in the eye. There was no way he would admit to eating the last slice of grandma’s apple pie.

Bob knew Phil was guilty, because he refused to look at him. It didn’t matter if he answered his question or not. He was going to tell grandma.

Phil knows he’s guilty, but tries his best to hide it. If we are only in his POV, he can’t know what Bob is thinking, only assume, or in this case ignore Bob all together. What he thinks Bob knows or doesn’t know is not important. You only want to share Bob’s thoughts if/when his POV is addressed in another chapter.

Describing your character from their POV.

Every now and then it’s necessary for a character to tell the reader what they look like, what they are wearing, or describe their expressions. You have to be careful their voice does not slip into the voice of another character that may be looking at them. Try some of these tricks:

  • Have your character stand in front of a mirror and talk about what they see, but don’t be technical (and it should be relevant to the scene!)
  • Use feelings and descriptions to guide your reader into visualizing what the character is trying to say about themselves.
  • Quote another character’s thoughts about their appearance.

Example: Here’s how my character, Ebony Campbell, describe herself in the opening chapter of A Heart Not Easily Broken: (1st Person)

I smirked (facial expression) before sipping my margarita. Yasmine’s light-skinned complexion, slender ballet dancer body, long legs, and B-cup breasts suited her personality. There were times I wished my body was more like hers, though. It would make shopping for clothes a lot easier. As it was, I had been blessed with the shapely figure my Nana called ‘bootylicious’. According to her, and her photo albums, I looked just like her when she was my age, with caramel-colored skin, perfectly proportioned hips, a butt that drew major attention, and D-cup breasts, making it hard for a man to look me straight in the eye. (Opinion of others)

And last but not least, select ONE character to focus on in a scene!

In other words, don’t split up your chapter into two different points of view. Extend the scene, or shorten it, with chapter breaks instead of scene breaks. Doing so will keep the reader from missing the POV switch at the break point, because sometimes inserting *** just doesn’t do it. Doing so generally means there is a change in the scene itself, not POV.

I hope this helps! For more tips on writing, check out my page with links to previous articles on writing. Until next time, Happy Writing!

MJ

Thursday Feature: Never Again No More by Untamed

Book cover

Contemporary Fiction/Teens

Born and raised in Atlanta, Lucinda, LaMeka, Charice, and Trinity are best friends with very similar backgrounds. They have all fallen victim to the perils of teen pregnancy. After each one becomes love struck to the bitter end; they realize that their dreams, ambitions, and planned future must be put on hold. While they struggle to find themselves, each one tries to survive in the game called life. Once they find out that their consequences are a little costlier then they imagined, it’s the decisions they’ve made that creates their troubles.

BUY your copy today! 

Amazon     B&N     Authorgraph

Untamed author pic

Abour the Author

Untamed is an urban fiction author working for One Karma Publishing Company. She lives in her home state of Georgia with her devoted husband of twelve glorious years, three beautiful and spirited children, and an insanely loveable dog named Rocky.

Untamed first found a love of writing as a young child through her love of reading. It was the novel entitled, Coming of Age by Lorri Hewitt that truly inspired Untamed and became the flame that ignited her introduction to the pen and pad.

Untamed’s writing journey began twenty years ago at thirteen years old with poetry, spoken word and short stories. Throughout her high school and college years, she received many accolades for her writing ability to include the Coca-Cola Young Writers Award and honorable mention in the Sandhills Writers’ Conference.

Later, she began to develop her writing talents as a novelist due to her own personal life experiences. Best known for her gritty yet flavorful language, she embraced urban literature to bring about knowledge and support through real life, every day stories with highly animated and lifelike characters. Her powerful words and straight up, no-chaser verbiage delivers punches that will leave you screaming for more.

Writing is a passion to Untamed, believing that everyone has a story to tell, she proudly writes stories that not only entertain but relates to the readers on a very personal level.

Connect with Untamed on the following social sites:

Twitter     Facebook

Look for my interview with Untamed next month!

MJ

The Best Moment Award!

It was a pleasant start to my morning to open my email and learn that my blog has received the  Best Moment Award, and more specifically, my page that offers Helpful Advice for Aspiring Authors. It is a great feeling to learn that my blog post sharing my journey to becoming an author has proved to be helpful to so many.

best-moment-award

So, as requested, per the award instructions, I have to give an acceptance speech:

My Speech:

First of all, let me thank Sharon C. Cooper for honoring me with this title. In January, I switched my blogging platform from Blogger to WordPress. It was  a big decision since over the past three years I’d acquired a large following of bloggers, writers, and readers who read my post for inspiration. I was an aspiring author when I started blogging, and enjoyed sharing the things I learned with other authors with goals of seeing their name on a book. The comments and feedback those posts  inspired me to keep writing more, keep researching, and to keep sharing. In doing so, I had unwittingly built a support system of hundreds of unknown, often times faceless, followers who cheered me on when my status changed to published author. I worried that changing blogging platforms would make it impossible for my blog followers to find me again, but to my surprise, they have! Though my blog no longer focuses solely on sharing information about writing, I still focus on the craft. To make it easy for aspiring authors who are looking for helpful advice, I created the M.J. on Writing- Helpful Advice for Aspiring Authors page which has direct links to all of my most viewed and helpful post on writing dating back to 2010. I still blog twice a month on such topics, as well as share weekly author interviews and guest post, allowing my blog followers the chance to meet and learn what makes other authors tick. I do this as a way to provide inspiration for those who feel they are alone when it comes to writing. Since January, I have picked up over 1000 followers….THANKS GUYS!!!

Now, that the hand waving and tears are out of the way, lol, it’s time to nominate other bloggers for the post that inspired me. (It’s supposed to be 15, but I’ll see how many I can remember!) So, here we go!

Carmen DeSousa- Why do you write? Does it matter if a major publisher discovers you, or just that someone reads your writing?

Christine Steendam- Overnight Success 

Synithia Williams- If Romance is Smut It’s All Smut

Stacey Deanne- Interracial Romance: The Most Popular Genre No One’s Heard About

Those are the only ones I can come up with off the top of my head…yep, I’ve been that busy writing that I haven’t read too much!!!

Congrats to all, and pass along to show appreciation of post you’ve enjoyed!

MJ

#WriterWednesday- Interview with Christopher Bynum!

I crossed paths with author Christopher Bynum in one of the Facebook book clubs I belong to.  We first conversed when he dropped by for an author chat about my first book. I was floored when I learned he wrote Erotica. I have not ran across many male authors (I know they exist!) who write Romance, much less Erotica…and man is he good at it! But Romance and Erotica are not the only genres he  has explored.  He goes by the pen name, The Black, and has an extensive catalog of stories to read on his website. You have to check them out!

Chris Author pic

Welcome, Christopher!

What inspired you to write?

 I think I’ve always had stories in my head. Early on I wanted to be an artist. I was always good at illustration, and I thought that I’d tell my stories that way. Then one day it dawned on me that I could tell my stories more efficiently with the written word than with a series of illustrations or paintings.

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

I write everything. My back up hard drive is loaded with stories of every genre – Action/Adventure, Romance, Erotica, even Science Fiction, Fantasy and Old West tales. Most of my published works are erotica, a genre I kind of fell into. The year before I retired from the Air Force the IT guy at my headquarters asked me what I was going to do after I retired. I told him the same job I did in the Air Force, but that what I really wanted to do one day was to pursue my passion, which was writing fiction. I also commented that I thought that reading books on computers would be the wave of the future. He agreed. He told me that in every new technology, sex always leads the way, whether it be VCRs, video on CD, and the new technology (at that time), DVDs. He suggested that I write about sex. So that’s how I started with erotica. I made my bones on a certain adult web site, and over about a decade became quite popular there writing serialized erotica. Many of those stories became published books.  

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I’m usually up by 7:00, and the first thing I do is sit down with a cup of coffee at my laptop. I try to do no less than four hours of writing a day. It usually works out to be many more hours – sometimes eight or ten on a given day because if inspiration strikes, I’ll usually stop whatever I’m doing and go fire up my laptop.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I come up with some of my best stuff in the shower. I’m talking about specific narrative and dialogue. Then by the time I’m dry I’ve lost over half of it. If someone ever invents a waterproof laptop I’m going to rule the world. Okay, maybe that’s not interesting; just strange.

Are you a pantser or plotter?

I plot. Mentally. I can’t sit down in front of a blank Word document with no idea and just start writing and hope it turns out okay. Today I wrote the first 2,000 words of a story that’s been in my head for weeks. The crazy thing is that until a couple of days ago it hadn’t occurred to me to write it at all. It was just something bouncing around in my imagination while I was doing other things. That being said, I rarely create a written outline before starting a story or novel. Usually the story plays out in my head, including character dialogue. If I get stuck, I get up and walk around and let the characters talk to me. Lately however, I’m finding that I need to lay out at least a rough overview of the primary elements of a story, because my new stuff is more complex. Right now I have pages of bullet statements for a book project I’m working on taped to the wall behind my laptop. 

Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?

Many of my stories are based on my experiences or are inspired by the experiences of others that I’ve observed. Some come to me out of thin air. An example of a story inspired by real life would be one I started about five years ago. I had an idea for a story about a man who was in a marriage that ended suddenly, catching him by surprise. My thought was that after his marriage ended, the character would go on something of a sexual rampage, having many physical relationships without allowing himself to become emotionally involved with any of the women and be hurt again as a result. I was going to call the story Insatiable. I was married at that time, and all of a sudden real life events started to look like they would mirror my story idea. My fictional story became emotionally too close to reality, and I wasn’t able to finish it. Fast-forward to my post-marriage life: I met someone who was externally the (stereotypical) model of the strong, independent, successful black woman. You step to her wrong and she would verbally crush you. But we discovered that beneath her strong exterior, she was a submissive at heart. Boom – a new story idea. I created a character based on that woman. I needed a male costar for her story, so I dug up the character I’d put aside – the man who’d experienced the failed marriage – made him a writer named Simon Bishop, and wrote a story titled, Elle. I posted Elle on the adult web site, and I was surprised at all the positive email feedback I received from women readers. They wrote that they could relate to Elle’s character – not necessarily her sexual submissiveness, but her desire to have a man she could trust enough to allow her to let down her guard, to not always have to be in control. The emails highlighted to me that many women don’t want to be controlling or in always control of every aspect of their lives, but feel that they have to be because they haven’t found a man they could trust enough to hand over the reins to. Based on that feedback, I knew that Elle would have to become a published novel. I published it as Elle (Insatiable: Book One). I still have plans to publish Simon Bishop’s story (the story I put aside), probably as the fourth book in the Insatiable series.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they? Read a lot. Read works by your favorite authors. As you read, think about what makes you enjoy that author’s work. From a technical perspective, examine the way they lay out a story and draw you into it. Then sit down and write, but don’t try to imitate those other authors. Instead, find your own voice and run with it. Don’t worry about how bad you think it might be. That’s what editing is for. For instructional/reference material I suggest Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, and J.A. Konrath’s A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. Grab a copy of Writer’s Digest Magazine every now and then. I always find good tips or motivation there.  Also pick up a copy of Gone With the Wind. Even if you don’t like the subject matter and some of the character portrayals, the novel is a classic for a reason. Author Margaret Mitchell laid out a blueprint for character and plot development that’s as good as any you’ll ever read. One thousand pages fly by. Most important, write! Writing is like exercising a muscle. You won’t get better at it unless you work that muscle and make it stronger.

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

I’m self-published.

What are your current projects?

I’m working on three projects currently: A vampire novel titled Nightwalkers, which will be much different than any vampire tale ever written, a romance drama titled Anything Worth Having, and I’m compiling the many short stories that make up The Hitman Chronicles. The one is long overdue for publishing, but it’s my pet project and I want to get it just right.

Connect with Christopher on the following links:

Twitter     Facebook     Google+     Goodreads     Blog/Website     Amazon     Email

My Straight Jacket Is Purple…How About Yours?

 I  love this post! It was originally written on a fly one day after posting a similar comment of Facebook in December 2011. It has since been my most read blog post. I dusted it off, updated it a little, and decided to share it again. I’m sure all authors can relate! 🙂

Interview with Melynda Price!

Today I welcome another  5 Prince Publishing author,  Melynda Price. Melinda writes  Paranormal Romance. Take a moment to get to know her, then check out her book, Until Darkness Comes!

Welcome, Melynda!

What inspired you to write?

A few key things contributed to my becoming an author. I edited a book for a friend of mine, and I absolutely loved it! But as fantastic as her story was, I found myself wanting to write over it. What if this happened? Or what if they said that? At the time, I was also reading the Book of Enoch, which inspired me to write a fallen angel series.

 What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

I write paranormal romance. I think the choosing was mutual, LOL. I only read paranormal, it’s what intrigues me, and I write what I’m passionate about. I love creating a world that’s larger than life, an escape from reality and the confines of our world where my only challenge is to make the unbelievable believable.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I’m the most productive in the morning. I’ve found that’s when my creativity is the best. I like to grab a cup of coffee, settle into my chair with my Chihuahua and spend the day writing. 🙂

 What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

It’s not a quirk as much as a challenge, but I have the hardest time ending a book. I hate to say good-bye to my characters, and I find it very difficult to wrap up a story that will give the reader closure. It’s important to me that they don’t feel like the ending is rushed. I’ve read so many great stories but then was disappointed with the ending. I think cliffhangers are great too, as long as everyone gets their Happily Ever After when it’s all finished. 🙂

 Are you a pantser or plotter?

I’m a total pantser. In fact, half the time, I don’t even know what’s going to happen until sit down to write it. I think this style of writing can make for an exciting, unpredictable read. When I wrote Shades of Darkness, I had my first draft written and when I was polishing it for my editor, I got pulled back into the story and I completely rewrote the ending. 🙂

Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?

My stories are complete and total fabrications. However, I have been told by people who know me, that they can see a little of by daughter in Olivia. I find it funny how even without trying my creative side intersects with reality.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Learn to write deep POV from the beginning. It’s a craft of writing that takes time to develop but well worth it. It will enrich your story and make your writing stronger.

 Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

I’m traditionally published through 5Prince Publishing. My first book, Until Darkness Comes released 3/21/12. Shades of Darkness, the second book in this series, will release 2/28/13.

 What are your current projects?

I’m currently writing the third book in my Redemption Series, Courting Darkness.

Connect  with Melynda on these sites:

Website      FB Author Page      FB      Twitter      Email 

Autumn landscapeA guardian angel… A forbidden love… Eternal consequences…
Olivia Norton was born with a gift—a gift heaven has sworn to protect, and hell is bound to destroy. Her perfect world is turned upside-down when two handsome strangers, Max and Liam, step into her life. Olivia soon discovers that her ‘Mr. Perfect’ is actually a perfect nightmare.

 The rules of engagement have changed and Liam, Olivia’s guardian angel, is forced to cross dimensional borders or risk losing the woman he’s sworn to protect. Suddenly, thrust into a world unlike anything he’s ever known, Liam isn’t prepared to come face to face with the young woman whose life he holds in his hands.

 But nothing is as it seems, and secrets abound that will ultimately force him to choose between two impossibilities. Max will stop at nothing to finish what he’s started, and Olivia is soon plunged into a battle between good and evil. Her very life hangs in the balance as two forces fight to win her heart.

BUY your copy today!!!

Autumn landscape

 Coming  2/28/13!!!

Free will comes at a cost…

Three years after losing the love of her life, Olivia Norton refuses to continue living in the shadows of what will never be. But how can she marry another when her guardian angel still holds her heart?

Bound by Universal Law, Liam is forced to choose between his honor and his heart. Returning for Olivia nearly cost him his salvation once, but twice may prove to be his final undoing. Some sacrifices are worth the risk, while others could bring consequences that would last an immortal lifetime.

The game has changed—new players bring new threats and challenges. The evil that nearly took Olivia’s life three years ago has returned with a vengeance. A legion has been sent, and the Dark Court will not rest until the last sighted female has been killed.

An old enemy returns… Evil has a new face, a new name, and Haden will stop at nothing to possess the key Olivia holds, unlocking the power he needs to claim his revenge against Heaven and Hell.