June 13, 2013

Interview with Valencia Roner

Posted in Interviews tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:00 am by Christine Rice

Valenica RonerValencia Roner is a writer and blogger living in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Her work has appeared in Black Enterprise Magazine, USAToday.com, BusinessWeek.com and the Los Angeles Times. She is a member of the Writers Guild of America (WGA). She is completing her book, The 7 Most Common Barriers to Success and the Strategies to Overcome Them, which is due out in 2013.

Christine: How, and when, did you decide to become an author?

Valencia: I guess it’s fair to say that I first decided to become an author when I was 7 years old. I was in the 2nd grade and the teacher instructed us to write a story with pictures. I wrote a story about the Bionic Woman and the Bionic Man getting married and having a Bionic baby. Although I don’t remember the exact story, I do remember getting an A. I guess you could say right then and there I at least gave very serious consideration to becoming an author.

Christine: What interests you about writing nonfiction?

Valencia: I have always had a preference for nonfiction writing. I particularly enjoy biographies.  As early as age 9, I recall going into the school library and checking out biographies written about Abraham Lincoln and Wilma Rudolph. While I also tried to get through the entire Nancy Drew series (I think I got up to volume 18), I have always loved reading and studying about how people overcome adversity to achieve a goal or a life of success.

Christine: What is the writing process like for you?

Valencia: I take working on my books in project stages. By that I mean I play around with the title and chapter outlines. I also work on a draft of the book cover which provides me tremendous motivation. Seeing a mock cover lets me know the book can be real. I can do this pretty fast. However, when it comes to the body of the book, I try to write as much as I can in one sitting – even if it comes out to be a couple of pages per chapter.  From there, I begin to tweak and work on one chapter at a time – again in one sitting – until I have a solid, workable first draft. This process can take up to 10 – 15 hours per week.

Christine: Are you solely a writer or do you have multiple occupations?

Valencia: As of now, I do have the proverbial “day job”. However, I am working on a plan or variations thereof for that not to last forever. As a former business owner of a marketing and P.R. firm, I understand the value of a flexible work schedule. Meantime, I am grateful for a means by which to pay the bills.

Christine: What topics do you write about in your books?

Valencia: My primary genre is self-help/motivational books.  So many people are looking for possible approaches by which to enhance their lives. I consider myself among that group. I have had some interesting experiences and have overcome some challenging circumstances which allow me to believe I can offer something of value to those seeking encouragement.

Christine: How do you come up with an idea for a new book?

Valencia: I currently have nearly 50 book ideas. Having blogged since 2005, I have no shortage of ideas. Many can be current-event based. However, most of my ideas stem from my seeking to offer new perspectives on traditional ideas like faith, success, trust, relationships and self-awareness.

Christine: What is the title of your most recently published book and a description of it?

Chasing Joy 2Valencia: My most recent and first published book is Chasing Joy: Principles for Making Joy a Core Life Principle.  This book is my effort to address the ongoing quest of many people to find joy in their lives.  I attempt to share how the key to joy is first finding it within oneself as oppose to those things and others outside ourselves.

Christine: What are your strengths as a nonfiction author?

Valencia: My strength as a nonfiction author is that I tend to be able to write quite fast. I am one of those writers who can be laser focused. Once I get started, I tend not to stop until a designated phase of the project is complete. I can’t say that I’ve ever experienced writer’s block. Most of the time, if I have to stop writing, it’s because I’m tired, or because I have another commitment I must fulfill.

Christine: What marketing techniques do you use to promote yourself as an author and your books?

Valencia: Right now I am still working through this based on my current schedule. I do have a blog at www.right2peace.com . I also have Facebook and Twitter accounts. I was sure to have author profiles on both Amazon.com and Goodreads.com. While I know there are a host of other marketing techniques I could and want to employ, I want to make sure I have enough time and resources to ensure that all marketing efforts are executed correctly and of quality.

Christine: Are you traditionally published or self-published? Why did you choose that path?

Valencia: I am a self-published author. I chose this path because it is “easier” now more than ever with such tools as Createspace.com. I have more control, and many financial resources were not required to publish this first effort. Also, if I find a mistake it is a lot less stressful to fix with a POD (Print on Demand) format than with the traditional self-publishing route which requires you to order several hundred (or thousand) copies you have to peddle yourself out of the trunk of your car.

Christine: Where can we find your books?

Valencia: Currently, Chasing Joy can be found at Amazon.com in both paperback and e-book formats.

Christine: What advice would you offer writers seeking to become published authors?

Valencia: If you are passionate about your work as a writer and you are confident that your voice can serve of value to a segment of readers within the marketplace, write that book now. Start small. Chasing Joy may be small, but it was written to impact. Don’t be afraid to publish your first book on your own. I am extremely pleased with the process of Createspace and would highly recommend it.

In the meantime, find a way to get paid for your writing. I had my first major article in a national magazine at 27. I sold a movie script at 25 (although it didn’t get made into a movie). Selling my movie script did get me into the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA).

I will leave you with a quote by Stephen King that keeps me inspired:

If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.

Christine: Thanks for joining us today, Valencia. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you. Best of luck with your books.

January 23, 2013

First draft of “Chronicles of a Troubled Girl” finished!

Posted in Books, Editing, Publishing tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:57 am by Christine Rice

The day after my last post, which was about how I hadn’t worked on my manuscripts in a few months, I resumed working on my work-in-progress: Chronicles of a Troubled Girl. I wrote for one to two hours a day most days, and I’m happy to say that I finished the first draft the other day! It feels great to have completed the writing part of the book project.

The next step is to edit. Since it is a compilation of my journal entries from childhood to adulthood, and I want the book to be as accurate of the times as possible, I will not be doing a lot of editing. I will just review what I have written for spelling and grammar. Since I did that as I typed the journals, there will not be much editing to do. It will be a fairly quick review process and I will only need to go through the manuscript once, since I am also a professional editor.

Lately, I’ve been trying to spend less time on the computer since my body has been feeling stiff and uncomfortable when I sit for too long – due to previous leg injuries. But I’m sure I will begin editing soon. And since my last post motivated me to finish the first draft, I am hoping this post will inspire me to begin editing. I will just need to spend less time online each day so that I’ll be able to spend time editing the manuscript, and I’ll only be able to work on it for an hour at a time so that I can get up and stretch my legs.

I am looking forward to editing Chronicles of a Troubled Girl and moving on with the publishing process and getting it out to the public. I will not be doing a blog tour, since it is a very personal memoir. I prefer that people I know, and those I announce it to, will be the first to read it, and I will allow word-of-mouth to be the main method of marketing.

I hope you all have a joyous day. Happy writing and reading!

December 23, 2012

Review of “Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success”

Posted in Book Reviews tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:28 pm by Christine Rice

Secrets to Ebook Publishing SuccessSecrets to Ebook Publishing Success by Mark Coker is a thorough self-help manual about how to succeed as an ebook author. It is a good book for a soon-to-be-published author, but it is also helpful for an author who has already published a book, or several books for that matter.

This book covers a lot of information, which is pleasing since it is free. You usually can’t go wrong with free, and this book is no exception. It emphasizes the importance of writing a well-written and edited book with a great title and cover design. It talks about the value of connecting well with your readers, distributing your ebook to as many online retailers as you can, giving your book away for free, developing your author platform, maximizing “virality,” and studying bestsellers in your genre. It covers the most popular cycles or trends of ebook sales, how to deal with negative reviews, and how to set an appropriate ebook price. It goes into adequate detail about twenty-eight “secrets” to having a successful ebook; plus, there are additional chapters of other helpful information.

I have published four ebooks myself, and even though I have heard of most of the tips Coker provides – because of my five years of publishing experience – it is a well-written book with lots of insights that would help aspiring authors, new authors, and authors who don’t have much experience with editing, formatting, publishing, marketing, and networking, and anyone who is looking to learn a new tip or two to improve their ebook’s sales.

To get your own free ebook copy of Mark Coker’s Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, check out the following links at Amazon and Smashwords. Cheers to being a successful author!

October 20, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop!

Posted in Books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:16 pm by Christine Rice

Okay, it’s time to take a break from working to get back to blogging :) I have been tagged by Katie S. Pendergrass for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. The “rules” are to answer 10 questions about my work-in-progress. I have two work-in-progresses, so I will choose Chronicles of a Troubled Girl for this blog hop.

1. What is the working title of your book?
Chronicles of a Troubled Girl: A Collection of Journal Entries

2. Where did the idea come from?
I got the initial idea – to type up all of my journal entries – from my friend and colleague, Katrina Rychling. She said she was planning on typing up her journals, and that gave me the idea to type up and publish mine.

3. What genre does your work-in-progress fall under?
Memoir or compilation.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I would want to be the main character, which is myself :) There are a lot of other people in my book and it would be wonderful if all the original people could play the parts. I’m sure that won’t happen, but I can dream, right? ;)

5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Chronicles of a Troubled Girl is a compilation of the author’s journal entries from age nine to age thirty that demonstrates her struggles during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I will likely be self-publishing it.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I started writing the manuscript at the end of January and I am still working on it. I am 4/5 finished with it. I took a few months off due to publishing and marketing my other book and because of other work responsibilities.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within its genre?
Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Katrina Rychling. Thanks, Katrina!

10. What else about your book might pique reader’s interest?
There are journal entries about my experiences in a mental hospital and with being homeless.

Those are all of the questions. Now I will choose some people who I’d like to hear about their work-in-progress: Charlene Truxler, Dew Pellucid, Russ Meyer, Theresa Leschmann, and Karen Elizabeth Brown. The “rules” are to answer the same questions, but about your own work-in-progress, and to tag people you know who are authors or writers and possibly working on a manuscript. Have fun!

October 13, 2012

How You Can Organize and Run Your Own Blog Tour – Part 3

Posted in Blog Tours tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:58 pm by Christine Rice

In part 2, I covered email communication with bloggers and how to maintain an effective “contacts” list in your email program. In today’s post, I will discuss: how to schedule blog tour posting dates with bloggers, how to keep track of the blogs and dates for the tour, how to network and market the start of the tour, how to begin the blog tour, and how to promote the blog tour.

The way that I scheduled posting dates for the tour, and had no conflicting dates where two people wanted the same date, was I started slowly by contacting a few bloggers at a time. I started with the bloggers I had contacted first in the very beginning and replied to their last email. (One thing I would have done differently, was to forward emails I sent that were not responded to, to the blogger they were intended for, when I needed to contact the blogger again, so that all emails would have been in one email thread and they could have seen my previous messages.) In the email, I told the blogger the date range of the tour and I let them choose the date they wanted. I received responses the same day, so I emailed a few more. I mostly had one email thread per blogger to keep the exchange organized.

I made a “blog tour list” that had each blogger’s name, blog URL, email address, type of blog post, ebook format they preferred, and the scheduled posting date. I turned the Word document to “landscape” and put one blogger on each line. As I scheduled the posting dates, I typed them on my blog tour list and highlighted them in yellow so that I could easily see what dates were taken.

Around that time, I published my book and sent out the ebook copies to the bloggers. I looked at my blog tour list to see what ebook format each blogger wanted, then I emailed the ebook and cover image to each of them using the email threads I already had going. I waited at least a week before I sent them any more emails, to give them a chance to read my book.

I began receiving interview questions from the bloggers who would be interviewing me on their blog. So I answered the interview questions, and after editing my answers, I emailed it back to them right away. I also wrote my guest posts. During this time (about one week), I did as much writing as I could, because I knew that once the tour started, I would be too busy running and promoting it to do any additional writing. Plus, I didn’t want to save anything for the last minute.

Then one week before the tour started, I began promoting it. I created events on Facebook, Book Blogs, and Goodreads. For the Book Blogs and Goodreads events, I posted a description of the tour and listed all of the blogs’ URLs and posting dates (with live links). For Facebook, I did not list the blogs’ URLs and posting dates in the description of the event; I only posted a compelling description of the tour to get people psyched up for it. I also published a blog post here (on my own blog) with a full description of the blog tour and a list of all of the blogs’ names and URLs. I tweeted about the tour too.

One other thing I did – I asked the leader of my Goodread’s group, “Writers and Readers,” if I could be involved in a Q&A discussion, which is when an author is spotlighted and readers ask them questions. The group leader just happened to be looking for authors for Q&As. So we scheduled my Q&A discussion for the first three days of my tour.

Just before the tour began, I emailed everyone a blog tour banner, which listed all of the blogs’ URLs that were on the tour and had my book cover design as the background. It is a good publicity method. I created the banner myself by uploading my cover design (before I had put the title, the subtitle, and my name on it) onto a PowerPoint slide and added the blog tour information. Not all bloggers are willing to post a banner on their blog, so I did not force them, but I asked them if they would and some did.

The night before the first blogger hosted me, I sent them an email to remind them to post. The email was easy-going, but well-written, and it included the posting date. Here’s an example:

Hi [blogger’s first name],

This is a reminder to post [your review/the interview] tomorrow [month/date]. I look forward to seeing your post!

Christine

(As you can see, it’s a very simple message, used just as a reminder, without sounding pushy.)

When I woke up and went on the computer the next day, I checked my blog tour list for that day’s blog URL. Then I went on the blog to see if the post was up (most of the time it was – thanks bloggers!). I then clicked on the title of the post to display just that one post. If the post had share icons, I shared it on Twitter, Google+, my Facebook page, LinkedIn, and Digg. Otherwise, I copied and pasted the URL on those websites manually. Then I went to my Facebook event page and pasted the URL in a comment, along with a compelling description of the blog post. I then pasted the URL into the “Post Your Blog Updates Here!” forum post in the “Blog Tour” group on Book Blogs. Then I created new blog posts on Book Blogs and the Writer’s Digest Community with the title being the same as the title of the blog post and put in quotation marks; a “teaser” in the body of the new blog post with a direct link to the actual post; and appropriate tags, such as: blog post, book review/author interview, blog tour, Christine Rice, and Freelance Writing Guide (my book for the tour).

After I shared the blogger’s post everywhere possible, I emailed them to thank them for their post and for participating in my blog tour. I told them that I shared their post everywhere so that they will get some extra hits to their blog. Then I put a line through the blogger’s information on my blog tour list to show that the blog post had been successfully published and I finished communication with the blogger.

The rest of the tour consisted of the same: sending “reminder emails” the night before the next blog stop, promoting the blog post, and sending “thank you” emails the day of the post (preferably right after sharing the post). I kept all the emails in my blog tour email folder until the tour was completely over. I still have my blog tour list in case I need the information in the future.

I hope you enjoyed this 3-part series about how to organize and run your own blog tour! I hope you will take the plunge and create your own blog tour. If you do, you will save money that would have been unnecessarily spent on a blog tour company, and you will have a memorable experience. Good luck!

October 9, 2012

Interview with J M Leitch

Posted in Interviews tagged , , , , , at 7:08 am by Christine Rice

I first met J M Leitch when I reviewed her book, The Zul Enigma. She contacted me on Goodreads and asked if I would review her book. After checking out her book, I was thrilled and said yes. I reviewed her book in August, and you can read the review here. We have stayed in touch since through email. Here is a little about her:

When Mum picked me up after my first day of primary school I was in tears. ‘Whatever’s the matter?’ she asked. I spat out my words between heaving staccato sobs. They were an accusing finger. ‘YOU said they’d teach me to read!’ It took much longer than I expected… but they did teach me and I’ve not stopped since. They also taught me to write and I published my first novel in 2011, The Zul Enigma (www.thezulenigma.com). As to my background? Well, I was born just outside London, England, and moved to Asia where I’ve lived half my life. I now spend my time between Singapore, Assam in North East India, Bali in Indonesia and the UK.

Now, let’s start the interview.

Christine: How, and when, did you decide to become a novelist?

J M: I have enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember. I used to love writing essays at school and when I was 17, in my GCSE ‘O’ Level exam for Greek Literature in Translation, I wrote about Orpheus visiting the Underworld when he tried to bring his beloved wife, Eurydice, back from the dead. I described how Orpheus, after using his beautiful music to soften the heart of Hades, King of the Underworld, persuaded him to agree to let Eurydice leave, and how Hades insisted on one condition: that Orpheus must walk in front of her and not look back until they both had re-entered the world of the living. But Orpheus, scared that Hades would break the agreement, on reaching the upper world turned to check that Eurydice was still behind him. She was, but because she hadn’t yet entered the world of the living Orpheus was the one who broke the agreement. Anyhow, by the time I got to describing the agony Orpheus experienced at loosing his wife a second time… this time forever… I was crying and my tears dropped onto the paper splodging the ink. Fortunately, they didn’t make the paper illegible and I ended up getting an ‘A’!

So I always thought I’d end up writing. In fact, I’ve started three books over the years, the first in my mid twenties, but I never got any further than the first few chapters because I either ran out of steam or I let other things get in the way.

Christine: What types of writing do you do?

J M: Throughout my working life I’ve done many different types of writing including reports, technical manuals, training proposals, training courses, business profiles, resumes, articles for magazines, content for websites – all kinds of things. But until The Zul Enigma, I’d never before written anything creative. Now I also write a blog, which I enjoy.

Christine: What is a typical day like for you as a writer?

J M: When I wrote my novel I spent every free moment sitting at my computer writing – usually eating breakfast and lunch there, too. For a while I used a laptop, which was good, because it meant I could move around the house and garden as I fancied.

I don’t have a set routine like some people, to write for so many hours, to finish so many words in a day, or to work from this time to that time. I just stick at it for as long as I’ve got. I don’t need a special place or surroundings or music. My special place is in my head and I can get there anywhere, any time.

Christine: Where did you get the inspiration for The Zul Enigma?

J M: I was in Bali lying on a deckchair watching my daughter swim while thinking about a recent BBC documentary a friend had told me about. It was about several reports from different scientific disciplines – ice core samples, marine temperature studies, marine life studies, climate change studies – to name a few – and how the data quoted in all of them showed our planet’s oceans were cooling. The result of this phenomenon is the slowing down or, in the future, the possible stopping of the conveyor or North Atlantic Drift that traditionally brings warm water from the south to the north Atlantic, keeping the east coast of North America and the west coast of Europe warm. In other words it’s feasible that North America and Europe are heading for a mini Ice Age.

Oh no! I thought. My poor Mum… she lives in England.

Then I started fantasising how wonderful it would be if a bunch of friendly aliens appeared and relocated us onto an identical planet with a stable climate! And that’s where the original idea came from, although it’s now changed beyond recognition.

Christine: Why did you choose to self-publish and not go down the conventional publishing track?

J M: When I first started writing I planned that the main action would take place in 2020. Then I began reading about the end of the Mayan calendar on 21 December 2012 and how different groups of people believed this would be a special time for many different reasons – the occurrence of cataclysmic events perhaps, or a time of spiritual enlightenment. It piqued my interest and I thought it would be fun to build my book’s plot around that date.

The problem was I hadn’t taken into consideration how long it would take me to finish the book. I thought a couple of years, tops… then 3… then 4… until last year I realised that if I didn’t publish it soon I’d miss the boat completely! I knew it could take years to find a traditional publisher, so I decided, oh well… I’ll have to go ahead and do it myself.

Christine: What marketing techniques do you use to promote yourself as a novelist and your novels?

J M: The most effective marketing tool for me has been the KDP Select programme that allows authors to offer their eBooks free on Amazon for 5 days every 3 months as long as the title is exclusively available there. In addition, I have a website for the book, book and author Facebook pages, I write a blog once every couple of weeks or so, and I also Tweet. I am learning that successful marketing is the combination of many different initiatives and I would love more exposure in the way of interviews on the Internet or in print and press. The key is to get your name and the name of your books out there. It sounds so easy, but the reality is that it takes a huge amount of work.

Christine: If people want to purchase your book, how do they go about it?

J M: It’s probably easiest to buy the paperback from Amazon or The Book Depository. It costs a couple of US Dollars more at The Book Depository but they will ship it anywhere in the world for free.

Amazon UK Paperback Edition – www.amazon.co.uk/dp/9810703252
Amazon UK Kindle Edition – www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0073M876M
Amazon US Paperback Edition – www.amazon.com/dp/9810703252
Amazon US Kindle Edition – www.amazon.com/dp/B0073M876M
Waterstones UK – http://bit.ly/WcJOIM

June 6, 2012

Review of “So, You Want to Write a Book”

Posted in Book Reviews tagged , , , , , , , at 4:45 am by Christine Rice

So, You Want to Write a Book by Othniel Seiden is a refreshing read with a positive outlook on writing and publishing a book.

The book starts with a few chapters about how and why it’s not that difficult to traditionally publish, the author’s qualifications, and “who should read this book.” There are a few chapters on book ideas, which tell the reader how to come up with a book idea and how to determine if it’s marketable. The author goes over querying, speaking with editors, and press releases. He also discusses time management, writer’s block, and the writing process – from 1st draft to publication.

Next, Seiden reviews the different methods of publishing. He personally prefers traditional publishing and what he calls “partner publishing,” which is what ebook and print-on-demand publishing is like today. He also goes over vanity publishing and self-publishing from the stance of using a printing press. He also discusses agents, contracts, marketing, promotion, and the media.

So, You Want to Write a Book is a fun, quick read. The author has a unique perspective on writing and publishing – some insightful ideas I hadn’t considered. The text is broken up with quotes, references, and bold subtitles, and the chapters are refreshingly short. There is a lot of helpful information in this book.

I recommend So, You Want to Write a Book to all writers who are nervous to begin writing their first book because they don’t know what to expect. This book will ease their fears and give them helpful advice and ideas. It’s also a book for writers at any stage, like myself, who has self-published three books but still found the book enlightening and informational.

So go grab your copy. It’s available in Kindle edition and paperback. This is the link.

February 5, 2012

Review of “Get Between the Covers”

Posted in Book Reviews tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:27 pm by Christine Rice

Get Between the Covers: Leave a Legacy by Writing a Book (2nd ed. 2008) is made for all those who are contemplating writing and publishing a book and those who are certain they want to write a book, or have already started, and want to learn about the ins and outs of book publishing. This book motivates writers who want to be authors and it encourages writers to follow their dreams of publishing a book. The main viewpoint of the authors is that there are millions of people who feel they “have a book in them,” but only thousands of books are published each year; so the book’s purpose is to get more people to write that book that they have in them.

The book’s content is not focused on one means of publishing, but rather, it reviews them all. It is very educational about different aspects of the writing and publishing industry, and is an overview of the entire book writing process; but at 356 pages, it explains a lot, and also refers the reader to additional research materials.

It has a preface, introduction, five parts, and appendices. The preface introduces the book and explains how it is different from the first edition. The introduction was written during the first edition and provides research and statistics that support why the book is important and needed by society, explains what types of readers the book is geared towards, describes how the chapters are set up, and provides a brief biography of the authors.

Part 1 is about the book writing process. It is motivational and informative and includes chapters on time management, writer’s block, and editing, as well as several others. Part 2 is an overview of the publishing industry; it includes information on traditional publishers, literary agents, and booksellers. Part 3 goes over the “paths to print.” It explains the different types of book publishing, allowing the reader to decide which method is best for them. Part 4 educates the reader about editors, marketing, and rights and contracts. Part 5 wraps it up with suggestions on rejection and acceptance. Lastly, the appendices cover how to navigate Writer’s Market, and they provide resource links and suggested reading material.

Do I recommend this book? Definitely. It is very helpful and informative for authors, and those who want to write a book, which is where I’m at right now. If you are interested, Get Between the Covers is available in paperback on Amazon for only $6.91! Click here for the link.