Getting Involved

When you’re starting to write your first book, you’re probably very lost. The indie author community is HUGE – literally – containing thousands of authors who self publish and do a lot of things on their own, but that’s nothing to worry about. Most of the authors I have come in contact with are rather friendly and are more than willing to answer any questions you have.

How do you get your foot in the door?

That was my first question when I started writing. I was working on a book that was supposed to be a trilogy – except I have had so many computer issues that it didn’t turn out that way – and you’re at a loss. Well, I hope my blog posts can help you start to find your way, but ultimately, you need to work on getting some people on your friends list that are also involved.

For me, it kind of fell into place. I read a book by Cameo Renae and I happened to stumble across her personal profile, so I friended her. She happened to be so sweet and kind and helpful with answering my questions and those she couldn’t answer, she pointed me in the direction of someone who could help by answering – and those people were more than willing to answer as well.

My friends list grew and even now, I’m at about 1,600 friends and most of them are a part of the indie community. I’m not ashamed of this (and I know that employers will be able to look at that and see it and question why I have so many friends, but I don’t care. I’m happy to have gotten to speak with each and every person on my friends list). Well, everyone on my friends list is special and someone that needed my help or I needed theirs. Either way, they are people that I can count on because they have been where I have been or they are on their way to becoming a success.

Anyway, the thing isn’t just to fill your friends list, but actually create a circle of author friends. For me, it’s simple. My author friends consist of Kate Marie Robbins, Zara Elise Thelms, Isabella Tredway, JE Feldman, Loki Jackson, and a few others that I try to talk to at least every other day (some of them I talk to nonstop because they are so amazing and we just “click”, you know?). When everything seems to be going wrong or my characters won’t talk to me, I can always count not only on their opinion, but for them to distract me if that’s what I need. I hope they know that they can count on me for the same thing!

I view that as getting involved, but not only that. I try to like and participate in as many events for cover reveals and releases as possible, a lot of the times, donating something that is mine (usually a few ebooks) for giveaways to help make their parties a success. Because that is what we’re here for!

In order for the indie community to keep turning, we have to help out with each other. There are many groups on Facebook for you to promote your books and I would also recommend joining quite a few of them. That way, you also get to see every one else’s books (that is, if you’re interested because I know a lot of people that skip over them. I personally try to go through them and see if any are in the genre that I like to read and occasionally find some that I end up loving).

Now, getting involved will all pan out into helping you with marketing techniques. I know that I have a street team consisting of some of my favorite authors and people who love what I write that help me promote my books and help push along my ideas. They are also great for encouragement.

 

STAY TUNED – POSTS COMING UP:

– Formatting Help
– Marketing Strategy
– Favorite Authors

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Quick Write

Sometimes taking a break from what you’re working on to do a quick writing sprint to work on something else gives your mind a break. I did that today and I loved it. Here’s what I wrote in about 20 minutes. I’m thinking the start of a new story! Tell me what you think then take a break and write for yourself – write anything – for 20 minutes straight!


 

Prologue

“Emily!”

She could hear him call out her name, but still she didn’t turn around. She continued running through the field that was located on the outskirts of her hometown. The long stalks of wheat brushed against her legs as her dress flowed behind her. While she was running, she was laughing, the sweet sound rising through the night and over the empty air, filling it with something melodic.

“Catch me if you can!” nineteen year old Emily Steele shouted back toward the young man behind her. For years, Emily had been chasing Chase Jones, trying to get him to go out with her and here he was, chasing her through a field on their first date, trying to catch up with her. “Come on!”

A quietness fell over the pair except for the heavy breathing that they were both giving out. The closer she got to the creek, the louder the rushing water became and soon, she couldn’t hear Chase behind her. She didn’t stop to think, thinking that it was all a part of the game that they were playing. Continuing down, she weaved around the trees that were starting to appear, heading to the creek.

After a moment, she had reached the edge of the creek, the terrain changing to small pebbles and mud that was a result of the water nearby. Taking a few more steps, she placed her feet in the water, not bothering to take off her shoes since she was barefoot. Closing her eyes, she savored the moment, loving the feeling of the cool water against her skin. Emily turned around, waiting for Chase to come through the trees.

“Chase?” she called out, but there was no reply. There was only silence and the hoot of an owl, perched overhead. “Chase? Where are you? This isn’t funny anymore.”

She waited another few minutes, allowing the water to wash away her anxiousness, but still, she was curious about what was taking him so long. Emily stepped out of the water and headed back the way she came, not really wanting to look or her date as she was now in a bad mood and the bright moon was now hidden behind clouds, making the world around her darker and harder to see.

“Chase, please,” she all but begged. “Where are you?”

Emily started back to the field, the stalks billowing lightly in the breeze. There was no sign of Chase and she honestly thought that he had just left her here, all alone, at two in the morning.

“Great,” she muttered as she leaned against one of the trees that were at the edge of the field, glancing over the field at the lights from the town. There weren’t many on and the few that were on she knew were only street lamps, ones that stayed on from six at night until about eight the next morning. There was one flickering in the distance that was giving her a headache.

Turning away, she stood straight and let out a deep breath, deciding to head back in town. She considered looking for Chase, but then thought that it wouldn’t have been worth it. She thought that if he left her out here alone that he wasn’t worth it and there went years of chasing after him.

Heading back to the town, she knew that the quickest way was through the field and over the interstate roads that hardly anyone travelled over. Still, there was something about walking there alone that scared her, even at nineteen years old. Every day on the news, she heard about bad things that happened to people, but never here. Never in the small town of Royal Lakes.

Heading back, she thought about her life and where she wanted it to go, but she knew that even though she was nineteen, she had her entire life to figure out what she wanted to be. Fresh out of high school last year, she had so many plans that she wanted to pursue, but all of that changed just by tripping and falling over one thing.

Once she hit the ground, she winced, trying to get a tiny stone that had managed to find its way far from the creek to the middle of the field out of the palm of her hand. After that was done, she turned her head to look at the large object that she had tripped over and when it finally clicked, she screamed.

Chase Jones was lying on the ground of the field, with blood trickling from a wound on his head. His brown eyes were open and looking straight at her as his left cheek was pressed against the dirt of the ground. There he was, lying dead in the middle of the pathway that ran through the field leading from the town to the creek.

That was when Emily Steele’s entire life changed.

 

(C) Brianna Vanderland 2015

Blog on Blog

Yes – my topic for today is about having a blog – while I’m on my blog. Makes sense, right?

Well, I’ve recently started this blog and well, I honestly didn’t think that I would keep up with it since I have had so many in the past and well, let’s just say that I’ve let some of them fall through and I’ve eventually ended up deleting so many of them. But this one is a part of my author website, so I guess I could just delete the one feature and be done with it, but I want to try. I’m bad at keeping up with things, but I seem to be doing  okay for now.

Anyway, what I’m here to talk about today are the pros and cons of blogging – keeping a blog whether it be for personal reasons or as a business tactic, it can still be helpful.

Competition –

To start with, if you look, there are many reasons not to blog. For one, there’s a lot of competition in it – so many people have blogs about so many topics that it would no doubt be hard not to be jealous of so many others and their success. My advice to you is to push that out of your mind and focus on yours and their happiness with what they are doing. If they reach many people and people like them, it’s GREAT news to have anything successful going on. As a writer, you meet so many people who write and to be successful, you kind of have to have your own style and voice,  something that is unique, otherwise it gets lost in the midst of thousands, if not millions of others.  The thing is that many people look at the “so-called” rules of blogging and think that it’s too much work, when in fact, there is no wrong way to blog.

Frequency of Posts –

Somewhere I remember reading that someone said before that in order too be successful, you should post three or more posts a week and it would help your readings and help your blog become more successful with followers and whatnot, but let’s think about it. Three posts a week equals three times 52 and that is 156 posts in a year! That is a lot of posts and while I might be good at keeping up with the posts now, I feel like at this rate, I will eventually run out of things to talk about. I will run out of decent posts, posts that contain good information for all of you readers. But who knows – maybe one of you is or will be more successful at this blogging thing than I am and will find something else to write about other than just this. I’m considering posting some other things that aren’t just about my books to expand, but who knows. Think about it.

Time Sucker –

I will admit right now that blogging is a time sucker – it takes time away from other things just so you can make a post to other people. You could spend hours in front of a computer screen (and us authors already do that anyway, but maybe this is distracting you from actually writing), but still, there are some pros to blogging.

Improving Writing –

For one, it’s been said that while blogging, you can improve your writing for both fiction and nonfiction. I can say that while I’ve been keeping this blog, I’ve learned to type a little faster and gather my thoughts while I’m typing so I know what I’m going to try to be saying a few sentences in front of where I am. With that being said, it helped me become better, faster, and more confident. Eventually, you will become a well-rounded writer!

Author Platform – 

While keeping a blog, it could help you build on your author platform as people come in and view it, but you also get to meet so many people like you as well (refer to blog post about author pages). Because of this, it could help get your name out and about and get people talking.

Spread Your Creative Wings –

Before I started blogging, I had no idea whether or not I had something to say. I felt like I would run out of topics and it’s probably true. I will eventually run out of things to say, but I know that when that happens, I will approach it like writer’s block (see blog post on writer’s block) and I will overcome it, finding something else to write about, but for now, I am approaching it as if it’s all for other people, help, advice, a way to get started.

 

Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, as someone who is looking to improve as an author, the pros outweigh the cons. Who knows! Maybe something like this would help you publish a nonfiction book or something like that! Surely it wouldn’t be too difficult to take your blog posts and make it into a book that others would find interesting!

I hope that you find this post useful and there will be more coming soon! Thank you for your patience while I was doing some research and getting this post up!

For ideas on blog posts, take a look at Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas!

Feel free to leave comments on your thoughts! What blogging myth have you debunked?

Minimizing Distractions

As we’re writing, there are many things that would pull you away from actually writing – I’m someone guilty of spending way more time on Facebook and on their games than writing or paying more attention to whatever is on netflix at the time. I’m so guilty of all of the above, but when you really want to get cranking on that word count, try a different approach.

When I’m really trying to bust out some more words to meet a goal that I’ve set I make sure I’m in a rather peaceful place (like that exists for some of us) or as peaceful of a place that I can find. Instead of turning on the television or opening facebook, I open my music player (usually spotify, but youtube and everything like that works as well), and put on something soft and quiet – for me, it’s usually classical piano music or something epic that has many highs and lows as far as trying to emote and something WITHOUT WORDS (I don’t even know, but when trying to listen to something with words while writing, I end up writing what is spoken to me instead of what is in my mind). I use the tone and vibe the music gives me while writing and it actually helps me personally by improving my writing as far as emoting goes.

Now, I know the urges to check your inbox or check your facebook are strong, but don’t give in to them. Don’t give in to any of it! Keep them all closed and focus on the words before you and most of all, listen to your characters.

I know that this won’t help everyone, but all I’m suggesting is to try it at least once before you bash it! If I can find at least one other person this helps, then my goal would have been accomplished!

 

Now, what in the hell are you doing reading this? Turn off the internet and get to writing!

Writing with Emotions

So many people have told me that they can’t write because something happens and their emotions take over and they just can’t – their boyfriend/girlfriend broke up with them, someone passed away, job promotion where they’re too excited, or they get distracted. If you’re the last one, please wait until the next blog post is uploaded which will be all about dealing with distractions!

Now, I’ve been in the same position! I’ve had my share of the emotional roller coaster, riding it on its ups and downs, but do something with it. I’m not trying to come across as someone who is saying, “oh, let’s ignore everything and we will write instead of going to a funeral or being with someone who is sick,” but take those emotions and make something with it once you have the opportunity to sit at a computer.

Write it down – write anything down and remember the way that you feel because it can make your writing ten times better as the reader would be able to connect with you if it was something that they had felt as well. This is an important part about being a writer – making someone else feel what you feel and want what you want. Use it to your advantage because if you write while you’re feeling emotional – even if you don’t want to – it will help you beyond belief and will help people want more of whatever you’re writing. Use the emotions as your inspiration and mold them beyond that.

Creating an Author Page/Blog

When I first started in the indie author community, I had no idea what I was doing. I was lost other than writing – something I knew that I loved. Well, there’s a question that haunts many people that are just starting out.

“I’m not published, but should I create an author page/blog?”

In my opinion – YES!

I made mine long before I was published and it helped me a lot. It helped people find out who I was and what I wrote about before I was published and it helped get people interested. It was also a place that I could use to ask fans questions and get more involved in the community. Even now, I use it to stay in touch with people and to help fellow authors with promotions that they need help with.

Not everyone will agree with this, I know. There are many who believe you should only make one once you publish something, but that’s not what the indie community is about – it’s about supporting each other whether someone is working on writing a book or promoting a published one.

Book Covers

So for me, my book covers are always something that I think reflects the story well, whether it has the main characters or shows an event that happened in the story. The thing is to make something that will stand out – something that will make someone in a bookstore pause to at least glance at it and be prompted to pick up the book and read the back.

Now, there are a lot of people who can make book covers, but the thing is not to limit what you want on it. They’re working for you. If you can’t find someone who can do what you want, it’s my opinion that you should move on. Don’t compromise unless you love what they did more than you loved your original idea.

In my line of business here, I’ve come to know many cover designers, all who make very beautiful things, but there are also some out there who will fool you and take a stock image, slap on some words and be done with it. THAT’S NOT SOMETHING YOU SHOULD DO! Every stock image, no matter how it looks, should be slightly edited to give it some originality. The issue is that with stock images, many people could have the same one and you want to give it a little something to be original to your piece.

Only publish with something that you are proud of!

Some cover artists that I have worked with or seen amazing work from –
Mae I Design – Regina Wamba (original stock images available for purchase)
Steph’s Cover Design – Stephanie Hobbs (premade and original work available)
Kate’s Ye Olde Booke Cover Shoppe – Kate Marie Robbins

Below are some samples from each artist –

Regina Wamba –

R1

R5

R4

R3

R2

Stephanie –

S2

S3

S4

S5

S1

Kate –

WA

K4

K3

K2

K1

Opinions Needed

So, I kind of write while I’m at work, keeping the gears in my head turning and I came up with close to 700 words of a new idea. The only thing is that it’s completely out of the box to what I’m use to – that being Fantasy and Romance – and this one seems to be heading down the more Paranormal route.

I need opinions on what I wrote. Think you could help? Drop a comment below and let me know what you think!


I take a deep breath and look at everything around me. Softly, the snow falls, placing a gentle, soft, glittery blanket over everything. I hate the snow, but here… it always snows. Everything else is black except for the stars that shine above me, lighting my way.

I pull my coat tighter around me, thankful for the warmth as I place one foot in front of the other. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m going.

The world around me spins in chaos as everywhere I look, they lurk. The shadows are following me and I swear I’m not crazy like people think I am. They voices in my head start up again, but I try to suppress them to no avail.

/Follow me,/ they whisper but I head in the opposite direction. They call me names, but I give them no attention. I can’t do it. I tell them I won’t.

/But you must!/ They try and try again, trying to bribe me with wealth, love, and power. Little do they know I’m not interested in any of it.

When silence settles again, I’m thankful. I hear the crunching of the snow beneath my shoes and, for once, I’m thankgul for the noise. I focus on that beyond anything else, hoping it’s enough to block out their rasps.

“Stop,” I whisper to myself as I stop dead in my tracks. I look back behind me and all I see are my footprints, glowing a bright blue. There are no lights around, which is scaring me. This isn’t the first time it’s happened either.

“Stop glowing,” I whisper again, this time taking my hands out of my coat pockets, I have gloves on, but I know what is coming next as I carefully reach up and pull the left one off. My hand has a bright blue glow to it, much like that of my footprints and in the center, I see the symbol – the one I have come to fear. It only shows up when He is nearby and he causes all the problems that everything blames me for – they aren’t my fault, but no one ever believes me.

“There you are,” His voice sends shivers down my spine as I spin around.

“You’re a hard girl to track down.”

“I’m not a girl!” I shout as I take a step back, but He takes one towards me.

“My apologies,” he holds up his hands in defense. “You’re definitely a young woman.”

I know he’s toying with me as he rubs his hands together in front of him.

“You see, I have a problem,” He tries to tell me, but I have already turned around and and am now walking in the direction away from him. When I hear nothing, I turn around to confront him, but he’s gone – vanished. With a sigh of relief, I spin again to continue out of my way, but I stop and scream, jumping back, startled. He is standing in front of me, his deep blue eyes sinking into my bones.

“You scared the hell out of me!” I exclaim as I push past him – not touching – never touching.

“And you’re not doing what I asked you to!” he counters as he appears at my side again, but I scoff.

“I told you I’m done. I’m not playing any more of your little games. I’m not going anywhere you want me to. I’m not talking to any one you want me to. Leave me out of whatever you have planned.”

He shakes his head tsking at me. “I was really counting on you, Samantha. You had such potential. It’s a shame to see it all wasted.”

“What do you mean?” I start, but I don’t get the chance to finish as he pulls out a knife and immediately plunges it into my chest.

That’s when I wake up.

(C) Brianna S. Vanderland 2015

Taking a Break

So, you know those people who pour their life into their writing to the point where that’s about all they think about? Yeah? Well, I’m usually one of them. IF I had friends that lived outside of my little laptop here, they would call me up and be all, “Hey, want to go out and see a movie tonight?” To which my response would be, “Can’t guys. one more chapter to write.”

Yeah, I do that. A lot. As I’m writing it, my boyfriend is over my shoulder talking about how I say that to him a lot. Because it’s the truth. But sometimes you can’t always do everything. Taking a break and taking a step back from everything is a good thing.

So, what did I do today? I spent today with my boyfriend, watching movies and spending time with his parents – very funny people – but besides that. I spent the day away from the computer (okay, compromise – we watched movies on my laptop). But the thing is, I didn’t do any editing and I didn’t… Okay, I wrote 500 words this morning, but does that really count compared to the 2,000 I usually try to type per day?

I feel better and I feel like tomorrow I’ll be up and ready to delve back into my writing and editing (in the morning because I work tomorrow night, but then I have two days off).

That’s getting off track though. The main thing is that you need to take a break whether it be to read a book, watch a movie, spend time with loved ones – it will do you some good! Heed this advice!

I’m Drawing a Blank…

So, everyone has those times where they sit down to write and they’re drawing a blank. I know I have them – writer’s block, right?

What is writer’s block?

Writer’s block is defined as something writers and artists fear as it’s a blockage of someone’s creativity, but why do we fear it so much? Why  don’t we just push past it? (For the record, I’m writing this for other people because I have my “writer’s block” moments that I still can’t push past. Maybe you will have better luck than me on this.)

A

But maybe the reason we can’t overcome it is because we can’t pull it apart or form our words the right way. These are some ideas to get over writer’s block taken from multiple sites (sources in parentheses).

1.) Step away from whatever you’re writing and do anything that’s creative. This includes making a
collage, painting, writing poetry, anything except what you were originally working on.  “The key is to keep exercising the creative part of your brain and eventually you’ll tap back into the flow of writing.” Some people even recommend a blog – much like this one (by the way – wordpress.com and blogger are both FREE to use). (source)

2). Do free-writing. Now, we all know free-writing is sitting at a computer or staring at your piece of paper for about 15-20 minutes, writing whatever comes to your mind. Write about your feelings, something that you see – for me, if I was free-writing right now, I would describe my fireplace, mainly because it’s what is keeping me warm enough to type this right now. After that time, IMMEDIATELY set back to writing what you were originally writing! You can do it! (source)

3). Eliminate distractions. This is the one that I have the most trouble with – only because I hate the silence and while I LOVE the sound of the keys on the keyboard being clicked, it does give me a headache after awhile. What I would suggest is a quiet classical music – or anything that doesn’t have words – I’m guilty of typing what I’m hearing, especially if someone is talking to me. It’s a hassle, really. Then I just get mad at them and myself and it’s not pretty. (source)

4). Read a book. This is something I like to do. Take a break and try to read something that someone else wrote and maybe you can pull some ideas from it – don’t plagiarize, but you can draw inspiration from anything and make it your own. (source)

5). Go for a run. There are multiple sites that suggest this, but let me be the first to say I’m not in the best physical condition to be doing this. A bit ago, I was diagnosed with Pneumonia and I still don’t have my breathing up to par, but HEY! If it works for you – GREAT! Take inspiration from the world around you or the music you listen to while you run – if you listen to music!

6). BRAINSTORM. Make bullet points with where you would like your book to go and maybe something will come to you.

Ultimately, there’s a lot of things that you can do to overcome writer’s block. You don’t overcome writer’s block by not writing until you think it’s right or procrastinating. You overcome writer’s block by WRITING!

Quick Thinking

So, I’ve been working on Goddess Becoming for about two months now and the original plan was to have the main part of the book be a prophecy about the MC overtaking the villain and that would be the villain’s downfall.

BUT after two months, I still haven’t written the damn prophecy. Why? Because it’s become rather difficult for me to write. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading books about prophecies and people who fulfill them, but writing one? I’ve been at a loss.

I think I’ve decided to leave that part out and head for a different angle – I mean, wouldn’t that be best? Personally, I think the best option would be for me to sit and try to write one, but everything I come up with, I toss as it doesn’t quite meet my standards of writing. There are many forums that I’ve looked at to try to help, but still, nothing. I’ve all about given up on the prophecy idea, but it really wouldn’t come to play until the second book any way. My main thing is that I wouldn’t want to mention it in book one for it not to exist by book two.

What do you think?

Should I try to write it or should I leave it out – books with prophecies and people who fulfill them are overused?

Comment with advice, please?