Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Making of a Box-Set

Author Stacy Eaton

Over the last year, boxsets or anthologies have become the rage in ebooks. Many authors have jumped on the band wagon and found sets to join, but many do not know what it takes to put one together.

A leader is normally chosen when the set is started. This person oversees all aspects of the set. Authors are then chosen and vetted to be part of the group based on their writing and their content. Many boxsets are specialized content, for example Paranormal Obsessions is all about the paranormal world. Or maybe it’s a box set of holiday stories. All the books need to tie-in to one central theme.

Paranormal Obsessions Box Set
Decisions are made as to when the sets will be published, usually six months to a year ahead of time. Authors finish up their stories; get the individual covers completed and their stories edited. During that time, we are discussing set titles, researching them and trying to figure out something that fits the entire set. Designing the cover comes next, which can be time consuming when you have the opinions of 9-16 people.

Another big decision is who is going to publish the box set. This might not sound so hard, but you have to take into consideration that there are taxes and payment’s involved. Plus many of the sets contain international authors which adds a whole different aspect to payment.

About two months before the set is due to release, things slowly start to pump up. There are huge discussions on what marketing to use, and how everyone is going to split up the jobs that need to be completed. Teasers are done – parties are booked, ads are paid for, and the excitement builds. We also at that time work on obtaining ARC reviews for the set.

When it gets time to release, the work is far from being done. Most authors know you can’t just publish a book and walk away. The moment the book is live – that’s when the real work begins.  Marketing is one of the hardest and most time consuming things that authors have to deal with. The constant need to put the set out in front of people is never ending, but the rewards can be great.

One of the best outcomes from any boxset is that generally you are put in front of readers who have never heard of you, and once they read your story, they enjoy it enough to find out about your other books.  So in a way, boxsets are a cross promotion for the authors other books.

One thing is for sure, producing any boxset requires, time, patience and a whole lot of team work. 

Without a group of authors who are able to make decisions with one another and stay on top of things the set would go nowhere.

During Paranormal Obsessions, I was the leader of the set, and it was my pleasure to work with the other eight authors that make up the set.

Sincerely – Stacy Eaton

Stacy can be reached through her Website and on Twitter

Thursday, September 24, 2015

How to See Your Fiction on the Silver Screen

By Susan McCauley

Selling a speculative script isn’t easy, but if an author has a book that’s doing well with readers, it stands a much better chance of being produced as a film. So, how do you make that happen? 

If you have a literary agent, you can certainly share your desires with him or her and ask if they can help you pitch your book to production companies; however, many literary agents don’t represent screenwriters or handle film deals. That really depends on your agency and individual agent.

So, here are some other ways to see your book made into a film:

A producer reads your book, loves it, and options it. (This happened to Charlaine Harris with True Blood). Unfortunately, there’s a lot of luck involved unless your book is a bestseller. 

You know some Hollywood, New York, or London producers, pitch them your book, and they option the rights. 

You adapt your own book into a screenplay and seek out a screenwriting agent in Los Angeles, New York, or London. 

You adapt your own book into a screenplay and find an independent production company that you can work with to see your project come to life on screen.

Remember, movies usually cost millions of dollars to make – even some independent films. And the budget will largely depend on your story, the setting, time period, genre, casting, etc. Some genres are less expensive to produce than others. But stay true to your story and make your book and your screenplay outstanding. And be clear about what you want for your book as a film: Would it be a good art house film? Is it an indie film? Or is it a major blockbuster type?

I’ve have written speculative feature length film scripts (my MFA is in screenwriting), but I have not sold one to a studio - yet. (I decided I didn’t want to be a studio screenwriter for my career). Over time, I transitioned into writing more fiction. I now write short stories, novels, and screenplays, and my published short story, “The Cask”, is currently being made into a high quality independent short film.

If you’d like to learn more, please check out my classes at Margie Lawson Writer’s Academy. My next class, Adapting Fiction for Film, begins October 1 and costs $50. In it, you’ll learn how to adapt a novel for the screen, and can also ask lots of questions about what to do once you’ve got a finished, polished script. 

I have a BA in TV-Film, an MFA in Professional Writing (thesis in screenwriting) from the University of Southern California and an MA in Text & Performance from Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and King's College London. 

I hope to see you in class, and look forward to answering your questions!


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Attorney turned Author on Kindle Scout Program

Hi, StoryFinds readers! 

Author Courtney Hunt
I’m Courtney Hunt, a contemporary romance author. An attorney by day, I live outside Washington, DC with my husband and son. Though I’ve been a scribbler all my life, I began pursuing publication when the federal government furloughed in October 2013. During the furlough, I finally lived my dream life as a full-time novelist. Once the furlough ended, I set about making that dream come true.

Forever a Bridesmaid
In July 2015, I published my first novel, Forever a Bridesmaid, first in the Always a Bridesmaid series, about professional bridesmaids who find their happily-ever-afters. It’s available on Kindle today.

Today, I wanted to talk to you about my second novel, The Lost Art of Second Chances, and how you can earn a free copy. The Lost Art of Second Chances is a current nominee in the Kindle Scout program. Think of it as American Idol for books. Selected books receive a publishing contract with Kindle Press. Best of all, if The Lost Art of Second Chances is selected, everyone who nominates the book gets a free Kindle copy.

Here's a brief synopsis of The Lost Art of Second Chances

When Lucy Parker’s eccentric grandmother dies, Lucy must return a beloved painting to a mysterious man in Italy, leading her on a journey to discover long-buried family secrets that could change everything. When Lucy’s childhood best friend, estate lawyer Jack Hamilton, agrees to accompany her, will they find their second chance at love? From the tiny town of Applebury, Massachusetts to the rolling hills of Tuscany, never-told family secrets unfurl in…The Lost Art of Second Chances.

But, I need your help!

1) Please go to this link and nominate my book for selection. It's free, fast, and easy. All you need is an Amazon account. When you get there, press the turquoise "Nominate Me!" button. Thanks so much for your help! https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/2ALMAM3A5NB8S

The Lost Art of Second Chances
2) Please share this campaign with your friends and family requesting they also nominate The Lost Art of Second Chances. Feel free to also share it on any and all social media channels--tweet it, pin it, post it on your Facebook wall. Any help getting the word out is most appreciated!

My campaign lasts until 3 October so I only have a limited time to win a publishing contract from Kindle Press and for you to earn a free e-copy.

Don't delay! Nominate The Lost Art of Second Chances today!
If you have a chance, please pop by my website (www.courtney-hunt.com) and sign up for my newsletter. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Thanks again! I’d better get back to work. I’m currently awaiting the story edits for Once a Bridesmaid, the second book in the Always a Bridesmaid series. I’m writing the first novella in the Cupid’s Coffeeshop series, which will publish once a month throughout 2016.

Author links:
·         Website/blog: www.courtney-hunt.com
·         Twitter: @courtneyhunt71
·         Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Romanceauthorcourtneyhunt
·         Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3430503
·         Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/corrie71/

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Magical Experience

Author Barbara Kurtz

A friend told me my favorite author was going to host a book signing in my town. I had been reading this famous writer’s books for at least twenty years, and at the time of the signing I had read every book he’d written. The thought of seeing him in person, hearing his voice and listening to him speak was an immense thrill.

I walked into the bookstore that was packed for this special occasion, seeing him for the first time. A tall, masculine man in his late sixties, generating an appeal and energy that presented him as much younger than his years. He spoke to his audience about his writing and some personal issues, such as his health which at that time was much improved than it had been for some time. He credited “the doctors at Mass General” for their encouragement and mentoring which led him to a fifty pound weight loss and realizing the importance of a daily workout.

He was honest and humble about his formative years, stating that most of the men in his family had been blue collar workers. He generously invited the group to ask questions, then said he would be happy to sign copies of his book and speak to everyone individually.

He was known as the “Dean of American Crime Fiction.” His sense of humor and comfortable, easy writing style gave the impression his story telling came without effort. That was the genius of Robert B. Parker, and the incredible gift he gave his readers – knowing how to make it look easy when it wasn’t. He kept us turning the pages and craving his stories year after year. He published two books a year, but greedy me wanted more. And so did all his fans. We couldn’t get enough of Spenser and Hawk, Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall.

As a writer it was important to me to try and analyze his formula and technique; to unlock the secrets of what made his characters and style so appealing…like that dark, expensive chocolate you hide from others, to reward yourself. But I couldn’t find the keys. There was no way to figure out the inner-workings, the various parts that made his magic work as thoroughly well as it did. I was, however, able to place one small piece of the puzzle together. Parker let the reader in on the protagonist’s (which of course, was his own) personal opinion of each of the book’s characters. 

Spontaneous Combustion by Barbara Kurtz
Whether it was Spenser, Jesse Stone or Sunny Randall, each would leisurely explain their insight regarding each player they dealt with as the story progressed; how that character’s personality, quirks and style came across and affected him. In doing so, Parker made the reader feel as though you were his close friend and confidant. Someone he liked well enough to share his personal opinions with. If Parker didn’t particularly care for one of his characters, (or if he did), he took his time with humor, and making a great deal of fun out of it, telling you why. In doing so, he took you into his confidence, becoming his bosom buddy and the person he shared his deep, inner thoughts with. And that made his death even more difficult for his followers. He didn’t have to know each of us personally to be our close friend. He was the companion we visited with often, each time we read, or reread, one of his books.

After addressing the group at the book signing, my husband and I approached him for his autograph. I know I was smiling too brightly, and worse, I made a fool of myself when I blurted out – “I’ve read every book of yours…that you’ve ever written.” With a serious expression he nodded kindly and thanked me with sincerity. He came across exactly the way Spenser did in all those novels – a man of the world; a renaissance man. I’ll always miss that elusive gift he bestowed his readers. 

After his death, the online accolades all carried the same tone, very similar to this piece. All of his fans were in awe of Robert B. Parker’s grasp of his art and contribution to humanity.

Barbara can be reached on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Calling Dr. Watson by author Chris Karlsen

Author Chris Karlsen

After a satisfying twenty-five-year career in law enforcement, nineteen of which were as a detective, I retired. When the job was exciting, it was very exciting. I'd met many interesting people, had a lot of laughs, and ended it happy and healthy. I looked forward to the free time retirement would give me and the opportunity to take writing lessons. I'd had a story in my head for a long, long time and couldn't wait to tell it. My story was a historical romance. The one thing I didn't want to write was a contemporary cop story. I love to read them, especially Joe Wambaugh, Mike Connelly, and John Sandford. Writing one myself held no interest for me. I never, ever thought I'd need to think about police work again, other than to watch NCIS and Castle.

Knights in Time by Chris Karlsen
That belief held true until book 2 in my historical romance series, Journey in Time. In that story, the heroine, a modern London attorney caught in a time warp and now in Medieval England must present a case before King Edward. She is both the accuser and the accused. I found myself reliving my trial experience in criminal court. It started with the scene of the crime where she both defended herself and is accused of provoking the attack. She must choose what can be used as evidence in her case against the attacker.  More important, she must choose what to use in her defense. The year is 1355. 

Silk by Chris Karlsen
As there is no science to aid her, I had to make good use with what was on hand. In my latest release, Silk, I did what I swore I wouldn't—wrote a cop story. The character came to me while writing another book. Everything about him was crystal clear in my mind from the beginning. However, in serving my love of history, I wanted to make the story my spin on a classic British mystery/suspense. My protagonist, Detective Inspector Rudyard Bloodstone (Ruddy), is a Victorian man. He is a detective with London Metropolitan Police Service and the year is 1888, the year Jack the Ripper appeared on the scene. Ruddy does not investigate the Ripper murders. I wanted him to have a serial killer of his own to discover.

He had many of the same issues as my heroine in Journey in Time: he lacked the benefit of forensic science. This setting is shortly before even the rudimentary study of fingerprints. Once more I went back to work I thought I'd left behind. Except this time, I didn't have forensics to rely on either. As I had Ruddy walk through the crime scenes, I "shadowed" him, noting what might be useful as evidence.

I gave him the ability to do ornamental iron work, a skill he learned from his blacksmith father. He creates pretty garden furniture and gates as a hobby and to make a little extra money. He works off sketches and uses his artistic ability to draw suspects from victim and witness descriptions. In Silk, he also uses it to recreate crime scenes for comparisons.

One of the problems that arose in the Jack the Ripper investigations was conflict between the two different police agencies involved. Another was how media presented the handling of those cases by the police. Both are issues that arise today with high profile cases. For many agencies, internal politics can hamper a detective's progress in various ways as well. I gave all three stumbling blocks to Ruddy to overcome or deal with as best he could.

To my surprise, I've had a lot of fun writing my cop story. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to solve a case using just old fashioned detective work. I don't think Ruddy ever needed fellow detective Sherlock Holmes but at times I'm sure he'd have welcomed Dr. Watson's help. He might not have used it, but I think he'd take suggestions into consideration.

Chris can be reached on her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I'm a Author - Hear Me Roar!

Susan and Rick at a friend's wedding
“I am Susan Lee Carlton, and I am an author. I love saying that! I have been an avid reader all of my life. I read from three to five books a week. By the time I finished high school, I had read every piece of fiction in the school library. We have about four hundred books in a bedroom we’ve converted into a make-shift library.

My sister found a Bible in Mom’s atttic that had belonged to my great-great-great grandmother. She had faithfully recorded births, deaths, and marriages of her family. It turned me into a genealogy and a history buff. For two years, my husband and I went to the Will Clayton Genealogy Library in downtown Houston. On one visit, we found a family history of the Lanier family by Louise Ingersoll that traced the family back to Canterbury in the fifteens. We found a paperback copy, with Mary Ann Lanier, my great great great grandmother was on page 181. Her husband was one of four brothers that died in the Civil War. I used her background in York County, SC for several of my books.
Alone and Expecting by Susan Leigh Carlton

I began writing in August of 2012 as a means of supplementing our income after some devastating medical problems. I had mediocre results until I started writing western historical romance and had my first hit with Jedadiah’s Mail Order Bride in January 2014. It stayed on top of the Amazon charts as number one for three weeks. From that time until the present, I have written only western romance. My favorite time period is 1850-1900.

One of my favorite things is researching a book. I try to make it completely accurate, even to studying street maps old Wyoming and Montana towns. If a character went to the hospital, I made sure there was a hospital at the time. Of all my books, my favorite is “The Doctor Was A Bride” the story of Doctor forced to operate on her childhood sweetheart. I have reread it quite a few times and it brings tears to my eyes each time.

I communicate with many of my readers via email, and receive quite a few each week. I make it a practice to answer them all personally. I feel as if I have a personal connection with my readers as well as with the characters in my books. They talk to me and I listen. I take bad reviews to heart and try to remedy any problems identified.

I am working on a sequel to Alone and Expecting, and having some trouble to create a scenario where Tom Cannon causes a life-changing situation for Whit Goodson and his wife Cindy.
A Soldier's Widow: PT2 by Susan Leigh Carlton

At 81 our nest is empty and our kids and grandkids are scattered from Dallas to Boston, including Virginia, Georgia, North and South Carolina. Travel has become very difficult due to arthritic backs. Our last trip was to Hinesville, Georgia for a memorial to our daughter, who passed away one week before her fifty-first birthday.
My bucket list includes one last trip to York County. I intend to keep writing as long as the good Lord gives me the ability.

Susan can be reached via Twitter
JD Faulkner
by JD Faulkner

Outside my front door, a sparrow decided to build her nest. The tiny eggs were adorable: a creamy blue with brown speckles. It was instant love. I only allowed myself a look once or twice a day but, in my heart, I doted on these little babies. And then, the eggs hatched. What replaced them, you may ask? Cute little fluffy birdlings?

Wrong. The newly hatched babies were wicked ugly. Naked, awkward things, all needy mouths and blind eyes. Still, like any new mother, I loved them dearly. They were my little darlings and I watched over them protectively. A proud cat lady, I shooed my cats away from the door, refusing to let them even near the nest that was, admittedly, well protected from any feline advances of overfed house cats. I watched as those strange alien creatures grew into something more resembling actual birds.

But then, they were gone. While I was toiling away at my job, my little birdlings left. Without so much as a goodbye. Fluttered their newly feathered wings and flew (awkwardly) away into the great beyond. I was devastated. No longer did I have the cute cheeping creatures to check in on every day. I had to imagine wishing them well, fondly dabbing my eyes as I waved my handkerchief after their departing forms. Good luck, my little ones!

Mirrored Time by JD Faulkner
However brief their presence in my life, they did make me think. One day, I found myself with an idea for a book. A little blue egg of an idea, sitting there innocently in the back of my mind. Like any good bird-mom, I sat on the idea for a while. Mulling it over until it finally hatched as a freshly written first draft.

And boy, was it wicked ugly. I was so green, I didn’t know enough about writing to even recognize the mistakes I made. Luckily, I stumbled upon a talented group of fellow writers, and they took me into their flock. I have learned so much from these wonderful women; my story would never have taken flight without them.

Anyway, back to my newly hatched story. It had more in common with those featherless, hideous creatures than I wanted to admit. After a lot of care (and even more patience), it eventually grew into a story. One that found its wings.

But just like with my baby birds, I find myself struggling to let go. I think the lesson I need to learn is that, eventually, I have to let my words fly on their own. I do my best as a writer to tell a story the readers will love. At a certain point, it is no longer in my hands and I can only hope that I’ve done enough. So, here’s to the dream that my baby flies far and true. Good luck! Time to go nurture a new egg.

JD Faulkner can be reached through her Website, Facebook or Twitter.