10 Things Every New Indie Author Should Know

1.  It takes time to build a fan base – Go into your journey remembering why you write.  Most of us write because it makes us happy, because we are compelled to do it, and because there are people who love our stories.  People will be attracted to your enthusiasm, but give yourself and your work time to grow a following.

2. The odds are, it will be difficult to sell books, at first – Remember that you are not with one of the big six publishers who would throw money and advertising behind your work.  YOU have to do it all.  However, you will get a longer shelf life being on your own, and get to interact with amazing fans.

3. You will get bad reviews – There are many reasons for this.  Maybe the person just didn’t connect with your work.  There is even a small group of authors who try to sabotage each other.  You can’t make all of the people happy all of the time.  I promise it will hurt, but keep in mind that you evoked enough emotion to make someone take time out to write something negative.  Have a pity part, but move on.

4. Cover art is important I was recently asked by an author if he really needed to hire a cover artist.  The answer is always a resounding, YES! The cover is the face you will present to the world as far as your book is concerned.  A lot of people choose the books they read based solely on cover art.

5. Editing is not the place to scrimp – I made a rookie mistake and contracted with a publisher who refused to edit my work.  In the end, I pulled the book and had it edited myself.  Most people can not edit their own work.  Find a publisher that does both content edits and proofreading because bad editing equals bad reviews.

6. Don’t jump on your first contract without reading the contract – Also have someone you trust review it before signing on the dotted line.  This seems like common sense, but in the excitement of receiving your first offer you can make huge mistakes that take away your rights as an author.

7. Surround yourself with AWESOME – We are very fortunate to have a community of caring and talented indie and small press authors that are willing to help out newbies. These people can make or break you.  Forge genuine symbiotic friendships and you will go far!

8. Research your work – Most of us write fiction, so we are free to create our own worlds and twist and tweak the one we live in. Regardless, it is important to know the subject that you are manipulating. We living in a glorious time when you don’t even have to leave your house to get reference materials.  Use them!

9. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone – Last Halloween, I wrote a horror short.  I usually write spooky, but this story tested my abilities, because I wanted to scare the pants off my readers without being gory.  That short story was über popular, and I got great feedback. Try not to ever pigeon-hole yourself in one genre.

10. Don’t be afraid to give your books away – Keep in mind that the more people who read your work, the more others will hear about it.  You can also write those giveaways off on your taxes! Another quick word about SWAG – there is nothing wrong with doing giveaways, but you will probably be struggling to make money for a while.  Make sure that you are getting your fans addicted to your words and not just what they can get from you.  True fans will want to read your books.  Having said that, I do other types of SWAG giveaways a couple of times a year, but don’t break the bank trying to buy fans.

I hope these little tidbits help, and I’m always available to answer questions or help out.  Most of all, have fun with your writing journey.

Don’t forget to check out Bayou Brew Publishing and give us a like on Facebook.

Cheers!

Monique O’Connor James

Author of Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy with Cajun Flavor!

Please check out my latest novel Black Water Bayou on Amazon!

BWB_MoHo

Gabe was raised to trust his intuition and rely solely on himself. Troubled and alone, he’s spent his life haunted by night terrors, and turmoil over where he came from rages in his soul. Always the lonely hero, he never saw Frannie coming. Under the fury of a southern storm, she blew into Gabe’s life and changed it forever.

Can she tear down his walls? Can he save her from herself and the demons that are after her family?

As the past catches up to the present, long kept secrets are revealed and families are salvaged while evil pours into the waters of an abandoned bayou. No one could have seen the dark forces true power, but one man was marked to battle them.
Can Gabe make amends with his past, or will the devil win his soul?

http://www.moniqueoconnorjames.com

http://www.twitter.com/mjames13

http://www.facebook.com/moniqueoconnorjamesauthor

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Other titles available from Monique O’Connor James – The Keepers, The Watchers, Jamais Vu, Deja Vu, The Mulligan Man, Musical Scares, Becoming Jolie and Magia Rising

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Haunted – The Sultan’s house – The Gardette/La Prete House/Burgundy St., NOLA

1240 Burgundy Street, New Orleans, LA

The house was constructed in 1836 by a wealthy creole named Jean Baptiste La Prete.  After some of the wealthy creole families began to lose their fortunes later in the century, La Prete was forced to rent out his beautiful home.

His notorious tenant was a Turk who claimed to be a sultan.  The Turk spent his riches redecorating the home, and it soon became his own eastern oasis.  He chained the iron gates and moved in a harem of girls and young boys.  The house was shrouded in secrecy as the sultan apparently didn’t want the people of New Orleans to know what was truly occurring inside it’s walls.  Of course, all the security–blacked out windows and arab guards–caused the place to become the talk of the neighborhood in no time.

The mysterious Turk kept his doings well under wraps until one morning when passersby noticed blood oozing from beneath the gates.  When the authorities didn’t respond quick enough, the neighbors forced their way onto the property.  It was immediately obvious that something horrific had occurred inside the Turk’s fortress.  As the neighbors searched the house, the were greeted by the sight of human limbs scattered about and corpses with no heads.  The Turk himself was found mutilated and burned in the garden out back.

No one knows for sure who committed these atrocities, but residents and visitors alike have seen dark figures in oriental clothing and heard the sounds of torturous screams in the houses halls.  To this day, the vicious crime is still discussed as everyone wonders exactly who put an end to the Turk and the enigmatic way in which he lived.

Hope you enjoyed!  Sleep tight!

Cheers,

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers, The Watchers, Jamais Vu, Deja Vu, The Mulligan Man, Becoming Jolie & Magia Rising

Coming soon:  Musical Scares and Black Water Bayou

Check out my Amazon page for more fun reads:  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=monique+oconnor+james&rh=n%3A133140011%2Ck%3Amonique+oconnor+james&ajr=0

NANOWRIMO…The Making of a Novel

If you’re an author or up coming writer who has never participated in NANOWRIMO, you may be asking yourself–what’s the point? I wanted to share with you my experience and get you excited about this opportunity to come up with a new plot and push yourself to write, write, write.

Admittedly, I didn’t participate in 2011, however, I jumped in feet first in 2010.  On Halloween day, and i still had no idea what I was going to write about.  Earlier in the day, I had skimmed over the news and seen something about a kidnapping that sparked my interest.  I generally write Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, so I knew I’d have to give a kidnapping story a spin that would blow readers away in order to make the thirty days work for me.

I did some quick research and found information about a playground in Alabama.  Several children had been abducted and subsequently, their bodies were all found in this playground.  Morbid–I know! However, it gave me the idea for a novel that was eventually released in September 2012 called Becoming Jolie.  I’m not a plotter by any stretch of the imagination, so I made a few quick notes and decided I had nothing to lose by giving it a shot.

Before you start making excuses, hear me out.  I was working a full-time job, taking care of my children and husband, dealing with constant migraines and doing all of the things that we all do just to keep things going.  The only thing I required of myself is that I would write at least thirty minutes a day, even if that meant staying up until everyone else was in bed.  This wasn’t difficult for me, because that’s pretty much the best time for me to write anyway.

Here is the great part–I almost psyched myself out in the beginning.  I kept thinking there was no way I could write 50,000 in 30 days, especially with all the balls I had in the air.  I had to keep reminding myself that nothing horrible would happen if I didn’t make it.  A wonderful thing happened though, the more I wrote, the more the words flowed.  I finished Becoming Jolie and met my Nanowrimo goal in 18 days!

That book has turned out to be a fan favorite.  Of course, it went through changes and edits.  In fact, the finished product after Nanowrimo had some major point of view issues, as I was quite green when I set out to finish it.  My point is, you never know what will happen if you challenge yourself to participate.  Have fun with it and relax–no one will beat you if you don’t finish!

So I know you’re going to ask…am I going to do it this year? I am currently working on a novel and a short story.  What better way to push myself to get them completed?

Ready! Set! Go!  Here is the link to the site –Go ahead–Sign up – http://www.nanowrimo.org/

Interested in the novel created during Nanowrimo 2010?  Here’s a link, blurb and the cover just for you:

   Blurb:

Jolie Bourque is trying to finish her thesis on mass hysteria and get on with her life. Enter Follette, Louisiana. The small town has been plagued by ghost sightings and a rash of missing children. She is convinced everyone in town is crazy — except Hutch Landry and his brother Tucker.

The brothers seem to be the only people willing to help when she starts asking questions. Just when
she thinks things can’t get any crazier, she begins to have dreams and visions of her own. Uncovering the town’s ties to her own life throws Jolie into a tailspin.

Can she survive the madness that is Follette, Louisiana? Who is preying on the town’s children? Can Jolie afford to fall in love while drowning in madness? If she does — how on earth will she choose between brothers?

It’s all just part of the journey to Becoming Jolie.

http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Jolie-ebook/dp/B009DHBW26/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_t_3

Comment and let me know if you plan to participate and are reaching your goals!

Cheers,

Monique O’Connor James

Author of  The Keepers, The Watchers, Jamais Vu, Deja Vu, The Mulligan Man, Magia Rising & Becoming Jolie

Coming soon:  Muscial Scares & Black Water Bayou

 

A Year in the Life of an Author

I started my first novel in November of 2008.  As most of you know by now, I’d always been a writer.  I still have friends tell me they used my stories to turn in for grades in school.  That thought scares me, because most of what I wrote back then was a little frightening!!

In April of 2011, I was going through a bit depression.  I can remember the day that I got my first contract from Astraea Press vividly.  I’d been at home suffering from a migraine and feeling sorry for myself.  When I opened the email and saw the contract attached tears of joy rolled down my cheeks.  Someone out there wanted to hear my stories!

The Keepers was published in June of 2011.  I can’t even begin to tell you what it feels like to see your work on Amazon or to hold your novel in your hand for the first time.  For me, the biggest thrill was putting that book in my Dad’s hands and saying here, this if for you and me and all we have been through together.  Also, this was a very personal book for me.  One about a main character whose mother had died of breast cancer and the damaged angel that came along to save her.  This tale was so close to home that I was extremely nervous about sharing it, but tickled that I had the chance.

Everything wasn’t perfect.  No, my first novel was quite the roller coaster ride.  Somehow, the edition that was originally uploaded was not the one that the publishing company and I had spent hours pouring over during edits.  I got a lot of great reviews, but then the die-hard readers started to mention editing errors and after much thought and support from Astraea, I pulled the book and it went back to editing.  We literally had to start over!!!

During this time, Astraea put out a call for short stories which would be published with all monies going to the Japanese Tsunami Relief.  This is when the Mulligan Man was born.  I’d had a dream one night that I was standing in my front yard screaming, “I want a Mulligan!”.  My son, Colton, and I jotted down ideas and characters and this fun YA Folk tale came to life.  It is different from anything I’ve ever written, but one of my pride and joys because my son played an integral part of developing it.

The contract for Jamais Vu with Astraea soon followed and it was published in October 2011.  Whirlwind right?  Yes!  And so much fun.  I can’t talk about Jamais Vu without either crying or beaming.  As though the cosmos was trying to make up for all that had gone wrong with The Keepers, everything with Jamais Vu was easy.  There are over 25 5 star reviews on Amazon for this book and several four star reviews.  Knock on wood, not one person has ever slammed it!

This book also had deeply personal meaning to me.  My mother was playing with a gun she thought was unloaded when I was a toddler.  She was shot and spent years recovering.  My main character, Darby, also suffers this fate in Jamais Vu.  I wanted to pay tribute to my mom’s story but give it a huge paranormal twist and I think this book did the job.

In February 2012, the follow-up to Jamais Vu, Deja Vu was also published by Astraea Press.  Blessings! Blessings! Blessings!  By this point not only did I have four book in the marketplace, but I also had developed wonderful friendships with readers, bloggers, reviewers, cover artists, editors and publishers.

It is such a rush.  There are people out there who want to read my books!  Before I ever considered getting published, the one thing I said was, “If I could just have a few fans who enjoy my work, I’ll be happy.”  I’ve far exceeded that goal, and to each and ever one of you, I am eternally grateful and humbled by your love and support.

So that brings us to the middle of 2012, back to the time where I started last year.  On July 9th, Becoming Jolie, my first Adult Paranormal novel will be published by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing.  Also in July, The Watchers, the sequel to The Keepers will be published by Astraea!

So what else is coming?  I’ve written the first novel in a new series called Magia Rising.  I’m considering self-publishing that one in October.  Next year, I know for sure this book will have a follow-up as will the Jamais Vu series.  I’m also hoping to self publish a novel that I’m currently offering chapters of on my blog, The Awakening.

I’ve had some hard moments in the last year. Sometimes, I’ve been frustrated and overwhelmed, but mostly I’ve been filled with joy and love.  There is nothing like meeting one of your biggest fans for the first time, getting emails from people dying to read your next work, hearing from young authors who just want someone to talk shop.

I hope that I can continue to offer you all stories that capture your hearts and imaginations! Today, I just want to say thanks!  Every time you mention my book to a friend, share my Facebook posts or Tweets you are pumping new life into my crazy brain.

As long as you will all have me, I’ll be around!

Cheers!

Monique O’Connor James

Website:             www.moniqueoconnorjames.com
Facebook:          https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=511255176
Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/moniqueoconnorjamesauthor
Twitter:  mjames13

Author of The Keepers – http://www.amazon.com/The-Keepers-ebook/dp/B0054LO9E8/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1331129226&sr=8-6

Jamais Vu – http://www.amazon.com/Jamais-Vu-ebook/dp/B005SG02FE/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

Deja Vu – http://www.amazon.com/Deja-Vu-ebook/dp/B006X3133G/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

The Mulligan Man – http://www.amazon.com/The-Mulligan-Man-ebook/dp/B005ES06M0/ref=pd_sim_kstore_3?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

Coming July 2012 – Becoming Jolie from Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing & The Watchers from Astraea Press!!!!

Ghost Stories #7 – The Beauregard-Keyes House/New Orleans

 

This house is located on Chartres Street, in The French Quarter.  Both Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant, who ordered the first shot at Ft. Sumter, and Frances Parkinson Keyes, a noted author, resided in this home after its construction in 1826.

Now days, during the day, tourists wander through its rooms where Keyes’ extensive doll collection and many confederate artifacts are kept.  At night however, folks claim to have seen ghostly visitors from eras past.

People clasay that after the tourists leave, the house becomes filled with a supernatural gore-fest that depicts the reenactment of the Battle of Shiloh.  Although, no battles were ever fought on this site, the General did write detailed reports of the horrors he’d witnessed while he lived here.

Apparitions of men with mangled limbs, and injured horses and mules have plagued the house for years, along with the pungent aroma of death. The house also claims a ghost dog and ghost cat who are often seen by the caretakers.  They believe these animals were owned by Keyes during her time in the home.

An Italian family once made the place their residence. They were run out in the middle of the night in a hail of gun fire by unknown assailants.  Since that time, the sounds of parties and moving furniture can be heard throughout the night.

Is it possible that the prior residents have left their imprint on the place?  Why is it that some buildings seem to soak in the stories of their owners while others don’t?

The Beauregard-Keyes house has such a rich history that it is definitely worth a visit the next time you are in New Orleans!

Cheers!

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers – http://www.amazon.com/The-Keepers-ebook/dp/B0054LO9E8/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1331129226&sr=8-6

Jamais Vu – http://www.amazon.com/Jamais-Vu-ebook/dp/B005SG02FE/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

Deja Vu – http://www.amazon.com/Deja-Vu-ebook/dp/B006X3133G/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

The Mulligan Man – http://www.amazon.com/The-Mulligan-Man-ebook/dp/B005ES06M0/ref=pd_sim_kstore_3?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

Coming May 2012 – Becoming Jolie from Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing.

Deja Vu Debut 1/12/12 Giveaways!!!!!

You probably know by now that Jamais Vu’s follow-up, Deja Vu, will be coming out tomorrow 1/12/12.  I have lots of giveaways going on right now and just wanted to do a little run down so you don’t miss anything.

Okay first,  if you purchase Deja Vu on 1/12/12, email the receipt to nique313@yahoo.com and I will give you the choice of a PDF of The Keepers , Jamais Vu or The Mulligan Man!  Two for One!!!!  This is for 1/12/12 only.

Next, Rachel Van Dyken had a fabulous write-up about the books on her blog.  If you comment on her blog, I will draw someone on 1/12/12 o receive a PDF copy of Jamais Vu or Deja Vu (Your choice).

Okay last one for now.  We are playing throw me something mister on my facebook page.  Change your profile picture to the cover of Deja Vu above and yell “Throw Me Something Mister” on my page!  On Saturday, 1/14/12 I’ll draw for several winners and the prizes are the collectors beads below and maybe even a couple of PDFs!

Have Fun! Thank you all for always supporting me!

Cheers,

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers, The Mulligan Man, Jamais Vu and Deja Vu published by Astraea Press

Coming Summer 2012 – Becoming Jolie published by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing

Ghost Stories Part 1 – The Myrtles

I’ve decided to insert a series of ghost stories into my blog purely for your enjoyment.  I’ve gathered these from here and there, and as far as I know they are told in earnest.  If you’re like me the thrill comes just as much from speculation as seeing or hearing something!

I’ll start with one of my favorite places in the world, The Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana.  The Myrtles websites touts it as one of America’s most haunted homes.  Here in Louisiana, it’s a popular place to spend Halloween night, if you have the cojones. 

The home was built circa 1796 and the stories about the ongoing hauntings have websites dedicated to both debunking and proving their validity.  Whatever you believe, visitors and paranormal investigators alike claim to have witnessed the sights and sounds of a truly haunted house.

Here are some of the ghost who haunt The Myrtles:

1.  Chloe – A slave who allegedly poisoned two children and was subsequently hung on the property.

2.  The ghost of those children have been seen playing on the Veranda.

3.  William Drew Winter – lived at the Myrtles in the Mid 1800’s.  It was reported that he was shot on the porch by a stranger.  William left the porch just after the shooting and began to make his way to the second floor.  It is said that he died on the 17th step and that the sound of his footsteps can still be heard.

4.  The ghosts of several slaves have approached visitors asking if there is any work for them.

5.  People have reported that the grand piano in the home often plays by itself.

Even with all the spooks who hang around, The Myrtles is one of the most beautiful plantation homes in South Louisiana. Put this one on your list of must see locations should you find yourself in this neck of the woods!

Cheers!

Monique O’Connor James author of The Keepers, Jamais Vu and The Mulligan Man available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Coming Early 2012:  Deja Vu; Coming Summer 2012:  Becoming Jolie

Paranormal Addiction

What is it that keeps us buying paranormal books and staying up all night as we stand in line for tickets to paranormal movies? Is it because they are created around characters that aren’t quite human?  I’ve thought about the reasons I’m sucked into a well planned and plotted storyline and how these things fuel my addiction to the genre.  Read over them and add your own.  I’d love to hear from you.

1.  The Characters – There is a whole brood of paranormal personalities to fall in love with from Demons, Vampires, and Angels like the ones in The Keepers, to characters who possess some psychic or mystical power like Darby Lambert, in Jamais Vu.

They all give our imaginations room to wander and grow.  If you are like me, you love nothing more than a character who you didn’t expect, one who isn’t average.  Because we are curious about things we don’t quite understand, we are drawn to the stories of these people and creatures and the way they live, love, and overcome obstacles in their lives.

The Settings – Paranormal worlds usually take place in a setting that has a  personality all its own.  The Keepers is set in The French Quarter, in New Orleans, where the architecture and night life seem to jump off the page.  Jamais Vu takes place in St. Francisville, Louisiana, amongst creepy sugar cane fields and aging plantation homes.  Both of these locations reel you in through well described scenery and the effect the places have on the characters. We like locals that provide us with the ability to become a part of them.  As readers we expect to be sucked into our characters worlds and feel exactly what they do.

3.  Plot Twists – The paranormal genre isn’t ruled by the limitations of humans.  We can expect surprising turns allowed by the characters’ supernatural gifts. I think we have become spoiled by this as we expect more than the average boy meets girl story.

What are the aspects of the paranormal genre that keeps you coming back for more?  Do you watch paranormal movies and TV shows?

There are many great indie and small press authors out there waiting to thrill you with their tales.  Who are some of your favorites?

Enjoy your addiction.  I know I do!

Cheers,

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers, Jamais Vu & The Mulligan Man available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Coming Early 2012:  Deja Vu;  Coming Summer 2012:  Becoming Jolie

Bringing Back the Dead

Perhaps it’s a little soon after Christmas to go morbid on you, but I really enjoyed writing this one.  Hope you get a giggle.

One of the biggest reasons I think I have for writing paranormal fiction is the fact that I can so easily bring back those who have gone into the afterlife.  I really didn’t realize my fascination with this concept until I had completed a few manuscripts.  In The Keepers, there are angels who have the ability to jerk someone back from the edge of death, Jamais Vu is about a girl who can alter her dreams causing the dead to return, and even The Mulligan Man is about a character who has been dead for years.

If I went through each of my manuscripts and pointed out the similarities you would see my fascination with this subject goes deep. Of course, for me I think the recurring theme is partially a tool I have used in dealing with the death of my mother.  What if I could bring her back?  I’ve often said, I’d do anything for one more hour with her.

We get attached to characters in the same way we bond with humans sometimes, at least the dorkiest of us do.  It’s easy to be drawn to the fact that in the paranormal world, they can die and not be gone forever.

For fun, I thought’ I’d list some reasons not to bring back those who have crossed from this life into the next.  Let me know what you think and if you have ideas of your own:

1.  The dead never come back the same – In movies and books alike, the dead usually undergo a major personality change making them less likable than they were the first time around.

2.  They will try to kill you – Let’s face it, in the world of the Walking Dead and vampires, humans are just lunch…or dinner.

3.  Death is contagious – Ever seen the movies where those who cheat death are then stalked by it?  Ever notice everyone they know soon dies?

4.  Sometimes the dead want to be dead = wouldn’t it really stink to spend time learning a complicated ritual to bring back your best friend, only to find out she was quite comfy in her spot on the other side? 

5.  There will be another sequel – Sometimes we should just let sleeping dogs lie, just so we don’t have to read about those dogs again.

I had a blast making this list!  Add to it and let me know what you think about the dead and their return to our world.

Cheers!

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers, Jamais Vu & The Mulligan available on Kindle and Nook.

Coming soon:  Deja Vu and Becoming Jolie

SSS – The Mulligan Man Short Story

Dakota Trace sat in Ms. Myers’ third period English class. As usual, the woman had her blonde hair stacked high on her head.  He watched the web of hair move in one heaping mound as she crossed the room. She reminded him of Marge Simpson, and had once told his class she slept with her head hanging off the edge of the bed to prevent her hair from getting matted. He imagined all the blood rushing to her face and the ensuing explosion, which would keep her out of the classroom for weeks. It had yet to happen.

The Mulligan man was written for The Japan Release Anthology Project at Astraea Press.  All proceeds go to this charity.  You can purchase it at the following link: 

http://www.astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=1011841&mode=product&product=5192906

Cheers! 

Monique O’Connor James
Author of:  “The Keepers” and “The Mulligan Man”
 
Twitter:               mjames13
WordPress:         www.moniquejames.wordpress.com
Website:             www.moniqueoconnorjames.com