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

http://www.facebook.com/monique.o.james

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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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

 

Free Read – The Awakening Chapters 7 & 8

So Happy Birthday to me!  I’m sending you all a couple of new chapters to read!

Enjoy!!

Chapters 7 & 8

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.

Free Read! The Awakening Chapters 1 And 2

Okay so honestly my hope for my blog is to give something to my readers.  I want there to be a reason that you stop by to hear me talk about my crazy cat or the kids or some ghost story I want you to hear.

I wanted to create a gift for the people who read my stories and love them. So here’s the dealio – I have several works in progress!  I need to work on all of them eventually and this is a great way to get going on this one while I work on some of my other ones, so I’m trying something new!

One of the manuscripts that is sitting on my laptop waiting to be worked over is  a stand-alone, paranormal fiction novel called The Awakening.  I’d like to post FREE chapters once a week and let you follow along as I do the first of many edits on it!

Here are my requests (You knew there was catch right?)

1.  Don’t be too critical it has not been truly edited.

2.  Don’t hate me if I change the name and feel free to make suggestions as we get further into the story.

3.  Share my blog with your friends so they can read along and comment too!

4.  Follow me so you know when I post new chapters!

That’s it!   That’s all I’m asking!  At the end of this little experiment, I will edit the heck out of it and publish it on Amazon and Create Space.  In between chapter posts I plan to entertain you with my nonsense!

Hear are Chapters 1 & 2:  Chapters 1 and 2

I really hope you enjoy!

Cheers,

Monique O’Connor James

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

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

Ghost Stories Part II – LaLaurie House – Royal Street New Orleans

The Lalaurie House is located in the French Quarter on Royal Street.  This story is pretty gruesome and not for the faint of heart, for sure!

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Delphine LaLaurie and her husband took up residence in the house in the 1830″s.  As soon as they moved into the house, they became darlings of the New Orleans social scene for whom they hosted lavish events at the home.  The lady of the house, Madame LaLaurie, was described as sweet, gracious and easy to get along with, and her husband was a highly respected business man.

Even though Delphine was well liked, when the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau, started doing her hair, they became fast friends.  It is believed that Marie was instructing Madame on the ways of Voodoo during their time together. 

Delphine LaLaurie kept a sizable group of slaves to help her run the house.  At first, nothing seemed awry, but then gossip began to spread about the Madame’s abuse of her indentured servants.  The people of society ignored these claims, until they saw Delphine chasing a young slave girl through the house, a chase which culminated with the girls death on the cobblestone three stories below.

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The death was deemed by law enforcement to be an accident, but the incident set off a chain of events that later exposed the woman’s dark side.  An old slave woman angered over the death of the young girl set fire to the house.  It is said that when firemen came to put the blaze out, the old maid ran out to them begging them to “set the poor souls in the attic free”. 

That day upon inspection of the attic a horrific scene was found.  Dead and half-dead slaves, men, women and children were chain to the walls having suffered various forms of torture.  Some of the slaves were forced to stand for days or weeks with their heads and arms in the stocks.  Their eyes were gouged out, tongues removed, mouth and eyes sewn shut, and ears and noses cut off. Soon after the fire a violent mob grew calling for Madame LaLaurie’s blood, but she escaped from the city in a horse-drawn carriage before they could find her.  The home was renovated many times over, but no one ever thrived there for any length of time.  In the Twentieth century, it was converted to apartments, but not long ago it was under renovations again. 

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There are documented incidents of people both seeing and hearing the ghosts of the tormented slaves.  People also see the servants who were still working on the day of the house fire, and they go on about their daily chores as though they are still alive.  Running along the corridors, slamming doors and shouts are heard often, throughout the house. 

As people pass down Royal Street they have seen the ghostly spirits peering from the attic windows and heard their tortures moans.  Next time you are in the French Quarter on Royal Street, check out the old house and let us know what you see.

Cheers,

Monique O’Connor James

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

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

 

 

 

A Day In the Life…Pass it on.

I stole this idea from the blog of Kimberly Kinrade.  I enjoyed hers so much I thought yeah, we should all do that!  The question that I get asked most as a writer is…”How do you have time?”.  If you read Kim’s blog you will see she doe  A LOT.  I don’t have nearly the projects she has going, but I do work full-time! 

The whole point behind this is that if you WANT to do something you can find time to do it.  I think that 99% of moms are  super moms.  You may not be writing books, but how many things did you volunteer to do at the school this year?  How many friend’s weddings/birthdays/christenings/retirement parties, did you help plan? 

So here it is, a day in my life!  I’d love to read yours:

6:00 AM – alarm goes off – Keith is long gone by now so I roll out of bed and stumbled towards the kids room where I flip on the light and rip the covers off of them.  Baby girl will inevitable swear she didn’t sleep and a twenty-minute argument ensues.  If I give up and leave the room they will get dressed, so I do.  Back to my bathroom to dress, then feed the animals, pick up all the trash the kids left all over the house and scoot them out the door.

7:00 AM –  Kids have been dropped off and I start my hour commute to work.  This is usually when I catch up with my best friend or call my Dad.  Sometimes I have literal conversations with said BFF and others we are talking about characters in my latest work in progress.

8:00 – AM  Sign in at JOB – I go through all my outstanding work, check renewal dates, scream, cuss and cry.  This goes on until Noon when I finally get from behind my desk.  (Now we all know that in here somewhere you get a call from the bill collector, the kid at school that forgot their project, and your husband who wants you to keep a mental list of things to pick up at the store – go Blackberry!)

Noon:  Grab a bite to eat and walk around with a notebook jotting down ideas for blogs, my WIP, or books that I’m helping my friends critique.  Sometimes I get to sit down and write and at this point I do it long-hand, in a notebook, as people walk by and say,  “What ya doin?”

1-4:30 – More Insurance work.  Every now and then I get to slip in a blog or read a chapter for a friend and do a quick critique.  In the mean time, I’m jumping on and off Facebook because you have to keep up with the readers, bloggers, reviewers, and fans.  I try to share something, say hello, and make sure my reviews/blogs/etc, posted.  Facebook will suck you in and so will Twitter!

5:00 PM Home – Hour and half commute home if there is no wreck on the Interstate! Thank you Lord, Keith cooks!  Homework check and a quick episode of Wizards of Waverly Place, unless of course Keith gets the remote then we are watching Two and Half Men reruns. 

6:00 PM – The kids have generally lost interest in me by now and are on computers and cell phones.  I get to write for about an hour!

7:00 PM – Facebook sucks me in for 30 minutes until I peel myself away and go make sure everyone is bathed and hang out with Keith for a bit.

8:00  PM  Write blogs for the following week, send review request off to bloggers, try to check my publisher’s websites and do some critiquing.

9:00 PM Must hang out with Keith.  Kids are usually in bed (ours or theirs).  We watch some show about hillbillies with no teeth that make moonshine in the mountains.  Keith is snoring by 9:45.

10:00 PM – Until  – I get to write again!  I usually write between 10 PM and whenever.  I try to get in bed by midnight, but if I walk in the kitchen and the dishes need to be done or there is a pile of laundry that needs to be folded it may be later.  This is the worse time to get sucked into Facebook so I try to stay away!

Finally! Bath and sleep only to hear the alarm go off again before I’m really sleeping.  As Kim said in her blog, this doesn’t account for sick kids, laundry day, family night, time with friends, and the unexpected things that happen every week. 

The truth is, if I’m not doing something 24/7, I’ll go insane…so I was thinking about going back to school….Hmmm.  🙂

Cheers!

Monique O’Connor James

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

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

So you got a bad review?

It seems that all authors treat reviews differently.  Some read each one and take them to heart and others refuse to even look at them.  It’s difficult to take something you’ve loved, nurtured, and sent into the world and allow others to cast their opinions on it.  For those who don’t write, I would compare it to someone criticizing your child.

At least once a week, I see the following post on Facebook, “I received a one star review, and I’m crushed”. Well there’s hope!  There are some things you should know about negative reviews and I hope this helps you put them in perspective.

First, I’ll start by telling you that I’ve had my share of bad reviews and most of them were caused by something completely out of my control.  When my first book The Keepers was published, we worked tirelessly on editing it and then the worst of the worst happened.  Somehow, between here and there the wrong document was uploaded and the unedited version was sent out to the masses.  Being so excited and green, I didn’t even check my copy. (Yes, I know, I know.)  So for over a month I was sending it out for reviews oblivious to the problem.

The first time I got a review back that said something to the effect of, “I couldn’t even finish this book it was so error-ridden” I almost died.  No, not literally, but you know what I mean.  I knew we had spent hours editing it, and for me this was a huge slap in the face.  I thought it was a fluke, until a few more came in with the same comments.  In tears, I pulled it from the shelf and my publisher graciously sent it back through editing.  So you see, I’ve had my bout with horrid, nasty reviews and those reviews can still be seen on my Amazon and Goodreads pages.

I can’t lie, I was defeated at first.  I thought there was no way to overcome the damage that had been done, and I wanted to just give up.  Lucky for me, I can’t ever let anything go.  I put the new copy up, went plugging along, and have since released another book.

So what’s the good news?  One thing I did when I was distraught over the mark on my name, was I went to other author’s Amazon pages.  I picked authors who were at the top of their genre rankings and studied their reviews.  There was a very small percentage who had never received less than three stars, but for the most part, every author had at a few low scores, and even those who didn’t, had some nasty remarks made by readers and reviewers. What does this mean for you?  If people selling 500 plus books a month aren’t losing momentum because of a couple of less than stellar reviews, neither will you.

Another thing I noticed about reviews that were less than complimentary, was that most of the time, the reader couldn’t pinpoint why they didn’t like the book.  Maybe they didn’t connect with the characters, or the story moved too slow for them or two fast, but even they had a hard time putting into words why they didn’t like the story.  (Imagine that this is better than – the story was so riddled with errors I couldn’t finish it!).  Once long ago, when I first started my regular JOB a friend told me, “Not everyone will like you.  Get over it.”  I’ve taken this attitude with me into my writing.  No matter how hard you try, not everyone is going to get you.

Yes, I know you are thinking – But I want everyone to get me! – No you don’t.  I’m sure when you were writing one of the things you hoped for was a unique voice and to bring something new and different to the table.  Some people just like cookie-cutter.  They want romance to be boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, and they live happily ever after.   They want your hero to be the kind of guy that has no flaws that everyone just falls for from the beginning.   They want the same thing they’ve been reading for years, because they find it comfortable.

Since you were striving so hard to make your voice unique, I know that there are things in your books that not everyone will connect with and as writers we have to set our delicate egos aside and understand that it is OKAY!  I’ve found that when you have stepped outside of the box you will no doubt get those nasty little reviews, but you will also develop a following of rabid fans that DID connect with what you were trying to say and the message you wanted your work to put out there.  Wouldn’t you rather have those die-hard fans who yell your name from the roof, than just another reader that felt comfortable reading your work?

Finally, I’ll leave you with this.  I get nervous when I have all five-star reviews.  Yes, I said nervous.  Right now on Amazon, Jamais Vu has all five-star write ups!  I’m thrilled, because each one of those readers is passionate about how much they love the story. However, everything I’ve read says that when you do have a couple of lower marks, it lends credibility to your great reviews, because then it doesn’t look like you just rounded up your closest friends to tell the world how super you are!

I really hope that each of us can put aside any hurt and learn anything we can from constructive criticism.  We learn from each other and our editors, why can’t we learn from those that didn’t exactly connect with our work?

Here’s to a future full of five-star reviews!

Cheers!

Monique O’Connor James

Author of:  The Keepers, Jamais Vu & The Mulligan Man

all from Astraea Press.

http://www.amazon.com/Jamais-Vu-ebook/dp/B005SG02FE/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_4

http://www.amazon.com/The-Keepers-ebook/dp/B0054LO9E8/ref=pd_sim_kinc_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

http://www.amazon.com/The-Mulligan-Man-ebook/dp/B005ES06M0/ref=pd_sim_kinc_4?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

Misused and Abused…Words That Is!

Okay so there are several words we all tend to misuse and abuse!  I feel it is my duty to stand up for these words and champion their proper usage.  After all, if I don’t make a statement who will?  Tee Hee

1.  Adverse – unfavorable                      Averse – reluctant

2.  Accept – receive                                 Except – excluded

3.  Affect – influence                              Effect – bring out

4.  Allusion – indirect reference          Illusion – false impression

5.  Capital – city or money                   Capitol – building

6.  Elicit – bring out                              Illicit – unlawful

7.  Immigrate – go into a country      Emigrate – exit a country

8.  Principle – basic truth                   Principal – head of school/sum of money

9.  Than – Comparison                       Then – time

10. There – specified place    Their – possessive pronoun   They’re – contraction for they are

11. Lie – recline or rest                       Lay – put or place

12. Set – place or set                           Sat – seated

13. Who – person                    Which – not a person           That – things or class of people

14. Supposed to:                                Keep the “D” at the end!  (Not suppose to)

15. Used to:                                         Keep the “D” at the end! (Not use to)

16. Toward:                                         No “S” at the end

17. Anyway:                                         No “S” at the end

18. Couldn’t care less                        Make sure it’s negative (not could care less)

19. Chest of Drawers                         Not Chester Drawers

20. For all intents and purposes    Not for all intensive purposes. 

 

Cheers!!!

Monique O’Connor James

Twitter:               mjames13

WordPress:         www.moniquejames.wordpress.com

Website:             www.moniqueoconnorjames.com

Facebook:          https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=511255176

Author Page:      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Monique-OConnor-James-Author/151581321573144

 

Review for Hurricane By Jenna-Lynn Duncan

I anxiously looked around, my heart palpitating, just in time to see an alligator slink into the green algae covered water that was on either side of us. I swallowed hard, and my heart raced even faster. Alligators were a different type of predator—the one thing I was afraid of. Now I was on my own personal swamp tour. What if my kidnappers left me in the middle of a swamp with five of
them creeping up on me? I’ve had that nightmare before and—oh no, if my dreams really are a sign of the future—I couldn’t breathe now.

Excerpt:
Adriana couldn’t decide what was worse—that Hurricane Katrina was heading for
New Orleans, or that she might not survive her kidnapping to see its potential
effects. She had trusted Hayden, even fallen for him, and now he and his
brother Luke were taking her deeper and deeper into the Bayou. Why had two of
her classmates, the mysterious Boudreaux brothers, kidnapped her? Why had
Adriana’s dreams started predicting the future? Most importantly, would she
make it out of the Bayou alive…

My Thoughts:

Adriana’s mom has never been part of her life, and her father is slowly backing away.  Life with nothing, but a catastrophic hurricane looming down on the city she loves, allows her to yield to the opportunity to find out about another world that exists; a world she is a part of.  Being a lover of all things, Louisiana, made this one a no-brainer for me.  Jenna Lynn’s descriptions of the city of New Orleans made me long to walk the French Quarter and nostalgic for pre-Katrina days.  Jenna Lynn is a wonderful storyteller and you will be sucked into the new world she has created and left wanting more.

Don’t miss this one!!!

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers, The Mulligan Man Available @ www.astraeapress.com

Coming Soon:  Jamais Vu