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THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE WITH SHELLEY MUNRO

The Other Side of the Fence by Shelley Munro

Back when I first started writing, I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that I wanted to write books. I dreamed of walking into a store and seeing books with my name on the cover sitting on shelves alongside some of my favorite authors.

I’d always wanted to write books, but marriage, travel and life got in my way, and I shunted the idea of writing aside in favor of other things. Then, one day I woke up and decided if I didn’t start writing soon I’d run out of time. That one decision started me on a path that is equally rewarding and frustrating.

I took writing courses, joined the Romance Writers of New Zealand and finished my first book. I edited and submitted my first book and started writing a second book while waiting for the great news from the publisher to say I’d written a masterpiece. Of course, that didn’t happen, and about three months later, I received my very first rejection.

I stared at the fence that had grown between me and my dreams—the fence that divides aspiring authors from published ones. It had grown while I wasn’t looking! I took another look at that fence and wondered how I’d get to the other side.

Meantime, I finished my second book and started on my third. I read craft books, attended meetings and conferences. I entered competitions and even placed in a few. The entire time I kept reading books in different genres and experimenting so I could grow into my voice. Some things I did well—they came naturally and the bricks at the top of the wall fell away. Some things were just plain difficult and that fence grew while I wasn’t looking.

But I didn’t give up. I wanted to climb the fence and run on the green grass on the other side so bad I couldn’t give up. All my favorite authors were on the other side of the fence—the ones I sought to emulate. I equated the other side of the fence with success.

If you’re an aspiring writer, the thing you’ll soon learn is that everyone’s journey is different. No two writers are the same and comparisons aren’t possible. My journey from aspiring to published ended after six years of learning and trying to bash down the dividing fence. I discovered e-publishing and realized this new medium fit me much better than the traditional publishing route. Once I discovered this truth, I bashed my way through the fence and emerged triumphantly on the other side.

I learned something completely new during the next month. The grass might be green on the other side of the fence, but with it came a steep learning curve. Suddenly I needed to know about contracts and edits, cover sheets and promo. I needed to think about a website and how to juggle all the new balls while writing another book. And one thing that shocked me rigid was when I learned selling one book didn’t guarantee another sale. Each successive book had to stand on its own merits. Yes, it’s true. I learned there was just as much rejection on the published side of the fence as there was on the aspiring side. Oh, the pain!

Now, six years later, I’ve learned a lot. Some of my decisions have been good while others haven’t worked out for me quite as well as I’d hoped.

PROMO:

I never realized what a huge beast promo is and how much time is consumed in trying to get your name in front of readers. In the past, publishers have helped with promotion, but these days, authors are expected to do a lot of the promo themselves. It all takes time away from writing. There are lots of different ways to promo and, at times, it’s difficult to measure how successful a particular campaign has been. Sometimes, it’s a matter of trying different things or picking several ideas for promo that you think you’ll enjoy. Ideas range from blogging to social networks to bookmarks and advertisements. The possibilities are endless.

COMPLETING A BOOK:

As an aspiring author, I only ever thought about the sale and the edits. Once a contract is signed there’s actually a lot more work in store for the author. Depending on the publishing house you might have several rounds of edits, then galleys. You might have to write a blurb and complete cover sheets so the cover artists can work their magic.

WEBSITE DESIGN:

Website design is something you can actually think about before you’re published. Surf the net and take note of the websites you like. Learn how to design or maintain a website before you’re published and you’ll find yourself ahead of the game. Likewise, promotion is something you can think about before you hit the other side of the fence. Track the types of promotion your favorite authors undertake and learn at the same time.

DEADLINES:

Deadlines are something a published writer learns to deal with. Once again, you can get a head start on training yourself to keep to deadlines by tracking your writing before you’re offered your first contract. Work out how much you can write comfortably in a week or a month given your personal circumstances, track how long it takes you to write a book and how long it takes you to whip it into shape. It’s all good training because blowing off deadlines isn’t good for business.

JUST DO IT:

Learn to flex your writers’ muscles every day. There will be some days when you don’t feel like writing but, due to deadlines, you have to write anyway. If writing is a habit, this helps pounding out pages that much easier.

READING & KEEPING UP WITH THE MARKET:

As a published writer, I find my time for leisure reading is severely restricted. I plain don’t have time, but on the other hand, a writer needs to keep up with the market, which means some reading is necessary. Trends come and go in the book world, and while it’s important to write something that excites you, if you can incorporate new trends and stay true to your voice then you should!

PIRATES:

Unscrupulous people will upload your books on the Internet and you’ll lose sales. It’s heartbreaking and policing this will take a lot of time, possibly time you don’t have.

PUBLISHERS/AGENTS:

Times change and sometimes we need to change our publishers and/or agents. Lines close and others open. Some publishers go out of business and a writer must have a plan B to adapt to changing circumstances and market forces.

CONCLUSION:

Staying published is actually harder than bashing through the fence separating aspiring from published. There! I said it. It’s plain hard work. There will be times when you think the deadlines are going to bury you alive, times when you’re dying to try to write something new, but your publisher wants something in the same vein as your last six books. There will be times when other writers seem to be doing better or catching the latest trend while you’re left standing still. There’s no doubt about it—the life of an author is not an easy one. So, would I choose the same path again?

Heck, yeah! I might do a few things differently, but on the whole, I think my journey would be fairly similar. Ask any writer, and their answer is probably the same. Writing isn’t a choice—it’s a compulsion, a life style, and the lows are counteracted by incredible highs. I am a writer and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Heads up y’all!  Shelley has generously offered to give an ebook download from her backlist at Ellora’s Cave or Cerridwen Press.

Send the answer to the following question to IvyD@manicreaders.com.  The winner will be chosen at random from the correct answers.

What is the title of Shelleys’ Ghost story?


Shelley Munro lives in New Zealand and writes contemporary and paranormal romance for Samhain Publishing and Ellora’s Cave. You can visit Shelley at www.shelleymunro.com


Writing With Passion

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May’s Manic Deal – 45% OFF

 

This Month’s Manic Deals is in partnership with Noble Romance.  From May 23 – May 29th the following titles can be purchased from Noble Romance for 45% off of the regular price.  To receive  your discount you will need to enter the special Manic Readers code of:  ZGLRQF

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THE ZODIAC AND ADDISON FOX

Addison honey, thank you so much for being with us and allowing us to be a bit nosey..I’m looking forward to finding out more about these Warriors of yours.

AF:  Thank you so much for the invitation!!!

Warrior Ascended

I read where Brody came to you cocked, locked and ready to rock.  Have any of the other Warriors followed suit or have you had to coax anyone?

AF:  I’ve been incredibly lucky with these characters – they’re all very clear in my head – a true gift, let me tell you!

That said, that is really the heart of my personal process.  I “see” the characters (for lack of a better word) and the rest flows from there.

PS – I love that – “cocked, locked and ready to rock….”  I hope you don’t mind if I use that!!

Feel free hon…It’s a military saying I picked up from DH.

Why the Zodiac?

AF:  I’ve always had a basic fascination with the Zodiac and love to read my horoscope.  That said, what’s been fun about the Zodiac from a creative standpoint is that it is such a rich canvas to paint with.

There is this awesome set of collective wisdom in the population about astrology and various astrological signs and it’s made for a lot of fun with the development of my characters’ personalities.

I agree, especially if you start getting into ascendents and houses….so many variables to play around with.

Do you have a favorite Warrior?

AF:  I can’t say that I do (I love them all, every hunky, one!) J

That said, Brody and Kane’s stories are both complete so I feel I know them best.  And let me tell you, spending a few months with each of them was a LOT of fun!!!

I’m sure it was!

Who’s in control, you the author or the character?

AF:  Me, absolutely.  The process of uncovering what’s lurking in my subconscious always brings surprises, but in the end, it’s my story to tell and it’s coming out through the conduit of these characters.

I find that interesting because some authors feel it’s the character coming to them with the story…It’s these differences that intrigue me…

Do you schedule writing or strike while the irons hot?

AF:  Both.  Deadlines are an incredible gift and I am so grateful to say I have them! That said, I’m also very accountable to my publisher and that means being consistent in my writing time.

What I will say is that I tend to vary when I write.  My day job is pretty demanding, so there are some weeks where I’m able to write every day and some weeks where it all gets saved for the weekend.  As long as I feel I’m moving forward each week, I’m happy!

What do you find to be the hardest part of writing?

AF:  I’m not crazy about revising, but it is an absolutely necessary part of the process.  I find the first draft is the most fun – when the story flows and it feels fresh and new.  Revising is like having to go exercise – completely necessary but I can’t wait until it’s over!!

Do you require anything to be creative?

AF:  I don’t require anything, per se, but I do love having a nice hot cup of tea or coffee next to me (depends on the time of day – coffee in the morning, tea from noon on.)  I find a warm, steaming mug to be a very relaxing, comforting thing and it is nice to reach over and take a sip as I work through a scene.

Do you have a hobby?

AF: I’m a voracious reader and find it to be one of the most relaxing things on earth – just curling up with a good book on the couch.  I’m also a big foodie – I love trying new restaurants and I really enjoy wine.  And I’m always up for a trip to the movies!

Stress reliever?  Writing or something else?

AF:  Again, I’d have to say both.  There are some days when the writing is such a wonderful escape.  Those magical days when the words flow, the characters pop to life on the page and the story practically tells itself.

I’m also a big fan of doing little things for yourself.  Go pop into the coffee shop for a half hour and relax in a chair.  Give yourself a pedicure.  Watch an hour of purely mindless TV.

I know it’s been said by so many, but women tend to feel that we not only have to do it all, but that we should feel guilty when we take a few moments for ourselves.  In those moments of getting re-charged, we often re-fill the well to continue giving.

I agree wholeheartedly….

Do you have a favorite movie or 2 or 3?

AF:  Well, I’m a child of the 80s, so the John Hughes canon is pretty much at the top of my movie favorite list (The Breakfast Club in particular).  I also love Two Weeks Notice, Laws of Attraction, The American President, Moonstruck, Midnight Run, Working Girl…..the list really does go on and on….and on!

What genre(s) do you enjoy reading?  Favorite authors?  Currently reading anything?

AF:  I am a huge romance reader.  I average at least a book a week and probably 90% of what I read is romance.  I also love reading YA.  I’ve got a few mystery series I keep up with and I’ve really gotten into urban fantasy in the last few years.

Favorite authors….this list will be just like the movie list – it’s hard to pick just one.  I am a huge Nora Roberts fan – I absolutely love her work and as an author I have a tremendous amount of respect for her.  I’m also a huge fan of Jayne Ann Krentz, Roxanne St. Claire, Kresley Cole, Gena Showalter, J.R. Ward, Jo Davis, Lorraine Heath, Meg Cabot, Anne Stuart….again, the list just goes on and on!

I usually have about 6 books going at a time and I have a FANTASTIC list of books I’m reading right now.  I would tell anyone reading this, if you haven’t picked up any of these, run out and get them – you won’t be disappointed!

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake – Sarah MacLean

Turn Coat by Jim Butcher (although, read the entire Dresden Files series – it’s awesome!)

I also recently discovered the Betsy~Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace.  They are set during the early 1900s and follow the life of Betsy Ray, beginning in book 1 when she’s 5 and running through to her marriage in book 10 (the first four are for children and the next six are young adult/adult).  These books are truly magical.  I found them after reading a piece by Meg Cabot and feel that discovering them has been an incredible reading treat.

Soulless is on my TBR Mountain and the Dresden Files are an auto buy for me.  We definitely have some authors in common.  The first Meg Cabot I read was told totally in email and I thought that was so incredibly inventive, it amazed me.

Thanks so much for sharing with us & giving us all those great insights, I’ve enjoyed visitin’ with you Addison… BTW, I’m really looking forward to Kane’s book!

AF:  Thank you so much for having me – I’ve had a blast!  And I’m really excited to share Kane’s book, too.  His book, WARRIOR AVENGED, will be out September 7th.

It’s on my buy list for that month!

CHATTING WITH KARIN TABKE

Karin honey, thanks so much for taking time away from your super busy
schedule to be with us today!

Thank you for the invite!

First things first~ Congrats on your granddaughter (she’s precious) and
quitting smoking.  Having done that I can sympathize.  How’re you doing
with it?  Switch your nicotine addiction for a Baby G addiction?  *G*

Thank you, Baby G is the light of my life and a total distraction! I’m still cigarette free!  And, yes, I switched one addiction for another!  If truth be told it was because of my granddaughter that I finally quit for good.  I didn’t want her to associate the nasty smell of cigarette smoke with her grandmother.  I quit two months before she was born and she’s six months old now and the greatest joy.  I could not be happier!

Please tell us a bit about your next release…. 

Next release is slotted for next May with Berkley Heat.  It’s the first book of a trilogy.  We
pitched it as Sons of Anarchy meet Rise of the Lycans.  Think bad boy
biker Lycans.  Book two will release in the fall right ahead of an
anthology I’m in with my good friends Sylvia Day and Maya banks.  Men
Out of Uniform.

I’ll definitely be adding them to my buy list…

Are you going to return to the fallen angels? 

I’d love to. But so far no takers.

They obviously haven’t asked me..

Who is in control, you or the characters? 

I like to think I am, but was proven wrong in when I wrote MASTER OF TORMENT, book two in my
Blood Sword Legacy series.  I had originally slotted another Blood Sword as Lady Tarian’s hero, but Wulfson was not having any of that!  He lobbied long and hard until I finally realized he was right and I was
very wrong.  Once I acquiesced that story took off.

What music is blaring when you’re pecking away on the keyboard? 

I love angsty rock and roll.  My iPod is loaded with it.  When I put my
headphones on, I write like a fiend.

Do you have a favorite character?  Favorite line?

I love all of my characters.  My hot cops are special to me and so are my blood swords.  As
far as couples go, I think Jade and Jase and Tarian and Wulfson are the
most charismatic.  I have so many favorite lines.  I can’t pick just one!

I love your Sanctuary…did you design it? 

My husband did. It took almost a year to find a contractor who had the vision to understand what it was
we wanted.  Between them they did a fabulous job!

How the devil do you housebreak a 6 foot. iguana?  Kitty box?  Ring a
bell? 

I didn’t, Mondo did himself.  He had a huge cage out in the garage, and he only went once a week.  And he always went in his cage.  When we started to let him hang out in the house during the summer months he would just hop off his perch in the boy’s bedroom and make his way to the garage and go.  I have a funny story to tell:  Many years ago hubby and I went back east to see my folks.  May mil flew out to stay with the kids. No sooner do we arrive at my parent’s house and the phone is ringing.  It’s my friend Lori and I can hear my mil screaming in the background.  We, um forgot to tell her about Mondo.  She was in the kitchen and he jumped up on the counter to get a piece of fruit and she nearly had a heart attack.
I can’t blame her for that..I would’ve too!

Did you have a large time on your writer’s retreat to Catalina Island?
Did you meet your goal of 35,000 words?

Catalina was great.  There isn’t much to do there so it served our purpose.  And while I didn’t
achieve my writing goal of 35K words, I did plot and world build another series I’m working on.

Karin, I appreciate your being here and giving us these glimpses into
your life…I’ve thoroughly enjoyed talking with you hon. 

Thank you, Ivy for having me!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THE BUZZ BEGINS! Karin Harlow

The Buzz Begins!

Ivy, thank you so much for having me as your guest today!

So, you hear a buzz.  Soft at first, but after awhile it grows louder.  More demanding, annoyingly so. Do you lean in and listen harder to hear what’s going on or do you swat the sound away?

What if it’s buzz about a new author, or debut novel?  Do you automatically stop and listen, thinking if everyone else is talking about it there must be something to it, or are you too busy?  Or are you just the naturally curious type who stops at just about every buzz to see what all the talk is about, then propagate the buzz if you’re hooked or shrug it off if the buzz doesn’t float your boat (raising hand, guilty as charged!)?

Now, there is good buzz, bad buzz and all kinds of buzzing in between. I’m not a rubber-necker when it comes to train wreck buzz.  I’m not interested in other peoples’ tragedies. I feel that is personal. I don’t go for the buzz when it comes to someone being lambasted by the mean girls or ignorant boys, I just ignore the entire ugly episode.  I refuse to partake on any level when it comes to others behaving badly. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE me some good old fashioned snark. And just between you and me, I’ll never turn my back on juicy gossip!  Ohhh, the things I know but cannot share!   Sometimes the urge to blurt out a secret is too much. It just fills me up to bursting! It’s at that point, that overwhelming urge to blurt it out to someone, anyone, that I cave and dish to my cats.  They usually aren’t too impressed, but the pressure to keep the secret is off.  Whew, a huge relief.

So, back to buzz.  Buzz today coupled with some slick PR can majorly boost a new product on the market.  It can generate interest or in some cases, it can do the opposite.  It can turn potential consumers away. For example, the PR spin the pros and or the media put on celebrities can make or break them.  Let’s take a look at some celebrities who have gone from zero to hero because of PR spin.  Britney Spears comes to mind.  A couple of years ago she was poor little rich girl spiraling out of control because of drugs and alcohol. Her bizarre behavior had us all shaking our heads.  Now?  She’s clean and sober and once again the ‘it’ girl!

Much of what we see in the media and on the internet is PR driven. There is a method to the madness.  Long meetings are held to determine how someone is going to be perceived. The media is a huge factor in the way it plays out for celebs, politicians or product.  In much the same way, the internet is crucial to debut authors.  Except, for the most part, what you see is what you get.  We don’t have PR geniuses behind us creating mysterious, author allure.  It’s just us, the author. Without great places to chat, such as Ivy’s blog, I would have nowhere to talk about anything much less chat about how much I loved writing my debut novel, ENEMY LOVER. ( J sorry couldn’t resist sneaking that in there.)

I think internet social media is here to stay and just when we think the geniuses have thought up everything, an uber genius will think of something better!  I mean first there was MySpace, then there was Twitter then there was Facebook (all places you can find Karin Harlow by the way), who knows what’s around the corner!  Do you tweet?  Do you FB?  And did you ever have a MySpace?

If you answer any one of the above questions, and, read on, at the very end, your efforts will be rewarded by a chance to win something very unique!

So speaking of buzz, pretend I’m a little bumble bee.  A little bumble bee with some very cool information on a very cool debut author by the name of Karin Harlow (moi), (www.KarinHarlow.com).  Here’s the scoop:  Her first book, ENEMY LOVER is kicking off her uber cool L.O.S.T. series.  Below is a little bit o’ buzz:

“Chilling suspense and sizzling romance, Harlow is a fresh new voice for paranormal fans.” New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan.

RT Book Reviews weighs in on Harlow’s debut paranormal suspense, ENEMY LOVER. “Harlow begins with a gut-wrenching bang and doesn’t let go.  There’s not a dull moment in this book..it’s full of surprises and seriously entertaining.  Enemy Lover is quite a wonderful find.”

Would this bit of buzz cause you to stop and take a closer look? If the answer is yes, please, go check out my website and read more about my debut series.

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Answer one or all the questions posed and you’re eligible to win a nifty custom L.O.S.T. mug! (I don’t have a pic but it’s a black 11 oz Bistro mug with that very cool multi colored L.O.S.T. seal emblazoned on the front!).

Ivy, thank you again for having me as your guest!

I’ll be around all day to chat so feel free to ask me anything!

Harlow