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Today’s my birthday and I’ve spent the day doing only things I enjoy doing.  I started the day reading, and with the exception of a few phone calls from family and friends, managed to while away the entire morning lost in a book.  After a completely non-nutritious lunch, I decided the next thing I wanted to do was work on the most important thing in my life right now: Whistling Woman.

First a little backstory; Whistling Woman is a book my sister, Christy Tillery French, and I co-wrote about the life of our great aunt.  It’s part fact, part fiction, and includes a lot of the stories we grew up hearing from our dad and our great aunt Bessie when she was alive.  Christy calls it faction–love that word!–and it works but I’m not really sure what recognized genre it would fall under.  Historical fiction?  Southern literature?  Whatever, it takes place in Hot Springs, North Carolina, in the late 1800’s and there’s quite a bit of history and folklore pertaining to the mountains of western NC, as well as the family stories.

We finished the book a couple of weeks ago and since then have been trying to decide which way to go now that the manuscript is complete.  We first thought, try for an agent and hope they can sell it to one of the big publishers in NY.  But then we started thinking about the time factor.  While you could say the book was inspired by our great aunt’s life, the real inspiration is our dad.  He told us most of the stories that play such an important part of the book, and he continues to tell us the stories today–thank God!  But you see, Daddy will turn 83 years old next month, and while he’s healthy and he comes from a family that is long-lived, you just never know.  One of his oil paintings will grace the cover and it’s very important to us to be able to give him the book so…we started looking at smaller publishers and POD publishers.  Still a wait in most cases so then we started thinking of self-publishing, something both of us swore we’d never do.

Oh, how the not-so-mighty have fallen.  Yep, we’ve decided the thing to do is self-publish.  Not only does it give us more control over the book and how it’s presented, it’s a lot quicker.  As an added bonus, we wouldn’t be under contract with a publisher and any money the book makes comes back to us without anyone else taking a cut.

Can we all say Scrooge-alicious?  I can and I do because while I have been making money with my writing and I know Christy has too, this is a book from our hearts, a true labor of love, so why share the money from our hard work with someone else?

So, that’s how we came to the decision to self-publish.  And today, on my birthday, I decided to get down to business.  I sent an email off to a local printer, BP Solutions in Asheville, to a woman who comes highly recommended by a member of one of the writing groups I belong to–thanks Celia!–and less than 5 minutes after I pressed “send” I get a phone call from her.  Hmm…as Aunt Bessie would probably say, it’s a sign.  I have to say I agree with her.

I also have to say, if being a self-published author is half as fun as being a traditionally published author, it’s going to be a heck of a fun ride!  Oh, I know, it’s a big change and one that will involve a lot of hard work, but it’s a change that has me excited and looking forward to what comes next.  Not a bad 56th birthday present, if I do say so myself!

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For any authors out there who dropped their RWA membership this year–that would be me–and need a little confirmation you made the right choice, Emily Veinglory has a great post up today over on the EREC blog.  Be sure to click through to part one, which includes links to other authors’ take on the current situation between RWA and e-pubbed authors.  While you’re there, take the survey too because it gives you a chance to speak your mind about how you feel about all of this.  It’s also an interesting read for any aspiring romance author who might be thinking about joining RWA.

There’s also an informative post by Alice Anderson, creator of the CataNetwork, on her blog dealing with the same topic.

I won’t restate everything these two authors have said–they’ve done an outstanding job already–but I will say that RWA wasn’t for me.  I knew it before I joined and went ahead and wasted my money anyway–don’t ask me why, I’m still trying to figure that out myself! 

I’m fully aware there are authors who might find RWA to be the perfect place for them and if you’re one of them, by all means, sign up and send them a check…BUT if you’re trying to make up your mind, do a little research first.  These two blog posts are a good place to start.

I’ll leave you with a few words of wisdom from Ms. Anderson:

“You are not alone in the world, dear writer. The internet has brought us together. You have options. Start exploring them.”

I’ve been sitting on a comment to one of my posts for about two months now, wondering whether I should approve it or send it to the spam queue or just delete it.  The person who wrote it wasn’t very happy with me or my post about a new e-publisher that I’d had some warnings about.

Here’s the comment:

wow, you are ignorant AND boring. good luck with your publications jerkwad.

Okay, first, thanks for the good wishes–even if you did blow it with the “jerkwad” thing.  As for the “boring” part, I can’t really argue with that because I am essentially a very boring person.  The “ignorant” part though, that’s a matter of opinion and I have to say, it doesn’t really bother me.

Anyway, the real reason I’ve hesitated to approve the comment is the author signature:

 Vicious
casualhomicide@gmail.com

“Casualhomicide”, huh?  A little creepy, not to mention slightly loony, so I just left it in the comments and had pretty much forgotten about it until a couple of days ago when I realized I might just be, as this anonymous person said, ignorant.

No, seriously, I have proof.  Read on and see if you don’t agree with me.

Okay, so, I had an e-book come out this past Thursday, Unwilling Angel, a sweet paranormal romance that takes place at Christmas.  Perfect timing on the release date, right?  Well, yeah, it would’ve been, except me in my awe-inspiring stupidity, included a free copy of the book as part of the prize I’m offering in two holiday contests.

See?  Stupid!  Stupid!  Stupid!

*warning: run-on sentence ahead!*  Beyond the fact that I’ve read several reports on how useless contests are for generating sales for authors–but they are a good way to get some name recognition!–and the countless times I’ve been warned not to ever give away a free e-book–too many authors have done that only to have the copy of the ebook that was the prize shared with the countless other people.  I even know of one author who recently came across the book she’d given as a prize listed as a free give-away on the winner’s web site where the winner said something like, “It’s yours to read, pass on to someone else, or just trash”–beyond all that, I know that most people when they have the chance to win something for free, are not going to waste their money puchasing it until after the contest is over–if then.  And by the time both of the contests I’m in have ended, the Christmas season for this year will be over.

Which means, in my incredible stupidity, I’ve pretty much put the kabosh on sales for this book during the season when a Christmas book can expect the best sales.

See, told ya’, stupid!  Stupid!  Stupid!  I can’t say it enough!

So, I’m trying to think of a plan to offset my idiocy and so far, the only thing I can come up with is another contest.  Yikes!  Problem is, I don’t know if I can do what I want, which would be to run a contest where the prize is a free copy of my print book, Snow Shadows, to one person who buys Unwilling Angel.  I mean, you’d have to purchase something to win–is that even allowed any more?  Plus, what effect would that have on the sales of Snow Shadows?

*sigh*  I’ll say it again, stupid!  Which leads me to believe that anonymous person who commented and said I was ignorant just might be right.  At least in this case and hopefully, it’s only a passing affliction!

Now that my chaotic life has calmed down a bit, I’m slowly getting back on track with my writing.  I’m working on polishing Storm Shadows, the second book in my Eternal Shadows series, and yesterday I started a new short story based on the Cherokee legend of Ataga’hi, the Enchanted Lake.  My muse, I’m happy to say, has returned from her extended vacation.  Yippee! 

The thing is…with her return I’ve realized I’m going to have to set up a schedule and worse than that, I’m going to have to follow it.  I hate that!  Chalk it up to years of teaching and having to plan every minute of every school day!  Now that my first print book is out, I find I can’t spend every minute of my day writing.   Well, I suppose I could, but if I ever want to make any money at this new career I’ve chosen, I’m going to have to promote my work and at least try to sell a book or two–or three gazillion!

Yes, I need to promote, promote, promote.  I get it, but…ugh!  That’s not a good thing for someone like me who’s of the W. C. Fields/children school of thought when it comes to people.  You know, “Go away kid, you bother me,” only with me it’s “go away people, you bother me”!  So, in my introverted stand-offishness, I naturally turn to the Internet for promotions.

Problem is, I’ve wasted a lot of time in the last couple of weeks looking for the best way to promote my book on-line.  I get caught up in one site which leads me to another which leads to another which leads me to yet another and on and on an on.  And in all that time spent at all those many sites, I don’t get any promoting done at all.  In fact, about the only thing I’ve accomplished is that I may very well qualify for the Guinness World Records as the person who has the longest “Favorites” list in the history of AOL.

Don’t get me wrong, I love lists, but this one has gotten a little out-of-control.  TMI!  So, in the interest of holding onto at least a little bit of my sanity–and selling a book or two!–I’m making a list of promotion ideas and since I believe wholeheartedly in passing it forward, I’m going to include some of them here on my blog.  I’ve already done that a couple of times and hopefully as I make my way through the mire of self-promotion, I’ll be able to give other aspiring authors some valuable help.

That said, today’s site is a post I came across at The Midnight Hour, a blog hosted by several paranormal authors.  This particular bit of wisdom is by Cheyenne McCray and in it she lists 20 ways authors can promote themselves and their books.  Although it was posted almost two years ago, it’s still relevant today and extremely helpful, especially if you’re a list-lover like me!  

Hmm, let’s see, if I set up a file on my “Favorites” list for each of the 20 points, and assign each of the sites in my “Promotions” file list to one of the files, and work out a schedule with set times for each file then maybe I’ll have this self-promotion gig nailed down within the next millennium or so…

Seriously, Ms. McCray, thanks for the tips and for bringing a touch of sanity back to my sometimes–okay, mostly!–insane world!

I’ve come to the conclusion I’m no good at promotion.  Added to that, I hate it with a purple passion.  But, it’s all part of being an author and something I have to do because, well, I haven’t made anywhere near enough money from writing to hire someone to do it for me.  That’s a dream for the future and a pretty good inspiration to keep promoting.

Anyway, if you’re like me and would rather have a root canal than promote your book, I have a couple of interesting and possibly invaluable sites for you.

The first one is a site called MyBooksOut.  Authors can join the group and list their books, the buy links, any review links, and links to sample chapters and they even provide you with an easy-to-follow format.  You can list as many books as you want, but only once per week for each book and they ask that you do a separate post for each one.  Easy to do and most important for a beginning writer, free!

The second is more of a promotion help-site–I know there’s probably a specific term or even a better way of putting it, but you get the idea.  Promotion_Loop_Schedule posts the different Yahoo groups each day that will accept promos, blurbs, excerpts, etc., on that particular day.  Having tried to maintain a file on the many Yahoo groups I belong to, I can tell you this could prove to be an invaluable tool for promoting.  Not to mention an incredible time-saver!  I belong to over 50 Yahoo groups but in most cases, they only allow authors to promote on certain days–Monday seems to be the promo day!–and they only allow certain things from the authors.  I was extremely glad to find this group, if for only the information on when and where I can promote each day.  But from what I’ve seen, they also include a little bit of information on what I can post, and how–that is, any restrictions or guidelines the group has.  The who is, of course, me as an author.  And yes, it’s free!

The thing is…in my world, writing a book is easy and fun.  Promoting a book can turn you into a feral, potentially dangerous person.  But with sites like these, it’s relatively painless!  I can really get behind that!

Okay, so I’ve been playing around on Loldogs.  Guilty as charged, but after reading this post by Lisa Alber on her blog, Lisa’s Words at Play, I started thinking about self-doubt and wondering why so many writers seem to suffer from it.  Then yesterday, I spent a good part of the day reading through the final line edits on my novella, Unwilling Angel, which will be published as an e-book soon and ugh!  Self-doubt reared its ugly snout and took a huge bite out of my ass!

A little back story here, the main character in Unwillling Angel is an aspiring writer who’s struggling with writer’s block.  She’s been working on a YA book since the death of her husband two years before and she’s convinced she has to finish it.  She’s riddled with self-doubt and thinking about suicide when she sees the ghost of her favorite author, Mac McBride.  Only Mac’s not a ghost, he’s an Apprentice Angel sent by the Archangels to help her get her life straightened out.

So, in addition to Lisa’s blog entry, this book has a heroine who is filled with self-doubt, and as I was reading through the final line edits file, I found myself…questioning, deliberating, and thinking of ways I could have written it better, tighter, or even funnier.  In a word, doubting.  And even though I know it’s too late to make any major changes, that doesn’t keep me from wanting to do just that.  

The thing is…I think I could read this book, or actually, any one of the things I’ve written, a million times or more, polishing it with every read-through, and still find things I think need to be changed.  Which got me to thinking, do multi-published authors do the same thing?  Do they suffer from the self-doubt demon?  Does Stephen King?  Nora Roberts?  John Grisham?  Did Shakespeare?  Charles Dickens?  Mark Twain?  What about poets like Emily Dickinson?  e. e. cummings?  Shel Silverstein?

I can’t say for sure because this is only my fourth book–well, really my third since this one was published very briefly before and I guess I shouldn’t count it twice.  It’ll probably be a while before I know the answer to that one, if I ever do, but I have to say, I think maybe they do.  I think, like DeAnna said in the comments on Lisa’s blog, it’s probably hardwired into all authors.  One thing I do know for sure is that right now self-doubt is pretty much a constant companion for me…and I can’t imagine it will ever go away completely.

But that’s okay, I can live with that.  Especially when the self-doubt demon might just work in my favor by making me a better writer.

BTW, my book cover is up on Amazon.  Woo-hoo!  Here’s the link if you haven’t seen it yet.  Gorgeous, isn’t it?  Why not buy a copy and beat the dog-days of summer by frolicking in the Snow Shadows on Eternity Mountain with Matt and Ellen?

<Sorry, couldn’t resist that little bit of BSP!>

 

Cover Image

First, I apologize in advance for any typos or mistakes in this post, as well as any tangents I may go off on, but I’m tremendously excited because yesterday after waiting for eternity–or what seemed like it!–my book, Snow Shadows showed up on Amazon and on Barnes & Noble.  Woo-hoo!  At long last!  I spent a good hour just staring at the cover on B&N and probably would’ve spent another hour on Amazon, but the cover hasn’t shown up there yet.  Still, the book is there and I’ve already gotten one 5-star review–okay, the review is by my sister, who was the first person to read the book and I admit, she might be just a tad biased, but hey, a good review is always appreciated!  And since I value her opinion more than anyone else’s, especially when it comes to my writing, this one means more than I can say.

During my hour-long staring contest with the screen of my laptop, I got this…feeling.  I didn’t know what it was at first, but it kept growing stronger.  Then while I was still trying to figure it out, I received two more reviews from a couple of the review sites I had sent the book to.  Every review I’ve gotten so far on this book, from the one on ParaNormal Romance to the one from my sister on Amazon has been really great, but these two, well, they blew me away.

From Amelia at eCataRomance:

With her thorough historical research evident all through the book, Caitlyn Hunter has crafted a touchingly spellbinding love story with convincing paranormal elements.

Caitlyn Hunter has a poetic writing voice, and her talent for expressing scenes in a romantic way is exceedingly evident in SNOW SHADOWS. 

With graphic images, engaging characters and the perfect blending of humor and suspense, SNOW SHADOWS is a memorable story of fated love.

And from Long and Short of It Reviews:

Snow Shadows has a heady mix of romance, the paranormal, Native American folklore and a wonderful cast of characters which drew me in and kept me.

Snow Shadows is the start of the Eternal Shadows series and is one worth keeping a space on your bookshelf for. 

Click on the links if you want to read the full reviews–that is if they still work, I think I’ve just about worn them both out!

Anyway, after numerous Snoopy dances and shouts of glee, the feeling was still there.  I admit, it did fade a bit when I realized now comes the nail-biting, hair-tearing, and for me, the totally squicky part of being a writer–promotions, sales, and waiting for the reviews from the people who really matter, the readers. 

The thing is…I’m bound to get a few bad reviews, but I can handle that.  I know that it’s an impossibility to please all of the readers and though I may feel like biting back at some of them, I won’t.  Let’s just say I’ve seen a few authors do some pretty horrible things over bad reviews recently and I’ve learned from their mistakes.  At least I hope I have!

Anyway–I warned you about tangents, didn’t I?–even with the threat of bad reviews or if the sales of my book don’t live up to what I’d like, I’ll hold on to that feeling I first felt yesterday.  I’ll keep doing Snoopy dances and shouting for glee because while Snow Shadows isn’t my first book, it is my first print book, and the feeling I have is that I am not just a writer now, I am an author…

At long last!

Cover Image

Sorry, I love that cover and couldn’t resist posting it again!

Yeah, I know, I know, I’ve been neglecting this blog.  I’ve been busy writing and in my spare time, I’ve been researching ways for authors to promote their books, ’cause, you know, mine’s coming out in a little over two months.  I figure it’s about time I quit screwing around and get busy…doing something.  And if not doing, at least planning what I’m going to do.

So, I went on the Internet and wow!  Jackpot!  I found a slew of articles, several very informative sites, and quite a few blogs, all pertaining to the best ways to promote your book.  Too many to mention here, but I’ve bookmarked them all and hopefully, I’ll be able to figure out what to do before Snow Shadows is released.

And a big hat tip to Lisa Alber for finding my blog and leaving a comment, thereby enabling me to find her blog, Lisa’s Words at Play, where I found a wonderful, hilarious YouTube video that reminded me I’m not the only one struggling with promotions.  Here’s the link to Lisa’s post and oh yeah, the video came to Lisa’s attention by way of Patricia Wood’s blog.  Go ahead and check it out, I promise you’ll laugh out loud–especially if you’re an author–and you’ll also get a good lesson in what not to do when your book comes out. 

Okay, so when I wasn’t researching, I was writing and reading.  Got about five thousand words written on Storm Shadows–not as much as I’d hoped–but I also started the third book in the series.  No title for that one yet, but I think it might be the easiest one to write because I’ve already fallen hard for Luke, the brother who’s the main character in that one.  On top of all that, I found the legend I want to use for the fourth and final book–again, no title, but for me, finding the legend is a big step forward because it’s been giving me a bit of trouble.  As for reading, I read The Tall Woman by Wilma Dykeman, the story of a southern woman during the late 18th century.  My dad used to work with Ms. Dykeman at the Knoxville News-Sentinel and he loaned me his autographed copy.  Great book! 

Other than that, not much going on in my world, well, except, squee!  Manny Ramirez hit his 500th homerun, but 500 apparently wasn’t enough for him, because he went on to hit numbers 501 and 502 in the next two games and number 503 last night.  Yay, Manny!  Oh, and the Red Sox are back in first place in the AL East after sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway.  Woo-hoo!  Way to go, guys!

Okay, back to my writing world…I happened to catch a post by Jane at Dear Author the other day; “Hello, I’m Jane.  I have a lot of reader baggage.”  Interesting and as most of the posts on DA are, entertaining.  Quite a few people commented, both readers and writers, and had some interesting points of their own to make.  But the one that really caught my attention was from Emily.  It included a link to Sharon Lee’s blog, Eagles Over the Kennebec, and a post where Ms. Lee writes about The Contract Between Reader and Writer.  A lot of food for thought in that one and I encourage every writer/reader to take a look at it.

The thing is…I’m both a writer and a reader, so I need to really study that thing.  I’m thinking of printing off a copy and hanging it on the wall of my office where I can read it every day.  Oh heck, who am I kidding, I need to memorize it, or maybe make a chart and stitch a sampler of it!

Then again, a better plan might be to pull out my Aretha Franklin CD and play it every morning, because essentially, Aretha got it right with only one word; RESPECT.

So, I as a writer, promise to do my best to remember you as a reader deserve my respect…and I hope you’ll extend the same courtesy to me.   

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Winds of Fate

Storm Shadows

Snow Shadows

PMS Anthology

Romance of My Dreams

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