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Posts Tagged ‘In the Spirit of Forgiveness’

Life BalanceFor those who’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve likely noticed I’ve been suspiciously absent in my posts for some time. The reason is simple; life keeps getting in the way.

I didn’t set out to let this happen. Each day and each week kept getting busier and busier with so much stuff, and I told myself I’d get back to my blog next week. I didn’t. Then I realized I needed time to attend to life’s duties and the increasing demands to get my current WIP edited and in to my publisher. For those who aren’t writers, let me tell you, editing is a loooong, sloooow process that drives writers crazy. We can’t hurry it along (although we desperately want to), and we can’t take short cuts. It takes as long as it takes, and it’s not the fun part of writing. Still, it’s absolutely essential to creating something you want to put out there in a public format and ask people to purchase with their hard-earned dollars. In the end, it’s time well spent.

I’m also working with a new publisher, Books We Love (BWL). They are a Canadian publishing company that I have to say that I’m enjoying working with so far. They’ve been quick to respond to my emails and questions, and they’re diligent about staying on top of everything from editing to cover art and final preps for publishing a book. I like that, but it does mean I’m having to learn (and in some cases, re-learn) what I thought I knew about publishing, but that’s all to the good too.

The problem, as I was starting to see it, is that life kept getting in the way of my writing work. I started resenting not having the time to attend to my duties as a writer, or get the next blog posts written and published, or even breathing, it seemed.

Stumbling blockSo, I’m headed down one road when suddenly I’m tripping and stumbling over blocks in the road. I’m thrown on my ass, and it takes a while to figure out which way is up. We’re still dealing with the realities of aging parents and Alzheimer’s with my mother-in-law, a disease that we’ve all learned to hate (are there any diseases we don’t hate?). We’re coping.

Then I had a set-back with my own health issues. I have Sjogren’s Syndrome . The dry eyes and mouth associated with the condition worsened in about that same March/April time frame. Stress? Maybe. The problem really became a problem when my eyes became so dry, despite multiple applications of special eye drops a day, that my vision was impaired. For about two weeks I really couldn’t see well enough to drive. I had to have my husband drive me to a memoir writing workshop I was giving in a nearby town, and after the workshop I had to hightail it into the bathroom to insert more drops for the drive home. Eventually that issue resolved itself as well and I’m back to normal, whatever normal is for me.

I was actually going along pretty good for a month or so, until we put our park model home on the market so we wouldn’t be carrying two residences each month. Good news. We sold it. Woo Hoo! Oh, then I realized I would have to leave the wonderful area of Grand Bend and Port Franks, Ontario and live only in the city. That really bummed me out for a while. I also knew I’d miss the “mini house” and all the memories associated with it. I’d miss living up near the lake and being able to slip down to the beach at a moment’s notice. I was sad to be putting aside another chapter in my life.

Along with the sale came the stress of moving everything we owned out of it and figuring out what the heck to do with all the stuff we’d accumulated there over the course of five years! I’d just moved back to the city in December, remember? Now I was having to downsize yet again, and amalgamate, give away, or throw away more stuff. That all takes time. Time I wasn’t writing. Time I wasn’t editing. Time I wasn’t blogging, or reviewing books, or interviewing other writers.

ConnectionWhat I did do was stay current on social media through all of it. It kept my hand in the game, which kept me up to date on what’s been happening with who. I read writing related articles of interest galore. I wrote when I could. I edited when I could. I gave myself permission to do what needed to be done and not beat myself up too much over it. I also periodically vented to my husband. He’s an excellent listener, so his ears got a good workout. I’m grateful for his patience, believe me!

This past six months has served to remind me that I can’t control everything. I have to “Let go, and let God,” as I’ve heard the expression said. I’ve learned that sometimes good enough has to be good enough. I also knew that some things would just have to work themselves out. I consoled myself over the sale of my mini-house by acknowledging that it was a good, sound financial decision to sell. The single woman who bought it was thrilled to have her own little place with a good-sized garden and beautiful view of the wooded area across the street. I’m sure my old neighbours welcome her into their midst, and I sincerely hope that she’s able to settle in and make it her own.

Blue Starburst by Debbie McClure

Blue Starburst by Debbie McClure

Surprising, to me at least, is the fact that I discovered a new creative outlet. I began experimenting with acrylic abstract painting and I love it! I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler (my son, brother, and grandson can, but I’m hopeless). What I do have is imagination and a good eye for colour, or so I think. I’ve even started doing a few large paintings for family and friends who’ve requested them, so that’s pretty cool. I’m not a professional painter, by any means, and I’ve hated some of what I’ve created, but as with writing, I can go back and fine-tune, or erase what I’ve done and start over. It’s become a great stress reducer, and I believe it stretches my imagination in other ways I hadn’t encountered before. It’s also a great way to just zone out, and sometimes that means I’m able to work through writing issues, without having to actually work at it. I like that.

The King's Consort Cover ArtIn the meantime, I’m happy to announce that my most recent (bio) historical fiction novel is finally done! This book has been a long labour of love, since my mother tells me her paternal great aunt claimed we are related to Louise Rasmussen, Countess Danner. Whether it’s true or not, I became intrigued by Louise and King Frederik VII of Denmark’s remarkable love story, and knew I had to write my (fictionalized) version of it. For information and a brief synopsis of the story, head over to the Amazon link provided below.

The great news is that my publisher let me know that we’re looking at an e-book release date of September 10th, 2016 for The King’s Consort-The Louise Rasmussen Story, followed by a print release a few weeks later. For anyone interested in ordering their copy right away, it’s available for pre-order now (see link above). I’m so excited! I’m also extremely nervous (that’s another post). It has taken me two years to get this book to this point, and now I’m standing on the threshold of seeing all that hard work come to fruition. Yikes! I truly hope you enjoy it, and if so, please consider leaving an honest review on Amazon (it really, really helps the writer), email me, or drop me a line on the blog, and of course, share the news with your family and friends.

As for what’s next, well, I’m in the process of getting my first two books, In The Spirit Of Love and In The Spirit Of Forgiveness, re-released – complete with new cover art and titles (details to follow once I have them). My plan is to re-release these two books and follow them up with a new series that continues Sir Richard and Claire’s story, and adventures. I’m really excited about that too, so check my website periodically, or social media sites, for new information. I have a second (bio) historical romance novel I started working on several months ago, and am itching to get back to, so it’s in the works for a little further down the line.

I’ve settled into our city house and am loving my little courtyard garden. The weather has been hot and summery. My family are all doing well, and I have my life back—for now. I know life will rear its head again soon, but today I’ll celebrate the good things and not worry about what’s around the corner.

We all go through life challenges. How have you dealt with some of yours lately? Share ideas for what’s worked for you – you never know who might benefit from your insight and wisdom. Thank you for sticking with me, and I’ll talk to you soon. Promise!

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Confidence Moves You

Confidence Moves You

Writing has given me many unexpected benefits, in addition to the actual writing, that is. It’s allowed me to share the stories that tumble around in my head. It’s allowed me to tap into deeper parts of myself and become more confident in my purpose on this earth, and it has introduced me to many wonderful people via in-person and on-line networking efforts I’ve engaged in.

Once my first book, In The Spirit Of Love, was released back in November, 2012 (Echelon Press), I knew I was going to have to step even further outside my comfort zone. I was going to have to go public with my book and do book signings and talks. I’d always been terrified of speaking in public – who isn’t? The thing is, I knew I was going to have to get over myself and my fears and just go do it. After all, writers have to be comfortable talking about their books, and themselves, in order to promote the work they’ve just spent countless hours, months and yes, years, creating. Whew! This was going to be a challenge.

When I first started writing, I never gave a thought to actually publishing the book. I just wanted to write a cool story I had come up with about a ghost who falls in love with a modern-day woman. I didn’t look too far down the path, but rather, I learned as I went. It didn’t occur to me that I’d be required to stand up in front of a bunch of strangers and talk. I didn’t think I’d get that far. I did though, and so I gathered my courage and stepped into a local library, copies of my book tucked into a pretty little book bag, prepared to do my best. I figured if I crashed and burned, at least no one really knew who I was anyway. I also brought my husband along for moral support. He turned out to be an invaluable ally, since I could see him nod his head in approval when I hit my mark, or shake it slowly when I was veering off course. He also handled the monetary transactions for the few books I sold – I think it was 2 or 3, and took a few photos. When we left the library, I was pretty proud of myself. I’d faced and conquered one of my deepest fears; looking like an incompetent idiot.

Next time I went to a book signing, I took my mother. She’s one of my biggest fans, and again, having her there really boosted my confidence. During the Q & A portion of my talk, she spoke up and asked some questions she knew others in the small group were also wondering about. She also handled the financial transactions for the few books I sold, again maybe 2 or 3. On the way home, I was giddy with relief for having gotten through the talk, but surprised at how comfortable I felt once I was up there and got going. I had reminded myself before I began the talk that there was absolutely nothing anyone in my small audience could ask me about my writing, publishing, or my journey thus far that I couldn’t answer. I had this one. I’m passionate about my writing and the whole business of publishing, so once I get started talking about it, I could go on for hours. That’s why I write out, in point form, my entire talk. I have a limited time period in which to engage, entertain, and hopefully, inform my audience. I realized I could do that.

My Audience

My Audience

Looking out into the audiences I’ve spoken to over the past few years, I recognize myself in the faces staring back at me. I’ve come to understand that these people are there because they’re interested in what I have to say, and welcome any tid bits of info or insights I can impart. I’ve come a long way since that first talk. I’m proud of my ability to connect with others and address several issues besides writing.

After the release of my second book, In The Spirit Of Forgiveness, I began speaking to groups about something new. I call it my Step Up and Step In To Your Life talk. You see writing also opened up new insights for me. I began to realize just how many times I’d held back from pursuing a dream, or from approaching a problem head on. I’d side-step it, I’d waffle, and sometimes, I’d out and out run from it. My life hasn’t always been easy – not by a long shot – but I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes along the way. I know I still have a lot to learn. When I began speaking publicly, it became apparent that just about everyone struggles with how to take control of their lives. They’re not sure how to make serious, lasting changes in their life. Changes they’ve always wanted to make, but have been afraid to.

Let’s face it, writing isn’t a solid career choice if you’re looking for a regular pay check, or regular anything. It’s the most difficult, challenging, frustrating, flat out ridiculous career move I could have made, but I love it. I’m caught, hook line and sinker. Because of the many challenges a writer faces, and the numerous rejections we receive over, and over, and over again, we develop a deep sense of conviction about who we are and what we want from life. We willingly step up to the plate day after day and pitch/hit our best. We face our fears head on every time we sit down to the task of writing. When it comes time to actually publish, market, and promote our work, we tackle a whole new set of obstacles and fears.

That’s why I felt that I had something of value to share with others who are likewise struggling with elements of their life. Sometimes it really is all about being willing to do the hard work, and stepping up, and into, our lives. It’s about taking responsibility for the choices we make. It’s about owning who we are as human beings, and as individuals. It’s about claiming our truth and being proud of it. It’s about facing fears, accepting our failures, and moving through them to get where we want to go. It’s also about accepting and respecting others for who they are.

Make Things Happen

Make Things Happen

It’s about dealing with a whole lot of things we all face. That’s why I talk about it openly. I’m not the only one struggling to come to terms with what to do with the years I have to live on this planet, and neither are you. My goal is to motivate even one person at each speaking engagement to examine their life and where they want to go with it. By hearing me talk, maybe that one person will move closer to their goals and dreams. I won’t necessarily ever know it, but for me, that possibility is awesome. I’m not a doctor, and I certainly can’t claim a whole bunch of letters after my name, but I’ll continue to talk publicly about things that matter to us all. I’ll do my best to impart what bits of wisdom and experience I’ve collected along the way.

What would you like to achieve in your life?

If you’d like me to speak at your business or organization’s next meeting/event, please feel free to contact me at mcclure.d@hotmail.com, or visit my website at www.damcclure.net for more information. If you’re outside Ontario, Canada, feel free to contact me, as I am able to periodically travel to worth-while events. Thank you.

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Diving In

Diving In

This past winter I took a fair bit of time away from doing public appearances at bricks and mortar venues. After the release of my debut novel, In the Spirit of Love, I dove head first into the book marketing and publicity pool, and discovered a lot of areas I really enjoyed. I met some wonderful people, and gained invaluable experience by tapping into a number of venues. As for actual book sales, some things worked better than others. Book signings and readings were fun, but it was hit and miss in terms of actual sales. That’s okay though, since I went into it knowing it isn’t necessarily about sales; it’s about reaching new audiences, honing new skills, and just plain connecting with others. Our brutal Canadian winter of 2013/14 also had me glad not to be out on icy roads, travelling to more distant locales.

 

There was also the business of on-line networking, marketing, and promotion of this first title, while working diligently at penning, then editing the sequel, In the Spirit of Forgiveness. Writing and editing is time-consuming work. I can, and do, sit for as much as 5-6 hours per day just on those two activities, in addition to any on-line marketing. The really cool thing though, is that it doesn’t feel like 5-6 hours. Often it feels like maybe 1-2 hours. I become so engrossed in the story and the writing that it isn’t unusual for me to glance at my watch and realize time has literally flown for me. That’s a good thing. Before I began writing, I couldn’t imagine how anyone could sit at a computer and simply type up word after word, page after page-for hours. Now, I love it. It doesn’t feel like work at all.

 

With the release of In the Spirit of Forgiveness (June 1, 2014), I’m finding myself having to dive into the publicity pool again. The water is a little chilly, and I’m having to get back into the strong and steady strokes of swimming again, but I’m enjoying it. I remind myself of all the great experiences I had last year, and look forward to new ones. The hard part of course, is finding the right venues, reaching the people who book events, and making the time to get out from behind my desk.

 

I’ve discovered that the further I move into this writing gig, there really isn’t a lot of down time. Aside from the valuable and important time I want and need to spend with family and friends, I have a job that never really ends. You see, while I’m looking forward to getting out and meeting people and sharing my work with new readers, I’ve also just finished the first draft of a third novel, The King’s Consort. The real work is now ahead of me with this new WIP (work in progress). I have editing to do, at least two rounds, before sending it out to query agents and/or publishers, followed by tons of work to polish it up before it actually gets published. Although I’m currently with a small independent publisher who has done a great job for me with the first two books, I’ve decided to seek representation and/or publishing with a larger house. I have no idea if I’ll succeed, but I believe I at least have to give it a shot with this next book. It’s in a completely different genre (fact-based historical fiction), and I’m hoping it will garner some real interest.

 

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

That means going through the entire difficult query process again, followed, inevitably, by the rejections I’m sure to receive. It’s a long, slow process, and it can be extremely intimidating. There are no guarantees it’ll be accepted anywhere, but that’s the name of the game. I figure it’s like anything new you attempt in life. You put your best foot forward, you give it your best shot, and you learn the lessons taught along the way. You also incorporate any lessons you’ve already learned. No lesson is ever wasted, whether negative or positive. I also know that, whether I pick up an agent or new publisher or not, I’ll continue to move forward with this next book. I love the story behind the facts I researched, and am keenly passionate about sharing it with readers. Because I’ve now successfully had two novels published, I’ve also gained a level of self-confidence I didn’t have before. I’m ready and excited to begin the next steps.

 

It’s daunting; this diving in again thing. But hey, every new day we wake up, we begin anew. We get up, we get dressed, and we begin our daily work. Diving back into the pool isn’t so hard the second, or third time. I know what’s coming, I gear up for the shock of cool waters, and hold my breath. Then, I start swimming long, strong strokes. Hmm, maybe I never really got out of the pool. You’re either in, or out. There is no in-between.

Fish underwater

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Cover InThe Spirit Of Forgiveness

Cover InThe Spirit Of Forgiveness

This is a short, but sweet, post. I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that my second book, In The Spirit Of Forgiveness, is now available on Amazon, Smashwords, and OmniLit. Additional e-venues will be announced as they become available. We are working diligently to have it available ASAP on B&N (Nook), and Kobo (Book One is already available on Kobo here, and B&N here), so do keep checking back often for updates. If you purchase an e-book copy and would like to have it autographed, you can do that here.

 

For those who prefer to have a paperback copy, you can also order a print version of Forgiveness via the Amazon page (In The Spirit Of Love is currently already print enabled on Amazon), and we are working diligently to get this function up and running, so again, check back often. You can also order directly through me by sending me an email request on my website at www.damcclure.com.

I’m also excited to share that I’ll be doing another podcast interview with Eat, Sleep, Write’s host, Adam Scull on Friday, June 13th – no this is NOT bad luck! Once it is scheduled to go live, I’ll post the information and link here and on my Facebook and Twitter @debbiemcclure59 pages. If you’d like to listen to my previous two podcast author interviews, please check them out here, and here (this one was an exciting paranormal mystery roundtable author interview with me, USA Today’s bestselling author Tonya Kappes, and UK’s bestseller Karen Perkins).

 

Here’s the exciting blurb to In The Spirit Of Forgivness, the new much anticipated novel, the sequel to In The Spirit Of Love:

 

Death can hold as many uncertainties as life.

Destiny brought them together, but greed could tear them apart. In England for a much-deserved vacation, Claire Jacobs has fallen in love. However, fate has played a cruel trick on Claire, and now a mystery more than a hundred years old could take her happiness, as well as her life.

Sir Richard Abbottsford, of England’s grand Kent Estate, has finally reunited with his true love. He never imagined it would take more than a century for that to happen. But the past and present are intricately entwined, and as the lovers soon discover, sometimes even death is not an end.

As Claire and Richard struggle to adjust to the obstacles of their unique relationship, they are forced to deal with a vengeful foe determined to put an end to them both—forever. Time has kept the mystery of Sir Richard’s death tightly shrouded, but the heart has a way of overcoming even the most impossible. A little magic can’t hurt either.

Loving a ghost isn’t easy.

Oh, and please remember to leave a comment here, or after reading ANY book you’ve really enjoyed, consider posting a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads! This is incredibly important to authors, and please believe me, we read every single one of them. They are what gives us the support to keep doing what we’re doing. Your words to us are as valueable as ours are to you.
Thank you,

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Teeter Totter of Life

Teeter Totter of Life

Anyone who has been following my blog over the past few weeks knows I’ve been in a state of transition as I try to find a balance between life and work. My husband and I took a chance on new a job, moved to a new   city, then discovered very quickly, like within weeks, we’d made a mistake. The job simply didn’t suit us or what we were looking for at this time in our lives. Not only that, but the long hours and exhaustion kept me from my writing for almost a full month. This separation from my passion caused me more than a little anxiety.

 

I once heard Oprah advise; let every experience teach you something new. I learned a great deal about myself and my personal needs through this most recent venture.  I learned to appreciate what we already had, the importance of spending time with family and friends, and my need to find time to write daily. I also learned I don’t need a lot to be happy, or comfortable. I learned my time has real value to me in ways I’d never considered before. It also confirmed for me that making mistakes is all right, so long as you learn the lesson(s) and move on.

 

I know the company that hired us wasn’t thrilled with our decision to leave so quickly, but my husband and I both felt strongly that it was better to cut our losses, and theirs, sooner rather than later. No need to flog that horse. Moving twice in one month took a tremendous physical and emotional toll on us both, but it felt like the right thing to do. I was reminded to trust my instincts, and my instincts were telling me to re-group and get back to being “me”. That job didn’t feel like “me”.

 

Whenever I’ve tried to do things that didn’t feel quite right, I’ve made mistakes and been unhappy. I should know that by now, but I guess we all discount that niggling voice that whispers, “this isn’t right for you”. We rationalize all the reasons to discount that voice, and too often move toward, not from, the source of negative energy. For me it felt like wearing an overcoat that was two sizes too large. It felt bulky and heavy. It didn’t warm me, or make me feel secure. But that’s okay. Sometimes trying new things allows us to discover what we don’t want, which is as important as discovering what we do want. I knew that, but apparently I had to be taught – again.

 

Being Me

Being Me

Now, I’m back where I belong. I’m close to family and friends again, and I don’t regret taking a chance on something new. It has taught me much, and reminded me of more that I already knew. It confirmed for me that writing is my future, and for now, if I take on another job to help pay the bills and fund my writing career where needed, that’s okay too. I know I’ll get where I’m going, and I’ll meet some really great people along the way.

 

In the meantime, I’ve been working diligently with my publisher on the release of my second book, In The Spirit Of Forgiveness to get it released. We finally hit on the right cover art, which was so exciting, but it’s been a long process. It should be up on the website within a couple of days, so do stop over there and check it out. I’m not a particularly patient person, so I guess I’m having to learn the importance of patience as well.

 

I’m also in the midst of working on the next project, a fact-based historical fiction that I’m really, really excited about. Writing this book is teaching me so much about the past, about people who made a difference in their time, and about the tremendous importance of love. I didn’t think I’d enjoy doing the research which would allow me to blend fact and fiction, but I’ve discovered that I love it. Researching facts about the people in the story, the political and social climate of Europe in the 1800s, and breathing new life into a story that was destined to be told has infused me with a new level of excitement. I’m now pulling together the pieces of lives of real people who defied conventions of the day and were determined to see their vision for themselves and the future of their country realized. In doing so, it hits home once again how important it is to hold true to my beliefs, and fight for what I know is right for me.

 

A Journey Worth Walking

A Journey Worth Walking

It’s been said many times before that writing is a journey, and it’s leading me down paths I’m eager to explore. Around each corner I wonder, what next? There is so much work ahead, but I can’t wait to share what I’m discovering with my readers. Excitement and challenge are important to me. They drive me as nothing else. I’m grateful to my husband, who listens patiently while I go on and on about people and places from over a century ago. I’m grateful to my mother, who encourages me to seek and delve even deeper into myself and my work, and shares her own memories of a place I’ve never seen, her homeland of Denmark.

 

So, I’m continually learning what’s important to me, to my life, to my career as a writer. What have you learned recently about what’s important to you and your life? Please do take a moment to reply in the comments section, and share this post on social networks.

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Moving on Up

Moving on Up

Over the course of my life, I’ve moved more than my fair share of times. Every time I do, I swear it’ll be the last move I make for a long, long time. But, life gets in the way of my plans, and so, we move when changing circumstances dictate. Adapting to moves, or any major changes, is never easy. In fact, most people actively avoid serious stressors, but according to the article The 7 Biggest Causes of Stress on The 6 Healthy Habits, how we react to stress determines how we cope.

As with any major life change, the emotional and physical toll can be high. Fortunately I’ve always been the type of person who, once I make up my mind to do/not do something, I forge ahead. My husband is the planner, making lists, spreadsheets, and so on. Me, not so much. I look at the big picture and map out a course I believe is the right one for me, then I go for it. Don’t get me wrong, when I need to be detailed in a task, I can do it just fine. I’m also routine oriented. Routines help me focus and feel in control. Even jobs that have no set regimen, like writing, I quickly establish an overall work pattern and adapt as needed, depending on the demands of the day. We’re a good team, my husband and I. He’s a planner, while I’m more of a doer. We don’t always agree, but we make most things work for us and keep to the shared path.

Of course no one’s life is ever on a completely even path, and days before we recently moved, I received the next edits on the In The Spirit Of Forgiveness manuscript. Talk about pressure. I wanted, and needed, to get to those edits and return them to my publisher as quickly as possible, but I simply didn’t have the time. I had to scramble to do them when I could, in between unpacking at the new place, and learning the ins and outs of a new job.

New Baby

New Baby

A couple of days after our move, my nephew’s wife decided to give birth to their first child, which I had promised and wanted to attend, come hell or high water. I was now living in a city forty-five minutes from theirs, which isn’t onerous in good weather, but in a Canadian winter, not always great. I hate the cold and snow of winter, and I hate the often poor road conditions even more. Still, the road conditions were favourable that day, so I off I went to attend at the birth of my new great-niece, Brianna Lee Stewart. I’m happy to say, all went extremely well, but it certainly added to my fatigue when I returned to work the next day. That’s life; it pulls and pushes you in directions you didn’t know you were going in, and being able to adapt to new situations is important.

For my first full day off, I committed to working on my edits as much as possible. I was excited and anxious to get back to my love; writing. I’d been itching to sit down and re-read the words I’d written so many months ago, and see what nuggets of information and correction my publisher had provided. As I began, it occurred to me that editing a manuscript isn’t that dissimilar to life. I may even have said it a time or two before. For the most part, we go along our merry path in life, sure of the road we walk, then BAM, something happens to throw us off and send us in an entirely new direction.

In the process of writing, writers often need to re-write, revise, or edit the heck out of a story. Characters often need fine tuning, and some evolve into a stronger presence than initially intended. It occurs to me that editing is adaptability at it’s finest, and as a writer, I’m learning to embrace it fully. Change is never easy, and for most, it’s downright unpleasant. In fact, most people only change when it’s forced on them out of necessity. We change a pattern or direction because we need to, not necessarily because we want to, or just for the heck of it.

A New Direction

A New Direction

In writing, when an editor or publisher gives you direction and suggestions, as a writer it’s your job to keep an open mind, review the suggestion with an open mind. Then, you do what needs to be done to make your story as well put together and professional as possible. In short, you need to get rid of the ego and be flexible; adapt. Writing is a job, as much as it’s an art, so somewhere along the line, someone is going to tell you how to clean up your act and polish your work so it shines.

I also believe writing a book takes a village; the writer, the publisher and/or agent, the editor, the cover artist, the printer, and so on. We all contribute to the finished product, and if we’ve done our jobs correctly, somewhere a reader will fall in love with the words we’ve strung together and the stories we’ve woven. For self-published writers, depending on their own skill sets and comfort level, they still must bring together a team of professionals to help them get the book edited, packaged, printed, uploaded, etc. Then there’s a website to be built and maintained, blogging, social networking, and public appearances that need to be dealt with on a regular, on-going basis. You might be the hub everything revolves around, but a professional writer understands the benefits of delegation of tasks they may have little expertise or experience with.

Today, anyone involved in the book publishing industry must be even more open to change than ever before. In a broad, global scope, publishing is undergoing massive changes. This is primarily thanks to the development and explosion of e-books, e-venues, and how readers gain access to books on-line. For years a standard process had been set forth, but now everything is open to change. Writers have had to learn to adapt and swim in these new waters, just as publishers and agents do. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a first-time writer, or best-seller. It doesn’t matter if a publisher/agent is a large house, or independent. We’re all learning to swim new strokes and trying to stay afloat. Change is inevitable, but not always welcomed by all. For some, drastic changes will swamp them and they’ll drown, while others will swim faster and stronger, and therefore, succeed.

Adaptability in writing also comes in the form of mediums for stories. For example; a book may become a resounding success and be optioned for a movie, or television series. This means adapting the original manuscript format to a new one matching the needs of the medium, in the form of screenwriting. Books are also often adapted into stage plays, so again, the format needs to be changed from that of prose, to playwriting. Few writers are capable of adapting a manuscript into a play or movie, so screen and playwrites are hired to do the job. Audiobooks and podcasts are seeing a huge jump in popularity, as people use downtime in their cars or other stagnant periods of their day to listen to stories and information that have been voice recorded. Again, it’s all about change and adaptation. Every time the medium of the story changes, the writer has to let go of the ego and work with, not against, it.

I recently came across an article on this subject that resonated with me; Blog Writing Tips-Be Willing To Adapt To Change, written by Justin Murphy. It’s short and to the point, but basically sums up how people can adapt to changes in a positive manner.

Treasures

Treasures

I might not love everything about the changes I’ve been forced to make over the years, but I’ve met some terrific people along the way, I’ve gained new experiences, and I’ve learned new skills. I figure that counts for quite a bit, since I can use all of it in my writing and stories. I’ve realized that writing, like life, is a path filled with all kinds of changes. I firmly believe that those who can master the art of change and adaptability will go further than those who cannot, so I try to learn from the wrong turns, the misses, and failures. As they say, Life is a journey, not a destination. As a beachcomer and shell collector, I can see the long stretch of sand ahead, but I look forward to stopping along the way to investigate the sea’s treasures. Some I’ll discard, while others I’ll tuck into my pocket to add to my growing collection.

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Beauty of Cover Art

Beauty of Cover Art

I love working with my publisher on cover art design. It’s a fun way to express creativity and bring a concrete vision to potential new readers. But book covers are more than just a pretty face. They have a message to convey. Book covers portray an image of what the book and/or characters represents. The font, colours, photos/drawings, are all vitally important to catching a reader’s attention and enticing them to read the back cover blurb, then hopefully, purchase the book.

 

It’s also a marketing tool. This is why top companies spend literally millions of dollars creating the right packaging for their product. The packaging says a lot about the company, just as a cover tells a lot about the writer and publisher. This is our first introduction. It’s also a little like being sure to wear your best outfit to a job interview, making sure your hair is combed, shoes are clean, and personal appearance is as pleasing as possible. It’s our virtual handshake and “hello” to the world.

 

It’s also how we remind past readers that we’re still here and have a new story they’re going to love. This is why there are some elements of the book cover you may want to keep consistent, like font, over-all colour scheme, tag line, etc.

 

This is really marketing 101, but most people who will buy our books don’t care about that. They want to pick up a book that intrigues them, and gives them a reason to pay their hard-earned money out for our stories. Huffington Post recently posted an article on this very subject, entitled, Yes, We Really Do Judge Books By Their Covers, written by Terri Giuliano.

 

Ensuring the cover art is as close to any descriptions we have in the book is vitally important. After all, you can’t describe a brunette heroine, then show a blonde on the cover, or a cover model with brown eyes when you describe a main protagonist with blue. It jars the reader and shows you don’t care about the details. I know they won’t realize it until they purchase or read the book, but do you really want to set them up for disappointment? Oh, and negative comments will definitely start popping up if the cover doesn’t match the narrative or story line. Trust me, people notice!

 

With my first book, In The Spirit Of Love, my publisher and I went back and forth many, many times to find the right overall look, then again in choosing the closest male model depiction for Sir Richard. With the locket we chose to feature on the cover, I actually had to go back into the manuscript and alter the description to ensure it matched what we were showing on the cover. Simply put, it matters.

 

High Five!

High Five!

As we continue to work on putting the final touches to the sequel, In The Spirit Of Forgiveness, again, we’ve been working hard to find just the right look. So when readers compare the story line, they can see we’ve taken care to match the cover to the narrative.

It’s a lot of work, and yes, it may cost extra money to get it right, but it’s an expense that’s well worth it. Once the print version is out there, it’s out there for all time. Yes, you can update and change it later, but somewhere an original will still exist. You want to be proud of what you’re putting out into the world. It’s your baby.

 

For the writer, this is even more important, since readers identify with the author, not the publisher or cover artist. In fact, few people pay any attention at all to who the publisher, editor, or cover artist are. Unless it’s poor job, or on the flip side, a really great one, most people don’t care. They’re going to judge the writer on the entire package. Is it fair? Possibly not, since we don’t always have final say, but it is what it is.

 

Personally, I want to be proud of the finished product. I want to be beaming with pride when I attend a book tour, or public speaking event where my book is going to be centre stage. It’s my name that’s on the front cover in big, bold letters, not anyone else’s. It’s my face they’re going to associate that book with.

 

In the talks I do at libraries, bookstores, schools, etc. I talk about the importance of cover art, and use one of my books to demonstrate the different aspects of it. Can you imagine how that would go over if I hated it, or was disappointed in it? I’ve been in marketing and sales for years, so I know that I can’t “sell” something I honestly don’t believe in.

 

No Mirror Images

No Mirror Images

You also don’t want your book covers to look so similar in style that readers are going to think they’ve already read it. This is especially important when selling ebooks, since all the e-venues use thumbnail sized covers, and if your covers look too similar, you’ve got the problem of someone passing it by and thinking “I’ve read that one”.

 

That’s why some authors include the words “sequel”, or “Book Two”, or even just roman numerals to indicate the subsequent books in a series. You want to make book selection easy for potential readers. I know if I’m standing in my favourite book store, I don’t want to have to scrutinize too closely whether or not this is a book I will like, have read before, or, in the case of a gift, is something I think the recipient will enjoy. The old rule of K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) definitely applies here.

 

Conversely, cover art that tells a potential reader nothing about the story will often have them passing over it. Unless you’re writing non-fiction, straight text is rarely a good idea. Cover art doesn’t have to be so elaborate that it confuses the reader, but it does have to intrigue them, and by intrigue, I don’t mean be obscure. This is why certain genres have evolved to include easily identifiable elements. For example, romance books usually depict lovers, a male or female protagonist, or some romantic element that tells the prospective reader exactly what they’re getting when they buy that book. Other genres have certain elements on the cover art that readers expect to see too, and if it’s not there, or is so elaborate the intent is hidden, you risk readers putting the book down and moving on to something they can identify with.

 

The cover of a book can also form part of an author’s branding. It might be as simple as using the same font for each title in a series, or the author’s name, a tag line that follows the author with every book, or an over-all look in terms of colour and layout. It’s what helps readers identify the author at a quick glance. Well-known writer and blogger, Joanna Penn, addresses the issue of author branding in her article, entitled, Branding for Writers: An Essential Step to Building Your Author Platform. I would say that cover art is an important part of an author’s branding and platform.

 

So, now that I’ve shared my thoughts on the importance of cover art, what do you think? Have you ever purchased, or not purchased, a book based on it’s cover?

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