Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Introducing New Publisher: Take Me Away Books and Forget Me Not Romances

Need some help with your unpublished manuscripts? 

Cynthia Hickey, hybrid, and Amazon best-selling author, and her small ebook line, may be the ones who can help you.

Today’s publishing world is changing faster than some writers can keep up. Not only must you have a well-written book, but you must be prolific. Where once, you needed a large publisher to see your book in print, with small royalties and a long time to wait before seeing the fruit of your labor, today that is no longer the case. A book can be in ebook form and in print via print-on-demand within a matter of weeks and royalties paid to the author are much higher than in the traditional route. It’s an exciting time to be a writer!

Today’s authors wear many hats; writer, publisher, marketer, cover designer, etc. They must be active on social media. Everywhere they turn, they’re bombarded with what’s new, what’s old, what doesn’t work anymore and what’s the new thing to guarantee sales.

We’re told we must have a book published every three months in order to stay in the reader’s sights. While this is true, it is often overwhelming to those who take longer to complete a manuscript than others.

Are you tired of writing to fit a mold? Have you received the rights back on previously traditionally published works? Do you have a dusty manuscript that can’t find a home? Then Take Me Away Books or Forget Me Not Romances  may be the place for you.

Forget Me Not

The Forget Me Not Romances is a line of sweet, clean and/or inspirational novels that allow the reader to get lost in a good romance. This line is open to romance genres of historical, western, contemporary, suspense, and mystery. Don’t worry. If you contact us about one line, and we feel you’ll fit better with the other one, we’ll switch you over if that’s what you prefer.

A lot of authors, while writing the book of their heart, find that their baby doesn’t fit into a particular niche. That’s no reason to stick the story on a shelf or in a drawer. Take Me Away Books and Forget Me Not Romances are small presses dedicated to helping authors who want to publish their book in ebook form. We’re looking for romantic suspense, mystery, memoirs, fantasy, science fiction, and everything in between. You wrote a story about a time-traveling fairy? Okay. If it’s a well-written story about a time-traveling fairy, we’ll take it.

Take Me Away

Take Me Away Books is open to all genres, except for erotica and children’s books, and books posted there will have a rating, similar to a movie rating. Forget Me Not Romances, devoted to clean and sweet books, won’t need a rating because of their wholesomeness. Both lines will run in the same manner and the information can be found here. If you have more questions, please email me at cynthiahickey (at) outlook.com. We are open to submissions for both lines. Come find a home for your baby. If you have a submission, please send it to cynthiahickey (at) outlook.com with SUBMISSION in the subject line.

In order to give each of our authors the attention they deserve, Take Me Away Books and Forget Me Not Romances will be very selective in who they accept. We want to take pride in the services we offer and in the finished product. Writing for a small press, where the authors not only actively promote their book, but the entire line, helps everyone reach a wider market.

This is an exciting venture for us as we enter into the world of being a publisher. There are a lot of books available to help a person get their book in ebook form, but all of these take time. Often, a writer finds that the details take up time that they would rather spend writing. With more and more books showing up on ebook distributing sites, it often takes a team to reach as many people as possible. We want to help you get started.

Celebrating The Small Press 

Why publish with a small press? Why go ebook? Why go indie when you want to be traditional? Why not start indie and strive for being a hybrid? The primary reason for using a small press is to bypass the mis-conceived notion of what self-published is and have the backing of a publisher’s name. This also helps you build a readership and hone your craft in order to entice a traditional publisher. Don’t be surprised though if you decide to stay with a small press. The higher royalties might be worth it to you. If you’re a traditionally published author looking to fill in between contracts or list your back lists, ebooks are a great way to pull in readers to your traditionally published books and visa versa.


Fiction or non-fiction that is well-written and will appeal to readers. Genres: romance, romantic suspense, mystery, historical romance, science fiction, fantasy, New Adult, Young Adult, or any combination thereof. We’re looking for author’s willing to work as a team to market their books in an ever-growing world.


Erotica or Children’s books. Authors who want to sit back, do nothing, and see what happens. This doesn’t work in any type of business. Ever hear the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”? Well, it takes a team to build a book.

We want to be a part of that team.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Dynamic Duo for February!

We’re in for a special treat for our next meeting: the Lynne Gentry/Kellie Gilbert team will be here to discuss “Tools to Build a Great Novel.” These popular authors are bound to know a few tools we could use. 

Hope to see you next Saturday!

More about Lynne Gentry:

Lynne Gentry has written for numerous publications. Her new series, The Carthage Chronicles is a time travel, historical romance, adventure. The second in the series, RETURN TO EXILE, released just last month. 

She is a professional acting coach, theater director, and playwright with several full-length musicals plus a Chicago children's theater curriculum to her credit. Lynne is an inspirational speaker and dramatic performer. She loves spending time with her family or working the hospital oncology wards with her medical therapy dog Roman.

As a former legal professional, Kellie Coates Gilbert spent nearly twenty-five years working in courtrooms and behind the scenes of some of the largest and most well-known cases in America. She was one of the lead paralegals in the Jack-in-the-Box litigation, where uncooked hamburger resulted in the deaths of several toddlers and made many more critically ill, which is now the subplot of her newly released WHERE RIVERS PART, the second novel in a collection of contemporary women's fiction stories all set in Texas. Her books not only explore the heart issues that matter most to women, but often allow readers an inside peek into her former legal world. 

Kellie currently makes her home in Dallas, Texas with her husband and a very spoiled 2.7 lb. Yorkie named Emmie Sweetpea.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Goals that Make Sense, by Ron Estrada

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons and Paula Naugle

I love New Year's resolutions. I love the wha-wha-whaaa sound they make as they fizzle and die by January 3rd. A resolution is something announced from an elevated platform. Usually a bathroom scale. Resolutions are for lifestyle changes, not business.

And you, my friend, are a business.

What a business does is to establish goals for the coming quarter or year. Even weekly goals or quotas are put into place, sometimes on a big white board in the sales office. No big white boards for you (unless you're like my wife and fantasize about such things). In your case a Word document or spreadsheet should suffice.

The key to establish goals has been passed down from every corporation from General Motors to Bob's Bait & Tackle (you have to try his attack crawlers!). Here's what is what we all learned during our first year in the corporate trenches.

A goal must be two things:

1. Achievable
2. Measurable

Heavy stuff, huh? But you'd be surprised how many people can't grasp it. How many of you, in your very first days and weeks of writing, announced that you would finish your manuscript and find an agent that year? Those of you who are lying, see me after class. 

Let's take an average beginner, we'll call her Mary, and an average unpublished veteran, we'll call him Bob (he hates the bait & tackle business) as examples.

Mary's Goals:
  1. Learn all I can about story structure.
  2. Write 500 words a day, even if it's just gibberish.
  3. Attend one writer's conference.
  4. Find a critique\accountability partner or group.
  5. Read one fiction novel per week both in and outside my genre.
Simple enough? Notice Mary didn't list "Get published" as a goal. Mary knows that she won't become a published author in a few months any more than she can start practicing law after one semester of college. 

I like to keep my list of goals short, five or six at most. I also like to split them up into categories. Number 1, for example, is about craft. It can be "Work on character development" or any other writing skill. It's helpful to have that goal in mind when planning that conference, right?

Now let's move on to the veteran, someone who's been at this for a while and is nearly ready to be published or self-publish.

Bob's Goals:
  1. Learn how to show emotions on the page.
  2. Finish 3 drafts this year.
  3. Attend a conference focused on my genre (Thrillerfest, RWA, etc.).
  4. Agree with my accountability partner to send daily or weekly progress reports.
  5. Submit my last novel, Once Bitten Twice Hooked, to Agent A, B, and C. 
If Bob intended to self-publish, I'd modify that list to include hiring a professional editor and cover designer for Once Bitten Twice Hooked (feel free to steal that awesome title, by the way). If Mary can't find it in her budget to attend a conference, she can switch that goal with "Read one book per month on writing craft." 

It's your list, modify as needed.

Now on to part two of goal setting--it must be measurable.

You'll notice, from my two lists above, that almost everything on that list can be measured. Word count, completed drafts, number of books read, etc., are all easily measured. 

But what about that pesky number 1 on each list? How do you measure learning? We can write this off as the difference between business and art, but I think that's a bit of a cop out. A teacher gives tests to measure a student's progress. You can do the same.

If you don't have a critique group or beta readers, add that to your list. Let's say Mary is working on story structure. She doesn't have to finish a novel to see if her structure works. She can write the short synopsis and pitch it to her readers (The late Blake Snyder of Save the Cat fame said he would pitch his ideas to people in restaurants). Of course, structure and idea are two different things, but you get the idea. Even better if Mary has a mentor to look at her outline.

Bob can do the same thing. When he sends his manuscript to his beta readers, he can add a note--Keep a specific eye out for my description of emotion. 

If you have five beta readers and two say you have more work to do, you've scored a 60% on your test. What would mom and dad say? Right. Back to work.

Be sure to set your quarterly, weekly, and daily goals as well. Some of us prefer weekly because we have crazy schedules. Some like daily goals to hold ourselves accountable. It's up to you. But write it down. No, don't post it on Facebook. This is between you and, at most, you family and accountability partner\group. Then adjust as necessary as the year progresses. Hey, things happen. We get sick. We take a new day job. Babies get birthed. Adjust.

I'm going to add a final note. Be realistic in setting your goals. We all want to be Super Writer. But if your burn-it-at-both-ends schedule interferes with your devotional time, family time, or exercise, you'll crash. Take it from the guy who slacked off on his exercise last year and has spent the last three months with horrible back pain. Do you know how hard it is to get through NaNoWriMo when it hurts to sit down for more than five minutes at a time?

So set those goals as well. Mind, Body,  & Spirit, right? 

2015 doesn't have to be the year you get published or the year you sell ten-thousand self-published books, but it can be your best year ever. 

Ron Estrada has multiple published magazine articles, including a regular column in the 
bi-monthly Women2Women Michigan. He also freelances as a technical writer, specializing in white papers for manufacturing and consumer products. He writes spec fiction, hovering somewhere between post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction (he prefers the term pre-Last Days), but has also dabbled in Mystery and Suspense. Turn-ons include long walks to Frosty Boy and dinner by Kindle light. His real-writer’s blog can be found at RonEstradaBooks.com.  You can e-mail him at rmestrada@ameritech.net or catch him (at pretty much any time) on Facebook. Twitter handle is @RonEstrada. CB handle is God’s Gift.

(article reprinted with permission from NovelRocket)

Saturday, January 31, 2015

What "The Story Knows Best" Really Means, by KM Weiland

When writers start talking about the autonomy of their stories, non-writers are likely to give us looks that range from confused to concerned, especially when our comments include the following: 

"Nothing was working for me until I quit fighting my story and let it do what it wanted." 

"I have no control over my story. I just sit back and let it take off."

"My characters made me do it."

"The story knows best."

These comments may sound like wild exaggerations to our listeners, but, in truth, we mean every word of them. Our stories often do seem to have minds of their own, and those minds usually seem to understand the subtleties of story craft much better than we do.

What does this idea that the story knows best really mean?

As our by now nervous non-writing friends would be quick to point out, a story isn't a conscious entity. It can't know anything. Our characters are just figments of our imagination. Outside of our own minds and the words we've put on paper, they don't exist, much less exercise control over us or our story worlds. How can we claim to "listen to the story" when the story is an emanation of ourselves?

To some extent, the phrase the story knows best is a pie-in-the-sky concept used by writers to describe the indescribable. When you're in the throes of creative passion, hammering away at words that seem to appear on your computer screen faster than you can think of them, when the story does things you never planned for it to do, when your characters take the bit in their teeth and gallop away onto trails unknown-that's something almost too magical to put into words. How do you explain any of that to someone who's never experienced it, when you can barely grasp it yourself?

We can't. So we say the story did it. Or our characters took charge. Or we were just a conduit through which higher inspiration could flow.

None of that is really true.

What’s true is this:
The story doesn’t know best. The characters don’t know best. You know best.
Yes, you.
When we say the story knows best what we really mean is “our subconscious story sense knows best.” Even when we can’t consciously articulate what we’re feeling, something deep inside of us understands how to craft our stories into something perfect. Every author needs to make a point of not just acknowledging this underlying story sense, but of recognizing it in action and refining his ability to interpret and channel it.
Talking about how our “stories know best” is a fun and easy way to describe the process—but it not only sells us short, it can also inhibit our ability to see that story sense for what it really is and to work toward harnessing it in perfect tandem with our conscious, logical story skills. The next time you’re talking about your story with a hapless non-writer, let that twinkle in your eye shine out as you unnerve him with your announcement that your story knows best. But don’t forget to remind yourself that, really, it’s your inner story sense doing all the heavy lifting.

About the Author:

K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, as well as Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors. Her newest writer's help book, Conquering Writer's Block, released in December, 2014.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

WOTS January Meeting

If you weren't in January's meeting, you missed a great time, good fellowship, and Betsy St Amant's wonderful speech.

Betsy St. Amant has a heart for three things – chocolate, new shoes and sharing the amazing news of God’s grace through her novels. She lives in Louisiana with her adorable story-telling young daughter, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of Pickle Pringles. A freelance journalist and fiction author, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is multi-published in Contemporary Romance via Love Inspired and Harper Collins (Zondervan). When she’s not reading, writing, or singing along to a Disney soundtrack with her daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing. Betsy is proud to be represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency.

Betsy encouraged us to be more organized with our time this year. She provided each of us with a bookmark holding the acrostic PAMPER:
P--prioritize the things in your life to assure yourself of writing time
A--adjust to interferences
M--multitask: write as you wait
P--promise, i.e. commit to meet your goals
E--enjoy. This is supposed to be fun!
R--reject negativity and guilt
We could all relate to her stories. After all, who among us hasn't sat down to a writing session only to have it interrupted by phone calls or minor emergencies?  How many of us haven't scrambled to finish a project by its due date? And, who among us hasn't temporarily fallen out of love with our craft?

Betsy was charming and personable, fun to listen to and visit with. Be sure to "like" her Facebook page and check out her books on FictionFinder.

Just an aside: Among the books Betsy brought was her September release, All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes, the title of which had Janice bopping her forehead V-8 style. "Why didn't I think of that?"

Aside from meeting Betsy and listening to her words of wisdom, we also introduced the 2015 WOTS officers:

Janice Thompson, President 
Linda Yezak, Vice President 
Linda Kozar, Secretary 
Kathrese McKee, Treasurer

And speaking of  the treasury, our 2015 dues are due! This year we're paying the $40 fee as close to "up front" as possible, instead of per meeting, so be sure to bring your checkbook/cash to the next meeting (or you can bring a $20 payment).

Other News:

Aside from our usual meeting dates, Janice is considering a couple of "write-ins" and one "write-out" and is hoping to hold conference this year. She'll provide details in meetings to come.

Bethany Macmanus has a release due out on Valentine's Day. Nerve is available for preorder on Amazon. 

Help Wanted:

Bethany Macmanus and I (Linda Yezak) discussed the idea of participating in festivals to sell our books. We just tossed around a few ideas, but nothing definitive. Anyone know of any festivals coming up? Anyone care to participate?

Laurie Alice Eakes's church is trying to get a library up and running now that we have the space for one. They need more fiction and, if available, nonfiction books about, by, for missionaries. Other topics are great, too, esp. devotionals, and the first two are the greatest need. If you are willing to donate anything, do, please, contact her at lauriealice@skonicki.com and she’ll send you the address.
The church’s web site, in the event you want to know more about us, is www.gbchouston.org

Coming Next:

Author K.M. Weiland is providing next Saturday's blog post. Her topic: "What 'Story Knows Best' Really Means."

Kellie Gilbert and Lynne Gentry are our guests in February, speaking on this topic: Tools to Build a Great Novel.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Getting Creative About Being Creative, Janice Thompson

In the beginning, creativity flowed!
It’s staggering to think that creativity played a role from the very beginning of time. It plays a key role in the beginning stages of our writing, as well. As we dare to think about our futures as novelists we must face the startling reality that daydreaming—seeing into unseen worlds—is not only acceptable, it’s critical to our survival. So, peel back the curtain of your imagination, novelist. Take a glimpse inside. Allow your eyes to grow accustomed to the kaleidoscope of colors that await you. Take a few tentative steps toward the characters that beckon you to come and play. Romp with them. Hide away in their world until you come out carrying their scent.
Not sure you can do it? Afraid too much time has lapsed since your last visit to the great unknown? Don’t let that stop you. Reach for a rag and send those dust bunnies twirling off into space then tiptoe inside that hallowed territory and spend adequate time dreaming as you did when you were little. The novelist is only as healthy as his—or her—imagination, after all. Maybe it’s time yours had a little infusion.
So, how do we tap in? We have to learn to “think” creatively. Imagine this: You have a computer in your home. It has a really large hard drive. Much of that hard drive space will never be touched. Think of the “untapped” creativity inside you the same as you would that “untouched” portion of your hard drive. It’s time to use that untouched space. It’s time to think outside the box! It’s time to begin looking for the story inside the story.
I once did an experiment with my students. I asked them to take their temperature every two hours over a twenty-four hour period. According to one theory, we are at our most creative when our body temperature is the highest. For me, that time is late afternoon/evening. I’m NOT a morning person. Perhaps you’re just the opposite. Maybe you’re the most refreshed/creative in the morning.
There’s another theory that we’re also more creative when we’re relaxed. Perhaps that’s why great ideas come to us while we’re in the shower. Some of us get our best ideas when we’re “nearly” asleep, or just waking up. That’s why it’s important to keep a pad and pen on your bedside table. Might sound crazy, but my laptop goes to bed with me every night. Well, not actually in bed. But it’s at my bedside all night long, just in case. Rumor has it that Mary Shelley conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein during “twilight sleep.” You just never know when a great idea might hit.
The Five Part Process
According to online site: http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/creativity/section2e.asp, creativity is a five-part process, which occurs in interconnected phases:
STIMULUS: Could be anything from a picture to a song to a person’s face. Could be a perceived need or a story. Anything can stimulate us and cause us to want to act/create. (There are stories all around us. It’s up to us to find them!)
EXPLORATION: Looking at the possibilities, the what if’s. Moving beyond the first ideas, considering the alternatives. (What do you think the author/screenplay writer was really trying to tell us?)
PLANNING: Gathering information/thinking about the task (in writing a story, this is usually the point where I begin to lay out chapters or work off of a plotter or outline). Some people use diagrams.
ACTIVITY: Let the party begin! Create, create, create. It’s one thing to talk about the story you’re going to write or the project you’re going to begin (think home improvement here), it’s another altogether to strategize, to fly into action. Some of us are all about the planning and don’t like to get into the actual work of it.
REVIEW: What have I accomplished? Was it successful? What could be improved next time?
CREATIVITY EXERCISES Let’s get our creative juices spinning!
Locate a piece of art. Set a timer for two minutes and write down as many titles as you can think of. Once the timer goes off, look at your title choices. Choose the one that speaks to you. Take it a step further. Using the title ONLY (not necessarily the picture) create a plotline for a movie.
Pop open a fortune cookie and read what’s inside. Come up with a story idea based on the “saying” you’ve read.
Wrapping Things Up
I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey into creativity. Who knows. . .you might have the Great American Novel hiding inside of you. Perhaps, with a little stirring it will rise to the surface. I will leave you with the words of Mark Twain, who said: You can't depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus.