Friday, April 7, 2017

For Reluctant Readers: Because I am one.

Today I’m going to be talking about reluctant readers—because I am one. Now, I know what you’re thinking, how can you be a reluctant reader when you write novels? Easy, writing is much different. But let’s get into that later.

Reluctant readers can be grouped into two categories, ones that can read, but choose not to and the ones that are struggling with reading, poor comprehension skills, poor spelling. So basically, a lot of poor things to have to do reading.

I know I’m a reluctant reader because I struggled with reading all together. I was in those slow reading groups when I was in grade school, from kindergarten all the way up to 7th grade. In 8th grade things were getting better for me, I think because I was keeping a journal. That really helped.

Then there was a really long period of time that I didn’t read at all. Through my high school years was a horrible struggle for me because I was getting bullied all the time. But that is a different story, but it affected me deeply. Reluctant readers can also have low self-esteem.

I didn’t pick up reading for enjoyment until I was working as a bank teller, at the drive-thru—when I was pregnant with my second child. I would work super long days and it was really slow at the drive-thru, and we were in a separate building, so it was easy to pick up a book and read. That’s when I started reading Anne Rice. I was so tuned in, I just loved it.

After the sixth book of Anne Rice, I was starting to get bored of that. Then I stopped again for a while, and a few years later discovered Carol Goodman. So I read four more books by her and again, I was getting bored.

Then in 2004, I had a major setback in my life and was diagnosed Bipolar. I was such at a loss. Yet, after all this time in my life, I was going back to deeply struggling again. It wasn’t until my therapist suggested writing that I slowly crawled myself out of the hole I was in. That’s when reading became a necessity for me.

I still struggle with my reading habits. I was picky then, and I’m still picky now. And I am still a poor speller too, lol. Even to this day, I continue to struggle with things, not just reading and writing, but with a lot of things in my life.

I would go to the library and read about 20 book jackets and pick out 2 to go home with and maybe, maybe read one of them. I only read about 10 to 15 books a year.

The point I’m trying to make here is that you can be a reluctant reader, but still love to read books. It’s okay to be picky. If you don’t like it, get a new book. Keep trying. It’s a hit or miss for me a lot, but once I find that book that speaks to me, I read it all the way through joyously. So it’s very much worth the fight to find that right book to read.

I’ve read some books I didn’t like too, to challenge myself. I know I can do it, as I’ve done it before. But it’s a big challenge for me. It’s worth it, because those books that I do love, the reading becomes that much more enjoyable.

So for those of you who are struggling with reading, introduce yourself to the joys of writing too. Keep a journal or something like that. Hone in on your interests and give the library a try. Check out some books. If you read a chapter or two and don’t like it, move on to the next. This isn’t required reading time anymore. You can pick and choose whatever and whenever you like. It’s like watching a movie. If you don’t like it, you usually turn the channel right? It’s as easy as turning the channel onto something else. Challenge yourself to find that book! It’s there, waiting for you to read. You just have to motivate yourself to search for that book.

Reading can be really difficult for me. I need it to be real quiet and in a well lit area. I always want to be comfortable, sitting outside in the warm breeze. Or on my comfy couch with the recliner out. So another important thing to reading is the atmosphere. Make yourself as comfortable as possible. Some people can read anywhere, whether you’re in the doctor’s office or some other distracting place. I just can’t do that. I’m too anxious then. So again, it is perfectly okay if you need to have it quiet.

I will always be a reluctant reader. But that will never stop me from reading books, because once I’m in the zone of reading, it’s an amazing gift. I will never deprive myself of that. And neither should you.  

Friday, March 24, 2017

Update on my Writing

Everything is going well with Flux. I’m still so overjoyed that this is happening! So far we’ve done two rounds of thorough editing and I have a cover too! Can’t wait to share it.

I didn’t have it this easy. I want to remind everyone that this book took years to get published. This is my fifth book, my third YA book. I went through years and years of rejection. Not going to say exactly how many, but enough to make you go bonkers!

But the reason I pushed this book so hard was because I always believed in it. Plus I received a lot of praise during those rejections. I came so close so many times, but it just wouldn’t work out. But deep in my mind, I thought to myself, if I give up on this book, I’m giving up on the rest too. I have four other YA novels that I wrote after this too, and I plan to push those out there in the world eventually.

I did this on my own too, without an agent. There were quite a few publishers interested, but asking for a lot of revisions. Same thing with agents too. I revised this particular story seven different times and it still didn’t work! That’s when I knew to stick to my guns and stop revising for everyone and to just keep pushing it out there.

I submitted to Flux November of last year. The editor asked for the full on the first three chapters, the synopsis and the query of course too. She requested around New Year’s. I sent it to her and she confirmed getting it on New Year’s Eve! How cool was that?

I got her email just days later, on a Wednesday. I saw the email in my inbox and freaked out. I thought if they don’t like it, I’m retiring this thing. Seriously! I felt like I’ve exhausted all places. And Flux only took agented submissions and suddenly one day when I was searching on Google again, I found out they were starting to take submissions from authors directly. So I reread and cleaned it up for the umpteenth time and sent it. A door had opened for me.

But the point I am trying to make is, never give up. Always keep trying, keep sending, keep looking for places and agents to send. I want to stress to look for agents first and if that’s not going how you planned, you can always submit directly to publishers. There are still a lot of great publishers out there, that pay advances and take direct submissions. The key is to search, and to keep searching.

Also another thing that kept me busy was keeping up with the YA market. I would read just about every new blurb of a book possible. And reading YA novels too. Study what is on the market. I’m not saying write to trend, but get a feel of what’s out there and what’s moving.

I still have a long way to go myself. But to all my writing friends struggling with finding an agent and or publisher, persistence is about 97% of what you need. For reputable places to submit your YA novel to, that also pay advances, please peruse my blog of lists of publishers. And good luck to you and keep going!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Living with the Bipolar Disorder: Part 100: Self-talk and ways to cope

My parts are going out of order since it seems fitting that way. I want to touch upon self-talk, what it is and how someone with Bipolar is living with it. Self-talk is your inner voice inside your head that speaks to you, sometimes super loud to the point you’re no longer paying attention in real life, and what’s actually happening around you.

When I talk to myself in my head, sometimes I’m having full blown conversations and it’s hard to concentrate on what I’m really doing, like watching a movie, or reading a book. It’s like having your own audiobook stuck in your head and you don’t have the off button. Even the volume button doesn’t work. Sometimes it seems to get worse as I’m trying to fight it.

I’ll be sitting outside, watching the birds and I’ll create this story in my head, narrating it as I watch the birds perched on the tree, maybe eating at the little birdhouse. It’s nice that my neighbor’s into birds. He has a little sanctuary built up for them.

But during this time, I’m saying I wonder where your nests are. Is it really high up in the trees? I bet they have little eggs too. I’ll watch one swoop down and pick at the ground and pull out a worm when the morning’s damp and the sky is a gray haze. But mind you now, I’ll be narrating it in my head as I’m watching the birds. I can’t just watch the birds. There’s always a story going on there.

Or when I’m stopped at the red light and a young girl is walking across the street. She runs to the bus stop. Here I am sitting there wondering where she’s rushing off too. Is she late for an appointment? Then I’ll think of all these stories until the light turns green and I go.

Or another example. I’m doing my daily walk (try to at least…more like 4 days a week) and I’ll see a stork sign on someone’s lawn, baby girl born into this world, Vivian Lynn, 7 lbs. 2 oz. And by the time I’m at the end of the block, Vivian is already one and is trying to walk. Her mother is sick with postpartum depression and the father is the one taking Vivian around, to the park and things like that.

So, self-talk can be really creative and it truly helps when you’re writing. BUT living with it day to day can be daunting. Worry about things and blowing them way out of proportion. Like if I don’t hear from my son who is away at college. If I haven’t heard from him all day and I’ve texted him and called him, I begin to think horrible thoughts, like someone knocked him over the head somewhere as he was walking and now he woke up tied to a chair in some dark closet where it’s hard to breathe. Now these thoughts are very very difficult to take. These worries are the same as if I haven’t heard from my daughter in a while too. These are just some examples when self-talk is harmful. It puts you in a state of panic. You’re trapped, not being able to function with anything.

But what I’ve learned over the years is that the best way to curb my self-talk never-ending record player in my head, is to write. It has got to be for me the best way to cope with things. My doctor recommended it when I was first diagnosed back in 2004 and I’ve been writing ever since.

I’m also a big fan of walking. And I don’t just mean walking on a treadmill at the gym. I mean walking outside and getting the fresh air, taking in your surroundings. Most of the time I’m walking and talking (out loud sometimes…I’m careful to make sure no one is around, and I talk under my breath, anyway) It’s good to get out of your head that way too. Not always, but usually I feel better, like I got it out of my system.

So writing and walking are my two great coping skills for the Bipolar Disorder. If you suffer from self-talk and sometimes can’t get that voice inside your head to shut off, put it to good use and write your thoughts out. Or walk your thoughts out. I sincerely hope this post will help you. Living with a mental illness doesn’t have to rule your life. Seeing your doctor and staying on your meds is key. And as you stabilize yourself, I hope you’ll use these coping skills along the way. Stay strong. Live well. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Book Deal with Flux!!!

I'm thrilled to announce my YA novel, FIX ME will be coming out this November from Flux Books.

It took me a long time to get to this point. Years of rejections, not just on this book, but all my books. But I've always pushed through, revised, researched and I always kept submitting and it finally worked out.

Never give up people, NEVER! Always keep your dream alive by writing and submitting, revising and working, research and editing, anything that pertains to your writing career. Keep going!

More info on the book here

For reputable publishers to submit your novel, be sure to check out my lists. Some offer advances and you can submit directly without an agent. Good luck!

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Fun and Easy Way to Look for Publishers

For anyone looking to publish with the right publisher, here is a fun and easy way to look! Go to Publisher's Weekly Deal Announcements. Here you will find publishers A to Z. As you're perusing the list, you'll be able to better tell what books they're publishing, whether it's PB, MG or YA. For each book, there is a small description of what the book is about. This will give you a better indication on if your book is the right fit. Now granted, some of these publishers you would have to have an agent for, but if you don't, don't worry. There are many publishers listed that take submissions directly from the author.

If you spot a publisher that you're interested and click to view the site, find the submission guidelines if they have them and always be sure to read carefully.

The list is huge so that's always a good thing. The more the merrier! I know it can be hard and daunting to look for a publisher sometimes, but researching is always worth your time. As I mentioned in my previous post, it's best to do all your homework on that publisher before you submit. This will save you time and headaches. You don't want to submit your YA fantasy novel to a publisher that only takes YA mystery. It only makes sense to look into the publisher first, see what they publish, read the blurbs of the books and what they're about. You can even go the extra step and reading a few of what the publisher has to offer. This extra step will help you determine if they are good with editing.

Always keep your eyes out for the right publisher that will fit for you. Also check my blog for YA publishers that pay advances and are accepting unagented submissions. Good luck and happy writing!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Writers Beware: Research Before you Submit

I’m seeing more and more writers jump from querying agents to submitting to small publishers. There are a lot of mid size publishers that pay advances and are very reputable that accept author submissions directly. Too many times I see writers on my writing sites totally miss this next step. This is due to a lack of research. You don’t want to be pitted with a contract from a small publisher you never heard of, or has barely any web presence and have to consider it. Don’t. At least do all the research possible about the publishing company before you make any decisions.

Don’t just submit to the first thing that pops up on Google. You should investigate thoroughly before submitting. Even if that means looking on the 25th page of Google. There are many sites to help you along the way. AbsoluteWrite: Bewares, andBackground Checks is a great source for writers. If you don’t see the publisher listed, become an active member and post a thread about that publisher. Find out if anyone else has had experience with that particular publisher. Ask a lot of questions. Get in touch with the authors. Check their books out on Amazon. Do they have good rankings? Can you find their books in the libraries? Find out their distribution and how they market the book. To widen your search get the Writer’s Market books. Inside you find out more info on if they pay advances, what books they publish and so on.

If you are iffy about a publisher, listen to your gut. It is trying to tell you something. Don’t just take the deal because you desperately want to get published. Do all your homework. If you are having a horrible time trying to find an agent and have pretty much exhausted the list, don’t just start submitting to small publishers. There are still big to mid size publishers you can submit to. Find out what genres they take, read all the guidelines and follow them properly. It might take a long time to hear back, but don’t give up. Don’t just slide down the publishing pole to the smallest of publishers.

Now I’m not saying that every small publisher is bad. Some are very reputable and will help you with your publishing career. It is a good stepping stone to getting published. You will build your publishing history and will develop followers. But don’t expect everything from them.

I am going to say it again, RESEARCH your heart out first before you actually sign on the dotted line. Ask yourself what you really want out of this? Is it just to be published? Do you expect to earn money from this? What are your long term goals in publishing?

I know it’s very difficult and when you finally do get that acceptance letter from somewhere, it may seem great.  But when you find out the publisher is not what you thought, run like the wind. Always, always, remember, it is better to be unpublished than published by a bad publisher. It’s hard to get your rights back and even harder to sell it as reprints.

You’ve put your whole heart and energy into your writing. You owe it to yourself to put that much effort or more into finding the right publisher. Never make any decision in haste. You may regret it in the long run. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

More YA Publishers (some paying advances)

Even though some of these publishers don't pay advances, I do still think it's a good way to get published and get your work out there. Starting small for your first book (or even your first few books) isn't such a bad idea. This is how I started out and I grew from there. Some of these publishers marked with the letter N means they promote their books on Netgalley. This gives you a better chance at getting reviews and getting into libraries. So let's start, shall we?

Riptide Publishing: N. This is a LGBTQ publisher. They pay advances up to 2,000 for well-established authors. 

Dark Regions: For the dark market: horror, etc. They may pay advances. I thought I read somewhere that they do, but make sure to check around. If you get offered a contract, be sure to make that one of your questions.

Down and Out Books: N. They are closed at the moment, but watch for re-openings of submission calls. 

Bold Strokes Books: N. LGBTQ publisher. Pays advances in most cases. Be sure to check the guidelines for more info.

Some of these publishers accept adult books too so this list isn't only for YA. Like I always say, check Google and AbsoluteWrite for more info on these publishers. If you get offered a contract, please ask all the questions you need to ask before signing. Good Luck and Happy New Year to everyone!!!