An Interview with Charles Salter, Author of How Three Brothers Saved the Navy (Kare Kids Adventures #3)

three_brothers_charles_salter

Charles A. Salter is the author of How Three Brothers Saved the Navy, book 3 in The Kare Kids Adventures:

How can three brothers stop the plot against their father’s aircraft carrier? When he’s not excelling in soccer, 12-year-old Matt likes to pretend he’s a Force Recon Marine, along with brothers Ryan, aged 10, and Jack, who is 8. Their father is a Captain in the U.S. Navy, currently deployed on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Maryland, where they all live. Growing up in a military setting, the boys are familiar with armed forces strategy, tactics, and weaponry. They long for the day they can don uniforms themselves…just like the Marines on the navy ships they’ve seen. In a Recon game one day the three brothers scout out an abandoned airfield. They notice a team of skydivers mimic the classic military special operations tactic of jumping out of a plane at high altitude and opening the chute at the last possible moment to avoid detection before landing on an enemy target. Quickly the boys discover these are NOT U.S. military, but rather hostile agents training to land with guns and explosives on a navy aircraft carrier. Their Force Recon Marine play suddenly becomes very real as they struggle to determine the exact target and time of the coming attack, to evade the terrorist gang, and get their intelligence information back to the navy in time to save their father’s ship. Captured by the gang, can they use their junior Force Recon Marine skills to escape, get back to headquarters, and devise a plan to defeat the terrible plot without anyone getting seriously hurt?

Read on for an interview with Charles and an excerpt from the book. Continue reading

A Look at Self-Publishing Success Stories

It’s hard to be an indie author. There’s often depressing news about how ebook sales are going down and people are getting tired of digital, or how people are buying coloring books but not ebooks. And sometimes, startups that help hybrid authors shut down, leaving authors stranded.

So it’s nice to hear about the success stories. People who work hard for long periods of time and eventually make it in some way. These are the kinds of stories that keep me going, and give me hope. Plus they always have great takeaways to learn from. Continue reading

From Grammarly: How well do you know your grammar? Affect vs. Effect

All writers know that grammar is important. And the company Grammarly likes to put a fun spin on learning grammar. How big of a grammar nerd are you? TakeTake Grammarly’s quiz to show how much you know about affect vs. effect:
affect_effect_grammarly

To learn more about affect vs. effect, check out Grammarly’s in-depth blog post that explains the difference between the two.

Indie Author Marketing Guide: Facebook

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For indie authors, Facebook is one of the best ways to reach your audience. As of April 2016, Facebook has 1.65 billion monthly active users and 1.09 billion people logging in daily, according to Zephoria.

With that in mind, it’s probably safe to say that if you’re reading this, you are at least familiar with Facebook.  Continue reading

Indie Authors: Using Giveaways to Find New Readers and Sell More Books

By Toby Hudson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Toby Hudson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

A giveaway is a powerful tool that can help indie authors attract new readers. You can incentivize people to spread the word about your book through social media, sign up for your email list, and garner interest in your other books (which can lead to more sales).

There are at least four big tools authors can use for book giveaways:

Continue reading

Writers: Going the Traditional Publishing Route

Courtesy of Pixabay

Courtesy of Pixabay

Not all writers wants to go the indie route, which is understandable. Publishers have teams to help with editing, publicity and marketing, and distribution. And it’s cool to be able to say, “XYZ published me.”

It’s a tough route to go though. I have a few friends who have written manuscripts and are currently sending them out to agents. But it often takes months for agents to get back to them, and when they do, they’re sometimes vague about what they’re looking for. You definitely have to have thick skin, and be patient.

According to Huffington Post, you should limit your query letters to 20 at a time and follow up after 2 months:

If they don’t get back to you, they don’t want to represent your project. Move on. Remember that agents only get paid when they sell your book. They have a trained eye toward what publishing houses want, and they represent projects that they think they can sell for significant money. Consider that a $5,000 advance garners an agent a measly $750 (15% commission). No matter how much they might love your book, they’re financially motivated and they sell books for a living.

You could also try to directly sell your book to publishers, though this works best for niche books and if you submit to small- and medium-sized publishers.

Forbes has a list of tips for how to get a book deal. Most of the advice is geared toward non-fiction writers, but a lot of it could apply to fiction writers as well. They include the usual, be persistent, be active on social media, and write a lot tips. But they also encourage writers to book speaking gigs and become experts on their topics, as well as contributing to other books and attending conferences and other events where you can meet people who could potentially publish your book.

As a writer though, the best thing you can do for yourself is to write. John Scalzi, author of Agent to the Stars, wrote about the 10-year anniversary for the print version of his book, which started off as started off as a practice novel he wrote back in 1997 and then posted to his website in 1999. Scalzi then posted his second novel on his site, which Tor picked up (though they didn’t pick up Agent, because they didn’t think it was marketable at the time.)

Another publisher, Subterranean Press, ended up buying the rights to a limited hardcover release of Agent, which eventually allowed him to sell it to foreign markets and to Tor for paperback and audio.

John Scalzi then sums up his experience:

Occasionally at signings, people will come up with a copy of Agent and confide that it’s their favorite novel of mine, as if that’s something weird, because OMW or Redshirts are the usual suspects for that title. But I like it when they tell me they like Agent. It’s my firstborn (if second-published), and it was written not because I wanted to sell, but because I wanted to learn. Writing it was a joy, if for no other reason than the dawning awareness I had writing it that, yes, in fact, I could do this thing, and I liked doing it, and that I wanted to do more of it if I could. That’s what Agent gave me that no other novel could, or will. It’s special to me. I’m glad when it’s special for other people too.

So, no matter which route you decide to go, just remember that the important thing is that you write.

Indie Authors: Tips for Writing Characters That Resonate

By Stagg Photo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Stagg Photo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Characters are an important element of every story. So how do you make sure your story has characters that stand out? That readers find interesting and believable?

Writers in the Storm posted an article about becoming your character, so that you don’t make mistakes like head hop or have multiple viewpoints for one character. The best way to do that is to become your character. That way, Marcy Kennedy explained, we can better remember that we only know our own thoughts and feelings, not someone else’s, we can only experience things within our eye sight or within our ear shot as they happen, and our past and personality determines how we react and interpret things.

According to Marcy, who wrote the book Point of View in Fiction:

Point of view isn’t merely another writing craft technique. Point of view is the foundation upon which all other elements of the writing craft stand—or fall. It’s the opinions and judgments that color everything the reader believes about the world and the story. It’s the voice of the character that becomes as familiar to the reader as their own. It’s what makes the story real, believable, and honest.

A character’s self-sacrifice can also help pull readers in. K.M. Weiland, from Helping Writers Become Authors, said that “Self-sacrifice is the ultimate expression of love—and so, of course, it’s an endlessly powerful story catalyst.”

To make the self-sacrifice even more powerful, K.M. said that you should have a scene earlier in the story that sets up the self-sacrifice, by showing how much your character wants something. Doing that shows the reader that the character is doing something really hard when he or she self-sacrifices.

Another aspect to consider to round out characters is internal dialogue. Writers in the Storm shares in a post that internal dialogue helps show emotion, in addition to helping to pace the story. According to Marcy Kennedy, the most effective internal dialogue is not repeated in actual dialogue or action, it should be used to share important thoughts, and it should be told in the character’s voice, not the author’s. Additionally, internal dialogue should sound like dialogue, so that it sounds natural.

Author Zoo also recommends using juxtaposition, to help show a character’s motivation. Lana Pecherczyk gives two examples of using juxtaposition: as a flashback in a tense scene or in characterization, to make the reader think more about that character.

Last, if you want some advice for how to become an overall better writer, check out McSweeney’s “The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do.” Colin Nissan lists tips and explains in a tongue-in-cheek way why those tips are useful. Advice includes writing every day, not procrastinating, reading a lot, and finding a muse (though he cautions, “Beware of muses who promise unrealistic timelines for your projects or who wear wizard clothes”).

Pokémon Go and Book Publishing

Last week for work, I was at SIGGRAPH 2016, a conference and exhibition on computer graphics and interactive techniques. In addition to companies sharing their products via booths, there were a lot of panels and presentations of peer-reviewed research in graphics and techniques.

Not surprisingly, a big chunk of the conference was dedicated to virtual reality (VR). One whole section was called Emerging Technologies, which featured VR eye-tracking technology, guidance methods in VR, and VR films (as well as robots, lighting displays, augmented reality, and more). But there was a feeling that VR is still a little too new, and while it’s cool to play around with, it’s not that wide-spread among consumers, or at least not yet. Continue reading

Indie Authors: An Overview of Book Distribution Options

By Zufrieden (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Zufrieden (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to selling books, most people think of Amazon and Kindle. Although Amazon may be the biggest ebook distributor, it’s not the only option for indie authors. Continue reading

What Inspires You? Here’s a List of 26 Awesome Projects and Stories

By Cmglee (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Cmglee (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The world is full of fun, creative people. Every day, I hear about awesome projects. They’re so cool, I want to share them here. Though they’re not all book-related, they are media related, and since technology is bringing all kinds of different media together, it’s good to know what kinds of things different kinds of creators are making. (Also including some stories that are just plain inspiring.) Continue reading