Monday, April 18, 2016

Seeking Reviews for (New) Releases


by Christine.

It’s exciting to release a new novel – all of your invested time, hard work and research has come together!

It can be disappointing to release your book and find that nothing is then happening; people may be reading, but you aren’t seeing any feedback in the form of reviews.  Seeking reviews for your novel can be a great way to increase anticipation of a story, to give you feedback and to gain new readers.

My Debut Novel, Horse Country
If you have the patience and organisation to be able to send out review copies prior to your book’s release date, you can be rewarded with reviews on the date, or even before the book is available for sale.  This can be a great way to build interest and boost sales.

Alternatively, you can set a competition (on your website, Goodreads or Facebook page) and provide free copies to a limited number of readers on release date on the condition that they provide an honest review.

If approaching people about reviews, consider:
-         Have they reviewed other books in a similar genre?
-         Are they likely to enjoy your story?
-         Do they ‘consume’ books, resulting in a quick review after you’ve provided the story to read?
-         Will they post on mediums you require, e.g. Goodreads, Amazon, LibraryThing, a personal website?

Many readers love to receive a book prior to it’s release date and will work hard to have it read and reviewed for you as an author, in time for your much anticipated release.  Consider the value that seeking out reviews can provide for your latest release – or even an older release that needs a boost!

What book have you had the privilege of reading prior to release day?  Interested in reading Christine's next adult horse fiction due for release in 2016? Leave a message!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

First Drafts: The Point of No Return

This past Friday, I finished the first draft of All Heart, the sequel to my first novel, Stay the Distance. It is all well and good as far as first drafts go--meaning that it must be ripped to shreds and reconstructed out of my blood, sweat and tears in the next thirty days in order to produce the second draft, which I will let actual people lay eyes upon.

That said, I don't like to rip into a first draft right away. I just spent two months producing this draft--the shortest amount of time it has ever taken me to really sit and write down 81,500 semi-coherent words. By the point I'm at 81,499 words, I'm basically living inside the story. I am story. So when I write that last word, I usually sit there and stare at it for a good while, wondering what the heck just happened. Is this done? Did that happen? And then I feel lost for the next day, wondering what world I'm living in without that constant story going in my head.

Needless to say, story and I have to have some time apart. A week, at the very least, for me to regain my sense of self and start functioning like a normal adult again. (Are writers normal adults? I sometimes wonder...)

Luckily for me, this time was a little easier. I finished the draft on Friday and on Saturday I packed up what felt like my entire life and drove to Columbus for Equine Affaire. To me, this was a surreal experience. Sitting down and watching people peruse my books in real time, watching their initial reactions and then (occasionally) gleefully buying one (and sometimes both) before scurrying back over for my signature was probably one of the best things I've ever experienced. As a person. Honestly. I got to live four hours of that parade of people, and it was a great way to break things up for me--going from writing that last sentence of All Heart to watching my new readers flip through those books wrenched me out of my thoughts and plopped me back down into the real world. However surreal it seemed at the time. It was good for me. It was good for my writing. Because when I went back home, I didn't open up All Heart.

No. Oh, no no no. I at least stayed true to my word. I was taking a week-long break from All Heart. We needed some time apart to think. But that didn't mean I couldn't start thinking of something else--which, I admit, I'd already started to do. Now, in this downtime, was the perfect moment to strike out on my new adventure. I copy/pasted a bunch of plot points I'd obsessively strung together in my free time into a new file, and chapter-by-chapter outlined a new book. That by itself would be one thing, but then I went a step further and I started to write it. 8,000 words and three days later, I have a new first draft on my hands.

So, for those of us who are counting, two first drafts. Two baby stories that I am determined to nurture to adulthood this year. They are wildly different--so different that I'm not sure yet if I'll be able to wrench myself out of one to return to another when it's needed, but I'm going to have to try because there's no going back now.

In the meantime, who else has juggled this madness? I know you're out there. Tell me your multiple story stories!
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Mara Dabrishus is an author and librarian at a small college in Northeast Ohio. Horse racing is her first great love, but for the past several years she's ridden dressage, learning how to spiral in, half halt, and perform the perfect figure eight. Her second novel (gasp!), Finding Daylight, was released in January 2016. For more information, please visit www.maradabrishus.com.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

If You Write It, They Will Come

Lately, with the advent of spring and opening day of baseball season in the air, I'm reminded of one of the most popular baseball movies--Field of Dreams. I think what made this story so compelling was the strong faith and, yes, hope demonstrated by the main character. Based solely on a voice he hears, he plows down his cash crop corn field and builds a baseball playing field. To what end? his friends, neighbors, even family ask. At first, even he doesn't know why. That's where the faith comes in. I'm not in this instance talking about faith in the scriptural sense (although there are clear parallels in the movie), but instead faith in that voice in his head that says to step out and do something absurd, risk exposing oneself to ridicule, but do it with conviction and believe that the end result will make it all worthwhile.

How is writing a book any different from building a ball field in the middle of nowhere? Authors have to listen to that voice in their heads, the one that won't be ignored, then step out and do something so crazy your friends shake their heads, maybe even discourage you from continuing. When you put your writing out there, you are exposing the story, the characters, the writing, indeed yourself, to judgement from any and all. Who with a lick of sense would do such a thing? Writers of faith. Writers who believe if they write the story, the readers will come. Writers who have a story to tell that won't shut up and leave them alone. Writes who are willing to risk their "cornfield," whatever that may be, to do what they must do.

Now I have a story of faith to tell. I had told myself I was through with horses after a long, long run of bad luck, heartache, and financial depletion through vet bills. Quite a shame, really, since I've got a warm barn, an arena with good footing, a large stock of hay and years working with horses. But recently I started to let the idea of getting another horse seep into my consciousness. "Just for fun," I told myself, I started looking at horses for sale, but what I wanted was either out of reach or would be sold out from under me before I had a chance. Once, a major blizzard hit the day I was to go try one. It was as if fate were pushing me away, pushing in another direction. "If you build it, they will come" is one of the most repeated, often parodied tag lines from the Field of Dreams movie, but in the end it is something we all want to believe. If we prepare, if we believe, the cosmos will put the pieces together in just the right order. And that's what happened. Out of the blue, the horse came, but not at all in the way I'd imagined. Quite unexpectedly he fell in my lap--a beautiful 17 hand Thoroughbred, a lovely mover with a kind, forgiving nature. But just how this happened--I'm saving that bit of the story for another time...stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Fiction Versus Nonfiction




I recently finished reading two books. One was a nonfiction book about horses, and I came away with the thought of “Really? What kind of tale is this author spinning?” The fiction title was a mystery and the protagonist was a Realtor. From what little I know about buying and selling real estate, that part of the fiction book was completely based in fact.

It is obvious that the line between fiction and nonfiction can be, and often is, blurred. But as an author who writes both, I sometimes wonder just where that line is. Every author has a unique writing process, but certainly a nonfiction book needs to be steeped in fact. Even if the author knows the subject like the back of her hand, research should be done to confirm lesser known facts. For the reader’s benefit, the ideas need to be presented logically, with a little entertainment, such as a good story that is relevant to the facts, thrown in for good measure.

While the writing process for nonfiction can be methodical, with the author checking off each of the points he or she wants to make, fiction can be a wilder ride. From the invention of characters, scenarios, sometimes even the invention of entire towns, the process can be challenging, but a lot of fun. The inventions, however, need to have enough fact in them that the reader is not taken out of the story in disbelief.

In these ways, nonfiction can have an element of fiction, if the author is telling a story to illustrate a point, and fiction must have enough fact to make the story believable. That can be a thin line that is hard to follow, and I applaud every author who gets it right.

I have written many books, and looking back, I have done better weaving all of this together with some books than with others. I am thrilled to report, however, that I seem to have gotten it right in my newest equestrian mystery, The Fame Equation, which has been selected as one of three finalists in the mystery category for the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Book Awards. 

In a few days I will head to Salt Lake City in a day or so to see if this book, the third in the series, has been selected for a gold medal, or a silver one. In either case, I am so honored by this recognition. This is the sixth award for the series, which has also been optioned for film and television. After so many, many long months of mixing horse facts with the lives of my fictional characters, it is a wonderful feeling to know that in the end, the balance was right.

In a final note, I will be at the Midwest Horse Fair in Madison, Wisconsin April 15-17 teaching people about ground driving and riding in balance. Hope to see many of you there!

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Lisa Wysocky is an award-winning and bestselling author and horsewoman who educates people about the horse. She also is a registered PATH instructor who consults with therapeutic riding centers across the country about their hoses and horse herds. Find her online at LisaWysocky.com