The Lucky 7 Club – The blogging game for authors #amwriting cc @leighkhunt

I was invited by Leigh K Hunt to join the “Lucky 7” Club. How exciting!

It is a blogging game for authors. The rules are that you must post an excerpt from one of your books it has to be seven sentences, lines or paragraphs from page 77, seven lines down.

Here is my entry, an extract from my novel, 2012 The Final Revelation.

“You have to admit it’s a curious thing. Why did the Maya end their calendar so mysteriously? With their amazing skills, was there something they could see that we can’t? What will happen on that last day?”

“It ends sometime in December this year doesn’t it?” Andrew queried.

“The twenty-first of December. It’s not long away now,” Ben said. “It would be amazing if the Codex might shed some light.”

“Could it?”

“I hope so. It would be an even greater find if it was to reveal more about what the ancients believed would happen on that end day. We don’t have much to go on. It’s such a mystery.”

Andrew looked at the stone for a long moment before responding. “It might make it clearer that nothing at all will happen on the last day, and stop all this crazy talk.”

“Or,” Ben looked at Andrew seriously, “it might confirm the calendar’s ominous message,” Ben replied.

“We have six months to find out.”

#

Thank you Leigh! Anyone else want to play?

#Writing has made me rich… #amwriting

Writing has made me rich. No, not in money but through my characters whose lives, loves, suffering, anguish and triumphs I’ve shared.

I believe, as a fiction writer, we need the ability to take a breath, close our eyes and become our characters, just for a moment.

In this way, one can step into a scene, see and experience things as if you are living it yourself. You can picture your surroundings with complete clarity, respond in conversation, act and react to events and feel emotions.

Being a writer has made me a better person. My own life is pretty darn great but I’ve also experienced amazing things through my characters. I’ve been an archaeologist, fallen into a tomb and discovered great things. I’ve been alone, in a world devoid of people, seen horror, suffered trauma and found love.

All in my imagination.

Writing has made me rich.

Lisa Flaus

Author: 2012 The Final Revelation

Welcome 2012!

Happy New Year everyone!

I have been watching peoples 2012 resolutions so thought I’d set some of my own.

My biggest challenge this year is to complete the sequel to my novel, 2012 The Final Revelation.

It is a mammoth task. My first novel took 6 years from concept to publication and my goal is to have the sequel done by December, 2012. Eeekkk…

Completing this, on top of a busy full time job, blogs, twitter (which I love) and promotional work, will make things difficult.

The good news is I have completed five chapters and know the story, albeit a few gaps in my thinking.

In preparation, I’ve cleared my house of HALF its content. Radical! I’ve cleaned it ceiling to floor, washed every item and given an amazing amount of it to charity.

I have no distractions, no clutter and no noise. The house is bare and I can now focus.

My 2012 resolutions are:

  • Spend more time with my family and friends
  • Do not bring “work” home every night and weekend
  • Eat healthy (that’s a funny one…)
  • Go for a walk every night
  • Be a good writing buddy to Amber Craig
  • Write, write, edit and write until the book is finished.

Have you set 2012 resolutions? What are you planning? Let me know and I’ll nag you from time to time! 😉

Love Lisa

I’m a library book! Whoop Whoop!

SPAM vs Promotion #writetip #amwriting

I am a letterbox SPAMophobic! (Is there even such a word?) I have a NO JUNK MAIL sign displayed. It wasn’t only the constant stream of “buy me, buy me now!” mail I used to receive that made me put that sign up. It’s the fact that I would nearly weep when I had to throw away a vast amount of papers, flyers and pamphlets!

PAPER WASTAGE = Cut down trees 

It really did wind me up!

I can handle twitter spam. It’s not so bad. I can just choose to ignore it and it doesn’t waste paper 😉  The truth is that many of the people I follow on facebook or twitter are also first time, or experienced writers trying to sell their product and that’s okay with me. I often go and have a look. I’m a reader too, so I’m interested in other peoples work.

There are examples of novels that have caught my eye through tweets. Their messages worked for the author because I purchased! But why did I? It was because of the genre, the description, the cover or the author. The person is really interesting, fun and engages with me. I like them. That makes me interested in their work, so I buy the book.

However, from some, I receive the same message over and over again. My Facebook and Twitter walls are a stream of advertising. If these posts becomes too much, I simply un-follow them (twitter) or unlike their page (Facebook). Mostly, I tolerate these commercial interludes, as interspersed in their “I have written a book – go buy it” messages, are inspiring, funny and moving posts that I enjoy reading.

So my problem is, as a first time author, I now also have a product to sell

“Oh no,” I gasp in horror  😮

What do I do? I can’t spam. It goes against the grain. I can’t cope doing it. I don’t like it. It’s just not me.

I spam and then I can’t stand myself!

So, how does someone like me then sell their own product?

I have tried a couple of techniques:

  • SPAM – I feel guilty and barf into a paper bag.
  • Don’t bother, the book will sell itself. Mmm mm, yeah right!  There is no doubt about it, talking about my book definitely increases sales.

Anyone out there who is currently writing a novel will have to face this when your own book is published. There are some things I have learnt along the way:

  1. Don’t spam the same message over and over – it just annoys people. Vary the messages promoting your book as much as possible not just repeat the same one. Once your followers have seen it once, they don’t want to see it another 100 times.
  2. Be interesting and show people the real you, so they want to follow you and hear what you have to say about life, and not continuous spam about your product.
  3. All writers, traditional or self-published, need to find that unique marketing factor, and target the right audience with the right message. OK, so twitter makes it impossible to target just some of your followers, but point 2 addresses this, in that you can provide something for all of the people who follow you. In my case, my 11:11 fetish, writing experiences, my interest in 2012 and just being my normal silly self.
  4. The main thing I have learnt is that, at the end of the day, when people tweet about a book, I want to know “What’s in it for me?” “If I’m going to pay money for something then how will reading this book benefit me?” “Does the subject interest me?” “Does the writer interest me?”

Let’s look at point 4 a little closer. How about I change my marketing plan and think through the eyes of the consumer:

  • The story took many years to write and has been professionally edited. It is 124,000 words, 39 chapters, 220 pages – Value for money
  • It is a unique telling of a familiar topic – 2012, archaeological discovery, end of mankind, apocalypse based story – Originality
  • It contains factual, interesting information about the Maya civilization,  Maya Calendar, archaeology, solar system, 2012, religion, survival – Knowledge building
  • The genre is wide, a combination of thriller, mystery with an underlying love story. It is set in New Zealand, Palenque, New Yorkand Mexico City– Suitable for a wide audience
  • Hope reins supreme and our human will and ability to survive is paramount. Even in our darkest hour the light is always there. It describes how people suffer grief and survive through it – Inspirational  
  • There are some good Amazon reviews up (thank goodness!) – Reviews

Now I have to figure out how I convey these messages to people, only using 140 twitter characters. Any ideas? As a follower of authors (or other marketers), what tweets catch your eye? What makes you interested in their products?

If you are a writer, either published or about to publish your own book, what are your techniques and marketing plans? Do they work for you?

Have you thought about your own consumer or customer and how your product will meet their needs?

Meanwhile, I think I’ll do a tweet about my cat. She’s really funny 😉

Lisa 🙂

Author Interview: L Carroll

This is a repeat of an interview Amber and I recently did for our blog, authors block.

I loved the novel Lor Mandela: Destruction from Twins (5 stars!!) and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to ask author L Carroll some questions about her writing experiences and the new book in the series, Four Hundred Days.

Lisa, thank you for joining me on my blog.

 Thanks so much for having me and for your support on the “Four Hundred Hours to Four Hundred Days” tour!

 1. What first inspired you to become a writer?

Well, I’ve always enjoyed writing, but never in a million years did I think I was going to be doing it professionally. About seven or eight years ago I had a dream which I thought would make a great movie or book. As I pondered the dream, I thought, “I wonder if I could write a book.” That was how it all started.

2. For your first novel, Lor Mandela: Destruction from Twins, did you outline a story board first, or write and see where the story took you?

Have you heard the expression, “You just throw a bunch of mud at the wall and see what sticks”? This accurately describes how DFT came together. In the beginning there was no outline to speak of, and I’m sure that’s the main reason it took so long to write.

Funny Story… My family and I are in the process of moving right now, and I just packed up my office. In it, I came across a box stuffed to the rim with old “Destruction from Twins” chapters that never made it into the book.

Needless to say, “Four Hundred Days” was thoroughly outlined BEFORE I started writing.

3. Can you tell meabout that light bulb moment when the story first came to you? Or, was it more of a gradual development?

“Destruction from Twins” was one of those light bulb moments, for sure. The bulb popped on when I had the dream that I mentioned before. Chapter sixteen in DFT, “The Journal of Kahlie” is the written version of that dream.

However, “Four Hundred Days” falls into the gradual development classification. It began its progression even when I was still writing DFT, and continued almost until its last chapter. My original outline ended up being pretty close to the actual story, but there were definitely some last minute plot tweaks along the way.

4. How did you come up with the title(s)?

I tend to do this weird thing when I write. I pick a random letter from the alphabet, and then sort of invent a word in my head. That’s how the title of the series, “Lor Mandela” came to be. It wasn’t my only choice, though. I wanted the name of this beautiful, distant planet to sound somewhat ethereal and mysterious. Using my “pick a letter, any letter” method, I came up with about…oh…maybe half a dozen names that, to me, sounded otherworldly & then wrote them all out side by side. Lor Mandela was the one that sounded the best, and looked the best in print.

As to the names of the books themselves, “Destruction from twins and so it must end,” is the first line of the prophetic riddle, the Advantiere, which runs throughout the book. The name “Destruction from Twins” didn’t come about, though, until the book was in the final stages of editing. Up until then it’d been called, “Lor Mandela & the Trysta Advantiere”, but I decided that it was probably not a good idea to have a title where the only discernible word in the English language was the word “the”.

“Four Hundred Days”, started out as “2121”, but — as it turned out — the number 2121 didn’t even end up being a part of the book. Once you read 400, you’ll have a pretty clear idea as to why the title is what it is.

5. One of the first things that drew us to your book is the stunning cover picture. Is that model anyone you know or was it designed for you?

Thank you! Actually, the cover of DFT was designed by Trisha Fitzgerald, a very talented graphic designer inGermany. When she sent back the original proof it featured a girl who looked quite a bit younger, and who didn’t really have the look I was going for. I ended up hunting down the picture of the girl who is currently on the cover at a stock photo repository — so, no. I don’t know her, but I think it might be fun to meet her someday.

6. Do you have any interesting writing quirks you could share with us? 

Oh…too many to list! I’ll just tell you about the two writing quirks (or rituals) that I have.

First, I have to be in a good mood when I write. I’m not sure why, but even when I’m writing the dark stuff, I have to be up, up, UP! If I’m grouchy or bummed about something, I own a goofy pair of glasses that I force myself to slip on. They’re these awful white, plastic, pointy things, with rhinestones all over them, and no lenses. All I have to do is look in the mirror or confront one of my kids while I’m wearing the “crazy lady glasses”, and joviality is sure to follow!

The other thing I do is act out scenes. I start each writing session by re-reading the last chapter I wrote, and then acting out the next one. This helps me visualize the scene, and helps make it more real when I write it. I’m a horrible actress, though, so I try to avoid being seen. Unfortunately, I get caught by someone or another in my house more often than not!

7. How long did it take you to write Lor Mandela: Destruction from Twins VS Four Hundred Days? Was it faster to write the sequel? Do you feel you learnt from your experience writing the first book?

Destruction from Twins took almost six years from start to finish. (Eek!)

When I first started writing, I was working as a District Manager for a large home furnishings retailer, overseeing 10+ stores, and putting in 60-80 hours a week, so there wasn’t much time for writing. Not only that, but — as I said before — I really didn’t have a plot to follow. Then, about four and a half years into the process, I was forced to retire due to an illness and suddenly found myself with many unoccupied hours. It was then that I really dove in, came up with an outline for the remaining chapters, and went to work on DFT. From that point, I finished in about eighteen months.

“Four Hundred Days” only took a total of fourteen months, and was much easier to write! Like I said…for me, the outline was crucial. Also, after having gone through the editing process with the first book, I was on the look out for mistakes as I went along. This produced a far more polished final manuscript. When it came back from editing, there were just tiny adjustments to be made, so I must be getting better…at least grammatically!

8. We recently wrote a blog about “writers block”. Have you ever experienced that and, if so, how did you keep yourself focused and get back on track?

Fortunately, I don’t experience writer’s block all that often. For me, when it does happen, it usually is caused by one of the following: lack of sleep; a self-imposed deadline; or life’s little stresses. When it’s lack of sleep, there’s nothing that fixes it, except, of course, sleep. After a good night’s rest or a nap, (yes, I do nap in the middle of the day sometimes), the ideas usually start to pop back into my head.

As far as the other stresses go, I have two methods. One, I take a bath. Some of my best ideas come to me while I’m relaxing in a nice warm tub! And two, I write anyway. If I can get the basics of the next chapter down, I can tweak the words later—once they are flowing nicely again. Often, just having a rough (or even a VERY rough) draft is enough to jump-start my brain. At any rate, I try not to freak out about it too much. I believe that panicking only makes writer’s block worse!

9. Who is your favourite character to write about and why?

Definitely Lortu… He’s creepy, mysterious, and can disappear and reappear in shadow. Plus, he has traits that make him more animalistic than human, he rules a massive clan of nearly lawless Shadow Dwellers, and you never quite know whether he’s the good guy, or the bad guy.

10. We look forward to your upcoming book Four Hundred Days. Can you share anything about it with us?

Sure! Here’s a brief synopsis:

“Four Hundred Days” follows Audril Borloc, the heiress to the Lor Mandelan throne, as she disobeys her father the High Ruler, and sneaks away to Earth to save one of her dearest friends from an evil tyrant. Her journey takes her to the haunted cells of Alcatraz Penitentiary; a creepy abandoned sawmill in the Midwest; and back to Lor Mandela, where she learns that sometimes friends can turn out to be enemies, foes can become allies, and just because someone dies, it doesn’t always mean that their dead.

11. Where can we buy the books from?

These are the links for “Destruction from Twins”.  “Four Hundred Days”, will be available on July 15th at both CreateSpace.com and Smashwords.com, and will be available on Amazon, B&N, and a bunch of other websites about 2-3 weeks after that.

In paperback off Amazon or here off CreateSpace and available in ebooks formats here off Smashworlds and Barnesandnoble.

Lor Mandela

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions. Destruction from Twins is a fantastic read and I can’t wait to read Four Hundred Days!!!

BRING IT ON!!!

Lisa 🙂