Collaboration and a New Fantasy Collection

Get Sixfold Fantasy: A Collection of Six Complete Novels now on Amazon!

“Group projects” was the most dreaded phrase a professor could utter in college classes. In professional settings, it’s “teambuilding exercises.” Ick. Then, in interviews there’s the loaded question, “do you prefer working independently or in a group?”

It’s situations like that and the general assumption that I’m an introvert that made me think that collaboration was probably not for me. But then I thought of how much I enjoy being on sports teams, and that one time in high school when my BFFs and I tried to start a girl group like the Spice Girls. I’m still embarrassed that we sang in front of a couple musical artists we met, expecting to get discovered. It didn’t work out, in case you’re wondering. But we sure looked cute in our matching outfits.

The fact is, I do like bringing people together. I’m not the most organized person, but I’m enthusiastic and open-minded, and that’s something. And although I’m cautious in making decisions, I am an oldest child, which I thinks make me a little bossy naturally. That attitude resulted in this collaboration project I’m excited to announce—a fantasy box set I put together with friends and fellow Chanticleer award winners!

This six-book set includes:

  1. Flowerantha by me
  2. How to Set the World on Fire by T.K. Riggins, which has won several awards now (and counting), including the Chanticleer Grand Prize for fantasy.
  3. Into the Flames by Jessie Sanders, coming in with many positive reviews! I’m looking forward to checking this one out.
  4. The Queen and Knights of Nor by R.L. Stelzer, which was a Chanticleer first-in-category winner for middle-grade readers.
  5. Through the Mountains by Malinda Andrews, my friend, first reader, and author of many great reads in a variety of genres. I couldn’t imagine doing something fantasy-related without her!
  6. Rebels and Fools by David Michael Williams, a new writing friend Malinda and I met at the Lakefly Conference.

While each story is in the fantasy or urban fantasy category, they range in age group from middle grade to new adult—something for every young or young-at-heart reader of fantasy!

This collection is available NOW on Amazon!

This isn’t the only collaboration idea I have either! I would love to do some co-writing in the future, possibly with my local writers’ group. We’ve toyed with the idea of writing a book together, each taking a different POV, but I know we all have our own things going on at the moment. Hopefully someday! I do think our voices would blend well and make for an interesting story.

P.S. – If you know where to look, you can also find my first collaboration project buried somewhere in the web—a Hanson fan fic my bestie and I wrote when we were 14 or 15. It’s pretty classic.

Six Common Author Myths Busted

It was sweet how many non-writers I talked to called me a “famous author” after hearing about my award win, which is what sparked this blog post. If anyone was ever curious what being an author is all about, hopefully this might answer some of your questions. For those of you who do write, I bet you can identify with some of this! Let’s get to mythbusting!

MYTH 1: Awards make you rich and famous.

FACT: Probably not. What awards do is give you clout with readers and potential collaborators. I just heard a great explanation of this on The Book Marketing Show podcast. In my experience, if you’re present to receive your award, you may find yourself in the same room with some influential people. Then you just have to know how to approach them, which I talked about how not to do in my last post. If you’re looking to find an agent, having an award to list as the first line of your query can only help you.

MYTH 2: Self-publishing isn’t as legit as traditional.

FACT: I understand how this myth came to be, and I can’t blame people for thinking this. With self-publishing, it IS possible to throw up any old thing on Amazon. But since its inception, self-publishing has gotten a lot more competitive, and quality matters. Not only that, if you know where to look, you’ll find stories of indie authors all over the place who’ve been able to leave their day jobs. It’s just a matter of how you define success. At this point, self-publishing is not a last resort for people. It’s an entrepreneurial choice. If you want an agent and a traditional publishing deal, I will root for you every step of the way! I promise! For me, I’m doing this right now.

MYTH 3: Published authors are rich.

FACT: See above myths.

MYTH 4: All writers are poor.

FACT: See above myths. Many established “authorpreneurs” may also tell you that it couldn’t hurt to diversify your offerings. To give credit where its due, I’ve heard this most recently from Joanna Penn and J. Thorn. Don’t put your eggs in one basket, etc. Find something else you’re good at and offer that as a service, too, because sales are not going to be consistent every month, even if you are raking them in. Or, you know? Don’t quit your day job. There’s no shame in that. I personally like my day job.

MYTH 5: Authors have more time than other people. “I always wanted to write a book, but…”

FACT: Lulz. We all could be doing something else with our time. I admit, I consider myself lazy when it comes to writing. Here’s what I SHOULD be doing: setting my alarm for 4:30 every morning and putting in an hour of work before I hop into the shower. Here’s what I actually do: write occasionally on nights and weekends. You’re never going to find the time. Netflix will win every dang time. You have to make the time. And again, I need to take my own advice too if I ever want to publish faster.

MYTH 6: Indie publishers do EVERYTHING. Alternatively, traditionally published authors just get to write while the publisher takes care of the rest.

FACT: If you’re doing it right, the first point is definitely false. I can’t speak to the second point, but I’ve heard that publishers expect their authors to do much of their own marketing these days. As far as indies go, it’s likely you’re not good at EVERYTHING. At the very least, you’ll need someone to proofread your work. Trust me, I’m an editor (once an editor, always an editor). Most people will also hire professional editors and cover designers. Other things can also be outsourced, like formatting and book descriptions. The goal for me was always to put out a product indistinguishable from the big publishing houses’ products. I don’t know that I’m quite there yet, but that’s my goal.

What other author myths have you heard?

That One Time I Had Drinks with a Hollywood Producer

Almost Famous
From the movie ALMOST FAMOUS. Completely unrelated to the story I’m about to tell.

These are my favorite kinds of stories to hear and tell.

I’d like to think that I keep my blog relatively profesh, but there’s also the matter of writing in “my voice.” And if you’ve read Front Row, girls doing crazy stuff is definitely my voice.

There are moments in my life when I stop and think, “Is this really happening?” I actually pause and smile giddily to myself when no one’s looking because this is actually happening. Like the time I got to spend time on a band’s tour bus. Or the time I was in Hanson’s music video. This was one of those times.

I was just coming down from the high of my Chanticleer wins, so my night was already made. I wasn’t in the mindset of making professional connections–I was in the mindset of celebrating with fellow writers and industry folk. I loved life and everyone around me, and I was so excited about the couple connections I had made so far.

So when my big-deal writer friend offered me some of the whiskey she snuck in, I indulged even though I don’t actually like whiskey. It was kinda good! Then, I joined her and a bunch of other people at the awards banquet after party, where her friend, who happened to be a Hollywood producer, plopped down his credit card on the bar and offered to buy a round. I timidly slid in my order after a couple other people had, not believing that he was actually buying for me too.

My friend encouraged me to brag about my books, and she got him to give me his business card, but like I said, I wasn’t in networking mode. I was ill-prepared to sell myself. I’m sure I babbled something about…something. I chatted with my friend and people I had seen speak throughout the weekend–I was one of the cool kids! No way! I was fooling them all, haha.

I even fangirled to one of the women whose session I really enjoyed. She did not seem terribly impressed. No hard feelings. It had been a long day, and she was there to have fun too.

Eventually my friend drifted off for a bit to mingle, and the Hollywood producer and I stayed at the bar. Because what the heck else was I going to do? I was way out of my league here. Sure, a better woman could’ve faked it till she made it; and in retrospect, I kind of wished I tried harder, but I was just having a blast being a part of it all. I’m a mom. I don’t get out much anymore, mmkay?

Anyway, at one point, he asked me to tell him something real. I knew it was a test–I just knew it. So I told him something real–something only a few people know. I’m not sure if I passed the test.

That’s about all I remember for the highlights, or at least all I can talk about. All in all, although I didn’t make any professional connections that night necessarily, it was everything I wanted in a bar outing. I laughed, I had deep and tispy conversations, and I didn’t pay for any of my drinks myself. No complaints here.

I guess if there was a lesson to learn from this, it would be to always be prepared with an elevator pitch. And something real.

Until my next big adventure, whatever that may be.

Gif from Almost Famous
Or so I tell myself

Conferences and Training and Book Fairs, Oh My!

Me in traditional Floweranthan attire at the Lakefly Writers Conference – does that look like someone who could take apart an engine??

Usually I write a recap of every writers’ conference I go to, and I was originally planning to do that for the Lakefly one I attended in Oshkosh this month. I was tired when I got to the conference, and I was beyond exhausted when I left. But it was so worth it. I made a few good connections, and everyone there was so nice and pleasant. And, AND, I sold more books than I ever have at an event like that. Plus, it was very affordable compared to what I’ve paid for other conferences.

For a quick summary, I will say it was a conference that uniquely specialized in genre fiction, from what I observed. There were sessions tailored to fantasy, historical, and mystery/thriller, among others. Seeing as I don’t write much genre fiction, there wasn’t a ton there for me; but for people who do, it’s definitely something to look into. To get a better idea of the vibe, you may just want to watch the Facebook Live video below that I did from my table.

Continue reading Conferences and Training and Book Fairs, Oh My!

Excerpt from Sharnita with the Long Nails

OK, so that’s a working title. I wanted something to go with Brit with the Pink Hair (book one), which I’m not 100% sold on yet either. We shall see. Naming things is hard.

Camp NaNoWriMo last month went better than usual! I hit my goal of 25,000 words for the month of April.

Camp NaNoWriMo Stats

I’ll absolutely be participating again in July to either finish up book one or two, or start writing book three. Obviously, no decisions have been made yet. It’ll all depend on whether I make any progress between now and then. Maybe I’ll give JuNoWriMo a shot too?

My goal is to be ready to publish book one by the end of the year. If I say that here, hopefully that’ll make it official.

Anyway, to the words! This is the moment Mike and Sharnita finally meet.

Continue reading Excerpt from Sharnita with the Long Nails