And Life Goes On

A year ago I announced that my book series, Soul Broker, had been picked up for publication by Fantasy Works Publishing. Almost two months ago, the first book in the series, Soulless, officially hit the market.Celebrations were had, emotions ran high, and I was elevated to the pantheon of published authors, drinking ambrosia from the chalice of adulation. I quit my job, bought a house and hired a band to follow me around playing “Eye of The Tiger” as my own personal theme song.

Except…nope.

Despite childhood dreams to the contrary, most authors don’t get to quit their jobs, sit back and collect boatloads of royalties. I knew this going in, so I wasn’t surprised by it. I was well aware that as an unknown, first-time author, my book wasn’t going to propel me into the upper echelon of society and literary notoriety.

My life now is more or less the same as it was back then. I still have a day job, I am still blissfully married and still proud as hell at everything my son does. And I still write. The toil never gets any easier, it just gets grittier and the scars get deeper. I’m currently working on book two, while simultaneously deflecting questions from well meaning loved ones who constantly ask me whether I’ve made it rich yet (as if making it rich was ever one of my goals. I never believed financial success to be an accurate measure of a person’s worth).

I tell them no, and try to explain that it’s a process that needs to build over time, and that I never expected fame. Quite the opposite. If you’ve read any of my former posts, you’ll probably know that I am a social coma victim, and talking about my work with anyone ranks on same level to me as waterboarding. That’s something else that hasn’t changed.

The only thing that has changed is that now when people ask, “Hey what have you been up to?” I must adhere to the publishing contract that I signed in blood, and shamelessly–and very clumsily–reply with some variation of, “Oh, not much, just working on (insert current chapter here), and trying to make sure (insert random character here)’s voice is the same as it was in the first book. This usually prompts them to question what I’m talking about–or they ignore me–and that prompts me to try to sound nonchalant–which I define as not being a stuttering, sweaty mess–when I explain to them that I have published a book and am working on the sequel to said published book. Sometimes they ask for the name of said book, and sometimes they shrink away like Homer Simpson dissolving into the hedges to avoid Ned Flanders.giphy

If the former happens, I give them the name of the book, hope for a sale, and cease all further communication because I actually have to write book two. They walk away thinking I’m a conceited jerk because I have yet to develop proper social etiquette, and properly never will.

And that’s my life now in a nutshell. Not much different than it was before. Maybe it’ll stay like that forever, with me enjoying my craft while sharing it with the masses. Maybe my stories will one day hit it big, and I’ll be a household name (shivers in terror over that thought). In the meantime, life goes on, and that is great, because I am still working to improve, and grateful for my break. If it goes no further, I’ll still be happy every time I see a good review, because it means that someone had an enjoyable experience reading my book.

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Author Spotlight: Kristin D. Van Risseghem

Hello everyone. As the title strongly implies, I’m doing an author spotlight today on Kristin D. Van Risseghem’s second book, The Passage, A Dance, & a Little White Dress, (An Enlighten Series Novel). It is set to be released April 13th, 2016. Below you’ll find more information about her latest book and about Kristin herself, as well as links for purchase. There’s even a link to a giveaway at the bottom. Please check it out and enjoy.

Synopsis:

It’s been a week since 17-year old Zoe Jabril found out her best friend is a Guardian Angel, her boyfriend is a Nephilim, and a fellow classmate is a Fairy. What makes Zoe so special? She’s destined to unify Enlightens to battle evil—that is, if Demons don’t kill her first.

With ‘Project: Enlightens Unite’ underway, Zoe learns the history of the area wolf pack and realizes she’s in a race against time to get her newly discovered talents under control. Despite struggling to fight a mysterious attraction to her new neighbor, rescue her boyfriend from Demons, and travel into Fairyland to convince the Summer King to join the fight, Zoe must still attend high school classes so her nosy parents don’t suspect anything is out of the ordinary before Demons can mount another attack.

Zoe will need all the help she can get, from the most unlikely of sources, if she’s to save her boyfriend’s life and prevent the Devil from escaping Hell on her eighteenth birthday.

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Chapter 1 Excerpt:
ZOE

Last night, a friend of mine rose from the dead—and I was the one who brought her back. So I guess . . . I’m an angel. Or, at least most of my friends think I am.
Even wrapped tightly in the arms of my favorite oversized PINK hoodie, I shivered. It was chilly for mid-April while sitting on my front porch with the sun just coming over the horizon, but that wasn’t where the tremor had come from.
I glanced up, startled by the high-pitched squealing of truck brakes that rang above the music playing from my iPod. The truck turned into the cul-de-sac and careened straight into the next door neighbors’ driveway. What made it really strange was the house had been empty since last October. I could still see the top of the “For Sale” sign on the manicured front lawn. I pulled out my cell phone to text my boyfriend, Shay.

Me: Good morning!

As I waited for a response, a gray uniformed driver open his door and climbed down. He walked to the back of the truck; then multiple doors slammed.
“This furniture goes into the living room on the main level,” a man said.
I didn’t particularly want to be a nosy neighbor, but I couldn’t help myself. I eased higher on the top step, hoping to get a look at the man who seemed to be in charge. His back was to me, so all I could tell was he had short blond hair. He glanced down at something then looked back up, turned, and pointed toward a number of other, smaller trucks in the cul-de-sac parking. More uniformed men jumped out of the smaller trucks and gathered around their boss, waiting for instructions. I had no interest in watching a bunch of people move boxes, so I just stayed on the step and waited for my best friend, Kieran, and Shay.

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Website | Amazon | Nook | Smashwords

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Author Bio:

Kristin D. Van Risseghem grew up in a small town along the Mississippi River with her parents and older sister. And after receiving a double Bachelor of Science degree from Winona State University in Paralegal and Corrections, she worked as a Paralegal for various law firms around the Twin Cities for 14 years. Then she left the legal field and is now a Senior Buyer for a technology company.

Currently, Kristin lives in Minnesota with her husband and two Calico cats. She also loves attending book clubs, going shopping, and hanging out with friends. She has come to realize that she absolutely has an addiction to purses and shoes. They are her weakness and probably has way too many of both.

In the summer months, Kristin can usually be found lounging on her boat, drinking an ice cold something. Being an avid reader of YA and Women’s Literature stories, she still finds time to read a ton of books in-between writing. And in the winter months, her main goal is to stay warm from the Minnesota cold!

Kristin’s books are published by Kasian Publishing.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway:

http://www.kristinvanrisseghem.com/blog/win-a-kindle-fire-50-amazon-gift-card-10-books-bookgiveway-enlightenseries

 

Book Release

Just a quick post to let everyone know that the day has arrived. Soulless (Book #1 of the Soul Broker Series) is up and available, with the exception of the Kindle version–which should be available shortly. Check out the links below for your preferred method of reading. And thank you all for your support.

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Amazon (Kindle):

Amazon (paperback):

Marketing Maladies

Hello everyone, I just popped on to vent a little. No, I’m not angry or anything like that, I just have an abundance of anxious energy surrounding me right now and I feel the need to channel it into something productive. What am I nervous about? Well, I’m glad that you asked. The answer is, I’m nervous about marketing my upcoming book, Soulless (due to be released on Amazon and wherever ebooks are sold on March 8th, 2016). Yes, I’m now trained to say that every time I mention the book. It’s seriously become a Pavlovian response to hearing or speaking the word, ‘Soulless,’ (due to released on Amazon and wherever ebooks are sold on March 8th 2016)–damn it!

Why am stressing this so much, one might ask? Well, it’s simple. As anyone who’s read any of my previous blogs will know, I am not exactly a social media butterfly, or even a social butterfly. I’m more like social moss because I only grow on the side of rock that no one touches or talks to. Once you add some mobility to the rock, I fall off and start anew somewhere else. Okay, so this isn’t an accurate analogy, but you get my point.

Being published by a smaller publishing company means you can’t just rely on name recognition to get your sales up. You have to share the responsibility of getting your name out there.The other day I tried talking up my book to people at work, and the results were awkward to watch and physically painful to endure. I was uncomfortable and gassy, and I couldn’t get the taste of bile out of my throat. Fine, maybe it was acid re-flux, but I blame it all on marketing.

As my release date rapidly approaches, I find that I made a huge marketing error when I chose not to publish my book under a pseudonym or pen name. I mean no one knows who Ismael Manzano is, but if I’d made up a name I could have chosen one that sounded enough like a popular author to have fooled readers into buying my book, Soulless (due to be released on Amazon and wherever ebooks are sold on March 8th, 2016).

I know it sounds crazy, but imagine you’re perusing the bookshelves or the internet and you stumble across a “NEW RELEASE” by Steven King? Or J.R Kowling? Or George-George R. Martin? If you blink or just don’t pay close enough attention, you’ll have purchased yourself part one of my new series Soul Broker, and you’ll probably be halfway through it before you realize your mistake. The hope is that by that point, you’ll be so in love with the book that the incident goes from a clear legal case of false advertising to a comedic story about how you stumbled across your new favorite author, John Clancy.

But even if I had gone with a pen name as unheard of as my own name, the anonymity it would have offered me could have done wonders for my marketing strategy. By using my real name I’ve completely cut off a wellspring of techniques to get my name out there, like randomly talking about my new favorite writer Arthur Cross to every person I meet. They don’t have to know I’m talking about myself. Likewise, my idea for randomly throwing my business cards at people like Gambit from the X-men flies out the window because the card will lead them to my real name and information, and I wouldn’t want a bunch of strangers I’d just thrown laminated piecdes of paper at to know where they can find me. That’s just madness.

I guess, when all is said and done, I’ll just have to stick to less outlandish marketing strategies like joining writing groups and tweeting, facebooking, and just generally talking with like-minded people about my work and see if I can generate buzz about it. It seems impossible, I know, but I’m willing to give it a good go. Wish me luck, and I hope you’ll check out Soulless (due to released on Amazon and wherever ebooks are sold on March 8th 2016).

 

We Have A Cover

fullcover

Okay. Just wanted to give you all a quick update on how things are going. Unless there’s a natural disaster, some form of Ragnarok, or a ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart,’ this will be the full cover of my first novel. See, it has my name on it. No, no. It’s not a mistake. I checked. It’s really my name and it’s really going to be on the cover of a book–my book. What a coincidence, right? I’m as shocked as you all must be.

But wait! It doesn’t just end with the cover! No, it’s true. I can promise you words inside sentences, inside paragraphs, inside chapters. No I’m not kidding. It’s the damnedest thing I’d ever seen, but it’s there. Pinkie promise.

As I stated before, it becomes available on March 08th 2016. And I’ll keep everyone posted as any new updates occur.

Speaking of new updates. This just in:

Fantasy Works Publishing is opening its own Facebook group, for readers and potential readers of our work. You can get to know the wonderful authors here at FWP and the projects they’re working on. Every month we’ll have some games and giveaways, so join up and stay informed.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1674693329417893/?pnref=story

 

Crossing The Finish Line

Last year I put my foot on the literary starting line, lowered myself into position and waited for the pistol to signal it was time to run. Now, I don’t know how many months later, the famed and fabled publishing finish line is within my sight, almost close enough to touch. Just a couple of good long strides and I’m there. Victory! Applause! Confetti raining down like the blood of the enemies who stood in my path.

The fear. The worry. The griping of the guts. The sudden loss of hair.

I’m calm. I’m not panicking. I’m not. Who’s nervous? Why? What did you hear?

In simple terms, I’m nearly done with my first publication. The edits are done. The proofs are done. And my work is currently being formatted for Ebook layout, etc. Promotions will be starting soon. And I have a release date, and it’s not very far from now. March 08th, 2016. Not only is it not far, but it’s rapidly gaining on me. This is becoming a reality faster than I’d expected. I even have a hashtag (#SoulBroker). I wanted my hashtag to be #pleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplasereadmybookthankyou. But for some reason my publisher wouldn’t go for it.

So all that’s left to do is fret and fuss and drive myself nuts thinking about all the stuff I hadn’t really had the time to think about before now. I may have mentioned this before, but when I first dreamed of becoming a writer, I pictured something akin to Thoreu’s ‘Walden,’ living by a pond in the woods, with nothing but nature and my typewriter. Just me and my work and nobody else. I imagined solitude and anonymity.

Hahahaha! Boy was I wrong. Now it’s promote! Promote! Promote! It’s schedule a book signing, talk yourself up and spread the word. It’s advance read copies and amazon reviews and trying not to shudder in fear whenever you hear that someone might actually read your work.  The further along this process goes the more I contemplate purchasing land in a swamp somewhere just so I have a viable rock to hide under. But unfortunately, until I make the New York Times bestsellers’ list, I won’t have the capital to purchase said swamp, and by that time hiding underneath my comfy little rock would be pointless.

So from this moment forth, all comfort zones get expanded or utterly abandoned, and I couldn’t be more petrified. I actually think I am more worried to succeed than I am to fail. That may seem counter-intuitive, but when I think about my release date, I don’t think, “What if I don’t make any sales,” I think, “Crap, what if I do?” I guess I got into a comfortable niche in my writing where I would write a story, send it in to a company, get rejected and then go back to the same grind with another story. After a while, I got used to the cycle and now that I’ve broken out of it, I have no clue what to expect. It’s all foreign waters under a starless night. If there’s a waterfall up ahead, will I even see it? Probably not, but in the end, it’s probably better  than being stuck in a loop for the rest of my life. So here’s hoping for a safe landing.  I hope everyone will take that journey with me.

And for those of you that are interested, my story, Soulless, is currently available for pre-order on amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Soulless-Soul-Broker-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01ATYM5XQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453305363&sr=1-1&keywords=9781944281083

You can also add it on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28637495-soulless?from_search=true&search_version=service

It will also be available on paperback, Nook and all other ebooks formats through Smashwords, on the aforementioned released date. That’s March 08th for those of you that don’t want to scroll back up to check.

I will keep everyone update as the book becomes available through other outlets.

Thank you everyone.

 

Author Spotlight: Ross Smeltzer

Hello everyone, I am very excited today to announce the released date for a fellow Fantasy Works Publishing author, Ross Smeltzer. This is a milestone for Ross and everyone working at Fantasy Works Publishing and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Please show your support, read the information below and add The Mark of the Shadow Grove to your must-read list. You won’t be disappointed.

The Mark of the Shadow Grove

Release Date: January 15, 2016rosscover

Synopsis:

Daughters of the gathering dusk and students of blackest spellcraft, the women of the Schermerhorn clan are enigmas made flesh. Seers for time immemorial, they are keepers of primeval knowledge.

They are wise in the ways of the Old Religion.

And they are destroyers of men.

Do the women of the Schermerhorn clan drive the men they encounter to their destruction? Or are their actions governed by specters on the periphery of human consciousness?

The Schermerhorn women will soon learn what dwells in the oldest books and what lurks in the flickering shadows beyond the candlelight.

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Excerpt:

I saw her close to the fire. I approached her. Instinct—animal’s blood—controlled my fatigued limbs and I felt no fear, though the flames blazed high and the hilltop was forlorn; the night was black as deep water . . . She turned and approached me. “There are no masters here. Only you and me,” she said.

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Fantasy Works Publishing | Amazon | Smashwords

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Author Bio: Raised in Chatham, New York, a small town in the Berkshires that looks like the setting for a Washington Irving story, Ross grew up surrounded by overgrown woodlands and tumbled-down, derelict farmhouses. He grew up with an awareness that the past was omnipresent, a slyly pervasive power and a subtle influence on the present.

Ross now lives in Dallas, Texas with his patient and endlessly supportive wife, a hopelessly brainless terrier, and an alarmingly unhinged cat. Ross works as a social studies teacher but writes fiction whenever he gets a chance. Sadly, he seems capable only of crafting stories of the weirdest kind. His imagination—apparently corrupted in adolescence by Hawthorne, Bierce, Machen, Lovecraft, and assorted other misanthropes, weirdos, and purveyors of high strangeness—can only manufacture demented little yarns.

Ross’s fiction has appeared repeatedly in Bewildering Stories magazine, Quantum Fairy Tales, and Enchanted Conversation, an online fairy tale magazine.

Find Ross here:

Website: http://fantasyworkspublishing.com/ross-smeltzer.html

Twitter: @RossTellsTales