Author Olivia Boler

writing is fun

Archive for the ‘Publishing’ Category

March 9th, 2014 by Olivia Boler

First Post of 2014 (Yeah, I Know It’s March)

Oh blog, I did not mean to forsake you. Simply, I have been busy avoiding you. Do I offend?

Whine time: Busy with freelance work, busy (sometimes, not often enough) writing or editing “real” work, family emergency, shepherding our 25-year-old cat to his next plane of existence, PTA, kids, blah blah blah.

But lately: I might have a piece or two in a new anthology due out in the near future. Exciting! Possibly a poem and/or a personal essay-story-memoir thing. More details soon…

And…

I might edit a friend’s picture book. (We’ll see. It’s nice to be asked.)

And…

A 6th grader might interview me  for a school assignment as I wear my Published Author hat…

And…

 The Flower Bowl Spell will soon be featured on the awesome online magazine Underground Book Reviews. I am too excited! They only review one book a week, so, whether it winds up being a positive review or a critical one, it’s nice to know they’re selective.

Seems more folks are checking out my blog, including those around the proverbial water cooler. One person asked me about progress on my latest project (which feels like a cracking of the whip), and another asked for advice about publishing his personal story with the help of a professional author. (It’s a juicy one. The story, not the author.) All of this means I need to be more on the ball with ye olde blogge.

And…here I am, rolling it along.

Happy Daylight Savings, folks! Must hup-two.

May 3rd, 2013 by Olivia Boler

ForeWord Reviews & Me

I’ve been writing reviews for ForeWord Reviews magazine for about 100 years, ever since they were kind enough to write a nice review of my first novel, Year of the Smoke Girl. I’ve since moved on to writing for their offshoot, Clarion, and have become a de facto poetry reviewer. I’ve always admired poetry, have lots of friends who are poets, but am myself not a master (or mistress) of the genre.

This week, the Executive Editor of ForeWord Reviews, Howard Lovy, featured me in his weekly newsletter. To see it click here.

 

foreword cover 2

 

Yay, fun! And Happy May.

 

January 25th, 2013 by Olivia Boler

Happy Anniversary Giveaway!

 

My Book—My Kindle

One year ago, I uploaded my novel The Flower Bowl Spell to Smashwords. It quietly “went live,” and I was the first person to download it. How thrilling to see it on my iPad amongst my other books! The next day, I put it on Amazon, and bought it a second time, this time for my Kindle. Wow! There it was amongst Little Women and The Passage. What a trip!

To celebrate, I’m hosting a Giveaway, powered by Rafflecopter. One lucky winner will get a $25 Amazon gift card. Answer one question to enter. Like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, tweet about the giveaway, and/or buy a copy of my book for more chances to win. The raffle closes on February 10, 2013, which happens to be Chinese New Year’s day. Click here now to enter for your chance to win.

By the way, this coming year is the Year of the Serpent. “Steady focus and attention to detail” will be the name of the game according to HanBan.com. Sounds like a plan.

January 9th, 2013 by Olivia Boler

The Next Big Thing

Happy 2013! This post is a chain self-interview about my next book project. I’ve read the blog chain started on She Writes a few months ago. My author pal Dina Santorelli tapped me to take part, and I want to thank her for thinking of me. In return, I’ve asked my writer friends Siobhan Fallon and Roger Colby to post their own interviews next week, so be sure to check out their answers.

  1. What is your working title of your book (or story)?
    I have a few irons in the fire including a short story collection, an upmarket women’s fiction novel, and a sequel to The Flower Bowl Spell. I’ll talk about that even though it’s in the crappy first draft stage. The working title is The Flower Bowl Ghost.
  2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
    The idea comes from my first book about Memphis Zhang, The Flower Bowl Spell. She’s an intriguing character, and there were some unanswered questions in the first book. I think it’ll be fun to find out what happens next.
  3. What genre does your book fall under?
    Good question! I guess it falls under urban fantasy, although I’m not really sure. It’s too plot-driven to be magic realism, I suppose.
  4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
    A fun thought. I think Memphis could be played by Olivia Munn. Bradley Cooper could be Cooper! (Kismet!) Harry Shum, Jr. would be fantastic as Tyson.
  5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
    A young, powerful San Francisco witch discovers her dark side—and likes it.
  6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
    Self-published.
  7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
    Um, too long? But I was able to get it all out with the help of NaNoWriMo last November.
  8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
    A Discovery of Witches, the Sookie Stackhouse series.
  9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
    My fount of inspiration bubbled up from my Wiccan research. I wanted to get to know that culture beyond what I had seen in TV shows and books. Then I decided to write my own fictional account of a Wiccan. It seemed fun, and it was!
  10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
    I published The Flower Bowl Spell almost a year ago as an e-book and then later as a paperback. To celebrate the upcoming first anniversary, I’m planning a giveaway. Stay tuned!
October 26th, 2012 by Olivia Boler

Been There Done That: The Agent Search Revisited

I’m starting the quest for an agent again. Why would I do this to myself? Why would I endure this agony? This time, I’m looking for representation for a children’s chapter book I drafted over the summer. I won’t say too much about it (no jinxies, please), except that I think it has a shot, yet I can’t really say why. And that’s why—it’s been said, but I’ll say it again!—authors should not be relied upon to promote their own work!

Someone I know and respect in the biz read my query letter and said I need to point out what makes my book special. What makes it different from all the other children’s chapter books out there? At the same time, how is it similar? Why would kids want to read it, and why would a publisher want to buy it? What’s commercial about it?

This is the stuff that drives me crazy and makes me want to call it quits. I went for a walk/errand-run this afternoon, which is often how I work things out that are bugging me. But my brain is tired. I imagine what it would look like if I got an MRI. There would be this dark, dead zone where creativity and problem solving happen. I’m pretty sure of it.

I should try to end this post on a positive note, so I’ll put this out there: Maybe all I need is a nap.

Go, Giants!

August 13th, 2012 by Olivia Boler

Holding Pattern

Ever since I got back from a week of camping (bliss: no cell phone or Wi-Fi access!), I haven’t been writing, or promoting, or much of anything. I’ve been reading, trying to find a book that will hold my attention and get me jazzed, but that’s been tough too. As far as writing goes, I’m at a bit of a standstill. I finished a draft of a children’s chapter book, and my first readers (my kid and the husband) gave it a thumbs up. My writing group will critique it later this week, and I’m going to a workshop in a couple of weeks at Book Passage with Amy Novesky, so I hope to get some good insight there as well.

What I Did on Summer Vacation
What I Did on Summer Vacation

Here’s the brutal truth: sales have slowed way down on The Flower Bowl Spell. I know I can only hold myself responsible for that. Most sales have been to friends, family, and the occasional acquaintance. I doubt a total stranger has bought the book (not counting the freebies downloaded during E-book Week on Smashwords back in March). If I could “break in” to the stranger market—sounds weird, I know—then maybe sales would take off. But for now, I’m dialing back promotion because it hasn’t really paid off. I did two blog tours this summer, working my butt off writing guest blog posts and answering interview questions and visiting the host blogs. Yet there wasn’t a pick-up in book sales.

Consequently, at this point I can’t justify the cost (editing, book cover) it would take to put out a second book. I’m in a wait-and-see mode. A holding pattern.
Part of this limbo has to do with my non-author life. My kids are about to head back to school, which means soon there will be more of a routine in place for us all (although more stress as we navigate homework and after-school activities, among other things). Another part is my freelance-writer life, and thank goodness it’s alive and kicking to help with the bills, etc.

Things are bound to change—of course I want to put out a second book! Most likely it will be a short-story collection, because that’s what is the most ready and polished. I also hope to query agents about the children’s chapter book sooner than later. I would love for it to be out there, published by a traditional press that can support it as a series.

We shall see. Time will tell. It always does.

July 18th, 2012 by Olivia Boler

Writing Dangerously

Marissa Mayer’s new job has been front-page stuff the past few days. If you happen to live in a cave, Mayer is the new CEO and President of Yahoo!, having been poached from her Google post. I know pretty much nothing more about her except that she’s photogenic, she’s 37, she wears pretty ball gowns to gala openings at old-school venues like the San Francisco Ballet or Opera, and she must be (this is my assumption because I have yet to Google her, ha ha) pretty damn smart. She’s also 6 months pregnant with her first baby, due in October, and today’s NPR brouhaha was about whether she’ll be fit to run Yahoo! while on maternity leave and in the months after that. Why not ask about her fitness now? I was already getting mushy in the head with my first pregnancy as I noted in a San Francisco Chronicle Magazine article way back when. Anyway, I wish her all the best. And I wish she’d fund my next book project.

Marissa Mayer headshot

Speaking of, a couple of days ago, I decided to try to raise money to write for one night this coming November at the NaNoWriMo Night of Writing Dangerously. A nice person posted about it on one of the stops of my Bewitching Book Tour, so I did a little research. Since it takes place in San Francisco, looks like there’s some nice swag, and seems non-intimidating and fun, I thought, what the hey? Plus, if I can get you lovely people to help me raise the money to go (all proceeds are plowed back into NaNoWriMo’s non-profit do-goodery The Office of Letters and Light), that would be the cat’s pajamas, or whatever the saying is. If you’re interesting in sponsoring me, click here and thank you in advance.

In the meantime, there are a few stops left on my Bewitching Blog Tour. Go here to see the schedule and please tell your friends.

Question of the day: Can today’s working mom have it all? What is “it” anyway?

June 20th, 2012 by Olivia Boler

Back from the Writers’ Conference

Last week, I attended the Book Passage Children’s Writers & Illustrators Conference in Corte Madera, California. I can’t even beginning to express how much I got out of this. I went as a lark, to be honest—I “won” the spot by bidding on it at my daughter’s school’s silent auction fundraiser in the spring. The timing of the conference was actually tough—we had already planned my son’s birthday party for that weekend and I had to miss his preschool’s year-end party. Plus I was in the first week of my ABG Reads Book Blog Tour. But is there ever really the perfect time for such things? Not in my world.

YA and picture book author Andrea Alban

So I went to the conference without any expectations or any preparation. I didn’t know any of the faculty except for one agent and Annie Barrows, an author whose Ivy & Bean series my daughter loves (so do her parents—it’s very readable for an adult audience). I have the beginning sh*tty first draft of a young adult prequel to The Flower Bowl Spell, and since there were workshops on YA, I felt completely justified in going. As it turns out Kristen Tracy‘s workshop on writing the beginning of a YA novel was so helpful, I can barely stand it! And Annie Barrows’ insights into the minds of middle grade readers (ages 8 to 11 according to most experts), got me thinking about writing my own middle grade/first chapter book. In fact, I started drafting one yesterday!

Children's Book Editors Joanne Chan Taylor and Dana Goldberg

In addition, there were picture book authors and illustrators, as well as editors and agents. I missed all  of the agent panels due to my son’s party. Andy Ross and I exchanged index cards during a writing exercise run by Lissa Rovetch. Mine read, “Styron—chartreuse—teacher—sadness.” His had “Frank—green—financial analyst—greed.” Go ponder that. I was kind of bummed to miss the talk on self-publishing and promotion through social networking and tweeting. I did ask the advice of Kathryn Otoshi, a self-published picture book author/illustrator, about balancing her time, and she broke it down very practically into a kind of mental pie chart of 24 hours. How much do I need for sleep, eating, family, work, errands, and how much is left over for me? What then, of that time, will I use for my writing and what for promo? So basic, but that’s what makes hearing it so great.

And really, that’s what the conference was all about. I’ve written fiction seriously for 20 years. I know a lot of this stuff about the craft of writing, the ineffable stuff, the nuts and bolts stuff. But sometimes, it’s good to pay attention to what methods work for others. It’s a recharge of the creative batteries. And I even made some new friends.

 

June 12th, 2012 by Olivia Boler

The Flower Bowl Spell By Olivia Boler.wmv – YouTube

The Flower Bowl Spell By Olivia Boler.wmv – YouTube.

June 2nd, 2012 by Olivia Boler

Debut Author Dina Santorelli

My relationship with author Dina Santorelli is a shining example of the ways online social network can be awesome. I “met” Dina—though we’ve never been in the same room together and actually haven’t heard each others voices—through author Siobhan Fallon. I’ve become a huge fan of Dina’s blog, and I’m actually in the middle of reading her debut novel, the thriller Baby Grand. My Kindle has been glued to my hands in fact, but I pried it away for a few moments in order to post this interview.

Title of book, publisher, pub date: Baby Grand (Stonesong, May 23, 2012)

Dina Santorelli

Author bio: Dina Santorelli is a freelance writer/editor who has worked for many print and online publications, such as Newsday, First for Women, and CNNMoney.com. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and her blog. Baby Grand, her first novel, is available on Amazon.

Give us your elevator pitch—What is this book about? In Albany, New York, the governor’s infant daughter disappears without a trace from her crib at the Executive Mansion. Hours later, newly divorced and down-and-out writer Jamie Carter is abducted from the streets of Manhattan. Jamie is whisked upstate, where she is forced by her captor, Don Bailino, an ex-war hero/successful businessman, to care for the kidnapped child in a plot to delay the execution of mobster Gino Cataldi – the sixth man to be put to death in six years by hardliner Governor Phillip Grand. What prevails is a modern-day thriller about family ties, loyalty, murder, betrayal, and love that’s told in deftly interweaving narratives that follow the police investigation of the missing Baby Grand, the bad guys who take her, and the woman who finds the strength to protect her.

What makes this book amazing? This is a toughie. Ask my agent: I have trouble tooting my own horn. I was trained as a journalist, so I’m accustomed to being invisible. Maybe the best thing to do is offer my latest five-star rating in place of my own estimation: “BABY GRAND is a winner! Dina Santorelli’s debut novel is a wonderfully written page turner. I couldn’t put it down — This is the kind of book that keeps you reading until you can’t keep your eyes open any longer… and the first thing you grab when you wake up! The characters are well developed and the story is gripping and well-paced. This one is destined to be a blockbuster! A fabulous start!” I almost burst into tears when I read that. I’m so, so grateful that the book is being so well-received.

Who will want to read your book, and does it fit into a particular genre? It’s a thriller, for sure, but there are relationship, crime, and political aspects to the novel as well. I wrote it to appeal to a both a male and female audience. So if you’re interested in a fun, fast-paced read, this book is for you. (So much for having trouble tooting my own horn…)

Who are your writing influences and why? Michael Crichton. Tom Wolfe. Tom Clancy. John Grisham. David Baldacci. James Patterson. I’m totally hooked on the Dragon Tattoo trilogy—The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is next on my reading list. I am drawn to edge-of-your-seat stories. Thrill rides. And I always wanted to write one. Always thought I could. It’s so gratifying to finally publish a thriller—to have others enjoy it as well is more than I could have asked for.

BabyGrandcover

If you’re self-published, what made you decide to take that path? Ah, why did I self-publish? I actually wrote a blog post about this. In short, after securing an agent in January 2010, finishing Baby Grand in August of that year and editing a few times, we started sending the manuscript out to publishers last spring. By the end of the year, we had heard “no” from about 10 editors. I totally expected this. As a freelance journalist, I know that rejection is part of the writing business. What I didn’t expect was how antsy and frustrated I would feel. Although I’ve known for years that traditional publishing would be a long, arduous road, and I thought I was willing to wait it out, the explosive growth of self-publishing became very difficult to ignore. I started to question what exactly I was waiting for.

In the end, I think finding a publisher is a matter of finding someone who loves your book as much as you do, as much as your agent does. I believed that person was out there. Still do. But the question I had to ask myself was: Am I willing to wait? And the answer for me, and this book, was no.

The minute I made the decision to self-publish in January of this year, I felt as if an enormous weight had been lifted from my shoulders. One of my former professors said to me when I told her of my decision: “A wise, brave choice”—exactly the kinds of choices I have been making, or at least have tried to make, throughout my professional career. As I told my agent, “Let’s just do it!”

What’s the best thing about publishing? The people. I’ve been a writer for more than 20 years, and along the way I’ve met such incredibly smart and generous individuals, many of whom have become good friends.

What’s the hardest thing about publishing? Without a doubt, marketing. Trying to get noticed in a sea of traditionally published and self-published titles. You’re not a needle in a haystack. You’re a needle somewhere on the planet. Google Earth would have trouble finding you.

What are you working on now and when will readers be able to get their hands on it? I’m currently finishing up my second novel, a stand-alone thriller, tentatively titled, In the Red. I hope to have it done by the end of the summer. Then I’ll be writing the sequel to Baby Grand.

Any secrets of success you’d like to share with our reading audience? Just be yourself and trust yourself. For me, it all comes down to what FEELS right. And that’s the path I usually choose. That little voice inside hasn’t let me down yet.

Anything else you’d like to add—words of wisdom? If you want to be a writer—I mean, really want to be a writer—you should never give up, never call it quits, never take no for an answer. Believe in yourself and your abilities. My husband—my wonderfully level-headed, pragmatic husband—likes to say, “Dina, be serious, you can believe and believe and believe, but the truth is that not everyone is going to become a successful novelist.” My answer to that? Well, somebody will. And who’s to say that somebody won’t be me? Or you?

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