Author Olivia Boler

writing is fun
December 5th, 2012

NaNoWriMo+Strep=Winner

I am recovering from strep throat, which is why I’m late in celebrating my NaNoWriMo win. Hurray! I actually finished on November 28, hitting 50,003 words in a strep fever. So you know those words are brilliant, right? Right.

Anyway, gotta crow, so here’s my winner’s badge:

NaNo Winner-180x180

What next?

Well, I know fans of The Flower Bowl Spell are hoping the next book will be ready soon. I can’t promise anything. I’m going to have to take a little vacation time and see which of my many projects rises to the top of being publish-worthy.

Stay tuned…

August 13th, 2012

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 22nd, 2012

Bewitching Blog Tour Update

There’s been a scheduling change to the last few days of my Bewitching Blog Tour, so I thought I’d just let you all know. Here is the rest of the schedule as of today:

July 22 Guest blog and review
A Chick Who Reads
http://achickwhoreads.blogspot.com

July 22 Guest blog and review
Black Hippie Chick’s Take on Books & The World
Http://blackhippiechick.wordpress.com

July 23 Interview
Mary’s Garden
http://marysbooksblogger.blogspot.com/

July 25 Interview
Books, Books The Magical Fruit
http://booksbooksthemagicalfruit.blogspot.com

July 30 Review
Books, Books, and More Books
http://dream-reader-dreamer2229.blogspot.com/

Thanks, and please pass this on to friends and family who might be interested. I’m not sure how effective this has been as far as new sales go. There’s definitely been a lot of ebooks given away, and positive reviews but not many (any?) new sales. Is that over-sharing? If you’ve done a book blog tour, has it helped your books’ sales?

June 2nd, 2012

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?

May 24th, 2012

P.O. Boxing the Author

Yesterday, I went to my local post office and rented out a P.O. box for the first time. Since I’m doing a lot of writing “business,” i.e. promotion, I thought it would be a good idea to separate it off from my home. With my first book, 12 years ago, I considered doing the P.O. box thing, but in the end, it seemed like too much of a hassle. And I had a publisher, so even though I was doing all of my publicity, I could use his P.O. box as the return address. Nice and professional.

Now, since I’ve self-published, I want to put on a professional front, even if I have kind of sort of no idea what I’m doing. Publishing and the promo that goes with it are not my business, per se, at least I don’t think of them like that.Writing is my work and being a writer is my vocation, my profession. So, it’s time for the box. Plus, I have kids this time around and I’m dealing with a lot of mail to and from people I don’t really know, to put it bluntly (although, if you’re reading this, you’ve all been awesome! :D). Sure, we’ve chatted via email or LinkedIn messages or online forums—but there you go, the term online forum just ignites a CAUTION sign in my head.

What about you fellow bloggers, authors, and writers—do you have a P.O. box or are you all right with the world knowing your home address and with the possibility that someday, some “friend” might show up at your door?

May 6th, 2012

The Flower Bowl Spell paperback is here!

Finally, after months of anticipation (at least on my part) The Flower Bowl Spell is available as a paperback. I thought it might not happen after everything it took—hours of formatting, proofreading, editing, sending back the cover design, waiting for changes, finding more errors, and starting over—but it’s as good as it’s going to be for now. So go to my personal e-store on CreateSpace or head over to Amazon to purchase the real deal. Better yet, go to your favorite local bookstore or public library and ask them to order some copies. Give them the ISBNs so they can look it up easily:

  • ISBN-10: 1470177781
  • ISBN-13: 978-1470177782

And please spread the word to your friends, frenemies, and family. Thank you!

 

April 21st, 2012

Brilliant Review by Pete Denton

Pete Denton is a blogger and writer from Sheffield, England, and we’ve been following each others posts for a few months now. He’s made huge strides with his writing, which he chronicles on his blog, and has garnered all kinds of blogging awards. He’s also been very encouraging when it comes to my own posts about my writing/publishing journey, which culminated today in a lovely review of The Flower Bowl Spell. Here’s an excerpt:

I cannot emphasise enough how much I got sucked into the world of Memphis Zhang. I was totally immersed in her story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. With all the reviews I have written so far, I find it difficult to comment too much on the story or characters as I don’t want to give anything away.

What I will say is that I BELIEVED the main protagonist. I felt she came alive on the page (of my Kindle) and I cared about what happened to her throughout the story. One of the character names in particular was a stroke of GENIUS and everyone we met on the journey was well drawn…

I enjoyed the story line and the humour that’s injected into the narrative is spot on. I even broke my “not reading my Kindle on the bus” rule (I know it’s a stupid rule) as I HAD to keep reading this book. I’ve said before I judge a good book on whether the story keeps popping into my mind, well days after finishing The Flower Bowl Spell, little snippets keep doing just that.

Olivia Boler is an author I *met* blogging. I read her posts on self-publishing her story and watched with interest as the cover design was unveiled and the publication drew ever closer. This is a journey that so many people are on and it is a journey I hope to make myself one day. This makes reading a book like this more important to me. It also inspires me to make sure I write reviews and help spread the word.

This was a top professional job. Great cover, well-edited and no errors to speak about. This book gives self-publishing a HUGE pat on the back. If every self-published book was to this standard then maybe the stigma attached to going it on your own would end right here and now.

Thank you so much, Pete, for your thoughtful review. I can’t emphasize enough how touched I was by it!

To read the whole review and to learn more about Pete, click here.

February 10th, 2012

Create Space for Me

I feel like I’ve been neglecting my blog, even thought it’s only been a few days. Tweeting and Facebooking about The Flower Bowl Spell have been taking up my writing time, and I get the feeling I need to stop spinning my wheels and make something happen—namely the paperback version and reviews. I know the latter must be done ASAP, but here is where I truly feel I need some kind of road map. I’ve done this review hunting before, and it’s really time-consuming with no guarantees of success. Kind of lot publishing!

I did spend an afternoon looking at the Create Space website, feeling a little more and more daunted by what I have to do on the technical side. What’s holding me up? The cover. I have a lovely cover designed by a lovely artist, but I need to figure out the “bleed,” that is the size it’s going to be. The thing about ebooks is they don’t have true page counts, but I need to figure out my novel’s page count now so that I’ll know how wide the spine will be. Blah blah blah.

Create Space also gives you a nifty calculator to figure out what your royalties will be. I was planning on making the book really inexpensive—like under six bucks—but the profit margin is so dismal, I think it’ll be more like $14 or $15. You’d pay that for a nice paperback, right? The royalties are best if readers order from Create Space directly. They’re slightly lower if the book is ordered through Amazon, and then they’re really, truly, madly, deeply bottom of the barrel if ordered through the Expanded Distribution option (meaning, if I make the book available for order from local bookstores and for libraries). I am so going to make it available this way—money is not the main issue—because I want readers who don’t want to order online to be able to support their local independent bookstores. Heaven knows, they need all the help they can get. My neighborhood is down to one general interest bookstore. Yikes. So, I plead with you, dear readers and bloggers: Go out and buy a book this weekend. You’ll be happy. Trust me.

Oh, and speaking of being happy, have you bought my ebook yet? Well, what are you waiting for?

Happy weekend, people.

 

February 3rd, 2012

Premium Status and Kindle Love

The good news: The Flower Bowl Spell got Premium Status approval from Smashwords. Whoo hoo! [fist pump] That means they will ship it to Apple (iBooks/iPad/iPhones), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Sony (Sony eReader), Kobo, and Diesel for purchase through those channels.

The bad news: It won’t be up for sale at those places for two to three weeks. Boo hoo! [pout] Smashwords has the book in its shipping queue, they only ships on Thursdays and Fridays (today is Friday, and it didn’t ship), and then it takes another one to two weeks for the book to be available with those purveyors of fine e-lit.

The good news: You Nook, Kobo, and iPad users can upload the book NOW from Smashwords‘ website. You can then download it to your readers. You can find directions on how to do this here. Even Kindle users can do this, although I did upload it separately with a different ISBN (actually, it’s just Amazon’s ASIN, but what do you care really?), so Kindle users can get it NOW on Amazon.

Did I mention it’s 99 cents everywhere! That’s $0.99, in case you missed it the first time.

Next on the agenda: Uploading the paperback version to CreateSpace, wrestling with my website, and drumming up interest from readers/buyers other than my family and friends. Oh boy.

 

January 31st, 2012

Flower Bowl Spell up on Kindle

Mission accomplished! My goal back at the end of 2011, was to get The Flower Bowl Spell up for sale as an eBook in January, and I did just that. (Pat on the back.) The book went live on Amazon yesterday. I downloaded it, noticed a couple of glitches (e.g. my author photo wasn’t showing up), and got some help on the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) forum. People  in the community were really great, patiently walking me through how to create a zip file on Word (I’ve often opened zip files, but never knew I could make one without special software. Sometimes I’m an unintentional Luddite).

Anyway, my next goal, to be accomplished in February, is to get the book on CreateSpace so those who don’t have eReaders can buy it. I’ll look into the Expanded Distribution plan, which means bookstores and libraries could order it too, as far as my understanding of it goes. Also, I’ll need to start promoting it, looking into book bloggers and reviewers who might give it a chance. If you know of a reviewer, website, blogger, etc., who might be interested, please share!

In the meantime, if you have already bought a copy, thank you so much! That’s $0.99 well spent, to be sure!

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