Fairies to Light the Dark Time of Year

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To shed light in the dark time of year, I am giving away FAIRIES! The Fairies of Feyllan will be given away starting at midnight on Halloween in two ways: 1) as a Goodreads Giveaway  and 2) as a FREE eBook Giveaway on Amazon! (see links below)
https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/70284-the-fairies-of-feyllan
 
http://www.amazon.com/The-Fairies-of-Feyllan-ebook/dp/B00G4TSW3I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383111459&sr=8-1&keywords=fairies+of+feyllan

Don’t miss a chance to get your FREE copy of The Fairies of Feyllan starting on Halloween!   

The Marketing Monster Within

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FREE!!  TODAY ONLY!!!  http://www.amazon.com/Become-Power-Easy-Steps-ebook/dp/B00FBJAIPC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1380278149&sr=8-1&keywords=chris+hook+man+of+power

I have just written those words and published the above link about 100 times in the last hour.  I am promoting an eBook for our affiliate publishing company DPR Press. Luckily I edited the content of the book so I am familiar with it, but truth be told, it is hard to push something to the public, even something as benign as a free book! Last year my publishing company had a booth at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. It was a Very Big Deal. We had a huge tent, set up author signings, decorated our sales table, incorporated related merchandise, and hawked books for two days to our people: Readers.  And I was able to easily recommend books to strangers, books that the company was selling and standing behind, but as the days wore on I realized, never once had I tried to sell someone my OWN book. How much easier it is to promote others than ourselves! I was surprised by my shyness regarding promoting myself. I think that it is the most difficult part of being an independent and small press author in this day and age. As some may recall, I went camping at a 3-day music festival to try and promote my fairy book (shameless plug) The Fairies of Feyllan. I walked around wearing wings handing out sample chapter booklets to people dressed as trees and the fae to try and get book sales. It is a never ending and thankless job, to try and sell your own book. We make sure our authors know that while the company does quite a lot for our authors, such as press releases and setting up book signings, etc., that it is up to the author to sell the book on a DAILY basis. There is no moment for laziness until a book “tips”. In other words, marketing is an ongoing, often draining job. You KNOW your friends and family on Facebook are tired of hearing about it, that the bottom of your email signature is cluttered with links to your books, and you feel, frankly, like a pest because of it. In a perfect world, you could just post about your book one time and your 1500 Facebook friends would not only buy your book, but review it, as well as suggesting it to their book club and Aunt Tillie. But every indie and small press author knows, that is not how it works in the real world. Friends have good intentions, but don’t always back up those intentions with action. So for that reason, we post on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and on every other site we can come up with, risk annoying our friends and acquaintances, and become Marketing Monsters…all in the name of selling what we know is an awesome book that everyone, if they would just read the damn thing, would love.

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REBLOG! Five-ish Questions with the Author: Cat Spydell

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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013

Five(ish) Questions With the Author: Cat Spydell

 By Rebecca Glenn

Cat Spydell is the owner and publisher–which means she’s also editor, proofreader, chief hand-holder and marketer–of a small press called World Nouveau. Cat’s a writer and a mom. She takes in stray and abandoned creatures of all sorts–pigs, goats, (and maybe fairies?)–at Pixie Dust Ranch, where she also lives and works. Cat’s a local activist who’s taking her activism to the next level in her current bid for a seat on the City Council

Cat is one busy woman.

But we got her to slow down for a few moments to talk about her newest book, The Fairies of Feyllan, which she’ll be discussing and signing at the Book Frog on Saturday, August 31st, at 1 p.m.

BF: Why fairies? What was your inspiration to write The Fairies of Feyllan?

CS:I love writing about mysteries I wonder about, like aliens, mermaids, time travel, and Bigfoot. I wrote a movie script about Bigfoot and a book called The Time Traveler’s Apprentice at Hollywood High that started with the premise: What if aliens are just time traveling humans from the future? The idea of writing about fairies started the same way; I wondered about them and as I thought about what they might be like if they were real the answers came to me in the form of a fantasy novel. Many questions about fairies are answered in The Fairies of Feyllan; I address the concept of “brownies”, of the Cottingley fairies, of pixie dust…all those mystical elements are brought up in the book because it was fun to write about those things and think about them.

BF: If you could have a drink with one character from all of literature who would it be? And what character would you cross the street to avoid?

CS: This is a great question! I am the biggest Tolkien fan, so I would have to say that ultimately Gandalf the wizard is the one I would wish to have a drink with, because wizards are endlessly fascinating and you can probably learn a thing or two from talking with them. The one character I would cross the street to avoid would be Dolores Umbridge from the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter. She is one of the most horrible characters with no redeeming qualities. I was so repulsed by her character and her actions when I read The Order of the Phoenix initially.

BF: Does music fuel your writing? If so, what were you listening to (or hearing in your head) as you wrote The Fairies of Feyllan?

CS: Music absolutely fuels my writing, and my soul. I go to hear live music at least once a week and often more. I found myself listening to “The Battle of Evermore” by Led Zeppelin repeatedly while writing the book, which seemed to correlate with parts of my story line. Such as:

Oh war is the common cry, pick up your swords and fly./The sky is filled with good and bad that mortals never know./Oh well, the night is long the beads of time pass slow,/tired eyes on the sunrise, waiting for the eastern glow.

A lot of different kinds of music inspired me while writing The Fairies of Feyllansuch as Celtic music.

BF: What book do you wish you had written? What book do you wish you liked more than you did? What book could you simply not finish?

CS: I wish I had written The Lord of the Rings because of the complexity of the world that Tolkien created. The fact that he had a complex language and maps and geography and entire histories created for his book (I consider it one book even though it is sold as a trilogy) is a phenomenal feat. I leaned heavily on the inspiration that Tolkien provides when I wrote The Fairies of Feyllan, so I do have a lot of backstory in the book about the fairies’ genealogy, history, and general origins, but nothing near the amount of vast wealth of addendum material Tolkien provides. Regarding which book I wish I liked better, it would have to be Tom Robbins’ Another Roadside Attraction. Such genius writing! I wish I could write like that. There is a description of a character that says (he) “…has a grin like a beer barrel polka. A ding-dong daddy grin. A Brooklyn Dodger grin. A grin you could wear to a Polish wedding. His smile walks in in woolly socks and suspenders and asks to borrow the funny papers. You could trap rabbits with it…”
And that’s just a partial description of just the character’s smile. Wow, that is some brave writing. But as much as I enjoy the writing and find it to be genius, I can’t follow the plot of that book easily. Regarding which book I simply couldn’t finish, there is one that stands out: Twilight. As an editor I found myself working too hard to read it so I gave up.

BF: Which of your characters do you relate to the most, and–of course–why?

CS: It is hard to say, because all of my characters are a part of me, but the main character Varia is the one I relate to the most. The way that she lets her curiosity and conviction get her into intense situations that she must master describes my life pretty well. She often finds herself in scenarios she didn’t plan, such as allowing a baby dragon to imprint on her which causes her all kinds of trouble, but she just takes life by the horns and manages to turn unfortunate situations to her advantage. She is one of those “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” types and I feel like that is a creed I live by as well. Staying positive and making the best of things is a trait we share.

From the PV News: Article About The Fairies of Feyllan Book Launch

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REBLOG! Here is a recent article about my book The Fairies of Feyllan in the Palos Verdes News

“Fairies” to Appear at the Book Frog

by Annie Lubinksy

Arts and Entertainment, PV News

(Originally run Thursday, August 29, 2013 pvnews.com)

When a princess from one fairy tribe falls in love with a prince from an enemy tribe, their forbidden relationship creates disharmony between the two cultures. But a bigger force is at work in “The Fairies of Feyllan,” written by Rolling Hills Estates resident Cat Spydell, and the tribes need to come together to defend their homes.

Part fairy story, part adventure tale, the book is set in 1920s England.

“That’s when the Cottingley fairies were discovered and there was a huge fairy craze,” Spydell said. “I used that in the story line as the reason why the earth seeker tribe left their home — because humans were invading, looking for them.”

Appropriate for readers ages 9 to 90, “The Fairies of Feyllan” contains subtle romance, classic adventure and plenty of action in its battle scenes. Spydell will talk about the book when she visits The Book Frog on Saturday, and will tell readers about the flora and fauna that inspired the fairies’ world.

Spydell said she has “open space in my psyche,” instilled when she was a girl.

“I grew up in Palos Verdes and lived in the canyons as a child,” Spydell said. “I had a pony and rode all the time, and I saw every nook and cranny of the entire Hill. In my world, there were no houses, just trails, rocks and trees.”

As someone who rescues exotic animals, Spydell tends a menagerie at home.

“I end up with goats, a pig, a pony, pigeons … these are the animals that inspire me,” she said. “When my dog was a puppy, I felt that every time I fed him, he grew. And that became the model for the dragon in the story.”

Fairies have been a part of her life at home and at work for years. Spydell’s daughter maintained an avid interest in fairies, and as a production manager at an ice rink, Spydell made countless fairy costumes and wings for young skaters. “It has been an interesting transition from writing ice shows with fairies to writing a novel about them,” she said.

Spydell’s fairies aren’t the sparkling, tinkling sort, but stout-hearted ones who face serious threats to their home. The story carries an environmental theme that unfolds as the fairies fight for their survival.

“I have a good sense of nature and have been appalled at the human use of it,” Spydell said. She has dedicated “The Fairies of Feyllan” to the trees.

Spydell will visit The Book Frog at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31. The store is located at 550 Deep Valley Drive, Suite 273, in Rolling Hills Estates. For more information, call (310) 265-2665. For more information on “The Fairies of Feyllan,” visit worldnouveaubooks.com.

 Imagealubinsky@pvnews.com @PVNewsFeatures on Twitter

Do Publishers Have the Right to Judge an Author’s Personal Choices?

From my publisher…

World Nouveau News & Muse Notes

gay hand hold

It is rare that an unpublished book gets media attention in today’s mainstream and online press, but that is precisely what has happened with a young adult fantasy novel entitled Woven. The book is in the news right now because of an issue we here at World Nouveau take very seriously. Discrimination. Woven was cancelled by a Utah-based book publisher just before its release date because one of the novel’s co-authors is openly gay.

Joint authors Michael Jensen and David Powers King collaborated on Woven, and it was due to be published by Cedar Fort Publishing and Media in October.

The controversy started when Jensen realized his own author bio had been edited. The change he noticed was the removal of the line ‘He lives in Salt Lake City with his boyfriend and their four dogs’. The reason given for the removal was the publishing company’s affiliation with the…

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Proof I Will Do (Almost) Anything to Market My Book

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We recently went to live with the fae. Fae as in fairies. “We” being myself and my daughter and niece (teenagers!), and a polar-bear sized dog. We arrived at the fairy doorstep on Friday (after a two-day drive, because you usually have to travel far to find fairies). We stayed with the fae from Friday through Monday morning. The fairies in question came in all shapes and sizes. There were baby fairies, old fairies, thin fairies, fat fairies, male and female fairies, cool fairies, nerd fairies…you name it, they exist! Sometimes fairies have friends. Like strange two-legged wolves, Ent-like trees, and things you can’t quite identify, or may not want to, like men wearing Speedos on stilts and light-up umbrella jellyfish. Where did all of these fairies convene? At the annual convention called FaerieWorlds. And WHY did I go to FaerieWorlds? To market my book The Fairies of Feyllan, of course! I found out where my people were, and I went to them.

At first I planned to give away free copies of The Fairies of Feyllan, but the expense at about $10 per book was too prohibitive. So my publisher’s art department designed the cutest ever little 4 x 6 sample chapter booklets with fairy pictures sprinkled like pixie dust throughout. When I got the shipment from the printer, I opened it and fell in the love with the diminutive booklets. I bought as many as my $300 budget would allow. They were miniature perfection. I brought a few paperback versions of The Fairies of Feyllan as well, and a couple of hundred Fairies of Feyllan bookmarks. I was armed and ready to face the fae.

Our drive to Eugene had been long and tenuous, and it was 105 degrees out when we arrived, but we made it safely. We pulled into the parking lot (read: open mowed field) after dropping the dog off at his “doggie hotel” and went to the Inner Circle campground. We unpacked our sad tent (a long story, but suffice it to say, the nylon dome was missing and the zipper broke, so we clipped ourselves in each night and had to cover the top with batiked bedspreads…the word “ratchety” was our definition for our unique look). We cleaned up and decorated ourselves as best we could in the hot ratchety tent, and then we entered the realm of the fae under the huge sign that read in fancy letters: “FaerieWorlds”.

I have been to many interesting “events” in my lifetime. As a long-time follower of the Grateful Dead, I’ve seen the funky parking lot vending scene before shows, during shows, after shows, (rinse and repeat). I am a Ren faire junkie. (Why I swordfight, horseback ride, and know how to use a bow and arrow, and believe that using a gun as a weapon is cheating). I have been to women’s festivals, Comi-Cons, freaky little carnivals, and Vegas shows with fancy French names. I’ve seen a lot. FaerieWorlds was like seeing all the fascinating things I had seen in my entire lifetime, depositing it on one wooded piece of land, adding thousands of people dressed as fairies, and in the background, amazing live Celtic music played. Yeah, it’s like that.

On Day One we walked around, awed, handing out booklets and admiring the wares of the vendors who sold wings, wands, fairy dresses, masks, jewelry, and trinkets. Later we handed a sample chapter booklet to one of the fae manning the ticket booth. “Oooh!” she said, her wings quivering in delight as she passed it around to show her cohorts. Everyone selling tickets seemed entranced. “Can WE hand them out?”

Um, okay! We gave over our stash for the day of booklets and our bookmarks, and when we checked back a couple hours later, the stack was gone. “People loved them!” we were told. We had been free to roam FaerieWorlds and take in the sights because of the Ticket Booth Fairy’s kind offer to hand out my goods, but I felt like I had missed an opportunity to see the recipients’ expressions when they saw the booklets, so the next day we sauntered through the magickal realm passing them out. And the fairy people were charmed. I was hopeful that The Fairies of Feyllan would be a hit with this crowd.

Day Two: We woke up cold and miserable and decided to rejoin the real world to visit the polar bear dog and go to town. We drove directly to Big 5 to buy a blow up mattress after I made a Scarlett O’Hara speech about how “I will never go camping again!” (It was that inflatable mattress that saved me for the rest of FaerieWorlds). When my attempts to shove my Tempur-Pedic mattress in the small overly-packed car before leaving Los Angeles had failed, I was forced to learn the hard way I will NEVER sleep on a tent floor again. I spent the next 48 hours trying to keep the teenage girls off my bed so they wouldn’t know how much more comfortable I was, since they were still sleeping directly on the ground, no padding.

By the time we returned to FaerieWorlds on Day Two from our Important Shopping Trip, the “freak flags” were flying high. We dressed crazy and wore sequins and wings, henna tattoos and fairy makeup and glittered ourselves, our sleeping bags, our clothes, our food, and our tent. We gave away a few books as well as the booklets and bookmarks. Later that night I had a moment to shine. There was a band I couldn’t wait to see, Omnia, with a waifish singer/drummer/harpist, Jennifer Evans van der Harten, who I felt must read my book. I just had to get it to her. I stood by the stage during the band’s sound check and then my opportunity came: A photographer/security guy walked by looking flustered because he had nothing to do. I called him over. “Can you give this book to Jenny?” I asked. He nodded and took it and tried to hand it to her right in the middle of her sound check, but she asked him to put it with her belongings offstage, which he did. She came to America from Europe, which meant she had a long plane ride home. Now she had something to read. Check!

The band Omnia that night was beyond awesome, and afterward we had a fun time experiencing the “jellyfish”…an umbrella set up with fiber optic strands that someone twirls above you while you lie on the ground looking up into the middle of it. Cheap thrills for sure, but way better than some of those aforementioned carnival attractions. We also checked out the “cuddle puddle” in the pyramid tent, where colored lights filled the dome and people lay side-by-side beneath it. Our experience was at its height and we were one with the fae. But we still had yet another cold night in a dirty little tent to face. Bravely we went to bed late, listening to sounds of the happy, cavorting fae all around us as we drifted off to sleep.

Day Three came on strong and the distance between our tent and a cup of coffee was hitting hard. It was also Day Three of no showers, Porta-Potties, and yes, fairies. But not real fairies, human fairies. Human fairies who caper loudly in the night and run amok and…did I mention the Porta-Potties and no showers? Luckily there was a nearby lake and no amount of shyness with any of the fae about skinny dipping. But still. Somewhere in between the Grateful Dead days and FaerieWorlds I had become a swanky-resort-sit-by-the-pool-where’s-the-waiter? kind of girl. Not really sure WHEN that happened, but I admit, it did. (Before you assume I’m a wimp, you should know I once lived for two years without running water and electricity, and I lived seven years in the country and had to start my own fires in the morning. I am proud of how I reacclimated just fine into civilization after mastering that rough and tumble lifestyle).

By Day Three we had mellowed our look by degrees and dressed in casual-Sunday-hippie-fairy mode; loose skirts, a little makeup, some flowers in our hair, no wings. We met a few people, handed out the rest of the booklets and free books, and began packing up for our exit the next day. We took the dog on a hike and enjoyed the Oregon trees and clean air. We shopped a little and listened to music, and then, it happened. My daughter bumped into someone she had met at the Omnia concert the night before and they chatted. It came up that we were there to hand out free sample chapter booklets. “What’s the name of the book?” the girl asked. “The Fairies of Feyllan,” my daughter replied.  “Oh!” said the girl. “I’ve heard people talking about that book.”

And that was it.  All she wrote. All we got. The ONLY indication after driving nearly 900 miles, staying in the ratchety tent, using Porta-Potties, no showers, the hard cold ground, and yes, enjoying the music and beautiful fairy folk who undoubtedly had their own stories to tell of the kinship and connection that everyone felt…that one off-handed remark was our reward: “I’ve heard people talking about that book.” Will it translate to sales when the fairy folk return to the human realm, unpack their bags, and find in their suitcases a tiny little sample chapter sprinkled with pictures of fairies like pixie dust? Time will tell. And as we all know, time works differently in the fairy realm. We will have to wait and see. For now, it is the lesson of gratitude for the adventure of a lifetime that will be the bigger reward.

More Dreaded than Dragons is the Wait

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ImageIt’s terrifying. You have spent the last year or so of your life writing your novel, living in your mind in a world that doesn’t really exist. Your characters are as real to you as your own children (and you may even understand them better). You have gotten preliminary feedback from trusted and ruthless friends, you have edited until you can’t read your own words on the page any longer, and then, you send your “baby” off to the first major reviewer.

Just like waiting for a baby to be delivered, I am in the state of waiting for my “review results.” Doubt and fear edge my mind and every few thoughts of my day wander to, what if he doesn’t like it? A bad review can be a death knell for a book before it is even published. A great review can bring a book to unimaginable heights. If I were a nail-biter, I certainly would have nothing but the quick left, but instead I just stew inside, waiting, waiting for a verdict that I have no control over.

You would think it is easy, to get someone to read your book and write a few words giving their opinion about it. It isn’t. Reviewers are few and far between, and many have a several month backlog of books to read if they review books on a regular basis for a blog or newspaper or magazine. I have given my previous book away for free, on the condition that the recipient goes to my book’s Amazon page and leaves a review. And even that is no guarantee a shining review will be the result of giving a freebie up to the world.

A fellow World Nouveau author, Elayne James (The Lightbridge Legacy series) and I designed little stickers that we print up on our computers for the inside covers of our freebie books that read: This is a complementary reviewers copy. When you are done, please review the book on Amazon.com and pass it on to someone whom you think might enjoy it!  We even include a link for the reader to follow, to ensure that potential reviewers understand where to go and what to do. I probably have twenty “stickered” copies of my book The Time Traveler’s Apprentice at Hollywood High out there, somewhere, forging a path across the continent or sitting ignored on a potential reader’s shelf, forgotten. Who knows? Once these books leave your hands, you lose control and don’t know where they go, who reads them, what is being said. It is the ultimate leap of faith, to set your baby free. 

I just set my latest book free. Now, I wait. I know where the ten or so preview copies of my book The Fairies of Feyllan are, all waiting to be read by fairy enthusiasts, including one big-wig reviewer. Doubt plagues me. Will readers find the inhabitants of my fairy empire too violent? (There is a war). Will they not like the fact that there are dragons? (I have no idea where the dragons came from, but there was an unexpected portal and I was as surprised as the fae to discover dragons dwelled on the other side). Will they relate to the characters? Will they enjoy the story?

I have absolutely no idea. Hence the waiting, the potential nail biting, the anticipation of a book about to be launched. Regardless of the reactions, the reviews, the critiques, I am hardened in my resolve to stand by my book. That is the only solace I have as a writer. It is mine, I created it, and if it doesn’t get the recognition or praise I think it deserves, so be it: I have to be satisfied knowing that just in the creating of my fantasy novel, I did something special, and that has to be the ultimate reward.

 

A Facebookaholic Shares

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I am a Facebook addict. I have checked, and there is no 12-Step program available to me. I spend my days working on the computer, writing books and finishing editing projects for my job, and invariably, my attention will wander for a nanosecond and my fingers will begin to tap and somehow lead me to my Facebook wall.

As of this moment, I have 33 Facebook pages. Yes, 33. I can defend myself on a few of them. I started a few years ago with just my personal account, but I realized my charming and delightful animals from my home rescue were taking over my page. So I named my rescue Pixie Dust Ranch and gave Dale the Big Red Pony, Buttercup and Daisy the Pygmy Goats, and Titan the Hedgehog their own Facebook page, so I could share cool stuff about music and writing and environmental topics on my personal page and not compete with big white dogs and fluffy rabbits. (Lily the Pig now has her own fan following. She is better at PR than I will ever be).

So then I had two Facebook pages. And after that I realized that my young adult novel The Time Traveler’s Apprentice at Hollywood High needed a Facebook page. So that was three. Then my other book Epona’s Gift (not published yet) needed one also. Four. Then my soon-to-be-released fantasy novel The Fairies of Feyllan also needed a Facebook page. Five. And our publishing company, World Nouveau, needed one. Six. And then all of our authors at the publishing company needed one for each of their books, and since I knew Facebook pretty well by then, I was nominated (self-nominated!) to be administrator of those Facebook pages.

But it didn’t end there.

I started a tree protection group with some local residents, so PV Tree Society needed its own page. I got involved with a production project that didn’t have a Facebook page, so I made one for that company too. When my daughter and I went vegan, I didn’t like how all the vegan pages shared graphic images of suffering animals, so I started The Friendly Vegan–no judging!–and I mostly post pictures of fruits and veggies and recipes. No dead animals. (Maybe some sad-looking live ones).

I knew I was in trouble when I started creating more pages; for local environmental issues, for a local dog park I had never even been to before, for my daughter’s rock band that never happened, for books I’m thinking about writing but haven’t written yet. I realized I needed self-discipline, so I started a Facebook Regimen.

Now when I find myself on Facebook several times a day, I am on a tight mission. I scroll down not just to catch up on my friends’ news, but also to capture any photos that might be useful on some of my other pages. I save the pictures using words or initials to indicate which page I might later use it for so I can find it again quickly: fairy, pdr (Pixie Dust Ranch), tree, tta (Time Traveler book), etc, so I always have a stockpile of at least a dozen photos or memes to post on any given page.

Because I am able to track how many people see any one of my posts, I feel obligated to share on each page regularly (daily or at least once a week). I don’t have thousands of followers on any one page, but I do have hundreds on most of them. Which adds up to a lot of people I have access to for marketing books. For example, one post on The Fairies of Feyllan page recently reached 38,393 viewers. The post went “viral”, being shared over and over again. As a result, the fairy book page gained almost 100 new followers in less than a week, an unheard of number of new likes for a little-known author’s not-yet-published book.  There was also an offer from a book reviewer to read and review The Fairies of Feyllan, someone who happens to be a fairy enthusiast and saw the viral post. Our company has paid for marketing gurus in the past, and for several thousand dollars maybe we could have achieved similar success. But with time, patience, perseverance, focus, and less than an hour a day, any writer can achieve the same thing, for free.

Here’s what I have learned from my varied experiences on Facebook:

  • Pictures and memes (pictures with words) are more likely to be shared than words
  • Profound photos do not need your words to accompany them
  • Sharing other people’s photos is the easiest way to post
  • Go “like” George Takei’s page. Otherwise you are missing out
  • If you love it, someone else will too. Post it!
  • Links do not equal “likes”.  Links make people LEAVE your Facebook page, often without “liking” your link first
  • Posting book signing events are necessary if you are an author, so back it up with a great photo in your next post to keep people interested in your page
  • Post once a day on pages where you want a lot of interest
  • Never post more than five times a day; then you are just annoying
  • Never post anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t tell your teacher, parent, minister, or acquaintance (because that is who you are sharing information with).  (Side note: I say this with experience; I may sometimes hint at weekend shenanigans, but I never TELL).
  • Keep aggressive politics, controversial subjects, and the like off your main Facebook page. Remember, you are building yourself up as a celebrity of sorts, as a writer. Keep it fun and interesting. Don’t piss people off. (I have a separate Facebook page where I can be controversial, anonymously).
  • As a writer, “like” your nearest family-owned bookstore and share the store’s events with your friends on Facebook. Supporting your local bookstore is key. Then when you are ready for a book signing, they will support you.
  • Link your Facebook account with Twitter, Good Reads, Instagram, and anywhere else you can think of if you only post once a day and your posts aren’t too specific or personal.

Use this link for more info on how to connect Twitter and Facebook: https://support.twitter.com/articles/31113-using-twitter-with-facebook

Many would say that Facebook is a waste of time, but it isn’t. Not in the least. By now you should recognize that with every post on your Facebook wall you are building up your persona as a writer, so you can push the Facebook guilt aside. Embrace Facebook for the amazing social media tool that it truly is. Go forth and Facebook!  I’ll see you online. We will chat about Tumblr another day.

How to Mother a Fairy

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Since Mother’s Day is right around the corner, I am thinking of what it means to be a mom. As someone who runs an animal rescue, I am “mom” to many beings, from hedgehogs to horses, pigeons to goats, and all walks of life in between (including a couple of humans). But I am also “mom” to all of my characters in the books I write. I often joke that I’m officially crazy because I have hundreds of voices in my head. And it’s true! I know my characters as well as I know my own kids, my own pets, my family and friends. They are a part of me, and in a way I “birthed” them, starting from the tiniest seed of imagination, to bring them full-grown into this world.

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I recently had the unique experience of helping create one of my characters into a 3-D rendering for my upcoming book The Fairies of Feyllan. I can picture my fae characters in my mind perfectly; I can see their nuances, understand their motives, and envision them in my mind’s eye; six inches tall, they fly around in my brain. But to have the opportunity to help the artists at Mischievous Muse Press create Varia, my main character, gave me an opportunity to realize how well I know her, inside and out.

I was encouraged to choose “pieces” of Varia bit by bit, from the 3-D graphic artist’s array of hair, clothing, expressions, and body parts. It is a surreal experience to gather together your “child” by parts. First, I had to pick out her hair. I looked at many 3-D renderings of hair styles, and found two or three that would work, but I found it interesting that I knew instinctively what Varia didn’t look like. I kept thinking,  No, that’s too short; that’s too curly; that’s too dark as I made my choices. Note that I was thinking those things about a fictitious character! Yet I could envision Varia of Ashenthorne so precisely, that I could discern what was “right” for my faery offspring.

I enjoyed dress shopping the most for Varia. In my imagination, her clothing is made from simple, natural materials; leaves and flower petals, meticulously woven into fine cloth by faery artisans. So many of the hundreds of outfits I could choose from were wrong, and the thoughts that accompanied those ill-fitting choices made me laugh: Varia would never wear that, she couldn’t fly in it! Or, there is nothing in the natural world that is that color, that wouldn’t work, and that looks like something a gypsy prom queen would wear, not an Alawe faery.  I came to realize that her style would be regal, as Varia is of a royal bloodline, but also ornate, as the fae spend a great deal of time crafting lavish objects. In the end, Varia’s dress became a hodgepodge of decisions; the belt is a shield, and the top of the garment boasts a leafy vine pattern that was altered to make it appear to be growing out of the organic material of the dress and merging with her skin, almost like a tattoo. The artist did this to create the underlying message that Varia is deeply connected to her environment and the materials she uses from it. The design on the dress (the gown I chose was plain and had to be reworked) was inspired by Celtic knotwork, and created by Varia’s second artist from the Mischievous Muse Press design team.

The artists were like the midwives at the birth of Varia, taking good care of her as she emerged whole and complete from the tiniest of ideas. It was a cooperative effort to make her the faery she is today, from ensuring the lighting around her would exist in reality, to checking that her crown and necklace had correct elements of the Alawe faery tribe’s heritage.

So just like being a mom to a child, I feel like a mom to Varia. And just like actual parenting, the experience of creating Varia in 3-D for the book cover with the guidance of two committed artists made me realize, it takes a village not only to raise a child . . . but also, to create a faery.

Be Careful What You Wish For

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My friend, who is a bright, talented, and outgoing person, approached me recently about a book idea she has. As a publisher and writer, I get approached often by would-be writers with book ideas. Hers was pretty good; a non-fiction book in the fitness/health genre, with spirituality added in. I liked it.

We talked at length about how she should “get started.” I suggested writing an outline, a synopsis if you will, with each chapter listed and a summary. Then I suggested that she write a chapter a week, and perhaps get a writing group together to get feedback.

I realize, now that this out-of-town houseguest has left, that I didn’t do her any favors by telling her these things. She wrote in college, and of course she could write a very decent book if she put her mind to it. But if you have to put your mind to it, and your entire soul isn’t in it and you aren’t waking up in the middle of the night to take notes and constantly researching and thinking about your book, maybe you aren’t meant to be a writer.

In the same way haters gonna hate, writers gonna write.

The other reason I did my friend a disservice is because when she texted me later in the week to tell me that she was excited about proceeding and that she wanted to make my company money, I felt bad. Does she even know what that means? Our company drops about 5k per writer to get a book from submission to publication, a process that takes about a year and a half to two years for a book that doesn’t need too much editing. That money goes into editing, proofing, formatting, cover design, galleys, ISBN, advertising, distribution, etc.

So my company doesn’t really make a dime until the five-thousand-and-first book sells. For self-published and small press authors out there, we all know how hard it is to sell 5,000 books. It is hard to sell even 500 books. It takes time, guts, determination, thinking outside the box, ingenuity, and good old fashioned willpower and drive to sell your own book. And in today’s publishing industry, that is the norm: The publisher publishes, and the author sells.

Now of course my company does set up readings, marketing opportunities, press releases, and we keep the book current on social media. But that doesn’t really add up to 5,000 in sales. What it takes is something more, what Malcom Gladwell calls “The Tipping Point.”  People talking about it, bloggers blogging about it, reviewers raving about it…that creates a tipping point. And getting a book out there for those things to happen is the key.

Marketing a book is a full time job. On top of writing, editing, formatting, publishing, and my “real” life outside of work, I am a marketer. Everything I see in PW and other media inspires new creative ways to try and get my company’s books out there. My business partner and I have long crazy talks about “what if we did this?” in our attempts to market our company’s books. Being the little fish in a big pond full of man-eaters is not the best scenario, but as the “little company that could,” we perservere.

In the meantime, I owe my friend an apology. Not that there is anything about me that is “doom and gloom”…I am a very positive person. But to encourage a nice person with a good job and a beautiful family to uproot her peaceful existence by becoming an author in today’s market seems, on hindsight, just plain cruel.