Sunday, December 18, 2011

Local Newspaper Article about Klaus

In our small burg, the local paper comes out three times a week.  This issue came out Thursday, the day of the book signing - which, thankfully, she mentions.  My sister in law brought a similar article to me months ago and I contacted Jenny via email to find out if she would be willing to read one of my books.  I sent her the book trailers that I had at the time and let her choose - either Klaus or Chest of Souls.  Perhaps it was because Christmas was on the way or the trailer looked more like something that appealed to her; in any case, she chose to read Klaus.  She has agreed to read more of my work in the new year.  Hooray!!!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

First Book Signing


Dreams come true.

Here is one of mine:  I'm in 8th grade and in the basement of my mother's house, busily pounding the keys of my beautiful brand new (manual) red typewriter, spinning story after story as my mind takes me places that I want to explore.  In the deepest recesses of my soul I want, desperately, to be an author.  A REAL author - in my mind I've already published books, seen my name in print, become sucessful.  For years, I faithfully pound away at the keys, buying typewriter ribbon and paper, never dreaming that personal computers are the future and the day will come when I will laugh at the memory.  All I know, when I'm 12 going on 13 is that if I can't be an author, I don't want to be anything else.

Finally, after 40 some-odd years, that dream is coming true.  I have 12 books out and I must take a moment and say I didn't do it alone.  Yes, I'm an Indie, but the books would never have become reality without the support of heaven, family, and friends.

As an independent author, I am everything - writer, editor, cover designer, in charge of either doing or delegating every aspect of the business.  Make no mistake, if you are an Indie it IS a business.


<------The artists that drew/colored the book trailer presentation you see on screen.  The media people at the college were able to make the presentation loop so we didn't have to push 'play' every four minutes.

The book trailers are on You Tube: 
http://www.youtube.com/user/ChannelingMee



We brought the extra decor with us - the garland, the large baskets of flowers, the big bow with bells.

There were posters to be made, along with business cards, making arrangements with the store, treats (note:  use chocolate).  It was a lot of work, but fun. 

One of my fans who has read all of the books (and previously asked me how I sleep at night) brought his wife with him and bought Pic Jump, the first book we sold that day.  He'd already read it, now he owns it.  I like satisfied customers!  He can't seem to get enough of the COS series and was happy to find there is a prequel and a follow up in the works.

The campus director for special collections at the library bought four books and wants to buy the rest.  Apparently, they have a collection of books written by local authors.  Who knew?

The last books that were bought:  a librarian bought two sets of the 3 award winners that will be going to two local libraries north of our little burg and wants the rest of the books in the New Year!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Links to all the books PLUS links to the YouTube book trailers (more coming soon!)


Ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Chest-Souls-Book-One-ebook/dp/B00439H4KI/ref=sr_1_1_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310404939&sr=1-1
Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Chest-Souls-Book-Michelle-Erickson/dp/0557680026/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1310404939&sr=1-1 


Erickson/dp/0557756243/ref=sr_1_10_title_1_p?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310405437&sr=1-10


Ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Traps-Chest-of-Souls-ebook/dp/B004LLIJCU/ref=sr_1_13?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1310398705&sr=1-13

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Traps-Michelle-Erickson/dp/1458341097/ref=sr_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310398629&sr=1-12

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book Signing

This is the first draft of the flyer that BYU-Idaho will be putting out into cyber space to the students at the school.  It matches the poster and, coincidentally, my upcoming business cards as far as backgrounds go.  Those of you who are on Facebook have seen what my business card looks like - on the front anyway.

Anyway, it is going to be more than just your usual signing. Not only will there be THREE books featured (usually author's only have one)  It will be vastly unusual because because my daughters, both talented artists, are putting together a trailer presentation.  My oldest daughter finished the line art on COS Book 1 and my youngest is coloring what was drawn.  They are busier than elves on Christmas Eve.

Few people really understand the hours it takes to make one character turn their head, nod, etc.  They get up early (6am), sit down with their bamboo pads hooked into the computers and work away - right now, they've both been working for eight hours.  It will continue until the project is finished.

They are doing an AWESOME job.  The presentation will be available on You Tube as soon as they get it finished and I will post it here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaNoWriMo and David Farland/Wolverton

November is National Writing Month.... the goal was to write  a 50,000 word novel.

Honestly, it isn't that hard to do if you have a really good idea that makes the flame of genius burn.  If you break it down, it's only 1650 or so words a day for 30 days.  If you exclude weekends (and I do) then it's more, but still manageable.     

Once again, I have to thank David because he announced a contest in his newsletter that helped fan the embers of a story in my head.  What he wanted was a short story that, if it won, it would be featured in his upcoming release by EIP (East India Press).  The setting was in the world he'd created.  I read his sample chapters, and began my journey.

I took a few weeks and wrote, re-wrote, let it cool, took an axe to it, rewrote...and knew it was good...but not great.  With that said, my teenage daughter really liked it, and the book David is writing is for Young Adults.  It was a good sign and she gave me the reasons:  it had a little of everything - characters she cared about, danger, romance, action.  Still...for me, there was something missing.  I went back to click on the link so I could re-read the contest rules http://www.nightingalenovel.com/contest.html

After reading, I switched gears and picked up another story I'd been working on - Sky Signs.  No need to stress, I told myself.  March is four months away.  I wondered if I had anything else that would be a good fit for the contest as I re-opened SS to work on it.  After a quick read-through of the prologue, I realized it was about the length the contest was calling for.  I re-wrote it, liked it enough that I had both my supportive daughters read it, then my husband, and we had a vote.  At 3-1, SS got sent in.    

Great, I thought, I'll move on.  But I couldn't.  Why?  Because the story I started in the prologue wasn't finished...I couldn't stop thinking about it and when my husband told me he couldn't stop thinking about it I had to take action. 

Did I mention I'm married to a man that was a non-reader?  This man parked our car on the hill above our sleepy little hamlet and we watched sunsets galore while I talked about SS - course, the story has morphed, but the heart of it is still beating.

So, beginning the 10th of this month, I've been working on SS - as a novel.  I work M-F so I'm only 20,255 words into it and it's still strumming my creative chords.  Yumch! 

Thanks to the contest, I now have a much bigger picture for Sky Signs - and a self-imposed deadline.  I want the final draft to be done by March - at the latest.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kipped 5: Eidt...Edti...oh, Edit


People wonder about the editing of my books. 

In the picture above (first of the nine-books in Chest of Souls series) there are colorful little Post-it flags hanging out all over the place.  These, my friends, are edits and ideas for more books that springboard and spin off from this beginning.

The top flags deal with the Ancients - the Five Creators.  Green is Ammon, pink is Jaydren,  blue is Soline, orange is Vael, and yellow is Revaya.  

On the right side of the book are all kinds of edits/suggestions on storyline, grammar, punctuation and all else that deals with mistakes or possible problems in the book.

On the bottom are suggestions for sequels, things to remember from the main series (books 1-9) and prequels (1-4) sequels 1-(tba).  These flags are courtesy of my oldest daughter who re-read the series multiple times and was very good at catching my errors.

I didn't have the funds to hire an editing team at $3 a page.  I wanted Precision Editing Group http://www.precisioneditinggroup.com/ to be the ones to do it because I'd met Heather Moore, the owner. I'd still like to employ them, but that remains at some point in the future.

When I realized the staggering cost to hire professionals (about $1,000 a book) I had to look elsewhere.  It is a tender mercy that someone in my family was a (retired) professional editor that had worked at a press on the east coast.  I openly admit that although I believe I know more than the average bear about writing a book, grammar and punctuation are not my forte.  I was smart enough to realize the story was good, but my work had a lot of errors. 

So my number one rule about editing:  Don't trust Word, it isn't the Bible.
It's funny to look back now, but I can see why she thought I was having an affair with semi-colons.  I figured Word knew what it was doing, so I accepted all punctuation suggestions.  When I explained to her why the manuscript had a plethora of semi-colons, we both had a good laugh. 

I would set up my borrowed laptop in her basement and during my time there, I was given one of the greatest gifts I've ever been given as an author.  I got to get a first-hand reaction of a reader for every page.  To fully appreciate this, you'd have to understand that this woman is a voracious reader and (literally) has a genius IQ.  She has a busy life and I knew her investment of time would be substantial.  I decided the least I could do was be a good student and welcome correction by accepting any and all constructive criticism.   

I learned more about punctuation and grammar in the short time we had than in any class I'd ever attended.  When I profusely thanked her for her time and efforts, she laughed and said, I was worried that I'd have to tell you that your writing was nice - as a hobby.  Then she told me something I didn't expect:  Editors are a dime a dozen, but good authors are rare and you are exceptionally good

She helped to polish my grammar and correct punctuation, but refused to make corrections on the story itself with two exceptions that prevented her from enjoying the story.  Other than those two things (which I did correct because of her confusion) she didn't correct anything in the story-line because she knew that the editors of whatever traditional publisher would accept the manuscript would make whatever changes were necessary.  The idea, back then, was to go traditional publishing. 

After I returned home, the task of finding a traditional publisher willing to read my manuscript began.  I stopped counting after 100 rejections and did more research to find out why I was getting nos.  The advent of electronic books was beginning to slap the traditional pub's in the pocketbook.  The traditionals weren't really interested in finding new talent as much as they were in survival.  Still, I got three nods of approval from the traditional market.  I turned them down after doing more research and struck out on my own.

I had been told that once you self-publish, traditional pubs will never look at you.  By now, most everyone out there has heard the news about Amanda Hocking signing with traditional once they realized she was a money maker (over 450,000 of her paranormal ebooks sold).  This sets a precedent and will probably hold true for the future. 

When I decided to self-publish, I knew I had to rethink, not only scrap and then rewrite the story.  An enormous task and so, I did the only thing I could do:  I drafted my family.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Kipped 4: Art of conversation

Everyone's heard it:  if you want to be an author you need to read.  This statement should be followed up with because times change and so does the written word.  What we write is dictated by the time in which we live. 

Here's a good example of something that has changed:  the words if and were used to be married.  For instance, "If I were going to do that..." as opposed to "If I was going to do that..." 

We use was in everyday conversation so using were sounds stilted and snooty, but it is correct.  Here's another:  Quote marks - do they belong inside or outside as you end a sentence?  While I was growing up, they were outside, now they're inside - usually

I don't know how many times I've said it, but the education system needs a major overhaul on what they force-feed English students at all levels.  Too many of the authors known as 'masters' are dark and gloomy - the reason they are 'classics' is due to the fact that nothing else was being printed and a large percent of the population was illiterate.  Our kids today are not sheltered the way kids used to be and their lives do not NEED more reality.  Voracious young readers need a break from negativity and they really need true heroes - just saying.  The best-sellers of our day shout that fact loud and clear - HP, Twilight, etc.

I attended a writers conference a few years ago and asked the question whether or not books had to be 70% conversation (something I'd read).  I was very concerned because, frankly, my books at that time were more narrative.  The person I asked was an editor and the answer, then, was no. 

However, more and more books seem to be filled with conversation (the more characters talk, the quicker the pages turn, so there is a psychological effect).

In the end, you decide for yourself.  

And the winners of the Book drawing are:

Patricia German from South Dakota



Stephanie Bondlow from Louisiana



Rebecca Stephen from Indiana 

Congratulations 

I will be mailing your chosen books to you this coming week! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Interview coming up

Tomorrow, Saturday October 22nd, my interview with romantic suspense author Ronda Hinrichsen will be posted on http://thewriteblocks.blogspot.com/  It was fun and thought provoking.

More than once I've been asked what my favorite thing has been that has happened since finishing and releasing 12 books in 12 months.

The answer is the response of fans.

For instance, I received word yesterday one of my fans went online to  http://www.iamareadernotawriter.blogspot.com/  where the current giveaway the 3 of my award-winning books is being held and she left a comment there.  She wasn't trying to enter to win the books (she'd already bought all of them) she just wanted everyone to know that she loved them all.  Wow. It renewed my hope and made me want to plow ahead with more books.

Just this morning I received an email that told me one of my fans had a dream about a particularly potent scene in Walking in Lightning.  Another Wow.   

To me, the fact the fan had a dream about the characters in the book is affirmation that my writing has touched something deeper than a persons's eyes.  It sank into their subconcious which then spun the scene out for them in a dream.  The fan said it was like being in a movie it was so real.

Some of my fans have made drawings of my COS characters on deviantart.
http://chest-of-souls.deviantart.com/   You'll even see some of my tracings there.

For me, the fans reactions have been Powerful heady stuff and the best kind of reward because when I write, I do so from the heart.  I want the books to be talked about, laughed about, and discussed with pros and cons for the characters.  It's been one of my dreams for a long time.

I write because I must, but fans are why I continue to do so with a smile.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Free Ground Shipping (FedEx) from now until 20 October 2011

For those people that prefer paperbacks, Lulu.com (my publisher) is offering free shipping from now until October 20th.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Do yourself a favor: Follow David Wolverton/Farland


David Wolverton/Farland has great advice for Indies like me. 

Visit his website http://www.davidfarland.net/  and SIGN UP FOR HIS KICK IN THE PANTS immediately! 

This man knows what he is talking about and is generous enough to share it (we all need a mentor and, frankly, there are too few in the writing world). 

He isn't sitting on his laurels, but actively looking for alternative ways to promote/sell books in NEW ways.  He's seen the writing on the wall and been a pioneer for what is coming to all authors.

David is not just a best selling author, but he's done a bajillion other things that help him write great books.  Confession:  I didn't even know he existed until a co-worker of my husband's dropped by my husband's office and happened to notice the huge poster of all 12 books that I released in 12 months. 

It just so happened that this man wants to be an author and was looking for advice and, in the meantime, he suggested looking at David's website and sign up for the Kick in the Pants newsletter. 

It was one of the best things that happened to me, not because I had to make major overhauls, but I had confirmation I was doing many things right.  It was such a relief to know that I had listened to the still small voice that said, 'No - don't go traditional' way back last year.

Sigh...what a relief!  But I'm always looking for new ideas and promos, so if you have some, please share them here and we'll all know.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Writing a book Step Five: Destination

Step One: Dream
Step Two: Desire
Step Three: Discipline
Step Four: Determination
Step Five:  Destination

Everything, up to this point, has been for this final step.  You've dreamed, wanted it to come true, made sure you worked at it every day, and determined you were going to be successful.

Now, you decide what your destination is by taking the next (scarier) step in the world of Indie publishing.  Where are you going to publish your work? 

My personal preferences and why I chose them: 

Amazon for Ebook - they have name recognition and are International.  Their upload system is easy (and free) for Ebook.  Problem:  sometimes their uploads have issues.  I use the same format, font, and 'formula' for each of my books.  However, sometimes the work I've done shows up as a combination of large and small fonts or the spacing is wrong.  I'm not HTML oriented.  Is this a scheme to get you to buy their services so everything will be perfect?  I have no idea.  I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt in spite of the fact there is one book they have never gotten right.

Lulu.com for my POD (Print on demand) - biggest reason I chose them:  it's free.  If you want to purchase professional services, they are available.  I've had a few problems with the printing machinery creasing or misprinting pages, but as long as I took a picture of the problem and emailed them, they have been good to replace the damaged books.    However, lately, I've had a problem with my soft covers showing on Amazon.  Lulu was supposed to take care of that when I 'purchased' their extended reach program.  They have Live Chat where you can 'speak' to a rep who then helps you with your problem.  I found Live Chat a MUCH better way to go rather than email. 

Now there is another issue:  Lulu sends the information about the soft covers to Amazon, but Amazon is backlogged - REALLY backlogged.  My last three books of the 12 I've written - Storm, Walking in Lightning, and Pic Jump, were published in May and June.  They are not showing.  I contacted Lulu and Amazon and the problem is on Amazon's end.  It should not take them 4 and 5 months to list a product.
There may be something else going on.  I guess I'll find out soon.

18 Oct 2011: Pic is now showing as a softcover but it will 'take longer' for the other two which were uploaded first - no reason given.

24 Oct 2011:  All books with both formats are now showing (insert big sigh of relief)

2013:  New issue:  old cover instead of new on paperback version of Chest of Souls Book One and Two.  Sigh...

Writing a book Step Four: Determination

Step One: Dream
Step Two: Desire
Step Three: Discipline
Step Four: Determination

To write, you must be determined.  Some people might call it pure pigheadedness.  Call it what you will, without it, you will not be able to reach any goal, much less write a book. 

My definition of Determination while writing is:  persistence married to intentions.

Are you persistent?  Can you stick with something until it's finished? 
I'm married to the a man that descended from generations of good hard-working farmers.  His very DNA will not allow him to quit until a job is finished - he is incapable of calling it quits until he is comfortable with the job. 

As writers, we need to do the same.  As Indie authors, it is critical.  We are our own company - CEO, editor, everything.

As an author, you can't please everyone.  You can get a 5-star 'WOW' from one person and a 1-star 'YUCK' from another on the same book.  Why is that?  The same reason some people like vanilla ice cream better than chocolate.  For instance, I prefer 'clean' books - I don't like profanity of any kind, I prefer romance over sex, and if there is violence, it must have a purpose such as self-defense, to save the world, etc.  I'm sure there are millions of readers just the opposite.  To each their own and this is a GOOD thing - it means we can write what we like to read and millions can appreciate our efforts. 

What are your intentions for your book?  Do you intend for your books to be commercially successful or are you willing to just let family have a copy and call it good?

Success takes work.  It means doing things others don't like to do.  One of those things is rewriting.
I usually have about six drafts.

1) Bare bones:  the idea and whether or not I can build a book around the idea.  Maybe how I want the book to end.
2) Bones:  Basic manuscript - I usually write about 20-30 chapters and try to be consistent with length.  In this draft, I made the connections between characters and the main plot.
3) Sinews: Manuscript is expanded and I'm refining characters/plot and making sure the book flows.
4) Muscles: Another rewrite.  I polish the manuscript and fill in holes.  Is it exciting enough?  At this point, I seek to destroy bad elements.
5) Guts: Another re-write and expansion.  Plots and sub plots:  is there enough action?
6) Flesh:  Final re-write/edit/polish.  This is the point I allow pre-readers to see it and point out the things I missed (there are usually typos, grammatical errors, and an occasional continuity issue which is a major oops - like having a character be 6 years old on one page and 8 on another)

Writing a book Step Three: Discipline

Step One:  Dream
Step Two: Desire
Step Three: Discipline

Writing is... wait for it... WORK!  This four letter word seems to be the step where most people get lost or permanently lose their desire.  This is a business and to succeed, you must treat it like one.   As an Indie Author, I am my own boss.  If I fail to host a full-spectrum prism of personal responsibility for my books, my career fails.   

I spend an average of 8 hours a day, but during crunch time I have been known to spend up to 16 (my record was 20).  As much as possible, surround yourself with experts.  My group consists of pre-readers/editors/family/friends.  

I know my weaknesses.  Marketing is not my favorite thing to do.  While I write, my husband's main job when he has free time, is to find and share articles/books about writing/publishing/marketing.  I have adult children.  They offer insights to characters they do/don't like and why.  I do not always take their advice.  I decide because I'm the author.  If the issue comes up more than once, I take it more seriously.  I role-play with my oldest daughter to let the creative juices flow.  It is a phenomenal experience!  I have an enormous extended family who are willing to read - many are NOT readers, but become my fans.  Whenever that happens, the magic spawns more creative juices.

Did I mention the flame of genius is fickle?  For some reason, people I've talked to/read about feel that if genius is not burning, they can't or shouldn't write.  Here's some bubblegum for your brain (if this is the way you feel).  Since most authors must have a job in the "real" world in addition to listening to their muses,  what would happen if you didn't go to work in the real world until you felt like it?  What would happen if you called in and told your boss that you weren't coming in today because your muses were silent?   The same goes for writing.   If you want to succeed, you must WORK.

Another step in the basket of discipline:  Rewrites.  As an author you have to be willing to RE-write whatever you need to and continue for as long as it takes to whip your manuscript into shape.  I was willing to comb through my manuscripts as many times as it took - each time tightening loose bolts, or eliminating fluff.  The upside to rewrites: you learn to write cleaner manuscripts so your effort won't take as much editing.

Recap:  take personal responsibility for your work, treat writing like a business, surround yourself with people who make up for your weakness, be willing to rewrite when necessary.  

Writing a book Step Two: Desire

Step One: Dream
Step Two:  Desire

Writing is my bliss, my passion, my job and, even after writing 12 books in a year, I love it.  There were times I wondered if I would.  I'm grateful I can say YES!!!

One of the first things I do every morning is go out to the computer and press the power button.  Why? I can't wait to see what my characters are going to do!  During the night, ideas come to me (last night I dreamed in technicolor about a kind and good-natured redheaded king, old ruins where cattle were watered, and the future of DVD's - they no longer existed) Okay, that is called creative fodder - the kind of stuff I can and do use in my books.

Writing novels is something I've wanted since I was a teen and, sadly, when I went to college, I listened to the 'experts' of my time and let my dream fade when they said the only writing major they offered was journalism.  It was a big blow.  I wasn't fond of the news (most of it is bad, even then, and why would I focus on that?)  Because I believed them, for decades, I limited my talent to birthday cards, journals, etc.   I was a - dare I say it? - closet writer!  I still penned ideas, but I seldom shared them.

Then I read The Jack Rabbit Factor by Leslie Householder.  The cover of the book had three importnat words that opened doors in my mind:  Why You Can.

Thanks to the book, which woke my dreams, I made the decision to write professionally because I LOVE writing.  Once I gave myself permission to follow my dream, there was no going back to the dark cave where my creative juices used to bubble and hiss while I ignored them. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Writing a book Step One: Dream

After writing 12 books, you have a pretty good idea about THE formula you use to get your book into print.  This is the first step I take in writing:

Write a book : Dream BIG (and don't let anyone steal your dream!)

Take a fantastic idea and be willing to slap the reader with images that blow their minds - if it doesn't blow yours or suck you in, do a rewrite.  Don't use old phrases:  "The dream began..." to begin a book unless in the first page the dream explodes in the reader's face and grips them by the lapels and shakes them hard.  Don't give them any choice but to turn the page.
 
Important:  length of book.  You may laugh, but the first book I wrote was over 252,000 words.  What I learned was traditional publishers won't take a look at you - there are a few exceptions, but for the most part, a first book should be around 200-250 pages.  With that said, simply write the story in your heart.  I had to write it until the story (Epic COS) was finished to my satisfaction.  Now my books average 300 pages (some are more and some are less).  If I did it over again, I would try for 250 and simply add another book to the COS series so that each softcover isn't quite so expensive.  I may still do that...and the good news is that I can because I'm in control of my work, not a publisher, editor, or another person.  I own ALL rights to my books. 

What sells best in fiction?  Character-driven books.  One of my editors, who used to work at a press, told me the reason she loves my books are the characters.  If you don't love your characters, or understand them, it will show in your work.  There are reasons why most people (there are exceptions to every rule) won't write believable books until they are in their 30's - 40's.  The biggest reason:  they haven't lived long enough to experience life on enough levels to really grasp the interactions of people on more than a superficial basis.  Experience counts. 

Even if you have the talent to create great characters, you must be able to weave a story around them that's worth telling.  If you can't do that you won't be successful either.

I've been asked where I get my ideas. 
The answer is everywhere.  Some books come from dreams, others spring from the ashes of unused ideas I had for a different book.  I might watch a movie, read a book, or, as in the case of my upcoming trilogy Sky Signs, watch sunsets and sunrises with the love of my life - for more than a year.  I didn't know watching all of those God-rendered wonders that I would be adding all the information to a stack of ideas. 

After some people read COS, they think I'm a master plotter.  You would think I would be writing murder mysteries and maybe I will - someday.  What they fail to really consider is the fact that COS is an EPIC and as such, had to have significant plot, subplots, and sub-sub plots. 

While there is "nothing new under the sun"  the way people retell stories in this era is the difference between a ride in a 1960 Lincoln Continental and a 2012 Ferrari.  The world is plagued by instant gratification and books are competing with X-Box and other games so they MUST grab the attention of the reader.  

The Harry Potter epic and the Twilight series took tradition and tweaked its nose a bit, re-introducing characters that have always existed (wizards/vampires) in such a way that they sold millions of copies.

In my life time, every 20 or so years, books with particular themes recycle.  For instance, 20 or so years ago, it was Anne Rice and her Interview with a Vampire series that was being touted as new and exciting.  Now, when something is successful, we have three or more copycats and the publishers rush to get the novels out to the world in hopes of riding the wizard/vampire wave of success, knowing the readers are hungry for more. 

Whatever you write, let it be original and something you are interested in.   Love your characters and paint them into a corner as much as possible and get them out of it using unique ideas.       

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kipped 3: Indies - shooting yourself in the foot?

Getting shot is painful.
I've never been shot in real life, but I have in dreams (I've also hit the ground after a fall, so nix the theory that you die if this happens). 

Indie authors are sprouting like weeds because of the easy-to-publish formats we are blessed with.  Unfortunately, some of them never learned to write and are polluting the system with the idea they can get rich quick by offering a 99 cent book.  Vultures are also emerging from this era of epub.  They are the people that steal others people's work, cobble it together, and resell it under a different title.  I resent these kinds of authors because they are giving ebooks a bad name.  The only way to clear it up is personal responsibility: when you release a book, make it your very best work.

Here are some ways to avoid shooting yourself.

1) READ
Before I set my goal of 12 in 12, before it was even a vision, I loved reading.  I was/am a voracious reader.  Focus on the genre you like and choose its best selling books - study them.  However, expand your mind and your talent by reading other kinds of books.  You may be surprised where ideas can come from.
 
2) Edit...Edit...Edit...repeat
I usually go through 5 drafts of my work before I let anyone read it and after they read it, I edit at least one more time.  If you can afford one, hire a professional editor (their prices vary, but $3 a page is the 'norm' the last time I checked).  Do NOT trust your spell checker.  Get a dictionary, a thesaurus - tools for grammar, etc.

Here is one of my personal reasons for needing an editor:  As a young adult, I intended on becoming an Executive Secretary and among my courses: Speed Reading.  The first day they tested us to see where we were.  I was already at 700 words per minute.  When I finished the class, it was well over 1,000 - not a large jump, but speed and retention (remembering what you read) are two different animals; one is a cheetah, the other is a domestic cat.

One thing you're taught in Speed Reading is to ignore small words (if, and, but, for...).  Because my eyes  are trained to ignore small words, when I edit, I tend to skip over ALL 2-3 letter words.  This really becomes apparent to my pre-readers.  I'm getting better at it, but a far cry from perfection.

3) Amputation:  what you do for dry rot
During my 12 in 12, I probably cut 300+ pages of unusable material.  That may not seem like a huge amount to a non-writer, but that's an entire book (months of work).  I toss all my cuts into a junk bin to use later, perhaps in the same series, or another book.  Just because it doesn't fit into one book, doesn't mean it won't work in another.   If you get stuck, you can always go to the junk bin and see if there is an idea with merit, dust it off, modify, etc.

4) Cool off
While the manuscript(s) are in the hands of pre-readers/editors, I'm usually writing another book.  When your work returns and you re-read it, mistakes can jump out at you and you can take an axe to them, tighten loose nuts, or laugh at yourself and make a few quick changes. 

5)  If it's not fun, don't do it!
One of the first things I do every day is turn on my computer.  Now I write 5 days a week instead of 6.  Sometimes I only get 2 hours in, most of the time, its 8.  No matter the number of pages, this is a business for me.  It is a privilege to have the freedom to delve into the world of imagination and I intend to make the most of it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Kipped 2: Traditional or Indie publishing, that was the question

Another question I've been asked:  Why not traditional publishing?

I tried traditional publishing.  I had no idea at the time that it was going to fade because of the advent of eBook (which was being touted as a fad and no match for tradition).  

My efforts to query were successful with more than one publisher, but because of the rumors that were already flying on the net and in the market place, I was already taking a serious look at Ebooks.  After a lot of prayer, research, and my gut feeling, I opted to go Indie.  Now, a year later, while traditional publishing is going the way of the Dodo bird, I see divine intervention again. 

Here's one personal example of why the current/traditional system doesn't work: 

8 months after I had sent the email query for 5 Blanks to multiple sources, I was called and a publisher wanted to know if 5 Blanks had been sold yet.  No it wasn't, I told her, but I had already self-published 5 books; ironically, the very first to be published was 5 Blanks.  The publisher was disappointed, but assured me the query was good enough that she wanted to try. 

I had wondered why it had taken them so long to contact me and I was told my query had ended up on the slush pile.  Some may ask by accident or design?  In hindsight, I have to say by design.  The traditional market, as most people are coming to realize, is losing its monopoly. 

I informed the publisher about what I was currently doing.  They assured me that they would be very interested in looking at anything else I wrote.  In a way, the call was a verbal nod to my talent - a tender mercy of sorts that reaffirmed my faith that what I was writing was good enough for publishers. 

I'm really grateful now I didn't succumb to the temptation of going with a traditional publisher.  I read in David Farland's Kick in the Pants articles that some traditional publishers are heading for years of litigation because they are not paying their authors the royalties earned.

Bottom line:  God understood all of this before it even happened and gave me a heads up and set me on the right path. He has been good to me.

Kipped 1: How I released 12 books in 12 months

The question I am asked most often from both readers and writers is:  HOW did you do it?

My best and most simple answer for that:  with God all things are possible.  Most people believe there is something bigger than themselves out there and I would be foolish not to recognize the divine intervention I experienced; some of those experiences too sacred in nature to share.

Along with that inspiration, I was blessed to have a lot of support from family and friends.

Also, it took LOTS of hard work and painful stretching of my soul and brain.

Many claim hindsight is 20-20 but when you have a vision the size I had, I promise that you must keep your eye on the end result or you're going to stumble over the path when it gets hard and, people, it got hard!

At the beginning of my journey, when the way was still crystal-clear and my characters were still behaving themselves, I was wrapped in ignorant bliss of exactly how much it was going to take to release 12 books in 12 months.  My vision seemed to skip the part where I would be spending 12 and sometimes16 hours a day at my computer, typing, thinking, creating, and, oh, the tale-twister that kipped me:  EDIT. 

The simplified process goes like this:

1) Idea - make that a Mind-blowing, fantastic idea. 
2) Write
3) Edit
4) Rewrite
5) Edit
6)...repeat all 5 steps until the book(s) is/are done

Stay tuned for more of the insiders story.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

3 books 3 awards: Readers Favorite!

May I humbly screech:  I won!  I won!  I won!

There, now that the 'humble' part is over, I will now proceed to blow my own trumpet and proclaim that Chest of Souls Book One, Klaus, and Pic Jump, all won awards in the 2011 Reader's Favorite contest.  WAHOOOOO!  These awards provided validation for my long journey/goal of becoming a multi-award winning author.

To purchase or read exerpt from COS 1 go here:
http://www.amazon.com/Chest-Souls-Book-Michelle-Erickson/dp/0557680026/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1319285923&sr=8-1 

I must get a grip on myself.  Okay, screeching and horn-blowing aside, it was also a deeply humbling experience and I must recognize the divine hand and tender mercies that brought it all about.  I'm  grateful I had divine guidance along the way and the perk of getting to know more quality people.  The miracles that brought me and my family this far belong in a book.

Hmmmm....maybe down the road you will get to read about the trials/inspiration/divine intervention that kept us afloat.

To purchase or read of Klaus go here: http://www.amazon.com/Klaus-Michelle-Erickson/dp/0557756243/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2 

In the meantime, celebrate with us.  In honor of the awards, I have reduced the price of my EBOOK versions (on ALL 12 ebooks) to $4.99 - and I added the award-winning digital 'sticker' proclaiming me a winner!  I love the sound of that word...

To purchase or read exerpt from Pic go here: http://www.amazon.com/Pic-Jump-Michelle-Erickson/dp/1257654624/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_4

Cover art for indie authors

For indie authors like myself, there is a critical step that we cannot forget in order to make our books a success and that is COVER ART.  In the big houses, they have book cover artists that are paid four figure fees for one piece of art. 

I can't do that on a baby shoe-string budget.  David Wolverton/Farland (best selling author) mentions in his kick-in-the-pants (KIP) articles to hire the best - $5,000 or so if you can afford it.

I couldn't. 
So, like David, I recommend either finding someone in your circle of influence/friends that can do it for you (and please be realistic - don't settle for soothing the feelings of a budding artist who really doesn't have any talent but you're related).  Keep in mind that it is your work and your name will be on the cover.   

Another alternative for reasonably priced cover art: http://deviantart.com/  For me, the name of the site is a big turn off, and  I found some of the art is very graphic or sensual and is not for children!

However, there are a lot of VERY talented young artists with galleries of samples of their art.  You will have to wade through those that are just beginning, but many have a lot to offer.

Be warned:  I wanted to commission a piece of work based on a unique twist in the art of one young artist.  However, upon contact, he was balky and wouldn't cooperate.  He was, frankly, unprofessional (in part due to his age) and, in the end,  I chose another artist even though I really liked what the first artist had.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Defining Moment: Readers Favorite Awards Finalist!



It has been said that moments define our lives.
I'm perched on one of those moments right now, balancing on the peak of hope and looking over at the next one.  The next peak is MUCH bigger.  It's called Winners and I' m ready with grin on my face and hope rising in my heart.

Rewind/recap:
A few months ago, I entered the Reader's Favorite Award's Contest.  I know that when books win awards, people take more notice of the books and since I am self-published this is critical. 

When I set out last July to release 12 books in 12 months, I had faith I could do it - and I did (in eleven months in point of fact).  I knew when it was over it would mean more work - of a different kind.  Promotion.  Self-promotion - many author's succumb at that point because it is so challenging.

Honestly, anyone can write a book if they want to - especially  now with Ebook phasing out paperbacks at such an extraordinary rate.  As an Indie-author I have to be an entire company - writer, editor, publisher, etc.  For Indie authors you ask:  How do I get my books to stand out?  Well, one way is to win Awards.  The question then becomes:  did I write well enough to win?

Short version:  I took a risk - I entered some of my books in a contest where the competition is heavier than it's ever been because of the economy.  The good news is, I received word this morning that yes, three books are Finalists!   Here they are:

1) Chest of Souls Book 1:  Fantasy
2) Klaus:  Romance - Fantasy
3) Pic Jump:  Romance - Suspense

That's why I am looking up at the next peak - the 'Winners' peak, the one I long to be standing on.  The winners will be announced September 1st.  The winnings are not monetary in the sense that you get $$$ - but your books get exposure and exposure brings sales. 
I'd appreciate it if you keep your fingers crossed, and prayers said, while I swim in a wide sea of gratitude, bathing in the glory of being one step closer to my 40-odd-years-goal.

And of course...I continue writing - it's what I do.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Book #12 of 12: Pic Jump



Reviews:
August 11, 2011

First rate story with a unique plot
By  Readers Favorite "Book Reviews and Award Contest" (Hawesville, KY USA) - Reviewed by Alice D. for Readers Favorite

Pictarine Nebbie loved her parents but not her name; she prefers Pic. Pic and her best friend/cousin, Dar, run an employment agency. Pic meets the most marvelous man, Mason Jump, in the elevator of the building where her employment agency is located. Mason entertains terminally ill children, gives to charity and is totally devoted to doing for others. He and Pic fall deeply in love, meet each other's families, and marry weeks after meeting. Do they live happily ever after? No, their wedding car is sideswiped, Pic suffers massive head injuries and lies in a coma!

Though badly injured, she is given an out-of-body ability to transfer from one pair of eyes to another. Pic connects with a trucker named Trig, and then lands as a little girl's Barbie doll's eyes. The little girl, Emma, and her mother and father board a plane with a terrorist on board. Pic, Emma and Emma's mother flee for their lives. Pic and Emma land back in Pic's hometown of Evanston, Wyoming, with one of the terrorist's comrades coming after them. Pic has visions of Mason and her loved ones when she's held under water, but will she ever awake from her coma get away from all the terrorist troubles and resume her life with her wonderful husband?

This is a really first rate story with a unique plot that flows well from beginning to end of story. It offers romance and then adventure that will keep the reader enthralled until story's ending. It is well-edited, extremely well-written with believable characters who hold true throughout the story. A wide number of readers will enjoy this when it's in book form. The discerning will be delighted at the author's insertion of a book written by herself into the storyline.

Get ready for an amazing journey., August 23, 2011
"Pic Jump" starts out as a love story with the character Pic finally finding the one guy she has been waiting for only to have her happily ever after cut short-she goes into a coma on her wedding day.
The novel then follows her spirit as she journeys to Los Angeles and the road back home, her companions a four year-old child named Emma, a Barbie doll head, and a murderer whose one goal is to get a hold of Emma.
The intrigue involved keeps the reader turning pages while ignoring the clock that is letting them know dawn is just a few hours away.
Where did I get the idea?

At the time, I was outlining 5 Blanks my post-apocalyptic sci-fi.  While thinking of ways for people to transfer from one body to another I had to consider what was plausible and what was impossible.   
Insider information:

I wrote this book in two months, feeling the press of time on my self-imposed deadline.  I wasn't sure it was long enough so my pre-readers (bless their tired eyes!) had to run their way through it in record time and they assured me it didn't need anything more. 

The cover was my first attempt to do one myself.  I took the picture you see on the front cover in February of this year using one of the roses my son gave me for Valentines Day. I placed the rose on a puddle of ice in front of our mailbox.  I didn't want to use photoshop to remove any impurities, they just added to the symbolism and the picture fit the story perfectly - Pic and Mason's families own flower shops, the story takes place in winter.  On top of that, the rose is beginning to die - the top edges are brown, foreshadowing Pic's coma.  The broken ice symbolizes the sacrifice and precarious position we find the main characters in - and its symbolic of the shattered beginning to Pic and Mason's marriage.
The back cover picture I took on Mother's Day of this year - it was pouring rain, freezing cold, and I simply threw the umbrella on a section of road between Ririe, Idaho and Swan Valley.  It was the first picture I took.  The eyes belong to one of my many nieces (thanks Amanda!)

What the book is about

Here's what's written on the back of the book

My happily ever after started with a coma
I didn’t think things could get worse.

Then I was accidentally eye-napped.

It’s complicated, but because of me, a four-year old is being hunted by a kidnapping-murderer and all she has is a Barbie head to help her out.

If I don’t do something, she’s going to disappear –permanently.

I have one question:

How can I save her when all I can do is jump from one set of printed eyes to another?

TO ORDER


Book #11 of 12: Walking in Lightning (Book 9 and final of COS series)





















The final battle for the souls of men has come in the final book in my epic fantasy Chest of Souls.


Here are some reviews:




The perfect ending!, September 15, 2011
 A completely epic ending to a completely epic series! Michelle Erickson finishes off her nine-novel opus with a very satisfying finale! You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll want to wring Haddy's neck again! Everything is resolved perfectly and yet still leaves room for the characters to continue to learn, grow, and adventure. You won't want to miss this ultimate standoff between good and evil!
Wonderful Ending, June 4, 2011
Beautiful end to an awesome series that made me laugh, cry, scream, angry and frustrated and finally relieved and joyous because of this magnificent happy ending where good triumphed over evil once again. It's an ending that never gets old. 
SALVATION IS HERE! Hold nothing back! June 25, 2011
BRAVO, bravo what a wonderful epic story! Read the kindle version of this book in 4 hours but will buy the softcover for my "Michelle Erickson" collection on my bookshelf! I knew there would be a twist to the ending and I was not disappointed. The "Chest of Souls" series soared into the atmosphere and beyond! Bravo again.  


How the book came to be:

This book was part of the final third in the original trilogy and is the final book in this epic.  Does that sound like a hint.  It is.  There is a prequel and some follow ups planned.  They will not be written by me, but my daughter - who wants more.

Insider Information:

This one was one of the easiest to write because everything led up to what takes place.  All I had to do was write...and write....and write.  Still, when it was all finished I was happy AND sad.  Happy that I could say "It is done!"  Sad for the same reason.  I love my characters.  I've had a few complaints about some unanswered questions - Mal's stupidity being one of them.  Don't worry about Mal, I'm sure he'll figure things out - eventually.  The lightning on the back cover is actually real lightning - I was able to get a picture one day when we had a storm. 

What the book is about:

On the back of the book:

The final battle for the souls of men has come.

Brenna is isolated.

Courtesy of Nez, the ruler of Sogo, she now has a Temis Belt to accompany the Suque he infected her with. As a result, she is possessed and no longer has access to her power. Meeting Talon in dreams is no longer safe because the Suque has made plans to betray Nez and rule Sogo - at Talon’s side. Until the city falls, she’ll have to rely on wit and will to deal with the Suque, the Temis Belt, Nez, and his army of Nightshades. She fears she is no match for all that has combined against her.
Talon is out of time.

Brenna claims she loves him, but she remains in Sogo with Nez – by choice. He doesn’t agree with her reasoning. Each time he comes close to gaining her freedom, something or someone stands in his way. He’s done all that’s been asked of him and more. If she doesn’t come to him, he will go to her. His choice will end in death or finally having a life with Brenna, who may or may not choose him. It’s a chance he’s willing to take.

TO ORDER

Ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Walking-Lightning-Chest-Souls-ebook/dp/B0053HA96U/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1310402428&sr=1-2

Softcover at Lulu.com - will be coming to Amazon soon!
http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/walking-in-lightning/16182385?productTrackingContext=search_results/search_shelf/center/1 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Book #10 of 12 Storm (Book 8 of COS)





















The end of the tunnel is in sight and things are just get more and more dangerous.  Of course, it also means my characters must perform better and better!


Here are some reviews


You'll be blown away!, September 15, 2011
If there's one thing you learn quickly when reading the works of Michelle Erickson, it's to never assume that she can't possibly add more to a plot--or that you have everything figured out! Several important, incredible, exciting, and heart-rending plot twists happen in this penultimate chapter in the Chest of Souls saga and you'll just have to read it to find out what they are, and to get yourself prepared for the finale!

Great Read, May 7, 2011
First off, I LOVE this one! I guess because things are getting closer to fruition. I mean, once I really started to read it. I took off! I read half the book in one sitting! Then finished it with one more!

Addictive! Thrilling! Love this collection! June 25, 2011
My eyes are bloodshot, my heart is racing, I need a break but I can't put the book down until I'm finished! Good news and bad news I even cried at the death why did that need to happen? Never can second guess this author!   

How the book came to be:

This was originally the middle of book 3

Insider Information:

In part, the cover is a  picture I took of a particularly beautiful sunset.  This is supposed to be a picture of the magnificent building that stands in Ogdones - the building where the boys went into the underground cisterns to escape being killed by Sand Slashers, Suck-egg mules, and to avoid suffocating in a sand storm.  It is also the private residence of Lady Revaya millenia ago when she ruled the country of Teris. 

What the book is about:

Brenna's not herself.
In Sogo, she's discovered what she's capable of - the streets are littered with living proof.  All that keeps her sane is when she can meet Talon in dreams and that becomes impossible when Nez infects her with a Suque (soo-kay).  Brenna comes to realize the Suque wants Talon more than it wants Nez and will do anything to have him.

Talon is getting bad news on all sides - the Ammonites refuse allegiance until the storm of prophecy rages, he's uncovered old secrets that make him question Brenna's loyalty, and the traitor is one step ahead, leaving Talon and his army to face certain death.

In spite of outward appearances, Talon is sure that somewhere inside Brenna is the woman who loves him.  That's the woman that he'll risk everything and everyone to free.

TO ORDER:

EBook: http://www.amazon.com/Storm-Chest-of-Souls-ebook/dp/B004YQCDMO/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&qid=1310401603&sr=1-4

Softcover: at Lulu.com - coming soon to Amazon!
 http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/storm/15743481?productTrackingContext=product_view/recently_viewed/left/4