Monday 25 January 2016

3 Ways for Authors to Connect at Comic Cons…

Getting to know Dr. Evil
Ever been to a Comic Con? I attended and worked at my first one recently, and I have to say it’s not what I expected. Diehard fans swim through the aisles, wearing costumes of their favorite super hero or from their favorite video game or movie. And it’s scary. These fans are true-blue, focused, and know what they’re looking for when they come to spend their hard-earned money. While I was working the aisle with my boss, Justine from Mirror World Publishing, I made some mental notes and came up with three ideal ways that may help authors connect better when showing their wares at a Comic Con.

Make your name (brand) known. This is part of your author brand, so have a banner along the table or a poster looming behind you that explains who you are, what you’re selling, and what you’re all about. Signage is so important at Comic Cons and any event you attend as an author. So show’em what you got!

Sharing my wares!
Work the floor. I bought a costume specifically for this! I dressed up as Robin Hood (one of the characters in Book #1 of The Last Timekeepers series) and handed out chocolate gold coins or wrapped red licorice to people passing by. When working the floor at any Comic Con or event, you should use the three ‘Ses’. Stand. Smile. Small talk. Be approachable (hence the costume) and for goodness sake, create a connection so that people will remember you!

Give away promotional material. This is a no-brainer. People LOVE freebies! That’s why I like giving candy away at author events. Stock up on postcards with your book covers on the front and info about the book and you on the back. Don’t forget to sign them either! Bookmarks are also a favorite among giveaways for authors, and my publisher had plenty on hand that offered 15% off if you buy directly from their website. What a deal! Be creative with your giveaways, you never know when you’ve made a fan for life!

Boss lady ready for business!
One last thing. It helps if you’re an active member of your graphic novel/comic community. Your networking is solid and your foot is already in the door. People buy from authors they know and trust. The fan base is the meat and potatoes of a Comic Con. Create your own fan base by connecting with people at events such as Comic Cons, continuing to build your author brand, and being authentic in the way you treat and help others. Trust me, this goes a long way with people, and may just get you noticed!

Have you attended any Comic Cons in the past? If so, which ones? Did you attend as a fan or vendor? Would love to read your comments! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

Monday 18 January 2016

Author Spotlight: K.S. Jones…

I want to thank magnificent middle grade/young adult author, K.S. Jones for showcasing her award winning book Shadow of the Hawk on my blog today. I’d also like to congratulate K.S. on recently signing a contract with Mirror World Publishing for her middle grade fantasy book, Black Lightning, which you can read about HERE. High fives, K.S.! Now let’s get this spotlight rolling…

Debut Novel:

Title: Shadow of the Hawk
Author: K.S. Jones
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Length: About 350 pages
Release Date: February 2015

About the book:


It is May 1932 and life in the timbered rise and fall of Western Arkansas has just gotten harder for sixteen-year-old Sooze Williams. With debt mounting and both friends and family fleeing, Sooze is determined to "do the right thing." She promises her heart to a well-to-do man believing true love is just another loss along the way. But when her uncle is murdered and family is accused of the crime, Sooze faces a different kind of battle. One too important to lose.
Excerpt from Chapter Three:
As we neared Uncle Ray and Aunt Lissie's farmhouse, the front left wheel, which was already whopper-jawed, hit a pothole in the road. Smack! The bolster clapped against the wood under our feet, and Cora nearly flew off the wagon seat. I caught her by the brown puffed sleeve of her dress and pulled her back toward me, holding her tight. Pulling hard on the leather reins, Daddy stopped the wagon. We could hear Uncle Ray yelling.
"You get off my land, and you stay off, you no-good little thief!"
Busting out the door of the hen house, Henry's friend Benny was running like a wild man. His black hair was whipping across his face like strings from a wet mop, and he had his dirty white T-shirt pulled up like a hammock at his belly. It was filled with eggs.
"Go on, scram!" Uncle Ray came out the door of the hen house, swinging a leather strap. "If I catch you here again, I'll beat the tar out of you, boy!"
Benny was in a dead-run. As he skidded around the back of our wagon headed for town, I saw a red welt the size of Uncle Ray's leather strap across his cheek.
"What'd he get from you, Ray?" Daddy called.
"He stole my whole batch of eggs!" Uncle Ray walked toward us with one shoulder of his blue bib overalls hanging. He wasn't wearing a shirt underneath to hide his big belly or a hat to cover his balding head. "I knew movin' in this close to town would just invite the hoboes and hooligans." He stopped at the wagon, reaching up to help Cora down off the seat, and kept right on talking. "But that boy — that loony little two-bit thief — he's the worst of 'em all. If he was stealin' so's he could feed his family, I might look the other way once in a while. But when I get to town later today, I'll bet I see a fresh batch of brown eggs for sale at Huckabee's. All that boy does is sell what he steals from me so's he can gamble and booze."
"It ain't right," Daddy agreed, shaking his head. "It just ain't right. You want me to go get the sheriff and be an eyewitness? A complaint is easy to file."
"Won't do no good," Uncle Ray said. "With only one lawman in town, the sheriff said I needed to catch that boy red-handed myself and hand him over. But who can catch him? Did you see the way he lit out of here runnin’ like a jackrabbit?"

Reviews for Shadow of the Hawk:

"The realism of John Steinbeck meets the thrill of John Grisham in this tale of love, sacrifice and betrayal." ~ Reader's Entertainment Magazine

"This is one of those young adult novels that every adult will want to read. It's filled with wonderful characters and a heartwarming story set in the midst of America's darkest days, the Great Depression. Jones' voice is reminiscent of Steinbeck's at his best." ~ W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear, USA Today and New York Times bestselling authors of People of the Thunder

"With a clarity reminiscent of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, K.S. Jones gently draws the reader into a masterful description of the grit and hard times of one farm family's struggles during the Great Depression." ~ Alethea Williams, author of orphan train novel Walls for the Wind

Buy Links:

About the Author:

Author K.S. Jones, whose first name is Karen, has been writing most of her life, usually in stolen moments between raising children, caring for elderly parents, and working a real job. She spent fifteen years writing and researching her Depression-era debut novel, Shadow of the Hawk. During that time, she had short pieces published, but it wasn't until 2014 that her writing took a giant leap forward. Early one summer morning, an email arrived announcing she had won the Southern Writers 2014 Short Story contest. Still at her computer reveling in the moment, a second email chimed – a publisher was offering a contract on her novel! That same week, two more publishing offers arrived for the same novel, and she hasn't looked back since. Mirror World Publishing has her middle-grade fantasy, Black Lightning, scheduled for release in May 2016.

Additional Tidbit-

Born and raised in California’s San Joaquin Valley — the destination of thousands of families fleeing the Dust Bowl during America’s Great Depression — the author's favorite childhood pastime was reading. She especially loved The Grapes of Wrath and To Kill a Mockingbird plus all the Jack London novels. Who could expect Shadow of the Hawk to sound any differently than it does? She now lives in the beautiful Texas Hill Country with her husband, Richard, and their three dogs, Libby Loo, Red Bleu, and Jack Black.

Monday 11 January 2016

Writers and Boundaries…

My Writing Womb
Actor/writer John Cleese once said to an audience that in order to be creative, two things must occur: you need to create boundaries, and make time. That’s it. Even if you write or paint or woodwork for one hour, you MUST shut yourself in a space, and let no one in for one hour. Writers would sure benefit from wearing a turtle’s shell so we could withdraw from the world any time we wanted! LOL!

Early mornings are a popular working time for many writers and artists, for a few obvious reasons. If you get up early enough, you can generally count on being free from visitors, phone calls, and other interruptions. And if you go straight to work on your creative project—if you literally put it first in your day—you can guarantee that your working time won’t be derailed by other commitments or temptations.

So how do you acquire that coveted time to write? This has been an ongoing obstacle for many writers, including yours truly. Especially when life gets messy. And trust me, it does! I guess the best advice that I can give is that you need to make sacrifices. Instead of watching three TV shows with your better half, cut back one or two (pick your favorite to watch), then scurry to your writing lair and put your fingers to the keyboard. Lock yourself in your room. Tell your family members that once the door is closed for the set amount of time you’ve chosen, you’re not available. Period. Even if someone screams bloody murder. If you need to, buy earphones, download a music app, and plug in. This will help to keep those distractions out and the words flowing.

Another option is GET OUT of the house and go to your local coffee shop or library. Many authors have chosen this avenue with great success. Libraries have more confining hours, but most coffee shops are open 24 hours. The idea is to create both time and space for yourself to write. Plus, you’ve got fresh coffee or tea on demand, so that’s a bonus!

A more expensive idea if you can swing it is to rent a motel or hotel room for a personal writing retreat. You might be able to get a good deal during off-season periods, or even use those air miles you’ve been saving to cash in on a room. What about using a friend’s home or apartment a few times a week? The possibilities are available, but we have to utilize them.

This upcoming year, I need to make some sacrifices and define my space (physical and emotional) in order to finish writing the next installment of my time travel series (so close!), and start brainstorming the next book. I’m lucky enough to have my own writing office, and there’s no little ones around to knock on the door. Unless my 100 pound yellow Labrador decides to nudge open the door to be fed or walked! I’ve used a timer in the past, but like anything, if it’s not made a habit, it’s not going to work. Self-discipline is the name of the game in this business, that’s for sure! So keep a stiff upper lip, define your writing space and time, and get that book written!

How do you define your boundaries as a writer? Where are some great places you like to write? Do you allow yourself a certain amount of time to write? Would love to read your comments! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

Monday 4 January 2016

Writers Taking Stock…

In the Tarot Cards, the Seven of Pentacles is all about taking stock. Reevaluating what you’ve been working on for some time, and reflecting on what you’ve accomplished so far. The beginning of a new year is a perfect time this. It’s a time for assessment and future planning, as well as a time for a change.

I’m lucky to be with a publishing company who sets business goals for the year and shares these plans with their authors. Some of these plans include to publish a certain amount of books while keeping slots open for authors who are writing an ongoing series, featuring a new book each month with blog posts, videos, and discounts, attending many events and festivals, and producing audiobooks. They want to continue improving and growing, and so do I. Part of that growth includes building their brand. And that’s my goal too.

So how am I going to continue building my author brand? By blogging weekly, sharing interesting and helpful information on the social media, helping other authors achieve their goals, connecting with readers through events and visits, offering sales and giveaways, and of course writing more books. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I’ve not been able to get more of my books into the hands of my readers these last two years. This will change in the upcoming year with the publication of the second installment of The Last Timekeepers series, The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret later in 2016. I also plan to work on researching and outlining the third book in the series next year too!

My literary agent also has big plans as Walden House (Books & Stuff) has set up a satellite office in the UK, and will begin re-submitting the first book in my Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls series throughout North America and Europe. Patience is the name of the game when you’re working with an agent, and since I’m busy producing my time travel series, it’s a win-win for me. This is the beauty of developing an author brand. When potential publishers check you out, you’ve got a platform and a body of work already on the go. And that’s when all your hard work and persistent effort will pay off!

Finally, I can’t stress this enough, but having a positive mental attitude helps tremendously. It will not only carry you through the tough writing times where you’re lucky to get a paragraph written in a day or make enough sales in a month to buy a coffee and donut, but will see to it that you stay true to your dreams. Trust me, you’ll have good days and bad days, but if you take stock on where you’ve been and how far you’ve come as a writer, things will become brighter, better, and lighter. 

How do you take stock? Are you in a happy place now with your writing career? Wishing you all a very Happy New Year, and thank you for taking the time to read my blog! Cheers!