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Ask A Question Thursday

April 18, 2019
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Today’s question is: How did you build your author platform? Was it by personal effort or did you have professional help?

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Last week’s discussion answered this question: If you were given the opportunity to form a book club with your favorite authors of all time, which legends or contemporary writers would you want to become a part of the club?

 

J.K.Rowling, Carol Berg, Edgar Allen Poe, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne (but only if he can speak English as my French is terrible), JRR Tolkein, J. Michael Straczynski,. I would be totally tongue-tied, but I would LOVE to just sit and listen to them talk about stuff.

Jenna Butler I can never seem to reply on the blog for some reason! But my dream group would be Lawrence Hill, Joy Harjo, Lee Maracle, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Claudia Rankine, and Lorine Niedecker.

 

 

Author Interview – Christa Conklin

March 26, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?

In my youth, my father filled my bookshelves with Tolkien, Lewis, L’Engle, Alexander, and Eddings. As I entered adulthood, he bought me Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books as they released.

My dad’s health declined. I began writing my own fantasy novel, transforming my useless anxiety into imaginative scribbling.

During this time, Robert Jordan was diagnosed with a disease similar to my father’s. They endured identical treatments, even taking part in a study for the same drug.

Jordan passed away before completing the series which was finished by Brandon Sanderson. My husband gave me those last three books because my father was gone too.

The sole connection between my dad and Jordan may appear tragic, but out of despair came Tranquility.

How did you come up with the title?

Tranquility is the name of a book within my novel. I wanted the title of that book to clearly represent peace, which was the intended purpose of the rules in that book.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

When I buy a fantasy book, I’m looking for a good story to curl up with and enjoy. I wrote a book I would want to read. Great books stick with me, and make me want to discuss them with other readers. A fictional story becomes the reader’s once the book is in their hands, and any message received is personal. I hope my book provides what good fiction should be: enjoyment; a story that remains in hearts and minds; and a reason for thoughtful discussion. That’s a tall order, I know.

Tranquility - Front Cover.png

How much of the book is realistic?

My hope is that the emotions, characters, and general circumstances connect to the real world enough for readers to identify with them. Some of the setting and characters were inspired by the Adirondacks, one of my favorite places. The messengers in the last chapter were inspired by a pair of Southern Ground Hornbills, who still reside at the Philadelphia Zoo. However, this is an absolute work of fiction.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

There are pieces of me, people I know, and experiences I have sprinkled throughout the story. Close family and friends tease me about certain characters, who remind them of me. The best fun is when people project themselves on characters, who are not at all inspired by them.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

My website is the best place to connect with me. I do not have a blog.

http://www.christaconklin.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christaconklinauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/christaconklin

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christaconklinauthor/?hl=en

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17528828.Christa_Conklin

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Christa-Conklin/e/B0788392DJ/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christa-conklin-72002669/

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

I have the first few chapters of a stand alone WIP written and sitting on the back burner. The sequel to Tranquility is taking precedence.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
I think Taelmai is high on my list of favorite characters. She struggles with hypochondria, but her nurturing personality drives her to care deeply for others, allowing an underlying bravery to well up. She’s a complicated, anxious, loving person, and I wonder about her reliability. She feels very human to me as I care for, worry about, and doubt her.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

Fantasy is my favorite genre. I do like to dabble. My short story Kat, The Jailer, and Jack is a retelling of an Indian folk tale The Tiger, The Brahmin, and the Jackal. This was fun to write because it was backwards for me. I took this old story filled with personification and reworked it into a modern all human cast of characters.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

Seat of my pants, definitely! Reading an interview with Madeleine L’Engle was a huge inspiration to me. Until I read it, I knew I had a basic idea for a story, but I didn’t know where it would go or how it would end. I thought I needed to have this outline to be a REAL writer. Then I read “The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy” by Leonard S. Marcus. He asked L’Engle, “Did you know from the start how the story would end?” she responded, “No. I’ve never done that! It is more fun not to know. If you know exactly what is going to happen, it doesn’t work. But if you start to write the story and listen to it, see where it wants to go … well, I think that’s how God creates.”

Reading this from one of my most-admired authors freed me from self-imposed constraints. I began to write, and the story unfolded.

What is your best marketing tip?

I value personal, grass roots effort as a strong starting place. I have a small teen/young adult tribe who have agreed to help me promote my book. They will be involved in everything from sharing and creating social media posts to live-streaming my author events and overseeing craft tables to talking to group leaders at their schools. Their peers are my readers. There is no better way to reach a population than to have some enthusiastic members encouraging their peers to enjoy what they have enjoyed. Also, talk to people and listen well. I discovered three friends, who have connections to newspaper/magazine publications. All three of them have helped me secure feature articles about my book. Talking to my town’s librarian and comic book store owner have secured me two author events. When I was on vacation in the Adirondacks, I talked to bookstore owners and loon conservationists about my book and its being inspired by their part of the world and the creatures residing there. I’ve made some great connections. Get yourself out there!

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?

I have mixed feelings about social media. Tending to it takes a lot of time away from my writing and the personal engagement I prefer. However, it is a convenient way to reach a lot of people.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I enjoy losing myself in the story as it develops. This feels very similar to why I love to read.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

I usually read for pleasure, but now that I am a writer, I find myself reading differently, noticing technical writing choices. I try hard to put that away, and just enjoy, but sometimes I am struck by a point of view or how dialogue is handled and I become thoughtful about the craft instead of the story.

Where is your favorite writing space?

I dream of writing in a cafe, using WiFi, and sipping a cafe mocha. However, I am a homeschooling mom, who is thankful for the times that my kids are learning independently, taking a class, volunteering, at practice, or playing outside so that I can write by daylight. For me, it’s more about a favorite time to write. That would be by daylight, but out of necessity, most of my writing happens in the wee hours. As for where this happens, I mix it up between my kitchen table, dining room table, and sometimes, when the sun is still up, the desk in my bedroom. That makes me feel fancy!

Bio:

CHRISTA CONKLIN is the author of several articles, and two short stories: Moontail and Kat, the Jailer, and Jack. Tranquility is her debut novel for which she received the 2016 Cascade Award for Unpublished Speculative Fiction. She teaches piano and
woodwinds at a music school in her small New Jersey town. Her family hikes mountains, paddles lakes, strolls city streets, and picks their own everything at local farms and from their own gardens. She and her meteorologist husband home school
their children and don’t train their Miniature Goldendoodle.
Visit her at christaconklin.com.

Review:

Tranquility  by Christa Conklin
“Tranquility is a refreshing take on the fantasy genre. Filled with magic, prophecies,
and plenty of mythical beings, Conklin weaves an intriguing, imaginative
tale that grabs you and doesn’t let you go until the last page. With a rich cast of
characters, vivid world building, and a story you’ll be talking about long after you
finish reading, Tranquility leaves readers both satisfied and yearning for the next
adventure in the series.” —Kathryn Lee Martin, author, the Snow Spark Saga
Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.
March 20, 2019

Blurb:
She must prove there’s more to life than peace and more to death than dying.
The One People find guidance to peace and unity in the pages of TRANQUILITY. Drethene views the methods prescribed in the book as hurtful attempts to escape their diverse ancestry. Such pain is personal, as her parents aim to conceal how different she looks from the rest of their people. Even her job keeps Drethene quiet and secluded. While working in the Academy library, she secretly reads histories used only to teach future leaders to loathe the past. Drethene is inspired by these books filled with cultural variety. When she discovers another world as part of her people’s heritage, a well established enemy is revealed, and she rises to meet the truth and save both worlds.
Now Drethene must convince the One People that their lives are not as tranquil as they seem. They are being hunted and must reunite with a sisterworld that has been erased from their past. If they choose to remain in the comfort of their rewritten history and false sense of peace. they will be dragged into a maelstrom they have forgotten to fear.

 

Social Media Pros and Cons for Writers…

June 6, 2016
mandyevebarnett


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This post was created due to the fact I was worrying about what to write for today’s post while perusing my Facebook and finally noticing two hours had ‘disappeared’ – without me really understanding where that time went! As this study shows it is not an uncommon problem.

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So how do we market, connect and sell our books without being sucked into the social media vacuum? We all know we should be writing not viewing cute videos or scrolling down page after page of posts. Yes, we need to interact and promote but how can we balance our time?

Many sites promote keeping to a schedule – even putting a timer on to force a switch off time or using an app that shuts down the media page. We can be overwhelmed with too many sites – but if we choose carefully and link the actions to the most relevant ones to our specific theme we can save time. A blog post can automatically be shared to Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, etc. this saves us precious writing time.So also setting our social media sites with sharing options cuts down our physical interaction time without reducing its effectiveness. The trick is to identify which sites work best for your particular message and keep to them.

Here’s a great link about that very subject :  http://www.webdesignrelief.com/social-networking-sites-for-writers/

I tend to burst on social media early morning and late afternoon (interspersed during the day when possible). My ‘bad’ time is weekend mornings when I am catching up. This is my danger time and the one I have to forcibly limit myself. If not, I am berating myself for ‘lost’ time writing. Avoiding the lure of social media results in a project started, revised or finished and that is worth any writers time.

When is your ‘danger’ time or times? 

How do you limit your social media time?

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Author Interview – Dana Popov and Marc Evans…

September 21, 2015
mandyevebarnett


Dana PopovMarc Evans

What inspired you to write your first book? 

The first book of the series ‘Ti and the Magical Key’ was part of a project we started in 2007. We is my husband who is originally from Quebec/Canada and I am from Germany.

In 2002 we met in Playa del Carmen – Mexico where we lived for 8 years. The entire area is filled with Mayan history and culture. We wanted to engage the tourists into the culture and the local environment during their stay and believed that a story would be the most entertaining way for children to learn about it. Unfortunately the project back then never took off and we forgot about the story until this year. Our daughter loves books and so I suddenly remembered the story and started writing on it again. Weirdly enough it was really easy.

How did you come up with the title? 

We wanted to change the title from the original project “Key to Paradise” to something new because the project itself was past. The first idea my husband had was ‘Ti and the Magical Key’ and I loved it.

Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)?

Yes, first published book. I always liked to write though. I have a blog in German about food for babies.

Weirdly enough ‘Ti and the Magical Key’ I write in English and then translate it into German. Don’t know why.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Absolutely. Besides being educational on culture and environment it is about empowerment for kids. Believe in yourself!!!

Ti & Magic Key

How much of the book is realistic? 

The story line itself is fiction however all of the environmental information are researched and so are a the places, temples, Mayan gods etc. A lot of little details in the book are true to the believes of the Mayas and educate without the feeling of being educated.

I wanted to ‘un-dust’ the Mayan culture with this book. A lot of existing books or movies are either bloody or feel out of date and do this amazing culture no justice.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? 

The Mayan gods are based on Mayan believes however some of their relations are fiction. The boy and his parents are fiction.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?

It is two of the characters. The gods Kukulkan and Itzama because one is the evil one and the other one the good god. It is the ying and the yang.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 

Probably the format. The second book is a lot longer and more intense than the first book. So it will have a different format than the first book.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? ‘

Dream, Believe and protect our planet.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

That I hopefully inspire children to do more research on culture and environment.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

My first poem was around the age of 8. It was four lines long and rhymed well.

What is your favorite part/chapter of your book/project?

Seeing the story come alive in the images and the first time I read a new chapter to my husband and he goes: “Wow”

What is your favorite theme/genre to write? 

Writing for children and take them on an imaginary journey.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

Any type of abuse

What book are you reading now?

It is a German book. It is a humorous perspective of a mother on her life. I can relate to it. My daughter is four.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? 

I purposely read in German because I do not want to lose my mother tongue. A lot of the authors are German. Probably nobody you would know.

Do you see writing as a career? 

I never did. But I really want the series ‘Ti and the Magical Key’ to reach children all over the world because I love the message and education in it. This is why we translate the story from English into German, French and Spanish.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?

Unfortunately chocolate 🙂 I wish it would be an apple.

Do you have any odd habits or childhood stories?

I am rolling my eyes a lot when someone tells me a story. My daughter picked that up and we had a meeting at her kindergarden where we got told that rolling eyes is not a nice habit.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

On a balcony overlooking the ocean writing a book.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 

A lot of research goes into ‘Ti and the Magical Key’. Because a lot of evidence has been destroyed when the Spaniards conquered the Americas you find different opinions on the internet. At some point I have to decide which one to follow without really knowing.

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

More chocolate 🙂

Have you ever hated something you wrote? 

Not that I remember. But then again my brain capacity diminished during pregnancy and never fully recovered. So I can’t answer that with certainty.

What book do you wish you had written?

Harry Potter

What is your best marketing tip?

I am still figuring the marketing out myself. Currently we have a Facebook Fan page, twitter- and Pinterest account as well as a website. We are trying to get the kids involved and are writing personally to our fans to invite them into the ‘VIP Readers Club’ where we share secrets about the next book and adventures.

As well we started a blog on our website ‘Ti travels the world’ where parents from all over the world are sending us pictures of their kids with the book. I really love the blog. The pictures are amazing and are the best reward.

What genre is your next project? What is it about?

I am working on finishing the second book of the series.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

The gods are playing a much bigger role in the second book and we are introducing a girl. In regards to the environment we cover the mangroves and cenotes/sinkholes.

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How do we find your books, blog and bio?

http://www.tiandthemagicalkey.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html

http://www.tiandthemagicalkey.com/blog-ti-travels-the-world

http://www.tiandthemagicalkey.com/buy-book.html

http://www..facebook.com/Tiandthemagicalkey

You can email us at team@tiandthemagicalkey.com

A Paid Advertising Opportunity Taken…2nd July

July 2, 2015
mandyevebarnett


Book cover

As we juggle writing time, home and social life and book events, it is not just our personal commitment that requires organization but deciding on how effective we can make each aspect. With social media we can blast our books onto the internet but a single post soon disappears into the abyss. Book signings, author readings and book fairs are usually a more effective mode of advertising ourselves and our books. A chance to converse with our readers gives them a real insight into the backstory of the narrative and a sense of the author too. A website is a great way to keep readers informed on upcoming events and publication dates but also gives us an opportunity to reveal how we write, why we write and how the story was created. Character interviews, excerpts and sneak peeks of current projects tempt our readership.

All these options are positive venues for advertising but we also have the opportunity to use selected publications too. I recently decided to spend a nominal fee on an advert in a children’s magazine. It is issued monthly and has a great readership. With download or print options available my advert has the potential to be seen repeatedly and this was a good part of my decision to pay for the advert.I will certainly be repeating this exercise later in the year.

Take a look and see if Five Star Publications can help you. My advert is on page 33 – The Spring Reading Guide.

http://www.fivestarpublications.net/storymonsters

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What paid advertising do you use?

How was your experience?

Would you repeat it?

Do you have any tips on where to advertise?

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