...as I chronicle the journey of Shadows of Destiny from conception to publication and onto bookshelves across the nation! Learn behind the scene information about book festivals, conferences, interviews, guest blogs, and more...
Today, I had the most amazing day. Now don’t get me wrong, if you know me then you know that I try to make every day amazing. But today I had several different conversations with very new friends about a topic near and dear to my heart…the metaphysical/paranormal. What’s so special about that? Well, most importantly, these people trusted me enough to tell me their stories, their experiences, and in part, their fears associated with opening up. Out of respect for my new friends, I won’t divulge their experiences, but over the next few posts, I will detail some of what I shared with them about my personal experiences.
In 2009, I began writing my first novel, Shadows of Destiny, which would later become the flagship for the Shadows of Destiny Saga. As some of you may know, I began writing my manuscript on my Blackberry while on winter vacation. The words just flowed…I had no idea from where they came but they flew from my thumbs to the screen almost faster than I could type them. It was beautiful. After vacation and about 10,000 words, I transferred the files to my laptop and continued. I never dreamed these words would blossom into a full manuscript much less a novel.
But where did these words come from? I pondered that question for days. Eventually it became a question I asked in conjunction with emails to friends, as well. It wasn’t until some time later I learned about automatic writing, and I finally had my answer. For those of you who have not heard of automatic writing it is an almost magical way of connecting with angels, your spirit guides or higher self. They deliver messages which the writer records through paper and pen or even with the use of a keyboard. This was my answer. This is what I had experienced in writing my novel. This is what I experienced while writing emails to friends facing difficult situations in life, my fingers flying so rapidly across the keyboard that I hadn’t any time to waste…no time to read or edit what I’d written, lest the words be lost. What I finally realized was that the angels were speaking through me…with me channeling their words through writing…automatic writing.
There is a plethora of information available about the topic. If you’re interested, I encourage you to research automatic writing. Here’s a great article to get you started: Automatic Writing. If you’ve ever personally experienced automatic writing, I’d love to hear your story! Take a moment to share your comment below! In my next post, I will discuss what I like to call…My Awakening…so be sure to check back again soon.
Over the past weekend, I exhibited my books at an amazing event, Through The Veil: Paranormal, Metaphysical & Spiritual Gathering. This was my second year at the event, and it was no less inspiring than the first time. Included in the presentation lineup were paranormal television celebrities such as Chip Coffee, Joshua Gates, Ben Hanson and John J. Oliver, as well as incredibly gifted spiritual and paranormal professionals and authors such as Panache Desai, Don Simmons, Dakota Lawrence, and Larry Flaxman. A truly fascinating lineup. While I had an opportunity to visit a couple of the presentations, I spent most of my time selling books at my table.
I know, I know...the big question is, "How did your books do?" I have a simple answer to that...it's not about my books. Yes, a strange concept perhaps, but what meant more to me was the incredible power of the human element. I met so many wonderful people this weekend. The friendships that were renewed from last year, and the conversations and friendships forged this year made me richer than I was before the trip.
So, why is it that so many people are consumed by the tangible rewards one receives from daily life? Like most authors, I would love a sell out. But really, I want something more. I want to hear other people's stories. I want to get to know my fellow exhibitors, what do they do, how did they get to that point, who are they, really? I want to get to know my potential readers. I want to discuss topics of interest we share. I want the opportunity to explain how I developed my story lines and share my thoughts on writing with others. I want to talk to aspiring writers who visit my table and encourage them to keep at it and to let them know they can achieve their dreams with perseverence. In a nuthell, what I want is to be a friend. To me, that one friend is more rewarding than a hundred books.
I invite you to think about this the next time you schedule an in-person event, a book signing at a coffee shop, exhibition at a book fair, or perhaps as a guest speaker for an author panel...remember the human element. Take the time to share a bit of yourself with your potential readers and fellow exhibitors or authors, offer encouragement or support if that is what they are looking for, listen to their stories with interest and truly hear them. You never know who you may be talking to...the next best-sellling author, an up and coming literary agent, a future nationally syndicated radio host, or best yet...a friend.
Special thanks to inspiring friends: Jimi Merk, your gifts never cease to amaze me. I'm so glad you liked my use of the beautiful pendant you created in my newest release, Shadows of Truth. Dee, it was wonderful to see you again, sweet friend. Shelly, Lori, Laura and LeeAnn, I look forward to long and fulfilling friendships with each of you.
Today I read a comment about my virtually nonexistent blog from a very sweet Twitter friend. It seems that I have seriously lapsed in posting blog entries, and I want to thank Dannie Hill for bringing it to my attention in such a kind manner. My only excuse is sometimes, life gets in the way...
Over the past three or four months I have been involved in tasks completely un-related to writing. I know...imagine life without writing! But, this weekend I put everything aside and got back to my current work in progress, Shadows of Truth. I think I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the research and writing process!
Research, you ask...well, of course! I research topics for all of my work. For my current WIP, I decided to research something my father told me about. He was a Tunnel Rat in Vietnam, a fact I knew nothing about until this past September. Yes, that's right...throughout my entire life, my father never discussed his military service. But that's to be expected...I'm a girl and an only child...and that was Vietnam...
So, as we perused his photo albums and discussed his work in Vietnam, I learned what an incredible job he had...a job I had never heard of before. Those tunnels were definitely confined spaces and a flashlight, a Colt .45 and grenades seem a far cry from the arsenal one might want when confronting danger. But not for my father...
I have thought a lot about his reminiscences since that day and started researching Tunnel Rats to find out more. The available information and photographs are incredible. One showed a soldier crawling through a tiny tunnel with a flashlight, pistol and a smile...lol! Amazing...
The topic came up again last night when I had a discussion with a Twitter friend, Roger Grubbs, and he made a fantastic point. If I am truly interested in this topic, why not write about it? Exactly...and why not incorporate research I have already completed into my current WIP?!
So, without giving away too much of the plot and specific scenes in the story, the Tunnel Rat in Shadows of Truth is a ghost reaching out to the main character, Analise Michaels. If you didn't already know, Analise can see ghosts and talk to angels. She travels to faraway places without ever leaving her room. So, it makes perfect sense to incorporate the ghost of a Tunnel Rat into the story. For me, the most exciting aspect of this addition to the story will be Analise's ability to see, hear, and feel everything the Tunnel Rat experienced.
Seems to me that this will be the perfect excuse for more discussions with my father, an experience that is one of the richest and heart-felt sources of research available! If any of you have information about Tunnel Rats, I'd love to hear from you, as well. For me, research is key and I am always open to new sources!
When I decided to sign up for Twitter just a few short months ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The purpose was to broaden my reach, I suppose. But in hindsight, I realize I have learned so much more on Twitter than I have learned anywhere else in such a short amount of time. You may wonder...what could Twitter possibly teach me? I pondered this question for some time before deciding to write this post.
First and foremost, Twitter has introduced me to people I may never have had an opportunity to meet. Through this community, I have seen first hand that people from different cultures, countries, and backgrounds around the world really have similar interests, experiences, joys, losses, failures, and triumphs...despite what some may say. And within that Twitter community, or Twitterverse as I affectionally call it, I have found some truly inspiring people: readers supporting authors and bloggers, friends supporting friends, businesses supporting businesses, bloggers supporting authors and readers, and authors supporting other authors, bloggers, and readers.
Indeed, I do not believe I have ever met a more committed and supportive group of people than those I have met on Twitter. Overly optimistic you may ask...or perhaps just delusional...The skeptics may point to high profile statistics and question whether these people are really supportive. They may say those people with high statistics are simply in it for vanity reasons or for what it can do for them. Well, perhaps that is true for some, but most of the people I have 'met' on Twitter follow other people as a show of support, look at the stats...
Do you think, at this point, John Locke really needs to follow anyone else on Twitter? I think 25K-26K followers/followees are pretty good stats. But I followed him just the other day when I decided to pull my head out of the ice ages...and guess what? He followed back. Melissa Foster is another example. Truly inspirational and supportive tweets at 9K-10K followers/followees, and she was one of the first people to ever follow me. At the time I only had maybe 30-40 followers. (Notice there is no 'K' at the end.) But, as accomplished authors, each of these individuals went out of their way to welcome me, support me, and treat me as an equal, as have all of the countless other authors who have supported me and my fellow authors...Patti Roberts, Julie Belfield, Gwenn Wright, and James Wilcox, to name just a few. (No offense intended for not being able to include all of my friends here...equate it to the 140 character restraint!)
As authors supporting authors, we post links to other authors' books, their guest blog posts, and interviews. We cheer each other on for book releases, chart rankings, and book signings. We come together to brainstorm and create new promotional opportunities such as group giveaways, blog tours, and $.99 book events. We create hash tags that help the Twitterverse locate each other's tweets. We sympathize when something doesn't go as planned and encourage a positive perspective. We introduce our friends to each other. We answer questions with which other authors may be struggling.
Twitter has re-invented the concept of support for one another. And from Twitter, I have learned that above all else, we are not only authors supporting authors...we are friends supporting each other's goals and aspirations...turning dreams into realities.
I realize it has been awhile since my last post! I was beginning to wonder if life would slow down enough for me to ever get a new post up. Have I mentioned that marketing is the hardest part of self-publishing? Oh, that's right, I did mention it! With that in mind, I thought the exploration of networking would be a great spring board for this entry...
Networking has evolved at an amazing pace with the advent of social media. Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Discussion Forums, Goodreads, and on, and on. No longer is the traditional face-to-face meet the standard for introducing others to a product or service. And, while I thoroughly enjoy in-person events, like book festivals, signings, and conferences, it is more often the case that authors reach out to their readers through a host of online resources. These web sources allow us the opportunity to link in with people down the street, across the country, and around the world. I have met new friends in Texas. I interact with people from Tennessee to New York, Washington State to Arizona! I communicate via Twitter and Goodreads with a fellow author in Australia. Amazingly, this is just a sampling of the people and places I have been allowed to experience through social networking. Truth be told, it is a lot of work keeping up with all the social networking sites, but I love the opportunity to reach out to readers!
My first three blog interviews were garnered through social media, and I look forward to many more in the future. These interviews allow readers to gain a better sense of me as a writer and learn a little about the inspiration behind my story. Access to authors is becoming increasingly important to readers, and I want to be a part of the generation of those authors who are interested in and enjoy interacting with readers.
In this day and age where face-to-face is not possible due to time constraints or distance, social networking allows a legitimate platform to reach far and wide into the hearts and minds of readers. I encourage all writers to research this incredible marketing strategy and connect with people young and old, novice or professional, reader or author across the globe. If you can touch just one heart with your story, you and your writing have made a difference. If that one heart happens to be located in a far off land, thank the advent of social networking for allowing you to share your story via the great wide web.
P.S. I would love for you to check out my recent interviews!
I have two guest blog spots on the way, as well! I'll update as soon as they post...
Wow, April has been a fanciful whirlwind of activity! The first weekend of the month kicked off a three week spree of book festivals with my inaugural event at the Houston Indie Book Fest. I didn't realize I would meet so many wonderful people on this journey. I quickly found that if there was anything I wanted to know, Udo Hintze knew the answer. He was at the table next to me representing Tiferet. He and Jeremy certainly kept me entertained!
The next weekend found me in Little Rock for the Arkansas Literary Festival. I admit I was disappointed with the setup for this event. It was difficult for passersby to see us beyond the parking lot full of cars. Unfortunately, the traffic we saw were busy rushing to various seminars and had little interest in visiting with the authors and publishers at the vendor tables. Until Lance Turner and Daniel Seddiqui stopped by after their seminar... If you have a chance, visit Lance at Twitter @LT for his review of Daniel's work! All in all, I suppose the lack of possible readers stopping to chat lent more time to networking with other authors, such as Amanda Stephan, Wayne Zurl, and Bob Doerr, for example. I also had a chance to visit with a publisher, editor, and reviewer...very informative. For those interested, there will be a Pulp Fest in Batesville, AR May 13-15, I believe. Not sure if I can make it yet, but the organizers are hoping to really hit their first festival out of the park!
By the final event, the Alabama Book Festival in Montgomery, I was reminded how much I enjoyed meeting readers, librarians, publishers, other authors, and aspiring young writers. What an incredible day! John regaled me with some wonderful paranormal stories. I discussed marketing and writing with Lexi George, another paranormal author. I met a couple of librarians who admitted they were not so closed minded as some librarians I have approached and would certainly be willling to consider self-published authors. I shared a table with fellow paranormal writer Evelyn M. Byrne. Evelyn's friend, Pam, kept us in line with all sorts of creative suggestions and problem solving solutions. (Who knew zip ties, a roll of tape, and rocks could come in so handy?!)
At the last festival, one young lady stopped by for a long discussion about her ongoing writing journey and her dream of becoming an author. My advice to her? Keep at it...journal, write poems, short stories, anything, but keep it in written form not in your head. Sometimes, an author will find that ideas from the past sneak into the current work in progress. Or, maybe those ideas become the muse for future work. Letting the ideas just mull around in your head will get you nowhere, though! Let them out...see where those ideas lead you. It may be a fantastical journey to another world or simply a trip down memory lane. Wherever your ideas lead you, you will find the journey can be just as entertaining as the actual storyline, and sometimes even more so!
So what do I have in store for May? I'm thinking of a couple of smaller events. Fort Stewart, GA has been requested...anyone else with a request for upcoming events, let me know and I will try to fit them into the schedule!
Whew! I think I have finally recovered from the long 1-day trip to and from Houston! The Indie Book Fest was a blast. As my first book festival, it really helped prepare me for what is to come in Arkansas and Alabama the next two weekends. I met some wonderful people and fellow authors.
Among the things I learned, I was surprised that people were interested in the events leading up to the writing of Shadows of Destiny. Question - What made you write this book? Answer - I don't know. Well, obviously that is not the answer people want, so I spent a couple of hours developing an answer (with the diligent and humorous help of a fellow author!). By the end of the day, I had a new hook to draw people to my table and some thoughtful answers to some very basic questions. I suppose I never really thought anyone would be interested in the impetus behind the book since I am virtually unknown. But, the wonderful guests of the book fest proved me wrong while providing me with an excellent opportunity to practice my answers.
So, what made me write this book? Well, it was a combination of interesting events that just happened to culminate in a story about a young girl who has spent almost her entire life in the foster care system, never quite understanding her special gifts...talking to angels, seeing ghosts, traveling to faraway places without ever leaving her room. Prior to writing this story, I had created approximately 5 partial stories over a 12 year span. Between completing my doctoral degree, internship, raising a young family, and subsequent practice as a licensed psychologist, I never got around to completing any of those other stories. But, Shadows of Destiny was different. I felt a connection to this story...something pulled me in and encouraged me along the way.
In my professional practice, I have encountered many people over the years who have experienced some type of paranormal encounter or psychic ability. Some were children, others were adults who had lived years with the shame of their gift or simply tried to hide it...unsuccessfully. My job was to help them deal with the anxiety, depression, stress, isolation, loneliness, poor self-esteem, and countless other problems associated with these encounters. What I heard most often is this...people just think I'm crazy. I was drawn to their stories and their experiences and decided to research what they described. I know, I know...my background is scientific in nature. I shouldn't believe any of this hooey, rather, these people should just be referred for medication or admission into a psychiatric hospital. Something about those options just didn't seem right to me. So, I researched, and I wrote, then researched some more. I learned about Indigo children, US and Russian government involvement in psychic research, and techniques used in meditation, channeling, and remote viewing, for example. I watched television shows about hauntings and psychic kids. I assimilated what I learned from these external sources and my patients. I heard about encounters with ghosts, angels, and spirit guides.
Although I realize Shadows of Destiny is a work of fiction, I hoped in writing this book, the reader would better understand the complex set of psychological and social issues these individuals face, and ultimately realize they should not be treated like social pariahs. Perhaps there is a little bit of the paranormal in all of us...but, unlike Analise, we're just not open to the experience.
When I ventured into this project, I didn't think about everything that goes into actually getting my book into the hands of readers. I did the hard part...writing the book...right? Wrong! I know...I have said that before, but as I prepare for 3 upcoming book festivals, I am reminded of how much work marketing truly involves. Do I discount or not discount the book? How do I offer a discount? Maybe a giveaway? Hmm...
So what have I learned lately? I found some amazing new authors on Goodreads. I learned how supportive members of the Goodread's community can be and how they help with promotion ideas and tasks like tagging my book on Amazon. I rediscovered how much I enjoy creating things, business cards, bookmarks, postcards...I learned that basic scene development for my books tend to draw on experience or research with colorful sprinkles of my imagination. But the most important thing I have learned is how supportive and tolerant my family has been over the past couple of years of this project. Every day I hope and pray that all of their sacrifices will be worth it in the end!
I would love for anyone living near Houston to stop by and visit me this Saturday at Menil Lawn near the Menil Collection Bookstore and the University of St. Thomas. I will be exhibiting Shadows of Destiny at table 17.
Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon Author Central, Website, Blog...wow! The good news, I am now on Twitter... @galeminchew! The bad news? Hmm...
My schedule going forward seems crazy! April, especially:
Houston Indie Book Fest 4/2/11
East Texas Writer's Association Meeting 4/8/11
Arkansas Literary Festival 4/9/11-4/10/11
Alabama Book Festival 4/16/11
I can't wait to report back to you on the excitement each of these events will bring. I am also considering local festivals/fairs, as well, and have plans for more travel in June. Perhaps I can find book signing locations along the way...I understand there are many areas across the country that receive few to no author events! If you have any event suggestions, I would love to hear about them!
I have been swamped the past two days with setting up my Amazon Central and Amazon Associates pages, learning about and embarking on the tagging process, tweaking my video book trailer, setting up a You Tube account, and posting stuff everywhere...I feel like I'm duplicating myself over and over again. Now, if there was just an extra body to reflect that duplication and help me get everything accomplished...lol!
In between the tagging process (three lists to complete!), I found time to research a few more book festivals and discuss my plans for future events with Evelyn Byrne, President of the East Texas Writer's Association. We are in the midst of discussing an impromtu (and very tentative) two-woman tour than should prove quite exhilarating...provided we can accomplish everything to which we have set our minds...lol! Evelyn currently has two book in her Daughter of Prophecy series with a third on the way (soon, Evelyn?). Her series is paranormal romance with its foundation in Irish Mythology of the Tuatha Dé Danann. The Tuatha Dé Danann were the 5th group of people to settle Ireland. Although some resources list these people as descendents of mortals, other writings allude to their possible immortal (or divine) status. Follow Evelyn M. Byrne as she weaves a tale of danger and romance for Megan and Seamus in Unknown Magic. Then, follow Ms. Byrne as she unveils new twists and turns as Megan's uncle, Patrick introduces Megan to Brenna, a small black wolf who is unable to return to human form. You will find dark forces and evil magic at work in this second book of the series, Stolen Magic. Visit Ms. Byrne at her website at http://www.evelynmbyrne.com/.