Elizabeth Belyeu’s Path to Publication Story

Today’s Path to Publication story comes fellow Astraea Press author, Elizabeth Belyeu.

Without further ado, here’s Elizabeth…

*************************

I write at work, at my desk, on my bed, at the kitchen table – in my head before I go to sleep, on scraps of paper in my pocket, in emails sent to myself. Writing, the masochistic pursuit; how sad the cries of the writer trying to outline! How savage the tearing of hair when characters refuse to cooperate! And yet I would never want to stop. Something inside me would have to die before I could even consider stopping.

I published my first book in kindergarten, and by “published” I mean “stapled pages together and colored on them.” My first novel came at age 9, when I bought a blank journal with two cats on the cover and wrote their adventures on the inside. (Pitter and Patter, my first real characters. Ahhh, good times.) In grade school there was a collaboration with my best friend about two girls who find their way to a fantasy world; in junior high came the series (scribbled in notebooks during gym class) about the group of teens with psychic powers; through most of high school I labored over a novel that I never could figure out how to end. By then I definitely knew I wanted to Be A Writer.

I did my research. I learned about agents and editors, royalties and cover art and slush piles, and I’m glad I did. I’m glad that, by the time publication became any sort of option for me, I had no rose-colored glasses about how it works.

I read book after book after book on How To Write. I took a correspondence course in high school; in college, I took Creative Writing classes, even when I no longer got credit for them. Later I joined a local critique group. All of those things were helpful, and I recommend them. But I think now that the two most valuable things for building my writing skills were first, writing – writing all the time, figuring it out as I went – and second, reading. I read just as ceaselessly as I wrote, absorbing stories and storytelling, learning the tricks of the trade on a bone-deep subconscious level. I was the kid that mispronounced words because I’d read them a hundred times before I heard them spoken, and I think there’s no better way to master language than to let it just saturate your brain like that.

In 2008 I started a new story because I was bored and alone at my sister’s house. I took the first chapter to my Creative Writing class and learned it was crap. Writers have to be thick-skinned; you have to understand that a criticism of the work is not a criticism of the writer. The work can be fixed, and that fixing process is what makes you a better writer, however much it stings. That crappy chapter was nothing worse than a false start. I did it again, and did it better. I kept writing. The crappy chapter became Secondhand Shadow.

My older sister, Misty, has long been my First Reader, the one whose feedback leads to the second version that others see. Tired of investing herself in things I didn’t finish, she demanded a new chapter of Secondhand Shadow every week. That was exactly the nudge I needed, and inside of a year I had a finished novel manuscript for the first time since junior high.

Several rounds of revision later, I started searching for an agent. There are a lot of websites out there that can advise you on that subject; one I particularly recommend, even if some of its advice might be a touch dated now, is Miss Snark (http://misssnark.blogspot.com), an anonymous literary agent who blogged for several years about the querying and agenting process. I read her entire archive, and came out the other side able to piece together a decent query letter. I queried about 40 agents before my letter caught the eye of Lindsay Ribar at Greenburger Associates, and she requested some pretty intense revisions before she would take me on – but in the end I had a stronger book, and a real live agent!

Then came the awful part – waiting for the book to sell. I told Lindsay not to tell me about rejections, I didn’t see any reason to put myself through that. But as time ticks away, you know your agent is out there working and that means you’re getting rejected. It took two solid years for Lindsay to find a publisher for Secondhand Shadow, but the moment she told me about Astraea Press I knew it was going to be a good fit. They offered me a contract just a couple days before my 29th birthday, which was perfect timing – I’d been feeling very down about turning 29 (29! The last frontier of early adulthood! How is this possible!) still unpublished. Lindsay and Astraea gave me the best birthday present ever!

The work didn’t stop there; more revisions followed, mostly to make my book conform to Astraea’s exacting standards, and to fix some structural difficulties. I spent 12 solid hours at my desk, getting it done before the deadline. And after that came galley corrections. At this point I’m actually unsettled by the idea that I can’t change the book anymore. It’s out there. It’s published. It is set in stone, for good or ill.

Book Blurb

SecondhandShadow1400X2100It’s supposed to be a symbiotic relationship: the Shadow serves and protects the human Lumi, the Lumi feeds and cares for the Shadow. But when Damon’s Lumi died young and severed the bond between them, he declined to go with her like a good little Shadow. Yes, it hurts. Yes, he’s cold and hungry all the time. And yes, his own people call him an abomination. But for the first time, Damon’s life is his own, and he’s never going back.

Or so he thinks, until he meets Naomi, a pregnant college student… and bonds to her as his new Lumi. Which has never happened to a Shadow before.

Naomi has enough problems on her plate, juggling college and a crappy survival job, preparing for a baby, and getting over her cheating ex-husband. The last thing she needs is a dark, brooding fellow like Damon depending on her physically and emotionally, and hating her for it. But a vigilante among Damon’s people has his sights set on Naomi – and they both know Damon is her only chance for survival.

Buy Links: 

Amazon            Barnes & Noble

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Belyeuis 29 years old and lives in Alabama, where she supports herself, her cat, and her steadily growing TBR pile as a library assistant. She graduated from Troy University in 2008 with a bachelorʹs in English (Creative Writing minor). This is her first novel, but she has been writing since she could hold a pencil, and plans to continue until she is too senile to type.

Connect with Elizabeth

Blog           Facebook

Another Movie about Writers Writing

A while back I did a blog post about writing and author-themed movies (CLICK HERE for the post), and now I’ve found a new one to add to the list.

Authors Anonymous centers around a group of writers who belong to the same critique group, and what happens when one member finds success. Rejections, stalking literary agents, and much more writing fun is featured in this movie.

I highly recommend!

CLICK HERE for the movie trailer…

Writing Fun Friday, and the County Fair

Weird Al created the perfect song for word geeks…and I love it!!!

 

Book Signing News

Look for me at the Lane County Fair this Sunday, July 27th. I’ll be signing my book, Along the Way Home, from 11-1 at the “Oregon Authors” table between the two exhibit halls.

I’ve got candy to give away and fun quizzes about the Oregon Trail, so stop on by! (Extra bonus if you bring me my favorite fair food, a corn dog )

What about you? What’s your favorite “fair food”?

Click on the link for a full list of all attending authors (I’m about 1/3 down the list) http://www.atthefair.com/Oregon-Authors/

Violet Ingram’s Path to Publication Story

Today’s Path to Publication Post is by Violet Ingram.

Without further ado, here’s Violet…

**************

I think the beginning of my Path to Publication really started when I was a kid. My mom and I would spend Saturday mornings in the library. We would walk in the front door and she would head off towards adult fiction while I headed off to the kid’s section.

Mysteries were my first love. I fell for the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Encyclopedia Brown. I always imagined myself off solving the mysteries with them. I would come up with new cases and act them out.

Fast forward a lot of years and a ton of books read later to 2001. I had just given birth to my fourth child and I decided that the stories in my head needed to be put down on paper. My mom believed in me when I dared say it out loud. She brought me pages and pages of websites for research.

It took years for me to finish that first book – a book that shall remain tucked away. After finishing the next book my husband encouraged me to join a critique group at one of our local bookstores. It was the best decision I could have made. Next up, I started reading and researching agents, publishers, and submission processes. I also entered lots of contests and got lots of helpful input. The most important thing I did was keep writing.

Fast forward again, this time to 2014. I got my first publishing contract. I admit I squealed and jumped around the living room.

Death by High Heels will be available July 28, 2014 from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

DeathbyHighHeels_Draft.

Book Blurb:

Spending time with a dead guy, being interrogated by the cops and getting stitched up by a cute ER doc aren’t exactly the evening plans private investigator Kimberly Murphy envisioned. Especially the getting caught standing over a dead body, again, part. Only this time it wasn’t her fault. Just once she’d like it if homicide detective Grant Tompkins didn’t assume she was guilty.

To clear her slightly tarnished name, Kim goes after the clever killer while avoiding a certain hot homicide detective determined to put her in handcuffs – and not the pink, fuzzy kind – not that she’d mind. Too bad Kim’s efforts lead to dead ends and even more dead bodies. Kim will need all her skills and a bit of luck to outwit a killer who’d like to put an end to Kim’s meddling permanently.

About Violet:

Violet Ingram is a wife, mother, and author. She and her husband have been married for over 24 years and they have 5 children.

Violet’s love of books was the direct result of having spent Saturday mornings going to libraries with her mom. Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Encyclopedia Brown were the first books she fell in love with.

Death by High Heels releases with Secret Cravings Publishing on July 28, 2014.

Violet is busy at work on her next book.

Contact Violet:  http://violetingram.blogspot.com/

 

Krysten Lindsay Hager’s Path to Publication Story

Today fellow Astraea Press author, Krysten Lindsay Hager, is sharing her Path to Publication Story.

Without further ado, here’s Krysten…

*********************************

twiI’m really excited that Christi Corbett is having me here to discuss my “Path to Publication.”

I started making up stories as a little kid and my mom always brings up how I “won” my first writing contest in the first grade. It was a “Name the Teddy Bear” contest that was open from kindergarten through the eighth grade and somehow my essay won. I still remember I started the piece with, “We should name the bear Taffy because he’s sweet like candy.” I know, take a moment to bask in that brilliance, right? But I won a little stuffed clown for that and my love of writing grew.

I wrote stories all through grade school, but it was my fifth grade teacher who told my parents that she thought I’d become an author. Mrs. Bostwick continued to tell me about writing contests even after I finished the fifth grade. My character in True Colors, Landry, has her teacher, Mrs. Kharazzi, enter one of her stories into a writing contest and I was thinking about my experience when I wrote that.

When I enrolled in the University of Michigan-Flint, I was lucky to have great professors that were very encouraging of my writing. I took extra literature classes even after I had fulfilled my English degree requirements because I learned so much about writing from studying the authors. I was nervous to take my first creative writing class and be critiqued each week in front of the class, but it helped me so much. One of my creative writing buddies, David, passed away a few years ago. He was a great supporter to me. He would always share my columns with people and encourage me when I was stuck on a story we were working on in class. Being around people who were as passionate about writing helped me a lot.

I started writing for the university’s newspaper and the editor, Keith, let us write a test column and I almost passed out when mine was published. After that, I started writing columns regularly for the paper and I enjoyed that. It also prepared me for public response to my writing as well.

I had always started novels, but had issues finishing them. Taking writing courses in college helped, but it was when I went on to do an independent writing course that I finally finished a book. That is the hurdle a lot of writers have trouble with—finishing. After that I began working on a YA/MG book idea that eventually became True Colors.

I took the first chapter to a conference and had a professional critique of it. Then, I got a request to see the whole story, so I began working on the book. I ended up rewriting it and changed a few major parts of it over time. It was a challenge balancing writing and submitting with everyday life and I learned my experience in journalism was key in helping me deal with rejection. You have to have a very thick skin to be in this business and it’s hard to get so close time after time and still be waiting.

I actually stopped submitting the story  for a long time because I was doing more journalism work and then I moved twice—once overseas. When I finally moved back to the U.S. I was working on another project and I happened to go to a book signing in town with a football player, Tim Green. I was just there as a football fan, but I mentioned I wrote and he asked if I wrote middle grade/YA, too. I thought, you know it has been a long time since I sent True Colors out, so I submitted it to three places and it got picked up.

I really don’t think the book would have come to be had it not been for all the experience I got from college (and grad school) lit courses and the many critique groups I’ve been in over the years. You can never learn enough about literature or this business.

***************************

TrueColors453X680Book Blurb:

Every day I walked down the sidewalk to school and wished I were one of the interesting popular girls who ran up with exciting news. Just once I’d like to be one of those girls instead of the being the one who didn’t get invited to things because people “forgot” about me.

Landry Albright gets pushed into trying out for the American Ingénue reality show modeling competition with her two best friends. She doesn’t think she stands a chance, but she advances to the next level in the competition and her friends ignore her when they get cut.

Enter the gorgeous Devon, who also makes the first cut and includes Landry in her clique. Devon becomes the perfect best friend, but can their friendship survive the competition?

Landry hopes her big break could come at any moment, but soon sees there’s much more to modeling than getting your hair done and looking pretty. She begins missing out on being with new friends like Ashanti, a girl who truly has Landry’s back. Landry also has the chance to have a boyfriend when she meets a boy named Vladi from another school.

Part of Landry wants to be famous (and have her hair look good for once), but part of her just wants to be accepted. She learns about friendships, being true to yourself, and that a good hair conditioner doesn’t hurt.

Buy Links:

Amazon                  Barnesandnoble                 Amazon UK

Smashwords          Itunes                                 Kobo

About Krysten:

Krysten Lindsay Hager is an author and book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and also writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. TRUE COLORS is her bestselling debut novel from Astraea Press. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows.

Connect with Krysten:

Website: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KrystenLindsay

Instagram: http://instagram.com/krystenlindsay

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22444090-true-colors

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96jxcUH54hU

Amazon author profile: http://www.amazon.com/Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/e/B00L2JC9P2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

I’m a RONE Award Winner!!

I’m honored to announce that my debut novel, Along the Way Home, is a 2014 RONE Award winner, American Historical category.

(Click here for a list of all the winners)

Budget issues meant I couldn’t attend the ceremony in Las Vegas, but fellow Astraea Press author, Frank Borne, who was there for his nominated book, Fame and Misfortune, was kind enough to accept in my absence and give my speech (which I wrote the morning of the awards ceremony and then went out to create sidewalk chalk art in the driveway with my 9yo daughter)

Here’s my speech :)

************

First, I’d like to thank everyone at InD’Tale Magazine for all the time and effort in putting together this event, and for all you’ve done to bring recognition to independent and small press authors. 

I would like to dedicate this award to Stephanie Taylor, the owner of Astraea Press. She took a risk and said “Yes!” to me, and my first novel, Along the Way Home, when over sixty people had already rejected it. She believed in me when no one else did, and for that I am forever grateful. 

Thank you, Stephanie!

**************

Though I couldn’t attend, I was able to get updates via my laptop from insiders who attended, so I was able to follow along “live” during the awards, and celebrate with my family when I got the news.

Three other Astraea Press authors also had reason to celebrate that evening…

Calico Daniels, RONE Award winner, Novella category, for her novel, Fried Pickles and the Fuzz.

Wendy Knight, RONE Award winner, Young Adult Paranormal category, for her novel, Feudlings.

Jill Urbach won an Honorable Mention, Contemporary: Artists and Writer category, for her book, Two-Room Flat.

Thank you everyone who has supported and encouraged me and my writing over these past years!!!