Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Content is king, but promotion is queen.— P.J. Feinstein

How much author promo should I be doing? I tweet, post on Instagram, make all calls on my Facebook page and update my YA blog. While it is part and parcel of being an author, you would think that I could keep things to a minimum since I am not self-published. Yet I see very well-known authors doing the same. Authors with an agent, a large publishing house behind them and a history of sales. It seems it is now embedded in publishing. For me, the reality of online sales is that my book is competing with millions of other books. How does one gain visibility if no one even knows it exists?

I spend too much time on my devices working to develop exposure. Trying to balance promo with social media fatigue is proving to be challenging. It is a fine line between getting the word out, wearing yourself out and tiring out your followers. I mean, folks only want to see my book flogged so many times. When does it shift from interesting and informative to eye-rolling frustration? I wish I had the answer.

In an attempt to keep things varied, I’ve been experimenting with a variety of free software. My latest is Adobe Spark Video. I’m doing a giveaway over at Goodreads, a signed copy of Cutting to the Chase, and I wanted something different to promo.

What do you think? Does it add interest or is it just another way of presenting same old, same old? Are you tired of seeing authors endlessly promoting? Have you found a way around it? If so, what do you do to get the word out about your book or someone else’s? I would love to hear from both readers and writers on this.


And if anyone has any ideas about how to get my book into the hands of my target audience—teens—please, pretty please, share those too!


Friday, 21 April 2017

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. —Tony Robbins

I wrote Cutting to the Chase in one month. It has taken me far longer to write Mags’s story. Sometimes life got in the way, as it does and should. I believe in putting the passivity and insularity of writing on hold and becoming an active participant in the world around me. I’ll stop to give lovin’ to my fur girls, to spend time with my husband, and to enjoy the company of friends. I’m also lured away by a sunny day and the promise of fresh air and gardening. But these things did not prevent timely writing.

Part of the problem was the distraction of having my first novel published. Between celebrating and promoting, my mind was more often centred on Lizzy’s tale than Mags’s. It has been an exciting ride and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, but it definitely cut into the time I dedicate to writing. I will need to look at that and see how I can balance it better in the future.

The bigger problem was a stalemate with creativity. My original story arc didn’t hold up and I struggled to adjust. Even when I did have a sense of where it was heading, the words didn’t come easily. At the beginning of the month, I was finally frustrated enough to get angry—with myself. I believe we choose how to respond to any given situation, and I chose to use that anger to whip myself into shape. Enough was enough.

First, I set a definitive goal. I would finish Mags’s story by April 30. Second, I was going to create empty time in my life to allow my thoughts an opportunity to be unfettered. To do this, I stopped reading on the elliptical. I’d been using that time to catch up on my TBR pile. With digital recorder nearby, I would exercise before my scheduled writing hours. I hate exercising. It bores me. So, sure enough, within ten minutes my mind would start to reach for things to think about and inevitably it went to writing. Eureka!

I’m happy to report that after 20 days of scrambling back upstairs and pressing ‘play’ on that digital recorder, I’ve managed to double my word count. I need to backfill a couple of early scenes but essentially, Mags’s first draft is done. It will go into a cyber drawer for a month or so before I pull it out for round two and tear it apart. But that will go much faster. Not just because the essence is there, but because I’ve learned how I work. I need firm deadlines and an opportunity to be still…while moving. That’s when the ideas and the words sneak in.

Who knows, maybe I’ll write my way to fitness?! J





Wednesday, 12 April 2017

And now for something completely different...

I’ve shared a lot about my debut novel lately, and I always talk plenty about my writing. I meander through my mind from time to time and share personal ponderings. Once in a while, I expose my political views. However, that’s such an unpleasant well-travelled path online these days, I’m trying to steer well away from it. So, today, I’m going to veer from all of the above and share a snippet from a significant era in my life.

You had a glimpse of this part of me in my November blog post. Prompted by the death of Leonard Cohen and needs of the Christmas season, I posted my rewrite and performance of Hallelujah. That performance with our wonderful musical theatre troupe, the Madcap Players, showcased my serious side. But the company wasn’t called Madcap for nothing. Comedy was a mainstay.

This clip is a tribute to vaudeville’s Sophie Tucker. Opening with my husband and I doing a Soph joke, I tried to co-opt Bette Midler’s style from the 70s. In homage to Sophie Tucker, Bette based many of her stand-up comedy routines at the time on the bawdy vaudeville star.  Not as edgy as Bette but still a little risqué, this is the kind of number I loved to perform.

Our production was held around this time every year. I suppose that is why it’s on my mind. Months of brainstorming, writing, dancing and singing came to fruition each April in the form of a three-act cabaret-style show. So much work, so much laughter and so much love went into each one. The creation, the performances, and the friendships are indelibly stamped on our hearts.

The quality is not great, but here it is. Another peek into this author’s world.


Saturday, 1 April 2017

If I don't want to do PDA, it's not that I have something against you.—Coco Chanel

Some people are comfortable with public displays of affection, some believe such behaviour is too personal to share. Keev and I walk hand-in-hand, we lightly plant kisses, and we sit at the theatre with my hand nested snugly in his on his lap. So, moderate PDA on our part, but we are not offended by more effusive displays. I’ve seen anger erupt in public, and that is far more disturbing than any PDA will ever be.

My YA novel has been out in the wild for five weeks. I have no idea how sales are going and will not know until my royalty cheque, based on percentage of sales, comes in. The first quarter ended yesterday, but it will not be telling since it has not been out in the universe very long. From what I understand, third party payments (e.g. Amazon, Chapters, etc.) take time to come in, so will probably not make this first cheque. Not that any of that matters, but sales are part of the equation of writing for me now and I look at ways to increase them. Which has me pondering book reviews, which are proven to boost sales.

As of this morning, Cutting to the Chase has only been reviewed by one person on Amazon.com, one person on Amazon.ca and no one at Chapters-Indigo. The insecure writer in me would panic were it not for the emails and messages people have taken the time to write. Without those, I would be in a fetal position sucking my thumb. So, thank you for the wonderful words of support, for sharing your favourite parts, quotes, and real-life stories that connect to the novel’s content.

I have tried to encourage review writing, not to individuals as that is presumptuous and invasive, but by sharing how the algorithms work on the online book sites. I certainly did not know how it worked before getting into this process, only finding out about it a year or so ago. I read a fair bit and it didn’t cross my mind that what I had to say might be important to an author. I now make the effort to do so—and it is effort. Most of us spend too much time online as it is. Heading off to a book site to leave a review is one more thing to do in busy lives. It is why I cannot urge individuals to do it. What right do I have to impinge on their time? I mean, they’ve already put out money to buy the book and taken the time to read it.  Without a doubt, that is enough.

Yet I continue to ponder sales and reviews and how to generate both. In reflecting on reviews I have written, I realize that I have a caveat. I will only review books I absolutely enjoyed. There is nothing wrong with a three or four-star rating, absolutely nothing—good and very good. Despite knowing that, if I can’t give it a five star, I tend not to review it at all.


This all-or-nothing mentality is what led me to thinking of PDA, and how it’s such an individual, personal choice. I’m comfortable publicly showing affection for books I love, but am much more reserved when it comes to books I liked. And that’s okay. Okay for me and okay for my readers.

Friday, 17 March 2017

I think there's something about the Irish experience - that we had to have a sense of humor or die. —Frank McCourt

Top of the evenin’ to you!

Ireland is on my bucket list. I had hoped it would get crossed off sooner, but I have a feeling it’s worth the wait. I grew up on the island of Newfoundland, and have no doubt that the character and scenery in Ireland will rival that of the Rock. And that says a lot because I adore Newfoundland.

I have cousins in Ireland, although I’ve never met them. During a tour of England and Scotland, I was fortunate to meet my Scottish clan. They hail from Dalry, Ayrshire, and it’s through them that I know I have relatives in Ireland. I wish I had taken the time all those many moons ago, to cross over, meet them, and have a wee peek at the Emerald Isle. Unfortunately, excitement nipped at my toes and I was anxious to head off on the grand adventure of backpacking for a year throughout mainland Europe.

Perhaps that is why Mags comes from an Irish family. While I try to keep me out of my writing, it seems inevitable that aspects of my life sift down and settle on the shores of the story. Mags is American born, but her parents are Irish immigrants. They exemplify the values I associate with being Irish — hard-working, honest and grounded by family. And, let’s not forget, a solid sense of humour. It’s where Mags gets her joy of laughter.

Mags stayed with me after I finished writing Cutting to the Chase. Her laughter rang in my ears. I have written her into a place barren of that sound and am struggling to write her out of it. While the luck of the Irish may not be shining on her right now, the strength of her heritage is in her core. She won’t let me leave her there.

So cheers to you, Ireland, on your special day! And here’s to you Mags Brallen. May the world come to love you as I do!



Rough, very rough, excerpt from Mags’s story:


"Well, aren't you the lovely lass this evening?"

"Da! Whatcha been up to now?" His hair is plastered around his head and his collar is dark blue with the water stains.

"Ma was complainin' about the slow drain in the sink, so I thought I'd have a look at the pipes." He grins. "They're not slow when they're apart."

I love his laugh. It's a deep rumble that starts in his chest and finds its way out in a loud boom.

"You think it's funny do you?" Ma flicks a towel at his backside. "Sure and fine for you to be laughing when I'm the one on my hands and knees cleaning up your mess." Her smile makes a lie of her chastisement. "Oh, that dress is lovely on you."

"Why, thank you." I twirl, pleased that the dress creates a breeze. I feel like that old-time movie actress Ma loves. I can't remember her name. The platinum blonde one.

"Where you off to?" Da grabs the t-towel and starts rubbing his head. "Need a lift?"

It's too far too walk and I don't want to get all sweaty. But, I also don't want to be dropped off like a little kid going to a birthday party. It'd be embarrassing if someone saw that. "No. Thanks though. I'll just catch the bus." And get off a block or two away from the house. Not telling him that though. He'd tease me for sure.

"Call if you need one home," he says and pecks my cheek.

Ma gives me a quick hug and a kiss too. It's the way of it at the Brallen's—I can't get out of the house without a little lovin'. And, really, I wouldn't want it any other way.

"You really do look lovely, lass. Be a good girl."

"Thanks, Ma. Will do." I duck out from under her arm and head out the door, excitement and nervousness rolling together in a ball as big and bright as the sun that's still shining.



Saturday, 4 March 2017

Giveaway!

Pop on over to my YA site and enter for a chance to win an eBook copy of Cutting to the Chase. The contest runs until Friday, March 10th.
http://rosephillipsya.blogspot.ca/
Click to go to my site and enter.



Friday, 24 February 2017

Release Day!

Today Cutting to the Chase hit the cyber shelves as an eBook. Currently available in Kindle format, you can find it on the Amazon sites as well as on EvernightTeen. The print version, as well as other electronic formats, will be released over the coming weeks. So, if you prefer a different format, hang in there. It's coming.

It is a busy day of streamlining links across my various social media apps and getting profiles set up in distribution sites. You should now see my pic and bio at all Amazon outlets, except Canada. Oddly, I can't find the set up for that one.

I will also be preoccupied this afternoon with cleaning and prepping. For tonight, friends are coming over to celebrate the release. Seriously, would you even recognize me if I didn't raise a glass of bubbly to commemorate this occasion?

But know, dear friends, near and far, old and new, that this process has been made all the richer by your support and enthusiasm throughout the journey. Tonight, I raise a glass to you too!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06X9DN15V/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1487956576&sr=8-2&keywords=cutting+to+the+chase
Amazon.com
https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B06X9DN15V/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487956479&sr=1-1&keywords=cutting+to+the+chase
Amazon.ca
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06X9DN15V/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487956692&sr=8-1&keywords=cutting+to+the+chase
Amazon.co.uk
http://www.evernightteen.com/cutting-to-the-chase-by-rose-phillips/
EvernightTeen

Saturday, 11 February 2017

I know exactly why I attack my legs. To feel something—anything. And to make the hurt stop. —Rose Phillips (Cutting to the Chase)

I know many of you have seen this already, but I’m not sure that everyone who follows the blog also follows me on other social media formats. So, for those who have missed it, we have a launch date for Cutting to the Chase. February 24th! It will release first as an eBook, with the print copy to follow a month or so afterward.

I am thrilled with the cover design. It captures the novel perfectly. The artist does not shy away from the very tough subject of self-harm. I approve heartily. It is not a topic to be sugar-coated, but one that needs to be thrown out into the open, discussed honestly and candidly with compassion and empathy. That is a road to healing.



Friday, 27 January 2017

“That’s what storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again.” – Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks


I love what I do. How many people are fortunate enough to feel that way? For me, opening up the laptop and entering my stories is as exciting as going on vacation. It's much the same in many ways. I think about it constantly, I prepare with enthusiasm and I disappear into the pages of another world, one totally disconnected with my own. Just like a holiday, right?

Yet, lately, I haven't been able to successfully immerse myself in my writing. The world keeps knocking on my brain, popping up and distracting me, distressing me. I have considered staying away from all social media until Mags's story is complete, but I have Cutting to the Chase to launch next month. So it's not a good time to disappear from avenues of promotion.

Despite the staggering sense of doom that abounds everywhere you turn in the media, I fervently check throughout the day. It's like coming upon a car crash and knowing you should look away but some insane part of you stares, riveted to the scene. I keep waiting for the punchline to this very bad joke, and it isn't coming. Trickles of human insanity have always infiltrated our lives but this all-out bombardment is more than disconcerting; it is unnerving and leaves me wondering where our world is heading.

Accompanying this sense of ever-growing anxiety is worry for my many friends who are grappling daily with acts of racism and hate, struggling for their rights and despairing that their country will not survive the environmental impact of decisions being made. Heck, the world is worried about it.

I also worry about us. I'm concerned about our complacency, about the surety that it won't happen here. I wish I were confident that we have indelible moral fortitude, that our Canadian-ness is truly infallible in its kindness. But Kellie Leitch, who says that Trump's win is an "exciting message and one that we need delivered in Canada", and Kevin O'Leary, who has no political experience and is a loudmouth reality TV show personality (if that doesn't send chills down your spine, then you're doing a better job blocking out the news south of us than I am), are being presented as legitimate possibilities for leadership of the PC party. Not to mention, we just have to remember that Toronto elected Rob Ford not so long ago. It can happen here. It might happen here if the ugly rhetoric we hear daily starts to feel normal.

I don't yet know how to balance my concerns with my writing. I'm certainly not willing to bury my head in the sand and ignore what is going on. But, through the centuries, writers have shown us that stories are important too. They provide insight, give us a cathartic outlet and help us navigate our own world. And, sometimes, they just provide a much needed escape. It's why I read. It's why I must find a way to block the noise and write.

http://www.azquotes.com/author/12339-Alan_Rickman

Friday, 20 January 2017

Down the Rabbit Hole...Again!


I didn't get much new writing done on Mags's story. Instead, I began some research for it and fell headlong down the rabbit hole. It's a problem I have. At first I thought the thrill of chasing knowledge and facts was confined to historical research. I've always been passionate about history and it made sense that I could easily get lost in it. Apparently, I thoroughly enjoy research of any type and slip down the slope of information with ease. Worse, I have little desire to climb back up and get down to the task of writing.

Mags is starting Fashion and Design at college. I know nothing about it, and since it's going to be part of the world she inhabits during the space of the novel, I figured I should get a sense of what it might be like. Many videos, multiple fashion blogs and numerous articles later, I can say I know a little somethin' somethin' about it now. And it's so stinking interesting.

I know the basics of fashion sketching and rendering. I can rhyme off the list of materials needed to create a pattern from scratch and I can describe the purpose and essence of a mood board. From the basics of what stitch for what seam to how to pad a mannequin, I have watched it all, or read about it. Colleges provide video glimpses into their classrooms. I can see Mags standing in the middle of those rooms, sitting at one of the industrial sewing machines or drafting a design at one of a series of long tables filled with students as diverse as the designs they dream of presenting to the world.

This information will now percolate in the back of my mind and pop up in the writing, sometimes planned, sometimes unexpectedly. That's the added joy of researching. It allows me to embed authenticity within exposition and dialogue. I always fall further down the hole than I anticipate but, inevitably, a choice piece of information found unexpectedly in one of my tangential tunnels will prove to be a gem. There is nothing more satisfying than that.

Oh, did I mention that I now want a sewing machine? J

Friday, 13 January 2017

Update


Welcome back!
I apologize for my delay in returning to the blog, but life got in the way. I've also been preoccupied with the busy-ness of getting published. And that's what I thought I'd share with you today. My fellow writers waiting in the wings may find this informative. My friends and readers may just be curious. If it is of little interest to you, here's a great video about a dog and a hummingbird you might enjoy instead. I won't be offended. Off you go. J

I was not required to revise any aspect of Cutting to the Chase. After reading about so many authors struggling with requested revisions, it was a great relief not to have to tackle that particular mountain on this first climb. For proofreading and copy editing, I was assigned an outstanding editor. Lisa knows her stuff. She caught some word omissions (they're hard to spot because you subconsciously insert those missing little beggars as a writer and as a reader), and taught me a comma lesson I somehow missed both as a student and a teacher. Even Keev, my resident grammar guru, was unfamiliar with this particular comma rule. In researching it—yes, I question everythingJ—it seems, in most instances in my novel, both ways are considered correct. One is a traditional approach, the other contemporary. And my choice was contemporary! I was quite surprised, as I would have classified myself as a traditionalist.

Lisa was supportive and responsive to all of my questions. She assured me that commas are the single most contested issue with editors and authors, and that it often comes down to preference. Publishing house preference played a large role in the edits. Spelling had to be changed to American versions, Oxford commas had to be inserted (I use them instinctively but had removed them as many in the industry have moved away from them, especially in young adult novels) and formatting had to be adjusted to fit Evernight Teen's printing specifications.

The marketing team has connected with me and encouraged me to launch a variety of media. Many of you now see me on Facebook, a place I was hesitant to enter but am enjoying tremendously. On the practical side, there are several private Evernight Teen groups in there that offer me support and promo opportunities. I will soon set up my author page on Facebook as well as on Goodreads and Amazon. For Facebook, I am merely awaiting my cover. For the other two, I need my ISBN to set up.

I have long been active on this blog, Twitter and Instagram. However, these accounts were designed to support the launch of adult material in Historical Fiction and Historical Romance. I still intend to continue writing in those genres, so I want to maintain my presence under the name Rose Rambles as is. To that end, I have alternate accounts for my young adult launch. You can find my new blog at rosephillipsya, my second Twitter handle is @rosephillipsya, and here is the YA Instagram. These last two are directly linked on my YA blog.

If you're a little confused following all of that, welcome to my head. Spinning is a daily state of existence. There is plenty to think about and a long list of things to do. Next up will be the cover reveal, which I will share everywhere. After that, Cutting to the Chase hits the cyber shelves. That's both exciting and nerve-wracking, and I can hardly wait!