Who was J. R. R. Tolkien’s writing coach?

My free seminar saga – the conclusion.

But before that — I’d like to tell you I’m doing NaNoWriMo, for the first time ever, and I’m four days AHEAD of schedule. Steve Alcorn, my instructor from several Gale courses I’ve taken, convinced me I could do it. I didn’t share his optimism–I have a full time job and two teenage kids–but it turns out he believed in me more that I believed in myself. Thank you, Steve!

Ah, yes. Forgot to tell you how much I love challenges. So here I am. As of yesterday, November 21, I have 42,000 words. As of the title, I thought “Living Next Door to Elise”, but my heroine started her journey as Lucy and didn’t let me change her name. But I have the most gorgeous cover–hot and sexy and all mine.

Back to the main topic: One of the presenters spoke about the biggest mistakes preventing just-authors from becoming best-selling authors.  Mistakes 1-3 and the remedies can be found in my previous post.

So, mistake #4.

The presenter promised to give beginner authors the best piece of advice, something they should do right away. I held my breath in anticipation. It turned out to be something inapplicable to me: to hire a small army of coaches and mentors for various aspects of your book. Well, why then not throw in some more money and find someone to write you a book? (This is me asking a rhetorical question.) Continue reading

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Shock Me, Baby

I’m still writing about that webinar from the last two posts, on how to become a profitable author in less than six months, which was directly connected to some online challenge you can take. I’m really thankful I had the opportunity to listen to the session.

In my first post I explained why this approach can’t work for me, but as I said before, such events are a gold mine for tips, suggestions, and some sound advice. The idea to revamp my last novel came after one such freebie in September.

Photo by Jon Eric Marababol on Unsplash

In any case, authors, particularly rookies, make various mistakes, but according to one presenter, there are four ‘shocking’ ones (no less!) preventing them from making money out of their passion.

They don’t seem that shocking to me (the title of his presentation sounded a bit like the ads for anti-wrinkle creams: “Shocking! An 80-year old grandma looks as if she is her own granddaughter!” Never mind that now.

On to shocking mistake no.1 Continue reading

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Book cover trends: Fabio is out of fashion!

One of the guest presenters in the free online event I watched in October was a guy who’s a big gun in book cover business. He talked about what you should never put on your book cover.

No scenes. No specific details (from the book, I guess). No drop shadow ( it looks too 1980-ish. Like Fabio Lanzoni.)

So, no Fabio Lanzoni (just joking.)

My parents, cca. 1960.

No eye contact (with the reader) performs better than eye contact. Partial faces (from nose down) are better than full faces.

Other common mistakes: Too much of anything.

“Singing in the rain.” The cute one

Expressions on the faces that show (or try to show) their relationship (I wasn’t sure I noted this one down totally right, but I think I know what he wanted to say.)

Don’t do it yourself unless you know what are you doing (know about cover design).

All this makes sense.

The idea of my PhD paleographer

Then he emphasized something that I should accept sooner rather than later since I have a reputation for being a difficult customer: Let the designer do her/his job.

“I survived the Battle of Blackwater”

Sure. Providing she/he cares about your book. When my first designer (for Blind Date) sent me a couple of her suggestions, I was disappointed. She missed capturing the essence of my story even though I sent her the summary, blurbs, and notes about the characters. One (semi-sepia) image had a middle-aged couple from the times of JFK’s administration, sitting on a bench. The second should’ve represented the idea of my PhD heroine with an IQ of 150, but suggested some cheap erotica. On the third image something was wrong with the woman’s facial proportions – her nose looked like a crossover between those of Lord Valdemort from the Harry Potter movies and Tyrion Lannister after the Battle of Blackwater. One was kind of cute — “Singing in the rain” — but again, it didn’t even hint at the passion and serious emotions of my stories.

And then they say I’m difficult.

The next four were my suggestions.

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

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You are the only one who can tell this story

In the last week of October, a week before NaNoWriMo, I got an opportunity to watch a series of presentations aiming to make a profitable author out of your shy, writing-for-the-pleasure-of-it self.  It was a five day event, each day sessions were free for 24 hours, or accessible forever, if you pay. Which was only fair, because the woman who put it together did a tremendous job.

There is a challenge you can take online to become a profitable author in a few months, and this event was some sort of warming up stage before the real workout. I’m not advertising for them so I can’t get into more details.

Unfortunately, I’m sure that, despite my sometimes inhuman determination, I won’t become a five- or six-figure author any time soon.

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

The problem is that lots of the things they suggest don’t work for me. I have a full-time job, and I’m a full-time mother. I haven’t slept six hours straight since my first child was born. I don’t have much of social life. I stopped watching TV long ago…

What looks achievable in theory–and probably works for some in practice–is different in reality for most of us. So no shortcuts to financial success for me, I’m afraid. I struggle with the most basic requirement: time for writing. If I can spare 4-5 hours per week for writing (I read for about two hours every day, but reading is not negotiable) my serotonin level immediately jumps up.

I don’t attend such events hoping to get a magic formula to do the impossible. I participate (when I have time, that is) because I can still benefit from them. The presenters are experts in their fields, and they know what they’re talking about. I learned many new and interesting tips, and heard lots of sound suggestions.

One participant, for example, talked about the three biggest misconceptions that prevent us from finishing our books. Here they are:  Continue reading

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Once Upon A Night, formerly known as ‘Blind Date’

This September I had the opportunity to attend a free, three-day webinar on e-book publishing and marketing.

Lots of things I heard made sense. I wanted to try some of the ideas. Revamping my novella, Blind Date, seemed like a good start.

The title wasn’t the best choice. The first story, which was called Before the Night Is Through, is a retelling of the story of Cinderella. So why not emphasize it? Once Upon a Night is a subtle hint about its fairy tale origins. It became the new title of the first story and the book as well. The teaser is another clue: it mentions midnight, and the clock and the end of the magic. Or perhaps a new beginning?

The second story–its title hasn’t changed, it’s still called Blind Date– also had some sort of a ticking clock feeling. And it happens in complete darkness with all the senses–except the visual, of course–fully employed.

(I didn’t change the stories themselves. I like them the way they are: one longer and more romantic, the other shorter and more erotic, but Once Upon a Night and Blind Date are two halves of the same whole, two chapters of one tender, romantic, and sexy-as-hell tale of love lost and found again. Each story can stand alone, but only together are they complete. And I’m telling you all this just so that I can weave some nice songs into this post. So, when I think of Once Upon... and Blind Date— I hear “Dance Me to the End of Love” Or “I’m Your Man”. Or Un ãno de amor, (from Pedro Almodovar’s  1991 movie High Heels), only with a Happily Ever After ending.)

The original cover was pretty and elegant, but not a perfect fit for the story. The book had a boring, non-fiction type of subtitle. 

Fortunately, self publishing gives you incredible flexibility. I unpublished Blind Date, commissioned a new cover, changed the title, removed the subtitle and added the teaser. I made a few small changes in the manuscript, and my friend, Susan, proofread it once more.

I found the cover designer on Fiverr.com. Her name is Annoula, she’s from Greece, and she was wonderful to work with. The price was way more reasonable than for the first cover. My other friends helped me with many other small decisions: about font, colour scheme, layout.

What do you think about the result of our intercontinental (and domestic) collaboration? Pretty, isn’t it?

Now I’m going to turn the manuscript, new images, etc. to my friend and formatting wizardess with the patience of a saint, Merry from Anessa Books, a fellow author who writes lovely romances as Meredith Bond.

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Find the cover. The story will follow.

There is no right or wrong way to start writing a book. It could be from the beginning. It could be a specific scene–I did it with Asanni –and then building the story around it. You could even start from the end.

But never before had I started from the cover.

I found the sexiest cover alive. Absolutely gorgeous. As sexy and hot as Santana’s Smooth. Believe me.

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

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Love gone wrong, love done right…

… in a fabulous story of chance romance.

Blind Date got two more reviews.

It’s currently unavailable–I unpublished it to fix a thing or two. It’s going to reappear with a new title and a new cover.

So the reviews:

“This novella in two parts had a fascinating premise. The stories were quick paced and interesting. While I’m not a fan of first person stories, I quiet enjoyed this duo. My only complaint…the heat levels of the two stories seemed unbalanced with the second story much hotter and the first much more romantic. Overall…a fast trip to sensual romance well worth taking. Kaufman weaves a fabulous story of chance romance.”

 

“Blind Date is a novella in two stories. Kaufmann writes about love gone wrong, love done right, and the barriers people put up between. Each story is short, spicy and romantic. The characters are sympathetic; the stories believable. Kaufmann’s Blind Date is a hot interlude for a cold night!”

See you next time!

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