AuThursday – McKenna Dean

GOAC BannerPlease welcome, McKenna Dean to the Clog Blog.   

SignatureLogo_300x218McKenna, please tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’ve done a number of different jobs over the years: worked as a lab tech, in a vet clinic, as a dog trainer, an actress, a singer. I’ve always walked a fine line between my creative/artistic side and my scientific one. When I graduated from high school, I thought I had to choose—and so I gave up writing and focused on my career. Many years later, I discovered online fanfiction archives and I was obsessed! When I began writing again, it was like opening a floodgate. The encouragement I received from fandom allowed me to submit my first story for publication, but no one was more surprised than I when it was accepted!

Since then, I’ve written over 20 stories, but in so many different genres I didn’t have a recognizable brand. In 2017, I made the decision to re-brand myself and concentrate on just paranormal romance.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

I’m a die-hard panster—working from just the barest outline, a faint idea of where I want to go and trotting off in that direction. I love it when my stories surprise me! But the longer I do this, the more I realize I’d be more productive with more outlining. I’m trying to find that balance between outlining enough that it streamlines the process without becoming a story killer by taking all the spontaneity out of the writing.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

I have. Once when I attempted NaNoWriMo—it was a kind of pressure and writing style all wrong for me. But also when I’m too tired and emotionally drained to write. Sometimes a story stalls for weeks. I remind myself of Louis L’Amour’s quote to “Start writing no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

What genre do you write?

My focus these days in on paranormal romance and urban fantasy.

What draws you to this genre?

I love the world-building and the way the genre lends itself to political and social commentary. I love the magic of the supernatural, and the power of shifters.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

I love snowed-in stories, so I wanted to set up a situation in which my main characters were pitted against each other but wound up having to work together for their survival. An inheritance with conditions seemed to be the ideal way to bring a fangirl with a secret and a shifter whose inner wolf is in hiding together. Add in a snowstorm, a stray dog, and a series of increasingly dangerous accidents, and you have Ghost of a Chance.

How are you publishing this book and why? (Indie, traditional or small press)?

I’ve both worked with a small press and done indie publishing before, and they both have their pros and cons. Publishers typically provide quality covers and reputable editing, and these are major perks when you are looking at paying for those services yourself. But working with a press means working on their schedule—meeting deadlines and so forth. It can take up to a year from the time you submit a story to seeing it published and getting royalties—which means you really need to be producing a new work once per quarter at the minimum.

As an indie author, I’m my only client. Yes, I have to pay for cover art and editing, but I can set my own price and launch dates. The amount of promotion is nearly the same in either case, though a well-known press can give you a leg up there too. Honestly, I like doing both. Sometimes it’s nice to turn over the reins to someone else. Sometimes you want to have total control. With the demands of my current job, indie publishing seems to be a better fit, but I intend to offer my next book to a press.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Writing is a muscle—the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Read the kinds of books you want to write. Read good books. Bad books only teach you to imitate them. Don’t read your reviews. I know, no one listens to that one, but if you do read your reviews, try not to let the bad ones derail your process. Keep a folder of all your good reviews—you’ll need them when you are promoting the next book anyway—but more importantly, read those glowing comments when you need encouragement. Read the reviews of your favorite stories too. There’s comfort in realizing there are people who hate a story you know is brilliant.

Follow Chuck Wendig’s blog—he has some terrific things to say about writing. Read about improving your craft, but above all, take what you read with a grain of salt. If advice doesn’t gel with you, no big deal. Do what works for you and ignore the rest.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

The easiest way to find me is to go to my website. There are links to my social media on almost every page, but the most complete line up (including Instagram and Book Bub, as well as my newsletter) is on my blog page: http://mckennadeanromance.com/blog

As a matter of fact, you can just subscribe to my blog there, and you’ll get all the latest news when I post it.

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

ghostofachance_finalThe light faded as they approached the dip in the drive leading down to the bridge crossing the creek. Long shadows were cast from the tree line onto the drive, and as they rode into the shade, the temperature dropped as though they’d walked into a freezer. Casey pulled Indy up as he inspected the tracks. He pointed at a trail going off to one side. “Someone made a break for it here. Didn’t want to cross the bridge, most likely.”

He urged Indy in that direction, following the tracks splitting off into the woods. Indy obliged, trudging through the deeper slow, icicles gathering on his feathered legs.

The other tracks crossed the bridge. That way led to the road. The thought of Athena or the other mares potentially ending up in traffic turned Sarah’s stomach. The horses aside, some driver could get killed if they rounded a corner and found the mares in their path.

Sarah closed her legs around King’s sides and urged him across the bridge. He didn’t want to leave Indy and balked at crossing the wooden structure. The bulk of the missing horses had gone that way, however, and Sarah thumped her heels against the reluctant gelding to follow their trail.

Ghost exploded out of the brush to block her path, barking furiously. The Shepherd favored one foreleg, and as Sarah watched, drops of blood flecked the snow around the dog.

King rocked back on his haunches, preparatory for a spin for home. Sarah pulled up on the reins and closed her legs around the spooked gelding. Behind her, she heard Indy crash through the vegetation. Casey must have turned him around.

“Go home,” she shouted at Ghost. “Bad dog!”

She clapped her calves against King’s flanks and the

gelding sprang forward. Ghost scooted to one side as the horse charged, flinging snow behind him in his wake. Sarah leaned across King’s neck as he galloped across the bridge, belatedly considering the slickness of the wooden planks. Too late now. Once they were across, she’d pull up and wait for Casey.

Halfway across the bridge, a terrible shriek rent the air. Wood splintered and failed. Boards separated under the weight of horse and rider and came apart. King screamed as the footing beneath him gave way, and he plunged into the icy stream below, carrying Sarah with him.

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Tina’s Teaching

****Please Forward to your Writing Groups****

S.E.N.D presented by Tina Holland
Workshop begins: August 7, 2017
Class length: Two weeks
Cost: $15 (free to RWA® Online Chapter members)
Registration opens July 24, 2017

Link to registration: http://rwaonlinechapter.org/?page_id=466

Workshop Description:

Submit your work

Establish your brand

Next book

Discover your strengths.

Are you struggling to find a home for your finished manuscript?   Have you submitted your book, but have no idea where to go from here?   Tina Holland’s SEND workshop may be for you.  In this class, you’ll learn:

1) How to research and SUBMIT to a publishing house and get what you want.

2) How to ESTABLISH your brand, even when writing different genres or standalone books

3)  The importance of working on the NEXT book

4)  DISCOVER your strengths as a writer and learn to use them to your advantage.

About the Presenter:

Tina Holland was born in Frankfurt, Germany and is now settled in the Red River Valley of North Dakota. She lives on a hobby farm and enjoys horseback riding, camping, travelling, and reading books by her favorite authors.

Tina has been published since 2005, and continues to release books as her schedule allows. Tina is a member of RWA Online, Zen Writer’s Garden and the F-M Word Weavers. She hosts a blog at https://tinaholland.wordpress.com/ and you can reach her at  tina@tinaholland.com
Deadline to register is August 7, 2017

FMI: http://rwaonlinechapter.org/?page_id=466

Or email Patti Fischer at fisc40pa@aol.com

You do not need to be a RWA® member to take the class.

Note: RWA® Online conducts all workshops via a message board system located on this website.  However, access to the site is restricted by login and password to ensure that the workshop is only available to those that are authorized to attend.

AuThursday – Nicole Evelina

Nicole Evelina headshot horizontalPlease welcome, Award Winning Author, Nicole Evelina to the Clog Blog.  Nicole, you write in multiple genres, are there any particular challenges with that?

Branding is a little more difficult because I can’t simply say I’m a historical fiction author or a romantic comedy author, I have to explain that I do both. But it’s not much of a hassle. I mainly write historical fiction and I have more trouble moving from one time period to another when I change books than I do from moving from past to present or from historical fantasy to straight historical fiction.

Q:  Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I have a full-time job, so most of my writing happens on the weekends and on vacation days. My day job is as a writer in a marketing department, so a lot of times by creativity is done by the end of the day, but I do write at night or on my lunch hour if I’m particularly inspired or if it’s during NaNoWriMo.

Q:  How did you come up with the idea for GUINEVERE’S TALE TRIOLOGY?Camelot's Queen eBook Cover Large

When I was in college, a friend of mine gave me a copy of The Mists of Avalon for Christmas. I LOVED it, but I hated the author’s portrayal of Guinevere as meek and well, boring. That made me seek out other books about Guinevere and I read Parke Godwin’s Beloved Exile, which tells the story of what happened to Guinevere after the fall of Camelot. That made me wonder what happened to her before and after Arthur, which is something you don’t hear much about. Then Guinevere came into my head, telling me she wanted me to write her story, including her time before and after Arthur (which I thought at the time would be all one book). The rest, as they say, is history.

Q:  Why did you choose Indie (self) publishing vs. Small Press or Traditional Publishing?

It was a combination of things, and a decision that I took a long time in coming to. One of the main factors was that it was time for me to get my work out there. It had been four and a half years – and six books – since I started querying agents. My work was just stacking up with no place to go, even though I had people telling me through my blog and social media that they wanted to read it. I wanted to be able to learn from it, which I can’t do unless others can read it. That, combined with wanting to have my historical fiction book Madame Presidentess published before the November 2016 Presidential election (which was by then impossible to do traditionally because of the time it takes to produce a book), and a desire to have more control over my career, led me to start my own publishing company. However, I am open the possibility of traditional publishing in the future. I haven’t ruled anything out.

Q:  What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing?

Marketing and gaining visibly in a crowded marketplace are the biggest challenges for me. Even though my background is in marketing, it’s still a challenge because there are so many books out there and without a big house behind you, it’s hard to get people’s attention. I’ve been doing everything myself up to this point, but for my next book I’ll be working with a publicist, so I’m hoping that will help.

For me, the biggest benefit is the control. I get to have full input on the cover, the blurb on the back of the book, how and when sales take place and am responsible for quality control. I get to pick my own audio book talent and give them direction based on how I’d like the book to be performed. Those are all things most traditional authors have little to no say in. The downside is that all of this takes time and money, valuable commodities for every author, and you don’t have anyone helping in that department.

Q:  Who edits your books and how did you select him/her?

My editor is Cassie Cox of Joy Editing. I found her on the recommendation from an author friend who had used her previously. Listening to that friend is one of the smartest things I’ve ever done.

Q:  Who designs your book covers?

Jenny Quinlan (Jenny Q.) from Historical Editorial. I found out about her at the Historical Novel Society annual conference. She’s designed covers for many highly-respected authors and I couldn’t be happier with her work.

Q:  How do you market your books?

The short answer: every way and everywhere I can!

Obviously I use my website and blog, my newsletter and social media. I also do a blog tour for every book. I have one coming up with Chick Lit Goddess for my romantic comedy, Been Searching for You, and for my historicals I use Historical Fiction Blog Tours. I make use of guest posts, articles in publications like The Huffington Post and giveaways to get my name out there and my books into people’s hands. I also attend several conferences a year. Sending books to reviewers is high on my list and I do occasional advertising on Goodreads and Pinterest.

Q:  What are your current projects?

I’m hard at work on final edits to Madame Presidentess, a historical fiction novel about Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for President in the United States in 1872, which comes out on July 25.

After that I will be writing the final book in the Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy, Mistress of Legend, which will likely be out in early 2017. I have a first draft, but it needs serious help.

Next will be a WWII book that tells the story of an unsung real-life heroine. But you’ll have to wait to find out who.

Q:  Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

My website/blog is http://nicoleevelina.com.

 

I can also be reached online at:

Join me on Saturday when we read an excerpt from not one but two of Nicole’s stories.  Also if you are in the Chicago area, Nicole will be signing at the The Spring Fling 2016,  book signing will take place on Saturday, May 21st from 3-5pm at the Hyatt Regency in Schaumburg, IL.   ~Tina