Author Stories: C. Gockel

Good morning everyone!

Apologies for the lack of updates. I am still writing, though I wish I had more time. One of my cases is gearing up for trial, so as the most junior grunt at my law firm, I’ve been doing a lot of this:


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I’m still hoping to release either Nuts or the sequel to my first book by the end of the year. I don’t want The Almshouse to be my only book. (One is the loneliest number you’ll ever know…) One of them is half done, but it needs thorough scrubbing. One of my copy editors is on it.

Anyway, to the purpose of this post. Some time ago, I decided to give urban fantasy a try and was surprised by how much I liked it. Specifically, I really liked C. Gockel’s

I Bring the Fire (A Loki Series)

Take a sweet young lady and mischievous Norse god, add a pinch of sarcasm, a hint of romance, and a whole lot of “why is this happening?” and you get the story of a young woman introducing a technically old-man to a new world.  (Seriously, go take a look. I strongly recommend this series, and I don’t have much time to read anymore.) I admit I’m a sucker for elegant prose, and C.Gockel has a beautiful style, so much so that I thought I should ask her if she has tips for us new authors. Lucky for me, she was happy to help!

1. When did you start writing and when did you publish your first book? What inspired you to tell that story?

I started writing Star Trek AOS fanfiction in 2009. There simply wasn’t enough Spock/Uhura in the world, so I wrote my own “how they got together” story. And then I wrote a Sarek/Amanda story, a boy!Uhura/girl!Spock story, a Kirk/T’Pring story (they’re perfect for each other, can’t you tell?), and many more. At some point I started writing Darcy Lewis/Loki. As I wrote it, I started exploring Norse Mythology more and more and discovered that I found Marvel’s and Snorri’s interpretation of Loki unsatisfying. Snorri was a monk in Iceland in the 1100s. He was trying to convert Icelandic pagans to Christianity, and he shoehorned the Norse Gods into a Christian framework. Odin got to be God, Baldur got to be Jesus, and Loki got to be the devil. Marvel made Loki a bit more hapless than the devil, but they definitely made him evil. The more I researched, the more I realized the interpretations of Loki varied wildly across the pagan worshipping world. Even his ultimate evil deed, the slaying of Baldur, was not always attributed to him. Moreover, Baldur wasn’t interpreted as “good” throughout the pagan world. Loki in some of the tales was one of the creators of humans, was the guy you called when no one else could help you, and was worshipped right alongside Odin. He wasn’t evil, he was change and an agent of rejuvenation. I liked the idea of Loki not good or evil, but as chaos incarnate. We tend to think of chaos as “evil” sometimes, but chaos at its most fundamental is change. “Order” is stasis. These things aren’t good or bad unto themselves, the negatives tend to come about when they are out of balance.

2. Why mythological fantasy?

Well, myths are fantasy. Why urban fantasy is probably the better question. I think we live in an age of Chaos. Change is happening at lightening speed. We’re in the age of Loki, so I thought I modern times would be an appropriate setting for the series.

3. How did you get your first book off the ground? What was your first week like as an author?

Before I released I Bring the Fire, I released a short story called Murphy’s Star. I released it only because my husband was nagging me about writing so much fanfiction. I think I made $30 my first month? After that it sold only sporadically.

I started writing I Bring the Fire also to keep my husband from nagging me … but also, by that point, fanfiction was becoming like a shoe that was too small. I couldn’t say what I needed to say within the scope of fanfic. When I released Wolves: I Bring the Fire Part I, I had a brief rush of sales, and then I sold about 1 or 2 a day. That remained the case until I went permafree with Part I.

I kept writing fanfiction until after In the Balance (the novella in between Chaos and Fates.) At that point, the allure of “living” in my own universes was too great.

4. What’s your favorite book so far that you’ve written?

What a horrible question! Why not ask me which of my children I like more? If I’m honest though, I like Monsters a lot, and I like Warriors. Warriors is probably my least well-liked book, but I love the story arc, it’s all internal. Chaos’s incarnation goes from being resentful of his fate to embracing it, and realizing that he can use his power to save the human race from Odin’s repression.

5. Did you always know you were going to write a series? How did you plan it out and how long did the process take?

Yes, I knew I would always write a series. I expected it to be only 6 books though and it became 6, a novella, and three short stories. But I knew how it began, and I knew how it ended. The scenes at the end of Ragnarok with Amy, Bohdi, and Steve were in my head from the day one. It was energizing. When I felt like I couldn’t get through a part I could think, “Oh, that amazing climax is coming! I can’t wait to write it!” And I would write more.

6. How do you deal with criticism/low reviews/trolls?

It depends. I try to be open minded to criticism if it is logical. You should really read your reviews, even the bad ones. I’ve had some technical issues that came out in reviews. Also, I’ve seen what my fans want more of. Obviously, you can’t please everyone. I can only be responsive to criticism if changing the story doesn’t contradict my central theme. Also, you occasionally get reviews that complain about things that simply did not happen in the book. You can only scratch your head at those and move on. I did have a troll when I began. It was very upsetting; it’s hard to understand how a person can put so much energy into trying to bring you down. But something you realize quickly; trolls have much more free time than you do. It’s best not to respond. Eventually, you’ll get more reviews that will cover up their hate, and, not surprisingly, hateful reviews get downgraded and marked as “not helpful” a lot.

I have to say, writing fanfic really helped me learn to deal with criticism. I got betas for my original fiction by being responsive to logical criticism. I also got some serious hate writing fanfiction. One of my stories in particular just made a group of people so angry. Someone wrote an online essay almost as long as the story saying how very wrong it was. I did try to respond … but then I realized, trying to respond was taking me away from writing, and despite the hate I also had a lot of people who were really enjoying the story. They were way more important than my “reputation” among a group of people who were never going to be happy unless I took the story down.

7. What other genres have you considered writing for besides Sci-Fi and Fantasy?

I might write a paranormal romance at some point, and possibly a YA coming of age story.

8. Any words of advice for new or aspiring authors out there?

Just start writing. Write things you enjoy, publish them, and solicit criticism. You can publish in a group like Critique Circle or start with friends. You need criticism. Criticism that makes you cry (or throw your computer against the wall.) It’s the only way to grow as a writer.

So there you have it! Thank you CG for sharing!

You can find C. Gockel’s fanfictions here: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/1959218/StarTrekFanWriter

And her books on Amazon, and other platforms:
http://www.amazon.com/Bring-Fire-Part-Wolves-ebook/dp/B008UUIGB2/
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/i-bring-the-fire-part-i-wolves/id655735120?mt=11
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/i-bring-the-fire-part-i-c-gockel/1115457768?ean=2940044551565
http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/i-bring-the-fire-part-i-wolves

Also, here is Murphy’s Star, her very first original short story: http://www.amazon.com/Murphys-Star-ebook/dp/B006RCYQUA/

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Author Stories: Darcy Coates

coveralmsh3This is the first entry of a new series: Author Stories. I got the idea to interview more experienced authors as a way of showing my affection for their books and to learn from their insights. These authors will all be picked based on merit, and no favors or payment were exchanged.  I thought new authors might be encouraged to persevere if they could see the exact steps it took for established authors to get where they are.

When I was editing The Almshouse, I decided to check out the market for ghost stories and haunted house stories.

 

It was originally for market analysis purposes, but I got distracted by a pretty book: The Haunting of Gillespie House. 

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Isn’t this pretty?

I bought the book after reading the first two pages. It seemed different from the other books on the list, probably because the cover glowed blue. Most of the other covers (including my own) used colors with low saturation, resulting in a gloomy atmosphere rather than the feeling that something nefarious was happening in the back yard.

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Darcy’s profile picture

After reading the story, I ran into the author, Darcy Coatesin an online forum. She had written so many books, many of which are in the Top 20 of Amazon Bestsellers lists.

Last week, I asked Darcy if she could share her experience with new authors:

1. When did you start writing and when did you publish your first book? What inspired you to tell that story?
I’ve been writing since I was a young teenager. I started a lot of stories, but didn’t finish many! About two years ago I wrote my first ‘proper’ book, a novella called Ghost Camera. In Ghost Camera, two friends find a strange Polaroid camera that can capture spirits on film. I really enjoyed creating the story – it asks some questions that I’d find challenging to answer. If you had the ability to see what spirits live in your home, including the malevolent or angry ones, would you?

2. Why supernatural suspense/ thrillers?
I’ve always loved horror, especially ghosts and haunted houses. While my friends went to watch chick flicks at the theatre, I’d be buying tickets to Blair Witch Project or The Conjuring. I can’t explain why – it’s just a fundamental part of me, like the need to eat.

3. How did you get your first book off the ground? What was your first week like as an author?
I didn’t, and terrible! :)

It’s very, very difficult to find success with just one book out. Some supportive friends bought Ghost Camera during launch week, and I had a handful of organic sales which gave me the motivation to keep writing.

Following Ghost Camera, I published a series of short stories. But it wasn’t until I released my second novella, The Haunting of Gillespie House, that I began to earn an income from writing. Now that I have more novels and novellas available, Ghost Camera’s sales have also picked up.

(Blanche’s note: Up until this point, I had assumed Gillespie House was her first book. Silly me.)

4. What’s your favorite book so far that you’ve written?
Oooh, that’s tough! It’s like asking me to name my favourite child!

I had great fun with my latest release, The Haunting of Blackwood House. While it’s (as the name implies) a haunted house story, it also has a strong romance subplot and some humour.

5. How do you deal with criticism/low reviews/trolls?
Like death and taxes, one-star reviews are inevitable. The world holds a lot of people who won’t like your story, and eventually some of them will read it and leave a review.

It’s tough (especially the first ones), but the single best thing you can do is see if they hold any valid criticism, absorb the parts that are helpful and discard the rest, then get on and write the next story.

6. What other genres have you considered writing for?
I really enjoy writing other genres, even though the stories all contain horror elements. I’ll be publishing a series soon called Cymic Parasite Breach. It’s a sci-fi survival story that shows an alien invasion from the perspective of five unrelated women. I’ve also written gothic romance with the House of Shadows series, and a supernatural thriller with Dead Lake. That’s one of the things I love about horror – it blends with other genres amazingly well!

7. Any words of advice for new or aspiring authors out there?
I’m going to parrot advice you’ve probably heard a thousand times: read a lot and write a lot! Just like exercise will make you physically stronger, using your writing muscles will do more for you than a hundred How To Write guides.

And there you have it, ladies and gents: stories from Darcy Coates. Feel free to let me know if you have an author to recommend.

Lessons in Writing: Even More Ads

This is probably overdue, but here is another list of ads I placed for The Almshouse. Funny enough, I found a copy of my book on Overdrive, the online library. It disappeared shortly after.

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1. Ereader News Today: Overall, I’d play this in third place out of all the services I’ve tried. Second in terms of number of books sold, and fourth in terms effectiveness; the ad did not pay for itself. However, this is still a fantastic service, and it did produce a good amount of sales (~60) for $30. The acceptance process took about 3 days, and the people at ENT are very easy to work with. I would strongly recommend those who haven’t tried this service yet to try, and for those who have series. Since I only have one book, it may have been my fault for trying to recoup costs off of one book.

2. Fire and Ice Blog Feature: This is a smaller company with nice people and good service. For $5, they feature your book, and just your book, for the day. Unfortunately, it didn’t do much for me, but that does NOT mean it won’t work well for you. I get the feeling romance might do better than thrillers with this blog. Just a hunch

3. Betty Book Freak: Betty is a sweet lady, but please keep in mind this is still a small business. If you’re looking for big results, apply with Robin Reads, Ereader News Today, or Bookbub. Here, my $8 resulted in 8 sales. Perhaps I’m in the wrong genre again; I’ve heard stories from Fantasy authors that it does work.

4.  NewFreeKindleBooks.com: This one was interesting, because they do accept discounted books, and the “free” pertains to author fees as well. The day the ad ran, I got 16 sales by noon. No other ads were running that day. By evening, I found 24 sales. My daily average is ~7 sales, so this is definitely out of my expect range. So either this is an undiscovered source of sales, or a group of readers out there suddenly decided to do their last-minute holiday shopping at once.

Lessons on Writing: Great Ads

It’s been two weeks of advertising, and book sales have been pretty good. A big thank you to everyone who has purchased one of my stories.

I wanted to make a post about the great promotional services out there. Without their help, I would not have been able to spread the word about my new book,  The Almshouse.

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(I also changed the cover.)

Here’s a list of tried and true advertising services for other authors out there:

Readers in the Know: (free) I have to say this guy is great. He put ads for my book on his website, facebook, and twitter. I will definitely continue using his service. I think I will purchase his gold promo package in December.

BookKitty on fiverr: ($5) I used her before and was happy to purchase again. She’s very professional and tries to do as much as she can for her customers.

Bknights on fiverr: (same $5) This man works miracles. Seriously, you cannot ask for a better ad. He’s very easy to communicate with, flexible in terms of dates, and his website is very well put together. With this and my own promotions and a couple of my friends sharing my posts on facebook and group text messages, my book was pushed from rank 49,000’s to #6,590. Also I got #9, #10, and #16 on the Top 100 Bestsellers lists for 3 categories. If you’re just starting out, or running low on funds, try Bknights. (Also, and this is a rumor, but it seems he gives refunds for the books he was not able to sell as well as he wanted)

Goodreads: (free) I found a group of people who will give one honest review each for a free copy of the book. I sent them each a PDF, so hopefully that will turn into something. I also found a person who runs a book feature blog. It’s free but you have to apply. It’s an up and starting blog, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

Asking for friends to help: (free) It’s funny. The years I spent as an artist, I built up a network of people. One of them has decided to take up promoting my book in exchange for some of my artwork. He was able to secure 6 sales in the last couple of hours. If anyone had a previous job before writing, I recommend falling back on the old network.

eBook Booster: ($25) Good people. They’re very professional, act quickly, and they really make sure all the work is done as promised. I will definitely use them again when I can figure out how the countdown deals work.

ENT: ($30) Received a cordial email from ENT today notifying me of the acceptance of my book. The processing was surprisingly quick. Will update this based on change and status.

Readfree.ly: (free) First thing’s first: the guy who owns this website is very nice. He got back to me within a day and I saw the ad go up the day after. That being said, my own sales did not benefit significantly from Readfree.ly, but it might be cause of my genre. I would definitely not hesitate to recommend the site to others. It’s free… there’s nothing to lose.

Readcheaply.com: (free for a limited time) I think they were responsible for my sudden increase in sales this past Wednesday. In my absentmindedness, I forgot to keep track of when this ad was supposed to kick in. But since it’s free for a limited time, I definitely recommend this service. They’re more likely than not responsible for the sudden +13 I saw from my usual daily sales.

Do you have a service you like? Feel free to share your experience.