Category Archives: The Word

Traveling Writer Advice

At some point or another we, writers, will need to travel for work. Whether it’s a book tour, convention, or speaking engagement. It’s just par for the course when you’re writing professionally. Now that I see writers traveling again for work, I thought it was time to share my tips and advice for those that are traveling for work.

Research
How far are you traveling? Learn about the city/cities along your tour. This is beneficial when you look at hotels within a reasonable range to the location the event will be held. This will also help you pack appropriately. If you’re not leaving your city or not traveling very far from home, a lot of these tips may not work for you. You may not have to pack clothing for a few days, may not need to pack toiletries.


If you are going to a city family or friends are in, you may not even need many things like money for a hotel room if they’re willing to take you on for a day or however long you need to be in the area.


If you’re traveling abroad, make sure you know if you have vaccines to enter the country. Also, know if you need electrical adapters. For example, Europe has different electrical outlets than the United States.

Packing Appropriately
This seems self-explanatory, but sometimes we forget while in the prepping stage for a trip. What is appropriate for traveling as a writer? Laptop, cellphone, or anything relating to the event. Are you going to sign your books? You will need a pen. Are you going to also record the event? You will need a recording device. This could be your cellphone, a camera, or even the gear of a podcaster if you’re also doing that.
Bring an extension cord, extra-long power cord/surge protector. You may be provided space at a convention, but you will not always be provided cords and extensions for your devices.


Though you are packing for work, don’t forget to pack for yourself. Clothing and a few extras as a ‘just in case’ preparation. When you’re there finally, many things can still happen. A fan could accidentally spill something on you, you will need a backup outfit. Don’t forget your toiletries. I also recommend bringing your favorite coffee (thank me later).


You will also need a table and all that you want to decorate it with. For example, books, book racks, displays, tablecloths, author posters, book posters, serving platters for the merch you may bring, etc. I recommend creating a to-do list and marking off everything as you pack it in bags and pack it into your car. Don’t forget your padlocks! If you need padlocks, make a special keyring with these specific keys on it.
If you’ve done your research well, you will also know what else you will need to pack, like adapters, or where you can get your petty cash converted into local currency.

Books
When I started out, I did not know how many books or products to pack. The best advice I ever got and continue to listen to is the number of books. If you’re expecting a large crowd at your booth, which can happen with advertising of your location at an event, bring more. It is better to have more than too little. If you’re worried about running out or do, make sure you have a way for readers to pay through a device like Stripe.

The laptop that you bring can also be used if you’re willing to allow people to pay, say, via Amazon. Make sure you clear and log out all information after every guest uses your device to protect their privacy. They’re trusting you and you should respect that.


If you have a series of books, always bring double or triple the amount of the first novel of the series and a smaller amount of the rest. For example, Book one pack fifty. Book two – four pack twenty to thirty. You will always sell the first of a series, but not everyone wants the rest until after they’ve read that first book.


With the above tip about book series, take that also into account for one-off novels. Bring the amount you would for the first book of a series.
Think of every book as its own business. With that mindset, you will bring all the goodies for each book or each series. This is where all the merch comes into play and those insta-pleasers freebies (like candy with your brand on it also a big-time pleaser is totes and bags. People at conventions always need more ways to carry their haul. If it has your brand or book all over, it as they move around the convention, they’re also passively advertising for you.).

Security
Above I mentioned padlocks. Always have bins or luggage you can lock. Though conventions and big events can be fun, there is always the looming risk of theft. Some places will allow you to put your totes under your table to hide them, but it’s usually best to pack and unpack if your goods are in a small batch. This means if you aren’t erecting large racks for clothing or shelving for products, pack, haul with you, and unpack.

This can be extra to some, but it is better than investing x-amount of money into your goods, merch, products, and having them swiped on you. Sadly, it happens. Desperate people will do desperate things when wanting to make a quick buck.


Bring helpers if you can. Sometimes you just must do things for yourself, it can be hard, but all of us have done the lonesome walk of working without help. I recommend bringing someone or more to help. I have a bad back that has flare-ups from time to time, so I always bring someone with me just in case I cannot lift something on my own (totes of books are super heavy).


This is also helpful in that more eyes can see more things going on. If you’re occupied at one end of your table, you may not see someone waiting at the edge. More people can help with customer service.
Helpers can also bring the risk of theft lower. Someone will be less likely to steal from you if there are too many people in their way or could see them doing things.

Table Kits
I do not know if any other author does ‘table kits’, but I do. A table kit is basically everything I’m going to use on my table at an event. From the labels to the standing displays advertising my being there. I research one tote as a ‘table kit’, bag, or tote devoted to electrical and extras I may need, and however many I need for books. I also will have luggage for clothing, hotel must-haves, like my favorite coffee or toiletries.


Whether you’re using sticky labels or displays with prices, I recommend labeling all. It will help them, the guest, look if you’re busy. Small displays explaining things like a book genre are very helpful to a customer that may want a quick glance. Have thrillers? A guest may like comedy and seeing a thriller label will help them tell if you’re a writer that they may want to invest in. Also, good also to have something dedicated to your social media if it is not on bigger staples like standing author banners.

Petty Cash
For those paying in cash, it’s best to have a safe place to put your income and for any change to exchange. I suggest a minimum of twenty or thirty. Your lockbox should always remain on you or a helper.


If you want more advice, or have questions, just comment. I don’t know how to help you if you don’t ask!

[Brief Words] 2015 Throwback Interview of Annalisa Nicole

Bachman: I spotted you doing events in person, what’s your favorite part of doing an event like that?

Nicole: I love doing events! I absolutely love getting to know people! This past year I’ve met so many amazing people!

Bachman: Take us through, if you don’t mind, your writing process? Do you do an outline or freestyle it letting your characters tell you where they want to go?

Nicole: I’ve done both and they both seem to work well for me. My first book I just sat down and wrote. But since I’ve been working in a series I find now that I need to have an outline. I have bios on each of my characters too, just to keep them straight. I know the general idea of where the book is going but a lot of the book comes from just letting the words come as I type. The characters in my head are pretty loud and usually take me to places I never imagined the story to go. And I love it that way.

Bachman: What has inspired Unavoidable Chance?

Nicole: Unavoidable Chance is so special to me! The female main character, Ava, is so like me. She’s an over-thinker and her brain goes fifty different directions in a minute. That’s so me! I had so much fun writing this book!! This book for me was a ten on the Kleenex scale to write too! I love when people contact me and tell me how their husband had to come into the room just to check on them because they were balling while reading my book! To be able to put so much emotion in words in a book is just so amazing!

Bachman: Unavoidable Chance is the fifth installment in your Running into Love Series, please, if you don’t mind, what inspired this series?

Nicole: I’m not sure what inspired it, exactly. It just kind of hit me one day. A family who each sibling would in one way or another physically run into someone and begins this powerful, magical, journey together and ends up soul-mates. I didn’t even know each siblings story yet until the end of the previous book. All of them were sort of this freight trail idea that literally hit me and my brain just ran with it.

Bachman: When you begin writing a story, what helps you get into the mindset of one of your characters? What do you hope readers take away after reading one of your books?

Nicole: I have a set goal for each day. I have to reread what I wrote the previous day before I can get going again. I love rereading to see where I was yesterday and I usually add in additional emotion or thoughts too. Something I hope everyone takes away from my books and this is what is in each of the stories…true love, no matter who you are or where you are in your life is possible. I honestly believe there is someone for everyone just waiting out there for that perfect moment. I’m a true romantic! I love happily ever afters!

Bachman: Through my digging, I realized you’re a loving wife and mother. I always enjoy asking and learning how writers balance a family life and their writing lifestyle. Please, share with us how you do this? Is it hard for you?

Nicole: I’m so blessed to be a stay at home mom. My boys are older teenagers now, so I’m home alone during school days. I love to write in a quiet house, when no one is home. I usually don’t do author related business after I pick up my boys from school or on the weekends. I feel like I wear multiple hats and it depends on what time of day it is which one I wear.

Bachman: On your Amazon profile, it says that you were curious to write in romance because you’d fallen in love with the romance books you’d become a fan of. Are there any other genres you find yourself wanting to write in?

Nicole: So far, no, I’m pretty stuck on romance. I’m a mushy gushy hearts and flowers kind of girl.

Bachman: If you could collaborate on a book with another writer, who and why?

Nicole: I’d love to collaborate on a book with other authors. I couldn’t say who…that would be hard!

Find her online:
Website
Facebook
Amazon Author Profile

Buy her work:
Take a Chance – Amazon
I’ll Take A Chance – Amazon
Second Chance – Amazon
A Fighting Chance – Amazon
Unavoidable Chance – Amazon

Some links in the above interview may no longer work properly. Images may have been lost over the years as well for some interviews and older content.

This is an older interview being re-posted.

[Brief Words] 2015 Throwback: When Lindy Spencer Took Over

Once again, my ninja skills have served me well. Another unmanned blog to take over! Muahahaha!

Hi, my name is Lindy Spencer, and I’m an author. I write everything karmic, psychologically thrilling, and – breaking news – I even write children’s books! Who knew, right? I know! Spinne the Spider is a story I came up with recently, and I’m excited for it to come out for the kids in my life to read. Heck, the kids in your life might even enjoy an adventure with Spinne the six-legged spider.

Anyway, that’s not what I want to talk about. I’m here because the door was unlocked, and, well, I do takeovers when bloggers aren’t looking, and today I’m focused on where we are with where we thought we’d be when we were asked that question in high school.

Me, personally, well, I’m so far removed from where I thought I’d planned well enough to be… I can’t even see the white picket fence from here. That’s okay, though. The white picket fence wasn’t my destiny. I can totally work with that! I planned to be married (that happened, didn’t work) with children (check, check) and live in a cute little cottage home (yeah, no) with a white picket fence (splinters are my enemies) and a yappy little dog (the neighbor has several, glad I dodged that particular bullet!). Instead, I am now re-married (to Amazing Husband, who is awesome), have the two children (lights of my life) who have given me a horde of grands (which I lovingly refer to collectively as ‘Skittles’), a home that is my refuge, and Super Smart Dog (who is bigger than a yappy puppy).

Way back when they asked where we thought we’d be in ten years I am not sure I would have made it to where I am now had I known then what was coming. Life is funny that way, isn’t it? It’s like someone in the Planning Department has a twisted sense of humor. Probably why I have one as well!

Anyway, that’s what’s on my mind. If you want to drop me a line and let me know how life has turned out for you compared to how you thought it would turn out, I’m pretty easy to find. Either through my website, www.LindySpencer.com, or over on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LindySpencer.Author. Oh, and I’m easily stalk-able on Twitter, though not as prevalent there… http://twitter.com/_Lindy_Spencer.

Thanks for hanging out with me for a minute! I just heard a car door slam, which means they’re probably back… I’m going to use my ninja skills to sneak out the back door – don’t mention my name, okay? Later, Lovelies! *waves*


Some links in the above interview may no longer work properly. Images may have become broken over the years as well for some interviews and older content. This is an older interview being re-posted.

[Brief Words] 2017 Throwback Interview/WiHM Special – Lindsey Goddard

In honor of Women in Horror Month so much is going on! I just had to do a 15 for 15 to interview one woman in horror right now and I was lucky enough to snag the wonderful Lindsey Goddard!

Bachman: Tell us a bit about yourself, your work, what genre(s) you write in, and something you’d like to share about yourself that maybe isn’t well known.

Goddard: I am 33, and I’m not getting any younger, so I’m trying to get my name out there. My fiction is dark and somewhat depraved, but with an emotional twist. I’m currently working on a novel that I hope will knock your socks off.

Bachman: Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Goddard: Well, my life as a writer has been great, during the times when I was able to write. Other times, I don’t get much writing done at all and beat myself up over it.So I’ll answer with a direct quote from one of my all-time favorite movies, Forrest Gump: “Maybe both is happening at the same time.”

Bachman: What’s your writing process look like? What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Goddard: I tend to obsess over topics I find interesting, so research is an enjoyable part of writing for me. I can spend hours reading and watching about a topic, even for a three-thousand-word story. Days and days for the longer stuff.

Bachman: If you were deserted on an island, which three people would you want to have with you? Why? Criteria:One fictional character from your book, one fictional character from any other book, and one famous person that is not a family member or friend.

Goddard: Casey Wendell, the social worker from my novella Ashes of Another Life, because she is a strong woman Peter Pan, ‘cause I would ask him to fly me away from the deserted island (is that cheating?)Jonny Craig, lead singer of the band Slaves, because I’m currently obsessed with his vocals and would make him sing to me.

Bachman: What about the genre(s) you write in attracted you to them?

Goddard: I’ve always loved horror. I’m not sure why. Some people just do. We’re a misunderstood group of people. You’d think the obsession with darkness, with blood and would indicate somebody is a psychopath, but I find the opposite is true. Horror fans tend to be fun, laid-back and open-minded. Maybe it’s an effective form of therapy to read, watch, and write horror.

Bachman: What’s your latest release about?

Goddard: When Tara Jane Brewer leaves her polygamous community behind after her family dies in a tragic house fire, she is plagued by ghastly images of death. Hunted by a member of the church who plans to bring her home to Sweet Springs at any cost, Tara Jane must fight to keep her freedom. But everywhere she goes, she sees the charred faces of her burned family, watching her, following her, all thirty-four of them, waiting for her to come home and resume her place in the family. From Ashes of Another Life.

Bachman: Do consider yourself to be a successful writer? If so, why? If not, what would make you successful?

Goddard: Honestly, no, I don’t feel successful yet. I know the more humble or likable answer would be to say, “Yes, I feel successful because people are reading my work.” But I don’t feel that way. I haven’t produced enough work, haven’t reached enough goals. Maybe the upcoming release of my new collection, Secrets of the Slain, will bring some new fans my way.

Bachman: A brilliant idea hits you, what do you do first?

Goddard: Text it to myself! I have a song I sing for my muse: “I don’t want anybody else. When I think about you, I text myself.”

Bachman: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

Goddard: Sleep. I wish I could stay up all night like I used to when I was younger. These days, even coffee won’t keep me up after 11. I would trade sleep to become a better writer, if I could control the Zzzzz’s when they hit me!

Bachman: Do you believe in writer’s block?

Goddard: I believe that some writers believe in writer’s block, which is a good way to get it. Therefore, I try not to believe in it. Take that, writer’s block!

Bachman: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Goddard: I’m still waiting for a really, really bad one. I know it will come. I’m almost eager to get it over with. So far, there have been reviews from readers who weren’t thrilled or didn’t fully connect, but nothing too terrible.  *knock on wood*  *gulp* The good ones… they always make me smile.

Bachman: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Goddard: I saw how the editing process can rip things to shreds and form an entirely new, polished product, so I try not to dwell on the small stuff.

Bachman: Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

Goddard: Well, it can surely be said that some of the biggest jerks in the world are the most successful, but personally, that depends on how you measure success. If nobody really likes you as a person, how successful are you as a human being? Big egos kill personal relationships, no matter if the book sales are rolling in. Best to avoid that.

Bachman: What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?

Goddard: Publishers asking authors to pay for a book deal. That is not a book deal. Don’t ever do that.

Bachman: Does your family support your career as a writer?

Goddard: Yes. Quite supportive.

Bachman: How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

Goddard: As a person reads my work, I like to make them think and figure things out along the way, but I promise, I’ll always explain what’s happening in the end. None of these “and then they woke up and none of it mattered” endings. Read my fiction, and I’ll reward you, I promise.

 

lbg-author-2

Links to check out:

Purchase Links for Ashes of Another Life

KINDLE

PRINT

Social Media: 

Facebook

Twitter

Google+

Tumblr

Blog


Some links in the above interview may no longer work properly. Images may have become broken over the years as well for some interviews and older content. This is an older interview being re-posted.

The Word: Top Self-Care Tips For Working Writers

Being a working writer can be hard, exhausting, and feel fruitless, but there are ways to help yourself. This is a lesson I had to learn along the way. Burning out is serious, I suffered it, and I’ve been on a mission to help others stop before they burn out themselves. I have written about the dark side of being creative on demand in an article here on the website entitled The Dark side of being ‘Creative on Demand’, if you’d like to read about my burn out journey and what I learned then. I recommend it.

I’m here to bring to you some more help on this topic, things I’ve learned since the previously mentioned post happened. Things that have helped me that may help you.


Scheduling

Schedule time in your day for writing. Sometimes this could be as small as a ten-minute break in the day, during a lunch period, or an hour. Planning and sticking to a schedule can have significant results in that manuscript getting done and accomplishing goals.

Turning Off/Closing Off

You can become quickly overwhelmed if you have a lot of chaos going on. From a cellphone that doesn’t stop going off to not having a quiet space, turn off the cellphone (if you can). I even recommend going as far as posting a sign outside your work space to let others know you need the quiet. If your space has a door, shut it.

Set Your Environment

To piggyback off of the above tip, you can also set up your space to optimize your productivity. Like candles and incense? Light one. Struggling with a scene? Why not listen to some cinematic music or your favorite film’s soundtrack? Sometimes the music helps to create a headspace, this may be the perfect place to help you write.

Get Out Of Your Head

This is something I didn’t realize I had done until someone mentioned it to me. When struggling with your writing space, sometimes you need to get out of it to get out of your head. It completely made sense to me I would move around especially if I’ve struggled for a long time at my desk, it becomes a focus of frustration and in order to push through I had grabbed a notebook, pencil, and found a spot on the floor in a completely different area of my home. You can also go outside or even to your favorite cafe to improve your headspace.

Exercise

Exercising is great for your health, both physical and mental wellness. It will also give you a boost of energy. Sitting at a desk for hours isn’t good for you, the risk for blood clots increases. In this article from Mount Sinai titled: Can I get a blood clot from sitting at my computer? It explains how sitting for long periods can affect your health in a more medical way.

Reward Yourself

Whether it is a few words, paragraph, or even a chapter rewarding yourself can help you continue through the long writing process. Setting a small goal to accomplish and rewarding yourself for goal achieving is motivation. I pulled this from my college days and began applying it to my working periods.

Remind Yourself You’re Amazing

You know how amazing you are? You’re a writer! You are a creator of worlds. That’s amazing. Look in a mirror and tell yourself you’re amazing, that you’re a talented writer, and that you can and will get through this.

Communicate

Talking to other writers may very well be something that you need. It may even surprise you to find out they’ve been right where you are before. Feeling not alone can help us through hard times, don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to someone.

The Word: The Worst Writing Advice I Have Ever Been Given [Plus The Best] Comment/Share Yours!

Long before I published, worked in the industry, or even won titles like bestseller or award-winning, I was getting unsolicited advice on writing, how to improve, and the keys to the writing world. I learned in my journey that advice really is just a jumping off place, where you’re jumping is the risk many writers take to get to their goals. There is more realistic advice. This is what you need. This is what I needed.

The Bad Advice

  1. Writing is easy, and anyone can do it! You surely can.
  2. Now that we have Amazon it shouldn’t be hard, use Amazon.
  3. You don’t need an agent or lawyers when you’re an Indie. Believe me, you’ll be just fine.
  4. I made it. You will make it.
  5. If you don’t know your style, you can always mimic someone that’s doing well. If they did it, you can do it too.
  6. If you don’t have the money, you don’t need the service. [In editing, graphics, or formatting]
  7. They say they’re professional, so they must be. Their prices aren’t that bad.

Those not in the business often give poor advice about the business. It’s on par with asking someone how good a restaurant is, unaware they’ve never been there, and they’re pretending they know. Now that I’ve covered some ‘bad’ advice I’ve received, I want to cover some better advice, what has worked for me, and trustworthy wisdom.

The Realistic Advice

  1. Though anyone can put pen to paper or type on a keyboard, it may seem easy enough, writing seriously is another thing entirely. There’s a lot that goes into being a writer, published author, or anything in the business. The main thing is to keep going for the long haul, it will take months of work after writing, which will often take months of work. Just keep going, even if it’s typing a few words or lines a day.
  2. Yeah, Amazon’s made it easier to publish independently we have to do it their way. They’re a business and we still have to follow their structure if we’re going to use it. Beyond that, they’re not so bad. Just learn as much as you can about Amazon’s system and Audible, they own that too. Just be aware they may change policies and not in your favor.
  3. Hey, they made it, but that doesn’t mean you will. Being indie isn’t easy, we’re the underdogs, and sometimes people have a lot of money backing them to make it easier for them.
  4. You will need to either learn how to do something, know someone professionally skilled, or pay someone to do it. Nothing is free after all.
  5. Just because they claim they’re professional doesn’t mean they are. The word ‘professional’ gets used often by anyone that wants to be taken seriously, but you need to review their work history. Is their work up to your standards? Ask questions. Ask to see a portfolio or see if they have one on their website. Heck, do they even have one of those? You will see most of the time they don’t even have a free one. Be weary.
  6. Oh, man! You definitely need to hire a cover artist if you’re not able to do it yourself. The cover is the first impression the reader gets of the tone of the book. That goes for formatting, but most of all editing. Don’t ask friends and family to ‘just do it for you’, they won’t be honest every time, especially if they’ve seen you struggling for months. They will not want to hurt your feelings. Unless they’re taking your work seriously.
  7. For God Sakes, don’t try to professionally edit the work yourself if you’re not qualified.
  8. Listening to reviews is like being in a madhouse. You’ll not please everyone.
  9. Find YOUR VOICE and don’t lose it. Some freelance editors will try to change a work entirely from what you’re doing, if the work is losing your voice, it is losing your style and personality. Be careful. [This applies to trying to copy a better style. Mimicking isn’t your own style.]
  10. Editors will always edit differently. Give one manuscript to three editors and they will edit it into three different styles. Go with the one you like best.

Have you ever been given bad writing advice? What about some excellent advice? Whatever the case, share it! Got some questions even that you’ve not found answers for. Let’s start a conversation about it.

[The Word] Interview of the Amazing USA Today Bestselling Author Rue Volley

Rue Volley has become one of the biggest names of the independent publishing industry. Being one of the bestselling authors and creator of many of the covers you see coming out of the small press and independent graphics field. These are just a few of the reasons I wanted to interview her for the website and bring her to the front of the page for you my readers. So let me waste no more of your time. Here is the interview of Rue Volley.


Bachman: As a writer, have you ever had an unbelievable moment?

Volley: My unbelievable moments have always been with fans of my work. The first time I did a book signing really stunned me. I couldn’t believe that people would stand in line to meet me and have me sign their books. I’m always humbled when I meet people who buy my books and love them. Knowing that something I created made such a huge impact on another human being is probably one of the best feelings in the world. Fans are incredibly loyal and grateful to have a few moments with you. Every author should appreciate that.

Bachman: Is there anything you’ve seen in the industry you wish would change?

Volley: I’ve been in this industry for thirteen years and I’ve watched a lot of things change. I’m not a fan of the low price point that’s attached to Indie books, or quick fire novels pushed into the market by ghostwriting teams. I’m also not a fan of how over-saturated specific tropes become when one idea makes money. It tips the boat and makes it nearly impossible to navigate without spending extreme amounts of money on marketing. Facebook has also changed over the years. It used to be much easier to reach your fans (and new fans) on Facebook by using your business page, or posting in groups. Now Facebook hides most of your posts if you don’t pay them. It’s really unfortunate.

Bachman: They say if you’re a writer you must also be a reader, do you agree? Any book recommendations?

Volley: I do agree that you have to keep reading. It’s inspiring to read new books, but you have to be careful and not allow it to influence the book, or books, that you’re working on. I tend to avoid whatever genre I’m writing in at the moment. I’m very eclectic when it comes to reading. I do have some preferences though. I tend to read first person POV in present tense, mostly.

Some recent recommendations:

  • Courtney Summers—The Project
  • Amy Poehler—Yes Please
  • Colleen Hover—Heartbones
  • Rory Power—Wilder Girls
  • Stephenie Meyer–Midnight Sun
  • Nicola Yoon—Everything Everything
  • Michelle Obama—Becoming

Bachman: Any advice to those just now coming into the industry?

Volley: Save up your money for marketing before you release the book and do your homework on what ads really work. Hire a GREAT editor. Have a professional, shelf-ready, book cover made. Hire someone to write your blurb if you can’t come up with something dynamic. I’ll also add that it’s up to you to set the pace and schedule with your book releases. Consistency is key. Branding is key. Think about these things when it comes to your image and each book release that you do. Think professionally. Treat it like a small business and don’t neglect it. No one will ever care about your book as much as you do.

Bachman: You produce some beautiful book covers, have you always done graphic design?

Volley: Thank you, I appreciate that. I’ve been a graphic designer for fourteen years and I’ve created over four hundred book covers.I recently left the publishing company that I was with, and I do freelance work now.

I think the book cover is one of the most important selling points when it comes to marketing your books. A great story can be snuffed out with bad wrapping paper.
I think authors should employ cover artists who are not only talented, but understand the market and how competitive it can be. Making covers that mimic other artists is detrimental to not only the original artist, but to the publishing world as a whole. I’d also like to add that it’s best to let the cover artist edit your vision so the cover doesn’t become a jumbled mess with no real message. It’s so easy to want to toss everything onto a cover, but just like the story itself, it has to be edited with a sharp instrument.

Bachman: Is writing something that you always wanted to do?

Volley: No, but it seems to have always wanted me to do it.

When I was young, I wrote elaborate screenplays to entertain my siblings. When I was in high school, I lucked into taking a creative writing class with a mentor who taught at Stanford University. When I was in my twenties and early thirties, I was in a band signed with Time Warner and I wrote all of the lyrics to our songs. Then when I turned forty, I decided to write my first novel. When I turned forty-five, I wrote my first screenplay and helped produce and direct my first movie. So, writing is just a part of who I am. I never thought about doing it for a living, but I’m grateful that I’ve been able to make a career out of it.


Bachman: Do you have a plan to stay on task during deadlines or do you ‘wing it’?

Volley: I’m a panster, so winging it is exactly how I write my novels, but as far as staying on deadline—I write every single day, even if it’s only a chapter or two. I’m very strict on myself when it comes to writing because it’s very easy to slack in this profession, and you can’t do that when you’ve invested time and money, and made announcements.

Bachman: Some writers do literary pilgrimages, is this something you’ve always wanted to do?

Volley: I’d love to take a few months off and just hike some mountains, bike some trails, meet new people, eat new food, listen to new music—live without a schedule or expectations. I think it would be a great experience after going through a pandemic and navigating a volatile political landscape for the last couple of years.

I think we all deserve a reboot.

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The Word: Top 15 Fears Writers Have

Every day writers face fears. Not from the storylines, they’re writing, though I’m sure are, the fears I’m talking about are fears of a different kind. Every writer whether well-known or just getting started have fears. These fears are rooted in the unknown and self-doubt often. In today’s article, we’ll address the top fifteen fears that are most common in the industry.

  • Not selling books
  • Readers not enjoying the work
  • Missing deadlines
  • Not finding the time to write
  • Receiving poor reviews
  • Forgetting to back-up their work
  • Lack of recognition
  • Writer’s block
  • Conveying story correctly
  • Rejection letters
  • Ideas stolen
  • Work is pirated
  • Plagiarism
  • The idea has already been done
  • Money to back a project

Now listing the top fifteen fears, how does one address them? Self-doubt is a terrible thing, especially if it goes hand-in-hand with an unwillingness to accept things you cannot change. The things you cannot change and must accept if you want a forward progression in your career are critical reviews, piracy, and not selling books. Readers not enjoying your work walks aside critical reviews, you cannot please everyone. The quicker you accept this the easier it’ll be on you.

Piracy happens. This was a personal hard pill to swallow. Most websites that post books are legitimate and will link to the proper buying locations, but from time to time you’ll find one that has a pdf or digital copy. Websites advertise books in a ‘store’ to pose as a proper book outlet, but it’s a scam to make a profit off of the traffic or illegally distribute work. Most will take down the item if you file a copyright claim, but often it still just won’t matter.

Years back one author came up with a very interesting way to track who was stealing their work. I cannot remember who it was, but the basic idea was watermarking the document. Whoever ended up with the stolen copy either got an incomplete ‘review only edition or a copy that declared it had been stolen if not gotten at x location. I love this idea.

Plagiarism is illegal, but it still happens to this day. You see it in the news authors suing another. Often the one being sued has used a shady ghostwriter. This gives ghostwriting a bad name. It also ruins the reputation of legitimate authors working months on a novel. If you discover your work is stolen or too closely copied, you really must seek legal aid. What also can happen, sad is one coming up with a brilliant idea unaware it’s already been done. It happens, but what you do upon discovering your idea is too close to something else it’s best to work on it more until it’s unique again. Ideas being stolen is sadly a problem too. Brainstorming with a friend is a great way to get the engine going, but there is no doubt it is risky if you don’t know that person very well. You risk your idea being stolen and written quicker than you can do it yourself.

Writers struggle to portray their stories exactly as they imagine them. It is hard for some to take the movie in their head and put it on paper properly. Editors can help in this area, but it is still a frustration before an editor can get ahold of the manuscript.
Rejection letters can bring up harsh feelings of others not liking your work. It’s part of the business and something I addressed in another The Word entry, The Word: A Quick Guide to Getting Signed.

Not selling books and not having the money to back a project can be hard. Not having money is part of why I started out doing everything myself. I freelanced as a graphic artist just to pay for editing, but learning everything else saved me money. I’ve seen the financial struggles that could’ve been and are going on every day with writers. I don’t have any magical money advice. There is no way to just get things done for free. Nothing is truly free.

I know that some work with a bartering system. Since networking is vital anyway an exchange of talent happens. For example: if a writer can edit very well, but cannot create a book cover they may find help from someone who can do the cover for some editing help. Even if you can back a project, it doesn’t guarantee the book will sell, most often that boils down to the marketing. Can’t sell books if you don’t reach the audience.

Money can be the primary motivation for many to write. I advise against it. If you’re in this business only for the money, you’ll become frustrated quickly when the money doesn’t come. No one gets famous instantly. No one makes money out the gate. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. A lot of work has to go into it before the money is ever seen.

Not finding time to work is everyone’s struggle. This leads to missing deadlines in most cases. A word here or there, a paragraph at lunch, or even scribbling on a napkin. If you can find even the smallest minute, you can progress the story even if it’s at a slow pace. This is also a fix for writer’s block, but it doesn’t always work and not for everyone.

Recognition comes in time. I was recognized as a graphic designer before I was ever known for writing. Sometimes your known for one thing and not another. All I can say is keep at it. It’ll change.

Have you ever faced some situations before? Have you discovered your own solutions to the above issues? Let’s talk about it.

The Word: A Quick Guide to Getting Signed

I think I can clearly say with confidence that we’ve all heard how hard it is to become a published author. Some getting dozens of rejection letters and never getting signed. Sometimes, there is even stories of people writing all their lives and getting published, finally, in later years. When I was a little girl, I looked at the library shelves. Through the books gifted. I dreamed of being one of ‘those people’ one of the published writers. I went through phases of accepting it to never be and pushing myself to keep trying.

I eventually found independent publishing. I began in the industry with research and working in graphic design. I produced covers and graphics for other authors. I have shared this story before, but the shortest version is one of my clients discovered I wrote and wasn’t anymore, encouragement occurred, and I originally self-published, but along the way I networked. Networking is vital, you must do this to succeed, and it’s very useful. I researched legitimate publishing houses and small presses, this all led to me becoming published with the now defunct publishing house Burning Willow Press.

I cannot remember if I held a conversation about why they signed me, but I had time to ask one of my current publishing house the big ‘why’ question. With permission, I will share the important part of the conversation I had with Rebekah Jonesy of Three Furies Press.


Bachman: Why did y’all sign me? What about the book did you like? (The book in question is Maxwell Demon)

Jonesy: The complex world and history with a fairly straightforward plot. It sucked me right in. Like I knew the characters and got to experience a new world with them as my guides. Add in the rockstar author who will work to put herself out there, and hustle for book sales while constantly reaching out and coordinating with her publisher, and it was just too good to pass up. I can pass up a good book with a bad author, and a rickety story if the author will work with us on it. This time I had the best of both, so win/win for my company and me.

Bachman: Such kind words. Can I quote you? For my article.

Jonesy: Have at it. Oh, and of course your books NEVER end how I think they will at the beginning, or even middle of the book. There’s always a creative change that happens, not a twist, because it is still straightforward. And that intrigues me every time and makes me want to read more of your books.


In that exchange, you can see a lot of what you need to get published. The guide is my shared experience and my advice. I feel it’s important to add that I have also had my share of rejection, but all that encouraged me to work hard, learn better writing techniques, and keep trying. Your take away at the end of this article is the following list.

  • Learn your craft. Read as much as you can on the skills of writing. Remember, anyone can put a pencil to paper, but those that are truly skilled/gifted with words cannot write a wonderful story, but become an actual signed storyteller.
  • Publishers are more likely to sign you if you have a history of promoting yourself. If you do not believe in your work why should they? This can be a trail of marketing or even a long road of career foundation building. They will watch your social medias, like everyone else.
  • Publishers are not the enemy. If you submit a story and get rejected listen to why they’re rejecting it. Often, the story will not be declined forever. If you pay attention and resubmit that is. Often the ‘rejected letter’ is a list of corrections in disguise. Some publishers don’t want to hurt your feelings. Do note sometimes a rejection truly is just that, but really understand the rejection letter. Ask questions if you don’t understand.

Here’s a rough idea of the process before, during, and after publishing enters.

  • Write the story. DO NOT submit the first draft, approach with a fully flushed out tale on paper with the best editing you can do or hire.
  • Research publishers taking submissions. DO NOT reach out to them if their website clearly states they’re not taking submissions. Also, DO NOT submit to a company if it clearly states ‘no unsolicited submissions’, this means have an agent. If you submit anyway, they usually reject instantly. If you can’t follow the simple directions on their website, you’ll not be worth their time and/or give the impression you will not be easy to work with. You could have the next great American classic on your hands and they will not look it at. It’ll go to the slush pile’s bottom or even in the trash bin. Avoid the vanity presses. You’ll known them with their fancy package deals. For example: they will publish your book, soft and hardcover editions. They will include merch like posters and bookmarks. All you have to do is pay them x-amount of money. I have talked about these horrible businesses in the past. They seem perfect and that’s their trap. They always catch the business naïve. NO legitimate publisher will ask you to pay them. It’s bizarre to even consider it.
  • Prepare a query letter. Sometimes a company’s website will list what they want to know from you upon submission. For me, I explained who I was, my history of writing, and my experience in the industry. I also included my marketing plan experience with samples. This is the time to ‘sell yourself’ to the publisher. Make it superb. Along with the letter, prepare the first few chapters of the story and a blurb/summary of the story. Also, if it’s a series, include that information and where the story plans to go. Also add any marketing plan you have at that point in time if it’s different, how you plan to stand out, and anything else relevant.
  • After you’ve listened to the above and submitted you now will wait. Sometimes it’s hours and sometimes it’s months. Whatever you do, I recommend selecting one body of work per publisher. If you submit one story to multiple companies, it’s likely they all or some will want you and your work around the same time. It’s just easier and less stressful to put one work to one company.
  • If you get rejected read the letter, contact them, and even maybe thank them for their time. If you need to ask them to explain further do it. Sometimes they will not provide more and accept the rejection as just that, they get busy. Sometimes though, they will explain, and be willing to work with you on getting the manuscript up to their standards of publication.
  • If you get accepted you don’t have time to rest. All those months of working the book now got you to the point to do more. Once the story is in their hands, they will edited again and again by them, restructured with formatting and style, and ripped apart. You may even start thinking they’ve ruined the book, but you need to remember they’re seeing it with fresher eyes than your own. They will see things you’re not seeing or at least not seeing anymore. They’re professionals and want the best product for market. This is a business after all.
  • During the process you will be contact, at least in my experience, randomly for things needed. Here and there, these aren’t very specific and range well within the realm of eventual expectations.
  • They may even help you develop a marketing plan for each book or the series, if that is what you have, overall. They may even put you in contact within their network of trusted colleagues. (See networking is important) It’s good to remember each book is its ‘own business’ under the umbrella of you being your brand, a lot of steps will repeat for every release.

I re-edited this to add some editing advice. If you’re paying for an editor remember if you get a group of editors in a room to edit your story they all will say something different. This doesn’t mean one is more right it’s just their editing style. It’s just as fluid as the style an author may use to write a story.


My experience will vary from your own. I often do a lot of my own graphic work or formatting, but that doesn’t mean you will get to or have to. It depends person to person or even company to company. I enjoy doing a lot of my work, but willing to let share the workload.

What exactly am I? I am what’s considered a ‘hybrid’. I publish with companies and on my own. This is ideal for me. I have the freedom I need as a working freelancer in the business. I also get the freedom to publish when or what I want, but for projects that are signed I get the help I need. A boost to help me stay productive along with the easy of knowing someone’s going to be there if I have a question or need feedback.

The inspiration for this article came to me after seeing far too much hate online directed at publishers. Those not getting signed and lashing out of jealousy, judgement, and overall a misunderstanding of how things work. There are myths. We share some out of humor, but professionals know it’s all fun and games because the work can get stressful. Plus, who doesn’t need a good chuckle?

The Interview of Voice Actor Sean Rhead

Audiobooks are the next level in reaching your readers. Paperback, hardback, and even digital formats are other common ways, but its a dream for any novelist to get their work into audio. Audible is the most common way, the biggest as well, and for me I wanted this like everyone else. For those that have followed along with me, you know I’ve had struggles in this department. I’ve had narrators quits and others not be able to continue with the projects. This made me want to give up, but the passion for my work continued and eventually I found a man named Sean Rhead.

I wanted to introduce you to him with an interview. Here is how that interview went.


Bachman: You’re a voice actor and narrator. How did you get into that line of work?

Rhead: I’ve always been more of an auditory and hands-on learner, so audiobooks are my preferred way of experiencing literature. I grew up listening to Jim Dale narrate the Harry Potter series, and I loved the way he voiced all of the characters and brought that world to life. I love the idea of giving that same experience to someone else who absorbs content the same way.

Bachman: What do you do when you’re not recording?

Rhead: I teach general music (preK-8) during the day. When I come home, I love to sing and play guitar, duet sea shanties on TikTok, and end the night watching a movie with my girlfriend. 

Bachman: Have you ever thought about writing a book of your own? Why or Why not?

Rhead: Writing has never been at the forefront of my mind; I’ve always been a performer first. But I’ll never say never.

Bachman: What are your favorite genres to narrate?

Rhead: Fantasy. I love getting acquainted with an entire ensemble of characters, besides creative world-building.

Bachman: What was your favorite book to narrate so far?

Rhead: Far too many to name, but I will always be grateful to Sarah K. L. Wilson for giving me my start with “Dragon Chameleon.” Not only did I love getting to know her characters and her world, but I definitely grew over the course of that series (both on the creative AND technical side of audiobook production).

Bachman: We met through ACX, what made you want to narrate The Blasphemer Series?

Rhead: I LOVE a good redemption story, and Maxwell’s journey drew me in right from the start. I was compelled by where he began, and in the end, his resolution was as satisfying as I knew it would be.

Bachman: Has there ever been a scene or book you couldn’t finish? Why or why not?

Rhead: Not that I can think of. I do have a lot of books on my TBR list (that I’m NOT narrating) that I will finish eventually. Such titles include “The Lies of Locke Lamora,” “Mistborn,” “The Fires of Vengeance,” and “Six of Crows,” just to name a few.

Bachman: Is there anything you’re currently working on that you can share with readers?

Rhead: In addition to my continued work on “The Blasphemer Series,” I’m also currently working on a YA fantasy mystery novel entitled “The Other Side” by Justin Jay Gladstone. Anticipated release for that one is sometime mid to late spring.

Bachman: You must be very organized with the amount of work you do, how do you stay on track?

Rhead: I appreciate that you think I am organized. Hahaha! In all seriousness though, on my recording and editing days, I like to set specific goals in place (I would like to record this page to that page, or I would like to edit this much time of audio). I have gotten a better understanding of how much time it takes me to meet those goals, so I always like to make sure I have ample time to meet them.

Bachman: If you could have a dream book to narrate, what would it be?

Rhead: It would be a daunting task, but I would LOVE to narrate anything by Brandon Sanderson.

Bachman: Is there anything you’d like readers to know about you?

Rhead: I love Disney and musical theatre, and I am a proud ally of the POC/LGBTQ+ communities.


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