Publisher’s Imprint: does it matter?

Independent authors have an uphill battle to overcome the perception that we are less legitimate than authors affiliated with traditional publishing houses.

Many indies, recognizing that some readers shy away from self-published books, create their own publishing imprint in the hope that a name other than their own, CreateSpace or Smashwords, etc. will get their book into the hands of more readers.

I have been tempted to create my own publishing imprint for this very reason, but have resisted, feeling a twinge of dishonesty in the practice.

I believe it is perfectly legitimate to give yourself a creative logo and publishing name, especially as indie authors do all the publishing work themselves, but how does the reader feel?

JaBerHawky logoIf I designed a logo, like this one (well, not exactly like this, you understand!), and listed JaBerHawky Press (for JBHawker, get it?) as the publisher, would you, as the reader, feel somehow tricked if you found out later the publisher was the author?

I suppose until I can feel comfortable under my own imprint, the best thing I, and other indies who feel as I do, can do to overcome the stigma of self-publishing currently hanging over independent authors is hone my craft, write the best story I can and be sure my editing and production standards are as high as I can make them.

Advertisements

The Character Sketch

When I begin a new work, or whenever a new character pops up in the narrative, I like to complete a brief synopsis of the character’s background and personality.  This adds depth to the people populating my books, as well as providing me with a place to go to compare what I plan for a character to do or say, so it doesn’t appear “out of character” in the finished work.  The writing software I use, Scrivener, has helpful templates providing prompts about the character being created.

Even though only brief glimpses of a complete character may appear in the story, these sketches provide continuity and a firm foundation for the person’s motivations and actions.

I thought it would be fun to share a bit more of the background of some of the people you meet in my stories, so from time to time, beginning with this post, I will be revealing information from the background sketches of my favorite characters.

Do you want to learn more about one of my characters? Leave a comment and I will be happy to schedule that person for my next Character Sketch post.

It seems appropriate to begin with the character who ties all my work together, the indomitable, Bunny Davis Elder Banks:

Character Name:  Born Leveline Davis – preferred nickname “Bunny”

Role in Story: Protagonist in the Bunny Elder Adventures series, she also pops ups for cameo appearances in the First Ladies Club books.

Occupation: Former pastor’s wife and secretary/reporter on a small town newspaper (Hollow), turned free-lance writer (Seadrift), and  currently an aspiring novelist (First Ladies Club)

Physical Description: Bunny is a petite woman in her mid-fifties with a sweet smile, mischievous blue eyes, and soft honey-blond hair sprinkled with silver and gray. She struggles to combat a tendency to chubbiness by eating less than she’d like, doing yoga and taking long walks.

Personality: Bunny is a devout Christian, constantly humbled by her own disobedience and failings. Nevertheless, she is determinedly optimistic, with a penchant for plain speaking.

Habits/Mannerisms: Constantly looking for the best in people and circumstances often gets Bunny into trouble. Without looking for it, she stumbles into some pretty scary situations involving a varied collection of bad guys who want to do her harm.

Background: Bunny is the youngest of three sisters raised in a small mountain town in Northern California. She married her high school sweetheart, Max. Although this early marriage was short-lived, Bunny and Max were never completely out of each other’s heart.  On the rebound, she married Rev. Eustace Elder. The marriage, though lacking joy, lasted until his untimely death (Hollow), when Bunny had to start over as a middle-aged widow. For a short while she lived in southern Idaho with her sister, Linda (Vain Pursuits) before relocating to the Oregon Coast (Seadrift).

Internal Conflicts: Bunny has all the same needs and desires as any woman. Most of her internal conflicts involve reconciling these temptations with her determination to be faithful to God. Her on-again-off-again relationship with Max is just one her issues.

External Conflicts: Bunny must deal with a deranged serial killer (Hollow), smugglers and the Italian mob (Vain Pursuits), human traffickers and a new love interest (Seadrift), Somali pirates (…and Something Blue), and a kidnapped friend (The First Ladies Club). You might say she has an overabundance of external conflicts.

Notes: Bunny steps out of the books and drops in to host my blog from time to time, as well.

[These Character Sketch categories are taken from the Scrivener software Character Sketch template.]

Interview with Author, Krysten Lindsay Hager

Today I am interviewing fellow author, Krysten Lindsay Hager.

Thanks for joining us, Krysten. We are all eager to get to know you and your work.Krysten Lindsay Hager

Your genres are children, teen and YA values and virtues fiction. What led you to focus your writing for young people? 

I loved reading when I was growing up and so many of the middle grade and young adult books I read then shaped me as a person. I remember reading on my bed one day and thinking how amazing it must be to be the author of the book I was reading and how it must feel to touch people’s lives that way. I always wanted to write a book that did that for someone else and I wanted to write teen fiction since it had touched my heart.

Have you found today’s youth to be receptive to the values presented in your work? Perhaps you would like to share what values and virtues you are trying to promote.

I have gotten a lot of messages from young readers who feel like my characters are dealing with the same things that they deal with, such as self-esteem issues, frenemies, social media influences and self-image issues. My characters talk about things like dealing with feeling anxious, feeling like they don’t fit in and having to conform to fit in and those are all things I dealt with growing up. I want to promote that even though we see certain images in the media, that much of that is false—even your best friends Instagram pics can be modified and filtered to look better than they do in reality. I want teens to realize that their value isn’t in their appearance or the things they own or how popular they are, which is something they are really bombarded with in the media. Being a good friend and having your focus on what’s really important and staying true to your values are the things to pay attention to—not who is dating who and what bag everyone is carrying.

You lived in Portugal for a time. What took you there, and what are your strongest impressions of the place and its people?

We moved to a Portuguese island because of my husband’s job. What I first noticed there was the more laid back pace. People will sit and talk over a cup of coffee for hours and enjoy each other’s company. There was less of a focus on schedules and to-do lists and a slower pace of life. I found that when I moved back to the U.S., you could really see a change in me. I drove a few of my family members crazy because they would discuss the “itinerary” of the day while we were eating and I’d say, “Wait, let’s just enjoy our meal and then we can figure out what we want to do or play it by ear.” I really irritated my aunt with that. It was such a foreign concept to her to not have a plan ready to go.  Religion is a big part of their culture, which is something that I was brought up with as well, so it felt familiar to me and I enjoyed going out on Sundays and seeing that the focus was on spending time with family and friends.

Like you, I’ve lived in South Dakota. Coming from California, I noticed the cultural differences. What are the biggest differences you notice between South Dakota and Ohio, where you now live?

I moved from Michigan to South Dakota and I remember people would stare at my clothes and not in a, “Oh I want to buy that,” kind of way! At the time, that Jennifer Lopez urban style was what was in style where I was living and working, which was between Detroit and Flint, Michigan. So when I moved to South Dakota, it seemed like every time I’d meet someone they’d say something like, “Oh you’re not from around here.” It would make me laugh a little bit. There was a lot of Scandinavian culture there, which was interesting to me. I liked learning about that. I was in a couple of writing groups at the time and at one event I was introduced as the “ethnic” writer. I guess it was because I was working on my thesis about Polish-Americans at the time. When I lived before in Michigan, no one batted an eye when I began my thesis on that, but in South Dakota, it stood out more. Ohio is much more like Michigan in some ways, but I live in the southwestern part and you do feel more of the southern pace here than you do in Michigan.

How long have you been writing? Is it your full-time occupation or do you have another job?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I started going to writing conferences straight out of high school. I freelanced and have worked as a journalist, so it’s always been about writing for me. Now my focus is on fiction and other types of creative writing and I seemed to have put journalism behind me, but who knows if I’ll ever go back to it.

How many books have you published?

I have three young adult novels published and two coming out next year. My books are: True Colors, Best Friends…Forever? and Next Door to a Star. My other books coming out are, Landry in Like (out January 12, 2016) and Competing with the Star (out March 22).

Can you give us an idea of your writing schedule?

I don’t have a set schedule. I usually do my business admin side of writing first to get it out of the way and off my mind. I write at night and in the early morning. I edit as I go, which is something a lot of writers prefer to do at the very end when they are finished, but I find it helps me to get back into the story easier if I begin with some editing before I begin to write.

Do you have a current project you would like to tell us about?

I am editing Competing with the Star now, which is the sequel to Next Door to a Star. In this book, we see the growth of my teen character Hadley as she and her new boyfriend form a deeper bond as he confides in her about his grandfather being diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s. It brings the two closer together, but then we see people interfering with the relationship and Hadley’s insecurities about never having a boyfriend before and looking at his exes (as well as finding out he had a crush on their friend, a former TV star) really messing with her self-esteem. I love the scenes between Nick and Hadley and the way she navigated through friendships, betrayals and handing her insecurities. She also makes an unlikely friend who has her back through all of it.

Sounds like an interesting book. I’m sure your young readers will love it.

Thank you so much for sharing today. Where can we learn more about you and your work?

Website: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KrystenLindsay

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/krystenlindsay/

Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/e/B00L2JC9P2/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Instagram http://instagram.com/krystenlindsay

Readers, please come back 2/13/16, for my next Second Saturday Interview, when we will be meeting another Young Adult author, Angela Carling, whose latest release is The Secret Keeper, a powerful story of human fallibility, sacrifice, and timeless love inspired by a small town in Heber Arizona. Here’s a little blurb:  

       When Seventeen year old Winter Merrill chose to make a bargain with the mysterious Secret Keeper, she knew there were rulSecretKeeperCoveres. The most important one, the next time you have a secret, you will not be able to tell it….even if you try.
What she didn’t know is that her next secret if not told, would destroy her life and the life of Liam, the only boy she ever loved. Can Winter find a way out of the dark bargain that binds her tongue or will her deal with the Secret Keeper bring devastating consequences unimaginable even to her?

 

New Year + New Friends = New Opportunities

This month I have the honor of being the Spotlight Author on the fun website “FolksTalesThings”,  a joyous, eclectic site run by my author friend, Barbara Martin. A visit to the site is like wandering among the merchandise in a great old country store and bumping into friends, old and new. I’m excited to have a featured spot in such a charming atmosphere and to have the opportunity to make new friends for Bunny and the quirky bunch of pastors’ wives in the First Ladies Club.
     As you might suspect from the characters in my books, I’ve spent much of my life in small town churches, many of those years as the pastor’s wife. My characters tend to be compilations of people I’ve actually known. Like those real people, they have struggles with their faith in good times and bad. The bad may not have been as bad as the troubles I give my fictional characters, but the strength of faith they use to surmount them is as real as real can be.
     I hope you will explore the worlds I’ve created and enjoy the thrills and chills along with the humor and warm fuzzies I provide to help balance the scary bits…and as you read, please don’t be too hard on my characters when they stumble. Many of us in the real world have scars and bruises from similar slip-ups, as well.
     To learn more about me and my books, please drop by my website http://jbhawker.com/, anytime.  And have a joyous, blessed New Year!

Christmas in Bannoch

creche

Christmas is next week, so today we are checking in on our friends in Bannoch, Oregon to see how they are planning to spend this Christmas. It should be interesting because for Bunny and her friends in the First Ladies Club Christmas is a highlight of the year.

Bunny (Bunny Elder Adventures series) is packing today for her trip to Boise, Idaho, where she will spend a white Christmas with her sister, Linda and family.  She smiles as she tucks a small nativity set made of seashells and driftwood into  her bag to add to Linda’s collection. It is sure to bring back memories, fond, not-so-fond and hilarious, from the sisters’ trip to Italy to acquire a special Neapolitan crèche.  (You can read about their adventures in Vain Pursuits.)

Across town, in the Bannoch Community Fellowship parsonage, Bunny’s good friend Naidenne Davidson (The First Ladies Club) is happily baking gingerbread men with her small daughter, Talitha Joy, while husband and father,  Scott, with the help of his brother-in-law, Len Spurgeon, wrestles the family Christmas tree into place in the high-ceilinged, old-fashioned dining room .

“We’ll miss you and Rosie this Christmas, Len,” Scott says, standing back to check the tree. “I think it could be just a hair straighter, but it’s a real beauty!”

“It should be, after lugging it half a mile down the hillside,” Len replies. “but you’re right. When it’s decorated, it will be a stunner. Rosie says you absolutely must take dozens of photos of the tree, the Christmas Eve service, Christmas morning and all…and she wants you to post them on Facebook, so we can see them right away.”

“Are you sure you two want to travel all the way to Southern California for Christmas?” Scott asks. “My sister has never had a Christmas away from home, you know.”

“Oh, I know, but this is Rosie’s idea. Ever since she was a youngster she’s dreamed of Christmas at Disneyland. My brother’s family live in the area, too, so we will get to fulfill her dream and catch up with my family at the same time.”

“Oh, Mommy! Come look at the tree! It’s so big…it didn’t look so big when we picked it out,” Talitha cries, running into the room and flinging her flour-covered arms around her father’s legs.

Scott sweeps his daughter into his arms with a laugh.

“As soon as we are through with the baking…and get washed up…we can decorate the tree,” Naidenne says, walking into the room wiping her hands on her apron. “Will you need help bringing the decorations down from the attic, Scott?”

“Can I help, Daddy?” Talitha asks, patting him on the cheek.

“I thought you wanted to finish the cookies, first,” Scott says.

“It takes too long. Mommy can do it. Right, Mommy?”

“Sure. You have been a big help with the baking, but now it’s Daddy’s turn to have a helper,” Naidenne grins at her husband as she speaks.

The happy family continues with their holiday preparations just as many of their Bannoch neighbors are doing.

Few of the town’s ministers and their families will be traveling during this special Holy season. Their lives will center around their church, congregation and the special services of celebration. There is no need to remind any of them of the true reason for the season.

Rev. Merrill Bishop (A Body in the Belfry) and her nephew, Ryan, are in the grand First Baptist Church sanctuary where Merrill is helping the ladies decorate the pews and altar rail, while Ryan and his friend and church musician, Peri, practice the special music for the Christmas Eve communion service.

In the midst of this happy work, a woman staggers in from the foyer, backwards. She’s pulling something. Dressed like a gypsy with a many-layered full skirt and flowing shawls, she tugs a large wicker basket up the aisle.

“Judy! What have you got there?” Merrill cries to her friend, Judy Falls, wife of the Presbyterian church pastor (read Judy’s story in A Corpse in the Chapel coming in 2016).

“Do you need help?” Merrill asks.

Giving a last mighty tug and losing her grip, Judy plops down on her backside with a laugh before responding.

“I’ve been trimming the wild holly bushes for the hanging of the greens and seem to have gotten carried away. We have all we can use at my church, so I’m toting the bounty around to see who else can use it. It would be criminal to snatch these beautiful branches from their home in the woods and then just throw them away.”

“You’ve come at just the right time. Look ladies! More greenery, just what we needed,” Merrill calls to the other women.

Joyful scenes like these are taking place in all the churches and parsonages in town as these friends from the First Ladies Club share the special happiness each experiences in her own way while celebrating the birth of their common Savior.

May I join them in wishing you all a Blessed Christmas and a spirit-filled New Year!

If you want to keep up-to-date on all the happenings in the lives of these women and their friends, please sign-up for my periodic email newsletter.

Interview with Author Cindy Davis

Today we are fortunate to have author Cindy Davis join us.

Welcome, Cindy. It is so good to have you here today.DSCF5792.JPG

In visiting your author page on Amazon, we see you are a very prolific writer, with work ranging from Westerns, through Women’s Fiction and Mysteries. Just how many books have you published to date?

The westerns were a series for kids. They are out of print—still showing available on Amazon. I mostly write mysteries. I have, I think 16, two series and several stand alone titles. I cut my teeth on the Bobbsey Twins, moved up to Nancy Drew and graduated to Agatha Christie. My favorite TV character is Jessica Fletcher.

How many of your books are fiction? Thirteen: one women’s fiction and the rest mysteries. What is the subject of your non-fiction titles? Two were walking tours of a very historical area in southern NH; one is a self-help guide on editing: You Have the Power, Self-edit Your Way into Print.

The earliest book listed on Amazon seems to be Final Masquerade published in 2003.  Can you tell us a little about it? It was my first. I finished the first draft in three months. I typed THE END and burst into tears. At that very moment, my husband came home from work. Naturally his mind went in a whole other direction—he thought I’d crashed the car. The story was inspired by a homeless woman we saw riding a bicycle with a kerosene can on the back. With it, she heated a car she lived in—on land that she owned. I wondered what made a person live in this manner, and the story was born (which was entirely fiction).

How long did it take you to write, from when you finished that quick first draft to the thrill of publication? As I said, the first draft took only three months. Two more months of edits, then a few months looking for a publisher. It’s since been through three more printings and has been re-titled Take the Money and Run.

What is your timeline for new releases, currently? A long time. I had three life changing events over the past two years and it pretty much brought my writing to a halt. In August, I vowed to get back on track. First, complete the sixth in my Angie Deacon mystery series—which I did this past weekend. It’s currently out with my beta readers. Second, to write book four in the Smith & Westen series. Third, to write the romantic suspense stimulated by my trip to Italy. It’s going to use many of the same characters from A Lethal Dose of Love.

I noticed you have gone through a number of small publishers and are now with Enigma Books. Can you share a bit about your experiences working with the various boutique publishers? They’re all pretty much the same. Some faster. Some with a bit more promotion. I think through the years, I graduated to publishers with whom I felt the most at home. Originally I took the first one that said yes. Right now, I have a few self-published books. The others are with two publishers: The Wild Rose Press and Champagne Books.

Many of my readers are independent authors. What do you think are the advantages of using a small publisher, rather than going indie? You get professional editing for one thing. And professional cover design. As an editor, I have so many self-published authors come to me AFTER they’ve put a sub-par book online. Books need professional service no matter what method you plan to use. What other services do the publishers provide for you? They do the layout and formatting and submission to the right venues. One of my publishers, The Wild Rose Press, does a phenomenal amount of promotion. That’s not to say I don’t have to do a lot myself, but it’s nice to have a backup with an excellent reputation in the business.

You have lived in New England most of your life, but recently visited Italy, one of my own favorite places. What one impression of Italy has stayVolterra,street2ed with you the strongest since returning home? A week before I left for Italy I bought a home in Florida. If I hadn’t done that, I would now be living in Volterra, Tuscany. I LOVED the ambiance, the views, the people. I am planning a return trip to set a book there.

Since expanding your career into freelance editing, what are the most frequent mistakes you find in the manuscripts you’ve edited? First, as mentioned above, authors who think that because they’ve put there book on Kindle or wherever, that it’s a given that it’ll sell. They see NO sales and/or bad reviews, then come to me for mending. Huge mistake because your name has already been out there. If you want to know the biggest mistake I see in manuscripts, it’s probably that authors don’t understand deep point of view. Too many think it’s putting thoughts into italics when it couldn’t be further from the truth.

I understand you have a new book out this month. Would you like to tell us a little about it? Stone Cold Sober is the sixth in my Angie Deacon mystery series set at Stone-Cold_Sober-CoverPrintNew Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee. My heroine Angie, runs a community theater. Her partner has just left for Broadway and all the responsibility is on her shoulders. She’s so proud when she hires her first leading man. The problem? Wives keep popping up like dandelions in a field. When multiple wives find out about each other…nothing good can happen.

This sounds like a fun read, Cindy.  I’m sure many of us will be checking it out.

Thank you so much for being with us today. You have a world of experience to share. If readers would like to find out more about you, your books and your editing services, where should they go?

Please click on any of the links below:

 www.cdavisnh.com.

www.fiction-doctor.com.

www.writerscollege.com/

indieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop

ALL-ABOARD-with-medallion

Hello, wonderful readers! Bunny Elder Banks here to welcome you to J.B.Hawker’s B.R.A.G. blog party. J.B. is too shy to brag about herself, so, since I was in town, I offered to be your hostess.

I actually don’t mind, since J.B. never would have won her two B.R.A.G. medallions without my help.

If you think it is easy being the heroine of one of J.B.’s books, well…you can just think again. The things she puts me through!

You know, she looks like such a sweet little church lady, but some of the things swirling around in her imagination…my dear, I mean, really! It’s all right for you who only read about these things, but I have to live them.

Dealing with the serial killer in Hollow, her first Medallion winner, was an eye-opener, believe me. She took an innocent story about a small town Halloween decorating contest and almost got me killed.

When she took me off to Italy in Vain Pursuits, her second award-winner, I thought it was going to be my reward for what she did to me in Hollow…no such luck. She got me kidnapped by the Mafia in that one. Well, she did give me a few romantic scenes with my Max, so I guess I will forgive her. Still…you should just read what she gets me up to in Seadrift and in …and Something Blue.

I thought when she concluded that series with such a nice, happy ending, Max and I could retire in peace. But then what does she do? She kills him off! And brings me back to Bannoch in The First Ladies Club to help rescue her latest victim (what does she have against pastors’ wives, anyway?).

Oh, I know, she hints in A Body in the Belfry that maybe Max isn’t quite as dead as we were led to believe (led to believe by you-know-who), but with her fascination with dead bodies, what am I to think?

Now, where was I? Oh yes, I’m here today to welcome you to J.B. Hawker’s BRAG Christmas Blog Hop… and to brag about her, I suppose. Hmmph! I don’t think so.

Oh, well…it is the Season of Peace and Joy, so I guess I can cut her some slack. The poor dear probably doesn’t have much excitement in her own life and needs to live vicariously through mine.

Best wishes to you all for a Blessed Christmas and happy reading.

The next stop on the indieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop is tomorrow, December 8 with Vinnie Hansen  who is probably much kinder to her characters than you-know-who.

Until next time…bye from your pal, Bunny.