Saturday, October 2, 2021

The Witch Collector Goodreads Giveaway

This week's topic here at the SFF Seven is writer fashion. Since I'm terribly boring with my yoga pants and t-shirts, I decided to share something bookish instead.

The Witch Collector release is a month away! In preparation, there's a Goodreads Giveaway the entire month of October. 15 signed paperbacks are up for grabs :)

Here's a little book info!

Advanced Praise

“The Witch Collector is a finely woven tapestry of everything one could desire of fantasy—compelling characters, intricate world-building, gripping action, and burning romance. The threads of this story sing in Weaks' skilled and passionate hands." — Annette Taylor, Bookstagrammer and Early Reviewer

"The Witch Collector is a magical, enchanting, fantasy romance whose pages are filled with threads of love, loss, and healing....Highly, highly recommended for anyone who loves fantasy romance, fantasy with strong female leads, unique magic systems, and beautiful writing." — Alexia Chantel/AC Anderson Author

"The Witch Collector has everything you want in a fantasy story - characters with depth, cool magic, political intrigue, ancient gods, a sinister villain, and exquisite romantic tension building. Up there with the best!" — Emily Rainsford, Bookstagrammer @coffeebooksandmagic

About the Book

Every harvest moon, the Witch Collector rides into our valley and leads one of us to the home of the immortal Frost King, to remain forever.

Today is that day—Collecting Day.

But he will not come for me. I, Raina Bloodgood, have lived in this village for twenty-four years, and for twenty-four years he has passed me by.

His mistake.

Raina Bloodgood has one desire: kill the Frost King and the Witch Collector who stole her sister. On Collecting Day, she means to exact murderous revenge, but a more sinister threat sets fire to her world. Rising from the ashes is the Collector, Alexus Thibault, the man she vowed to slay and the only person who can help save her sister.

Thrust into an age-old story of ice, fire, and ancient gods, Raina must abandon vengeance and aid the Witch Collector in saving the Frost King or let their empire—and her sister—fall into enemy hands. But the lines between good and evil blur, and Raina has more to lose than she imagined. What is she to do when the Witch Collector is no longer the villain who stole her sister, but the hero who’s stealing her heart?

The Witch Collector is book one in a thrilling romantic fantasy trilogy, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik, Sarah J. Maas, and Jennifer L. Armentrout.

If you enter, good luck!

Friday, October 1, 2021

Fashion Victim

Writer. Fashion.

Isn't that an oxymoron? I mean, at conferences maybe some of us could be viewed as semi-fashionable. I am not among that number. I'm far more fashion victim than fashion maven. Used to be you could count on me to dress up for conferences and events - to the point that it was clear I was trying too hard. But not now. A day job and very limited time to write makes my writing uniform pretty flexible. It's boat clothes, y'all. Boat clothes. Even if there isn't a boat at the moment. I'm still out here in cut off shorts, men's tee shirts and wearing men's Keens. I've found my gender-neutral happy place, and regardless of whether I'm out on the lanai writing or walking at the treadmill desk, this less than fashionable outfit stays relatively cool and dry. I never imagined I'd need to plan for fungal diseases like jungle rot (not a joke - my grandfather had it and never got rid of it) but staying cool and dry is a thing here. So every last goth bit of me has been packed away in a box for that time in the future when wearing black won't be a death-by-heat-stroke sentence.

The only thing that might change is whether or not I'm wearing the blue-light blocker migraine glasses. Or the Cefaly. Distinctly not fashionable, but so worth using to keep migraine at bay. 

I'm afraid if there are author beauty contests, I'm going to have to let the cats stand in.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Utilizing Fashion in your Writing Routine

Stereotype image of author Alexia Chantel sitting at her desk in a ballgown as she eats chocolate vs actual writing image of Alexia sitting at a desk in a simple dress as she works on her laptop surrounded by notebooks and sticky notes.
We’re talking about writer fashion this week and what you do or don’t wear to write. This picture is my take on how my friends and family imagine I write vs what it looks like when I really write. And yes, I’m wearing a dress in both pictures, but my reality is not fancy ball gowns.

Writing from home, or working from home, doesn't have to mean sweat pants and t-shirts. It's okay to want to look nice, as @bymorganwright posted about her experience facing the stereotype of being brainy and looking nice. 

I’m a dress kind of girl. I’ve long been the most comfortable in them, dressing them up or down. Maybe it started when I was young and my sister and I would practically play dress up daily and trounce around the farm in long floral prints. It definitely cemented when I moved into management and no longer had to wear scrubs. And at this point wearing dresses has become my signature look, so I see no need to change it. 

Which brings me to the real point I want to make with writer fashion which is how to dress when working from home. 

Once I quit the day job for my health and moved into a writing routine I quickly found out that I needed to get dressed for the day…which for me was putting on an actual dress. The choice of clothing isn’t the important part, it’s the act of getting out of pajamas in order to mentally and physically prepare myself for the day. 

Then the lock down happened and my husband found himself working from home and discovered the same thing. He couldn’t bring himself to get much work done if he didn’t get out of comfy clothes. It’s absolutely a mental thing! 

If you’re struggling to get writing done or settle into a routine it might help to give your brain a signal. It could be getting dressed for the day, or maybe it’s getting a nice cuppa and sitting in a certain chair. Whatever you choose to define the beginning of  writing mode, use it and don’t let yourself get distracted. Meaning—don’t get sucked into organizing your closet or start surfing the socials once you sit in your writing chair. 

Utilize your routine and don’t let non-writers get to you with their comments about bonbons or how it must be nice to be on vacation every day. Writing is hard. It’s harder than managing a clinic because it’s more than business, it’s your heart and soul going into those words. 

For those struggling to get the words down because something’s blocking you or those feeling guilty for taking time out of the day to write—keep your chin up and don’t give up. Writing isn’t always glamorous, but it sure can be fun. 

When you’re working from home/writing do you have a routine to get you into the right frame of mind?

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Release Day: THE GODLESS by James A. Moore

 James is super busy this week with his dual launches! The first is his Halloween anthology HALLOWEEN NIGHTS: TALES OF AUTUMN FRIGHT that he mentioned yesterday and the second is today's release of the fifth book in his Seven Forges epic fantasy series. If you haven't begun the journey with the Sa'ba Taalor and Andover Lashk of the Iron Hands in the SEVEN FORGES, start here. 

Seven Forges, Book 5

The long war with the Sa'ba Taalor has ended, but the land of Fellein does not know peace – only ceaseless change.

A spate of murders draw the interest of Darsken Murdrow of the Inquisition, until the hunter becomes the hunted. Andover Lashk of the Iron Hands seeks a home in a world in which he no longer fits. An unholy necromancer steals souls, makes sacrifices, and sows fear.

And in the barren wastelands of the Wellish Steppes, the army of the Godless gathers. Driven from their homeland, abandoned by their deities, the Godless now follow the banner of a new Master, and are thirsty for blood.

BUY IT NOW: Amazon | Bookshop.Org

Monday, September 27, 2021

There's a fashion for that?

Yeah. Apparently this week's subject revolves around what we wear to write.

Sweatpants and a T-shirt. Sometimes socks..

Seriousiy, I dress for comfort. I ned to be comfortable when I'm throwing words at the screen. .

It's that time of season. You should rush out and buy my Hallowee books at Amazzon! If you do, I can maybe afford a new pair of sweats!

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Writer Fashion: Contradiction in Terms?

This week's oxymoronic topic is Writer fashion. Is it a contradiction in terms?

Okay, okay - that's me being a smartass. The subtitle actually asks: What do you – or don’t you! - wear to write?

I don't know about you guys, but I live in a house with a lot of windows, because I like to be able to see out. (On a total aside, I think people either like to see out of their houses or worry about being seen. I like to see out, but I'm also not gonna walk around naked.) I've been working from home for more than fifteen years, longer than I've been a fulltime writer. And, now that I am a fulltime writer, I work from home exclusively. I don't like to write in cafes, etc. And my work day consists of podcasting, actual writing, and business peripheral to writing, including volunteering for SFWA. 

All of this is to say that what I wear to write is pretty much... what I wear, full stop.

It used to be, when I had the day job, that I switched out what I wore, to help delineate writing time from day job time. Now it's all writing time! 

But I don't wear pajama pants, nor do I do the "Pantsless" thing. (Frankly I don't get when women join in with the guys talking about going pantsless - isn't this just a dress? Maybe it depends on how long your shirt is...) 

Anyway, I write while walking at a treadmill desk, so that drives most of my daily wardrobe decisions. My good walking shoes - and fave socks - are a must. Also I get warm after a few hours of walking. So, I wear a lot of sundresses. My favorite wardrobe item, to the point of being my uniform, is the Hary Dary original short strap dress, D12. In fact, I just bought TEN of them in various fabrics. Those combined with a cardigan or light jacket, along with various leggings and tank tops, form the bulk of what I wear, day in and day out.

Is it fashionable? Hard to say! But it works for me. 

Also, THE DRAGON'S DAUGHTER AND THE WINTER MAGE is out now!! Plus the rest of the Heirs of Magic series is on sale for a few more days! :-) 


Saturday, September 25, 2021

What's On My Mind: Self-Promotion

Raina Bloodgood from
The Witch Collector
Art by Katherine Quinn

This week's topic here at the SFF Seven is What's on Your Mind?

Dangerous question. I have so many things on my mind with The Witch Collector releasing in just over a month that it was hard to choose one. But I think I want to talk about self-promotion. 

I've learned some valuable marketing lessons lately, lessons I'm trying to employ. It involves me posting or sharing about my book A LOT, which felt like gloating at first. But then someone said to me: Do you tire of seeing book posts in your feed? And how many times do you actually see them? When you do see them, do you think--Oh, that's gloating!?

And the answers were: NO, I definitely don't see every post by every author I follow, and another resounding NO.

That conversation made a light go off for me. After some research, I realized that social media algorithms work very hard to hide our posts. We know this, but when it's us having to do the posting, *we* think that every single follower is seeing every single thing we put out there and that it's annoying. But the truth is that the number of eyes actually seeing our posts is very minimal in relation to our following. But more than that--Yo, these people follow you BECAUSE they want to see more about your writing life.

I also learned that out of sight/out of mind is a very real thing. If you're not keeping your book out there so that your readers and followers see it, they aren't going to think about it. Word of mouth spreads when people read our books and chat about them--sure. But it also happens when they review a book online or take a pic and post it on social media.

However, none of these things can happen if people don't know your book exists. It's like opening a gift shop in a dark corner of Nowheresville and thinking that people will automatically come knocking just because the OPEN sign gets flipped. It takes advertisement, visibility, a good product/service, and word of mouth. 

So, the sad truth is that we authors have more than one job. We have several, honestly, but Marketing Specialist is one of them. My platform of choice is Instagram because I know that my readers are there.

 **You need to go where your readers are, by the way, and figure out where they socialize with other like readers. How do they get book recs? What accounts does everyone follow? How can you get your book in that community of readers?

I figured this out for the genre I'm currently writing in, and once I began sharing more about my book, kept my posts at regular intervals, used good hashtags, and made sure that my Insta stories were constantly filled and moving, my following totally morphed. I'm tracking my growth, and since July I've added 1000 followers without doing anything wild except having a bookish feed and actually posting. My stories are now averaging 100-150 views each, which is a tremendous leap from 25-40. Now I can set goals for growth, because I know that what I'm doing is working.

All of that said, it still feels like bragging sometimes. When I share a good review, I ask myself if people are sick of my book yet. But readers WANT to see these things. This is how they know if a book is for them. And, if we're not excited about our own work, why would anyone else be?

At the end of the day, you have to do what makes you comfortable, but remember that you're a reader too. Ask yourself what author accounts you LOVE, and then maybe take a few tips from their feed. All in all, writing the book is rarely, if ever, the end of the responsibility for an author. Self-promo is its own beast, but it can help sell your book if you work at it.

**Caveat: Just like there are professional ways to market your book, there are unprofessional ways to do it too. Don't try selling your book to everyone who follows you by sending them a link. Just don't. Don't spam them. Be wise. Do it the classy way.


Thursday, September 23, 2021

When Having Thick Skin Isn't Enough

Screenshot from Libby app, library audio material app, showing The Mars Strain audiobook is now available.
 The Mars Strain available now on Libby

What’s on my mind this week changed as I listened to Jeffe’s First Cup Of Coffee podcast this morning. She talked about the old adage writers need to have thick skin in order to survive in the book business, but how that isn’t exactly the best advice/most accurate.

And it really struck a chord. When I started out writing I was managing a cancer center—I ate confrontation for breakfast and I had confidence in spades. I knew my writing was capable of moving people to tears and could earn a few laughs, and even though I acknowledged that I had room to grow and improve, I knew it was worth pursuing. 

For those that don’t know, first you have to write the thing AND THEN you have to get the book out there. It’s in the getting it out there that you need a thick skin because as soon as your work leaves your hands people will subject it to their own notions and ideals and you have zero control over how it will make them feel or how they will react to it. As an author you have to have confidence in your work or you will never reach the goal of producing a book, no matter what publishing track you choose. 

I only queried about twenty agents and received a few helpful passes, meaning they weren’t copy-paste formatted rejections. I pitched my novel to a few agents at a conference and received even more helpful passes. I had thick skin and the negative comments glanced off my shoulder as I clutched onto the praise. Yada, yada, yada—sorry, I can’t say I had a lobster bisque—but, I ended up with a wonderful agent. 

With that wonderful agent I went out on submission with the second book I’d ever written. It was exciting! It was nerve wracking. It took forever. But as with the queries, the negative stuff that came from the personalized passes glanced off and I clung to the parts they loved. 

And then something happened. Well, a few things happened and a decline in health was one of them. I’ve talked about depression before, you can check it out here if you’re curious, and it’s not something I’d wish on anyone. It’s also not conducive to having a thick skin. 

Suddenly, I found myself flinching at every pass, every turned up nose, and every negative response…including from my agent. It happened so many times that I got to a point I couldn’t bring myself to send them anything. I was mentally blocked. My thick skin had failed me utterly. 

This is why Jeffe’s ruminating resonated so deeply with me today. It took me back to that place of vulnerability and it made me realize that I’m still kinda there. I’ve paused my next steps because of it and I don’t know that I’ll ever get my thick skin back. 

But maybe I don’t have to…is having thick skin the wrong idea? 

As creatives we need to feel, we can’t stop the emotions. So how do we deflect, or as Jeffe put it, find a laser big enough to shoot down the space junk on a crash-course trajectory? 

*Jeffe, you were onto something with that analogy! I like it!*

I guess I’m going to try build a strong enough support system around me so when an asteroid hits, I’m able to lean to one side or the other and avoid getting blasted. It's bound to happen, unless I quit this crazy business, and I'll receive more passes and negative criticism on what I've written. And yes, I'll always react and have feelings, but if I can gain enough confidence from my support it'll strengthen my own shields so I don't have to laser as many.  

Having support, a community, friends that understand what you’re going through…that’s far better than having tough skin. I’m going to test out a new adage. Let’s say: to make it in the publishing business and get your words out in the word, you need to have a support system.

And thanks to my support system, The Mars Strain is officially available on Libby! Libby is the app my library uses for audiobooks and if your library uses it too, you can check it out! I think that's how it works anyway. 

What do you think?