Thursday, January 16, 2014

Michelle4Laughs- It's In The Details: Getting the Call: Mariam Kobras

The Story of my Life: 

"Some things in life happen when you least expect them.
When I woke up on that cold and dreary November morning in 2010 and decided to write a novel, I had no idea that only two years later, it would be published, and go on to win a Bronze Independent Publisher Book Award."

Read the whole story on Michelle Hauck's blog, where I'm a guest blogger today.
Thank you so much, Michelle! 

Michelle4Laughs- It's In The Details: Getting the Call: Mariam Kobras: Call stories come in all forms, but this one takes an unconventional path.  See how Mariam Kobras befriended her way into showcasing her talent for a publishing contract…

Monday, January 6, 2014

For the Love of Small Things

The other day, taking out the trash, I met one of my neighbors out front.
We said "hi" to each other, I asked her how her kids were doing, she asked me about mine, we chatted about the weather for a while, and then she looked at me thoughtfully and said, "Are you still writing books?"
"Yes," I replied, and told her about what I'd written in the past few months, and about the upcoming releases. I told her about my books on the shelves of our local bookstore, and how I'd won two Independent Publishers' Awards for The Distant Shore and Under the Same Sun.

Picking up her trash can, she emptied it, and said, "But you're only with a small publisher, aren't you? I mean, not a real publisher."

I laughed.
Yes, I answered, I'd signed with a small publisher, an indie house in New Jersey, and it was the best decision of my life. Well – maybe the second best, after saying "yes" when my hubby proposed, some thirty-five years ago.

And yes, Buddhapuss Ink is a "real" publisher, I said. Size doesn't always matter. Quality, though, always does.

I told her how from Moment One my publisher had taken care of me, how they weren't only interested in my book, but also in me, as an author, and how they gently and patiently guided me through the many pitfalls of suddenly being a public person.
I tried to tell my neighbor how being an author is more than just writing book, that it means marketing your product, giving interviews, doing book signings, and that from now on I'd have to watch what I said, and not offend anyone, and all this while staying myself.
I told her how, that day when I signed with Buddhapuss Ink, my publisher and I celebrated on twitter, how we laughed together about the serendipity that had led us to this point in our lives, and how I'd never regretted my decision for one single moment.

She grumbled something and walked away.
I called "Have a nice day" after her, but there was no response.
What a shame; I'd so have loved to explain to her what quality in a publishing house means for an author, and it certainly isn't size.

Here's my little list of important attributes for a good publisher, regardless of small or big, from an author's point of view:

A good publisher has excellent expertise. They know everything about publishing, they have experience, they follow the market sharply, and all the time.

A good publisher will know which marketing strategies are the best for their authors' books, and they'll develop them, together with their authors.

A good publisher takes care of their authors; they don't let newbie authors stand in the rain, or let them figure out their new job on their own.

A good publisher involves their authors in every step of the publishing process, including the cover design.

A good publisher encourages their authors to write more, get better, expand their skills.

A good publisher will let their authors grow, and develop their own personal and writing style, and not ask them to be someone else.

A good publisher will celebrate with their authors when things are going great, and they'll support them when things are rough. But they won't drop you.

A good publisher will be fun to work with!

A good publisher will even help you design the new header for your blog, because they want it to be perfect.

And: a good publisher (a REAL publisher!) will never, ever ask the author to pay for any services, because a good publisher is a real publisher, and not a vanity press!

My publisher is a small publishing house. My publisher is an excellent publishing house!

Take that, neighbor!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dear 2013

Dear 2013,

you were a good year.
You were also a long and often boring year, but that's okay. I missed traveling, that's why you seemed to drag a bit. But the good things far outweigh a few days of boredom. Really.

Let's see.
You started out as always, with a nice party and lots of champagne, and with disappointingly mild weather, when we all wanted snow for Christmas and NYE. You heard us ask for that, and you brought us the coldest spring in history, only you forgot the snow. I'm telling you, icy cold without snow just isn't fun!
The one thing that made your tantrums bearable – except hot chocolate and heating – was this:

My second book won the Silver Independent Publishers Award.
I'll not lie. It was totally unexpected. Under the Same Sun was my second book, and I felt totally insecure about it. My first book, Distant Shore, had been ripped out of my hands by my publisher before it was even properly finished; I'd written it for myself, and never thought of publishing, and there I was, in May 2013, with two published books, and both of them with awards.

In July, my third book was released by my publisher Buddhapuss Ink.
In a moment of quirkiness I'd asked them if the launch day could be my birthday, and they readily agreed. So that's what happened: we had double reason to celebrate!

My mom made that marble cake. The cream cake is a caipirinha cake, made by my daughter-in-law.
And yes, that's a theme cake, with my book cover on it! For those who want to know: there was chocolate cream cake under the marzipan.

I took a huge risk writing Song of the Storm. My publisher wasn't very happy when I first told them that I was going to write about 9/11, but once the book was written and the good reviews started rolling in they breathed a breath of relief, and I knew I'd done the right thing.
Readers posted pics of themselves, reading Song of the Storm:



and this is how my copies arrived: with the IPPY certificate, and the medal for Under the Same Sun as an extra-bonus!

And the coolest EVER for a writer is to see their books at the bookstore!

While all this went down, I wrote two new books.
They're prequels to the Stone Trilogy, and they'll be released next year.

No, wait. THIS year! It's 2014, and that makes THIS year the year these two will be published:

So all in all, you were a very good year, 2013.
I have a lot to be thankful for: my family is healthy and doing well, we live in a country where it's peaceful and we don't have to worry about bombs, persecution, hunger or repression.
I have wonderful friends, both near and far, and some of those far away I'll be seeing again this year.

This is what I wish for all my friends and family for the new year:
stay safe, stay healthy, have a lot of fun! Thank you for being in this world!