Farley’s Friday: Doggy Friendships

Farley here,

Living with a guide dog in training has certain benefits.

I have a cuddle partner. Kinta has lots of play time with me, and sometimes we get a little tired out. So what do we do?

We chill on Kristina’s cushions that she’s trying to dry out. It’s not our fault she left it in the rain and then put it on the floor.

F&K cushion

After getting kicked off the cushion, we snuggle on the rug.

F&K Rug

And when that got boring, we move to the dog bed where I like to chew on Kinta’s leg.

Kinta Farley

 

Some days are just fun.

Woof Woof.

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Farley’s Friday: Learning To Heel

Farley here,

Life as a guide dog trainer is exhausting. Kinta is just over a year old and has a ton of energy.

The first thing I had Kristina teach Kinta was to only play with me when I feel like it. I’m 10, you know.  When Kinta gets too rambunctious, Kristina tells her to leave it, and magically she leaves me alone.

If I’m by myself with Kinta, I get up on the middle of the bed where she can’t reach me. She’s not allowed on the bed, so it’s a great hiding place for me.

Today, I spent my morning teaching Kinta how to heel without pulling on the leash. I’m an expert 🙂 At least in my mind.

Heeling

Having a new pal in the house is awesome!

Woof Woof

Free 10-Day Story Editing Course

I’ve partnered with Reedsy  and created a free course on Story Editing.  Reedsy has a series of courses for writing, editing, and publishing. All are free. All are 10 days. You’ll receive an email each day with your course material.

Here’s the blurb from Reedsy for the Story Editing for Authors course.

Story-editing-1-573x300

Want to learn how to perform your own story edit? Go scene-by-scene and evaluate each story element to learn how to improve your whole story and make everything flow together.

In this email course, author and Fictionary CEO Kristina Stanley shares her method for ensuring that your story is well-told, well-paced and highly effective. Over ten lessons, you will be guided through the process of reviewing your story, scene-by-scene, with the help of a downloadable resource that you will receive in lesson one.

What you’ll learn in this course:

  • Why you need to perform a story edit
  • How to choose the best location for a scene
  • How to identify problems with tension and conflict
  • How to effectively deploy flashback and backstory
  • How to engage your readers with the story arc

If you take the course, I’d love to get your feedback. The course will help you if you decide you use Fictionary for your story editing.

 

Need a Book Endorsement? The Advance Reader Copy is Your New Best Friend. #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Thank you, Raimey Gallant for organizing the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop.

This is a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, just hop on over to Ramey Gallant!

This month, I’m writing about how to get endorsements from other authors.


I have a confession to make: when a novel of mine is close to being published, I get nervous.

I get nervous because I know that it’s almost time to start sending out Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) – an almost-but-not-quite-final version of my book – for endorsements. ARCs are sent before the final editing and proofreading is complete. Why do I stress myself out this way?

Despite my misgivings, there’s a method to the madness. When your book hits the shelves, endorsements on the front and back cover adds legitimacy. It’s added promotional material every time someone picks up your novel. It’s important to get endorsements early, so they can be incorporated into your book’s cover design and online listings.

The endorsements that go on your cover are ones that connect with your readers. You want to find authors who write in your genre that readers will recognize. Having an endorsement from your mom is nice, but it won’t help sell your book. (Unless your mom is a famous author. In this case, go ahead and use her!)

Endorsements are critically important, and it all starts with the ARC. It makes me nervous to have people I know and admire read an unfinished version of my book, but the payoff is so worth it.

Here are my tips on how you can spin your ARCs into book marketing gold:

Networking and the ARC

I learned early in my writing career that networking long before I finished my first novel is critical to the publishing journey.

How does one find established authors willing to spend their time reading an about-to-be-published-for-the-first-time author’s novel? That’s where networking comes in.

I’ve attended writing conferences, workshops and awards dinners. Each of these gave me a way to meet other authors. I started a blog. Got active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.

When I first joined the Crime Writers of Canada (CWC), I sent every CWC author a LinkedIn message asking them to connect with me. Hundreds did. I was amazed. I kept a spreadsheet of the authors I’d sent a message to, which ones accepted my invitation and included a check mark when I sent a thank you. Since then, I’ve kept up communication with authors, sending them a message when I’d read their book and posted a review..

Who To Ask For An Endorsement

I chose authors that I had some connection with. Either I’d met them in person, or I’d connected with them on the Internet. I looked for authors where our writing had something in common.

I wrote a letter to each author as I would a query letter. I included my writing credentials and the reason I was asking a specific author. Part of asking is the condition that if they didn’t like the book, I wouldn’t expect an endorsement.

What Format to Send

When possible, ask the author which format they prefer (i.e. PDF, mobi, epub, print, etc.). This shows them respect and it means they won’t be distracted from the story because they’re reading in a format they don’t like.

For one author, I was so thrilled they said they would read an ARC, I had it printed and bound at my local print store.

How Many Endorsements Are Enough?

I recommend a minimum of three. One for the front cover of your novel and two for the back. My covers have the highest profile endorsement on the top of the front cover. The next two endorsements are on the top and bottom of the back cover. When potential readers pick up my novel, they don’t even have to open the cover to see the promotional material.

For anything more than three endorsements, jump up and down and do the happy dance. Then plan to put the endorsements after the copyright page.

What Should An Endorsement Look Like?


The endorsements on the outside cover are edited to contain only the most enticing words. The full endorsement is written on the inside of the book after the copyright page.

For my novel DESCENT, the front jacket endorsement is:

“A vivid, chilling tale of jealousy, secrets, and betrayal…”
– Barbara Fradkin, award-winning author of the Inspector Green Series.

The full endorsement printed inside the book is:

In this impressive debut, Kristina Stanley weaves a vivid, chilling tale of jealousy, secrets, and betrayal in a close-knit mountain ski village. Like its likeable young heroine, Kalin Thompson, DESCENT is both tender and tough. – Barbara Fradkin, award-winning author of the Inspector Green Series.

Readers have two chances to discover the endorsements, and that’s two chances that they will buy your book.

A Thank-You

We all know a thank you goes a long way. After my book is published, I mail a  signed print edition of my novel to any author who endorsed it. I know I love to receive a copy of any book I’ve endorsed, so I’m assuming others like this too.

On that note, thanks for reading!


kristina stanley.jpg

Kristina Stanley is a bestselling author, editor, and the CEO of Fictionary. Fictionary helps writers tell better stories with breakthrough online software that simplifies story editing. She’s the author of the Stone Mountain Mystery Series, Look The Other Way, and The Author’s Guide to Selling Books To Non-Bookstores.

Farley’s Friday: Guide Dogs At The Mall

Farley here,

I’m a volunteer! Meet Kinta. She’s a guide dog in training. Kristina brought her into our home.

“Who is the dog?” I bark. I sniff her, give her a friendly shoulder bump, and then snuggle into Kristina. Sometimes, Kristina dog sits other dogs, but I know something is up. This one came with her own bed, a BIG bag of dog food, and a box of toys.

“You’re job is to teach Kinta to be calm around other dogs, behave in stores, and relax at home.”

I wag my tail. “I can do that,” I bark.

This is me showing Kinta how to relax when Kristina is in the pet aisle at Canadian Tire. This is very important if we want Kristina to buy us a new toy.

Farley & Kinta at mall

Kinta and I walk side-by-side on a leash. She’s learning her leash manners, and I’ve taught her not to pull. I cheer her on every time she gets it right.

I’m a little jealous. But here’s the deal. I get to sleep on the couch and in the bed. Kinta doesn’t. That’s my special place where I get Kristina all to myself.

Woof Woof

Perform An Awesome Author Reading #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Thank you, Raimey Gallant for organizing the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop.

This is a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, just hop on over to Ramey Gallant!


Writing means learning — all the time — for the rest of your life.

And in the modern world of publishing, writing a great novel is only the beginning of the journey if you want your work to have a wide audience.

Public readings are a part of that journey. They’re a great place to build your readership and sell books — but they can also be incredibly daunting.

The first time I read out loud was intense. It was 2014, and I was nominated for the Audrey Jessup Award for short story crime writing from the Capital Crime Writers. Part of being nominated meant reading aloud before the winner announcement was made. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I hadn’t read out loud before and had no idea how to go about it.

As luck would have it, I attended the Bloody Words conference in Toronto a week before the event and heard seven authors read there. Days later, I found myself at another reading, this time by three Scandinavian authors. That’s 10 readings I could learn from. Some of the readings were great and some could have used a bit of practice.

I watched and learned from these readings and thought I was ready. But not quite. There was a time limit of five minutes on the reading. I practiced and had my timing down perfectly, but I didn’t account for the time it took to be introduced and say thank you to my hosts. I was cut off about 30 seconds before I’d finished — literally. The hosts turned the microphone off. It stung a bit, but other authors were cut short too. (At least it wasn’t just me, and I didlearn from the experience.)

I won the Audrey Jessup Award, even though my reading wasn’t the greatest. After winning, I sold that story to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. My first sale!

Since then, I’ve read in some strange places. One reading took place in a senior’s residence. Another in a ski lodge. One in a bookstore — which you’d expect. Each time I do a reading, I get better at it and I’m less nervous.

I’m here today to help you get comfortable with holding an author reading of your own.

How to prepare & practice

  • Don’t leave it until the last minute. Practice every day, even for short periods of time. If you can, read to an audience.
  • Practice pausing for commas, periods, paragraph breaks, and starting new scenes.
  • Practice until you can take your eyes away from the words and make eye contact with the audience. This will engage them in your reading. Reading to a mirror will allow you to see if you’re looking up.

Technical tips

  • Don’t staple the pages. Stapled pages are noisy when turned and awkward to hold in place.
  • Number your free pages in case you drop them.
  • Ask how many minutes you have to read. Then prepare for a few minutes less, the exact amount of time and a few minutes more. If other readers don’t show up, you may be given more time. If the proceedings are running long, you might be given less time. Be ready so you can end with a cliffhanger or a dramatic spot that will leave people wanting more.
  • If you’re reading from printed pages, print in font large enough to read. Remember: the lighting could be dark or there could be glare. If the font in your printed book is small, you can always print the pages you want to read and place your book in front of you while you’re reading.
  • Ask what the setup will be. Is there a podium where you can set your pages? Will you be holding a microphone? Will you be standing or sitting?

At the event, before you read

  • If you’re not first, watch the other readers for what works and doesn’t work. Standing with the microphone too close to the sound system can cause feedback, having the microphone too far or too close to you can make understanding your words difficult.
  • Have your material ready. Don’t start looking for the section you want to read after you’re at the podium. This distracts the audience.

During your reading

  • Once you’re on stage, thank the hosts of the event. This will make you look professional and give you time to let your voice and your nerves settle before you start reading your story.
  • Breathe. This sounds obvious, but breathing will make your speech clear. During my first reading, I was so nervous that I couldn’t bring air into my lungs. At the end of the first page, when I had to flip to the next page, I moved the microphone away from my mouth and took a deep breath. This helped me calm down.
  • Don’t explain your work in the middle of reading. Let your words speak for themselves.
  • Only brief the audience about the story if you’re not starting at the beginning.
  • Speak slowly.

Remember: the audience came to hear you and they want you to succeed, so smile and have fun.


Fictionary: Tell Better Stories

I’m the CEO of Fictionary, and we help writers tell better stories. Fictionary is software that simplifies story editing and helps you improve characters, plot, and settings. After a Fictionary story edit, you’ll know your story is ready to share with others.

Fictionary is an automated approach that helps you evaluate your story against 38 key elements for Characters, Plot, and Settings.

Fictionary draws your story arc and compares it to the recommended story arc. You can see how to improve the structure of your story within seconds.

This week we’ve teamed with ProWritingAid to offer you an amazing bundle. Check out how Fictionary and ProWritingAid work together.

Until September 22nd, get annual subscriptions to both Fictionary ($200) and ProWritingAid Premium ($50) for just $99.

Click here to get the Fictionary and ProWritingAid bundle now!

Thanks for reading.

Mystery Mondays: Judy Penz Sheluk – In Praise of Book Clubs

This week on Mystery Mondays, it is my pleasure to have author Judy Penz Sheluk as a returning guest. I’m a big fan and have read every one of her books!

Today she’s sharing some interesting insights into book clubs and at the end of this post, you’ll find a recipe that might make you happy 🙂

Judy’s latest release, Past & Present, is coming soon! Congratulations. Let’s cheer her on in the comments.

In Praise of Book Clubs

by Judy Penz Sheluk

BOOK CLUBS!

One of the things I enjoy doing as an author is visiting local book clubs, should they select one of my novels for their monthly read. Not all of those picks translate into sales—my town’s library has book club sets of The Hanged Man’s Noose and Skeletons in the Attic—but now and again someone will download an e-book copy or purchase another one of my books. I’ve also received paid speaking engagements as a result, most recently to a PROBUS group, where I was paid a speaker’s fee of $150 and sold about 20 books. Not a bad deal for an hour’s work.

But visiting book clubs isn’t about the money or getting speaking gigs. It’s about connecting with readers, getting their honest feedback, answering questions, and for a short time, playing the role of “Author Judy” before heading back to the solitude of my office.

Not all book clubs are created equal, however. Some offer tea and homemade cookies. Some really go all out, making book-themed related food and drink, like the Treasontini from the Hanged Man’s Noose (recipe attached). And one didn’t offer me so much as a glass of water (I’ve learned to bring my own). There’s also the occasional book club whose members heavily favor “literary” and “don’t really read or ‘get’ mysteries.” I’ve learned to take it all in stride.

pnp3My upcoming release is Past & Present, book 2 in my bestselling Marketville Mystery series. I’m already putting feelers out there for book clubs and I’ve decided to expand my horizons. If your book club is interested in reading it, or any of my other titles, I’ll find a way to connect with your group online. If you’re interested, you can email me at judy at judypenzsheluk dot com and we can sort out the details.

In the meantime, here’s some Shameless Self Promotion for Past & Present, including a blurb about the book. It’s on pre-order for $2.99 US / CAD (no nasty U.S. exchange) on Kindle (regular $5.99) and will also be available in paperback (if your bookstore or library doesn’t have it, they can order it from Ingram Spark). Release date is September 21, 2018. So without further ado:

Sometimes the past reaches out to the present…

It’s been thirteen months since Calamity (Callie) Barnstable inherited a house in Marketville under the condition that she search for the person who murdered her mother thirty years earlier. She solves the mystery, but what next? Unemployment? Another nine-to-five job in Toronto?

Callie decides to set down roots in Marketville, take the skills and knowledge she acquired over the past year, and start her own business: Past & Present Investigations.

It’s not long before Callie and her new business partner, best friend Chantelle Marchand, get their first client: a woman who wants to find out everything she can about her grandmother, Anneliese Prei, and how she came to a “bad end” in 1956. It sounds like a perfect first assignment. Except for one thing: Anneliese’s past winds its way into Callie’s present, and not in a manner anyone—least of all Callie—could have predicted.

IMG_4117 copyAbout the author:An Amazon International Bestselling Author, Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, the first in the Glass Dolphin Mystery series, was published in July 2015, and is also available in audiobook. The sequel, A Hole In One, was published March 2018, with audiobook to follow Fall 2018.

Skeletons in the Attic, Judy’s second novel, and the first in her Marketville Mystery series, was first published in August 2016 and re-released in December 2017. It is also available in audiobook format. The sequel, Past & Present, will be released September 2018. Judy’s short crime and literary fiction appears in several collections.

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves on the Board of Directors as a representative for Toronto/Southwestern Ontario.

Find out more about Judy at http://www.judypenzsheluk.com.

The promised Treasontini Recipe…

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