Monday, December 20, 2010

I've Been a Bad, Bad Girl

How does one keep blogging whilst doing book signings, making book trailers, marketing one's new book, writing new books, helping coach a 5th and 6th grade boys Parks & Rec Basketball team, and raising three boys?  Plain and simple, one doesn't.  Well, at least this one doesn't.  There's always lots of stuff going on in my life but the time to write about it has waned lately, probably because my spare moments seem to have disappeared like the hair on my hubby's head - slow but sure.  Sorry to all.  I've been a bad, bad girl.

If you're at all interested in keeping up to date on my writing life, I suggest fanning up on my Facebook Fan Page, or following me on Twitter.

Otherwise, I'm afraid I won't be writing much here.  I've been working on a new series that I love and I want to keep writing while that passion is still alive and kicking.  I can't wait to send out the first book in the series, which I plan to do in the new year.

Publishing my book, The Chronicles of Anaedor:  The Prophecies, has been an up and down experience and I've been learning a lot...like how frustrating publishing a book can be (administrative/technical problems have been my biggest hurdle).  But also, how great it can be.  My best experiences have come from participating in several book signings and book fairs and meeting fellow authors and avid readers.  People are so supportive and have made this adventure much more interesting and fun for me than I thought possible.  Without them, I'd be a quivering puddle of a mess from dealing with all the things that have gone wrong (anywhere from my book cover looking weird on amazon's site, to my books going missing just prior to a signing, to my books selling out but my publisher not being ready with more).

I will say that one big thing went right.  YA Book Reads reviewed The Chronicles of Anaedor:  The Prophecies and really liked it!  See their review as well as my interview with them.  They gave me 4 1/2 Snitches out of 5!  I'm so psyched and honored.

Anyway, I'm sorry to be so remiss in my blog.  Please forgive me and maybe follow me on Facebook instead!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Do the Monster Smash: Yet Another Cool Marketing Tool for Authors!

My publishers, Variance, who have published my book, The Chronicles of Anaedor:  The Prophecies, through their imprint, BLiP, have put my book on SmashwordsSmashwords, I have found, is a great place to go for all your e-book needs.  Why?  Because they make your book available via a crazy number of formats.  Take a look:


That's hard to beat when you want your book to be accessible to as many people in as many ways as possible.  It's also hard to beat the name:  Smashwords.  I just like saying it.

So do the Monster Smash and get your book out there!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Spread the Wordle: Another Cool Marketing Tool for Authors!

I'm back with another really awesome marketing tool for authors. It's called a wordle and can be found at Wordle.com. You can create your own wordle, using your own words, colors, and configurations. It's very simple. Here's the one I did for The Chronicles of Anaedor: The Prophecies.



The process takes very little time - all you have to do is type in the words, pick a font, pick a color and play around with the configurations (all horizontal, all vertical, some of both, etc). Once you are finished, you can save the product to the wordle site. This makes your wordle public, so anyone can view it. You can also take a screen shot (the FAQ provides a link that will guide you on how to do this) and save it for display on your website. You can use your creation to make t-shirts or posters or bookmarks. Whatever you want!

Wordle is fun and it's free! So get out there and spread the wordle. Your wordle!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Cool Marketing Tool for Authors!

Trailers - short video clips - are growing in popularity as a method for various creatives to market themselves and their wares over the internet. As an author, I decided that doing a book trailer for my first book, The Chronicles of Anaedor: The Prophecies, might not be a bad idea. I love movie trailers...well, the good ones. Why not make one for my book?

What hooks you into watching a movie? A great trailer. What's a great trailer? One that engages you, tantalizes your senses, and makes you eager to see more, more, more! A good book trailer should do the same. That's why you need an expert to put one together. Timing, too many words or too little explanation, picture quality...all can make or break your trailer.

Thank goodness there are experts in the world, because my own tinkerings often lead to computer implosion, and sometimes a threat to world peace. The company, GorKee Jar Productions, produced my trailer and I think it's pretty darn good. Here it is:


video

Now, if GorKee Jar Productions did its job right, you would know that The Chronicles of Anaedor: The Prophecies by author, Kristina Schram, is a fantasy book full of action and adventure and mystery. Furthermore, it should make you want to run right out and buy it. Or at least click on this link: Amazon. Or this one: Barnes & Noble. Or this one for your ebook: Smashwords.

You're getting sleepy...very sleepy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day Mayhem

Contrary to what the title implies, I had a great mother's day. My husband and kids made me a very tasty breakfast in bed. I received flowers and cards with promises to vacuum the house and do five chores worth $20 (I think my 8-year-old has an inflated sense of his helpfulness).

For supper, my husband made beef stew, home-baked bread, and spice cake - all were delicious, by the way. He bought an expensive cut of meat, which he thought was called Agnes beef (say Angus, honey, An-gus). Really, I'd hate to think my pleasure was at the expense of a little old lady.

In short, my husband and kids did exactly what they were supposed to do for mother's day - they made me feel special. Unfortunately, I'm so used to doing everything myself, I had to force myself to walk away when my husband started making the cake using terribly inefficient techniques. I did help him out at supper time because honestly I couldn't walk away. I have issues, I admit it.

But the kicker was the dishwasher episode. Setting: Me lying in bed, relaxed, reading a House Beautiful magazine after eating my delicious breakfast. My husband has just headed into the kitchen when I hear, "OOOhhhh..." in this mournful, oh crud, kind of voice. Sensing trouble, I leaped out of bed (seriously, I did) and dashed into the kitchen. For some reason, I just knew it was the dishwasher. Maybe it wasn't making the same noise I'm accustomed to. I don't know. All I knew was that I was needed to save the day.

And then I saw the bubbles.

That dishwasher was frothing at the mouth like a rabid raccoon. My husband, thinking I'd bought a new sort of dishwasher detergent, put dish soap into the little cup (something they vehemently warn you not to do). Let me tell you, there were a lot bubbles to clean up and scoop out and wash down the sink. A lot. I'm thinking that when I start up the dishwasher again, there'll be more bubbles.

When it was all over, I told my husband he was a writer's dream, and then I somehow managed to laugh and give him a hug. What can I say? Mothers need to be needed.

Seeing all those bubbles just made my day.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Pitch: Five Minutes to Sell Yourself

This weekend I attended the New Hampshire Writers Project Writers' Day. I met lots of great people, listened to Nicholson Baker speak and read from one of his works (look him up - he's a funny guy), learned about social media and how the latest great way to market yourself changes almost daily, and most importantly, I PITCHED to an agent. No, I did not throw something at her.

Here's the deal: You get five minutes to sell yourself to a perfect stranger (I've heard that at ThrillerFest you get one minute - apparently a miasma of depression and desperation fills the room that day). Personally, I dreaded the moment. I'm not the most extroverted of people and the spoken word is not my forte. Having stopped wearing a watch, and unable to find the one I usually bring for such events, I stayed too long after lunch chatting to a new found friend and had to hurry over to the right building. Of course I was the first to do my pitch, so I had no time to go to the bathroom beforehand. And of course I had food in my teeth (luckily, I discovered this afterward, and luckily it wasn't noticeable - I hope). Basically, I was freaking out, and I had to go.

Luckily for me, my agent was great and helpful and didn't bite me once. But let me let you in on a little secret. If the workshop coordinators tell you not to bring a manuscript, don't listen to them. Bring it (or at least the first 3 chapters). You may never do anything with it (and don't force it on the agent), but at the very least, you can hold your query letter in front of you for comfort, and consult it if you forget where you are, who you are, and what the heck you're doing here in this scary place.

I learned this little trick by reading The Mysterious Benedict Society (great book for kids, BTW). The children are told to bring only one pencil to take a test, but one character, Constance Contraire, brings 37. Borrowing a book from Constance's page, I brought along the first 3 chapters, a synopsis and a query letter. What did I have to lose? Nothing! The agent asked for a sample of my writing and lo and behold, I had one! Most times I'm a rule follower, but sometimes, you've got to take the initiative, break some rules, stir things up. Who knows what will come out of this? Maybe nothing. But as Elvis always says, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

In sum, when doing a pitch, be prepared for any contingency. Keep a copy of a writing sample (preferably the first three chapters and a query letter) in your bag, just in case. Bring a watch and leave yourself time to go to the bathroom to do your business.

Oh, and note to self: Next time, avoid eating baked beans for lunch.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Little Red Building on the Corner

For several months now I have been intrigued by the little red building on the corner. Day after day, I've seen workers coming and going, and vans and utility trucks driving in and out, busy as bees. The building is quiet now, yet I can tell work still continues inside, and I wonder is it ever going to be finished? And when it is, What's my little red building going to be?

My imagination hasn't exactly run amok with mad ideas, but it has conjured up a few scenarios:

*A cozy cafe/bakery where I can eat lunch or drink a pot of tea and write down delicious story ideas full of quirky sparks and warm bonhomie. On weekend evenings they will offer live entertainment and my husband and I can sit and enjoy a bit of adult, quiet time without having to drive a half hour to get there.

*A new and used bookstore where I will find secret books full of magic and wondrous adventures. Where they have open mike night and I can read my terrible poetry. Where I will meet the eccentric owner and discuss Camus.

*A unique boutique full of wonderful, imaginative clothes just my size.

*All three combined.

Just about every day I drive past the little building and the wait to see what it's going to be has me feeling both frustrated and wonderful, as though I were on an adventure. I want the journey to end, yet I don't. I'd like to get going on acting out my fantasies, you see. But then again, what if I ask and I find out my mystery building is merely going to be someone's house? That would be a very sad day indeed - well, for me, anyway. I'm sure the owners wouldn't agree. Or maybe the building is a
business that sells snow blowers. From the beginning, an orange snow blower has lurked on the porch like an ugly gnome. Are the owners already advertising? Egad, I hope not. I cannot eat pastries on a snow blower.

My little town is great and living here feels like an honor. But I would love to see a special place where people can gather and watch other people going about their lives, where they can talk and eat good food, where they can laugh and cry and sing kumbaya, all in a magical atmosphere that brings you back again and again.

What will the little red building on the corner be? What's your guess?
And please...nothing to do with machines.
A girl's got to dream.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Help Haiti

This blog is going to be quick and to the point. I know that a lot of people are strapped for cash right now, I know what Rush Limbaugh is saying about how much we've already given to Haiti, but I also want you to imagine how you would feel if you were a Haitian right now, watching your family and friends suffer around you (or you are suffering yourself) and there was nothing you could do to help them. That's my worst nightmare.

Already poor and struggling, Haiti needs us - you and me. There are people - children and babies - who are dying in the streets because the facilities are so poorly equipped and so few have the necessary expertise to do what needs to be done. Do or give whatever you can, but please help, and in doing so, keep alive the spirit of the man whose birthday we celebrate today - Martin Luther King, Jr.

I've recently learned that Capital One has a site where you can donate money and all processing fees are waived. Keep your donation safe and save money at the same time. Don't give money over the phone or respond to email solicitations asking for your credit card number! Stick to reputable organizations like the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders.

Thank you for keeping an open mind and heart.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The New Year - 2010 and the Art of Zen

All right...the party is over. I've taken several months off from writing my blog to recover my energy, sanity and joy of life (the short story version: I was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism - completely treatable, but not very nice if left untreated). Anyway, I am feeling much better thanks to modern medicine and ready to begin the new year. I even rearranged my workspace.

Woohoo!

Okay, I admit it. I am one of those people who comes up with new year's resolutions. I am also one of those rare, and annoying, people who actually do what they resolve to do (more or less). That is why I am called an overachiever. Being an overachiever can be great, but it comes with a price (just ask my stomach).

This year I am feeling quite energetic and hope to get a lot accomplished. So, without further ado, here are my resolutions:

1. Finish writing two books (both have about 70 pages chock full of goodness).
2. Find an agent (the author kind, not the secret kind).
3. Send out a new kind of book (my favorite kind to read) that I wrote last year to help find that agent.
4. Find a publisher for a fantasy book I wrote last year (although there might be a possibility already for that one). I'm keeping my fingers (and my toes, eyes and ears) crossed!
5. Help put together a great NH AuthorFest (and hope for rain this year).
6. Market the new and improved, The Chronicles of Anaedor: The Prophecies.
7. Save the world.
8. Buy more books from local bookstores.
9. Do a real, live book signing at a real, live bookstore.
10. Have fun being an author (and there's no fun like author fun)!

As you can see, this post has nothing to do with the art of Zen. Overachievers have a hard time meditating (while doing so, I compose lists - it's very sad). But Zen rhymes with ten and that's the best I could do and that's what it's all about (apparently I don't overachieve when it comes to poetry).

So what are your resolutions for 2010? Do you even make them? If not, why are you such a wimp? Whatever your poor, sniveling excuses are, I'd like to hear from you, so comment away!