The Comfort Zone and Getting Out!

As 2017 comes to a close I’m reflecting on my personal progress.  I accepted a challenge last year to do something outside my comfort zone. Let’s face it, writing and publishing the Emily Series was not comfortable. Putting myself out there is not comfortable at all. But it’s how we grow, so I  will continue to publish. I digress – back to 2017. My main focus to move outside my comfort zone was showing my abstract paintings to the Auburn community and my Social Media community.

Hanging my art in a downtown Auburn business was the first step. I also added a copy of the Emily Series to their bookshelf just for fun. What surprised me was that while I did have a number of inquiries about my abstract paintings, it was a bit of a slow response. My Emily Series novels, however, were quite the hit. I saw an increase in my website traffic as well as an increase in sales. The moral of this little story is that while my intent may have been to show and hopefully sell paintings, that exposure boosted my novels. Kind of a trip.

The second step was to photograph and post my paintings on Social Media. With the addition of a couple little hash tags I had artists following me from all over the world. Since then I’ve come to know these artists (as best as you can on social media) and received quite a bit of support.

It’s been a great experience showing my art, both written and painted. I feel like I’ve grown as an artist and as an author and wouldn’t trade any of the uncomfortable moments.

So what’s in store for me in 2018? Wouldn’t you like to know. Actually, I’ve been tossing around the idea of creating audio books of the Emily Series. This is something I’ve been thinking about for years and now it’s time. There are many factors to consider; platform, voice actor, price, and a slew more that I’m just now getting into. Stay tuned. This is about to get interesting.

Yours in writing,

Laura

 

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Back to School

Call Me Emily It’s that time again. The ceremonial day of mixed feelings. For some, back to school is joyful and exciting. For others, it’s a grind that seems to have no end. For Emily, it’s a little of both. Call Me Emily begins her freshman year at Cal West University and the beginning of the tumultuous ride of her life. It’s a balancing act for sure for Emily. With classes, friends, a nosy brother and a budding romance – what’s a girl to do?

Here’s a little glimpse – the budding romance:

Design 101 started filling up as the teacher walked in carrying a pile of papers. She leapt right into plans for the semester, and handed out the syllabus. This was my first experience with a syllabus, and its organization intrigued me, but I had no idea how we would accomplish all this work. I was overwhelmed. This was going to be a long day.

Oceanography went well. It was nice to be in a class that was so far from my major. The class was much larger, which probably meant people were taking it to fulfill a general science requirement, just like me. The room was typical lecture style, with tiered seating and a big projector screen at the front of the class. My high school had one classroom like this, but on a much smaller scale. Here, the instructor was a quirky man who loved baseball and, of course, the ocean. He explained to us that he was, in fact, a professor with a PhD but not to call him Dr. Vance because he didn’t like that, and not to call him Mr. Vance because he would look around for his father. That left his first name which was Marlon. I kind of chuckled to myself thinking of the irony of his name and his profession; marlin the sport fish. Marlon was cuing up the first slide. Wow, classes started hard and fast here.

Spanish was somewhat of a relief. I had taken four years of high school Spanish, so at least something was familiar. It was a second year college level course but it didn’t intimidate me. I found a spot, again somewhere in the middle of the room: this class was smaller than Oceanography but still bigger than Design 101. As people settled into their seats, the teacher came through the door surrounded by a cloud of disarray and incense, pulling a rolling cart full of books and papers. In a bright orange, pink and black poncho, she was a sight. Her voice was full and rich and it seemed to match the long, curly mane of black hair flowing down her back. She spoke only Spanish: this class was beginning with the same jolt of my previous classes. She handed a stack of what had to be the class syllabus to the first person in each row to hand back. (Of course I didn’t know the Spanish word for “syllabus.”) As the guy in front of me turned to hand me the stack, I reached up. The stack slipped through my fingers to the floor. Oh, I was such a dope! I silently turned in my seat to pick up the papers when he bent over to help.

“I’m sorry, I let go too soon,” he said kneeling to help me.

“No, it was totally me,” I said shaking my head. Yep, I’m a klutz. I stretched for the three syllabi on the floor to my right before I looked up at him.

“Well, I don’t know about that, but if you say so.” One corner of his mouth curved up into an impish smile. He handed me the sheets that fell in the opposite direction. Then I realized he looked familiar. Had I met him? No. I didn’t think so. I smiled back wondering why his face seemed so…then I remembered, he was the guy that offered to help me when I must have looked completely lost on my first day.

“You know.” He stacked the rest of the papers on my desk. “I might need some help.” What? I thought. Did he remember too?

“Help?”

“Yeah.” He pointed to the stack of syllabi in my hand. “Figuring out what that says.” OK. Probably not.

I took my first look at the syllabus and saw it was entirely in Spanish. Great! I hoped I could read it. When I looked up again, his smile widened and for a flash. I felt my cheeks heat up.

“I’m Graham,” he said extending his hand. I reached over and opened my mouth to respond as I heard the girl behind me clear her throat.

 I passed the papers back and quickly sat down. I had disrupted class long enough. 

The rest of Spanish flew by; what a relief that classes were over for the day. It was hard to believe I had so much reading to do.

“So, how about it?” He stood and slung his backpack over one shoulder.

I looked around making sure he was talking to me. His tone was relaxed. He sounded like he was talking to someone he knew, and knew well. But, it appeared he was only talking to me. I shrugged.

“You’re assuming I can read it.”  I slung my book bag on my shoulder, and with a tilt of my head walked in the opposite direction. Barely out the door, I turned around just enough to see him standing in the same spot watching me walk away. And I felt the slightest bit smug.

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Should You Hire an Editor?

When I made the transition from short stories to novels and made the decision to publish my work, I had no idea how the publishing world worked. I envisioned an editor pouring me a glass of whisky and making suggestions while I sat in front a roaring fireplace making notes.  Maybe I wasn’t that idyllic, but close. Needless to say, that’s not how it works.

As a self-published author I have contracted with an editor for the entire editing and development of my novels. I’d recommend that for any author that wishes to self-publish. But what about authors who choose to pitch queries, hope to land an agent and then a publisher? You still should hire your own editor and this is why. When you submit queries your novel must be complete. All agents require a complete novel or they won’t respond to your query at all. Typically with your query, agents require a chapter or a number of pages. You want these pages and your entire novel to be submission ready. You want the best possible version of your work out there. Not anything short of what you consider to be story and copy perfect.

The next important decision is aligning yourself with an editor. I use the word “aligning” intentionally because you are glued to each other’s sides for the duration of your project. Maybe not literally, but definitely figuratively. Each editor has a style and so do you. Contact as many editors as necessary, have each one give you a sample edit on about six pages of your novel, meet in person if you can, have long conversations about whatever and anything, and evaluate your compatibility. Compatibility is the key. An editor that you are compatible with will coach you, urge you to make better writing decisions and encourage you to turn out your best work.  With a great editor, all of this will happen without you even knowing it.

Where do you find an editor? Start with referrals, then look online. I have built an entire publishing team by doing internet research. There are many, many freelance editors out there. Do the research, make a list, and start interviewing. It can be time consuming, but in the end it will be quite worth it.

Good luck to you. Your amazing novel is just around the corner.

Yours in writing,

Laura Albright

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Social Media and Today’s Author

Social Media set-up. Wow! It’s a ton of work.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m working on a new novel, The Fifth Day. I’ll publish this work under the pen name LJ Bethmann as it falls into the Adult Fiction Romance Genre. Writing, editing and publishing a novel is work enough, but add in all the social media set up and I’m in for it. I wrote and published the Emily Series from 2009 to 2012 and set up all of the respective websites and social media accounts. It’s safe to say I’ve forgotten the magnitude of work. Between Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, Amazon, Create Space, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and so on, it’s daunting. Let’s not forget the design, hosting and launch of my new author website: ljbethmann.com.

So if you’re looking for advice, keep looking. Just kidding! It’s one step at a time for me. And keep in mind there most definitely avenues not mentioned here that I have yet to learn about. But I will. Ask the right people the right questions and boom; the perfect hook-up.

Check back here for updates and directions to the new websites.

Best, as always,

Laura

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Time to “Shake Things Up” – and publish it too!

In my New Year’s post I talked about shaking things up this new Year. I intend to do just that, but maybe in different ways than some do.

Late 2013 and 2014 marked a period of drastic career change for me. I went from working part time for a number of years while my son was younger, to freelance, and now returning to my career in a full time and-then-some capacity. That alone tested my routines and comforts beyond what I could have imagined. Now, still not entirely living in a “comfort zone,” I do feel like I’m getting the hang of it. That brings me back to what I’m going to do.

They say you use the two sides of your brain for different things. One for creativity and one for analytics. I say I use my whole brain for creativity and my whole brain for analytics. A demanding career can be overwhelming and has at times, but creativity can coexist.

Writing novels is never easy, story-lines don’t always come to me in the shower (although sometimes) and it’s certainly not in my comfort zone. It’s hard work, beautiful, but hard work. Four published novels later I always wonder if I’ve seen the last of it. I’ve written many stories, but some are on a path to publish while others were just for me. It’s the one that continually nags at you that finds it way on Amazon. For me it’s a spin-off. For years I’ve been nagged by my Call Me Emily character “Colin.” Colin resonated with me in a way other characters just tickled me. This man, so loving and selfless, yet in his journey with Emily did not find his happily ever after.

My plan to reconnect with Colin and maybe some other characters from the series is exciting. And no, not in a comfortable way. I’ll post pieces of the new novel here as they come to me and share with you the journey. I’m looking forward to it.

 

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Who need enemies when you have shirt-tail relatives?

Amazon reviewIt is the season for kindness and giving. Well, that’s what I thought. Let me paint a picture for you. Yesterday evening I’m scrolling through books to download on my Kindle and momentarily wander to the Emily Series to check on my sweet books. When to my surprise there is an additional review for both Call Me Emily and Emily Calls It. With one click and a scroll I see it’s one word, “boring” and one star. My heart immediately sank until the name associated with the review caught my eye. Donna Rhama. Better known as AUNT DONNA. I spent the last twelve hours completely offended and angry. I couldn’t believe a woman who had spent time with my family for the better part of my adolescence would post something so negative. Then I spoke to my mother. Clearly there was a falling out I wasn’t a part of. Still an attack was thrown my way. So I ask, dedicated readers, please add a review to Call Me Emily and Emily Calls It on Amazon.com to bury this silly attempt to upset me and my family. I will be ever grateful. (And if you feel like it, add one to Emily’s Calling and Meet Emily.)

Your friend,

Laura

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Call Me Emily

Call Me Emily CALL ME EMILY

When Emily Parker leaves her small hometown in the late 1980s for California West University, she thinks she has it all figured out. But when manipulation, vanity, and pleasure enter her life in the form of a whirlwind college romance, will she stay true to herself? Add the watchful eye of an older brother who also attends Cal West, friends who care too much, a strenuous class load and part-time job, and throw in a young, interested professor. Emily’s path to adulthood challenges her at every turn.

Released in paperback and Kindle – Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/Call-Me-Emily-Volume-1/dp/1477546634/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1339736219&sr=8-1
Barnes & Noble for Nook:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/call-me-emily-laura-albright/1111297431?ean=2940014382120
Smashwords for all other digital downloads including HTML, .pdf and iPad:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/166210

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