Musings of Elise Kova

eternaldreamers

Becoming a “Published” Author
by Elise Kova

There’s this sort of halo that I think hovers around authors. No, I’m not trying to put myself on some pedestal. Actually the opposite… but that should be apparent by the end of this. I’m thinking of how I was when I first started writing. Authors were like, these mythical creatures that I almost wasn’t sure if they quite “existed” because they only seemed to be online, printed on pages, and present at the even rarer book signing that you had to rely on the internet and other people’s photos to prove actually happened. Because, chances are, you weren’t one of the lucky ones who got to go.

You hear of the JK Rowling cocktail napkin and imagine the author huddled in a bar, struggling to make ends meet, and then – seemingly overnight – they become an international sensation and are set for life. You idolize the images of Veronica Roth at the Divergent premiere red carpet. And, if you’re anything like me, you see pictures of Sarah J. Maas at Costco signing books and think, “OMG THAT ANGEL IS FAR BETTER THAN COSTCO! That’s where people like me shop…”

There’s that sort of magic I thought publication had. From idea to bestseller, or maybe not even bestseller, lets scale it back, to published author, just kind of “happens.”

Except for, it doesn’t.

I didn’t think I’d be “published” (yes, I’m using quotes, I’ll get to that later) when I first started writing. It wasn’t as if one day I woke up and said “I’m going to publish a book now.” I guess if you go FAR back I started writing in elementary school. In sixth grade I had a teacher who assigned a creative writing project and I said I wanted to write a book. When she expressed doubt I submitted a 35,000 word novella. But, I still didn’t think about being an author. That wasn’t a “real career.” I actually graduated with my MBA and set out on a “normal” career path in marketing.

In 2012, I sold everything I owned to have a life adventure and move to Japan. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and transformed me fundamentally as a person. During that time I met a beautiful soul who had a passion for writing. She was the one responsible for reestablishing the idea of putting pen to paper back in my head.

We talked about writing, inspiration, and stories we loved. I also heard Zedd’s song, “Clarity,” for the first time. I had the song on repeat, the lyrics embedding themselves into my consciousness, into my overactive imagination. I had this image of a woman at the center of a magical windstorm and a man struggling to get to her. I asked myself the questions the songs proposed, “Why is their love clarity for them? Why is it insanity?”

When I had the answers, I started writing because it was a story that was begging me to be told.

But, again, I didn’t think I was pursuing that scary word “publication.” I was writing a fanfiction of my own creation. Approaching it from this perspective I said, “Well, I LOVE Fanfiction.net and AO3. Wouldn’t it would be cool if there was a site like that for fiction?” Then I found FictionPress.

In an effort to not write a blog post as long as one of my novels I’m going to fast forward again: End of 2013, early 2014, I finished the fifth and last book of Air Awakens on FictionPress. With the support and encouragement of my readers I’d been writing 3,500-5,000 words/day. Turns out, that was also a pretty good way to get noticed on FictionPress and everyone seemed to be asking the same question, “When are you publishing?”

So, I started to ask myself the same. Was I going to publish? Was I not going to publish? What did I want out of this?

I reached out to one of my college friends. I had the luxury of knowing someone who’d gone off and become a published author and she had the kindness not to close the door in my face when I came knocking with questions. I asked her about her path and about publishing, what it meant, what it entailed.

Suddenly, a whole new language was added to my lexicon. I became very familiar with phrases like “Slush Pile,” “Partial Request,” and “Query Revision.” Suddenly, writing was no longer this random thing I did as a hobby, but something I was trying to make a profession.

With that came some changes. My friend was kind enough to read my manuscript and send three pages to which she said, “Have a glass of wine before opening this word doc.” (For the record, I’m American and over 21) My first hurdle was when she told me that a 127,000 word debut YA manuscript, even for high fantasy, was crazy.

Cutting 35,000 words was like cutting off a limb. I cut characters. I completely removed sub-story arcs. I transformed my manuscript.

But it became a tighter story, a better story. It was my first lesson in becoming in author: letting go. Letting go of the story I thought was “perfect” to make something more accessible for people and more marketable. I’m still so glad I made those changes and learned that lesson.

My next lesson was in perseverance.

I felt like a bad date when it came to agents. I kept hearing variations of, “It’s not you, it’s me.” Their lists were full, Air Awakens didn’t match what they were looking for, the story didn’t quite resonate with them but they were sure it’d be perfect for another agent. My friend reassured me that this was normal for a debut author in a competitive market of YA. I read online the stories of how many query letters people went through. But, despite knowing all that, I still felt like a leper. I was months out of taking all my stories off FictionPress and I felt like I was loosing all touch with my readers. They still checked in from time to time, eagerly asking, following up, but I had nothing to tell them other than that I was “working on it.”

I remember the day I walked into my apartment, dropped all my stuff, and checked my phone. There was an email from that agent. The one who’d requested the full and I was sure it’d be “the one.” I pretended I was okay when it was another rejection. I got to the kitchen before I sunk to the floor and started sobbing. I’m talking messy “What the heck am I doing?” tears.

That was when I drew the line in the sand. I didn’t care about the traditional publishing process. Okay, I still care, and think it’s important for a number of reasons. But, for me, for my journey, I didn’t need it to define my success.

Thus, my publication process really began when I peeled myself up off the floor, wiped my face, put a line in my excel spreadsheet I was using to track my queries, and said “once I get here I’m self-publishing. I refuse to trunk my novels.”

I got to that line, and I did exactly what I said I would.

The only thing was, I had no idea what “self-publishing” was. I knew I didn’t want to be one of those Indie authors who had the cover everyone laughed at and typos everywhere. I’m sure those authors work very hard also. But, if I was indie publishing I wanted to make it as professional as I could. I didn’t want to bring the lingering stigma of self publishing onto my book. I loved my characters too much to do that to them.

I started with the editor. During my participation in Pitch Wars I came across @JMWEditor, she’d offered some sample editing for free and I loved it. I signed up to work with her the day I decided to self.

The next thing was the cover. I didn’t want just another iStock cover. I thought of all the fantasy books I’d loved as a kid. They had beautiful painted covers and something about them was perfect for the genre. Fantasy is another world, it’s not real, so I decided against photography. I wanted something that was only Air Awakens. I found @zwxArt out of a few deviant artists I’d reached out to, but I knew she was the one I wanted to work with. There was a stunning ethereal quality to her work and one piece in her portfolio screamed the essence of air.

Then came my next lesson, something along the lines of: Fake it till you make it.

I had no idea what I was doing. I was absolutely clueless and spent HOURS googling what other authors used for their cover art contracts. What things did you need to make sure you could legally use the art? My research led to even more questions… How did self-published authors report taxes? What was considered “Tax-deductible business expenses?” Did I need to incorporate into an LLC? How did I go about selling my books?

So, on top of trying to write an even better book, edit, and coordinate things, I had to be an entrepreneur.

Good thing was, that’s one background I DO have. As an MBA, I did take basic finance courses, marketing, and entrepreneurship classes. It’s amazing how much that will prepare you for being an author (or at least an Indie one).

I’d set a publication date and was gearing up promotions when I found out about a distributor that managed selling books called Gatekeeper Press. They intrigued me for a few reasons. Firstly, they could sell hardcovers – this was big to me in the fantasy genre. Secondly, they managed everything for flat fees, not cuts out of my royalty percentages. Thirdly, they could get me into a LOT of distribution channels that would be a headache (or impossible) to get in on my own. Finally, I retained ALL the rights. So in the off chance a publisher wants to pick me up that can happen. I know when to DIY and when to outsource and the cost/benefit analysis on this one weighed in Gatekeeper’s favor. So I began working with them.

At the same time as all this, I continued to keep up with my published friend and gained new mentors. I had another self-published author I began talking to, and another hybrid (traditional & self). In an odd way, all the discussions reaffirmed my decisions.

I learned more about how traditionally published authors, usually, have no to very little control over their covers. How they’re stalled and/or at the limitations of the publishers. The small royalties they receive. And, what surprised me the most, that they had to still pay a lot out of pocket for their book tours and promotions.

At the end of the day, I wanted my readers to be my bosses. I wanted them to dictate the speed at which they wanted and I wrote my books. I wanted to make choices I felt would be best for the market and listen to their demands.

And, now, I’m here. Here being my very first book birthday. Air Awakens is “published” today, August 27th, 2015. I use those quotations because, I didn’t take the usual path. I’m not some big book-deal author. I’m not even a small book-deal author. A lot of people won’t even consider me an author because I didn’t take the traditional route. Because an agent didn’t validate me as good enough, or because I decided to take the chance on myself that others wouldn’t take.

I also use those quotations, again coming full circle, because I don’t feel like how I thought an author would feel like. There is no chorus singing in the back of my head. There is no change to my day. There is no overnight success.

Today, the day my book is out, I will get up and go to work. I will have meetings and take phone calls. I’ll just be me, same old me, who now happens to have a book out that most people don’t even know about. I’m gearing up for book two ARCs, I’m waiting on book three edits, I’m polishing and revamping book four. I’m still working for my characters and my readers.

My publication process didn’t start out with the goal of having a “book for sale” and it’s not going to “end” or be validated by that either. I started writing to make something fun for people to read. To tell a story I loved in the hopes others would love it too. To put words on a page that maybe, just maybe, could reach out to someone and make their day better. I don’t think I’ll feel like an author until people who I didn’t send advanced reader copies to comment on it. Until I have people love it and hate it (But hopefully love it more). Until I have someone, just one person, begging me for book two.

What’s the moral of this LONG story?

Never give up.
Never let others define success for you.
Never think there’s only one path to get what you want.

Be open to change.
Be open to meeting the people who will change you.
Be open to working so hard it makes you dizzy.

And, always, love, love, LOVE what you do. If what you’re doing is not the reason why you get out of bed in the morning then find whatever is and make sure you’re doing that also, if not instead.

I hope some of you will reach out to me on TwitterFacebookGoodreadsInstagram, or Tumblr. I hope if you have questions you know you can ask them. If they’re about Air Awakens, about publishing, about writing, or about me I hope to see them in my inbox. I hope it’s clear how much I relied on other people during my process and you know it’s okay to do the same if you’re just setting out.

And, of course, I hope you love the product of my journey: Air Awakens

Always and forever your author,

Elise Kova

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About Elise:

Elise Kova
All information comes from Elise’s Goodreads page:
Elise Kova has always had a passion for storytelling. She wrote her first novella, a high-fantasy, in sixth grade. Over the years she’s honed her love of literature with everything from fantasy to romance, science fiction to mystery, and whatever else catches her eye.Elise lives in Saint Petersburg, Florida, where she’s currently working on the next installment in her debut YA fantasy series: Air Awakens. She enjoys video games, anime, table-top role playing games, and many other forms of “geekdom.” She loves talking with fans on Twitter (@EliseKova) and Facebook (/AuthorEliseKova). Visit her website, EliseKova.com/, for news and extras about her books!


Elise’s Books:

Air Awakens (Air Awakens, #1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire Falling (Air Awakens, #2)
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Waiting on Wednesday: The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

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It’s Wednesday and that means it’s time to pick a book we are waiting for! This is a weekly feature hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s pick is…

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Publisher: Scholastic Press

Page Numbers: 304

Genre: MG Fantasy

Publication Date: September 1st, 2015

Summary:

Because this is the second book in a series I don’t want to spoil anything for those that have yet to read book 1, Iron Trial. So for anyone that may want more information on this book just click the Goodreads link here!


About the Authors:

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Holly Black is a best-selling author of contemporary fantasy novels for kids, teens, and adults. She is the author of the Modern Faerie Tale series (Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside), The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), and The Good Neighbors graphic novels (with Ted Naifeh) The Poison Eaters and Other Stories, a collection of short Stories, a collection of short fiction, and The Curse Worker series (White Cat, Red Glove, and Black Heart). She is also the co-editor of three anthologies, Geektastic (with Cecil Castrellucci), Zombies vs. Unicors (with Justine Larbalestier), and Welcome to Bordertown (with Ellen Kushner). Her most recent works are the middle grade novel, Doll Bones, and the dark fantasy stand alone, The Coldest Girl in Cldtown.

She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Theo, in a house with a secret library.

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Cassandra Clare was born overseas and spent her early years traveling around the world with her family and several trunks of fantasy books. Cassandra worked for several years as an entertainment journalist for the Hollywood Reporter before turning her attention to fiction. She is the author of City of Bones, the first book in the Mortal Instruments Trilogy and a New York Times bestseller. Cassandra lives with her fiancé and their two cats in Massachusetts.


Why We Are Waiting:

Lauren: I probably am not as excited as some are for this sequel, but only because I have yet to read Iron Trial. I have both of these on my To Be Read list, and I plan on reading them together once the second book comes out! The story sounds like so much fun I can’t wait to get into them!

Kelly: I have yet to read Iron Trial, but I’ve had my eyes on it for quite a bit! I’m excited for this release for a few reasons. One of them that I love Cassie and Holly, so I really want to see what type of magic they come up with together! Also, I’m a binge series reader, so when I read a series, I feel like I need to read the whole thing. Having one more book come out in the series means I’m a little bit closer to being able to binge the series! Yay!

Melissa: Seems like I’ve been waiting forever for Copper Gauntlet to come out and now it comes out in just six days! Cassie and Holly have definitely set the bar high with The Iron Trial, which is nothing like other books about wizards. I’m curious about what obstacles Call will be facing and who the fourth boy on the cover is! I’m ready to continue on Call’s journey attending the Magisterium with his friends. I’m also excited there will be more Havoc in book two. I wish I could have a wolf like that.


COMING SOON! 

Reviews:

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson Coming Soon! 

A Little In Love by Susan Fletcher – Coming Soon!

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman – Coming Soon!

Lauren, Melissa, and Kelly

Top Ten Tuesday: World Building 101

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For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish asked us to consider Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught ____________ 101. We decided that we would try to decide what books demonstrates good world building.

We feel that the following books have a believable imaginary world that the author created.  Authors have either set their books in a constructed a fictional world, an alternate Earth, or not set on Earth at all. In every book you’ll find the authors have set the basic foundations of world building: history, geography, social organization, people and customs, rules of magic, rituals, and daily life.


Constructed World

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

= Magic Wielders (Grisha) + Tsarist Russian influenced culture + mysterious creepy place (The Shadow Fold) + The Darkling + self discovery

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

= badass Assassin + lack of magic energy + a caste system with a scary king + fight to the death competition + unlikely friendships

Alternate Earth

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rowling

All The YES!! EVERYTHING!

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

= Parallel universes + Europe + magical creatures + mythological & religious creativity

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

= poverty + virtual world (OASIS) + 80’s pop culture references + a mesh of video games

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

= Corrupt U.S. government + telekinetic powers + East River + rehabilitation camps + power struggle (kids vs. parents)

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

= Cinderella retelling on a futuristic Earth + Lunar Kingdom + cyborgs + intergalatic transportation + scientific technology

Set in Outerspace

Dove Arising by Karen Bao

= moon colony + military government + family secrets & sacrifice + scientific advancement

Coming Up:

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson Coming Soon! 

A Little In Love by Susan Fletcher – Coming Soon!

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman – Coming Soon!

We will see you all tomorrow for Waiting on Wednesday! =)

❤️ Melissa, Lauren, and Kelly


Firewalker Blog Tour Review, Casting, and *GIVEAWAY*

Firewalker by Josephine Angelini

Firewalker (Worldwalker, #2)

Our Review:

Melissa and I loved Trial by Fire, so we were extremely excited to read Firewalker! We buddy read this sequel and though we were overall pleased with this book, it wasn’t exactly what we expected. Rather than the rousing action and tension that we were accustomed to, Firewalker provided a deeper understanding of characters and answers to multiple questions that left us hanging in book one.

What We Liked:

Una and Breakfast 

Una and Breakfast were a wonderful pair of characters to add to this book. They really seemed to round out the cast and add some hope and happiness to the seriousness strung over the shoulders of Lily and Rowan.

Samantha

Getting to know Samantha as a mother and a care-taker, not just a slightly insane parent, has deepened our love for her. She not only begins to come off as a motherly figure that we recognize in our lives, but she becomes someone you long to take care of as well. As a reader, you get to know her on a deeper level and suddenly find yourself attached and wanting to protect her in anyway you can.

Lillian

Without spoiling all of the secrets, answers, plot twists, etc., in this book, let’s just say that there were definitely some questions answered about Lillian that made us feel a little bit better about not hating her. We’re not saying that she was right, but the villain isn’t always a heartless, back-stabbing, evil being, right? The antagonist actually having a heart but being flawed is what makes a great villain. Even then, we’re still asking ourselves whether the villain is really who we thought it was all along… There’s still so many questions in this area!

Juliet

Juliet was easily the most likable character in Firewalker as we saw her challenge the illogical tendencies of Lily and her friends. She was not only a caring sister, but a very realistic character in the sense that she never just went with the flow of the plot and was consistently skeptical of the unexplainable magical happenings going on around her.

The Woven

Melissa and I absolutely adored how the woven were portrayed in this novel. Again, one of the brilliant pieces of Josie’s writing is that she has a tendency to turn the villain into a normal person, the beasts into wounded animals, and the best friends into the worst of evils. While trying not to spoil the ending and what we believe to be true, Lily’s ability to assess the woven and see them for what they could be has changed our perspective of them.

What We Didn’t Like:

Scot

Melissa and I both agreed that something felt off with Scot. We would have really liked to see him more involved and actively stalking Lily to the point that Rowan believed he could get to. We wanted more of him so that the loss the readers encountered would have come as more of a shock and less as a way to save the main characters and move the plot line forward.

Acceptance of Magic

When we came across the scene where Lily’s friends learned who about who she is and where she had been, the acceptance of her friends seemed forced. If her friends were portrayed accurately to our thoughts, this would have taken a while to sink in. They would not just accept this right off the bat without even panicking or walking outside for some air and thinking space. This is a life altering realization and to have her friends just accept it seemed almost forced.

Overall, Firewalker was a strong continuation of Trial by Fire. You can tell that this book was the sequel though, as it gave the reader more knowledge and answers than action, while having no huge climax like Trial by Fire contained. However, despite not having as much action, this novel is still worth a read. It brings a greater understanding of most of the characters while creating enough new questions to make you want more.

Four hearts for Firewalker!

   

Josie, we can’t wait to read Traitor’s Pyre and will be impatiently tapping our feet in anticipation of answers! =)

You can pre-order this book on Amazon!

You can pre-order this book on Barnes and Noble!


About the Author:

Josephine Angelini

Josephine Angelini is the internationally bestselling author of Trial by Fire and the Starcrossed series. She is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in theater, with a focus on the classics. Originally from Massachusetts, Josie now lives in Los Angeles with her screenwriter husband, her daughter, Pia Marie, and three shelter cats.

http://www.josephineangelini.com/


Dream Casting:

Melissa and I volunteered to do a character casting for Firewalker and this was probably the hardest blog post we have ever done. Not only did we slave for days and weeks over this casting, but we changed the cast repeatedly because we are perfectionists and wouldn’t stop until both of us agreed (which is not an easy task for us) on the actors and actresses. So, without further adieu, we give you our dream cast for Firewalker!


Lily Proctor – Rachel Hurd-Wood

 


Lillian Proctor – Rachel Hurd-Wood

 


Rowan Fall – Alex Meraz


Juliet Proctor – Alicia Vikander

 


Tristan Corey – Colton Haynes

 


Caleb – Maestro Harrell

 


Breakfast – Tyson Housman

 


Una Stone – Malese Jow

 


Alaric – Michiel Huisman

 


Carrick – Justin Rain

 


Samantha Proctor – Judy Greer

 


Gideon – Hunter Parrish

 


Giveaway:

Macmillan was kind enough to offer us a hardcover finished copy of Firewalker for giveaway! This giveaway is US ONLY! A huge thank you to Josephine Angelini for writing this series, Macmillan for being an awesome publisher, and Morgan Dubin for organizing this tour and providing us with a reader’s copy and giveaway copy of this wonderful book!

To see all of our rules and policies on giveaways, please visit our “Policies” tab in our main menu.

Click here for the Rafflecopter Giveaway!


Be sure to follow the rest of the blog tour:

August 25 – Live, Love, Read (You Are Here!)

August 26 – Winterhaven Books (http://www.winterhavenbooks.com)

August 27 – The Starry-Eyed Revue (http://starryeyedrevue.blogspot.com)

August 28 – Once Upon a Twilight (http://www.onceuponatwilight.com)

August 30 – FierceReads Tumblr (http://fiercereadsya.tumblr.com)

August 31 – YA Bibliophile (http://yabibliophile.com/)

September 1 – FictionFare (http://www.fictionfare.com/)


Good luck everyone! We hope you love it as much as we did!

Melissa and Kelly

Fire Falling Cover Reveal and ARC Giveaway

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to come across a beautiful book called, Air Awakens by Elise Kova. I had never heard of the title before, nor had I heard of the author. The cover alone pulled me in and the summary had me hooked! I know they say don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but when a cover is so beautifully done you can’t help but pick it up! I was lucky enough to win a copy and I can assure you, the cover is not the only beautiful thing about this book! The story is amazing, and I can’t wait to continue with the series.

For anyone interested here is book one, Air Awakens, and a few links with information for the summary and also where to buy the book. Trust me, you are going to want to read this one!

Release date is August 27th, 2015!

Air-Awakens-Cover-Cover-Reveal

  • You can add it on Goodreads by clicking here! 
  • You can order from Amazon here!
  • Here is a UK Amazon link for those that may need it here!
  • You can find it at Barnes and Noble here!
  • You can find it at iBooks here!
  • You can find it at Google Play here!
  • You can find it on Kobo here!

Now, that we have book one covered a bit let’s get to the exciting part! For your viewing pleasure I would like to present to you the cover for Fire Falling, book two in the Air Awakens series!

Release date is November 19th, 2015!

Fire-Falling-Cover-Only

Because this book is the second in a series, I don’t want to add anything that may be a spoiler to those who have not read Air Awakens yet. This book will pick up right where Air Awakens left off, so any information may be considered a spoiler. If you are interested in knowing more about Fire Falling, you can check out the link below!

  • You can find this book on Goodreads here!

The credit for both of these amazing covers goes to Merilliza Chan! You can visit her here for more of her work!

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About the Author

about-the-author

Elise Kova has always had a passion for storytelling. She wrote her first novella, a high-fantasy, in sixth grade. Over the years she’s honed her love of literature with everything from fantasy to romance, science fiction to mystery, and whatever else catches her eye.

Elise lives in Saint Petersburg, Florida, where she’s currently working on the next installment in her debut YA fantasy series: Air Awakens. She enjoys video games, anime, table-top role playing games, and many other forms of “geekdom.” She loves talking with fans on Twitter (@EliseKova) and Facebook. Visit her website, EliseKova.com, for news and extras about her books!

Here are her links if you would like to get in touch with her!

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*GIVEAWAY*

With the reveal of the cover, you also get a chance to win a signed ARC of Fire Falling! Just enter below!

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/Mzk2OThmNmNlMjFhODA4MGM5NDg4NmE1NGQ0Njk5OjU=/?

I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know what you thought of the cover and tell me if you are going to want to read this series! I have a review coming soon for Air Awakens, so make sure to check it out when it’s posted!

Lauren

Musings of Shanna Hughes

eternaldreamers

Musings of Eternal Dreamers is a brand new Thursday feature here on Live, Love, Read that was started in the hopes of helping new and beginning writers. Many of us, including Lauren and Kelly, one day hope to be published authors, but the road there isn’t easy. The road to being published isn’t something that you can do alone; you need help. This feature is stocked full of experienced authors, editors, publicists, agents, etc., who have already been there, done that, and are willing to share their own experiences, advice, and stories with us so that we can find our own paths to achieving our dreams.

Lauren and Kelly originally came up with the idea of this post many months ago to use as a documentation feature of our own troubles and journeys while writing our manuscripts. However, with our manuscripts on hold, we had no use for it at the time. Not too long ago, Kelly struck up a conversation with Shanna Hughes and asked her whether she would like to do a guest post for Live, Love, Read. After reading the phenomenal post Shanna sent, the new idea for Musings was set into motion. We are happy to say that there are now over twenty-five amazing people willing to share their advice and stories with all of you, and we are currently booked through February 2016 (with the exception of Christmas break, if anyone would like to take those Thursdays!) and still growing! If you would like to be a part of Musings of Eternal Dreamers, please contact Kelly at LiveLoveReadYA (at) gmail (dot) com.

With that said, Musings of Eternal Dreamers is our new baby, as it has flourished and grown so much over the last week that we have been left completely in awe of the amount of support received. We hope that you love this feature as much as we do, and take from it every piece of inspiration, advice, and love that you can! Feel free to leave comments, ask questions, and interact with the wonderful people volunteering their time to help us. They are all some amazing and kind writers to talk with.

Now, because Shanna was the author who inspired the renewal of this feature, it seems only fitting that she start us off…


A Fear of Sharing Your Writing…
by Shanna Hughes

In January 2015 I self-published a short story called The Silver Braid, even though I have intentions of following the traditional way of publishing. Now, you might ask: why did you self-publish?

The answer is simple: fear.

I was afraid of putting my story—myself—out there, with all the reviewers on Goodreads, book blogs, Twitter, and so on (and yes, I realize that self-publishing without any marketing budget does not equal an enormous amount of reviews—or readers, for that matter).

We’ve all seen the reviews that rip a book apart within a few sentences, a book an author worked on for a very long time. They go through the painstakingly process of writing, editing, more writing and editing, querying agents and landing a book deal. We all know it’s not easy and these people made it. That’s something to admire—and it’s something a lot of us will never achieve. When their book is finally published, it will be criticized in a way you will only find on the internet. Everyone—anonymous or not—has an opinion and most of them are keen to share it.

That’s okay, because everyone is entitled to have their own opinion, but it scared the hell out of me. I’ve been writing from a young age, even a fanfic at the age of sixteen that I posted on a forum. Soon, I’d gathered a group of at least two hundred people who followed the story—though I can’t for the life of me figure out why, because the writing was absolutely rubbish. But there was something that had them hooked. It sparked my hope of becoming a writer. Maybe I did have a tiny bit of talent that I could develop so I could chase the thing I’d always dreamed of: getting published.

So I wrote. And I wrote some more. Most of this I only shared with a few good friends. I have dozens of unfinished stories on my PC. I practiced and practiced and slowly became more confident. Surely, if I was crying during writing, someone else might cry when they read it?

At the same time, fear crept upon me. What if I share it with the world and no one likes it? What if people tell me I’m simply not good enough, that my writing is rubbish, and I’d best stick to my day job and give up all together? It consumed me and for years, I simply kept dreaming about putting my stuff out in the Big Mean World.

Last year, I moved to the UK from the Netherlands. It was a big step, but I have no regrets. It taught me something very important:

If you don’t try, you’ll never know.

Yes, yes, people tell you this all the time. But you don’t really feel the effects until you take a big step. Slowly, I realised that I was holding back on writing because of my fear. And I decided I had to tackle it.

My first step was to write something I loved, and I immediately thought of a story that had been on my mind for a few years. Over the Christmas holiday, I holed up in my room after dinner (not sure if my family really appreciated that…) and wrote. Within two days, I had a first version and The Silver Braid was born. Then I tackled it with edits—even during my flight back to the UK on January 1st!

But the big question was how I was going to overcome my fear of sharing it with people I didn’t know. Yes, I could post it on a forum or on my website, but I needed to reach people that I didn’t know. After a lot of thinking (and gnawing on my bottom lip) I decided self-publishing was the best option. I ended up publishing it through Smashwords 21st January 2015, after Toni Sian Williams designed the cover—my skills with Photoshop are limited to enhancing a photo.

What happened next amazed me: positive responses. Not just about the story, but also about the fact that I had put myself out there. I also received messages, Tweets and emails in which people told me they loved it and received a few positive reviews. And that, I promise you, is the best feeling in the world. It beats all the fear.

It fueled me into picking up a story I started writing in 2013 (idea goes back to 2007), but I’d pushed it away because of that fear I had. Along with inspirational words from Sarah J. Maas and Susan Dennard, I decided on a rewrite for Starstruck. Eight weeks later, I had a Shiny New Draft (the second one, having thrown out the first) with a word count of 78K—despite having a full time job. I write during my lunch breaks and it takes a lot of planning, structure and commitment, but it’s worth it. At the moment, I’m revising with help from my amazing critique partners.

For me, self-publishing was about overcoming my fear, to get rid of that which held me back to become a better writer. As for The Silver Braid, I’m still waiting for that first person to write a negative review. But when that happens, I will see it as feedback and use it to improve myself as a writer. Remember this, people: you can’t please everyone! Bottom line: you have to write what you love. If you don’t love it, your reader won’t like it either.

Remember that it is okay to be scared, as long as you keep in mind that not everyone will like your story. But as long as it makes you happy, don’t give up.

Keep chasing your dreams and one day, it might come true.

I hope to see you there.


About Shanna:

All information is from her Goodreads Profile:

“Shanna Hughes (24-07-1987) has been crazy about books from a young age. It didn’t take long before she created her own imaginary world and she’s been talking to her characters daily ever since. Often out loud and in the middle of the supermarket.

In 2010 she completed her bachelor in business communication (communication & journalism) at the Hogeschool Utrecht, the Netherlands. From 2008 to 2012 she worked as a journalist, web editor and later also as an editor. She lives in Shropshire, England, and works as an Account Executive in Affiliate Marketing.

On Monday evenings she can be found in the dojo practicing karate (and often failing). When at home, she enjoys cooking, reading and playing and cuddling with her silver Bengal cat Celaena (she fully admits to having stolen that name from Sarah J. Maas’ series Throne of Glass). When she gets the chance, she can be found in the Midwest USA, chasing storms and tornadoes. Yes, it does take a little craziness to have such a hobby.”

You can contact Shanna and find more information via the following social medias:

Website: http://www.shannahughes.com
Twitter: @writerShanna
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shanna-Hughes/397801157053545
E-mail: writershannahughes [at] gmail [dot] com


Books:

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The Silver Braid Goodreads
Buy (FOR FREE) on Barnes & Noble


Works in Progress:

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Starstruck 


Thanks for reading our first installment of Musings of Eternal Dreamers! A huge “THANK YOU” to Shanna Hughes, who inspired this feature and conquered her fears in order to start us off on the right foot! We loved having you, Shanna!

❤ Lauren, Melissa, and Kelly

Waiting on Wednesday: Keepers of the Labyrinth by Erin E. Moulton

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Publisher: Philomel Books
Page Numbers: 304
Genre: YA Fantasy, Mythology
Publication Date: August 25, 2015

Summary:

Lilith Bennette runs at midnight. She scales walls in the dark and climbs without a harness. She hopes that if she follows exactly in the steps of her strong air force pilot mother, she’ll somehow figure out the mystery of her mother’s death- and the reason why her necklace of Greek symbols has been missing ever since.

So when Lil is invited to Crete for a Future Leaders International conference, the same conference her mom attended years ago, she jumps at the chance to find some answers. But things in Melios Manor are not what they seem. Lil finds herself ensnared in an adventure of mythological proportions that leads her and her friends through the very labyrinth in which the real Minotaur was imprisoned. And they’re not in there alone. What secrets does the labyrinth hold, and will they help Lil find the truth about her mother?

________________________________________________________

About the Author:

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Erin E. Moulton graduated with an MFA in Writing for Children from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of Flutter: The Story of Four Sisters and One Incredible Journey, Tracing Stars and Chasing the Milky Way, as well as forthcoming YA, Keepers of the Labyrinth. She lives in Southern New Hampshire with her husband, unruly dogs and son. You can visit her online at http://www.erinemoulton.com or on twitter @erinemoulton.

________________________________________________

Why We’re Waiting:

Lauren: Having the word Labyrinth already had me wondering if this would be mythology related, and I was excited to find out that it is! I love Greek mythology stories, so I try to find and add as many to my reading pile as I can. I’m glad to have another one to help my list grow! It doesn’t hurt either that a few people have said that fans of Percy Jackson would enjoy this one. Since Percy Jackson is one of my favorite series, I look forward to seeing if this one can be just as entertaining!

Kelly: I’m all about the scaling walls and climbing without a harness. Any main character who is BA enough to do things like that, I’m in! I have yet to really get into mythology books, but with my fantasy background, I have no doubt that I will love them. I think I just need to find the right one to strike my interest, and with this one not only being a fantasy/mythological adventure, but a mystery with a dark side as well, I must say that I’m intrigued! I like the sound of this! =)

Melissa: You had me at Lilith! I have a strange love for the name. I was excited when Lauren told me about this book. I absolutely love Greek mythology and was always reading D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths growing up. I don’t think I’ll ever grow old of the stories, especially the ones that put a modern spin to them. However, I’ve been quite selective with Greek mythology retelling because Percy Jackson is my number one favorite series and the only other series I’ve read is The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter. How Erin will weave Greek mythology into the story besides the obvious has me intrigued.

_________________________________________________

Coming Up!

LLR Girls Night!

Our next movie night will be on Friday, August 21st, 2015! We will be watching TANGLED at 8pm EST! Look for the #LLRGirlsNight hashtag on twitter!

If you would like to keep updated and get e-mailed reminders, sign up for the e-mail notifications by clicking here!

Reviews and more reviews!

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson Coming Soon! 

Firewalker by Josephine Angelini (plus character casting) – Coming August 25th!

We will see you all tomorrow for our first ever installment of Musings of Eternal Dreamers, where we will be featuring a guest post from Shanna Hughes on the fear of sharing your writing. We’re so excited to start up this new feature and help new and beginner writers, like Lauren and Kelly, improve their craft and follow their dreams! =)

❤ Melissa, Lauren, and Kelly

Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-Buy Authors

Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors

This week’s topic is Auto-Buy Authors. For us this means our favorite authors who we already know and adore. We’d pre-order/purchase their next book without hesitation. As always Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.


Collective Picks

Leigh Bardugo

1. Leigh Bardugo

Alexandra Bracken

2. Alexandra Bracken

Susan Dennard

3. Susan Dennard

Sarah J. Maas

4. Sarah J. Maas

Marissa Meyer

5. Marissa Meyer

Lauren’s Picks

Ernest Cline

6. Ernest Cline

Melissa’s Picks

Rick Riordan

7. Rick Riordan (seconded by Lauren)

A.C. Gaughen

8. A.C. Gaughen

Maggie Stiefvater

9. Maggie Stiefvater

Kelly’s Picks

Josephine Angelini

10. Josephine Angelini


Coming Up:

LLR Girls Night!

Our next movie night will be on Friday, August 21st, 2015! We will be watching TANGLED at 8pm EST! Look for the #LLRGirlsNight hashtag on twitter!

If you would like to keep updated and get e-mailed reminders, sign up for the e-mail notifications by clicking here!

Reviews and more reviews!

The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy – Coming Soon!

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson Coming Soon! 

Firewalker by Josephine Angelini (plus character casting) – Coming August 25th!

We will see you all tomorrow for Waiting on Wednesday! =)

❤ Melissa, Lauren, and Kelly

Waiting on Wednesday: Air Awakens by Elise Kova

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Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Page Numbers: 377
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: August 27, 2015

Summary:

A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.


About the Author

Elise Kova

Elise Kova has always had a passion for storytelling. She wrote her first novella, a high-fantasy, in sixth grade. Over the years she’s honed her love of literature with everything from fantasy to romance, science fiction to mystery, and whatever else catches her eye.

Elise lives in Saint Petersburg, Florida, where she’s currently working on the next installment in her debut YA fantasy series: Air Awakens. She enjoys video games, anime, table-top role playing games, and many other forms of “geekdom.” She loves talking with fans on Twitter (@EliseKova) and Facebook (/AuthorEliseKova). Visit her website, EliseKova.com, for news and extras about her books!


Why We’re Waiting

Lauren: Anime style cover, book loving main character, fantasy genre…is there really a reason not to read this story? I alone would buy this book just to have that cover on my shelf like a piece of art! The story sounds so intriguing, and so far I have only heard good things from the reviews I have seen. This is not a well known book in the community right now, and it is also a debut author which I enjoy reading! Sometimes it’s fun to find a gem to pass on to others. Thank goodness the release date is so close! 
Kelly: I love anime style covers, like all of us apparently do! I’m assuming that’s why we love Throne of Glass so much? But pair an anime style cover with a fantasy genre, especially sorcerers because I’m kind of studying them for my own manuscript at the moment, and it turns into awesomeness! Plus… there’s a prince. Can you say, “HELLLOOOOOO CHILDHOOD DISNEY FANTASY?!” I definitely can. 😉
Melissa: This cover is freaking GORGEOUS! I wish a lot of books had this sort of cover. I’m huge into Anime/ digital art/ fan art, so this cover thrilled me.  Names like Solaris Empire and Vhalla are unique and fascinating.  I seem to always be drawn to books about elemental magic and the fact Vhalla’s a library apprentice means she’s a fellow book nerd like us!  I’m ready to dive into the world Elise built like Now Please!

Coming Up

LLR Girls Night!

Our new poll is up! We have our finalists for our LLR Girls Night in August! Vote for your favorites below!

Our next movie night will be on Friday, August 21st, 2015! We will be watching one of the Disney movies in the poll above, so make sure to vote for your favorite! =)

Keep an eye out for more about this event and if you would like to keep updated, sign up for the e-mail notifications by clicking here!

Reviews and more reviews!

The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy – Coming Soon!

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson Coming Soon! 

Firewalker by Josephine Angelini (plus character casting) – Coming August 25th!

We hope you all have a great rest of your week! =)

Lauren, Melissa, and Kelly

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors We’ve Read The Most Books From

Top Ten Authors We’ve Read The Most Books From

For today’s Top Ten Tuesday, the girls over at The Broke and The Bookish asked us to think about the Top Ten Authors We’ve Read The Most Books From.  This took a lot of brain power. Check out all of authors we’ve read 5 or more books by.

1) Tamora Pierce (15 books)

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Melissa knows she’s read all of the books she owns, she just can’t remember what happens! She’s way overdue for a re-read.

2) P.C Cast & Kristen Cast (11 books)

P. C. Cast

Kristin Cast
Kelly’s read the entire House of Night series… except for the last one! Why Kelly why?
…Because I still don’t have it… *sobs quietly in the corner*

3) Rick Riordan (10 books)

Rick Riordan
If you’re like us, Lauren & Melissa, we’ve only read 10 books because we haven’t picked up The Kane Chronicles yet.  We’ll probably give them a shot sometime down the line. We’re also super pumped for Magnus Chase!! 

4) L.A. Meyer (8 books)

L.A. Meyer

The Bloody Jack series just came out with it’s last book! Kelly has read 8 of the 12 and can already feel the shame. I need the last couple of books! This series is phenomenal! Jacky Faber FOREVER!

5) C.S. Lewis (7 books)

C.S. Lewis

Lauren is the only one of us who’s read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series. We know, we know, Melissa and Kelly will just go sulk. I don’t sulk… …Yes you do Melissa. I’ve seen this live via google video chat…

6) J.K. Rowling (7 books)

J.K. Rowling

We’ve definitely all read the Harry Potter series. This is the only series all 3 of us share on this list. Because it’s an epic series!

7) Cassandra Clare (6 books)

Cassandra Clare
Kelly’s completed The Mortal Instruments series by Cassie, but will she tackle The Bane Chronicles, The Infernal Devices and The Dark Artifices? Melissa knows she has some serious catching up to do. Yes Melissa… Yes you do!

8) Maggie Stiefvater (6 books)

Maggie Stiefvater
Melissa has read a good chunk of Maggie’s books. She has yet to read Blue Lily, Lily Blue, The Books of Faerie, Scorpio Races… you get the idea.  

9) Libba Bray (5 books)

Libba Bray

Kelly’s read only 5 books by Libba Bray so far, but she is an AMAZING author. If you have yet to read Beauty Queens or A Great and Terrible Beauty, you all need to get on that.

10) Diane Duane (5 books)

Diane Duane

There are so many books from the ‘So You Want to be A Wizard’ series, Melissa stopped after book 5. I’m debating picking it up again.

**BONUS: Stephanie Meyer (5 books)

Stephenie Meyer

Kelly and Lauren read all 4 Twilight books plus The Host. Melissa didn’t like The Host, but it’s one of Kelly’s favorites… …this may be a problem… 


Coming Up:

LLR Girls Night!

Our new poll is up! We have our finalists for our LLR Girls Night in August! Vote for your favorites below!

Our next movie night will be on Friday, August 21st, 2015! We will be watching one of the Disney movies in the poll above, so make sure to vote for your favorite! =)

Keep an eye out for more about this event and if you would like to keep updated, sign up for the e-mail notifications by clicking here!

Reviews and more reviews!

The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy – Coming Soon!

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson Coming Soon! 

Firewalker by Josephine Angelini (plus character casting) – Coming August 25th!

We hope you all have a wonderful night and that we will see you tomorrow for Waiting on Wednesday! =)

Melissa, Lauren, and Kelly