The Long Overdue Status Update

So...

It has been far too long since the last update I shared with you. The good news is that this means I have some pretty cool updates to share with you all at once. And that is more better.



One Busy Journalist


A big part of the reason why I've been MIA lately is that some really incredible opportunities presented themselves over the last couple of years. I became a contributing writer for my local paper and began writing pretty regularly for them. So regularly, that I stopped writing for several other publications altogether. 

After about a year, I became a columnist too. Pretty soon after that, I began writing all the articles for a brand new publication that focuses on veterans, active-duty military and first responders in my county. I can't think of a cooler project if I tried.

This was by far the most rewarding and fun work I've done to date. I relished every minute. I say that in all sincerity. I don't know about you, but there are virtually no jobs that I like pulling all-nighters for, except this one.

Journalism is fun because it allows the writer to live "a day in the life" of other people. I've had behind the scenes tours of all kinds of cool places and interviewed celebrities. Not to mention, there's a sense of accomplishment in sharing important stories that inform readers and get the word out about pertinent news and issues. Human interest stories offer a completely different, yet equally cool side of the job in that they allow writers to shine lights on heartwarming aspects of our communities and cultures.

I'll always miss being a journalist, but at this time, I have to lay my pen down. 


It's Time to Press Pause


That's right. September's columns and stories will be my last. 

I spent July thinking really hard about everything I have going on. I've been juggling three careers for years. Things started to fall to the wayside. I don't run as much anymore. It's been two years since I've met my reading goal. I've not marketed my current novel properly. I haven't written anything that wasn't an article or column in years. Oh, and my social calendar withered away back in 2012. 

It got to the point where I realized that I never see the sky. I'm shielded from the sky by ceilings in my work and home offices and by my car's roof as I scurry to work and back. I miss the sky. Is it still up there?




Establishing work/life balance has to stop being something on my to-do list. So last month I took a long, hard look at my schedule and made a tough decision. For two years I've been writing articles in my "free time," but this effort has been competing with two other careers. Those careers have put a lot on my plate in 2017 and I have to focus on some massive projects. For now, I have to push pause on my journalistic endeavors so I can focus on these projects and open up some time on my calendar for LIFE.

I read somewhere that your 30s is the decade when you work the most, and by all appearances, whoever wrote that was indeed correct. But that doesn't mean working all hours and never having coffee dates, vacations or taking in a starry night.


Lifting the Pen Again


I started to see the results of this choice immediately after I made it. I felt better knowing that I had set things into motion and didn't have to agonize over the decision anymore. I felt lighter knowing that in a few weeks, I wouldn't have as many deadlines looming over my head.

A few days later, I started seeing chunks of time open up in my schedule again. It felt great knowing that I didn't have mounds of work waiting for me when I got home from my job. My weekends are free now. Instead of mentally checking my weekend to-do list, I now daydream about what book I'm going to finish, which route I'm going to run and where I'm going to do my yoga practice. 

For me, daydreaming is the first step toward writing creatively. And that is just what lies in store for me. Opening up my schedule will make room for creative writing projects that have been smushed in the corner for years. I'm looking forward to it and I hope that you all are as well. 



This blog has been off the creative writing path for a while. This part of my life hasn't received the attention it deserved since I finished my novel. It shows. And now, it's time to press reset and give this another go. I must say that the timing couldn't be better as we are heading into fall and that is the very best time to settle into a rough draft with a pumpkin spice latte. 

Happy writing,

--C

April Hometown Heroes Edition Coming Soon!

The April edition of Hometown Heroes has some really moving stories that I'm honored and excited to share with readers.
In it, we learn about a Navy sentry dog who never made it home from Vietnam, but was awarded a medal for his service. He, like thousands of other military working dogs, was left behind in Vietnam.
The April edition also shares the story of how Cocoa Fire Station #1 came together like a family to help a veteran fireman who responded to the scene of a fatal accident that claimed the life of his own brother.
We also meet some of the cutest and hardest working Golden Retrievers and Labradors I've ever seen. These canines train for years to come to the aid of service-disabled military veterans.
And we learn what it's like to deploy to Antarctica as part of the Air Force's mission to maintain a global network of sensors that monitor nuclear treaty compliance.
These and other stories about first responders, active-duty military and veterans will appear in the April edition of Hometown Heroes. To receive this FREE publication on your doorstep every month, call the circulation desk at 321-242-1013. You can also read it online by visiting this link.

Zombie and Werewolf Authors Appear at Authors for Authors Event

Award-Winning authors Jaimie Engle & Kate Wars to share on writing and sign books at the Authors for Authors Writing Conference




Two of the three classic monsters will be represented at the upcoming Authors for Authors fair via novels penned by writing partners, Jaimie Engle and Kate Wars. Over the last five years, the two authors have published a collection of horror stories that culminates with a chilling Nordic tale about werewolves, entitled “Dreadlands: Wolf Moon” and a heart-pounding post-apocalyptic story fraught with zombies entitled “Catalyst: Decay Chains.” Both novels are the first in their respective series. 

Authors for Authors is hosting a Write, Publish, Sell Writer’s Conference on March 26, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Hotel at 200 Rialto Place, Melbourne, FL 32901. Attendees will learn how to perfect their books through 24+ workshops and 16+ discussion groups, as well as meet and network with more than 20 vendors, successfully published authors, editors and publishers. Jaimie Engle and Kate Wars will join fellow Brevard County authors at this event and devote time to meeting fans and autographing their latest works. Engle will also present at this event in hopes of imparting critical writing and marketing information to inspired writers.

Among the presenters will be critically acclaimed author Jaimie Engle who will present two programs: "Marketing 101: An Intro to Marketing & Social Media" and "Revise & Edit: Getting You Manuscript into Shape." Her latest release weaves shifting werewolves, Viking culture, and Norse mythology into an epic fantasy for young adults titled "Dreadlands: Wolf Moon."

“I love giving my time to educate authors, especially local authors who are part of my network,” shares Engle. “We have so much talent in so many stages of the publication process in Brevard County, and I’m so excited to be part of a conference that bring us all together.”

Although Wars has spoken about her journalistic writing in the months since “Catalyst: Decay Chains” was released, this will be her first public appearance devoted to her debut novel.

Last Halloween,Catalyst: Decay Chains” was named a semi-finalist in the Publisher’s Weekly Booklife Prize in Fiction contest. Although Wars’ debut novel didn’t make the final cut, it still broke a barrier by being the only horror novel out of hundred of contestants that was named a semifinalist. Moreover, "Catalyst: Decay Chains" was the only novel in its category featuring zombies. Although zombies are popular with audiences, the publishing world shies away from such novels and rarely bestows literary honors upon their creators. Wars’ book had two strikes against it as a debut novel from a genre that is rarely recognized going up against mainstream titles penned by seasoned writers. The fact that the novel was named a semifinalist in the Booklife Prize in Fiction contest serves as a signal to writers at all stages of their careers that a great story will set itself apart and make the industry take notice. The honor also proves that trends may come and go, but good writing never falls out of favor.

Prior to penning “Catalyst: Decay Chains,” Wars published a number of short horror stories, including a zombie origin myth entitled “Mera’s Prince,” which fills a literary void.

“I noticed that all the other classic monsters had origin myths, but zombies were coming up a bit short on that front,” Wars said. “It was a shame really, because there is so much lore about them that would make for such a rich tale. It absolutely had to be written.”

“Catalyst: Decay Chains” released on May 5, 2016. All formats of the dystopian novel are available for purchase on Amazon and Wars’ website. Readers can also check out the novel for free by using Kindle Unlimited or the Kindle Lending Library.

For more information and to pre-register, visit authorsforauthors.com or email Valerie Allen at vallenwriter@gmail.com. To learn more about Jaimie Engle visit thewriteengle.com or jmebooks.com.

About Kate Wars

Kate Wars’ popular stories have been published by Haunted Waters Press, Spark: A Creative Anthology, The First Line and a number of other publications. Her background as a reporter adds a rich layer to her fictional works and aids her in conducting thorough research for the military and police sequences that play out in her stories. Wars is currently working on a sequel to “Catalyst: Decay Chains” and a horror novel based off of one of her most popular short stories, “Free Bodies.” The latter centers on a man with a rather unusual job that forces him to walk a tightrope between the living and the dead. 

For more information about Kate Wars’ novel “Catalyst: Decay Chains” or to invite her to share her list of “13 Signs That You Have Been Watching Too Much of ‘The Walking Dead’” with your audience, please contact her at: katewars@katewars.com.


The Author's Guild Has Your Back

Are you a member of the Author's Guild? If you are a published writer of fiction, nonfiction or a journalist, you might want to consider joining our country's oldest writer's guild. 




If not for their services, the publication of my debut novel could have been a complete disaster. I had signed an agreement with a small press, only to discover that the tiny Texas-based entity had no intention of copywriting, marketing or even competitively pricing my novel. The Author's Guild's legal team helped me regain the rights to a novel I'd devoted three years of my life to and almost lost forever. You really can't put a price on that, but if I had to, it would be $125 dues paid annually. 

It wasn't long after that cluster-you-know-what that their tech team helped me get an affordable website up and running. This was truly a blessing given all the commotion surrounding my novel's rights and launch. I needed an affordable and time-saving solution and that's exactly what the guild's tech team provided. You share a vision and some info and they produce a website. It's that simple. 

There's lots of other great services that the Author's Guild provides. They use their social media platforms to spread the word when members release new books or win awards. They keep a list of upcoming contests and retreats. These services are all great, but the service they offer that benefits writers everywhere is that they fight for us. Their legal team devotes a significant amount of resources toward efforts to make writing a profession that pays fairly and allows authors to retain rights and royalties that mega-companies and the Big 5 keep trying to claw away from them. 

If you've been keeping up on industry news, you probably already know that there are several issues plaguing writers these days. For years, Google has been sidestepping author copyrights to scan tens of thousands of books without paying their creators a dime. Digital thieves are posting free copies of ebooks in all the dark corners of the internet, which forces writers to take time away from their work to hunt down pirates and demand that they cease and desist. Meanwhile, some internet service providers appear to be looking the other way.

This is a particularly infuriating problem for me. It's gotten to the point that I rarely Google my novel's title because when I do, the search results are often peppered with free digital copies. I'm not alone in this, I've found several pirated copies of my writing partner's titles as well. By now you are probably fearfully typing in the title your own book. If you are, be sure to include keywords like "free" or "free ebook." Don't forget to come back here and finish reading this article when you're done fighting digital pirates. There's more good info in the paragraphs below.

When I do find pirated copies of my work, I groan because I know I will end up spending the next few days sending out DMCA takedown notices and arguing with people in the digital sphere who want me to jump through hoops to get a stolen product removed from their site. Here again, the Author's Guild provided me with resources that have made the process less miserable and saved me time. For this, I'm truly grateful.

Beyond this issue lay others that are equally troublesome for authors. Amazon has undercut book prices to create an artificial price ceiling and Harlequin has been treating its authors like they work for Fiverr instead of one of the most widely recognized romance publishers in America. 

All of these issues are followed closely by the Author's Guild and, in some cases, actively lobbied. I used to spend hours every week scouring the internet to keep tabs on these issues, but now I can just check in with the guild and I'm all caught up. 

Although I've never written a word for them, Harlequin's ebook royalty payment debacle always hit a nerve with me. I've been following the issue for years and felt relief when the Author's Guild shared an article by one the writers that provided a positive update.

A number of Harlequin authors have openly showed disdain for the puny royalty rates they receive from the publisher. The settlement that was just awarded was in response to a class action suit brought on by Harlequin writers who stated that the publisher was not fairly paying royalties on ebook sales.

According to an article written by Patricia McLinn, the suit was brought on by authors who had signed contracts with Harlequin prior to ebook royalties being negotiated separately from the catch-all "all other rights" section of a contract. At first glance, this appeared to be a good thing for Harlequin authors, because they received 50 percent of the royalties for their ebooks, which is far higher than most publishing contracts offer. However, Harlequin paid their authors a measly 3 percent of their ebook royalties and claimed that it was 50 percent because their book contracts were signed with Harlequin Switzerland and published by Harlequin Toronto. Since the rights were sold to Harlequin Toronto for 6 percent of the cover prices, authors were only due 3 percent. I wish I could say this is the only horror story I've heard about writing for this particular romance publisher, but then I'd be lying to you.

Though the Author's Guild wasn't directly involved with the Harlequin suit, and consequent settlement, the guild provides legal resources and guidelines that help authors to approach contracts with ample knowledge to make decisions that they will not regret in the long run. They also advocate for writers by openly asserting that they should earn a livable wage, retain more of their rights and a larger share of their royalties, especially from ebook sales. The guild is also a great resource for information about self-publishing, doing one's taxes and other things that writers often have questions about. In short, the Author's Guild is in your corner and ready to fight if need be.

Have questions about the Author's Guild? Feel free to comment below and if I know the answer, I'll share it. You can also visit their website to learn more. Interested in becoming a member? If you've published three journalistic articles, a book or have a book contract in hand, you can join today. 

Happy writing,

--C