Books by Melissa Bowersock

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Time for My Close-up!

We authors love to talk about our books. But you knew that, right? These days, it's not terribly difficult to find a blog that offers guest posts or does author interviews, both great ways to put ourselves and our books out there for the reading public to see. A little tougher, but still do-able, is the radio or podcast interview. And tougher yet, but certainly attainable, is the TV spot. 

I was fortunate enough to meet the host of a local TV show at a book fair a while back. She and I talked about the books we had each written and hit it off right away, and before she wandered on through the rest of the book fair, she gave me her card and said to call her when I wanted to appear on her show. 

When? How about now?

I contacted her when I had a new book out. We agreed on a good date for my spot, I filled out their info sheet and we were locked in. 


Why is it that we really, really want something and then when we get it, we're terrified?

I'm no stranger to public speaking. I've done a lot of appearances at book fairs, libraries, book signings, podcasts. All well and good. But this is TV. My face. Up there. Holy cow. Most of us writers are so much more comfortable hiding behind our books. Suddenly my wardrobe became a major worry point. I was told not to wear white. What color, then? What style? I'm most comfortable in jeans and t-shirts. Probably needed something dressier than that. I had to buy new make-up. I hadn't worn mascara in years. And  my hair--what do I do about my hair? All those parts of myself that I'm happy with 99% of the time suddenly seemed not good enough. Well, they would just have to be, because I didn't have time to get a facelift or a body sculpt.

As with all these types of things, I was hugely nervous leading up to it. I don't know how anyone can not be. But I also knew that as soon as I got settled in, as soon as the host and I began chatting, I'd be fine. And I was. 

It was great fun. My host was lively and enthusiastic and we had a nice chat. As soon as she asked her first question, I forgot all about the cameras and it was just the two of us having a conversation. We could have just as easily been sitting in a small cafe as in a TV studio. 

And the best part? She wants me to come back in May to talk about another book. 

Now about that facelift ....

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Writing Process Blog Hop

So my buddy Lorraine Reguly tagged me on this blog hop; must be an Easter thing. Apparently it's been going around the web very actively (several writer friends have already done their bit). Here's my entry to the questions:

The Writing Process Blog Hop

What are you working on?

I've just finished my latest book (lucky #13) and I'm waiting on beta-readers and my cover designer before I make my final tweaks. In the meantime, I am always and forever doing promo work, blogging, helping the ever-growing community of new writers, contemplating the next project (or 2 or 3), reading both classics and the latest from friends and acquaintances and investigating new ways to get the word out. Other than that, not a darn thing. 

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Tough question, since I don't do just one genre. I've got romance, fantasy, action, spiritual, satire, paranormal and biography. The one thing that I would say I emphasize in all my writing is growth; the characters don't just overcome the odds, they find out more about themselves, discover they are more than they thought they were. Sometimes that means getting what they want, but sometimes it doesn't. You just never know.

Why do you write what you do?

I write because I can't not write. I write whatever story takes hold of my brain and refuses to let go. Some characters would like to have their stories written, but aren't terribly insistent about it. Others simply will not be put off until I start getting the words down on paper. When they're consuming my every waking thought and showing up in my dreams, it's time to hunker down and start writing.

How does your writing process work?

When I first get an idea, I jot down maybe 5 bullet points: the opening premise, the conflict, the complications and the resolution. (Ok, that's 4.) But this is all very broad, very loose, and very open to development. I start to "draw" my characters, listing their physical attributes, their age, their relationships, any distinct personality traits. Once I have a feel for them, I can start writing. I update the list of plot points as I go, often times re-ordering them in the chronological order so as to build tension. Then it's just write, write, write. Very often the flow of the story will guide me one way or another, or a character will start to pull the story in a new direction and I will usually go with that. I actually claim very little control over my books. When they start writing themselves, that's when I know the muses are engaged. That's when the process changes from mechanical to magical, and I love that. 

Now I'm supposed to tag 4 other writers and have them continue this blog hop, but I seem to be tail-end Charlie here and the only one who hasn't already blogged about it. If anyone wants to continue this, please feel free.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Stage We're In

The wisdom, folly and meaning of independent publishing has certainly been argued to death over the last few years. As we speak, the fire rages on, sometimes with more vocal support, sometimes with more vehement abuse. There are days when it seems like the independent platform surges ahead in use, conviction and results; other days it seems to have to fight tooth and nail against outmoded opinion to prove itself yet again. 

So where, exactly, are we?

Let's use for our measuring stick a quote frequently attributed to Gandhi (but never proven):

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

The ignoring part is rather hard to place on a timeline, since it implies no action, no response--nothing. Suffice to say that Traditional Publishing (TP) ignored any other publishing source for decades because the only competition was vanity publishing and everyone knew that anyone who paid thousands to have their childlike memoir published, then filled their garage with boxes of books which they could never foist on enough people was a completely different animal and no competition at all. 

In 1999 when iUniverse was founded, its business-to-consumer print-on-demand publishing stripped the old vanity press model of most of its scaminess and created a new model of publishing that was accessible and affordable. No longer did Uncle Harry have to hock his 1957 Chevy to bankroll the gripping history of his shot glass collection. When Barnes & Noble invested in the company and began selling iUniverse books both online and in stores, another milestone was achieved. Not only could Uncle Harry keep his 57 Chevy, he could park it in the garage that was previously used to house boxes of books. 

All the while, muffled sniggers and chortles could be heard emanating from Traditional Publishing. Self-publishing? What a joke! 

Then in 2000, BookSurge was launched, a small company created by writers for self-publishing while retaining rights to content and sales profits. For the first time, a company existed for the express purpose of supporting independent writers rather than fleecing them. In 2005, Amazon bought BookSurge and in 2009 the company name was changed to CreateSpace. 

Amazon bought ...? Wait, you mean the 900 pound gorilla is getting into self-publishing? But, no, wait-- That's not ... that's not ... fair! Waugh!!

Suddenly the laughter stopped.

For Traditional Publishing, this was the gauntlet thrown down and the fight was on. It seemed that everyone ever connected to TP, from editors to agents to authors, had a blog post or an article about how inadequate self-publishing was, how awful the books were, how deluded the authors were, how scammed the readers were by this drivel that people tossed up on Amazon just because they could! There was no quality control, there was no vetting process, there was no GATEKEEPER, for God's sake! 

Amid all of TP's diatribe, however, independent authors just kept on doing what they were doing: writing great books, designing great covers, creating great platforms and selling books. 

Yes, selling books. 

But how many? Five? Ten? Okay, maybe fifty or a hundred. But not enough to threaten traditional publishing.

Enter Hugh Howey's data release in February 2014 showing that not only were indie books selling, they were selling very well, thank you very much. While the data release has spawned huge arguments about what it all means and where it's all going, Howey had this to say: The ... eye-popper here is that indie authors are outselling the Big Five. That’s the entire Big Five. Combined

Eight days later, Mark Coker, founder of the indie publishing platform Smashwords, weighed in on the meaning of Howey's data release with his own interpretation and with a stunning prediction: The indie author insurrection has become a revolution that will strip publishers of power they once took for granted.

Make no mistake, the fight is still on, but guess what? 

We're winning.