NaNoWriMo: Finding Time to Write Your Novel

A guest post from Hannah Douglas, one of our cool Columbus Press interns. 

Writing a novel can be an incredibly challenging endeavor, even more so if you’re trying to balance writing with other jobs you might have not to mention a personal life.

When author Samuel Snoek-Brown took on the task of writing the first draft of Hagridden, he said he had to find ways to set a schedule and keep himself motivated.

I’m a terribly undisciplined person, really, and I often have to trick myself into doing the work, and no trick has worked better than the friends or colleagues or editors waiting expectantly for me to finish,” Snoek-Brown wrote. “Even if they’re an illusion I conjure or their expectation is one I asked them to have.”

Noting that need for a sense of community, he said he found direction through his participation in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a nonprofit organization that allows writers to log their ongoing process of writing a novel with resources like community forums, progress tracking tools, and inspiration cues, to name a few.

Monitoring daily word counts and tracking my progress along an outline and setting aside designated writing times, these tasks were how I learned who I am as a writer and how I need to work in order to write something as prolonged and as intense as a novel,” He wrote. “I learned how to organize the work, how to sustain it over time, how to impose deadlines on myself and then meet them.”

As a writer, it can be hard to imagine writing 50,000 words of a book draft in a month. That’s an average of 1,667 words per day! Helpful writing tips and motivation are a must. Snoek-Brown received tips and shared some of his own on writing with NaNoWriMo.

For example, strive for 2,000 words per day, so that way, you’ll be there in no time. Or, instead of writing in a linear fashion, try writing the book out of order, such as the first chapter last, writing by each scene, write what inspires you when it inspires you, and so on. And, don’t give up hope if you miss a day or two or writing and think you won’t ever catch up!

When Snoek-Brown was looking back at his original thoughts for what the book what become and its length, he first imagined it too short, and later increased the word count/page count. He chronicled this journey through NaNoWriMo as well, and has continued to do so each year.

The beauty and joy of NaNoWriMo is that it allows us — or forces us — to write without rules, which means that as long as you’re writing and staying at least vaguely within the realm of your novel idea, you should be able to pound out 50,000 words by the end of the month,” he wrote.

Looking back, he said the first year participating in NaNoWriMo in 2009, was his most successful year. After all, his first crack at NaNoWriMo resulted in the first draft of Hagridden.

I wrote other books each November from 2010 to 2013,” he wrote. “Some I finished, some I haven’t finished yet. Some were irredeemably terrible, some still hold great promise.”

With this in mind, what might you (or someone you know) be able to accomplish through a first adventure with NaNoWriMo this November? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and don’t forget to purchase your copy of Hagridden, available through Amazon or the book’s website.

Top 10 Spooktacular Tales

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Ah, Halloween, the holiday where we celebrate our fears, indulge in the scary, and become one with the gruesome. While I won’t get into the psychology of what attracts us to the macabre, I will say that our fascination extends further than October’s sinister holiday of dressing up, eating treats, and savoring screams.

Films, for example, give us gory eye-candy and specific images to haunt our nightmares but books provide fodder that gives our imagination more control over our spooking. The following is a list of 10 tales sure to get your blood boiling and heart pumping (and giggles gurgling, if you’re into that). This list is in no particular order:

  1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
    Along with tackling themes of humanity, nature, and science, this classic monster thriller forces the reader to lament on what it means to be a monster (and better yet, who the monster really is in Shelley’s tale).
  2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
    A dashingly handsome young man sells his soul to the devil; debauchery abounds. A great read for those interested in the moral disintegration of a shallow individual.
  3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    A phenomenal dystopian tale following in the footsteps of 1984 and A Brave New World, Atwood’s Offred narrates a story too realistic to dismiss as impossible, making it all the more horrific.
  4. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
    Some may be familiar with the movie adaptation’s terror, but it pales in comparison to a novel many say they can never read twice.
  5. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
    Rice’s modern twist on the vampire story, erotic and addicting, is sure to give any reader chills.
  6. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
    What happens when Satan and his posse wreck havoc in Moscow? Humor, psychotic breaks, and chaos, all displayed breathlessly by Russia’s great Bulgakov.
  7. All Men are Mortal by Simone de Beauvoir
    So you’re immortal: what good is it when, century after century, everything ultimately remains the same? Beauvoir does a great job here of characterizing an existentialist horror.
  8. The Shining by Stephen King
    Wherever evil lives, expect Stephen King to be on the scene to capture it. For anyone murderously eager to relive the childhood fears.
  9. “The Fall of the House of Usher” (or anything, really) by Edgar Allan Poe
    I mean, do I really need to explain why Edgar Allan Poe is on this list?
  10. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    Another book filled to the brim with childhood terrors, expect more than ordinary standards to collapse when a group of boys find themselves trapped on a deserted island.
  11. Bonus: Hagridden (of course!) by Samuel Snoek-Brown
    Women compelled to murder for survival? Check. Psychotic men hellbent on revenge? Check. A bit of the supernatural in the form of the rougarou? Check. Able to set anyone on depression’s path, this story leaves many glad that the most horrific part of their day is whether or not to skip morning’s coffee.

Tell us about your favorite spine-tingling story in the comments and don’t forget to pick up your copy of Hagridden via Amazon or the book’s website.

Hagridden Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Hagridden by Samuel Snoek-Brown

Hagridden

by Samuel Snoek-Brown

Giveaway ends November 20, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

From October 20th until November 20th, enter for a chance to win one of three signed copies of Samuel Snoek-Brown’s Hagridden. Don’t miss out on this chance to win what The Austin Review is calling a “timeless and universal horror”.

Hagridden Midwest Book Tour

Samuel Snoek-BrownWe are very excited to welcome Samuel Snoek-Brown, author of Hagridden, to Columbus for the next week.  We’ll be producing a lot of fantastic events over the next few days, and partnering with organizations and venues around the Midwest.

Samuel Snoek-Brown, who resides in Portland, talked to hundreds of excited readers at events through Texas and the southwest last month.  We’re proud to extend the tour to our Ohio readers, and to follow it up with more events in the Pacific Northwest later in the fall.

You can find the complete Hagridden book tour here.

Here are a few events that we’d like to highlight:

September 19 – Columbus Creative Cooperative hosts Sam for a Q&A session (Columbus, Ohio)
September 20 – Rougarou: Journey to the End of the Night (Columbus, Ohio)
September 25 – Folk & Fiction (Cincinnati, Ohio)

This is just a sampling of what we’ll be doing, in addition to writers’ workshops at universities and libraries in Ohio and Indiana, among other events.  Find the complete schedule here.

Unless otherwise noted, all events are free and open to the public.

Hagridden Now Available!

WebSmall_Hagridden Hagridden by Samuel Snoek-Brown, the latest release from Columbus Press, is now available as a hardcover, paperback and e-book on all major markets.

Find complete links to buy the book at www.HagriddenBook.com (click), or ask for it from your favorite retailer.

“What we do we do to survive and they ain’t no sin in that. But lust? Whoo girl, you got to look out for that they lust. Worst sin they is. Sinners what lusted after the flesh in this world, they turn to animals in the next. Crawl around on all fours rutting like dogs and the brimstone burning off they knees, the skin of they palms. Some say the rougarous is lusters coughed up from Hell to walk the earth.” – Hagridden

As the Civil War winds violently down, fears of the South’s uncertain future fuse with its unraveling traditions. Against the backdrop of this post-apocalyptic landscape, so littered with corpses and mythology and desperation, two women, stranded and alone in the Louisiana bayou, fight to survive.

This is a fantastic book, and it’s already receiving tremendous praise from critics, and excellent reviews on Goodreads.com.

Learn more about the book at www.HagriddenBook.com, or find it on Amazon.com here.

What Kindle Unlimited Means for the Little Guy

Today Amazon introduced a new service which will allow subscribers to download an unlimited number of Kindle books for only $9.99 per month.  That’s great news for readers, one e-book from a big publisher can easily run $8 or $9.  If you read multiple books per month, you’ll get a great deal and you’ll also be free to experiment with materials that you otherwise might not have been willing to pay for individually.

But what does it mean for the small publisher? It’s a mixed bag, but it’s mostly bad.  The plan is an extension of Kindle Select and the Kindle Lending Library, which have been around for years.

The good news is that under the plan, all books are created equal.  Amazon sets a fund for each month (the total amount is determined at their discretion), and then they divide that amount of cash equally among all books that have been downloaded.  All books are equal, a download is a download whether the book was originally listed at 99 cents or $9.99.  This month, the fund is $2 million.  So if 1 million books are downloaded under the plan, they’ll pay out $2 per download to the publisher of the book.

This is good for small publishers, because it equalizes our payments with the bigger publishers.  Typically, small presses must list e-books for less, because we don’t have the clout and reputation to justify a $9 e-book (and that price is robbery), even though the materials are often just as good.  Now, a book is a book, and we all get the same pay.

That’s not exactly fair in its own right (a well researched medical text cost far more to produce than a romance novel, after all, and ought to earn more), but at least the imbalance swings in favor of smaller businesses, which is good for the industry.

That’s where the good stops.

In general, publishers will make a lot less per book downloaded.  The payment will also be unpredictable.  Despite the fact that Amazon has blown wide the gates for unlimited downloads (the previous Kindle Lending Library only allowed one title to be downloaded per month by Amazon Prime subscribers), they’ve added a meager 66% to the budget for all titles downloaded this month.  Of course, we won’t know what we’re making until the month ends and Amazon self-reports to us how many of our books have been sold, and what our cut of this pie is.

Keep in mind that there’s no reasonable way for a small publisher to audit Amazon’s downloads.  We simply take their word that the number of our books downloaded is correct, and that the total number of all books downloaded market-wide is correct.  These books are downloaded to Amazon’s own devices and the data never really leaves their cloud, they even process their own payments.  It’s unlikely that Amazon would falsify this information, but as no third party is ever involved in the transaction, it would be incredibly easy to shift the numbers however they see fit.

And the total pool of available cash is set by Amazon.  It’s not a percentage of subscriptions or tied to total book revenues in any way, Amazon’s not a cooperative after all.  Amazon determines the size of the pot, they determine how it will be divided up, and you have to eat it out of their bowl.

The criteria for being included in the list of eligible books for download is the worst part of the deal for small publishers.  To be included in the Kindle Select program and offered for free to subscribers, publishers must agree to list the e-book of a given title with Amazon exclusively.  No Nook book, no iPad version, no Kobo store.

In reality, more than 90% of our e-book sales are for the Amazon Kindle already.  If we had to choose one retailer to do business with, it would have to be Amazon if we want to survive.  Amazon is now forcing us to make that decision.

If you’re paying $9.99 for this subscription, why would you ever read a book that wasn’t listed on Kindle Unlimited?  With so many titles at your disposal for no additional charge, what can a small press who hasn’t sold their soul to Amazon do to get you to pay $4 extra to take a risk on their book?

Our target readers, our bread and butter, are going to sign up for Kindle Unlimited.  If you read a lot, it’s a really smart way to get more books at a lower cost, you’re going to do it.  The people to whom this program appeals are avid readers, my core customers.

So now a publishing company like mine is faced with a choice.  Do we list our book exclusively with Amazon and be made available to this important customer base, or do we play the odds and try our best to increase our sales on these other markets, where the number of readers and devices are plummeting?

The financial decision is obvious, give our e-books to Amazon exclusively.  But is that right?

It’s important to note that the Kindle Select program appears to have waived the exclusivity requirement for some larger publishers.

I would like to say that I won’t give in to Amazon’s strong arm tactics.  I don’t care if I never sell another book again.

But the truth is that I love producing books.  And in order to keep producing books, I have to keep selling them.  And if you want to sell books, you need Amazon.  Like really, you NEED them.

We’ll see how this plays out over the next months, but it looks like many small publishers will be forced into listing their e-books exclusively on Amazon.  If you read e-books on a Nook, an iPad or a Sony device, that means that most small press books (the books that are pushing the boundaries of the art form and putting out truly amazing content) will no longer be available to you.

At the end of the day, Kindle Unlimited will make it much more difficult for small publishers to continue to produce materials.  It will restrict the amount of content available to readers, and the ways in which they can consume it.  All books will be selected and approved by the establishment before they’re available to you.

Kindle Unlimited will ultimately favor the largest producers, and even the scraps falling from the table will be stolen from the small publisher.  But you’ll get a great deal on e-books.

It’s been said, beware of Greeks bearing gifts.

I say, Beware of Amazon. Period.

Graham’s Charlotte GoodReads Giveaway

Columbus Press is doing a GoodReads giveaway for Graham’s Charlotte.

 The winners will receive a signed copy by the book’s author, Drew Farnsworth. The books official release date was April 17th. The giveaway will go from May 5th until midnight on May 9th.

When a mysterious stranger gives Mads Riley a cell phone that knows everything, her life changes forever. Mads has the power to unlock the secrets of the universe – past, present, and future. The phone predicts earthquakes, tells her what’s on the other side of a locked door, and even reveals the trick to get out of last night’s math homework.

Mads is soon asked to use the device to break into the most heavily defended spy agency in the world. She’s told it’s the only way to save her mother’s life.

Will her mission save someone she loves, or is she betraying the country that her father died for?

You can enter to win the book at:

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/90094-graham-s-charlotte

 

Hope everyone enjoys the book! Good luck.

Seven in a Jeep GoodReads Giveaway

Columbus Press is doing a GoodReads giveaway for Seven in a Jeep by Ed Gaydos.

This is a chance to win a free autographed copy of Seven in a Jeep. This book is a memoir of Ed Gaydos’s time in Vietnam.

 

Ed Gaydos was not a hero. Shipped off to Vietnam in 1970, he did not capture a single enemy soldier. or single-handedly dismantle the Ho Chi Minh trail. He sat on a remote patch of sand behind barbed wire with a bunch of teenagers, dodging incoming mortars, battling insects,  and holding back an avalanche of paperwork.

This hilarious intelligent memoir of the regular soldiers of the Vietnam War will leave readers of all types hungry for the next story. With an unflinching eye for detail that spares no one, even himself, Ed Gaydos reveals his personal struggles to make sense of the war. He somehow manages to exit laughing in Seven in a Jeep.

 

You can enter to win here: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/90293-seven-in-a-jeep


Thank you and good luck to everyone!

Graham’s Charlotte Release Event

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who came out in support of Graham’s Charlotte on April 17th!

The release event went extremely well and everybody who came seemed to really enjoy themselves.

The three local actors seemed to have a lot of fun as they performed scenes from the book, and the audience thought they did a great job.

A special thanks goes out to Colleen Farnsworth for setting the whole event up.

What is Graham’s Charlotte? Learn about it here: player.vimeo.com/video/91629686

Pictures from the release event:

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