A Feast in the Forest
Prepare for “A Feast in the Forest” – my cookbook for The Willow Lake Group!
(To be written from the POV of Sondra – one of the main characters!)
Recipes, photos, art and poetry –
as well as a few magical tips from the Hedgewitch herself!
Tentative Tempests: Lessons Learned in Self Publishing
2015 was a big year for me, in terms of finally becoming a published author – notwithstanding the fact that I am self-published. I have three of the four planned books from my Storming Archives available on Amazon (Kindle Editions and paperback), with the fourth currently being written, as well as a novel planned for release in early 2016.
I have a total of ten writing projects slated for 2016, including fiction, non-fiction, short stories, poetry and other stuff and nonsense! I’m lucky to be in a position where I can finally say that I’m a full time author – with 1/4/16 being my last day in a traditional job. I am very grateful to have a wonderfully supportive husband, who has afforded me this awesome opportunity to live the life I’ve always dreamed of.
Now, I want to advise that I do not intend to sound like I’m doing the dying swan routine, but 2015 was very much a case of trial and error in regards to navigating the world of the self-published author. As I was impatient to get my books out, I ventured into the realm of self-publishing after sending only five query letters out. (They were all very gracious in their rejection letters – stating that, whilst they enjoyed reading my synopsis and sample chapter, they felt that it wasn’t what they were looking for.)
I knew early on that my Storming Archives would present a challenge to anyone (including me) in terms of promoting and marketing, as the genre and style is a hybrid of various elements. I market the series as a fantasy, with a twist of horror, but it’s also very surreal and in the realm of consciousness.
There are many reasons for this. Firstly, the protagonist is a thirty year old woman who (like me) “suffers” from a series of mental afflictions – namely sleep paralysis, hallucinations, astral projection and vivid dreams. In “Delwyn of the Realms” (Book 1), we follow Delwyn through a mirror portal to the realm of dreams (known as Onesol). There, she has to face her Shadow in order to properly integrate – in preparation for becoming a “Portal Stormer” (Book 2).
In the second book, Delwyn escapes into the “Realms” – where she meets her fellow Portal Stormers and discovers that she has to face her Last Sorrow in the hellish realm of Nidar. After being initiated as a fully fledged Portal Stormer, she and her troops have to learn how to shapeshift, in “Totem Shift” (Book 3). This is where Delwyn and the Portal Stormers go on their ultimate mission, to secretly infiltrate the realm of animal spirits (known as Erankorun), so that they can persuade the Ural to join with the other realms. A united front is needed to face the Founders – who are coming to destroy the realms (our galaxy – known as Kendanerum).
In most cases, fantasy and science fiction stories are set in physical realms, whether past, present or future. They can also be alternate or parallel worlds, on other planets as well as earth. They are sometimes slotted into fantasy genres such as slipstream, portal, epic and so on. The bottom line is that they are actual/physical places, or at least – if they are “imaginary” or unreal – it’s an aberration and the resolution is usually dealing with hallucinations, dreams and alternate realities.
I found it difficult to define the fact that my stories were set in the “inner” realms, which are usually mental or spiritual places considered non-physical. Sure, there have been many stories set in the dream world or imaginary places – such as hell, heaven, etc. The difference with the Storming Archives is that – on the one hand – the realms/worlds involved are usually considered imaginary, but on the other hand, they can be visited by a chosen few, in physical form.
This might not be a stretch for some people. To give you an idea, here’s my “map” of Kendanerum:
Here’s a legend or key to the realms in Kendanerum:
- Onesol is the dream world – the realm of the Collective Unconscious
- Alusol is the realm of hallucinations – where visions and inspiration come from
- Meditar is the realm of meditation – a place for contemplation and revelation
- Akasha is the realm of Karma – the Hall of records and hub for transit to the Seven Heavens
- Nidar is the Underworld – once the source of Dark Matter; now a hellish realm of retribution
- The Seven Heavens is just that – where good souls cycle through on their way to Nirvana
- Erankorun is the realm of animal spirits – a safe haven (heaven) for animals
- Aletheia (Earth) is the material realm – where Aletheians (humans) reside
Only those, like Delwyn – who have the ability to traverse all realms (given her mental “afflictions”) – are allowed to visit these worlds in physical form.
I’ve drawn on my own experiences, as well as inspiration from surrealism (literature, art, music). What I’ve found quite annoying, is that the majority of novels being produced (traditional or self-published) rely heavily on the aspect of romance and/or sex when it comes to selling their stories.
Of course, we all know that sex sells, but I consider myself very altruistic when it comes to telling (and reading) a good story. What I mean by this is, I don’t feel that every bloody story has to have a romantic vein running through it. I’m probably setting myself up for ridicule – but there’s more to life than finding your soulmate or electrifying sex! I understand completely that the majority of humans are drawn to sex and romance. It’s not like I didn’t include a romantic interest – and sex – in the Storming Archives. It’s just not the main focus.
Not wanting to boast, as a side note – I have my soulmate and good sex – so I don’t have a burning desire to live out a fantasy in order to make up for something I don’t lack. Having said that, I totally enjoy good erotica and a story that involves romance, blah blah blah. It’s just frustrating to feel the need to promote my work along those lines.
I will say – that hasn’t been my only problem with getting more sales. I am a complete novice when it comes to promoting and marketing. I hate Facebook, so there’s that – but I do my best on platforms such as Twitter, Google+ and here on WordPress, to name a few.
I purchased a Snowball microphone, for the purpose of recording an audiobook. I’ve been practicing, so we’ll see how that goes. I’ve also entered a short story (unrelated to the Storming Archives) – in the Neoverse Short Story competition. Winners will be announced on 1/15/16. (Fingers crossed!)
I loathe the idea of “buying” followers, so I have that against me too. I am still learning about other formats and procedures – which I will be incorporating in my promoting and marketing plans for 2016. (Such as book blog tours, readings, more radio interviews, Youtube videos and slideshows, better advertising, etc.)
I utilize Hootsuite and Crowdfire, as well as giveaways and campaigns on Goodreads and Amazon. I also have profiles on Shelfari, Bookbuzzr, Mythic Scribes and many others I’ve probably neglected or forgotten about. It’s just so daunting, time-consuming and frustrating – to say the least. (Especially if you’re working full time and running a household, on top of that.)
I don’t mean to piss and moan. I understand that, even if traditionally published – I’d still have to do a lot of the legwork myself. The thing I’ve discovered is, it doesn’t matter if you’re using services you have to pay for (who promise the earth!) or whether they’re free. You have to find the nerve and strike while the iron’s hot.
The daunting thing (whether self-published or not) is that there are millions of other authors scrambling just like I am. It feels like being a tiny, insignificant drop in a ferocious tempest – inside an endless teapot. When I’m “spruiking” on Twitter etc – I get the image of myself clamoring over a sea of bodies. Most of us are drowning – occasionally reaching out and waving frantically – only to be absorbed by the teeming throng. (Melodramatic piss-ant that I am!)
The things I know I have to do better with include:
- Finding and targeting my audience (who and where in the hell are they? I’m not asking – I know now – and it’s great to finally have the time to focus on this.)
- Flowing on from the above – engaging my readers and keeping them engaged (*sigh*)
- Creating meaningful giveaways and prizes to “lure” my audience.
- Swallowing my pride and side-stepping my altruistic tendencies (to a degree. I don’t want to have to “sell my soul”.)
- Doing away with frittering away resources and money where it is not doing me or my books any good.
- Being more intuitive in regards to trends.
- Getting more reviews!!!!!
- Dealing with my shyness and learning how to believe in myself and my work (Lordy, I’m trying!)
- Being more open about constructive criticism – but at the same time – knowing how to sort the wheat from the chaff (as I have received some hair-brained feedback and even personal attacks!)
- Entering more writing competitions
- Figuring out what else I have to do to – working smarter AND harder!
Having the time to organize and execute a solid marketing plan is key. After 1/4/16 I’ll have no excuse! Even though I’m doing some freelance work to make my own money (as I’m not one of those women who like to ask their husbands for a handout) – I have structured my “routine” to include time every day for my own writing.
Robert (my husband) said something totally sweet the other night, after I advised my plans re: housework, cooking and errands (just to reiterate that I would keep it all together).
He said, “I do not want you to turn your back on your creative urges just to do the dishes or laundry. If you feel the flow – let it out and focus on your writing. I’m working less hours for more money now and I’m quite happy to pick up the slack, if it means that you get to produce solid work. Do not allow the mundane to thwart your creativity!”
How’s that for romance?!
Dream Blogging – Swallowing Feathers
This is another hodge-podge dream. I had it last week and just now have time to post it – on Mother’s Day, no less!
At first – I was walking through an animal sanctuary – when I came across two lions that were quite pale and thin. I was worried about them but too scared to approach them.
Then I walked through a section where the birds were. I saw two birds on the ground behind a fence, who were swallowing feathers. One was able to manage at least seven – which were hanging out of it’s mouth as it tilted its head back and slowly swallowed them. The other bird could only manage two feathers and it stood watching the other bird. I sensed that it was upset that it could only manage two – while the other one handled a lot more with ease.
Then I was in a hotel with a work colleague and her parents. We were going to catch a plane to Canada, and as we walked out the door, I noticed that she had left her jacket behind.
She was grateful and grabbed it, but as we walked through the airport – I realized that I didn’t have my shoes on – only socks. There wasn’t enough time to go back so I had to continue on without shoes.
We discovered that we had missed our flight and had to wait for the next one. We went to a cafeteria and sat down to eat. I was annoyed that the only food available was fried food. There were huge platters of all kinds of fried food on the tables, but I wouldn’t eat. I sat and watched the others – quite disgusted.
Then I was sitting on the edge of a bathtub – peeing relentlessly. I was worried that someone would find out – but there was no toilet and I was busting to go. The whole bathtub filled up and I was still peeing. I frantically tried to get off the edge of the tub – as I wanted to find a toilet – but I tipped the tub and pee spilled all over the floor. I worried that the pee would flow out into the hallway.
THEMES: Illness, weakness, ingesting foreign objects, thwarted travel, flight, disgust, release.
SYMBOLS: Lions, birds, feathers, swallowing, jacket, shoes, socks, Canada, fried food, pee, bathtub.
EMOTIONS: Concern, wonder, forgetfulness, annoyance, disgust, embarrassment
ARCHETYPES: Lions, Birds, Colleagues, Parents
INTERPRETATION: The theme of concern over sick animals continues! The pale lions represent weakness and dissipating strength – which has been a niggling thing in the back of my mind lately. It could also indicate my concern over apparent lack of interest in regards to my books and numerology business – feeling like I’m having little or no impact and that I am ineffective in my pursuits.
The birds represent the side of me that feel grounded and unable to ‘fly’ – as they were on the ground – doing the opposite of what they are supposed to be doing, which is flying – not eating the things that help them fly. The fact that one bird handled at least seven feathers – while the other one had difficulty with just a few – could symbolize how I feel about my ventures and inability to succeed. Eating and swallowing feathers (which are a symbol of mobility, flight, lightness, adornment, magic, intuition) – could also represent my desire to achieve greater heights and hunger for elevation above the drudgery of everyday life. Alternatively – it could mean that I’m wasting too much time with the promoting and marketing.
Like the Ouroboros – the cycle of death and rebirth (eternity) – the birds were swallowing their own feathers. It could be indicating that I see others doing far better than me and I struggle with just a small level of ventures. This image still bothers me and I continue to try and interpret it.
Being in a hotel with a work colleague – and her parents – represents worrying too much about things that don’t matter. The shoes would have been more important than the jacket. The shoes protect your feet, and even though the jacket provides warmth – it’s more socially acceptable to be without a jacket. The jacket could symbolize my public persona – worrying more about image rather than my health, protection and how I travel in life.
Canada is a place that symbolizes a perfect society – to me, anyway! An idealistic place where people are a lot calmer and seemingly more intelligent and compassionate. In the dream, it could indicate my desire to escape to a place where I would fit in. Missing the plane symbolizes my fear of not ‘making it’. Having only fried food to eat, could represent my annoyance at having to settle for the cheap things that don’t do me any good – when I would prefer good food, therefore better sustenance and a higher level of success and a better life.
Peeing is release of negativity and purging. The fact that I had so much shows how I desire to let it all out, and that no matter how much I do release – it keeps coming. The fear of never being pure or achieving my goals – always needing to purge. The bathtub is a place where you should be cleaning yourself. It symbolizes an opportunity for washing away the dreck to become a new person. Filling it to the brim with more pee coming – then tipping it and flooding the bathroom (and possibly the hallway) – symbolizes my fear of showing my true self to the world. I want to get it out – but at the same time – am embarrassed to do so.
SUMMARY: I need to continue taking better care of myself and work to increase my stamina. I need to stop wasting my energies in areas that do not feed my goals. I feel that the time has come where I need to re-evaluate my ventures and change the way I operate – especially in regards to promoting and marketing. It’s getting to me lately – the fact that I have to work a full time job – which eats into my writing time. I know that we all have to do it – to pay the bills etc – but working a full time job and then coming home every night (and spending every weekend working on my ventures) is zapping my energy levels – leaving nothing left for family and friends.
All work and no play makes Kelly a dull bore!
Dream Blogging – Pants down
I had this dream last night. First – I was in the building across from my work, and I knew that I had to get back there, but something was holding me back. I remember feeling that I didn’t have to return to work – and even though there was a sense that I ought to return – the possibility of exploring the new building was overpowering.
Then I was in someone’s home and needed to pee. The house was a little messy or haphazard – with things everywhere – and the rooms were disjointed and confusing. I was finally told where the toilet was and when I entered the room – it was a combination of a bedroom and toilet. It belonged to a young man who was playing video games in the corner, close to the door. I was embarrassed to go in and do my business – but I had to go, so I went over and pulled my pants down, then sat down on the toilet and started peeing.
I was worried that the young man would turn around and see me – but he didn’t seem to care. Then a door next to the toilet opened and a middle aged woman started coming in – but I tried to tell her that I wasn’t finished. She also didn’t seem to care – but I was embarrassed and wanted to finish so I could get out.
THEMES: Exposure, being discovered, decisions, lack of privacy.
SYMBOLS: Work, toilet, half-naked, urination, games, small and strange rooms/house.
EMOTIONS: Desire to run away, indecisiveness, embarrassment, annoyance.
ARCHETYPES: Young man, Middle aged woman.
INTERPRETATION: In regards to the first scene, the idea of not wanting to go back to work is obvious. As I am trying to build a ‘career’ with my writing and Numerology business, I’m finding it increasingly annoying to have to keep going through the motions and working a 9-5 job, when all I want to do is be creative and focus on what I really enjoy doing. (Don’t we all?!) So, hiding in the building across the street from my workplace – trying to decide whether to go back or not – indicates the internal battle that rages inside me. I have to work to pay the bills – a steady job. It takes up most of my time, when I could be spending all my time on my writing and other interests.
Being in a strange house with strange rooms could represent how I feel with the promoting and marketing of my book. Trying to navigate my way around all the daunting elements of promoting my book and business is confusing, time consuming and sometimes frustrating. Trying to find a place to pee signifies the side of me that just wants to let go and be myself. Urinating also symbolizes getting rid of refuse. Not being able to find a suitable place to do so could represent my annoyance with trying to get things in order and be who I want to be.
We’ve all had the naked in public dreams, and they usually symbolize our fear of being ‘found out’ – or our true natures being discovered. Sitting on the toilet, as the young man showed absolutely no interest (aside from the fact that I was a stranger peeing in his room!) – might indicate how I feel about revealing my soul in public when no one seems to care. When the woman came in and also seemed uninterested in what I was doing – it didn’t alleviate my embarrassment with being caught with my pants down. I was annoyed that she didn’t listen to me, so it rang true for me – in regards to my book taking so long to get off the ground. (Three people have actually paid for it – at a measly $3.95 – and 69 others have downloaded it for free. I have one great review – from a stranger – with 5 stars. Every author understands how frustrating it is – especially when you’re self published!)
The young man could also be my animus – signifying the side of me who just wants to do what I want to do and not be bothered with anyone else! The fact that he was playing games symbolizes how I feel about all this. I sometimes feel that I’m just ‘playing’ and should get back to working a ‘normal’ job. The woman could represent my apparent flippancy regarding how I am putting myself out there.
SUMMARY: Pretty much summarizes how I feel about trying to forge ahead with my writing etc. I am revealing a hell of a lot about myself with the process of promoting and marketing – which is refreshing and frightening at the same time. I want to connect with people – especially my readers, and that means sharing myself. Maybe the dream was trying to tell me to be more discriminating about what and how I share. (Funny – as I’m here writing about my dreams and peeing!)
I feel – sometimes – that no one cares, but it’s not true. I have great feedback – mostly from strangers, although I’d like some people who are close to me to show more interest. Maybe it’s my subconscious expressing my fear of being irrelevant – baring my soul to an invisible or uncaring audience?
Soundcloud ad for my novel “Delwyn of the Realms”
Here’s the link to my ebook on Amazon – $3.95:
Here’s the link to the books’ website:
and here’s my Author website:
Chronicle Schmonicle – Here’s Delwyn!
It’s been so hard – as any self-published author knows – to deal with marketing and promoting on multiple platforms, especially when working full time. But it’s finally paid off – my first review and it’s 5 stars! Yay!
Delwyn of the Realms (Storming Archives – Book 1) – is the culmination of my chronicles – realized as a fantasy novel. As explained previously – I decided not to write a memoir and started channeling some of my experiences into a fantasy novel. (Which was a young adult novel at first – but it was so much more fun changing it to an adult fantasy – about a woman who deals with hypnagogic hallucinations and astral projection, and finds a mirror portal to the dream world.)
I’m almost finished with the first draft of the sequel – which has become a wild ride – to say the least. It was exhilarating to discover how easy the sequel flowed, once the first book was done. I started a group board on Pinterest – called “Storming” – where fellow (invited) pinners help to inspire me with images regarding the themes in the sequel.
What is daunting is the marketing and promoting. The platforms I’m using are Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Goodkindles, Shelfari, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+, Youtube – and others! I’ve used Fiverr for the book cover and advertising. I’ve paid for Twitter blasts and ad campaigns on Goodreads, Facebook etc.
However I knew that reviews would be the number one selling point – and my Beta readers (who say they’re loving the book!) – are taking their time putting reviews on Amazon. I am humbled by the amount of support they are giving me and understand that it takes time to first read a book and then review it. I’m just impatient – and seeing as I am not tech savvy – it’s been a giant learning curve.
Would I prefer to be going through a publisher instead? (Should I be so lucky? Is lucky the right word?!) I’d have to say – No – as much as the idea of someone picking it up and producing it for me is enticing. The problem is – especially these days – it could take an eon to finally get a deal with a publisher (or hook an agent), and after all is said and done – you still have to put a lot of legwork into the marketing and promoting.
So – for me – I find that having control over the book, and stretching myself thin and driving myself crazy with the promoting etc – has been a rewarding experience, after all is said and done. I released the novel as an ebook on Amazon in early Feb this year, and have only sold three units – but I started a freebie campaign today and I already have a 5 star review! (Oh Lordy – wiping sweat off my brow – teeth gnashing momentarily paused!) As at 9:19pm on this first day of the freebie campaign – 23 people have downloaded it.
I used to baulk at the idea of giving away my hard work for nothing – but the cloud has a silver lining. The great review was worth it’s weight in gold. It wasn’t selling that well without a review – so the freebie campaign has become a viable option. (The campaign ends on 3/10/15.)
What was bizarre – was that some of my Beta readers emailed me with glowing reports – but they weren’t putting the reviews on Amazon! (Sometimes it’s like herding cats – you have to be respectful and patient – not a strong point for me!) But it’s paying off and I’m learning as I go. The trick – I think, for any writer – is to persevere and not give up. Keep your eyes on the prize and remind yourself that your hard work is worthy of the struggle. (Pant, pant!)
I have created the paperback version on Createspace and am waiting for the proof to arrive so I can review it before I finally release it. I’m looking into creating bookmarks to take to bookshops, libraries etc. It’s amazing just how much is involved with promoting and marketing. AND IT NEVER ENDS! But I wouldn’t have it any other way! Once the sequel is ready for release, I will continue offering the first book free – occasionally – to keep pushing the units!!!! Where’s the vodka?
Venturing out of the Cave
Here is a short version of a dream I had the other night – which encapsulates how I feel about marketing and promoting myself as a writer. (Even though my novel hasn’t been published yet.)
I was backstage at a rave concert, and a female – that bore a striking resemblance to a certain, twerking female singer who likes to hang her tongue out – was on stage. Wearing only a pink bikini top and Doc Martens’, she was singing and talking into a microphone – while the other hand was shoving a pink microphone up her rectum! She was shaking it around vigorously and pulling it in and out as she sang and whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
Then she turned to the D.J. and said “Tell George he has to relieve me! And don’t don’t forget to tell him to shove the mike up his butt!” Then I walked around backstage and saw a t.v. under a table, showing a tattooed woman with her back to the camera – lying on her side, reaching around and playing with her butt. I walked offstage to what seemed to be a warehouse, where someone was yelling out “There’s alcohol for sale!” Like it was a big deal. People were crowding and clamoring to see, and there were tables and displays of liquor and soda.
As soon as I woke up – I got the symbolism. For the last couple of weeks I have been earnestly working on my website and checking my Twitter account (not knowing much about either, I might add!) – trying to fit in time for my miserable Author account on Facebook and answering reviews on my profile with Book country (and therefore – altering and editing my novel.)
I have been researching literary agents and publishers, set up a profile on Mythic Scribes (which is a nice place for fantasy writers), trying to perfect my synopsis and query letters, sending PDF versions of the novel to my Beta readers and so on. I’m sure it’s all worth it. I’m sure it will all pay off. I appreciate the feedback I’m getting and the constructive criticism is helping me greatly with my rewrites. In the meantime I am working a full time job and trying to write the sequel to my novel. I am up to chapter seven – first draft – and feeling quite proud of myself.
I know I’m preaching and whining to the converted – but #*%@! I feel like a cheap, second hand spruiker! I feel like a shy, dorky wallflower in a gaudy showgirl costume that’s too big or maybe – too tight for me – and I don’t know how to wear it! I keep hearing Gypsy Rose yelling “SING OUT, KELLY!” And here I am, stumbling in skyscraper heels, trying (and failing miserably) to toss a feather boa over my slumping shoulders. “Let me – entertain you. Let me – make you – wince!”
I need a scotch!