A Book Birthday! …and do you have what it takes?

My book recently released to the wide, wide world via my publisher.

While this is excellent news and I’m over the moon excited about it, I’m also scared to the point of being terrified.

So very many thoughts ricochet around in my head constantly that I can barely make any sense at all of what’s really going on up there in my gray matter. The most paralyzing fear I’m having is what if everyone hates it. What if it’s a horrible book? I’m sure there will be trolls, and how will I deal with them? What if I never sell any copies? What if it’s just some sort of dead literary weight there floating around for the entire length of its contract with my publisher? How much more of this can I take before I need to sign myself into the funny farm?

I guess this is one of the biggest problems with deciding to go indie or choosing a small publisher. Unless you’re a marketing goddess, you’ve probably bitten off an awfully large bit. I’m good at marketing. I worked in marketing departments even of small presses before, but the problem isn’t that I can’t market it. It’s that I can’t market MY book. I feel like I’m begging. Please. Please. Please. Buy MY book! 

I’m not a beggar. I’m just not. I’ve gone so far as to turn down state financial assistance because I just can’t accept it. I’ve always been the one to say, ‘Thank you, but no. I’ll find another way.’ There was a time in my life when I had no choice but to use state assistance and I felt dirty for even having to do it. I’m not saying that state assistance is a bad thing. I’m saying that I just can’t ask for it because that too makes me feel like a beggar. The only reason I even filed for disability was because I was told to do it. Sure. I needed help, but to be honest, when the government told me no, I was actually happy about it.

What does any of this have to do with a book birthday?

Maybe nothing. But, maybe a lot.

I’m shy. I’m an introvert. I’m also stubborn. I can schmooze when I need to. My entire personality is like oil and water. I overthink. I worry about things that have less than a millionth of a chance of actually happening. These facts are what’s making even working out a marketing plan; difficult. People suggest contests, but I’ve hosted critique contests in the past. I’ve hosted a giveaway where people stand a chance of winning an entire bookshelf of brand new books from Scholastic Publishing. And no one even entered. I have loads of people participate in my #AdPit and #KidPit contests and that makes me deliriously happy but any other sort of contests I host, I get nada. So, that begs the point, how can I get my book in front of readers? How can I get it out there in a manner that will draw people in and not cause me to have a stroke from anxiety?

So with my birthday on May 15th came my debut novel’s birthday on May 18th and a whole slew of new issues and problems for me to work through. I’m a fighter, always have been, and I’m sure that somehow I’ll figure all of this out. Until then, if I ever go missing you might want to check the nearest looney bin. I’m sure I’ll be sitting there having a carrot with Bugs Bunny and sharing a therapy session with Wylie Coyote.

However here’s a couple of things to consider for yourself as a writer.

1.)  If you’re considering going with a small press with your manuscript, do you have what it takes? Take time to be honest with yourself, before you make your decision. Because something to consider here it that:

a.) Small presses tend to have smaller marketing divisions, and you’ll have to really step up.

b.) Small presses tend to have smaller editorial divisions, and you’ll have to be really comfortable with the oxford comma and all the other nuisances of grammar.

c.) You’ll be going at it alone. You won’t have the support a professional can give you, like a literary agent. You either need a lawyer buddy to talk to or be somewhat proficient with contractual law yourself. Otherwise, you may wind up losing more than you want, like character rights, series rights, item rights, and so on.

2.)  While it usually takes less time for a small press to take your manuscript into production, thusly you’ll get paid faster. You have to be willing to put out a bit of money for yourself too if you aren’t too comfortable with that A and B above. But the pay often excludes any advance of royalties (which is something larger presses offer), and if we’re being completely honest, you won’t make as much money in the long haul.

Am I saying that one is preferable over the other? NOPE. Not at all. It just depends on you. Just you. Not every other Tom, Dick, and Harry. That’s why it’s so darn important to be honest with yourself when you decide what to do with your completed manuscript. If you lie to yourself, you may land in a big, heaping pile of buffalo dung. And if you’re already a signed participant in a contract, then to get yourself out of that pile of dung may (and usually does) require hefty legal fees. And my friends, lawyers do not come cheap. At least not decent ones, or those you’d want anywhere near your book baby.

Now, I’ll take a cheap shot totally out of my wheelhouse.

My book RUNAWAY SAGE is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other retailers. If you love historical fiction or stories about how an insurgent supersedes all odds, then it just might be the book for you.

RUNAWAY SAGE on Amazon

RUNAWAY SAGE on Barnes and Noble

What About Me?

Wow! Who knew a three-word question could be so difficult to answer?

I guess I should start with the basics… yeah?

Ok, I’m about to celebrate my 37th birthday (or as I tell my kids I’m 29 with almost with 8 years experience). In fact, my birthday is three days before my book releases. Talk about an exciting birthday gift!

I’m a divorced mom of two (ages 18 and 16), and we live in the middle of ‘little-where’ Tennessee. We’re just outside one of the bigger micropolises in Tennessee. We have more shops and stuff than smaller places, but nowhere near the amount places like Nashville has. After all we do have a university, so that in itself makes us a bigger place than some. Thing is, I grew up on a farm and still live on that same farm today. Though things have changed a lot around here. My father died when I was 15, and then when I was 20 my grandfather died thus my aunt and uncle decided to sell their parts of the farm, but we still have my father’s little patch of heaven. We also have a full orchard with all sorts of yummy fruit growing, and we continue to grow and expand it.

Now, I’ll dig a little deeper:

What people may not know about me. Well firstly, I’m disabled. I was diagnosed with a spinal deformity disease called scoliosis when I was 13. When I was 14, I had one surgery that put one rod and four screws in my spine. Then they broke my bottom left rib in half, cut it into tiny pieces and wedged them between my vertebrae in an effort to halt anymore shifting from my spine. It worked for several years, but five years ago, I had to endure it all yet again. This time it left me with a total of three rods and fourteen screws that encase my spine from mid-back to my pelvis. I’ve had to learn how to walk again after both surgeries (imagine. When I had the first surgery, I had to use a walker like a 14 year old grandmother. At least for the second surgery I was a 32 year old grandmother.) I’ve also lost my normal spinal range of motion (ROM) and can no longer lift over 20 pounds of weight maximum. I can’t walk, stand, or sit either for long periods. I can last 2 hours sitting and that’s it. Standing is hovering around thirty minutes, and walking to about an hour at a easy pace. I spend copious amounts of time shifting between sitting, standing, and walking. Twisting, turning, stooping and bending you can forget. I can squat though for extremely short periods, like three minutes or so. But hey! I’m a whole load of fun to take through security with metal detectors. My spine is still twisting and moving though, so I’m looking at possibly still more surgeries and in the extreme, life in a wheelchair. Unless there is some major breakthrough in medical science for those scoliosis patients like me. Most scoliosis patients, have their one surgery and they’re done. Me, I have my back brace at the ready, and my walker too in case I need them.

I also suffer from lupus and severe arthritis in my spine, but I suppose that nothing is ever absolute. I’m just living life as fully as I can, while I can. Presently, I am able to live mostly normally. Though I do have good days, and some really bad days.

More about I read what I write, mostly historical, contemporary, literary fiction, cozies, and romances with varying subgenres, I’m turned off by so-called corset-rippers or stories that are solely sex for sex’s sake or stories where sex is weaponized. As a demisexual, I need my romance stories to resemble MY life. Stories that are all first date sex, or ‘OMG we just met so let’s rip our clothes off and bring out the whips and chains’ stories just aren’t my thing at all. I’m not a prude, though most of the time demisexuals are called that by those that do not understand us.

On that note, I am happy to be a sensitivity reader for those wanting to write characters that fall in my wheelhouse.

Currently, I’m writing a contemporary romance, revising another contemporary romance, and working on an essay titled, ‘Parallelisms in Religions,’ a short story, and a scattering of poetry and flash fiction.

Hobbies: This is easier.

Reading, art, crafts, music, the great outdoors, animals, languages (I speak a few. Most notably, English, Russian, German, Dutch and Spanish but also others.), politics (Especially foreign policy, as I majored in international relations and foreign language in college), and photography. I enjoy DIY projects around the house too.

Random facts:

I change my hairstyle frequently. I go from waist length tresses to extra short, edgy pixie cuts and anything inbetween. If you know me for a couple of years, then you’ll see what I’m talking about.

I also believe and support in fair treatment for everyone.

This means, but is in no way exclusive, (yes, this is going to be political, but hey! Remember I majored in that in college.) I support the LGBTQ+ community, equal religious rights (but I do not feel that Islamic Sharia Law has any place in the USA, since it is, by definition, religious law and the US Constitution states clearly that there should be a separation of church and state.), and I abhor Russophobia (Why? Because hating someone based on their nationality is just as horrible as hating them based on religion, sexual orientation, gender, race, creed, or anything else).

Again, this list in no way encompasses all of my positions.

However, this does – I BELIEVE IN AND SUPPORT FAIR TREATMENT FOR EVERYONE.

This post is one of a series that I’ll be posting in the lead up to the release of my novel, RUNAWAY SAGE. RUNAWAY SAGE will be available May 18th, 2017. If you like Ancient Rome, romance, adventure, and exciting plot twists entwined with humor, remember that title because it just might be the perfect novel for you.

Also, over the next seventeen days, I’ll be posting short insights, and teasers about RUNAWAY SAGE on my twitter account using the #RS.

Chance to Win a Query Critique …

From yours truly.

That’s what this blog post is about. Yep. You see I promised one to those that played for #AdPit and #KidPit back on April 6th. That doesn’t mean that the participants from those pitchfests are the only ones that can join in the fun now though. So, if you need/want a pair of fresh eyes on a query that’s been bothering you, read on.

How many query critiques are up for grabs: 3.

When are we doing it: Right now, this week.

Who can win: Anyone.

Here are all the fun details for you:

Starting today and lasting through next Monday (April 24, 2017), I will be accepting submissions from everyone who would like a query critique.

Here’s what you have to do to be eligible, I’m posting a prompt at the end of this post. To enter, all you have to do is write a 250 word story that follows the posted scenario/prompt into the comments section of this post.

*In an effort to slice spam out of the comments section, I will be leaving the filter on where I have to approve all comments – but no worries, if you’re posting an entry it will be approved to be posted.

Here are a few rules to make sure you follow, or your entry will be rejected.

1.) You are allowed to write your 250 word story in ANY GENRE and for ANY AGE.

2.) Your entry MUST BE 250 words or less. (Yes, I’ll count.) Each entry must be a complete story. That means that it MUST HAVE a beginning, a middle, and an end.

3.) If you participated in either #AdPit or #KidPit, let me know in your entry and you’ll go into a different group.

4.) Your entry should be posted as such:

– Your name or pen name

– Add it here if you participated #AdPit or #KidPit on April 6th

– Your story’s genre and targeted audience age

– The 250 word or less story

5.) Each person is allowed ONLY ONE ENTRY EACH.

Failure to follow any of these rules will result in me tossing your entry out of consideration.

In an effort to save time, you will not be notified if your entry is rejected from consideration. If you have any problems posting or have questions, please contact me on TWITTER. There are only five rules. I’m not asking too much, I promise. Just double check your entry before adding it to the comments section.

Depending on how many entries I get, it may take me up to ONE WEEK from the last day (April 24th) to post the winners. So, winners will be posted by May 1st. In the winners post, I will have further information on where you can email me your query for your critique.

I will pick three overall to win a critique. One from those that participated in #KidPit. One from those that participated in #AdPit. And, one from everyone else. I will pick the winners from my favorite entries. Yes. I will personally read them all.

Remember I want to see full flash stories. Why? Because writing flash fiction allows you to learn to focus your writing. It helps teach you how to cut clutter and slice out unnecessary words. Yes, I do care about grammar, but don’t worry if you have a comma or hyphen out of place. I’m not a monster. I just want to see the best you can come up with following the prompt.

As for the critique, I will critique whichever query the winners want to send me. No. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with the prompt for the contest. If you’re getting ready to start querying agents or editors, send me that query. Or, send me the query to whatever your current work-in-progress is.

So, without further ado….

The prompt for your 250 word story —-

 

Two characters are arguing as they navigate a twisty road when suddenly an animal leaps out in the road in front of them.

 

 

 

A Journey for a Monday

This morning I awoke to the horrific news of an explosion on a subway in St. Petersburg, Russia. As I last read, at least nine people have died because of it.

So, I opened my Twitter app to see if I could find any first hand accounts on what I was sure would be a trending topic. It was, but what I found horrified me.

Normally, I try to avoid politics on social media. Yes, I actually majored in International Relations in college, but social media and politics is an explosion waiting to happen in its own right. So, I avoid them – but today, I just couldn’t.

Yes, I’m all to aware of all the Russophobic sentiments whirling around the globe today via media outlets of all fashion. I however, am not (and in no way will ever be) Russophobic. To judge someone by their nationality is just as wrong as judging them based on sexual orientation, religion, race, creed, disability, gender and etc…

But what I saw in the timeline for St. Petersburg this morning was the opposite of that. While there were those that expressed their sorrow and support for those affected by the blast – there were others that chose to politicize it. Their tweets ranged from (no, these aren’t direct quotes, and I will not be calling out names) cheering the explosion to taking political stabs at Russia because they are well, Russia.

This is not okay.

I’m not here to tell you what to believe. If you want to be steadfastly opposed to Russia that is up to you. I will say this though for those that make the choice to politically dig at someone else during a tragedy are monsters. You can hate Russia, but before you decide to take a turn with them remember this – your cruel words will not help heal the injured. Your cruel words now won’t bring back the dead to their loved ones.

Those people are no more responsible for their government’s actions than American’s are for Trump’s (or Obama’s or Clinton’s or Bush’s) actions. Those people have families too. Every, single person that died or was injured in the St. Petersburg’s blast was a mother, sister, brother, husband, father, wife, cousin, uncle, aunt, or even just a friend to someone. Every single one of those people hurt or killed today have loved ones crying now.  By hurling cruelness toward them, you are proverbially rubbing salt in their wounds – and think. How would you feel if it was here and your sister or brother was on that train? Would you want some cruel entity on the other side of the planet jeering at you?

It’s time to start putting people before politics. A human life is a human life – period.

However, having been so affronted by the monstrosity of some man-kind today – I’ve made a decision to start a new journey. You see, I’m a deep thinker. I take nothing at face value, and always look deeper into a situation than just glazing the surface. Sometimes I think this is a curse, but I’m beginning to realize that having the ability to  see below the surface, to be able to shred and discard the top layer of things, is a gift. It’s a gift to be able to find the heart of a matter, problem, issue, etc… And sadly, it’s a gift that fewer and fewer people have now.

As a researcher, I also have made a hobby out of delving deeper and deeper into media stories, religions, politics, and everything else I question. As a essayist, I often write down my research, comparative theories, and thoughts in a notebook. I have to, or my head would pop. All of my research and all of my deep thinking are all crammed into a handwritten compilation of monstrous proportions. Granted sometimes my logic may be skewed from the norm, and this happens frequently, but nonetheless I write. I have never shared any of them with anyone outside my family, but I’m going to change that.

I’m going to start a monthly blog called OUTSIDE THE BOX. If you are easily offended this will probably not be a good blog for you to read. I have torn down some of the most infamous theories and recreated them logically, especially in regards to politics and religion. I’ve shredded mass media stories and their fearmongering too. Though, you should understand, I am neutral in all things. Humankind as a general rule, does not appreciate having their blemishes pointed out to them.

I’m sure you’re wondering how the blast in St. Petersburg correlates to OUTSIDE THE BOX. To be honest and in the simplest of terms, the hate-filled Russophobic responses to the loss and damage of human life was the final straw. I’ve debated for years whether or not I should post my writings on things. I mean I’ve left a Catholic priest of nearly 60 years speechless and questioning how much he actually knew. That’s how intense some of my writings are. Yet today, I decided to open my Pandora’s box of thoughts to the general public.

All the same, my thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the blast in St. Petersburg’s subway today. May your hearts and bodies heal quickly, and may justice be served to those responsible.

(Though they do not yet know what caused the blast according to Russian President Vladimir Putin they are looking into all possible causes, including terrorism.)

Good – No EXCELLENT NEWS!

Have you heard yet?

I signed a publishing contract for my debut young adult novel!

And, I know a lot of you would like to know more about my journey. So, here we go!

The gritty basics:

1.) My novel is a historical set in Ancient Rome.

2.) The temporary title is RUNAWAY SAGE (this may yet change as I’m still working on final bits with the publishing company).

3.) The publishing company is BLACK ROSE WRITING.

4.) My release date, or my book’s birthday, is May 18, 2017.

5.) Yes, I have a whole slew of things planned to celebrate my novel’s birth with all of you.

My journey:

RUNAWAY SAGE took me five years to research, plan, write, revise, and query. As far as queries go, I queried for over two years. Then, I had nothing but rejections. I did stumble upon an agent that worked with me for over a year on revise-and-resubmits, but in the end, I got a form rejection. I was disgusted. That’s when I stopped. I stopped querying. I stopped pitching it in the innumerable Twitter pitchfests. I shelved it.

In my frustration, I tossed away the paper where I had listed all the agents I submitted to, but I can remember there were a bunch. In fact, I had pored over numerous agent websites, Writer’s Digest Market books, writing websites, and everywhere I could look for an agent, but I had submitted to all of the agents I could find that represented both young adult and historical fiction. I’m sure I missed some – positive that I did but at the time I made the decision to shelf this title, I’d done all that I could.

Then back in October of 2016, I stumbled onto a website called authors.me. I was leery of it. I mean, I’d read horror stories about people that posted their work online and it was stolen or worse. I researched around on the site, and found legitimate agents and publishers used authors.me as a means of submission. I hadn’t really considered small presses much until then, as most of them seem mostly interested in romance titles – and I didn’t have any submission ready romance wips. Still, I figured I had this title just sitting on a shelf, so what difference did it/would it make? So, I posted it and submitted it to two suggestions that the website sent me. One of those rejected it a mere month and a half later – no, I wasn’t surprised. I just assumed that it would happen with the second suggestion too. But, in early February I got an email from Black Rose Writing, offering me publication.

I really didn’t know much about Black Rose Writing up until then, so I started researching them. I found some interesting information on a few writers message boards about them, but they were dated from several years ago. The newer posts were a lot more positive, so I decided to take the chance. After all, if all the novel did was sit on my shelf then no one but my family and I could read it. Sometimes the decision to take the jump is singly the most horrifying thing you’ll do for your writing career.

So far I have been extremely happy with the gang at Black Rose Writing, and I feel like it was the right decision to take the plunge. My contract is legally legit, and they even negotiated with me to improve the contract for me. I understand that by going with a small press I’ll be doing a lot of marketing and such for myself, but that’s okay.  I have a background in book marketing, having worked for a few small presses myself in the publicity departments, and I even worked as a freelance publicist for authors for a bit.

In a nutshell, this is really happening. My dream to be able to hold my own novel – that I wrote – in my hands is coming true.

Thanks for reading!

~ H.R. Norrod

Wizard Russian Lesson Two

Lesson Two

 

Today, we’re going to work on improving our vocabulary in Russian. Since everyone is familiar with apartments, let’s learn some of the words that go along with an apartment. Also, as you learn these new words it may be beneficial to you to put notes up around in your own home to remind you of these Russian words. As research has shown, submersion in another language is really the best way to learn it. We are also going to learn our numbers zero – ten. Shall we get started…

 

КВАРТИРА  {kvarTIRA}                     —>                             An Apartment

 

Дверь {DVYER}                                   —>                             Door

Коридор {kariDOR}                             —>                             Hallway/Corridor

Кухня {KUKHnya}                               —>                             Kitchen

Холодильник {khalaDILnik}                —>                             Fridge

Духовка {duKHOFka}                         —>                             Oven

Плита {pliTA}                                       —>                             Cook stove

Кофейник {kaFYEnik}                         —>                            Coffee pot

 

Ванная {VAnaya}                               —>                            Bathroom

Ванна {VAna}                                      —>                            Bathtub

Душ {DOOsh}                                      —>                             Shower

Раковина {RAkavina}                       —>                              Sink

Туалет {tooalYET}                            —>                               Toilet

Зеркало {ZERkala}                           —>                              Mirror

Полотенце {palatYENtsye}              —>                              Towel

 

Гостиная {gaSTInaya}                    —>                              Living Room

Диван {diVAN}                                  —>                              Couch or Sofa

Диван Кровать {diVAN kraVAT}   —>                               Sofa Bed

Стол {STOL}                                        —>                             Table

Стул {STUL}                                         —>                             Chair

Телевизор {talaVEEzor}                    —>                              Television

Окно {akNO}                                        —>                              Window

 

Спальня {SPALnya}                         —>                              Bedroom

Шкаф {SHKAF}                                   —>                              Closet

Кровать {kraVAT}                              —>                               Bed

Подушка {paDOOshka}                     —>                               Pillow

Лампа {LAMpa}                                   —>                               Lamp

Before we go; let’s learn to count to ten …

 

     0.)      Нуль           {NOOL}

  1.     Один          {aDIN}
  2.     Два            {DVA}
  3.      Три            {TREE}
  4.      Четыре    {cheeTYRye}
  5.      Пять         {PYAT}
  6.      Шесть       {SHEST}
  7.       Семь       {SYEM}
  8.       Восемь   {VOsim}
  9.       Девять    {DYEvit}
  10.       Десять    {DYEsit}

 

That’s it! Congratulations! Now you can name some things in your home and do Sudoku in Russian, plus two extra numbers. 😉 But, really – count to ten in Russian the next time you’re angry, instead of in English. The more often you use these words; the quicker they will stick in your brain. Pick up a home interior catalog and point out and name the things you just learned in Russian. Practice writing the Russian words next to the English in the catalog. Make yourself some flashcards with your new words and flip through them while you’re waiting on that meeting at work to begin. There are so many ways you can integrate your new vocabulary words in your everyday life, be creative, be consistent, and practice, practice, practice…
Next time, we’re going to learn some meet and greet dialogue so you can surprise your friends and co-workers… See you then!

New details and a new THING for #Adpit & #KidPit…

I’ve posted updated information regarding the April 5th, 2017 #AdPit and #KidPit joint pitchfest on their pages here on this blog…

If you have a completed manuscript and are interested in pitching, please see the new details and a surprise for this round….

Follow the links below….

Write for/ Pitching a New Adult or Adult manuscript

Write for/ Pitching a Picture Book through Young Adult manuscript