Today’s Featured Author: Susie Henderson

Today I welcome Susie Henderson. The author of the non-fiction book, How to Build Your Own House Without Murdering Anyone, she plans to publish her first fantasy novel this Fall.

Guest Post:

Author Pseudonyms: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

Have you ever been asked if you’re going to us an author pseudonym instead of your own name to publish under? I have. Multiple times. Mostly because I write in multiple of genres.

If you’ve been asked, how did you reply? Have you thought about it? Do you know the pros and cons of doing so?

I’ve done a little research, because for me, it may make a difference in my writing career. Here’s what I’ve found.

A Rose by Any Other Name

Depending on how you plan to market yourself, you may be better off just publishing under your own name. It makes things simpler for everything, from accounting to your fans realizing this is your book.

But there may be reasons you’d rather publish under a different name than your own. Or reasons it would be better to publish under a pseudonym.

If you write like I do – I publish fiction and non-fiction, and also write in several genres in each – it may be better to use pseudonyms for many of them. Why?

If you attract fans for your fantasy fiction series, for instance, then publish a humorous non-fiction book under the same name, you may create angry fans. They’ll expect one thing and see another. This could lead to losing some fans, though as long as you’re still publishing the books they liked to begin with, you’re probably not in too much danger of that.

There are a lot of big name authors who have written under pseudonyms, presumably for reasons like this. Stephen King published a series of novels as Richard Bachman because they were a completely different tone than his horror novels. Romance author Nora Roberts moved into futuristic, romantic- fantasy as J.D. Robb in a series that highlights the life of a female murder cop. Quite a step away from her romance novels prior to that.

Some of the other reasons authors have chosen a nom de plume might be related to prejudice. For example, women may try to attract more male readers by not letting on they are women, using initials instead of their first names. J.K. Rowling may or may not have been publishing using her initials for that purpose. Historically, it happened fairly frequently, because it was felt that women had nothing to write that was important enough for men to read. Silly idea, but that’s where this usage came from.

Still others have names they didn’t feel were remarkable enough, or were too odd to want to use. Mark Twain’s real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens. For whatever reason, he wrote under an author pseudonym, and has been forevermore know by that name, not his real name.

I’m sure the list goes on.

Being True to Yourself

It may be that some authors enjoy the pseudo-anonymity of a pen name. If they are writing something they don’t want family and friends to realize they’ve written, perhaps they’ll choose a pseudonym. But in other people’s perspectives, that’s not showing the world who you truly are.

These days, I’m told by my sister, who is a book buyer for a small local bookstore, that it matters a lot less to use pseudonyms, even if you’re writing in different genres.

Authors, at least any who want to succeed in today’s fast-paced, online world, will have websites and Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts, most often with their own names attached. They can let their original audience know they are branching out into new territory, while at the same time letting new fans know about their previous work. You never know when you’re going to have fans who straddle the same line with you, and like both your genres.

And, as stated above, your accounting will be much simpler if you stick to one name. Otherwise, you may need to get creative to keep proper track of income and outgo.

For me, I haven’t decided entirely. Nearly all my fiction has at least some aspect of fantasy to it, so I might get by with just one name. I’m likely to choose using initials, though, in part so I avoid the still-prevalent preconceptions about women’s writing. My first published book, How to Build Your Own House Without Murdering Anyone, went out under Susie Henderson because it’s funny and my name suits it. But it took some thought to decide how I’d go with both series.

Now that I’ve given you some words for thought, what do you think you’ll do?

About the Author

susieSusie Henderson has been writing fiction and non-fiction forever, enjoying fantasy fiction the most. She is currently in the last few days of her crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to produce her first fantasy novel professionally. With some of the proceeds from her books, she hopes to start a fund for cancer patients using alternative medicine, because she is one and alternatives are rarely covered by insurance. That can mean losing your house… and your life. If you want to help publish a book and change the world of health care, please click here to support Susie’s campaign which ends May 31, 2015.

You can find out more about her on her website.

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Are Subplots Necessary?

A subplot is a mini-story woven into your main story. It could involve your main character having two things going on at the same time (such as finding love while solving a mystery) or it can involve secondary characters having their own issues.

Now you don’t absolutely need to include a subplot into your story but there are many good reasons to include one.

  • It adds depth to your story.
  • If the subplot involves secondary characters, it can make them more rounded and complete.
  • It can help build tension. (You can leave your main story line hanging and switch to the subplot to keep your reader wondering what happens.)
  • Subplots can pile on problems for the main character or perhaps distract them from their course.
  • It can reveal information to your main character or to your reader
  • It can set up characters for multi-book series

Incorporating Subplot

Now your subplot could run parallel to your main story. Think of this as basically a different story that is independent of your plot. Sometimes this is done with many minor characters who have come together for some purpose – a book club, reunion, or vacation for example. The story would then follow each character as his or her situation is explored. In this case, the actual storylines may or may not influence each other.

Or your subplot can be interwoven into your main storyline. Often in this situation, the outcome of your main plot will depend in some way to the outcome of the subplot. So basically, don’t include some sort of random story that really doesn’t add to your main plot. You want to have it add something to the story rather than distract or cover unimportant events or characters.

Be sure to resolve your subplot in a satisfactory manner – unless you plan to complete them in another book. And if you do this, make sure your reader knows your intention.

So do I think novels need subplots? Yes, I do. It brings realism to your story. This is because it mimics real life. Very rarely is only one thing going on in your life. You are constantly juggling many different things and so should your characters.

 

A How to Train Your Dragon birthday party

My oldest turned 10 this month. We began having parties with friends when he turned 5. The first few parties were thrown at party locations. But last year, we did a Lego Movie party at the house. It was an awesome party complete with an obstacle course, target shooting and a water balloon fight. We obviously set the bar high with that party.

HTTYD invitationThis year, Jase wanted a How to Train Your Dragon party. (The invitation I created for him has been very popular on my Etsy store.) Jase had a pretty good idea of what he wanted done. It was up to my husband and I to make it happen. Soon our biggest concern was not the party but the weather. It poured during the week but on party day, we lucked out with no rain.

Here’s a rundown of his party…

Shield Decorating

P1040567What Viking doesn’t need a shield? My husband cut out these round shields from thin sheets of wood and painted them grey. He attached leather straps on the back and made some dragon stencils. The kids (six boys and two girls) had fun decorating them.

Treasure Hunt

2015-05-16 09.25.26Next we sent the kids on a treasure hunt. We divided them into three teams and gave each one a dragon egg (actually, it was an Easter egg painted either gold, black or grey). Inside was the clue to their next egg. The next clue led to another egg but also had the first number to the combination securing their treasure. They gathered three eggs – each with a number to their lock.

I had written the clues and created a map that would help them figure out where in the yard I might be talking about. I had worried about my clues would be too hard (or even too easy), but they turned out just fine. The kids had a blast working together. Their treasure boxes held candy and leather wrist bands that my husband had created.

Obstacle Course

P1040587At last year’s party we created an awesome obstacle course. This year’s course was a little shorter, but the kids had a blast. First, they balanced on the zig-zag beam (while the other kids threw balls at them – hey, they needed to use those shields for something). After that they weaved through a series of “trees” and hopped on stones over the “lava.” Then they dodged two fire balls before jumping over the sheep hurdles. Discarding their shields, they had to toss two fish toward a dragon’s mouth (laundry basket) before lofting a battle hammer. They then struck two different targets before crossing the finish line. Most kids ran this in less than 30 seconds.

Pizza and Cake

IMG_3274Next came pizza and root beer. We had planned for them to eat outside, but it was so humid, and the kids were hot from running so we opted to have them eat inside at the table where they had decorated shields. After that was the cupcakes that I had made and topped with How to Train Your Dragon rings. I made the butter-cream frosting from scratch and that will be my recipe of the month in June.

Sheep Toss

2015-05-16 12.10.57My son wanted to have a game with sheep – perhaps chasing them. My husband had the idea of shooting stuffed sheep out of his air cannon. What we ended up with was me creating 30 sheep (29 white sheep and one special black sheep) out of poly fill and panty hose. (This idea came from my snowballs from their holiday party.) I attached paper legs and faces with googly eyes. (Template for the faces from this website was reduced by 65% to fit my sheep.)  They were super cute. We threw them in the air for the kids to catch. The kid with the most sheep won, but the black sheep counted as five. The first time we did it, the black sheep was hidden in the yard but on the following rounds, it was tossed into the air with the rest of them.

Sword Play

P1040620At the end of the party, we just released the kids with some foam swords and their shields to have some free play. Some of the swords didn’t survive, but they just came from the dollar store, so I wasn’t expecting them to last.

Each kid went home with their goody bag, shield, wrist band, the red basket from the sheep toss and a sheep (or two) and a dragon egg if they wanted them. Everyone seemed to have a good time, and the birthday boy was happy. This party was a lot of work. Next year, I think we will go even smaller and just have Jase celebrate with his two best buddies.

Today’s Featured Author: Cindy Cipriano

Today I welcome author Cindy Cipriano to my blog. Her second book, The Choice: Book Two of The Sidhe, is set to be released on June 9th.

Interview

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I believed I was a truly a writer the night I received my first critique of the manuscript of The Circle. It was amazing listening to six writers discuss my story and its characters as if they were real people.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

The best part about being a writer is fully immersing myself in another world. I love my time in the series experiencing the characters’ lives and when I’m not writing I miss them! The worst part has nothing to do with being a writer, but the fact there is never enough time.

Do you outline your books or just start writing? 

I try, try, try to outline my books. And, I do have some ideas sketched out in a quasai outline form, but it is by no means a formal outline. For the most part, I just start writing.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I am currently working on The Lost, Book Three of the Sidhe. I have also finished a YA which has just found representation by the fabulous Michelle Johnson of Inklings Literary.

Please tell us about your current release.

The Choice is the second book in The Sidhe Series. Here’s the book blurb:

the choiceFor Calum Ranson, seventh grade brings changes in his relationship with his parents and his friends, and a confrontation with his bully. Calum’s talents have also developed to a level unheard of in the Sidhe world.

When Calum goes against everything he knows is right, he makes a choice that may cost him his friendship with Laurel. An old friend steps in, but her mysterious ways leave Calum questioning her motives.

In the second book of The Sidhe Series, Calum, Laurel, and Hagen reunite in their search for Finley. And while many things have changed, Calum remains steadfast in his belief that Finley is still alive and Calum will bring him home.

What inspired you to write this book?

The Choice is the second book in a seven-book series. I was inspired to start the series from a daydream during a time-out as a young child. I wondered what I would find if I lifted a tile in the floor of my room. I imagined a long winding staircase and at the bottom, a bearded old man working by candlelight. This man became Calum’s grandfather, Uilleam.

How did you come up with the title?

Here’s a little trivia. The title was originally The Lost. But, when I completed the manuscript for book two, I realized The Lost made more sense for book three as a title. The Choice really is a perfect title for book two and I’m so glad my publisher agreed!

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I researched faeries in great detail before I wrote The Circle, Book One of The Sidhe. I visited many websites, and have acquired lots of research book over the few years I’ve been working on this series. It is important to me that I get the faerie aspect of the story right.

Which of your characters is your favorite?

My favorite character is Donnelly Dunbar. I just love his intensity and his love of his family.

Can you tell us any about the next book in the series? 

In the third book, The Lost, Calum and his friends are in 8th grade and the stakes are getting higher. I like to include real places in my stories (i.e., Fairy Stone Park in The Circle, the Brown Mountain lights in The Choice). The Lost has a very interesting and real setting as well.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

There were two scenes. One involves Calum and Laurel. The other involves Finley. The Circle has a fandom, and I have received a lot of email/messages from some of my fans. They have a definite opinion on Calum and Laurel, and on Finley. It was difficult to write scenes where these characters have some serious choices to make.

What book are you reading right now? 

I am reading two excellent manuscripts by fellow writers Lynn Chandler Willis and Sandra Rathbone. These are going to be awesome books!

About the Author

Cindy Cipriano RCindy Cipriano lives in North Carolina with her husband, son, and 27 pets. Okay, maybe not 27. More like three dogs, three cats, and many, many fish. Cindy enjoys spending time with her family, and the avoidance of cooking.

Cindy writes middle grades and young adult fiction. Her first novel, The Circle Book One of The Sidhe Series (Odyssey Books), won the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Silver Award for Pre-Teen Fiction, Fantasy. Coming soon! The Choice, Book Two of The Sidhe Series (Odyssey Books).

 

Two of Cindy’s short stories, “What Lance Saw,” and “Miller’s Island,” were published in the children’s anthology, Doorway to Adventure (2010). In addition to SCBWI, Cindy is a member of the Triad Writers and the Drawbridge Writers critique groups. Cindy is represented by Michelle Johnson of Inklings Literary Agency.

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You can find out more about Cindy at her website. You can purchase The Circle: Book One of the Sidhe on Amazon. The Choice: Book Two of the Sidhe will be available on June 9th. To pre-order it, click here.

 

Beginning a novel recap

Today I would usually post something about writing or publishing, but it is May, which is a crazy busy month. It is the last month of school for my kids, so there are all sorts of events – school art display, reading with my first grader in class, class picnics – and on top of that we had my son’s 10th birthday party at the house.

So instead of something new, I am going to fall back on my old standby and do a recap. This time I am doing a recap of things that might be of use when beginning a novel.

The past post title is listed first and then typically the beginning of the post. To read more simple click the links.

Starting a Novel…So you have decided to write a novel. Before you sits a blank screen. For some that brings excitement at the unlimited possibilities but for others it can be intimidating. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task at hand. (To read a short intro to novel writing, click here.)

9 ways to Brainstorm Story Ideas – Many authors are teeming with story ideas, so they just need to pluck one and develop it into a novel. But newbies and even a few veteran authors sometimes falter when finding a story to write. (Click here to discover those 9 ways.)

Conflict drives your story – Every story needs some form of conflict. Without conflict there would be nothing to drive the characters and plot forward. It is the character overcoming obstacles that supply the drama, the suspense, the tension in the story. (Lists the 5 types of conflict – click here to read more.)

Choosing the Setting for your Novel – Selecting the right setting can have a significant impact on your story. Choosing where a story or even a scene takes place can add suspense or excitement to a theme. (Click here to read more on settings.)

Making sure your story ideas is sound – You have a brilliant idea for a story. You can imagine the main character and even the opening scene…but when you sit down to write, you realize that is all you have. You don’t have a complete story with a structured plot and a satisfying ending. All you have is this great story idea. (To read more, click here.)

Keeping your story believable – You are watching an action movie, and during the fight scene, the two sides shoot and shoot and shoot some more. And while you are engrossed in the action, somewhere in the back of your mind you are wondering “Shouldn’t they run out of bullets or at least need to reload?” (To read more about making your story believable, click here.)

The importance of character flaws – No one wants to read about perfect characters that always smile, act polite and eat their vegetables. No one is perfect and readers don’t expect your characters to be perfect. In other words, everyone has flaws and so should your characters. (Just one of many posts on characters. Check out my character recap here or keep reading about character flaws by clicking here.)

I hope this helps. And next week I promise to have a new post about writing…just not sure what it will be at this moment.