Far From Over

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In less than a week, my publisher, Booktrope, will officially close its doors. For the past few weeks, I have been receiving all sorts of emails regarding downloading important documents from the site, settling with creative teams, how our final royalties will be paid, formal disclosures about our rights reverting to the authors, and so on. The latest message I’ve received informed us about our books being removed from various distribution channels.

It has been, and still is, difficult to sit and watch this process, knowing there is nothing I can do to stop it. It is painful seeing my dream of being a published author fulfilled and then watching it go up in smoke. To be honest, it has been difficult seeing some of my fellow Booktrope authors pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and move right along as though this were nothing. I’m sure they’re still reeling as much as I am, but being more experienced, more confident, or maybe just more talented than I am, they were able to shake it off more quickly.

Where am I? Well, I guess it depends when you ask me. I can tell you one thing right now, and I guarantee that five minutes from now, or five hours from now, or five days from now (especially five days from now, when this will almost be a done deal), I will give you a different answer. I can tell you that there is a huge part of me that says, “Just give it up. You were never meant to be a successful author, and it’s a miracle you even got this far. Stop wasting time, money, and energy on something you weren’t meant to have.” Part of me says that, and there is a part of me that agrees with that sentiment. In a lot of ways, it makes sense to just quit while I’m ahead. It was fun while it lasted, but now it’s time to put my grown-up pants on and stop dreaming. This is my self-preservation side, and Self-Preservation Side has a very loud voice.

But there is another part of me that can be just as loud. This is my dreamer side. Dreamer Side answers Self-Preservation Side by saying, “This is just part of the journey. You are a writer; you were always meant to be a writer. Don’t let this define you. The failure isn’t yours; it is Booktrope’s. Listen. Listen to your soul. Can’t you hear all those characters clamoring inside you? You haven’t told their stories yet. Just because you can’t see more of the road in front of you doesn’t mean the road isn’t there. Just go one step at a time, and the path will open up.”

You know what’s the hardest right now? The fact that I know both sides are speaking truth. I have a choice to make, and in reality, neither path is easier. There will be struggles and pain and failures and hard decisions to make no matter which path I choose. And admittedly, there will be triumph and joy and success and moments where I know I’ve made the right decision no matter which path I choose.

Deep down inside, I believe I know which path I’m going to take. Dreaming big is ingrained in my personality. Unfortunately, so is fear. But I do know one thing. The fear of regret is much stronger in me than the fear of failure. There have been so many times in the past where I have not followed through with something I wanted because I was afraid, because I couldn’t see the outcome, because someone told me it was a stupid idea, and I stand in the road looking back saying, “What if? What if I’d followed my heart? Where might I be?”

I am a writer. I am a creator of stories. It is not up to me whether or not I will become a famous million-selling author, but it is up to me whether I tell my stories or let them die within me.

For the past few days, a line from Frank Stallone’s song “Far From Over” from the movie Staying Alive has been popping into my head every time I feel like giving up. “I am down, but I am far from over.” I want to believe that. I have to believe that.

So, onward and upward.

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Abandoned

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It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

I thought that when I signed with a publisher, things would workout for me as an author.

Did I expect overnight success and wealth? No. (Sure, I dreamed about it; who doesn’t?) Did I expect movie deals and celebrities begging to star in my stories? No, of course not. (Again, yes, I dreamed about it.) Did I expect to be able to rest on my laurels? Nope to that too.

I did expect maybe a bit more security. I did expect to at least take my husband to dinner with my first royalty check, even if it did take a little time and a few more books before that happened.

I did not expect the company to announce that it’s closing its doors, especially not with the suddenness with which it happened. Especially without answers.

I feel abandoned. I feel betrayed. I feel disrespected. And I am not the only one. Many of us who wrote, edited, proofread, and designed under Booktrope’s umbrella feel as though the Powers That Be have abandoned us. “Please be patient,” they tell us. “We’re doing our best to work this out.”

I have no doubt they’re trying to work something out, and I understand that it may take time. But we need answers. We deserve answers. We have been left to our own imaginations–come on, we’re writers! What else do we do?–and have come up with all kinds of scenarios and conspiracy theories about what has happened and what will happen. And then they tell us to simmer down, to resist feeding into the rumors. Rumors of lawsuits, of bankruptcy, of aliens from another galaxy having taken over (Okay, that one hasn’t surfaced yet, but for all we’re hearing of the truth, it could have happened, right?)

But what else do we have? In the absence of any real information, of course rumors will surface. Or someone will mishear or misinterpret something someone else has said. And then the stress levels go up. I’ve seen posts from fellow authors that genuinely concern me, because this stress has resulted in worsening health issues, lack of sleep, inability to eat, or binge eating (FYI, there is a box of cream-filled donuts screaming at me from the kitchen, assuring me that they’ll make it all better.).

“Just keep writing. Just keep doing what you do.” I’d like to. I’ve tried to. But I can’t. The two books I have tied up with Booktrope are part of a series. I’m at a standstill with working on Book 3 because I don’t even know if it’s a possibility that those stories may not belong to me at this point. And without those two books, it’s pointless to write Book 3, isn’t it?

For someone who has had trust issues in the past, this is a horrible place to be in. I want to be able to write again, to publish again, but at what cost? I know without a doubt that I will never again trust my work to a publisher, traditional or hybrid. At least if I self-publish and screw something up or run out of money or whatever, I will know what happened. I will know who to blame. And I will know who to turn to in order to work things out.

Abandoned

Onward and (Hopefully) Upward

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After Friday’s disastrous news that my publisher, Booktrope, will cease operations at the end of May, I, like most of the other authors, editors, proofreaders, and cover designers, spent the weekend wallowing in disbelief, anger, despair, and any other emotion you’d like to throw in there. As the shock wears off, we are now left with the question of what happens next. Wait until our rights are returned to us and republish? Find another publisher? Let their books fade into oblivion?

A lot of my fellow Booktropers, or ex-Tropers as we have dubbed ourselves, are already making plans to move forward. Some will self-publish; others will seek another publisher. Sadly, some have said they are done, that the potential for this happening again is not worth the paltry returns they might receive for their work.

I’m not sure which direction I will go. In all honesty, seeing the legal web we’re now tangled in as we wait for the company to answer the hundreds of questions now flying around on their website and in the Facebook group, I am hesitant to sign any kind of contract with anyone ever again. Self-publishing looks like a good option, but having done that before and seeing how hesitant many bookstores were to carry a self-published book, I am hesitant to go that direction as well.

Here’s what I do know: The Kyrie Carter series will go on, but there will be some changes.

I am a Christian, so at the end of the day, my faith is not in what I can do for myself, or in what a publisher can do for me, but in what God can do, and He gave me a plan yesterday that I am going to move forward with as soon as my head settles enough to think straight. I do not have all the details yet, but I know He does. I’d like to tell you what I do know.

I am not going to re-release The Newbie and School Spirits, at least not in their present form. They will still be paranormal mystery, and the plot will be the same, but there will be a little different spin. This decision has not come easily, and I have deeply grieved it as though it were the death of a person. These books are a piece of my life, and I love them almost as much as I love my flesh-and-blood children. But I feel that in order to move on, I need to lay them to rest.

I am just about halfway through Book 3, and as I said in my previous post, I’ve been much more in Kyr’s head about the struggle between her religious upbringing and her experiences with the paranormal. That aspect has been completely glossed over if mentioned at all in the first two books, and it seems disjointed to me. Since I already have Book 4 partially laid out in my head, and I know that the faith/paranormal struggle becomes even more of an issue in that book, for the purposes of continuity, I need to address the issue from the very start of Kyr’s story.

The fact also remains that much of Kyr’s struggle is in truth a bit autobiographical; I have had many of the same experiences, questions, and doubts that Kyr has. These novels have been a way for me to explore my own questions, fears, struggles, and doubts. After years of studying the Bible and talking to others and reading up on the subject, I feel as though I have come to a place where I am comfortable with who I am, what I know, and what I will never know. God has met me where I am and given me some answers, and He has told me to stop spending so much time and energy seeking other answers.

This is where yesterday’s revelation comes in. What I am planning to do is to revise Books 1 and 2 to get more in her head and show that conflict more clearly. It will also be a way for me to document my own journey with the paranormal as seen through the eyes of someone with a Christian upbringing. If I let myself think about the nightmare this will be as far as placing it into a genre, it scares me. Is it mystery? Is it paranormal? Is it Christian? Is it some kind of Pseudo-Memoir?

Not. A. Clue.

It certainly won’t be your typical vanilla Christian fiction. The paranormal subject matter is only one aspect of the story that some of my Christian friends may be uncomfortable with. Kyr’s faith is often shaky at best, and her friends, relatives, and colleagues cover just about every worldview you can think of, and as open-minded as Kyr is, very few of those worldviews are painted as evil or wrong. There is also romance in the Kyrie Carter series, but it also isn’t what you’d expect to see in a work of Christian fiction. Kyr has made the commitment to remain a virgin until her wedding night, but as she gets more involved with Spook, she struggles with her desire for him. Do I give in, or do I remain faithful to my personal vow? In our hyper-sexualized world, I think it’s something  that single people deal with.

For those who aren’t Christian, I hope that the faith aspect of the stories won’t turn you away. There is a little preaching going on, mostly on the part of Kyr’s highly-opinionated, strictly-religious oldest brother, but for the most part it’s about Kyr wrestling with her own demons and learning how to make her beliefs her own. In biblical terms, she is “working out her salvation with fear and trembling” (Phillippians 2:12). There are other belief systems present in this story, just as there are in real life. She comes in contact with atheists and pagans, and Spook has dealt with Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. She does not outright reject anyone or anyone’s beliefs, but weighs them and tests them to determine what she might learn from them, much the same as I do.

Anyway, I’m very tired, and I’m getting to the point where I’m going to start babbling (maybe I’ve already started, judging by the length of this post). I just wanted to put something out there to assure my friends and followers that I may step back for a bit while I figure out what’s next. As I said, I don’t know what avenue I’ll take as far as publishing, and I don’t know what the final product will look like.

But Kyrie Carter’s adventures will go on.

 

 

I Am Not Over

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Last evening, I got an email stating that my publisher, Booktrope, has announced that it will cease all operations as of May 31st. The news, sadly, is not a complete surprise, but the suddenness of it has left all of us in the Booktrope community shocked, angry, stressed, depressed, frustrated, frightened…insert your own emotion here, and I’m sure it would fit.

What this means in the immediate future is that the fate of the Kyrie Carter series is completely up in the air. As of right now, I am going under the assumption that they will no longer be available in their current status for purchase after that date (at least not on Amazon. I will have copies available to sell myself, until they’re gone). What that means for anyone who has not yet gotten a copy is that if you want to read/buy any of them, now would be a good time to pop over to Amazon and pick them up, or contact me for a copy. The titles are:
THE NEWBIE and
SCHOOL SPIRITS.

However, I will say that this is not the end of Kyrie and her adventures. I am still working on Book 3, tentatively titled The Witch of Willow Lake, and I have seeds for at least two more books after that. I’ve also got a few other projects in mind that will likely come into play at some point.

This situation has shaken me up, but I refuse to give up this dream of mine. I have found what my life’s work is to be, and I strongly believe that the God who birthed that dream in me will not allow it to die; He will direct my steps as far as future publication.

I would like to take a moment to thank all those family and friends who have been so amazingly supportive of my stories… it means so much more than I could ever put into words.

And thank you to Booktrope, for giving my books a chance.

https://helentreharne.com/2016/05/02/bye-bye-booktrope-it-was-wellannoying/

YAPA Teen BookCon

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It was a beautiful snowy (?!?!?!) Saturday morning in April, and I was headed to Camp Hill, PA, for my first book convention as a participating author, and not just an attendee.

YAPA Book Convention was the brainchild of YA author Tom Tancin and Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop owner Deb Beamer, who both felt the need for more teen book events. The convention, eighteen months in the making, was held at the Fredricksen Library in Camp Hill and was sponsored by Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop and Cupboard Maker Books in Enola.

I was honored to be a part of this (hopefully annual) event, and I wanted to just toss out some of my impressions of my first official book convention.

Overall Set-up

The convention was held at the library, from 10am – 4pm. Authors arrived starting at 8am to set up their tables and get the lay of the land, so to speak. The main lobby of the library was set up with two long rows of tables to accommodate the twenty-odd authors who were in attendance.

Most of the day for the authors involved sitting at their tables, talking to convention attendees and library patrons who stopped by to chat, inquire about their books, or even ask for writing tips. There were also author discussion panels at intervals throughout the day.

Book sales were handled in the back of the library by the sponsoring bookstores, which was a relief to me. I always get so flummoxed at vendor events or signings when I have to handle my own sales. It’s simply overwhelming to me to have to write up sales slips, take money, make change, and still be sociable and engaging as I sign books.

Author Tables

I’ve attended quite a few signings, both individually and as part of a group of authors, and I’ve had tables at vendor events. I’m always interested to see how other authors personalize their tables, and in all honesty, I’m always looking for fresh ideas to steal borrow for my own tables.

Most of the authors, of course, had some kind of table covering, which ranged from a simple black or white cloth to color-coordinated tablecloths that complemented their book covers. Table decorations, too, ran the gamut from minimalistic to very creative. Quite a few authors took a no-nonsense approach and displayed only their books. Others had various items on their tables that related to their books. One author, whose book was set in Japan, had a beautiful Japanese doll as a focal point. Another author who wrote historical fantasy stories displayed pieces of paper made to look like aged parchment. Still another author played upon her last name and displayed various keys on her table. Of course, my table was adorned with various ghosts, and I brought out Gigi Giwoggle, who garnered quite a bit of discussion.

Almost all the authors had something to give to readers who stopped by their tables, mostly items that advertised their books, such as bookmarks, business cards, or postcards. The most unique item I saw was a plastic tote bag emblazoned with a picture of the book being sold.

Panel Discussions

The discussion panels included Fan Fiction, Researching, World and Character Creation, and Social Media. I was so thrilled to be part of the Fan Fiction panel, since my books originated as Ghost Hunters fan fiction.

I thought the discussion went very well. There were only about fifteen teens and adults in the audience, which lent itself to a manageable discussion. The moderator kept things moving, and we covered topics such as favorite fandoms, copyright issues, being respected as an author who writes fan fiction, and how we as authors felt about readers write fan fiction of our works.

Not surprisingly, the teens in attendance were very knowledgeable about the realm of fan fiction. They had very intelligent and insightful questions and comments, and I am not ashamed to admit that they taught me a few things about fan fiction/art.

Networking and Exposure

This was the biggest reason I wanted to do this convention. Book sales at these events are always desirable, of course, and I was disappointed that I didn’t do well in that aspect, but the biggest advantage of participating in these events is to be able to network with other authors, the library, and the bookstores involved. I was pleased to make new contacts with several of the authors, plus I now have possible future opportunities for bookstore signings and speaking engagements with the library’s teen writers’ group.

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Overall, this was a wonderful opportunity, and I am so thankful to have been a part of it. As I grow as a writer and add to my published works, I hope to be a part of future YAPA Bookcons, as well as others. I’m already looking forward to next year.

Review: Scarlet Darkwood’s “Words We Never Speak”

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Kit has it all going for her–a job she loves, her cousin’s childhood home that now houses the Historical Society, and an adoring new boyfriend. Then things start to unravel. First, it seems she is being haunted by the ghost of her high school boyfriend. Then her cousin caves in to pressure from a local developer to sell the Stothwell Mansion so he can demolish it and build new condos. Finally, a mysterious new man enters her life and disrupts the cozy relationship she has with Dwight. As she and her coworkers fight to save the historic mansion, she begins receiving threatening messages and packages. She has to figure out who is threatening her before it’s too late.

This is a fairly fast-paced story that kept me turning pages even after declaring that I needed to stop reading for the night. For the most part, I enjoyed the suspense and the mystery that weaved their way through the plot. The paranormal elements were well-written and not overdone, so they were quite believable.

My only real irritation was Kit herself. I wanted to smack her around over her involvement in the love triangle she had with Dwight and Steven. At some points she was quite physical with both of them, which really made me question her character a bit. Without revealing the ending, I was pleased that she finally ended up with the one she did. I have to admit, I kind of suspected what would happen with the other man, but that resolution was well done as well.

Alien Like Me–Cover Reveal

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With the Earth still recovering from an alien invasion, one boy goes about life the only way he knows how. Survival. It’s working well until he realizes that the aliens have seemingly singled him out. Now he is left with the decision of staying the path he has picked for himself, or venturing into the unknown. Once he makes the decision, his life will change dramatically. But is it for better or worse?

Release date: April 30

Connect with Sherilyn Putnam:

https://www.facebook.com/sherilynputnam/

Surprised By an Award

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This has been a bit of a rough week for reasons I won’t get into here and now, so what a pleasant surprise to learn that Hawk’s Happenings has been nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award!

Thank you so much to Jennifer, who writes the wonderful thepsychomother blog for nominating me!

The requirements for this award are:

Thank my nominator.

Share the award on my blog.

State 7 things about myself.

Nominate 10 other bloggers.

Seven Facts About Leta Hawk:

  1.  I am fascinated with most things paranormal, especially ghosts, cryptids, UFOs, and witches, not necessarily in that order.
  2. Some of my favorite places include Gettysburg, St. Augustine, and Lock Haven, PA..
  3. At one time, I had firm intentions to earn a Masters in British Literature, with a concentration in Arthurian Legends. My thesis was to be about the changing attitudes and treatment of women, especially Queen Guinivere, in the legends throughout the centuries.
  4. I have Chronic Lyme Disease, which is currently in remission, and have done some advocacy for improved diagnosis and treatment.
  5. While my first love is creative writing, I am also very interested in the earth sciences, especially meteorology.
  6. I am a Christ-Follower, but I am also interested in alternative forms of healing, especially herbs and crystals. I know many people think they are incompatible, but I’m not so sure.
  7. My musical tastes are quite varied and run from Barry Manilow (see Oh No! Oh No! I’ve Killed Barry Manilow!) to Aerosmith to 2Cellos to Big Bam Boo, and pretty much anything in between.

 

The 10 Blogs that I would like to nominate for Versatile Blogger are:

 

Sarabeth Caplin

The Cozy Mystery Blog

DIY with Kathy

Shonda Brock Paranormal Romance Author

Greater Than Gravity

Spooky Mrs. Green

Bean’s Book Shelf and Coffee Break

Pam Hogeweide

Grape Fruit Books

Ghostly Writings

 

 

Again, thank you so much, Jennifer, for handing me a bright spot in a less-than-stellar week. Best wishes to you, and to all my readers, for a wonderful rest of the week.

 

Finding Me by Dawn Brazil–Release

Finding Me Release Launch BannerToday is the re-release for Finding Me by Dawn Brazil, the first installment in the Finding Me trilogy. This YA Fantasy cover was designed by Yosbe Designs.

About the Book

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00023]Sixteen-year-old Chloe Carmichael’s perfect world is in chaos.
It’s not because she has a vision of her boyfriend murdered and then he’s found dead exactly as foreseen. It’s not because she suddenly has the ability to move objects when she’s upset. It’s kinda cool to close a door without touching it. And it’s most definitely not her overbearing mother, who only cares about appearances. Chloe has already grown quite accustomed to her family’s distance.

So what has Chloe cringing in fear?
It’s having to become another person for a new group of people. She knows she’s not perfect, but apparently she was in another life. In that other life, she was known as Amanda. Amanda was perfect. Chloe, not so much. Her new friends won’t allow her to forget.

Chloe struggles with a love that exposes the soul. It’s a love that defies reason. It’s a love that speaks to her heart and demands attention.

It’s the stench of impending death that hovers over her every move.

It’s that final threat as she tries to acclimate to a life of superhuman proportions.
It’s the enemy she can’t see and doesn’t remember.

And most importantly, it’s never discovering who she really is that truly frightens her.

Book Links
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About the Author

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Dawn wants to live in a world fully inhabited by fictional characters; she thinks fictional characters are cooler than real people, except herself, of course. But since the world is not comprised of dreamy book boyfriends, she creates them for everyone to fawn over. Her debut novel, Finding Me, book 1 in the Finding Me series, is set to release on March 3rd 2016.

When she is not writing, she can be found with her nose in a book – swooning over another book boyfriend, drying up tears from a recent heartbreak, or shouldering a wound she received in battle. She also loves to create magic in the kitchen, with an array of inspiring dishes she pulls from Pinterest. Dawn lives in South Texas with her sports-obsessed husband, three technology-infatuated teenagers, and her great big colossal imagination.

She is currently editing the final book in the Finding Me series, Becoming Me. The book is set to release the summer of 2016. She is a master juggler and is working on two other Young Adult standalone novels – a high-fantasy tearjerker, and a science fiction story with a romance that will make your heart ache.

Contact Information

Website: http://www.dawnbrazil.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DawnBrazil
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDawnBrazil
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dawn-Brazil/e/B00JBWGE08/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8049152.Dawn_Brazil
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/brazildawn/
Blog: http://www.dawnbrazil.blogspot.com/

Extra Information

Finding Me (Teaser #1)

Finding Me (Teaser #2)

Booktrope

Finding Me
Publishing/Marketing Contact

Lauren Jones
Book Marketing Manager
Booktrope Publishing
lauren.jones@booktrope.com

About Booktrope
Booktrope is a new type of publishing company, founded in 2011 in Seattle, WA. Committed to the creation of quality books and to our unique marketing methods, we’re pioneering a book development process called team publishing. Learn mo