“Should I write a book?” That is the question, isn’t it? It’s the one you’ve been asking yourself a lot lately—the one that keeps you up at night. It’s the first question on your mind after you read an amazing story…or when you wake up in the morning after dreaming about a storyline…or when you meet someone who has written one.
It’s the question that most people sort of ask me when they find out that I have written a novel. I say, “sort of,” because they don’t exactly come out and ask, “Should I write a book?” They usually tell me that they have written something that’s still unfinished/unpublished or they tell me their ideas for a novel they want to write.
At first, this puzzled me. I wondered if they were asking me if I thought their idea for a story was a good one or that maybe they were seeking advice on the topic of writing in general, but I’m beginning to think that what they are really asking boils down to one simple question: “Do you think I should write a book?”
The short answer to your question is: yes, you should absolutely write a book.
I will go you one further and say, “I give you my permission to write a book.”
I am not being sarcastic or condescending. I am giving you my permission to write a book because I, too, sought permission to write. I needed someone to say, “Yes, you should write a book.” (That came from my husband, Tom, after I badgered him for months by asking him if he thought I should do it.) There is something magical in two people agreeing to a certain premise—a power in the assent.
So, I am telling you now: yes, you should write a book. Now go do it.
When you are finished, after you have rewritten it a thousand times, polished it, shed some tears over it, maybe you’ll come to the same conclusion that I have. You’re a writer…and you don’t need anyone’s permission to do what you love.
Here’s the proof:
Intuition: The Premonition Series, Volume 2 is now available in paperback exclusively on Amazon.com! To get a paperback copy, please follow the link to Amazon on my sidebar (see the scrolling book widget over there =>).
I’m working to format Intuition to an eBook, not only for Amazon’s Kindle, but also for Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Apple’s iPad/ iBooks. I will announce when the eBook is available for purchase. The ETA on the eBook for Kindle (through Amazon) is about 2 to 3 weeks (so they tell me).
Inescapable: The Premonition Series, Volume 1 is now available for download through Smashwords.com. Follow this link to Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/115864
to download it in any of the following formats: Kindle
(Mobi for Kindle devices and Kindle apps) Epub
(Apple, iPad, iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, others) PDF
(good for reading on PC) RTF
(readable on most word processors) LRF
(Use only for older model Sony Readers) Palm Doc
(PDB) (for palm reading devices)
And Plain Text
**Inescapable should be available for purchase directly on Barnes & Noble’s website and on Apple’s website within a week or so. You can get a copy now at Smashwords.com. Let me know when your novel is ready. I'd love to read it. :)
Metallic’s Enter Sandman: A Soft Jazz Favorite
Recently, I’ve gotten a few comments from others regarding editing. I am in the process of editing my third and my fourth novels, so it is an issue near and dear to my heart (more near, less dear). I agree that editing is a vital part of writing. If you can say something in a concise way, you should. That said, I feel it is equally important to develop characters and plotlines and not sacrifice them to word count and profit. I am aware that the more books I can fit on a bookshelf, the more books I will sell. I know that stockpersons neglect to re-shelve books, preferring to just fill the empty slot with the books next to it. Thin is always better, even in publishing. I get it. However, sometimes, things lose their luster when they are presented in a different way. Here’s what I mean. The following is a You Tube video of Metallica’s song Enter Sandman…only, it’s not the original version that makes you want to flick your bic lighter…
I want every person who reads my novels to feel like those teenage boys did when they first heard the opening riff to Enter Sandman—the thrill and pulse-pounding exhilaration—the suspense in not knowing what kind of beat Lars would lay on them next. Anything less than that is a waste of time…and I don’t plan on ever wasting anyone’s time or money.
Here is the original version of Enter Sandman...it's quite a difference.
It’s A Journey, Not A Destination
Instant success, I’ve heard of this elusive creature, but I have yet to see it. It is a powerful beast, more driven than a band of wild horses, fire breathing, sharp of tooth and claw, and the likely trapping of viral YouTube videos rather than publishing. In the realm of writing, this animal is almost mythical.
Success is obtainable, but rarely is it caught overnight…and not without a fight. Smear on the warrior paint, dig your trench, and settle in for the war…
Yesterday I went to an author’s luncheon sponsored by the Metro-Detroit Book and Author Society. I sat at a table in the back of a banquet hall, anonymous among a crowd of a thousand, watching as five fine authors spoke about their most recent works. I tried to keep in mind William Butler Yeats’ sage advice: “Be secret and exalt Because of all things known That is the most difficult.” I wanted it to be me up there behind the podium, telling the room that I had written a novel, what it was about, and how I had done it. But I reminded myself that this is a process—a journey, not a destination. I just haven’t come to that stage in my odyssey…yet…and when I do, I’ll do it on my terms.
This IS part of the journey: the chance to learn from veteran authors and to give to them the thing that I crave—a taste of success. I believe that in order to get something you desire, you first have to give it.
I was soon cheered-up by my friend, Molly, as she sat next to me at the table. She encouraged me to eat my dessert first (a vanilla crème-filled cannoli with chocolate chips and confectioners’ sugar that they positioned in front of each place setting prior to the entrée—the idea being that we would wait throughout the luncheon to have it last with our coffee). Instead, Molly made the argument that we should eat it first so that we wouldn’t get too full on the entrée to enjoy it. I agreed, much to the disapproving glances of the other ladies at the table. Apparently, my journey also begins with dessert first.
Among the speakers, I most enjoyed Gish Jen and her novel: World And Town. It’s about a sixty-eight-year-old Chinese-American woman who recently loses her best friend and also her husband to cancer in a span of a year and begins the process of starting her life over. For Molly, it was a toss up between Michele Norris (a radio personality on NPR) who wrote: The Grace of Silence and Sylvia Nasar (best known for her biography on John Forbes Nash entitled: A Beautiful Mind…yes, it was made into a movie starring Russell Crowe) and her book: Grand Pursuit.
The Grace of Silence is a conversation about being African-American in America and it focuses on Michele Norris’ family, and in particular, her grandmother’s struggles against racial prejudices. Grand Pursuit is an epic story about the making of economics, and how it (economics) rescued mankind from squalor and deprivation by placing its material fate in its own hands rather than in Fate.
The funny thing to me is that none of the authors we liked had the longest line at the book signing after the event. The author that most people liked was Susan Orlean and her book Rin Tin Tin: The Life of the Legend. It’s the history of Rin Tin Tin. Molly nudged me with her elbow while we were in line and said, “Next time, you should write a book about a dog…everyone loves dogs.” I smiled because she’s right; everyone loves dogs.
When I got home from the luncheon, I fished in my purse to locate the bright orange bookmark that I had received at the event. It has all of the featured authors printed on it, along with the titles of their books. Carefully, I wrote at the top of the bookmark: Amy A. Bartol and Inescapable, just to let the universe know that I am ready to present at the next author’s luncheon.
Amy A. Bartol, Author of Inescapable: The Premonition Series
I’m not Scarlett Johansson. That’s unfortunate for me for so many reasons and on so many different levels that I’m sure I don’t need to explain them all to you. However, I just discovered one more reason why that fact reeks. If I were Scarlett, all anyone would have to do is type my name into Google’s search and you would find this blog. (Albeit, you’d probably find posted private naked pics hacked from her computer and cell phone too, but that’s beside the point.) My point is that, as things stand now, unless you know the address for this blog, you’re not reading it because you can’t find it. Here’s how I’m attempting to change that fact.
As you well know, Google is THE search engine. Yahoo has a fraction of the search engine market along with a few others, but primarily, Google is the man. In order to increase the likelihood that my blog (and subsequently my book) gets noticed on the web, I have to somehow increase the chances of my website coming up in a search. Now, I could leak naked pics of me, but really, no one wants to see that. Instead, I have to use my brain.
There are computer programs called “web crawlers” (some term them “spiders” or “ants,” Google calls their’s “googlebots”) that browse the World Wide Web in a methodical way collecting data to be used by search engines for indexing URLs. All that means is that they have software agents that go out to scan/copy websites (URLs and hyperlinks), and then the search engines will use the scans for indexing sites for fast searches.
Until recently, I have been counting on the googlebots to locate this site. But, that hasn’t worked. So now, I’m going to try to make them my minions. (You may not understand the next part of this right away, but keep reading and it will all be explained.)
Amy A. Bartol is the author of Inescapable, the first story in The Premonition Series. Inescapable is an edgy romance infused with suspense and twisted with humor. The story pits two dangerously opposed lovers, Evie Claremont and Reed Wellington, against sinister, supernatural enemies. This novel is told in the first person point of view of the 17-year-old heroine Evie. Inescapable is an intriguing urban fantasy for both teens and adults alike.
(Ahh, can’t you just feel those little googlebot drones crawling all over the petals of the last paragraph, collecting its nectar, and reporting back to the hive? Okay, more on that later.)
The first thing I did recently was verify my website with Google. To do this, you have to create an account (I already had one) and then use Google’s Webmaster Tools. This will send out the googlebots directly to your site and they will crawl it for indexing. You only need to really verify that you are the owner of the website for them to do it. (You have to add a meta tag to the header of your site’s home page. It sounds hard but it’s not. Google will walk you through it.)
Amy A. Bartol’s debut novel, Inescapable, explodes off the page. It is an exciting paranormal romance from start to finish! It’s off the charts on the awesomeness scale!
(Yes, it is shameless, but googlebots don’t care.)
After I verified my website with Google, I realized that I hardly ever use my own name when I’m writing my blog. (I always just write “I.") Names are crucial in indexing. So are titles and other key words that someone may search hoping to find my books and me.
iPhone 5, Ellen DeGeneres, Kim Kardashian, Dancing With The Stars, Technology Stocks, Hottest U.S. Markets, and the Tastiest Meals for the Week would agree that key words searching is, well, key.
(That one was just plain mean. Some guy was probably just looking for updates on the iPhone 5 and now my website is coming up and he’s probably thinking: Who is this? Ahh, man! She’s not even Scarlett Johansson!)
So now, I can use a tool called “fetch as googlebot.” It will send googlebots to crawl my website up to fifty times a week. This allows me to see what the googlebot “sees” regarding my website. Then, I can submit what it finds for indexing with Google. Simple.
I’m not Scarlett Johansson and there are no naked photos of me on the web…(that I know of). I’m Amy A. Bartol, Indie author, commander of googlebots, and today I submitted my second novel entitled Intuition: The Premonition Series Volume 2 to the publisher…and that is fortunate.
Vita Brevis, Longa Ars (Life is short, Art is long)
I spent some time recently with a childhood friend. Her name is Molly and she lives in San Francisco now, but we grew up together in Brighton, Michigan. As kids, we were the kind of friends who could finish each other’s sentences. Intimate knowledge of how each of our minds worked had been forged over long summer days. I can remember running as fast as I could to keep up with her, watching the backs of her heels kick up the dust covering our street as the calliope of our laughter mingled in the air. Together, we imagined freedom, navigated hissing snakes, strived to reach the center of things, attempted to climb the sky. She was my partner in trying to be.
Everyone should have a friend like Molly
Whenever I see her, it’s like we turn the dial back to that time when I knew her by heartbeat. It’s effortless—we always pick up where we left off. This visit she brought a copy of my book with her for me to sign and asked me what inspired me to write it (because she had been telling me to write a book since we were young and she wanted to know why I finally did it). Of course, as you may suspect, she had a hand in it.
In 2007, Molly had sent me a book for my birthday. It was entitled: I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak. The book is about Ed Kennedy, an underage cabdriver who has a coffee-drinking dog named The Doorman and a secret crush on his best friend Audrey. Ed has a peaceful routine until the day he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. After that day, Ed becomes the messenger.
The book, written in the first person present tense, was funny and heart pounding and sad and euphoric. It read like you could step into Ed’s shoes, breathe his air, see what he is seeing. In short, it was amazing. But, there was a message at the end of the story that struck me as if it was written just for me. It says, quote: “Maybe everyone can live beyond what they’re capable of…I’m not the messenger at all. I’m the message.”
I knew instantly that I had to try to write a book because maybe I was able to live beyond what I always thought I was capable of.
It took me several more months to work out that I could do it. I kept saying to Tom (my husband), “I should write a book, don’t you think? Do you think I should write a book? What if I wrote a book?” Finally, Tom gave me his MacBook and said, “Here, write a book!” * Translation: Sheesh, woman, stop bugging me! * (But in a cute, sweet way.)
He never got that laptop back.
I named the first file: Here We Go. I began to write with the thought that it was just for me and that I would never show it to anyone—it was just an experiment to see if I could do it. That mindset gave me the freedom to write anything I wanted. Everything I wanted. I was under no obligation to censor it in any way because, hey, I was the only one who would ever read it, right?
It was ON.
Soon after I started writing, I began to hear the characters I created. Literally. They would wake me up in the middle of the night—talking. (I know it’s weird, but really, really cool, too. BTW, Russell talks the most and is always the funniest.) I call whatever it is that happens “catching the stream” because once I began to hear the characters speak, it was like I was floating easily down a river. I just had to type what they (the characters) said. They sometimes took me places I never expected the story would go. It was literally like I was watching a movie in my mind and I just needed to describe it in words so that it made sense on paper.
Then, in about four months, I finished it. (The 170K rough draft, that is.)
A strange daring happened to me after that: I let the story escape from my computer and into the dreams of others. I don’t know where it will go from here. All the rest is up to the universe.
Now, getting back to Molly. Because she is the type of friend she is, she didn’t just buy one copy of my book for me to sign, she bought a box of my books. One copy for each of her family members (which is substantial because she has seven brothers and sisters including Marianne), one for the Brighton Library, one for the St. Pat’s Library, and a few more for whoever she deems worthy.
Vita Brevis, Longa Ars –it’s Latin. It means: life is short, art is long. (Or: life is brief, art is lasting.) You see, Molly recognizes something that most of us don’t. There is an art to friendship—a finesse, and if you do it right, it’s lasting—eternal. She is a golden friend, the kind that most people never know...and she is still my partner in trying to be. Thank you, Molly.
Okay, sorry I’ve been away for so long, but now that Shark Week is over I can devote more time to this. (Ha, Ha) But seriously, did anyone see How to Survive A Shark Attack with host Terry Schappert? I don’t care if the man is a Green Beret, he had to fight thousands of years of innate instinct not to bound out of the water when his buddies in the boat (nice friends) chummed it and the dorsal fins started circling him. It made for a chilling cinematic moment, since he wasn’t in a cage. Anyway, sorry for the length between posts, I really was very busy with writing.
My “site” on Amazon.com is being built and I am told it will be completed by August 17th. At that time, the paperback version of my book will be available. (I know, I hear the clown music playing, too, because I thought it would be sooner, but there it is.) The eBook version will take a little longer—approximately 2 to 3 weeks from today. I wanted them both to be ready simultaneously, but that is apparently not how these things are done. (They have to make sure I don’t have last minute corrections to the text that will mess up their formatting—it makes sense but it still has an unpleasant chum-like reek to it.)
So now, I have a lot of work ahead of me. I have to convert my PDF for Inescapable to an ePub format so that I can put it on Apple’s iBooks. There are a couple of ways of doing this. I could go through an Apple approved aggregator, such as Smashwords, but then they are the middlemen, sort of remora-like if you will. Apple pays them and then they take a cut and pay me. (That sounds a little too symbiotic for my liking). I’d rather convert my own files using Calibre or a conversion house and see if I can publish it directly through iBooks (much better, right?). Now, you may be asking yourselves: Why can’t she just use the eBook files from Amazon on Apple? (Good question.) Answer: Amazon prefers to use mobi and Apple uses ePub. (Nice of them to agree.) After I figure out Apple, it will be on to Barnes and Noble’s PubIt. Cool thing about B&N, they use ePub, too. (Thank you B&N for being completely awesome like that.)
So, that’s my game plan for Inescapable. Meanwhile, I’m almost ready to start the process again with Intuition (book two of the Premonition Series). So I’m really busy. One small fact about sharks: they have to keep moving or else they die.
A Moment. Everyone should have a moment like this: a moment where anything is possible—anything. It’s the instant when the culmination of all of your efforts comes to fruition; the second when a dream becomes reality but the reality doesn’t kill the dream. I just got mine. My moment came when the proof of my book was delivered in the mail.
Until this moment, my novel was an abstract idea—intangible. Viewing it from behind the veil of a computer screen is far different than holding it in my hands. In my hands, it has a new-car-smell that mingles with the scent of fear coming from me. The glossy shine of the cover contrasts against the soft interior parchment as I thumb through the pages, recognizing my name on it but with the sense that it cannot possibly be my name. Then, I feel its weight and depth that is at once light in one respect and unbearably heavy in another. The peripheral, unconscious idea manifests into the understanding, that in this moment, it is at the pinnacle of its potential. Once it is published, reality will set in—it will be what it will be. But right now, for this single moment, it’s still mine and mine alone. It could be ephemeral…but it could be enduring. It could be anything.