3 Questions Wednesday with Michelle Griep

Author, Michelle Griep

Welcome back to 3 Questions Wednesday, Michelle!

According to Michelle Griep’s website, she’s an author, blogger, and occasional super-hero (when her cape is clean). She does own a sense of humor. 🙂

She goes on to say, “Dare I be so bold as to call myself an author? Being that I’m one of those freaks who attended poetry workshops instead of summer camp during my formative years, yes, I will. While other teens busied themselves throwing parties when their parents weren’t home, I was the nerd holed up in my room with pen and paper.”

So, let’s see how she answers our latest 3 Questions–

Question: What inspires you?

Michelle:  Music. I make a playlist for each new book that I write. While I’m writing, I play that music. I use Spotify for those playlists. Great ideas for inspiring music are movie soundtracks, ethnic music, and classical.

Great idea–especially the movie soundtracks.

Next question–You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Michelle:  If I were a crayon, I’d be Wisteria for two reasons . . . first off, purple is my favorite color, so it’s a no-brainer that I’d choose something in that palette family. Secondly, Wisteria is one of my favorite flowers. I’ve actually got one just about to bloom climbing up my back porch.

“Lavender” people are witty, charming, and creative, according to my “favorite colors” site. I’m a big fan of Wisteria. It’s very nostalgic, and calming to me.

Final Question–As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Michelle: I wanted to be an astronaut when I was young. That didn’t pan out so well, though. I found out you needed to be good at math and science. Yuck and yuck. So I gave that up and thought I might be a pirate instead. Yeah . . . that didn’t work out either. So, I found the best of both worlds by becoming a writer.

Funny! I think you’re our first wannabe astronaut. Yes, a writer can be all those things–no math or science required. Just a little research so you can fake your way through.

Thanks, Michelle, for visiting 3 Questions Wednesday.

Click to tweet: Michelle Griep,  author, blogger, and occasional super-hero. #romance #amreading


Readers, Michelle is offering Out of the Frying Pan, a book she wrote with Kelly Clepfer, to one of our commenters. [Winner’s choice! Paperback, or e-book] So let us know you want to be included by leaving a comment below.

Is there a question you’d like to ask Michelle?

Out of the Frying Pan

When the chef of Sunset Paradise Retirement Village ends up dead, life for sisters Fern and Zula Hopkins is whipped into a froth. Their zany attempts to track down the killer land them in hot water with Detective Jared Flynn. Should he be concerned about their safety or the criminal’s?

But there are deadly ingredients none of them expect. Drugs. Extortion. International cartels. And worst of all…broken hearts–especially when the Hopkins sisters’ niece KC arrives on the scene.

Before the snooping pair gain any headway with the case, it becomes crystal clear that the sisters share a mysterious secret that takes life from the frying pan and into the line of fire.

One Reviewer says…

“This novel couples over-the-top hilarity with Jessica Fletcher wannabes as murder occurs at a retirement community. I enjoyed the quirky older sisters-in-law and their niece, who all get involved with the detective assigned to the case. At times bizarre and also dangerous, this story keeps you flipping pages to see how it concludes—satisfactorily, of course. I don’t know if such people really populate the earth, but the authors make them believable and unique. The original plot is intriguing too.”

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. Her latest release is OUT OF THE FRYING PAN, but historical romance is her usual haunt. THE CAPTIVE HEART releases in October. Follow her escapades at www.michellegriep.com or www.writerofftheleash.blogspot.com or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

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Declaring my Independence

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By Harriet Michael

I started writing in 2005 when God laid a burden on my heart and a desire to understand prayer better. By 2009, I had a 63,000-word manuscript written but no idea how to get it published. I attended a writers’ conference and came away having formed a few conclusions: 1) the only way I could get my book published at that time would have been to go the Indie route, which I was not comfortable with, and 2) even though my book was not going to be a reality any time in the near future, I could try my hand at freelance writing (articles and devotions). writers conference

In 2015, I picked up a traditional publisher for Prayer: It’s Not About You , my book on prayer, and it was released by Pix-N-Pens Publishing a year later. And the freelancing has worked out quite well for me too.

Why was I afraid of Indie publishing? I knew very little about it, and I have a weak area in my writing—I need help editorially.

But since 2009, I have learned a lot more about Indie publishing and have, in fact, published two books through the Indie route. One is no longer for sale, but will be back up on Amazon soon. The other is: The Whisper of the Palms.

My concern? I didn’t want to put a book out there for the public to read that was not a professional-looking piece. What have I discovered that made me change my mind? Two things: freelance editors, and freelance cover artists.

My opinion of Indie publishing now? There are some real advantages, but you need to be careful who you work with (if you choose a subsidy press to help you) and how your book is set up. One of my Indie books is set up under my name instead of the subsidy press name and I am extremely happy with that one! I can see the sales reports myself, and the payments come directly to my bank account … and of course, you earn a higher percentage of the royalties since you do not have to split it with a publisher. 

My advice to anyone considering Indie Publishing is, be willing to pay for a professional editor and a professional cover design.

Click to tweet: My advice to anyone considering Indie Publishing.


Writing Prompt: What do you want to do to declare your independence? Write about what you have longed to do but you were afraid. How do you plan to overcome the fear, and make your desire a reality?

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Is There Room For Indie Publishing?

By Tammy Trail

The traditional publishing road reminds me in many ways of a dark alley without street lamps. At the end of the block is a shining orb of illumination where an author’s dreams are fulfilled. On that road to publication are potholes of promises not kept. Deep ruts of relentless proposals, and query letters with rejection notices. Like weeds on each side of the road killing off blossoms of hope for a book with your name on it. With this kind of image in mind, it is no small wonder that many wordsmiths are looking at other avenues of success, namely Indie Publishing.

I first thought this was also referred to as Self-Publishing. The more I researched, I found that this is not the case. Self-Publishing is hiring a publisher or press to pay to see your book in print. This is a risky business at best. Some works of print may not be edited well, have unattractive typesetting, and cost way more than it ought to for the privilege. A promise of marketing your book may be just getting it on a list for availability for wholesale before it reaches your local bookstore.

And then there is Amazon. Now granted, I have found no evidence in my research of plagiarized books in the Christian fiction market, but it has happened in other genres. We know how much of a creative toll our works of art take on us. The hours spent developing characters, plotting, and eye strain from spending time in front of a  computer is an investment. Then some unscrupulous, lazy writer comes along and steals your work. Not only do they steal it, they make money from your idea. One author confronted her attacker in an email. The thief apologized. With this apology email, the original author took their evidence to Amazon to demand her earnings. Others have not been so lucky. In Amazon’s defense, they now have a team of folks who watch for plagiarized material.Writers' Resolutions for 2017 by Karen Jurgens

Traditionally published authors didn’t like the idea of self-publishing either. It mocked the literary social norm. To be honest, some of those who flocked to get published quickly just want a book out there with their name on it. These works were flawed and set a bad example for a fledgling writer. They cheapened the hard work of big name authors. It has improved. More writers who follow this path are taking the time to pay for a good editor, realizing a good product produces better results.

Now Indie Publishing has once again rocked the boat. They have cut out the middle man, and all the bumps in the road by doing it all for themselves. From written word, to editing, typesetting, cover design and marketing. Is there a downside to this? I would imagine it takes a lot of time from blank page to whole book. Some would argue that if you honed your skills a bit and studied the craft more, a traditional publisher would eventually buy your book. On the other hand, there are writing styles and genre that the traditional publishers won’t even look at, and that is frustrating. Controlling your own piece of work without worry of what percentage of the profits will line your pockets is an incentive too.

As an Indie Published author, you are the product. You are the company that invests, markets, and gains the profit from your own written works. I don’t really see a downside to that, except that maybe all the middle man stuff could take away from the creative aspect of your work. Perhaps there is someone out there that has managed to do this well enough to teach the rest?

Time will tell.

Click to tweet: Indie publishing has once again rocked the boat. #IndiePub #amwriting

Writing prompt: Sally received another rejection letter. Crumpling it into a ball she vowed to…………

3 Questions Wednesday with Elle E. Kay

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday, Elle E. Kay.

Elle E. Kay lives on a farmette in the Back Mountain region of Pennsylvania. She is a born-again Bible-believing Christian.

Stella was her debut novel. Claudia, the next book in the Endless Mountain Series, is expected to be released later this year, with Sofie following shortly after. Elle writes children’s books under the pen name, Ellie Mae Kay.

Her website is updated with the latest information about her upcoming books. http://www.elleekay.com/. She also has a blog, where she writes mostly devotional posts based on traditional hymns http://www.elleekay.com/blog/.


First question: What inspires you?

Elle: Many things inspire me. My biggest inspiration is my faith. I love to write about Jesus and tell others about Him through my blog and my books. My husband is a big inspiration. Without his input, I probably wouldn’t have published my first children’s book. Even my illness inspires me. It inspired me to write a non-fiction book about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. The woods around me inspire me. I love living out here in the Pennsylvania Endless Mountains and writing about the area.

 I love it that you are inspired by both the good and not so good in life. 

Next question is a bit of fun–You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Elle: I’m an evergreen color that blends into the woods where I live. Green is my favorite color and I get sad when it fades in the winter, so I want to be evergreen, so I can keep my lovely shade of green like the white pine and spruce trees do.

That kind of green sounds like an eternal color. 🙂 

Final Question–As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Elle: A Cadillac or a tree. Seriously, that’s what I’ve been told by mother. At some point my dream changed to ballerina. I never became a famous ballerina. However, writing was a dream too and I’m happy that after several detours, I started writing books. I think I finally found my niche.

 I love this answer. And I’m sure your readers are glad you found that niche…

Thank you, Elle, for visiting 3 Questions Wednesday.

To learn more about Elle, visit her blog at http://www.elleekay.com/blog/  or connect with her on TwitterPinterestFacebook, Google +, GoodReads, or Instagram.

Click to tweet: Another fun interview with Elle E. Kay. #interview #amreading


Readers, Elle is graciously giving away Stella (print or Kindle version) to one among our commenters. Here are the details–

Stella

After an encounter that leaves her petrified, Stella faces her stark reality. Can she find the faith she needs to persevere? Jason is a complication she’d rather not deal with. Can she trust him? Something is awry in Stella’s world. When she is abducted will anyone hear her cries?

A Christian romantic suspense about a young woman battling to find her faith in the midst of struggle. It deals with the heavy subjects of rape, pregnancy, and kidnapping through a lens of faith and hope.

 

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How to Obtain An Amazon Best-Selling Ranking

By Susan Neal

My previous blog post here on Writing Prompts, Make Your Dream Come True and Self Publish Your Book, described how to self-publish a book on Kindle, CreateSpace, and IngramSpark (Barnes & Noble). Today’s post will walk you through the steps to obtain an Amazon best-selling ranking. You may need to read the previous post to understand Kindle categories, KDP Select, and some other terms.

In 2016, I self-published two books, Scripture Yoga which was a #1 Amazon best-selling yoga book and Yoga for Beginners which ranked #3 in the yoga book category.

How?

First, publish your e-book on KDP.Amazon.com, otherwise, known as Kindle. Choose KDP Select because it allows you to lower your price during your book launch. Your subscription lasts for three months, and during that time you cannot publish your e-book on any other platform. However, you can publish a print book on another site. I unsubscribed from KDP after three months.

Be sure to include a request for a book review, along with a link to your Amazon book page, at the end of your Kindle e-book. The link becomes available after you have published your book. So remember to go back and add this link into your formatted book and reload it into KDP.

When choosing your Kindle categories, select a broad and a narrow category. The narrow one is key to obtaining the high ranking because you do not have as many books to compete against. For example, the broad category for Scripture Yoga was Christian Living which included a large number of other books. However, the narrow category, Yoga, contained fewer books to compete against for the Amazon ranking.

Next, choose two dates to have a $0.99 sale within KDP Select. This sale will show up in the Kindle store on Amazon. The first period should be at the beginning of the three-month subscription to KDP; this is the date you ask your book review team to purchase your book and submit a review. The second date will be your official book launch with the goal of increasing your Amazon ranking and it should be toward the end of the three-month period after you have several book reviews.

Book reviews are an important component of your marketing plan. Create a book review team by asking several individuals if they would like an advanced review copy of your book in exchange for a book review or they could purchase your reduced price book for $0.99. It is best to have at least 7–10 reviews before your book launch. Also, ask your team to share your book’s promotional materials you have created on their social media sites during its launch.

Your book launch goal is to obtain a ranking within the top 100 Amazon books in your category. If this occurs, you can publicize your book as an Amazon best seller. To accomplish this goal, lower your Kindle book price to $0.99 (usually for 3-7 days) after you have at least five reviews. You want to try to get as many purchases as possible within a short period of time for the Amazon ranking to rise. During your launch, monitor your book’s ranking which is listed at the bottom of your book’s Amazon page and take a screenshot as it increases.

There are many of things you can do to plan for this date. However, the most important thing is to pray and ask that your book glorifies God. Next, notify all of your family, friends, social media contacts, and email subscriber list that your book is on-sale. You could raffle a prize, and each person who verified that they purchased your book would be entered into the contest.

At the same time as your book launch, advertise your KDP Select promotion dates on BargainBooksy.com, ReadersInTheKnow.com, and FreeBooksy.com. These websites have access to large numbers of readers who want to purchase books at a discounted price. These promotions will drive up your book sales. At Bargain Booksy, it costs around $25 to run a one-day ad which would be well worth it to attain the best seller status. Whereas FreeBooksy charges a higher price to promote your book, and Readers In the Know allows you to promote your book for free while it is at the discounted price.

There are numerous websites available to market your book including CrossRoads.com, ChristianKindleNews.com, GospelBooks.net, FaithfulReads.com, GoodEbooks.net, and EbookChristian.com. It would be prudent to choose a few of these sites to promote your book during its launch.

Also, advertise your book on KDP.Amazon.com by clicking the “Promote and Advertise” button next to your published book in your account. Select “Create an ad campaign” and click “Sponsored Products.” Sponsored ads show up at the top of a similar themed book’s search results and the very bottom of a competitor’s book product detail page. It is the only ad that is displayed twice. Choose automatic targeting which allows Amazon to choose the keywords.

For my Scripture Yoga ad, I set a bid amount of $.25 and an average daily budget of $2.00. You can increase from there. You only pay if someone clicks your ad. If you monitor this a couple of times a week, it is easy to determine if an ad is working or not. If an ad is spending more than it is making, you can simply pause or terminate the ad.

The morning of my book launch I was at my 88-year-old mother’s home. I woke up early, and for about three hours I sent out many emails and posted to my social media sites. Then I saw a peer’s Facebook post for her book launch and how she was praying for its success.

I realized I had not prayed, so I got on my knees and asked God to forgive my oversight and bless this book’s launch. I felt reassured that it was in his hands. So I drove my mother and three daughters to Homosassa Springs for the day. When I got back to my mom’s home, my book was #1. Praise God!

It takes time and some work, but it pays off when your book is an Amazon best-seller.

Click to tweet: Let me walk you through the steps to obtain an Amazon best-selling ranking. #IndiePub #Amazon


Susan Neal-RN, MBA, and MHS has a passion for inspiring others to be healthy and grow in their faith. Her article, Eatin’ in Eden was published in Clubhouse magazine. She published two books, Scripture Yoga and Yoga for BeginnersHer hospice C.D., Bedside Encouragement: When You Don’t Know How to Say Goodbye, two Christian Yoga DVDs, God’s Mighty Angels and What the Bible Says About Prayer, and two Christian Yoga Card Decks, “Fruit of the Spirit” and “How to Receive God’s Peace” are available on Amazon.com and ChristianYoga.com.

Susan’s two digital products, Eat to Live with a Low-Carbohydrate, Low-Glycemic, Anti-Inflammatory Diet and How to Prevent, Improve, and Reverse Alzheimer’s and Dementia are available at ChristianYoga.com and Gumroad.com. Susan is a member of Word Weavers International and has been interviewed on Moody Radio, Blog Talk Radio, and Premier Christian Radio of the UK.

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Trekking the Indie Route

By Gail Johnson

Are you thinking about becoming an indie author?

For those new to the term, indie is short for independent. But that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. In fact, I suggest you don’t.

forking-road-839830_1280

 

Choosing the indie route can be scary when faced with all the decisions that must be made between the initial idea of the book and the final product. But there are a few things you can do to make the journey a lot easier.

 

Writing Groups

I suggest joining a writer’s organization. If you’re a Christian fiction writer, that would be the ACFW. For a small yearly fee, American Christian Fiction offers classes, conferences, and critique groups. A critique group will provide invaluable feedback during the writing process.

Friends

Writing is a lonely profession. We need friends, offline and online, to keep us balanced. Friends help make the journey an exciting adventure. They are irreplaceable treasures and wells of encouragement.

Editors

correcting-1870721_1280Love’em or dislike’em, editors have a purpose. A good editor can make a book better. You will not catch all your mistakes, but another pair of eyes will uncover the elusive typo. Guaranteed!

Ask for references. Talk to your friends or other authors. Working with someone can be a dream or a nightmare. Success depends on a good working relationship.

Media

Social media is a slippery slope. Too much of that and you lose writing time. Not enough and there’s no point. The point of media is interaction with others. Doing for others as you would have them do for you is good advice when thinking of media.

I want to share a few pointers I’ve learned in seven years of social media.  Don’t follow someone to get them to follow you, and then unfollow them. Not cool! And if you ask a question and someone answers it, respond. If you don’t, they won’t stay a follower.

Share their successes. There’s no reason to be jealous of another if their book comes out before yours. There are enough readers to go around. Be generous to promote them, and when your time comes, someone will do the same for you.

If you’re overwhelmed by your Twitter feed, may I suggest lists? Lists help separate your followers and those you like to interact with every day.

Readers

You gain readers by writing a good book. Hence all the above suggestions. Readers, like friends, are treasures. Treat them as such. You won’t regret it.

Blogging

Some people don’t like blogging. I do! My website gives me a chance to connect with friends and meet new ones every week. Blogging also helps with weekly word count. Whether you blog once a week or five times a week, make a schedule and stick with it.

My Journey

book-2224934_1280So, you see indie doesn’t necessarily mean independent. 🙂 It takes a tribe. I knew I couldn’t do everything. In the end, I hired editors, a back cover copywriter, and a cover designer. I did the formatting myself using a template which I purchased from a template designer. My book will be coming out later this year. Woohoo!

So, if you’ve been thinking about trekking the indie path but you’re afraid you can’t do it, take heart. There is a steep learning curve, but you CAN succeed as an indie author when you have friends to help you along the way.

Indie authors, what are your suggestions for newbies?

Click to Tweet: You can succeed as an #indie author when you have friends to help you along the way.

Writing Prompt

You have your manuscript, back cover copy, and your cover. Make a list of the things you need to do to make your book a success.

 

 

Marriage: Make It or Break It by Andrea Merrell

Today I’d like to introduce my friend, author and editor, Andrea Merrell.  She’s an associate editor with Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a professional freelance editor and was a finalist for the 2016 Editor of the Year Award at BRMCWC. Her latest book is Marriage: Make It or Break It.

Hi, Andrea! Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Andrea: I’m a Southern gal who considers herself a bit of a late bloomer. Even though I’ve always loved to write, I didn’t begin to pursue my passion until about twenty years ago when the speaker at a marriage retreat told me it was time to get busy. “After all,” he said as he leaned in close, “you’re not getting any younger, you know.” That little statement lit a fire in me and set me on a path of writing for God that gets better and more fulfilling as the years go by. As an editor, I also love encouraging other writers, helping them grow and polish their skills as they learn to create clean, professional manuscripts. I LOVE what I do. 😊

What genre are your books? What draws you to this genre?

Andrea:  People ask this question quite often, and sometimes they’re surprised by my answer: a little bit of everything. In the beginning of my writing journey, God gave me a series of poems. Then I moved into writing nonfiction, especially funny anecdotes about getting older. I soon found myself writing devotions and a few articles. Over the past few years, I’ve written hundreds of devotions, a few short stories, and three nonfiction books (Murder of a Manuscript, Praying for the Prodigal, and Marriage: Make It or Break It). But I’m also passionate about writing fiction and have several novels in progress at various stages that are begging to be finished. Some say you should find your niche and stay there, writing either fiction or nonfiction. But my philosophy is that I should write whatever God gives me … whatever He lays on my heart. As we write for Him, we never know how our words can touch someone else, whatever the genre. And the more transparent we are, the more impact our words can have.

Do you work to an outline or prefer to see where an idea takes you?

Andrea:  Outlines don’t work for me. I’m a panster (seat-of-the-pants writer), not a plotter. Early in my career I sat in a class at a writers’ conference about plotting where the speaker was using charts and graphs. I was completely lost. Sometimes when I sit down to write, it’s like transcribing dictation as the words flow. For me, it’s a matter of getting my words on paper (or I guess I should say on my computer screen), then the proofing, editing, and rewriting begin.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Andrea:  For me, as an editor, the hardest thing is making time for my own writing.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Andrea:  Probably doing the same things I’m doing now: writing, editing, and teaching at writers’ conferences—unless God has other plans. Hopefully, by then I will have at least a couple of published novels.

We hope so too! Thanks for stopping in for a visit, Andrea!


Andrea Merrell is an associate editor with Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a professional freelance editor and was a finalist for the 2016 Editor of the Year Award at BRMCWC. She teaches workshops at writers’ conferences and has been published in numerous anthologies and online venues.

Andrea is a graduate of Christian Communicators and a finalist in the 2015 USA Best Book Awards. She is the author of Murder of a Manuscript and Praying for the Prodigal. Her newest book, Marriage: Make It or Break It, is now available on Amazon. For more information visit www.AndreaMerrell.com or www.TheWriteEditing.com.

Amazon link for Marriage: Make It or Break Ithttp://amzn.to/2qxucJ7

Amazon link for Murder of a Manuscripthttp://amzn.to/1HlRLmy

Amazon link for Praying for the Prodigalhttp://amzn.to/1BFOhK9

www.AndreaMerrell.com

http://www.TheWriteEditing.com


Marriage: Make It or Break It

Some say marriage is a dying institution. Others say, “Stop the bus and let me get off.” But Andrea Merrell after forty-plus years of marriage believes this God-ordained institution is one of His greatest gifts to men and women. Marriage: Make It or Break It is a result of a lifetime of trial and error, keen observation, and years of studying God’s Word. With her signature dash of humor, she takes a candid look at attitudes and behavior that can make or break a relationship, the difference in how men and women think and approach life, and the importance of honest communication. You’ll find danger signs, roadblocks to bypass, and Scriptures to personalize and pray on a daily basis. 

This journey won’t be perfect, and the road is guaranteed to be full of potholes. But if you’re ready to learn a few truths that will make marriage strong and a lot of things that will destroy it, buckle your seat belt and let’s get this bus moving.