First Saturday Extra: Indie Author Traci Tyne Hilton

Today, we are super excited to welcome popular Indie author, Traci Tyne Hilton. She’s published over 20 books and teaches publishing at conferences and writer’s groups around the country.
Traci, tell us a little about yourself.
Traci: I’m a mom first, publishing nut second. My two daughters are teens now, but when I started writing novels, they were toddlers! Everyone told me time flies, but I had no idea. Keeping that balance between mom and obssessive publisher is hard work. My indie friends harass me for not having good enough focus, and my kids ride me for being on my laptop all day long. But what can you do? I wouldn’t give up either role.

When and why did you decide to go the Indie publishing route?

Traci: I fell into indie publishing. The short story is that I participated in Nanowrimo for a few years as a young mom. In 2009, I completed a novel and achieved my award of a free Createspace paperback. After you make your paperback Createspace asks you if you want to make your book available for sale on Amazon. I said: “Why not?”

A few months later I was encouraged to make it an ebook, so I did that, too. It sold ten thousand copies that winter and I was hooked.

Do you hire an editor or use Beta readers to try and perfect your work? 

Traci: Not the first time! Whoo-boy, did I learn my lesson!

But even now I seem to have a hard time keeping a good proofreader–the really talented ones book up fast and get too busy for my somewhat spontaneous needs, lol.

Please share three marketing tips for our friends considering Indie publishing.

Traci:

  1. Buy ads.
  2. Buy ads.
  3. Buy ads.

and a bonus for you all: Buy ads. Buy all the ads you can at all the sites you can. Keep close track of sales on the days your ads run to figure out which sites work well for you, then buy more ads at those sites.

What mistakes did you make when you first started out?

Traci: Well, I already mentioned I didn’t have any editing whatsoever when I launched my first book!  Don’t do that! The indie world is way too competitive for that kind of rookie mistake these days.

Also, take your work seriously as a business. Have a plan and work it. Your success will come from the consistent release of quality books, and that, in reality, is just a lot of work.

 Any final words?

Traci: I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of both the indie literature community and the Christian literature community. It’s been rewarding, challenging, and immensely satisfying. If I could do anything different at all it would be to spend every penny I have ever earned on editing and advertising. Thanks so much for chatting with me today!

So glad you dropped by! We loved having you as our guest and I know our readers will gain a lot of insight from the interview. Thanks again!

 


Traci Tyne Hilton is the author of The Maura Garrison Mysteries, The Plain Jane Mysteries, The Mitzy Neuhaus Mysteries and the Tillgiven Romantic Mysteries. When not writing she has been known to knit socks, play the spoons, and teach Sunday School.

She was the Mystery/Suspense Category winner for the 2012 Christian Writers of the West Phoenix Rattler Contest, a finalist for Speculative Fiction in the same contest, and has a Drammy from the Portland Civic Theatre Guild. She blogs at TheWriteConversation.blogspot.com.

An active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Oregon Christian Writers, Traci teaches publishing at conferences and writer’s groups around the country.

Traci attended Fackelbararnas Bibelskola in Holsby Brunn, Sweden, and earned a degree in History from Portland State University. She lives in the rainiest part of the Pacific Northwest with her husband the mandolin playing funeral director, two busy teens, and their pets, Doctor Watson and Kitty Biscuits.

Learn more about Traci at www.tracihilton.com


The Book of Judges

All things work together for the good for those who believe. Too bad Maura Garrison, a private investigator, isn’t a believer. The murder she was hired to solve hinges on its parallel in the Old Testament book, Judges, but she was just dumped by her pastor-husband so the Bible is the last thing she wants to turn to for answers.

Rick Styles, Maura’s husband, is a popular marriage and family counselor with a thriving writing and speaking side business. He’s also the member of a city council committee dedicated to getting homeless children off the streets of Portland, Oregon, a worthy goal that seems to have attracted the attention of a sick and twisted killer.

She’s working the hardest case she’s ever faced during the hardest time of her life with few friends she can count on and only her cat Rhoda for support. Solving this crime means digging deep into issues Maura wants desperately to avoid, will she be able to see her way through this tangle in time to stop a serial killer?

The Book of Judges: A Maura Garrison Mystery is classic Christian murder in the spirit of Chesterton, Sayers, Peretti, and Rushford.

Hilton’s prose is beautiful and clever. She draws readers into the story with vivid descriptions of places and emotion states. –The BookLife Prize

Hilton opens up a thought-provoking mystery in The Book of Judges, exploring the idea of forgiveness and belief through Maura’s personal relationships. A must-read for mystery lovers! –Reader’s Favorites

Links:  Amazon

Barnes and Noble

iTunes

Connections: Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers by Edie Melson

Social Media. Is it a curse or blessing?

Depends.

During the month of June, we’re going to take social media and dissect the rhyme and reason behind it. What is it? Which platform is best for you? Do you, as writers, even need bother? If you missed it, check out Ralene Burke’s article which posted here yesterday. It’s well worth the read.

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing social media expert, Edie Melson. She has the proven expertise to teach others how to plug in and reach their target audience without the restraint of physical boundaries.

Edie, we’re so glad you could join us. Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

Edie: My mother would tell you that I’ve been writing since I could crawl to a white wall with a crayon in my hand. That may or may not be true. What is true is the fact that I process life by writing things out. I’m passionate about helping others find their voices and live their stories. That plays out in my fiction and nonfiction and in my passion to help other writers navigate the rocky and ever-changing path of social media, blogging, branding, and platform building.

And we appreciate the help! This month we’re discussing social media. What are your three favorite social media venues?

Edie: I love Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am on Facebook daily because I make valuable connections with my audience, but it’s not a platform that I enjoy.

There are so many different venues out there. Do you think Facebook and Twitter are here to stay? 

Edie: Yes. But I think they are evolving right now. The way we used them last year is not the way we’ll use them in the future.

That’s exciting and a little scary. Are there any new social media sites that our readers should know about?

Edie: I think all the changes and new guidelines on FB and Twitter are pushing users to try new networks and ways of interacting with readers. For me, even though it’s not technically a new site, I’m finding that I love Instagram. I’m on there as @Stop2Pray and have been able to connect with a different set of people than I’ve been interacting with on FB and Twitter. I’m also loving the growth I’m seeing on Pinterest.

I’m a big fan of Pinterest also. Now, I know you love to teach. Tell our readers about some of your classes.

Edie: I teach writers how to more effectively use social media to connect with their readers. Social media is a valuable tool, but we need to learn how to use it without spending hours a day on it instead of on writing. However, I’m also passionate about the fact that social media is a valuable part of our call to write. It’s not something we do that takes us away from what God has asked us to do. In truth, we can reach people through social media that may never read our books. AND we have the opportunity to impact the very dark places online with the light of Christ.

I also teach writers how to blog effectively. Blogging can help us connect with our readers, prove we have something valuable to say and provide incredible community building opportunities. Blogging isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor and I love helping writers find what works for their specific situations.

Blogging is a great way to connect. And we all want to make a difference. How can our readers sign up for one-on-one sessions with you to learn more about social media?

Edie: I offer a free evaluation and initial consultation for social media coaching and blog coaching. Then I’m available on an hourly basis or by purchasing specific packages. You can contact me through edie@ediemelson.com 

You can also get more information about what I teach on my blog: www.TheWriteConversation.blogspot.com

I encourage all of our readers to follow your blog. And at the end of her bio below, check out her latest novel, Maiden of Iron, just released.

Click to tweet: “In truth, we can reach people through social media that may never read our books. AND we have the opportunity to impact the very dark places online with the light of Christ.” Edie Melson, social media maven. #socialmedia #write

Now, a little more about Edie’s social media resource, Connections: Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers.


 Connections: Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers.

So how much time do I really have to spend on social networking?” It’s the question that plagues every armchair marketer. What is Social Media? How much time do I need to spend on Facebook and Twitter? Do I need Pintrest. What about my blog – who is going to follow it?

Social Networking can be overwhelming – yet, it is essential for a successful writer. Thankfully, with the right techniques, it can be streamlined and maximized to produce exactly the results you need. Written by prolific author, blogger, editor and My Book Therapy Social Media coach Edie Melson, you’ll learn everything you need to maximize your social networking to create powerful connections.

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Connections-Edie-Melson-ebook/dp/B00HV5BBVY/


Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, no matter if she’s writing for non-fiction readers, parents, military families, fiction readers or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives.

In addition, as a respected expert in social media, Edie has the proven expertise to teach others how to plug in and reach their target audience without the restraint of physical boundaries. In her role as social media coach she’s worked with clients that range from authors and speakers to business and ministry leaders. Her bestselling eBook on this subject, has been updated, expanded and re-released as Connections: Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers.

As a leading professional within the publishing industry, she travels to numerous conferences as a popular keynote, writing instructor and mentor. Her blog for writers, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month and has been named to the Writer’s Digest Top 101 Websites for Writers. She’s the Director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Vice President of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine. She’s also a regular columnist for Just18Summers.com and PuttingOnTheNew.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.


Maiden of Iron: A Steampunk Fable

When Marion Ravenswood’s brother is killed in a duel fighting for her honor, their father, the Engineering Guildmaster withdraws refusing to speak with anyone. It’s now up to Marion to save the guild’s children and reclaim the family honor. But will a chance encounter with the prince of thieves be an answered prayer or will he just steal her heart and abandon them all?

1st Saturday Extra: It’s More Than Sales

By Sandra Ardoin

Phyllis Keels

When I was first asked to share about an author who made an impact on me, several came to mind. I wasn’t sure which person to choose.

Did I write about how Dee Henderson introduced me to the O’Malleys and taught me that Christian fiction can be both exciting, suspenseful, and heart-touching?

Did I write about becoming absorbed by Tamara Alexander’s gentle writing voice and how it made me long to write like her? Did I mention how she brought her research to life through story and all I learned of those who “lived” in a previous century?

Did I discuss the many critique partners, editors, and mentors who have helped me to see where I need to improve my writing and what works or doesn’t?

In the end, I’ve chosen to tell you about my friend, Phyllis Keels. Phyllis and I went to the same church and discovered we both had a love for writing. I’d been looking for a local Christian critique group to attend and hadn’t found one, so she and I decided we would become our own group—or duo.

When we were both pretty green in the ways of novel writing, we met at the library in a tiny tutoring room and shared our stories with the intention of teaching one another. As with most critique partners, she had special talents and I had others.

For Phyllis, I emphasized the need to put her characters through the wringer. She wanted them to look perfect, be perfect, and always prevail. You see, like so many authors and readers, Phyllis considered her characters as friends, and she hated making them suffer as much as she hated seeing real friends suffer.

As for me, she’d say, “I want to see the poetry.” She wanted to read the beauty of description in my stories, not “just the facts, ma’am.” So, I learned how to use more similes and metaphors. I learned how to let a train’s engine drag “its cars down the track like a caterpillar dragging its body along a tree limb.”

We had fun in those hours and, one night, attracted too much attention. I think I was in elementary school the last time I’d been shushed by a librarian. Of course, that brought on more giggles.

Phyllis’s talent for whimsical drawings were showcased when she illustrated a couple of children’s books. She wrote Emma and the Paper especially for her dad. She used her fur baby, Emma, as the main character in the story. Her charming watercolors also illustrated Kimberly Rae’s book When I’m With Jesus: For Any Child with a Loved One in Heaven.

And Phyllis was a fount of spiritual knowledge, willing to share it with whomever crossed her path. She learned much of it from her mama and daddy. In fact, several times, she wrote the narrative for the church choir’s Christmas and Easter programs.

In my opinion, Phyllis’s greatest talent rested in non-fiction and her ability to share the gospel through her blog posts and devotions. God used her posts to show His love to all readers, but especially those in the midst of grief. It became her ministry after experiencing her own tragedy. At book selling events, I’d see her sympathize and empathize with people who were going through tough times, often gifting them one of her books if she felt it might help.

In Phyllis Keels, I saw the value of poetry, following God’s will, and viewing a reader as more than a customer. So, with this post, I hope I’ve honored my friend on the cusp of the one-year anniversary of her presence with the Lord where she now rejoices with her father, daughter, and sister.

Phyllis’s books remain on Amazon. If you need encouragement, please check them out.

Click to tweet: How an author inspired me. Phyllis’s greatest talent rested in non-fiction and her ability to share the gospel through her blog posts and devotions. #faith #amreading


Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. She’s the author of the heartwarming novella, The Yuletide Angel and the award-winning novel, A Reluctant Melody. Rarely out of reach of a book, she’s also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.

Visit her at http://www.sandraardoin.com. Subscribe to receive updates and specials. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and BookBub.


A Reluctant Melody

Kit Barnes’ drinking ruined more lives than his own. Now sober, he wants to make amends by opening a mission for drunkards. The most suitable location belongs to Joanna Cranston Stewart, a love from his sordid past and the one person he hurt the most.

A pariah among her peers, Joanna is all too eager to sell her property and flee the rumors that she sent her late husband to an early grave. But she will let the gossips talk and the walls of her rundown property crumble around her before she’ll allow Kit back into her life. 

When a blackmailer threatens to reveal her long-held secret, she must choose between trusting Kit or seeing her best friend trapped in an abusive marriage. 

Will Joanna risk another betrayal? Or will she find a way through the pain of the past to love and trust again?

1st Saturday Extra: Do Writing Prompts Really Work?

By Jennifer Hallmark

Today is our first installment of a new monthly series called 1st Saturday Extra. Each month, we’ll share a testimonial or more personal interview from someone in the writing world. So pull up a chair and enjoy my thoughts on writing prompts.

I believe in writing prompts.

I really do.

The name of our writing blog originally was Writing Prompts, Thoughts, & Ideas…Oh My! Yes, I know it was too long, but at the time I thought it was clever. We’ve shortened it to The Inspired Prompt. Prompts can be pivotal to our writing career.

Prompts may truly be inspired. Why do I feel this way?

In the spring of 2019, my first novel will be released from Firefly Southern Fiction. I am beyond thrilled, ecstatic, and Snoopy dancing. It’s my dream come true.

And it started with a small writer’s group and three simple phrases: Wedding dress designer, dusty baseball cap, faded blue coveralls. From that simple beginning in 2009, a short story was birthed which turned into a novella and finally a novel.

I have two more works-in-progress (WIP) with a few thousand words (if you’re a writer, you’ll understand) and they also had a humble beginning with prompts.

Why do prompts spark creativity? To me, the subconscious is always at work for a writer with feelings and storylines just below the surface waiting to be unleashed. Writing prompts are one way to release them. My novel could have had a different occupation or clothing item if the prompt had been different but I believe the storyline probably would’ve been similar.

Prompts, thoughts, and ideas work best with free writing, where you just let your imagination run and try to keep up with it on a keyboard or with a pen. Now my novel is very different from that original bit of free writing. But the foundation was set that day in 2009 and soon will be in print.

I can’t wait for that day.

So, why don’t you try it out? Every Monday and Friday, we’ll share a post with some type of writing prompt. I’ll be sharing one at the bottom of this post also. Find a quiet place and take the sentence, items, or picture prompt, then write down all that comes to mind.

One day, we might be reading your novel. And you’ll tell people it all started with a prompt.

Click to tweet: Why do writing prompts spark creativity? Read on. @InspiredPrompt #amwriting #writingprompt

Writing Prompt: Use these four items to create a story: deli sandwich, Atlanta, aging horse, and a deserted farmhouse. If you’d like, share a bit with us in the comment section below.

Happy Writing!

deserted farmhouse