Forward in February–CoronaLife Day 691

January seemed interminable, but like all things, it has come to an end! As we move into February, I am once more looking forward.

My illustrator for my middle grade book, The Witch of Zal, churned out more awesome illustrations, so we are moving closer to the finish line there.

I also got the e-proof of the genealogy book late Wednesday, so I will be perusing that. I’m hoping I can approve it and then order a print proof before setting it for production.

I mentioned the issues I had uploading files that passed validation. I managed to resolve all the issues, except the “graphic less than 150 ppi” error. I went into the PDF and replaced each one of the 70 illustrations with JPEGs of 300 ppi. Every. One.

Still didn’t pass validation. Since I could not figure out where the issue was, I went ahead and put it to publication. That’s why I will be ordering a print proof after the e-proof. I want to make sure everything looks good.

Still, forward progress, and soon I will have a new book published. First one in a lot of years.

How are you moving forward in February?

The Non-Writing Part of Writing—CoronaLife Day 432

This was one of those weeks where my other responsibilities fell on me hard, and I got very little done on any writing front. Although I hate weeks like that, they happen and I have to learn to roll with it.

People who are not writers think that if we are not getting words on the page, we are not writing. And while that may technically be true, that doesn’t mean we are not making some sort of writing progress.

As anyone who has followed this blog knows, I have been struggling with rewrites of my science fiction YA novel, Veritas. I’ve been chipping away at it, and feeling fairly happy with the new direction, but I have put it aside for now while I work on the non-fiction genealogy book. I am not in the right headspace to dive into fiction at the moment, so it is a good detour for me to take.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it. I sometimes get ideas that I hurry to jot down in the notes for when I return. And I recently have been enjoying K.M. Weiland’s blog series on archetypes, which is making me think differently about not just Veritas, but the structure of possible follow-on books in a series.

So, my subconscious has been chewing on Veritas while I’ve been away. And I am also re-thinking the first chapter of another project, this one middle grade, The Curse of the Pharaoh’s Stone. I really love this book, but it has not found a traditional home. My co-author and I are contemplating self-publishing it, but I feel that the first chapter is our issue. We get conflicting feedback about it—some feel it is confusing, others are just fine with it. I think if we can get that right, we might yet find it a traditional home.

I also have another project that is not even on a back burner, more like on the warming pan. It is the sequel to my published book, The Witch of Zal. The first draft is written, but it needs a good deal of editing. And I am in the process of getting a new cover and illustrations for Book 1, before I move on with publishing Book 2.

As you can see, I have been doing a lot of non-writing writing. Sometimes you can move forward even when you aren’t putting words on the page.

How are you advancing your writing these days?

New Year, New Goals

Everyone posts New Year’s resolutions. I don’t so much do resolutions as goals. And I would like to try and make them realistic goals, so I don’t frustrate myself. The uber-healthy diet and sculpted beach-body? Not gonna happen. I’m going to try something more amenable to my couch-potato self.

I have talked about being in the midst of a great burnout. No creativity at all. 2018 was horrific, writing-wise. I totaled 89,672 words—and 73,218 of them were blog or other non-fiction writing words. Compare that to 2017, when my total words were 405,116, with 326,542 of those being fiction, and you can see how badly I fell off the workhorse.

So what am I aiming for this year? I have no specific word count in mind, but I do have two goals I want to reach:

  1. Finish revising Veritas.
  2. Re-release The Witch of Zal with new cover and illustrations.

Both are doable. I intend to do them.

Over this holiday, I have been trying to sleep more, to get out of the spiral of exhaustion and anxiety that I’ve been in for months. I think it is helping. I have an interest in getting back to revising Veritas, which I have been avoiding for quite some time. There’s a new angle I want to lay into the existing framework that intrigues me–and scares me, as I am not certain I can pull it off. But I want to try, which is  huge step forward.

So that’s my master plan for 2019. Not Earth-shattering, for sure. But within my reach. The burnout took a long time to set in fully, it make take some time to climb my way out of it. But I pledge to be kind to myself, to try and focus on taking better care of myself, and hopefully get back on that writing workhorse again.

What goals have you set for yourself this year?

The Best of The Goose’s Quill 2016

As 2016 winds to a close, I take a look back and see what Goose’s Quill posts resonated with my readers the most. I often get surprised! Here are the top 20 of the year:

  1. Productivity and Expectations
  1. A Clean-Out Vacation
  1. Summer Slump: Is it September Yet?
  1. Gans Family Reunion 2016: Blood is Thicker than Water
  1. Beta Readers: A Vital Part of the Process
  1. Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  1. The Best of the Goose’s Quill 2015
  1. Research and Citations: Save Time, Get it Right from the Start
  1. The Dread Synopsis
  1. Book Launch! But What to Read?
  1. Critique Groups: A Resource Worth Having
  1. Book Fair Magic: Casting a Reading Spell
  1. Evolution of a Speaker: From Wrecked to Relaxed
  1. A Successful, Grateful Book Launch for The Witch of Zal
  1. My First Author Panel: The Student Becomes the Teacher
  1. Learning to Excel: Spreadsheets and Writing
  1. How To Cope With Book Launch Anxiety
  1. My Biggest Takeaway: 2016 Philadelphia Writer’s Conference
  1. Musings on Grief and Comfort

And my #1 read post of 2016:

  1. The Witch of Zal Book Trailer

Thank you everyone for reading The Goose’s Quill! Have a safe and Happy New Year, and I will see you in 2017!

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Abington Library Local Author Expo: There’s No Place Like Home

Abington Township Free Public LibraryI lived in Abington Township for 32 years, so the Abington Township Free Public Library is my “home” library. I spent a great deal of time there in the pre-computer age, doing research for papers and reading for pleasure.

So attending Abington Library’s Local Author Expo on April 16th was like coming home. If felt so comfortable, even though the library has been renovated since my youth. The staff was welcoming, and made sure to come around to all the author tables to see what we had on offer. Librarians and authors are natural partners, after all!

Author Kerry Gans at Abington Library's Local Author Expo

The morning was busy, with customers wandering in from the outdoor vendors of the plant and book sales. I spoke for half an hour with one pre-published writer who had come to the library to buy debris bags for his garden! Everything went smoothly, except…

Technology is wonderful—except when it’s not. Last week my GPS sent me in a literal circle. This week, my credit card reader failed me for the first (and only) credit card sale of the day. Thankfully, the lady also had checks with her. Just to tease me, the credit card reader worked perfectly when I tested it after she had departed.

Authors at the Abington Library Local Author ExpoThe morning session was packed with authors of all genres. Chrissy Fanslau, Captain Morey, Ted Taylor, Charlene Crawford, Judith Rubenstein, Carol B. Polis, Tom Sims, Robert Walton, Jose Russo, Kevin J. McNamara, Wendy Tyson, Cheryl Rice, Chad M. Weiss, L. Ann Price, Peter W. Dawes, Javad Mohsenian, N.M. Lombardi, Toni McCloe, Leah Devlin, and Susan J. Reinhardt attended.

I arrived very close to opening time, so I ended up in the far back corner of the setup. That spot turned out to be a good one, as I got a table all to myself and it allowed space for customers to move easily around the table. It also allowed me to see out the wall of windows into the beautiful day.

The authors did half-day sessions, but I had managed to get slots for both morning and afternoon. When the morning crew went home, I moved my table to a strategic one in the front, directly at the top of the stairs leading to the children’s section. I remember those stairs well from my childhood—clattering down them was like going through the wardrobe to Narnia. A place of magic, mystery—and home of the three-legged turtle. The turtle is long gone, but the magic remains.

Abington Library Children's Department Sign

The afternoon saw visits from my parents (and daughter), brother, and Writers’ Coffeehouse friends Ann Stolinsky, Tony Athmejvar, and Beverly Black. The afternoon session authors included fellow Coffeehousers Carol Kasser and Chuck Regan, as well as other authors C.L. Lowry, Allan M. Heller, Verileah Teets, Fran Pelham & Bernadette Balcer, Debora Gossett Rivers, Madeline Wilson, Reginald Murray, Jack DeWitt, James M. Paradis, and my tablemate Clayvon C. Harris.

I had a successful and stimulating day at my home library. I sold some books, chatted with a bunch of great authors and readers, and got to breathe library air for the day. To top it off, my book, The Witch of Zal, is now available in the Abington Library, which makes me giddy.

I enjoyed this event, and I hope to do it again next year. As my protagonist Dorveday would agree, there’s no place like home!

The Witch of Zal table at Abington Library's Local Author Expo

A Successful, Grateful Book Launch for The Witch of Zal

After weeks of preparation and hours of angst, my book launch for The Witch of Zal passed in a flurry of pride, amazement, and celebration.

Author Kerry Gans signing books at the Doylestown Bookshop

Like almost everything on the publishing journey, the book launch was a team effort. The people at the Doylestown Bookshop effortlessly took care of getting my books logged in, setting up extra tables for food and the TV monitor, and even came up trumps with plates and napkins (which I forgot). Everything about the setup looked great. (Thanks Rachel, Krisy, and Daniel!)

Crystal ball, bookmarks, and business cards at the book launch for The Witch of Zal

Even the food came from many hands. My mother made chocolate chip cookies, my friend J. Thomas Ross made dog-shaped cookies, and I bought rainbow-iced cupcakes (which I was told by several people were very good) from my local Shoprite.

Rainbow cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, and dog-shaped cookies at the book launch for The Witch of Zal

I hauled the books and my essential items with me to Pennsylvania early in the day (I had other errands to attend to), and my husband arrived at the Bookshop with the perishables—cupcakes, water, and flower arrangement. The lovely rainbow flowers were done by Christine Keefer of Vintage Oceans, and she captured my vision of color and magic perfectly.

Beautiful rainbow flowers by Vintage Oceans at Kerry Gans' book launch

I sold my first book before I had even set up shop. I had one book up on a bookstand while I unloaded the swag, and a woman walked past and said, “That looks like the yellow brick road.” I replied, “It is.” And a sale was made to a fan of all things Oz.

After that, my friends and family poured into the shop and I was soon swamped with hugs and congratulations. My 6-year-old daughter must have thought her mommy was famous!

Kerry Gans thanking all those who have supported herI kicked off my presentation with a speech thanking everyone who had helped me get to this place in my career—and the list was quite long. Getting published is a marathon of will, not just because the craft is so difficult, but because we live in a world that often does not value what writers do. We are so often told not to waste our time or some other version of “you shouldn’t bother.” I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who always told me “You can.” and I wanted to be sure to let them know how grateful I am that they are my tribe.

My book trailer played without a hitch, which was a minor miracle in itself. In fact, I played it several times throughout the night, as the crowd changed over, and the technology that had been giving me headaches for weeks performed like a champ. This reinforces the value of testing out the equipment beforehand. When I had tested it a few weeks prior, I was not happy with the result. This made me make two minor changes the day of the book launch, and those changes seem to have made all the difference. Always test the technology if you can!

22 - Kerry reading (with Katie), 3-19I did a reading from The Witch of Zal. I read chapter 8 because I felt it would speak to my audience of mostly adult readers and writers. I still have not decided if I will read the same chapter to an audience with more children in it. I may want something with a little more humor and fun. But the audience at the book launch enjoyed the chapter, which made me happy.

Then I signed books, chatted with people, and basically celebrated! For all the nerves I’d had leading up to the day, the launch flew by and surrounded me with people who have cared about me and supported me throughout my life. I had everyone from my parents, to people who knew me in high school, to my writing friends, to my husband and daughter all at my side. I think the warmest memory for me was having my daughter literally at my side while I gave my speech and read my excerpt. She stood there beaming, smelling the flowers, and occasionally hugging my leg. While that was certainly not the way I had rehearsed my speeches, sharing my launch with her was a special kind of sweet. After all, The Witch of Zal is dedicated to her!

Author Kerry Gans with fan Donna Galanti

Kerry with friend & author Donna Galanti

Author Kerry Gans and young fan Jimmy

Kerry and fan Jimmy

Author Kerry Gans signs a book for Ann Stolinski of Gemini Wordsmiths

Kerry and Ann Stolinsky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I packed up, a woman and her two daughters came by (thank you, Nancy Keim Comley, for sending them back as you were leaving), and I made my last sale of the night.

In a blink of an eye, this long-dreamed of moment had passed, but it is one I will cherish for a lifetime.

I am so grateful for everyone who came out and who sent good wishes from afar. Getting to this point in publishing is hard, and you have all made it a little easier—and a lot more fun. Thank you so much.

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Book Launch! But what to read?

Exciting news, everyone! My official book launch will be March 19th, 5pm-7pm at the amazing Doylestown Bookshop in Doylestown, PA. Although The Witch of Zal has been available for a few months, March 19th will be the celebration of my debut novel.

I’m starting to make the plans. I’ve ordered a cool floral arrangement from Vintage Oceans Wedding and Event Flowers (a book launch is an event!), and am searching for some fun takeaways to go along with my bookmarks. I need to figure out the technology to run my trailer at the event, and the food to snack upon. And what to wear. And how not to embarrass myself in front of what I hope will be a large number of people.

One of the hardest things to decide, though, is what excerpt of my book to read. I suppose that not reading one is an option, but at an event celebrating the book that feels rather like sending the birthday girl to her room while we all sing “Happy Birthday to You” in the dining room. So I got to thinking what I could choose.

This excerpt would not be the same one I would read to a group of kids. Kids would want more funny or more action. So do I simply start at the beginning of the book, or find some other place?

Choosing an excerpt from farther into the book can be dicey. I don’t want to have to explain too much in the way of setup, or the listeners will get bored (or confused). And choosing an emotionally charged scene can backfire, too, since the listeners are not yet emotionally invested in the characters and may not react as hoped.

So I rummaged around and finally hit upon a good excerpt—one that I think will speak to my audience of writers and booklovers yet pull them in to want to read more. What is it? You’ll have to come and listen! If you’ve read the book and want to take a guess in the comments, feel free.

Now that the decision is made, I will have to practice reading the excerpt aloud. I need to handle the words, the rhythm, the pacing. I want to be able to do this with confidence and give my audience good entertainment value.

Anything else I need to do for the launch event? Of course, I need a thank-you speech. I have so many people to thank, it might take up the entire 2 hours!

If you can, even if you’ve already bought the book, come celebrate with me—I’d love to see you there.

Marketing Flurry

After digging out of 20” of snow a week ago, this week found me hit with a marketing flurry. I have felt out of my depth since I hit the marketing side of publishing. Even though I’ve read a ton about it, when it came to actually making a plan the details overwhelmed and paralyzed me. So I’ve waded into the fray, rather than jumped.

This week started off with receiving my book trailer from Keith Strunk, who put it together for me. I had an unplanned public unveiling of the trailer at the Willow Grove Writers Coffeehouse, and people seemed to like it. I know I sure did!

So one thing I did this week was start a YouTube channel for myself. At the moment, however, the channel has no content, as I am having the dreaded “technical difficulties” loading the trailer to the channel.

 

Coming Soon to a Viewscreen Near You!

The next marketing task that surfaced was an interview I did with Linda C. Wisniewski for the Bucks County Women’s Journal. My first interview as a professional author!

The interview of course kicked off a round of social media posts announcing it—Facebook, Twitter, Google+. I also hopped onto my website and added the link to my News & Events page—which I managed to do without breaking the Internet!

Finally, because I felt the need to have some focused marketing help, I joined BadRedHead Media’s 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge. The amazing Rachel Thompson sends us one tip and how-to every day for 30 days, and we then implement them. We are 3 days in, and so far I have spruced up my Twitter bio and header, pinned a tweet to my feed, and begun Following people with a more targeted focus.

So my week has been filled with flurries—marketing flurries. It’s good, though, because I feel a little more settled in my marketing mindset. I may never be a marketing powerhouse, but I am moving forward—and that’s what counts.

How about you? Did you dive in the deep end with marketing, or wade in hesitantly?

The Best of The Goose’s Quill 2015

At the beginning of a new year, we typically look forward to the year ahead. Sometimes, though, it is helpful to look back in order to see how far you have come, and evaluate how you did in the past year. I examined my top 20 posts this past year and found that readers read a good mixture of craft and marketing, as well as some of my more personal writing-life posts. In case you missed any, here are the Best of The Goose’s Quill 2015. Enjoy!

  1. When The Hero Is Not The Protagonist
  1. What Big Question Do You Write To Answer?
  1. How To Measure Growth As A Writer
  1. Our Characters’ Other Lives
  1. Adventures In The Land of Zal
  1. Marketing: Doing The Things You Don’t Want To Do
  1. Book Trailer Beginnings
  1. The Truth About Your Productivity
  1. Anticipation Angst and Announcement
  1. The New To-Do List
  1. Introverts, Extroverts, and Social Pain
  1. The Insidious Persistence of Grief
  1. My Biggest Takeaway: 2015 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference
  1. Philadelphia Writers’ Conference: My Annual Oil Change
  1. Writing Longhand: A Generational Divide
  1. Working Vacation: Yes or No?
  1. Empathy: Curse or Blessing?
  1. Revising My Writing Process
  1. Marketing Bits and Pieces

And my #1 post of 2015:

  1. THE WITCH OF ZAL Cover Reveal and Surprise!

NEW RELEASE!

Thank you for reading in 2015—I hope you continue to join me in 2016!

Focus Forward

As 2015 draws to a close, I have a lot to be thankful for. My family is healthy and happy. I am comfortable in my life. And my first novel, THE WITCH OF ZAL, debuted from Evil Jester Press!

NEW RELEASE!

Now 2016 looms large ahead, and my focus is turning to the future. What do I want to accomplish in 2016? I decided to keep it simple and focus only on things I could control, because to do otherwise is an invitation to stress and frustration.

So what are these goals?

  1. Create and implement a new marketing plan for THE WITCH OF ZAL.
  1. Finish revising and polishing at least 2 of my works-in-progress.
    • THE CURSE OF THE PHARAOH’S STONE is close to finished—one more go over and sending it out for proofreading. So I should easily reach this goal.Pharaoh-Curse-640x1024
    • VERITAS. This WIP is in a monster revision right now, and I feel that I have been procrastinating because of the magnitude of the task. Once I begin, I will be able to chip away, and there is no reason I can see that I should not finish this by the end of 2016.Veritas-Cover-Art-791x1024
    • THE ORACLE OF DELPHI, KANSAS has been complete for a year or more, and has made the rounds of some agents. The feedback I received showed that I have some work to do on this book, but I have not yet looked to see how large a task fixing the issues would be. It is possible that this, too, can be done by the end of 2016, but I consider this a stretch goal.Oracle-Cover-Art-791x1024
  1. When one of the manuscripts above is ready, I will send it out to agents. With luck, I will find one that connects with my work.

And that’s it!

Three things.

I can do that.

What are you looking forward to in 2016?

 

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