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At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard the phrase You either have it or you don’t. But what is it? One writer who has It, both literally and figuratively, is the master of horror himself– Stephen King. From his famed book about a terrifying clown titled It to many other successful books, it’s clear King has something figured out. But how do we achieve It– both the the book and that elusive and indefinable factor? King has passed on his 20 tips for writing to help us:

1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. King suggests that your first draft is only written for yourself. This is where you’re supposed to write freely and follow wherever the story takes you. It’s only on your second draft that you should go back and, according to King, take out, “all the things that are not the story.”

 2. Don’t use passive voice. Passive voice is when the subject of the sentence is acted upon rather than performing the action. For example, saying ‘Brutus stabbed Caesar’ is active while saying ‘Caesar was stabbed by Brutus’ is passive. See the difference? The gravity of Brutus’s action is diminished when using passive voice.

3. Avoid adverbs. You need to do the work prior to using an adverb so that it isn’t necessary as a descriptor. If your characters are in a heated argument, you need to create the drama leading up to an exit so that you don’t need to say that the character slammed the door, forcefully. Forcefully should be redundant.

4. Avoid adverbs, especially after “he said” and “she said.” According to King, “While to write adverbs is human, to write ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ is divine.” You don’t need to add an adverb after he said or she said. Just keep it simple.

5. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar. “Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes.”, says King. The priority of the writer should be telling a good story, and grammatical correctness should be secondary.

 6. The magic is in you. “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.” King advises growing writers to be bold. Fear is the only thing keeping you from being great.

7. Read, read, read. As with many other famous writers, one of King’s main points of advice is to read. Reading allows you to learn from other great writers and gain the tools you need for your own craft to flourish.

8. Don’t worry about making other people happy. Read wherever you can. Skip out on commitments to work on your book- don’t worry about upsetting other people. To be a good writer, you have to be rude sometimes.

9. Turn off the TV. According to King, those Netflix binge sessions aren’t doing you any favors. So, the next time you want to re-watch one of your comfort shows- don’t. Pick up a book instead.

10. You have three months. King believes that this is the length of time in which the first draft of a book should be completed. Now, we don’t necessarily agree with this one. Every book is different and every writer has their own process. However, putting a deadline on your first draft can definitely help you stay on task with your writing.

11. There are two secrets to success. When King is asked the secret of his success, he says, “I stayed physically healthy, and I stayed married.” While this may not apply to everyone, there is some truth in it. Making sure you and the relationships in your life are healthy can help you focus more absolutely on your craft.

12. Write one word at a time. Similarly to the phrase Take life one day at a time, King suggests that aspiring writers stay in the present- writing one word at a time instead of focusing on where the book is headed.

13. Eliminate distraction. According to King, “There should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or video games for you to fool around with. If there’s a window, draw the curtains or pull down the shades unless it looks out at a blank wall.”

14. Stick to your own style. While King advises aspiring writers to read and learn from the styles of other writers, ultimately you need to form your own style rather than trying to simply imitate the greats.

15. Dig. “When, during the course of an interview for The New Yorker, I told the interviewer (Mark Singer) that I believed stories are found things, like fossils in the ground, he said that he didn’t believe me. I replied that that was fine, as long as he believed that I believe it. And I do. Stories aren’t souvenir tee-shirts or Game Boys. Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible. Sometimes the fossil you uncover is small–a seashell. Sometimes it’s enormous, a Tyrannosaurus Rex with all the gigantic ribs and grinning teeth. Either way, short story or thousand page whopper of a novel, the techniques of excavation remain basically the same.”

16. Take a break. Not only can doing this help with the dreaded writer’s block, but King suggests that coming back to your work after taking a hiatus can help you view it in a whole new light.

17. Leave out the boring parts and kill your darlings. You can’t be so attached to your work that you won’t chop it up and cut it down when needed. It’s pretty self-explanatory, the boring bits must go.

18. The research shouldn’t overshadow the story. Even though a well-researched book can be great, King wants writers to remember: the audience cares more about your characters and your story. Keep research in the back-story.

 19. You become a writer simply by reading and writing. “The most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.” says King. While seminars can be a helpful tool, King ultimately feels that you learn most by observing the work of writers and practicing it yourself.

20. Writing is about getting happy. We could definitely get into this, but we think King says it best, “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”

The post Author’s Rules for Writing: Stephen King appeared first on Dorrance Publishing Company.

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Name: Sean C. Cusack 

Hometown:  Chicago

Book: The Lost Sock

Genre: Children’s

  1. Describe your book in 10 words or less. A little girl loses her favorite sock and goes on a quest to find it.
  2. What made you want to write The Lost Sock?  I felt that it was a creative and imaginative idea that would be best expressed in a book.
  3. How long did it take you to write your book? A few hours.
  4. How do you choose the names of your characters? I thought of names that would be an appropriate fit.
  5. What do you do when you have writer’s block? I listen to my favorite music to get the creative juices flowing again.
  6. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why? I enjoyed writing the part where the lead character is sleeping and has a dream where her Lost Sock appears. I believe that dreams sometimes blend with reality and offer us hope.
  7. If you were stuck on an island and had to have one person from each category with you, who would they be and why? 
    1. One character from your book: Meowzer. Cats are great pets and make good companions.
    2. One fictional character:  The Judge from Blood Meridian. He would keep me entertained and inspire me to be the best that I can in spite of being stranded on an island.
    3. One famous person: Beyoncé. I don’t think this requires much explanation.
  8. Besides writing, what are your other interests? Brainstorming new ideas for books, exercising, listening to music, watching and attending Cubs games, vacationing, and going to restaurants.
  9. Do you keep a journal? I do not keep a journal but my first two novels are non-fiction works based on my life experiences.
  10. How did you celebrate the publishing of Suburban Gangsters? Enjoying a Lou Malnati’s pizza.
  11. If your book was made into a movie, who would play the main characters? A very young person starting an early career in acting.
  12. What did you enjoy most about working with Dorrance Publishing? The ease of the process, the helpful staff, and the excitement of owning a well-made and high quality book from a very professional and revered publisher.
  13. Five favorite books of all time? Blood Meridian, The Iceman, Brave New World, Devil in the White City, and Where the Wild Things Are.
  14. One sentence of advice for other writers? Write when you feel like it and write how you feel!

The post Author Spotlight: Sean Cusack appeared first on Dorrance Publishing Company.

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We recently devoted a blog post to words that are commonly misspelled. This week, let’s look at ten commonly misused words. Let’s face it–the English language has a lot of nuances, and sometimes what sounds right is actually wrong. Devoting a little time to learning how to properly use words and phrases will do nothing but help you as a writer.

Accept versus Except

Accept means agree with or receive. Except means apart from.    

Example: I would accept your apology about forgetting my birthday…except for the fact that it’s on the same day as yours.

Affect versus effect

Affect is a verb meaning “to influence something.” Effect is a noun meaning “the result of.”

Example: The book affected me so much that I started my own nonprofit. (verb)

Example: The effect your constant sleeping in class that you will likely fail the test.  (noun)

Breathe versus Breath

Breathe is a verb that is the act of taking in air. A breath is a noun that is the actual air you take in.

Example: When you breathe in, try to fill your lungs completely. (verb)

Example: If you’re feeling anxious, take a deep breath. (noun)

Bring versus Take

Someone brings something to you; it is a command you give someone. On the other hand, you take something to someone else.

Example: Bring me that present so I can take it to the party.

Farther versus Further

Farther is physical distance; further is figurative distance.

Example: The ice cream shop I like is farther away, but totally worth it.

Example: She told you I don’t like ice cream? Nothing is further from the truth!

Fewer versus Less

Fewer is only used when talking about actual things you can count. Less is for singular mass nouns.

Example: I would like fewer mushrooms on my pizza.

Example: There is less salt in this recipe.

If versus Whether

If is for a conditional sentence and whether shows two possibilities.

Example: If you want to watch the movie, then you need to clean your room.

Example: Whether you like it or not, you’re going to have to clean your room.

It’s versus its

It’s is a contraction for it is. Any other time, use its. The easiest way to test if you’re using it right? Change “its” to ”it is” in your sentence and see if it still makes sense.  

Example: It’s time to start wrapping presents.

Example: “Give the dog its bone.

Lie versus Lay

Lie means to be in a horizontal position. Lay means to put something down.

Example: Lie down and tell me your dreams.

Example: Lay your phone down and pay attention to me when I’m talking.

Due the fact

Believe it or not, this is a terrible phrase, but it’s commonly used. Just use the word “because.”  Easiest way to remember when to use the phrase “due to”? Nothing is due to unless you have a book due to the library.

The post Commonly Misused Words appeared first on Dorrance Publishing Company.

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Name: Brandon Domineck 

Hometown: Atlanta, GA/Newan, GA

Book: When Love Knocks

Genre: Drama/Urban

  1. Describe your book in 10 words or less. Drama-filled, emotional, and very unique
  2. What made you want to write When Love Knocks?  I love movies like Forrest Gump, I Am Sam, and  Tru Confessions (a Disney Channel movie),  but they all tell the same story: People with mental illness overcoming their disabilities which great, but what about the physically disabled overcoming their disabilities and impacting those around them? Who is going to be their voice?
  3. How long did it take you to write your book? It took me nine months to write it. At the time I thought that was a long time to write a book, but now I know that’s not long at all.
  4. How do you choose the names of your characters? Not sure. The names just came to me.
  5. What do you do when you have writer’s block?  I put the book down until I have something to say.
  6. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why? I have two parts of the book that I like.  When Summer came to Carter for help, and he didn’t know how to help her anymore and also the very end because I felt they were the most emotional parts. Writing this book helped me to release my emotions.
  7. If you were stuck on an island and had to have one famous person with you, who would it be and why?  Cicely Tyson because I’m a  huge fan of her work. She’s such an inspiration, with empowering roles that she does and she does them well. Her longevity proves that she loves what she does.  I will love to have a conversation with her to see what motivates her to keep acting and what hardships she had to overcome. Plus, we have the same birthday.
  8. Besides writing, what are your other interests? I love listening to Michael Jackson. Although he wasn’t disabled, he said a lot of things that I felt, and his songs are just fun.
  9. Do you keep a journal? No, I do not keep a journal.
  10. How did you celebrate the publishing of When Love Knocks? I went to Facebook and Instagram and went posting crazy.
  11. If your book was made into a movie, who would play the main characters?  I’ve always been a fan of KeKe Palmer. With her beauty and dramatic ability, I think she would portray Summer like a dream.  I would love for Michael B.  Jordan to play Carter.  He is an amazong actor and I think if there’s there’s anyone who could being Carter to life, it’s him.
  12. What did you enjoy most about working with Dorrance Publishing? Dorrance really made my dream come true. They were always there when I had a problem. They have been very patient with me.
  13. Five favorite books of all time?  A Christmas Carol, A Light to My Path, The Autobiography of Malcom X, B-More Carefeul, Black Girl Lost
  14. One sentence of advice for other writers? Don’t let anyone wake you up from your dream.

The post Author Spotlight: Brandon Domineck appeared first on Dorrance Publishing Company.

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How do we get to know people? It’s a pretty big question, that’s for sure…but when it comes to writing characters, you have to get to know them the same way you’d get to know a real person. Our characters have to feel real, so therefore they must be handled in a real manner.

So, how do we get to know people? Well, we talk to them. We listen to them. We observe them. We ask them questions. Just as you would with a real person, the best way to get to know your characters is to actually create spaces and scenarios where you can get to know them in different ways. In other words, write your character into a few specific scenes.

1) Therapy Session

Therapy can be a good setting to get to know your character because that’s a setting where people tend to be more open and vulnerable. And, if your character doesn’t become more open and vulnerable when placed in this setting, that can say a lot about them, too.

Essentially, what you’ll write here is a therapy session between you and your character where you act as their therapist. So, yes, you’ll be writing yourself in as a character in this scene. That can make some writers a little uncomfortable, but one of the main struggles for writer’s is differentiating their character’s voice from their own voice. This is a great exercise to help with this problem because you’ll literally have yourself written into the story to compare.

Have your character walk into the room, sit across from you, and say to them something along the lines of, “Thanks for coming in today. What did you want to talk about?” Like a real therapist, make sure you’re trying to get to the heart of their concerns without putting words in your character’s mouth. Say things like, “So what I hear you saying is…” and “How does that make you feel?”

It’s best to begin this exercise by solely focusing on the dialogue, but if you start to notice mannerisms or interesting body language, go ahead and note that, too.

2) Morning Routine

Now, do not for a second think we’re suggesting that you begin a book with your character waking up. Please don’t- hundreds of books do this already. However, part of getting to know your character is seeing how they act in different circumstances under varying conditions. How do they act when they’re alone and unobserved?

Write a short scene about your character going through their morning routine. Are they a morning person? What do they do when they first wake up- do they jump out of bed or hit the snooze button a few times first? How do they react to their reflection? Are they the type of person who prepares a full meal or grabs a protein bar before quickly rushing out the door?

Walking yourself physically through your character’s morning in-scene will help you get to know them better in a myriad of ways. A person’s living space can say a lot about who they are. So, noticing what kind of books they have and how messy their room is can say a lot about them already. Also, a person is arguably the most honest version of themselves when they aren’t being observed. What does this bring out in your character? Is it good or bad?

3) Compare and Contrast

For this last exercise , you’ll need to create two short scenes. The first you’ll create is a scene between your character and a person that they care for. This could be a parent, a close friend, the mailman- anyone for which your character has a natural affinity. Put them in a setting where your character is comfortable. That could be their own house or a park that they often went to as a child. You want to create a very comfortable environment for your protagonist.

In the next scene, your protagonist is having a conversation with a stranger, in a foreign environment. It doesn’t have to be somewhere where your protagonist has never been before, but it has to be somewhere where they aren’t particularly comfortable or at ease.

This exercise will help you discover how your character reacts to different environments, settings and people. Your protagonist could be the type of person who is just as sweet, kind, and at ease with a stranger as they would be with a close friend or family member. Or your protagonist could be the type of person who pulls back and becomes more guarded in the scene with the stranger.

It’s also a great opportunity to get to know your character’s mannerisms and gestures. What position do they sit in when they’re comfortable vs when they’re uncomfortable? What do they do with their hands? How does their expression differ?

Depending on how the scene unfolds you need to ask yourself- how and why is my character different between these scenes? Is their willingness to be kind to a stranger good or is it naive? Is their hesitation toward the stranger born of a past experience or trauma? It’s very rare to find someone who will act exactly the same way in every interaction and setting, so adding this layer to your character will help you get to know their voice in different settings and levels of comfort.

Your character must feel as real as you are, but also entirely different from you. It’s an incredibly challenging feat, which is why great writers receive such high praise. But, when you get it right, your readers will love your characters, laugh with your characters, and mourn your characters as though they truly are real.

The post Character Development appeared first on Dorrance Publishing Company.

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Name: Chloe Ryan Winston

Hometown: Ashland, OR and Redding, CA

Book: Argentine AssignmentBelize BarterChina Caper, Mexican MarimbasPeru Paradox, and Russian Ruse

Genre:

  1. Describe your series. My series is about an Ashland, Oregon young woman who becomes embroiled with the CIA. They send her on assignment in various nations, all of which are accurately described because I have traveled to them, some more than once. I lived in some and worked in others.
  2. What made you want to write The Briana Series? I have always written…book reviews, travel articles for the Los Angeles Times, as well as for several magazines for women. As silly as it sounds, I couldn’t stop writing…I’m almost devastated that Russian Ruse is my final novel in the book series.
  3. How long did it take you to write your book? Each book usually took a few months to write, proof, and then send off.  (Writing is the easiest part…proofing is “sweat time.”) Mexican Marambas was probably my favorite, because I’ve traveled and worked in that country.
  4. How do you choose the names of your characters? I chose the names for my characters by carefully avoiding the names of my friends and acquaintances.
  5. What do you do when you have writer’s block? When I have writer’s block, I change my surroundings, but carry writing materials with me….a yellow pad and a couple of pens.  I find a spot where I can watch the “world go by” in somewhat quiet, but not “still”…..and I read my last two or three paragraphs, check my small outline….and it send me “off into writing land”….so I write.  I try to write at least 1500 words at a time.
  6. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why? My favorite chapter to write (in all my books) is a chapter that gives a real feeling for the people and place about which I’m writing.  I try to keep it accurate, based on my own observations when I traveled in those countries.  In some minor way, I hope to encourage people to travel to those countries, understanding, thanks to my books, about the personalities …and maybe problems…they will/might meet when in the particular country.  Not “preaching” of course, just enough information to give a reader some idea of the challenges and delights they would find if they, too, went to said country.
  7. If you were stuck on an island and had to have one person from each category with you, who would they be and why? 
    1. One character from your book:  Briana my lead character in the six book series, she’s competent, bright. (And maybe funny.)
    2. One fictional character: I would absolutely love to have Jo March, the heroine of the old series from Little Women….she was “gutsy” and willing to try anything, funny, not always popular with her family, honest …..just a super person.  
    3. One famous person: No one other than Winston Churchill—smashingly smart, clever, and also competent–and with a not-always-welcome fun streak…but I’d love it.
  8. Besides writing, what are your other interests? My main love is to travel.  I’ve been to 58 countries, sometimes as a volunteer for a wonderful outfit called Global Volunteers, sited in the Midwest.  I’ve been to China five times. I worked on building a wonderful modern school which took the place of a tiny, old-fashioned one room school.  I also “worked” in a hotel in China’s capital city, to give advice to workers there.  Driving through Mexico is a “lesson” in itself, so I went from the U.S. border to the border of Central American nations.  Christmas in Mexico City is a glorious, wonderful celebration…no matter what are one’s beliefs.  My children often traveled in Mexico with me.  The things I learned and observed from my travels are represented in my books, giving them a “true” sticker regarding my observations.  Traveling across Russia by train is “replicated” in my last book of the Briana series, Russian Ruse.  Things mentioned in that book represent some of my observations in that long, long train trip.  Of course, Europe is a wonderland for a travel-lover. I took groups of students there when I was a high school teacher.  They learned so much, but so did I!     Travel should be a “must” for everyone; it truly is an education in itself, and makes one not only appreciate countries visited, but makes us appreciate the U.S. even more when we cross the border to return to U.S. soil.
  9. Do you keep a journal? I have kept a journal, but am finding it a time-impediment to writing. Although I always carry a notepad and several pens (people laugh at mine, located on a sweater or blouse at my throat for easy reaching) and when an idea strikes…I jot it down.
  10. How did you celebrate the publishing of your books? Believe it or not, I’m pretty shy, so it was hard to celebrate! But I spread the word in the community where I live, mentioned it to people who have bought my books before, and contacted local bookstores.
  11. If your book was made into a movie, who would play the main characters?  I seldom go to movies, but here’s a suggestion:  I’d like to have my main character in my novels played by some actress who has dark hair who is slender (hmm.  I must be overweight!), and has a few very basic self-defense skills.  Someone smart and willing to take on a challenge.
  12. What did you enjoy most about working with Dorrance Publishing? Dorrance Publishing has always responded quickly, competently, and fully to any of my concerns and requests. 
  13. Five favorite books of all time? That’s hard!   As a child: any Nancy Drew story was # 1; as an adult:  non-fiction, such as the new Comey book draws me,  but Mary Higgins Clark (except her latest novel) draws my reading attention to strong characters, action, some danger, and a satisfying resolution.  I do not read “bodice-rippers” but find political stories, and stories of an individual’s clash with nature or with some “evil ” individual, creating action, danger, and a satisfying conclusion….where the good conquers the evil…..and certainly toss in some romance,  but not too detailed.  
  14. One sentence of advice for other writers? Just get your computer fixed, make sure you have ink in your printer, then attach your seat to a seat and at least layout the general idea you have about the story….then WRITE, WRITE, WRITE.

The post Author Spotlight: Chloe Ryan Winston appeared first on Dorrance Publishing Company.

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Does the very mention of the word “poetry” take you back to high school English, tapping pentameter out on your desk, figuring out rhyme scheme and just scratching your head in confusion about how “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams is even a poem? 

so much depends 

upon

a red wheel

barrow

glazed with rain

water

beside the white

chickens.

Don’t worry. You’re not alone.

Poetry is one of the most misunderstood genres our world has seen. It has no rules, yet somehow we all know the difference between good poetry and bad poetry.  Emily Dickinson famously said this about her beloved genre, “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”

While it may seem like there is no rhyme or reason to poetry, here are three common characteristics you’ll find in many poems.

Figurative Language

Similes, metaphors and hyperbole often find themselves in poetry, usually alongside alliteration, assonance, consonance, and rhyme. Figurative language is what leaves many people confused after reading a poem, because we have to do some work to understand it.  We live in a world where we like literal meanings of things (Have you noticed the popularity of the world “literally”? It’s literally used all the time.) Figurative language, on the other hand, relies on the reader to figure out what the poet is saying. You have to use your own life experiences to draw conclusions. This is what makes poems confusing, but also what makes them universal. You may not know anything about red wheelbarrows or chickens, but what feelings come up when you read the phrase “so much depends upon…”? That phrase sets up the entire feeling of the poem and that phrase is what makes it relatable. (Side Note: If you’re writing poems and dabbling with figurative language, make sure to avoid using cliches.)

Deliberate line breaks

In A Poetry Handbook, poet Mary Oliver says, “Prose is printed (or written) within the confines of margins, while poetry is written in lines that do not necessarily pay any attention to the margins, especially the right margin.” When you write a paper for class or a report for work, you’re told very specifically what the margins should be, what the font should be, and you are told how many sentences are in a paragraph. In a poem, however, there are no rules, which leads to a very unique experience for the reader. “The Red Wheelbarrow” would read very differently if it was simply one long line. But the author broke it up so the reader, even if read quickly, has to take time to think about each line and create a picture in his or her mind.

Unique punctuation choices

If a poem is written with a lot of dashes, it reads a lot differently than a poem that is one continuous sentence with no punctuation at all. But overall, you will find that many poets do not take punctuation rules into consideration.  Nobel Prize winning poet Jose Saramago famously said, ““Punctuation … is like traffic signs, too much of it distracted you from the road on which you traveled.”  In “The Red Wheelbarrow” there is no punctuation, even though there very easily could be a comma after barrow and a comma after rain.  But the strategically placed line-breaks create pause, which is likely why the author thought punctuation wasn’t necessary.

It’s easy to over analyze poetry, but don’t let it scare you. You may not like Shakespearean sonnets and you may not ever understand the importance of the red wheelbarrow, but chances are there is a poem out there that speaks to you. The best way to enjoy poetry? Read it without trying to look for the deeper meaning.

The post Genre Spotlight: Poetry appeared first on Dorrance Publishing Company.

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Name: Tom Walker

Hometown: Cedar City, Utah

Book: Put A Sock In It

Genre: Fiction, Education

  1. Describe your book in 10 words or less.  A humorous historical book about teaching special education.
  2. What made you want to write Put A Sock In It?  I did it for my family and friends who encouraged me to write it.
  3. How long did it take you to write your book?  I worked on it for well over ten years.
  4. How do you choose the names of your characters? I used real first names only.
  5. What do you do when you have writer’s block? Sleep on it and ask others for help.
  6. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why? Chapter Two because it tells about the funny things that happened in the classroom.
  7. If you were stuck on an island and had to have one person from each category with you, who would they be and why? 
    1. One character from your book:  Emery
    2. One fictional character:  Huck Finn
    3. One famous person: Paul Newman
  8. Besides writing, what are your other interests? Hiking, camping, fishing, traveling
  9. Do you keep a journal? Yes.
  10. How did you celebrate the publishing of Put A Sock In It? We went out to dinner.
  11. If your book was made into a movie, who would play the main characters? My son and daughter.
  12. What did you enjoy most about working with Dorrance Publishing? They were very encouraging, patient, and professional.
  13. Five favorite books of all time? DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons, Undaunted, Fire and the Covenant, The Work, and The Glory Series.
  14. One sentence of advice for other writers? Never give up.

The post Author Spotlight: Tom Walker appeared first on Dorrance Publishing Company.

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To many, self-publishing and commercial success don’t typically go hand in hand. In the past, it has been derogatorily nicknamed ‘vanity publishing’ and it’s widely assumed that authors who self-publish achieve little to no success. Well, what if we told you that there are several self-published Authors who have achieved significant commercial success? There are lots of classic examples like Edgar Allen Poe, e.e. cummings, Marcel Proust, Beatrix Potter, and Stephen King…but there are also several modern-day examples. Here’s a list of some recent famous authors who began their journey with self-publishing:

1) Inheritance Cycle: Christopher Paolini

This young adult fantasy series began with 15 year old Christopher Paolini. He originally self-published his first book, Eragon, under his parent’s small publishing company and spent one year touring to promote the book. In came Carl Hiaasen, who discovered the book and had it republished by Alfred A. Knopf. Once re-published, the book sold over one million copies in the first five months and the series, now known as the Inheritance Cycle Series, has now sold over 33.5 million copies worldwide.

2) The Martian: Andy Weir 

After conducting research and becoming fully aware of the market, Andy Weir gave up on his dream of publishing his book traditionally. Rather than attempt to shop the book around to traditional publishers, he instead decided to post chapters of the novel on a blog page. Much to his surprise, the chapters gained a fanbase and people started asking him to publish it as an ebook. He did just that and the book almost immediately became a #1 Amazon bestseller.

That was when Weir caught the attention of traditional publishers and, all within one week, Weir signed dual multi-million dollar book and movie deals with Crown Publishing and Twentieth Century Fox. His book went on to sell over three million copies and the Oscar-nominated movie adaptation grossed $630 million worldwide.

3) Still Alice: Lisa Genova

Lisa Genova was attending grad school when her grandmother was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s. This tragedy became the inspiration for the book Still Alice, which follows a Harvard professor who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Genova made the decision to self-publish back in 2007, after she was rejected by every commercial publisher to which she pitched her manuscript.

After gaining readers and popularity around the world, Simon & Schuster picked up the book and republished it in 2009. Today, the book has even been adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Julianne Moore.

4) Fifty Shades of Grey: E.L. James

Possibly the most well-known modern self-publishing success story is that of E.L. James and the Fifty Shades of Grey series. She first self-published the series back in 2011 and, though it had mixed critical reviews, it quickly became an international bestseller. Now, the series has sold over 100 million copies worldwide and it holds the record for fastest selling paperback.

5) My Blood Approves: Amanda Hocking

Amanda Hocking began as another Author who went through a long series of commercial publishing failure. By 2010, she had written a total of 17 novels, all of which had been rejected by commercial publishers. She decided to self-publish one of her books, My Blood Approves. She started to see success fairly quickly, so she published three more books in the series. She has now signed deals with traditional publishers in both the U.S. and U.K. and made millions selling her books.

6) The New World Series: Jennifer Wilson

You’ve probably seen these gorgeous covers at your local Barnes & Noble, but this series actually started off through self-publishing. Similarly to the previous authors, Wilson’s series gained recognition through self-publishing alone and was re-published in the fall of 2015 by Oftomes Publishing. Having found great success, Wilson is now eager to share her story and advice for people who hope to achieve success through self-publishing.

In an interview with Wild Mind Creative, she advised, “If you choose to self-publish, make it the best version of your book you possibly can. Put together a Beta Group to help with spelling, grammar and storyline. (Friends and family are great, plus they will usually do it for a pizza and wine night.) Hire an editor, cover designer and format the interior of your book. These little things will go a long way. Many of my initial fans read the books strictly based on the cover design, remember that first impression is SO important.”

There are several more examples, these are just the most widely-known. If this list should tell you anything, it’s this: just because your book is self-published, doesn’t mean it can’t be successful. It doesn’t always happen, there’s no denying that. But if your work has merit and you put in the marketing legwork, you, too, could see your book on the shelves. And maybe even on the big screen.

The post Notable Self-Published Authors appeared first on Dorrance Publishing Company.

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Name: Margo Beehler

Book: The Adventures of Minnie Lee and Her Underwater Friends

Genre: Children’s

  1. Describe your book. A small, challenged girl named Minnie Lee–a blessing in disguise–helps  the family and her sea turtle with her love.
  2. What made you want to write The Adventures of Minnie Lee and Her Underwater Friends? I wanted people to understand families with challenges and how to treat others with kindness. I work helping underprivileged children and adults.
  3. How long did it take you to write your book?  One year.
  4. How do you choose the names of your characters? Minnielee name was chosen due to the fact she is small; Timmy was a good choice for a turtle…and the other sea animals just all fit together
  5. What do you do when you have writer’s block?  I write in my cabana on the beach…I don’t get writer’s block.
  6. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?   All of the chapters that show love and kindness are my favorite.
  7. If you were stuck on an island, who would you have with you and why? Anyone from the Survivor TV show
  8. Besides writing, what are your other interests? My other interests making art projects, gardening, playing piano and guitar and riding horses.
  9. Do you keep a journal? I do not keep a journal.
  10. How did you celebrate the publishing of The Adventures of Minnie Lee and Her Underwater Friends ? I celebrated with champagne and steaks.
  11. If your book was made into a movie, who would play the main characters? There is a small girl here in my town in Mexico that would be perfect for the movie!
  12. What did you enjoy most about working with Dorrance Publishing? Dorrance was helpful and precise.
  13. Favorite book of all time? The Key
  14. One sentence of advice for other writers?  Stick with it; if you feel it will work, it will.

The post Author Spotlight: Margo Beehler appeared first on Dorrance Publishing Company.

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