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What started as a personal project has become his legacy. Raymond Camper’s rich voice in his book Shadowland America invites you into his world of poetry through intimacy and authenticity. All of us at Wise Ink wanted to know more, so we interviewed Ray and asks him a few questions about his writing journey.

Wise Ink: Who are some of your favorite writers and writers that have influenced you?

Raymond Camper: Hmm, the most influential writer when it comes to my own work would probably be Dessa, of the Doomtree collective, because she has this amazing command of language and transitions so smoothly from writing lyrics to writing poetry. I can just put on ‘A Badly Broken Code’ or ‘Parts of Speech’ and write or drive or just be transported into the most intimate of psychological struggles for hours and hours. I just get the sense that she takes language and word usage seriously, and that really shows in her work, both in poetic and lyrical form. Robert Frost was one of the first poets that I really honed in on at a young age, and I loved how expressive he could be about nature and simple things that just about anyone can see, but most fail to really pay attention to. I’m also a big fan of Thomas Hardy, and Jude the Obscure is one of the few novels I usually read at least twice a year. Neal Gaiman is another favorite of mine, and I loved how ‘American Gods’ wrestled with mythology, religion and social constructs and humanized our idols, and I think some of my poetry that wrestles with the concepts of patriotism and the glorification of war attempts (and likely fails) to get at something close to that. 

WI: Tell us a little bit about your story and what inspired you to write, Shadowland America.

RC: This book is a collection of 60 poems that I’ve written basically over the span of when I was 18 until just a few months ago. I got to this place where I had the majority of these pieces, and I would occasionally think about the prospect of getting them into book form, and the more I thought about it, the harder it was to ignore, and I was also struggling with creating new poetry, because for some reason, I was feeling this overwhelming need to get these poems into book form and out in front of others, almost as a way to put them behind me so I could start creating and moving forward again. Once I decided that I was actually going to start looking into the prospect of a book, I knew that I wanted it to be a collaboration with other artists in some way, a communal thing, and I was fortunate enough to know Amber and Alicia, and they were so excited and thrilled to have my poetry in their hands, and create whatever feelings or emotions that the poems elicited and put it into a visual form. 

WI: What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

RC: I love Octavia Butler’s ‘Kindred’. Although I was unaware of Butler’s work until just 3-4 years ago, I fell in love with her voice and her style of telling stories. I know that her Earthseed Trilogy has garnered a lot of increased attention with the increased interest in Black Science Fiction, but I’m not sure that ‘Kindred’ is given the same weight and credit that it deserves.

WI: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

RC: I’d say that the most surprising thing that I’ve learned is that the process of creating the poems was easy; however you really need to bring that same level of passion and commitment to the entire publishing process. As amazing as Wise Ink has been, it’s really been up to me to give more time, attention and effort to the entire process then I had ever anticipated before, because, at the end of the day, your book or your art has to be your baby, and as excited and as thrilled as others around you might be about it, no one will have the same passion and commitment to it that you do, because it was your experiences, thoughts, and emotions that you’ve poured out onto those pages, and nobody else will ever quite get your work and effort like you do. 

WI: How can we purchase your book?

RC: Folks are welcomed to preorder copies of the book through the crowdfunding campaign, where they can ensure that they will get a signed copy by myself and the artists, or give to the campaign and receive other rewards. I plan on getting my book into several Twin Cities local, independent bookstores, and expanding to other bookstores across the country. I will also have a Squarespace site set up so folks can order the book directly from me that way as well. I’m currently planning out some fairs and book expos I hope to be at this year, and folks will be able to purchase the book from me at these events as well. My goal is to get as much contact with those looking to purchase the book as possible, at least the first year it’s out, and then possibly rolling over to more online sells.

Folks can follow me at https://raymondcamperwrites.com/ where I’m writing about the entire publishing process, to get updates about the book, find out more about the launch date, and stay up to date about upcoming events and readings. 

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Shhh…. don’t tell anyone… but we at Wise Ink LOVE publishing cookbooks. Why? Well, it’s not just because we love to eat, though WE DO. It’s because cookbooks are super easy to market.

Firstly, cookbooks are always among the highest selling book genres, consistently. Secondly, cookbook authors have an easy way to market their books for years beyond their launch– all they need to do is host a cooking demo event! And thirdly, probably MOST importantly, cooking bloggers have a consistently engaged audience and large platform. Win, win, win.

Cookbooks are a great way to give a cooking blogger legitimacy and a way of taking a part time passion into a full time brand. Here we talk with Wise Ink author Tonja Engen, author of Tonja’s Table (based on her awesome blog!) about how she made the leap from cooking blogger to cookbook author:

Q1: Tell us a little about your blogging journey. How long did you have your blog before publishing your cookbook?

I started my blog in 2012 in response to my friends and families recipe inquiries on what to make for various occasions and events.  I thought sending a recipe out once a week would be fun and a great way to connect. I maybe sent this out to 25 people at the time.  It started to grow organically so in 2014 I decided to get a “real website” (I think we were using constant contact at the time) and added some different features to my blog.  It was 2 years after that I started writing my cookbook which published in 2016.

Q2: Going from a blog to a book is a huge step. How did you know your blog was ready for a book?

I didn’t!  I just loved providing recipes and solutions to everyone’s cooking dilemas (weeknight cooking, entertaining, potlucks, etc.) and thought it would be another great vehicle for sharing recipes and my passion for cooking.

Q3: You have been very vocal about the importance of organizing your cookbook in a way that makes sense for you. What are some tips you have for recipe bloggers who might be interested in developing a cookbook?

I feel that every cookbook author has a unique story to tell.  Finding your cookbook niche is the first step. What are you trying to accomplish with your book?  What solutions are you providing? Maybe it’s just to entertain your reader, but that is still a niche.  Ask those hard questions up front and the process with be much smoother. In my case, the recipes were very occasion-based and I wrote to my reader with their lifestyle in mind (cabin cooking in the summer, holidays, dinner parties, feeding the team, etc.).  So I organized the book by menus to make it easy to know what to make. My ultimate goal was to get people back in the kitchen again without fear.

Q4: Who are some of your cookbook author inspirations, and why?

Julia Child!  I have all her cookbooks and biographies. I studied in Nice where she had a summer home and I have such an affinity for French cooking.   Her culinary passion is matched by few and she was fearless. I really admire that about her.

Ina Garten transformed how a lot of us cook and entertain now.  She simplified things with exact details which is very hard to do. I have all of her books and have made almost all of her recipes.

Chrissy Tiegen came out with “Cravings” while I was writing my book (sort of like when your pregnancy follows a movie star).  She’s hilarious and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She also has really tasty food and I hate skimping on flavor so I really enjoy her book and think we would have fun in the kitchen together.

Q5: What’s been the best part about having a book to go along with your website and brand?

It opens doors and creates so many opportunities I could have never imagined.  I have done everything from book signings, holiday events, markets, cooking classes to Twin Cities Live cooking demos, and recently starting a Tonja’s Table Cooking Club.  

Do you have a cooking blog and are ready to take it to the next level? Drop us a line!

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This March, Roseanne Cheng shines the limelight on publicity in this months video series. From simple publicity tips to the understanding the relationship behind the job, Roseanne’s got your back! Want to know more? Ask a question below!

Wise Questions - Publicity - March - YouTube

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Add LaBelle Nambangi’s name to the great fight of challenging the status quo. In her book, Women Who Soar, LaBelle educates women on gaining their own independence and finding their own voice through storytelling. In our interview with her, she talks in depth about her experiences, other authors that have influenced her and how she came to be the great LaBelle.

Wise Ink: Who are some of my favorite writers?

LaBelle Nambangi: 
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Imbolo Mbue
Paulo Coelho
Maya Angelou
Sophia Nelson
Chinua Achebe

WI: Who are some writers that have influenced you?

LN:  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Maya Angelou, Sophia Nelson are some of the writers who have greatly influenced me. I enjoy Maya Angelou’s unique writing styles; a combination of prose poetry and her use of direct conversational voice is captivating. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie unique writing style of using imagery, dialogue and character’s personal points of view enables the readers to know each character and draws the reader more. I do relate to her upbringing and stories. I especially enjoy Sophia Nelson’s The Woman Code as it is about transforming women’s lives – enabling women to discover their personal power, live up to their highest potential, love themselves unconditionally and do same for other women. These ideologies strongly resonate with me as I have been teaching and demonstrating this philosophy to the teenage girls I have worked with over ten years. My book, Women Who Soar is along those same lines giving women practical examples of women they can emulate to change their lives and do same for other women especially those marginalized and disenfranchised.

WI: Tell us a little bit about your story, Women Who Soar.

LN: My book Women Who Soar is about how ordinary women can challenge the status quo, the roadblocks, the gender discrimination we experience which holds us back from being our authentic selves by learning from the stories of the women included in the book. It is about women learning how to create financial stability for themselves and other women in their communities. It is about women using their God-given skills and talents to break out of the box of prescribed societal norms to design their own lives. It is about women being allies of other women as opposed to rivals, competitors which were the old paradigm. It is about men and
women working together to fight against gender discrimination acknowledging that women’s right is human’s right. It is about us all as humans recognizing that we all suffer when women are discriminated against and we cheat ourselves and the world from the contributions women can make. It is about emphasizing the power and effect of women’s contributions in society if given equal opportunities as men as stated in this old adage: Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. But teach a woman to fish, and everyone eats for a lifetime.

WI: What inspired you to write the book, Women Who Soar?

LN: While working with teenagers girls and carrying on candid conversations about gender issues, it was clear that the girls regarded other females as rivals and competitors which they justified as the true nature of women as haters of one another. The girls also considered themselves inferior to boys because of the gender discrimination they were subjected to at home, community and the world. They believed that as girls they were not complete in their own rights and could not attain financial stability and independence on their own merits without help from men. These same sentiments were expressed by some of the women we worked with who believed that every woman’s greatest achievement is marriage as women are not complete without men. The women believed they are inferior because of their gender and are not capable of affecting change. In discussing role models with the girls, they stated that they did not consider their mothers, women in their families and women in their communities as their role models because they are weak – did not stand up to the men in their lives, hands over their paychecks to their husbands, are in abusive relationships, dependent and the list went on. For these reasons the girls only look up to celebrities, whom they believe are independent, self-sufficient, financially stable, and in control of their lives. When asked if they believed they could attain the same level of success like their role models, they responded in the negative – Celebrities are from affluent families, society favors their class, race, ethnicity and they are not bound by the same type of cultural and religious expectations as the girls. I decided to write this book to showcases women from every work of life, background, ethnicity and educational level who challenged the status and designed their lives. To showcase ordinary women who are making tremendous changes in their lives, the lives of other women and society as a whole to empower the girls to start believing in their own abilities.

WI: What are you hoping people gain from reading your book?

LN: My hope is that the reader will be empowered and inspired by the stories of the people of change shared in the book. To emulate their actions and join them in challenging whatever status quo is holding them back from becoming their authentic selves, and do the same for others. I want the readers to recognize their value, and realize they are a complete being in their own right, become a person of change and recognize their role for the next generation. A person of change believes that women are inherently equal to men and that we all will benefit once societies and cultures reflect this natural equality.

WI: What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

LN: The White Man of God by Kenjo Jumbam

WI: How can we purchase your book?

LN: My book will be available for purchase on Amazon, Facebook, and Barnes and Nobel.

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Meet Ashley Flynn! Ashley is a new author releasing her first children’s book My Favorite Job Is You— a book that celebrates working mothers everywhere. We asked her a few questions about her book, her writing career, and how she manages to balance work and motherhood.

Wise Ink: Who are some of your favorite writers and writers that have influenced you?

Ashley Flynn: My favorite children’s book to read with my mother growing up was I’ll Love You Forever by Roger Munsch. What a simple, but incredibly touching story. When we would reach the last two pages, I remember just staring at my mom to see if she was going to start crying. She always did! I couldn’t believe a book could make an adult cry. Children’s books can have a profound impact on both adults and kids, and I think that’s so powerful and so cool. That concept inspired me in my children’s book. I could write something meaningful to both the mother and child. Not that I want to make the reader cry, but I do want her to be impacted. However, I do think it’s a good sign when the reader does tear up, and I’d be lying if I said still don’t try to sneak a peek. Ha!

WI: Tell us a little bit about your story and what inspired you to write, My Favorite Job Is You.

AF: When my daughter, Nina Rose, was born, I’d come up with these little rhyming blurbs while I rocked her to sleep. Sometimes they would be silly and just nonsense, and other times I’d pick a topic that was on my heart and turn it into a rhyme. In the summer of 2016, I was going through some serious “mom-guilt” about working full-time and sending Nina to daycare as a baby. Going through the transition and adjusting to our new normal, this idea of writing a story about our lives came to me. Our hectic mornings, getting through a stressful day at work, coming home to more chaos, all while dealing with this emotional roller-coaster of feelings… I just knew other working moms could relate.

WI:What are you hoping people gain from reading your book?

AF: At times, being a working mother can feel pretty isolating. I think that’s a product of mixed feelings of anxiety and guilt. You don’t want to talk out loud about feeling guilty, because does that make it a reality that you’re a bad mom? Does it make you a bad employee? I hated talking about my mom-guilt; it was too much to say out loud to others.  I think that working mothers also tend to want to make it look like they have it “all together.” At least I’m that way! There’s a little bit of an added fear of failure, because there’s so many balls up in the air all of the time, there’s a greater risk of one falling. I want this book to support working moms, to let them know that they aren’t alone. They are not isolated. Their feelings are justified, and they are doing such an incredible job at life.

WI: What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

AF: I’m actually not writing right now and am focusing on the release of the book, but when I was writing, it would have to be at night while I was rocking Nina to sleep. She totally inspired every piece I wrote.

WI: How can we purchase your book?

AF: My book is available for pre-sale at flynnstorytelling.com.
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Wise Questions - Editing - February - YouTube

Oh, editing… The who, the when, the cost. This month, Wise Questions dives into the differences between content editing and proofreading, how much you should expect to pay for editing, what beta readers are and more.

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Wise Questions - January - YouTube

It’s February… how are your 2018 writing goals coming? If you need a kickstart, check out the first in our video series, Wise Questions, where we discuss all things writing, editing, and publishing.

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A father’s story, edited by his son  – The Counterfeit Poles is a beautifully told memoir of a family’s secrets through the devastating times of the Holocaust and World War I. Jerry shares with us a little bit about his father and his parents survival story.

Wise Ink: Tell us a little bit about your story and what inspired you to write, The Counterfeit Poles.

Jerry Drew: The Counterfeit Poles is a memoir written by my father (who died in 2006) detailing his experiences during the Second World War. I am just the editor of these memoirs. My parents, who were Jewish, escaped the ghetto and lived openly in Warsaw under Nazi occupation for almost two years, posing as Catholic Poles while earning a living producing false identity documents for the resistance and other Jews. Hence the title, The Counterfeit Poles! My parents came to America in 1946, soon after the war. My father was tortured by nightmares of what he had seen and thought that if he wrote down his memories, the nightmares might fade. So he dictated this memoir to my mother, in Polish, over the next few years, never entirely completing it. Many years later, he also gave an oral history of his experiences. After his death, I had the manuscript translated into English and then appended parts from his oral history, that had not been included in the manuscript, into the final work.

WI: How can we purchase your book?

JD: The book is available for purchase both on Amazon, and several bookstores it also downloadable on Kindle other E-readers.
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Each week get to know one of our amazing staff members as they talk about their writing heroes, advice to writers, and what book is currently sitting on their nightstand.

This week, meet Graham Warnken!

Wise Ink: Describe your role at Wise Ink in two sentences or less.

Graham Warnken: I’m the Production Coordinator, which basically means I deal with the nitty-gritty of the editing, design, and distribution process. Copyediting, proofreading, layout, metadata—if it’s part of getting the book primed and printed, I’m involved.

WI: What is your day at Wise Ink normally look like?

GW: On any given day I’ll probably be working on proofreading a manuscript (it may be the first pass or one of several) as my main task, as well as handling a number of smaller tasks that could include obtaining ISBNs and Library of Congress numbers, requesting print quotes, sending printers distribution info, etc. These tasks, of course, will regularly by interrupted by Games of Thrones conversations with Laura and Danielle.

WI: What types of books are your favorites to publish, and why?

GW: Fiction is definitely my favorite genre to work on, particularly science fiction/fantasy. It’s what I read the most, and I find it easier to edit a novel than I do a longer piece of nonfiction writing.

WI: Who are some of your writing heroes?

GW: For fiction, Ray Bradbury, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Catherynne M. Valente, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and Philip K. Dick. For nonfiction, Annie Dillard, David Foster Wallace, James Baldwin, and Philip Sandifer.  

WI: If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would you say?

GW: Delete your Twitter account. Learn from my sorry example.

WI: What are you currently reading?

GW: I just finished Paterson by William Carlos Williams; currently in the middle of The Sound of Mountain Water by Wallace Stegner.

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