Free Ebook!

I’m just putting up this quick post to let everyone know that my book is¬†available for free right now on Amazon.

Zombie Guide sale

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019PIKNBI?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

 

It was recently reviewed by a reader as zombie apocalypse meets Bridgette Jones. Never would have thought of that myself but it’s actually the perfect description hehe.

My short story Ever so Familiar is also exclusively free on the publisher’s website.

Ever So Familiar cover

http://www.djinnpublishing.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html

So, please read any and all free stories that appeal to you and if you feel inclined I would LOVE a review on Goodreads or amazon. ūüėČ

Thanks for following everyone!

~sienna

 

What’s in a name?

 

rj

Ever since the release of The Oaf Prince, I have been a lot more open about my writing. I tell people the title (which I never would have done before) and I even share the book among my friends in hope that they will share, etc.

It might not seem like much, but for me it really is.

I have always been shy, naturally. Over the years I have worked on coming out of my shell and now I am much more comfortable in my own skin. It’s a good thing. But it has lead to some very unexpected things.

For one, I seem to have collected names. Lots of them.

I use to believe that writing was a deeply personal thing. I still feel that people who read my writing are being given a glimpse deep into my soul. They get to learn a lot of things about me. My sense of humour, what makes me sad or things that I find important and cherish. Every single thing that you chose to mention in writing is a choice and it illustrates you as a person. The difference now is that I am okay with that.

It still makes me blush and want to run and hide when I see someone reading my book, but now I don’t mind letting people read it. In fact, now it interests me learning what my readers take note of, what they like or don’t like. It is like we are sharing a very unique experience and everyone feels the words in a different way.

But before I was okay with all that, I created a pen name. As a teenager I always went with an alias. Then as an adult I chose to make a new one. Sienna Sway became my writers voice. And I love her. She’s like the cooler version of me. She’s laid back, she writes what she feels like writing, she doesn’t care if people will raise a brow at her. She likes to shock people and she also likes things to mushy-gushy that I would probably gag if it was reality. She is my “Adult Writer” voice.

Since I began to share The Oaf Prince not just with strangers, but with people I know, I have repeatedly been asked why I used another name?

The answer seems obvious to me. The story is about a gay ogre. Ummmm, not enough of a reason? Well there are a few, pretty graphic sex scenes… At which point in the conversation, the look that friends have given me is¬†the answer.

I didn’t want to be judged.

The Oaf Prince has turned into the brunt of many jokes around here. It’s Lord of the Rings meets Brokeback Mountain. Every gay person on TV is now named Nemir.¬†Things like that. Its actually pretty funny and since the story itself is a comedy, I appreciate that it is not being taken too seriously.

Now I have another book due to be released on the eleventh of December (so soon!) but it’s another one that I am not really taking much credit for in a personal way.

It’s called The Zombie’s Guide To Being Dead. It is being marketed as a non-fiction, written by an L.A. zombie that goes by the name BRAAAGGGHHHHH. She’s a pretty cool, undead woman who is sharing her techniques to not only surviving, but enjoying the afterlife too. (So, you know, if you have any zombie’s in your life in need of a little direction, it might be the perfect Christmas gift. :P)

Needless to say, the author is listed as BRAAAGGGHHHHH and I have added yet another name to the growing list.

My goal has always been to write as myself in the young adult genre. I am already working towards that point and toward the types of stories that really speak to me in a deep way. Luckily I wont have to alter my name for that and I can continue to write as myself and my created names depending on the mood that strikes me.

Now, I am happy with the decisions that I made in creating my alter ego’s. It may be a bit more work, having multiple accounts on many platforms, but hey, it allows me to flex my creativity and not feel bound by what ‘I’ should be writing about.

Does anyone else do the same? I would love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

~

One more thing! If you’re interested in getting a copy of The Oaf Prince for free, I am having a goodreads giveaway right now here;¬†https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27824783-the-oaf-prince

And I will have a giveaway for A Zombie’s Guide to Being Dead coming up in a week’s time.

I’ll post updates on how they go, as it’s my first time doing it. Fingers crossed!

 

Twitter Giveaway

Exciting news!

The pre-order for The Oaf Prince has only been up properly for about a day and a half and I already have five sales! ūüėÄ I am so delighted! I hope that it continues to sell at this speed.

But now that I am in, and being tempted by the slowly growing number of sales, its time to take the plunge. I can’t do this half way. I am going to go all in. Its now or never.

So on that dramatic note…

I am going to launch a twitter giveaway. Starting today, anyone who follows my twitter account and retweets a certain tweet will be entered for a chance to win a copy of the ebook for free.

It sounds simple when you say it like that, but I’ve never done this before.

To me this is incredibly overwhelming. Again, doubt gets to me. What if no one likes my page? Well, the answer to that is simple, if no one likes it, then no one gets a free copy. Easy as that. (Now I just need to repeat that to myself.)

Rules;

Upon looking up info for giveaways, I was surprised that there are so many tips and ‘rules’ on twitter giveaways. In the past, it seems like this technique¬†was more of a way to grow your twitter audience and that would be it. You then targeted those new followers¬†as your future audience. It goes beyond that now though. With SEO and the importance of twitter and the like to social advertising, these giveaways can give you that extra boost in various platforms. Who doesn’t want their product to go viral?

Ahem, it feels weird to talk about my book as a product. Like I am objectifying my characters somehow. Nemir, Soluc, I didn’t mean it!

BUT, right now, I am not the author, I am the marketer. I can say from experience that it is extremely hard to switch from being an artist to being a business person. Through hours of research online, it seems that marketing is an art all to its own. Learning it is taking a lot of hard work, but the payoff is that your art can then grow.

If having more sales, means that I can write more and work in my day job less, then I will do what I need to do to grow.

I know I am not alone here. That’s why I would like to keep note of my techniques and progress and hopefully help other writers out there when the time comes to publish, whether traditionally or self-published.

In this case, I am choosing to keep it simple and not bother with any other sites or programs that can take care of the details for you. There are many options out there but instead of wading through reviews for each one, I am going to try to embrace the power of hashtags and keywords.

Here is the tweet I am using.

Screenshot (14)

https://twitter.com/SiennaSway

Technique

My technique here was pretty simple, and easy to see. I wanted to make the story noticeable without using unnecessary characters. Twitter only allows 140 characters, so I left out any details of the book, left out my name and even left out the title. Instead, I put a link to the book. A cropped picture of the cover, reinforcing the giveaway and also giving a quick description of the book.

I used the rest of my available characters on hashtags. In my opinion #gayfiction is one of the most important ones that I used. That simple hashtag will (hopefully) stop people from retweeting and following, if its not their cup of tea. Remember, I am looking for an audience of readers who actually like my writing.

As you can see, in seven minutes, I already have 8 retweets/follows and one favourite.

Fingers crossed that it continues to go like this for the week that I am planning to run this giveaway! I will keep everyone posted.

In the meantime, if you would like to join in on the draw, please do! I’m planning to give five copies out on the 22nd!

Here’s the link:¬†https://twitter.com/SiennaSway

And if you want to read more about The Oaf Prince: http://amzn.to/1FauKWC

Thanks for the read!

-Sienna

6-Step Story Editing!

In celebration of finishing the edit of COLD BLOOD, WARM HEART I decided to share my six step editing process with you all! Exciting I know.

~

Editing can be-and often is-the most tedious and sometimes painful part of the writing process. However if you can keep sight of the creativity and excitement that you had while writing, it doesn’t need to be.

Just like with writing, there are steps and tips that may help ease the process and maybe even make it more fun. So here are my personal techniques!

 

STEP ONE: TAKE A BREAK

Yes that’s right. Hey, you just finished writing a book. Take a friggen break! Not just a lunch break either. Go out, celebrate, do something to congratulate yourself. This is a big accomplishement, whether its your first time doing it or your hundredth. It may seem unneccesary but believe me, gatting space from your novel will be the biggest key in seeing it objectively. I cannot stress doing this enough. It may be the biggest key to your editing. ¬†Personally I aim for a month at least before getting back to the manuscript. It will wait for you.

 

STEP TWO: DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT

This sounds vague I know but it is also amazing the way your mind just opens up, your story will seem fresh and your drive renewed if you manage to look at your novel with fresh eyes. So how do you do it? Before you open up the manuscript take out a notepad and think about your book. What is the theme? What is the point of the story? How would you summarize it on the back cover? Now, is there anything in the story that conflicts with that? Is there something that you now realize doesn’t work or make sense? Is there a compelling way to add to it? Its amazing what this excersise will accomplish. ¬†By actively deciding what you want from the book, you can give it a new clarity that it may have been lacking before.

 

STEP THREE: SPELLING AND GRAMMAR CHECK

Very basic, I know, but while you are rereading your manuscript again for the first time you don’t want to be distracted from the bigger picture by small errors. It ruins the flow and may inhibit your ability to get into the story. Annoying!

 

STEP FOUR: READ!

This is the fun part. Read your novel as though someone else wrote it. DON’T MAKE CHANGES! Not in the actual manuscript any way. Take as many notes as you need to. This is the stage where rewriting might grab at you. Just be sure to do it through note taking. It ends up getting really messy when parts of your rewrite are already written into the story and parts aren’t. Especially when you might end up liking it how it was before a little bit more than your rewrite.

 

*NOTE: make sure that after rewrites and major edits you always save as a new file. You will end up with multiple copies of your book but you will also be able to keep track of what draft you are on! Being able to see how far your book has come is amazing motivation.

 

STEP FIVE: REWRITE

Here it is. The meaty part of the editing process. It will probably have you tearing out your hair, just remember, if something doesn’t need to be changed, don’t change it. Anything that you really like can be saved, whether its a particular chapter, dialogue or even sentence. figure out how to make it work and if it still doesn’t fit you can adjust/add or even delete it. Oddly, deleting parts of stories is often the key to having a stronger book. Use the notes that you took and I’m sure that everything will come together.

 

*NOTE: If something is still bothering you about the story maybe its time to put it aside and start the steps all over again. Yes it’s a lot of work, you have to decide if your story is worth it. I have a feeling that the answer will be yes.

 

STEP SIX: READ AGAIN

You did it! The book is done, you are happy with it. You have accomplished something amazing, something that people often dream of doing but never do. You are ready for the next step-submissions. One last thing, read the book one more time to be sure that nothing has slipped through the cracks.

~

There you have it. This is my personal process for editing, not just novels, but short stories, screenplays, whatever I happen to be writing. It may not work for everyone but it gets me confident and ready to submit.¬†Remember, there is no set in stone rule for this. Do it in whatever way makes you content with your manuscript/screenplay/essay/etc…

 

I hope this helps! Good luck and keep tuned for other tips on writing and submitting your work.

 

~Sienna ūüėČ

 

Writing Queries

Yesterday Began the first day of submissions in what I am assuming will be many. That’s the hope any way and although it has been quite a while since I sent anything off, I now have a little accumulated pile of short stories novella’s and yes even novels.

I think all writers have been in this position before. Maybe its insecurity holding us back, in my case I know that is a big part of it. I know this is what I wanted to write. I know I had fun writing it. I know my sweat and blood went into it and in my oppinion it was totally worth it, but after all that, will anybody else want to read it?

I’m not so sure. Maybe by being so particular with what I write-lets be honest, I have an affinity for drama, very silly characters, angst and happy endings-I’ve cut out a major group of people that would otherwise read this. Hey it’s possible but why bother trying to make everybody happy if you end up with a story that makes ‘you’ less happy?

Yesterday I sent KISSING SANTA in to Torquere press. It is a short story that I have a definite soft spot for. The main characters are a gay couple already in an established relationship. Quite honestly they have the type of relationship that most people probably long for; supportive, secure and playful. The story somehow even has that bit of spice to it. You can probably tell that I am proud of that one. I wouldn’t change it and managed to submit it on the last day of their deadline for their christmas anthology but they do not require a query letter and thankfully their submission process for short stories was a little bit simpler than some others.

Case in point being my next two planned submissions. FAR TOO FAMILIAR is a short romantic story about a witch. It is sweet, it is PG, and it is supposed to be the first in a series which will be followed by at least two novels. A lot rides on this submission. How do I make this story sound good enough that two novels could potentially follow in its footsteps? Is it good enough for that? The submission that I am planning to follow with (currently untitled) is a paranormal romance novella also with the possibility of follow up novella’s although those are not set in stone. I have a publisher lined up that I would like to try first, but even there there are difficulties, the main one of course being the query letter.

From my research I’ve put together a bit of a go to for query writing:

Step one: Find the right publisher.¬†Sounds easy, I know but be specific, and I mean very specific. Do you have a gay paranormal romantic short story? Then find an open call for a¬†gay paranormal romantic short story. Wrote a speculative novel about Peter Pan? You’d be surprised, there is a publisher out there looking for something just like that. Look at their other books, see what they publish. In the submission details all publishers will have a fairly detailed list of the kind of things they are currently looking for. Take everything into consideration and don’t waste your time submitting to a publisher who might not want your story.

Step two: Know the name of the editor you’re submitting to and address the letter to him/her. Again, the publishers website will be your best friend for this part. Under each open call they will have the name of the specific editor listed. If you are not submitting to an open call be warned that specific imprints or genres may have different editors. Find the one that is looking for your type of story.

Step three: The majority of your query letter should be about the book you are pitching. Remember you are trying to sell your book. This can be the fun part or the hard part. How do you summarize your entire story in a few short paragraphs? Try first to identify a theme. Cut to the chase by starting with that. Follow with the word count and merge into the sales pitch. This should basically be what you would read on the back of the book. Use your imagination and have fun! (Easier said than done, i know…)

Step Four: Indicate your credentials! This is important only if you have very good, applicable credits. Have a couple books published? let them know what and which publishers they were published by. Also remember if you have real life credentials that counts too. Wrote a book taking place in ancient Greece and have a degree in classical studies? Let them know! Remember that applies especially to non-fiction. If you don’t have anything to put down don’t worry about it. You can still have a strong query.

Step Five: Proof read. Make sure that its short. One page if you can manage it. Make sure that it is clean and neatly laid out. Double check to see if your summary is written in the same voice as the novel. Be sure that it is in present tense!

Its funny, but after all of that story writing, the query letter can be the hard part. You are no longer writing for yourself, you are officially writing for someone else, trying to identify all the little ways that a mass audience might like your story. Its definitely not easy but you owe it to yourself and to your own creativity to give it your all and go as far as you can.

Good Luck!

…now on to the summary…

note: any extra tips for me? Please give me any that you can! Any feedback for my list is truly welcome!

realism, romance and drama

The first post I made to this blog is simply a quote from oscar wilde which I find incredibly to the point when it comes to romance story telling.

He says “While we look to the dramatist to give romance to realism, we ask of the actor to give realism to romance.”

Don’t you think that this quote carries so much¬†weight when it comes to writing in general? How many times have we read stories with fantastic writing and an interesting plot that still left us yawning? Being a writer, particularly of romance means that you alone need to find that delicate balance of romance and drama and realism.

The ability to type a good dramatic romance only goes so far unless there is a realistic touch to weed out all of those star lit nights and perfect love making sessions where all parties climax at the same time in a breath-taking explosion of white light and flower petals.

Too often, writers forget that the drama is what makes the comedy funny, or that the drama has a whole new level when things like romance are at stake.

Lets be honest, no one wants to read a flat, two dimensional story in any genre but the more you layer and find the romance or drama or realism the ultimately better your story will be.