Valerie J. Clarizio, Virginia McCullough, Kira Shayde, S.C. Mitchell, Lisa Romdenne and Mary Grace Murphy will be at UntitledTown presenting a panel entitled A Look at the Romance Genre and Women’s Fiction – The Genres that Outpace Themselves Year After Year.
The 27th Annual Fabulous Five contest for unpublished authors and authors not published in book length fiction in the last five years is open for entries. WisRWA is pleased to be able to offer entrants of the 2018 Fabulous Five contest a chance to win one of eight detailed critiques from a published WisRWA author. We wanted to introduce everyone to each of these authors, and share a little bit about their writing journey. Without further ado, please meet our eighth author: Sara Dahmen.
Sara lives in Port Washington, Wisconsin. She is a cookware manufacturer and metalsmith apprentice. Sara’s non-fiction book on the history and science of cookware is due out at the end of 2018, and she loves to pretend it’s 1820 and camp at outdoor rendezvous in the summer. When she’s not writing, she’s working on her House Copper cookware line, or spending time with her husband and three young children.
WISRWA: How long have you been writing? Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?
SARA: My writing journey started long long ago as a child, and I’ve written stories all my life – throughout middle school, high school, and beyond. But as a professional writer, my career started in 2014 when I started self-publishing. It was self-pubbing all the way until my first novel was picked up by a publisher, re-worked, re-edited, and released as a debut and the first in a series of six books on Feb 14.
WISRWA: What is something that you learned along the way that proved to be a light bulb moment and still is relevant to your writing today?
SARA: Honestly, the thing I’ve learned the most is that our writing styles evolve as our lives, experiences, and knowledge grows and changes. Plus, having a team of editors really makes a difference. They’ll push you way out of your comfort zone, which forces you to truly figure out who you are as a writer and what your voice is…but also gives you an opportunity to look at your work and step out, leaving you a chance to create something even more amazing, if you keep an open mind.
WISRWA: What is one piece of writing or industry advice you can offer to unpublished authors?
SARA: I’d say…keep writing. It’s a little cliché, but it’s a cliché because it’s true (and said so often because it IS true!). You will only get better with practice, and going over and over your words. Even reading your manuscript backwards and working on your editing and picking out words. Just keep at it. You’ll end up polishing it perfectly in the end.
WISRWA: Any new books coming out in the near future?
SARA: Widow 1881, the first in the Flats Junction series, just came out on Feb 14, 2018. I’m so excited because it’s filled with dozens of illustrations, maps, telegrams etc, so it’s a visually pretty book. But the next book, Smith 1865, is supposed to come out at the end of 2018 as well. Which I’m excited about because no one has really written about a female tin and coppersmith. 😊
For a chance to win a detailed critique by Sara, don’t forget to enter the Fabulous Five contest. She will be offering a detailed a detailed critique for one lucky entrant from all the entries. For more information about the contest and to enter, click here.
Each month, WisRWA will announce the new books our members have published. We call it New Release Tuesday.
Congratulations to the following WisRWA members on their new releases this month.
Kinky Briefs, Quatro by Seelie Kay
Widow 1881 by Sara Dahmen
Demon Escape by M.J. Haag
Playing With Fire: The Battle of the Bands by Mary Hughes
Love With a Side of Crazy by Tina Susedik
We all talk about book clubs as if they are one of the arteries of writers. And guess what? They are! Without book clubs, there’d be fewer forums (in person or online) to create a reading environment. Without book clubs, there would be less people reading in general. Without book clubs, there’d be no homegrown, grassroots way to get a following.
This was the second year I attended the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend in Nacogdoches, Texas hosted by creator and founder Kathy Murphy, the ultimate book club queen and founder of the PQs.
Because most of us who belong to WisRWA live north of the Mason-Dixon line, this club and the Girlfriend Weekend event is not well-known (yet!). The Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys is the biggest book club in the world, citing over 750 chapters internationally, and thousands of members.
As an author, attending the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend is outrageously awesome. Hundreds of readers pile into a big ballroom, and they actively want to hear about your book, your process, the backstory and what makes you and your book tick. The best part? It didn’t end after my speech and panels. You interact constantly with dedicated readers all weekend long, and several end up on my Christmas card list.
While we Wisconsinites tend to be a little more reserved, the ladies in the south are fabulous at getting dressed up for any occasion. Each night of the event had a themed party, and the costumes were bigger and better as the weekend went on. The extra cherry on top turned out to be the personal relationships I made with fellow authors. I personally was in awe of most of them, and they were so welcoming, warm, and kind both during and after the event. Authors from around the nation and the globe attend, spending time with one another and readers alike, with fantastic keynote speakers from bestselling and local, small or first-time authors. Kathy Murphy, while selective of her reading list, is wonderful about supporting authors from the first book to their 30th, and celebrates them all the way. It is eye-opening and touching and overwhelming.
I walked away this year with more contacts, a renewed respect for what goes into coordinating a big book club bash, and rejuvenated from seeing wonderful author friends once more. Plus, seeing readers from other years, connecting with new ones, other first time authors, and wonderful established ones.
So, what’s the moral of this blog post? Book clubs rock. They’re meant to connect readers with words, and the words are yours. Make them count, connect with people through them, and create relationships. It’s a serious and real way to touch the people holding your books, to let them get a peek into who you are, why you write, and how you write. Let your inner passion for your work shine and blast onto them. Let them feel that glow, and they’ll likely fall a little more in love with your book because of it. And if that gives joy, that’s all the better.
The Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend event is always in January, so check your calendars for 2019 and consider a road trip to East Texas. If you want to read more about Kathy Murphy and the Pulpwood Queens Book Club, here are three links: the first one is titled “Three Questions with the Founder of the World’s Largest Book Club,”, and the second (and most recent) one is a feature article from the November 29, 2017, issue of Parade Magazine. For general information, check out www.beautyandthebook.com.
P.S. 2019’s theme is How the West Was Won. Imagine the costumes….
by Sara Dahmen
Sara Dahmen is the award-winning author of Widow 1881, a metalsmith, American cookware designer and manufacturer, and a mom. You can reach her @saradahmenbooks or at email@example.com.
It’s Promotion Thursday for October. Check out where you can find our WisRWA authors this month.
Sandy Goldsworthy will be at the 2017 Ozarks Indie Book Fest in Springfield, MO from October 19-22. Bringing authors, bloggers, and readers together, the Ozarks Indie Book Fest has features over exhibitors and panels for all.
Proceeds from the event benefit Companions for Heroes and Loving Paws Rescue. For more information, visit their website.
Sara Dahmen will be at the Heartland Fall Forum in Illinois with her publisher, SillanPaceBrown Group, and speaking at the Moveable Feast on October 12 at noon, and doing a signing her book Widow and showing off her cookware on October 13 all day. She will also be at Beer & Books at the Black Kettle Eatery & Pub in Columbus, WI on November 2 at 7 PM. Beer & Books is a reading/signing/book event.
Maxine Douglas will be signing her books at the Fall Author Festival being held at the Chickasha Public Library on October 27th, from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm.
Melonie Johnson will be sharing who her Book Boyfriend is in the October edition of the HEA USA Today column, on 10/27.
WisRWA is teaming up with Renaissance Theaterworks in Milwaukee to host a mini book fair on October 28th in and around the performances of Renaissance Theaterworks’ production of Sex with Strangers.
From Renaissance Theaterworks website: “When frustrated forty-ish novelist, Olivia, meets fast-talking, twenty-something, blogger and memoirist, Ethan – known more for his sexual prowess than his prose – she worries that she will become just another chapter in his little black book. Their funny and passionate union blurs the lines between rewrites, romance and royalties – proving you can’t judge a book by its author. Sex with Strangers was one of America’s top ten most produced plays from 2014-2016. In addition to playwrighting, Laura Eason is also a producer/writer for the Emmy Award-winning Netflix series House of Cards.”
Eight WisRWA authors will take part in the signing, and we’ll have other WisRWA members on hand to answer any questions about WisRWA that we can. The authors participating are:
Starting tomorrow, each week, we will feature a Q&A with one of the authors.
Sex with Strangers runs October 20-November 12, 2017 but WisRWA will only be there on October 28th. Come support local theater and local authors! For more information, visit Renaissance Theaterworks.
Hope to see you there!
Sara Dahmen will be presenting at RWA Nationals in Orlando, Florida on Friday, July 28th from 2:00-3:00 PM during the 20/20 Expert Hour: Historicals. She will be discussing the Historical Kitchen: A meaty look at the roles and power of women in the kitchen: how their status and the era affected the foods they prepared and impacted their world.
Now that I have an audiobook, I thought I’d share how I did it. My process won’t necessarily work for everyone, and that’s OK. But hopefully, reading about my experience will provide you the confidence and willingness to at least get started in the process!
As someone who comes from a production background in television and radio, I know I have a bit of an advantage over where to look for voices and what kind of talent I am looking for. I’m no expert, but I have some working knowledge and connections that I’d be glad to share. I am happy to talk to any of you lovely authors about your questions on how to get into audiobooks.
Not everyone’s journey to creating an audiobook is the same. There are a lot of pre-packaged studio and narrator options available to indie and self-published authors, and while I’m not going to list them all here, a simple Google search will turn up a majority of those choices compiled in one place. An excellent starting source is this article by Allison Schiff on the Publisher’s Weekly blog.
When deciding to produce your book into an audiobook, you need to decide what kind of voice you’d like to have narrate it. Unless you understand studio time and are willing to pay fees for access, I highly recommend you don’t sit at home and record this on your computer yourself. It will result in poor quality audio that will likely be rejected by most outlets. This leaves you with looking for voice talent.
You must know the following:
Once you know what you’re looking for in a VO actor, you may start to search. Some authors prefer to work with a one-stop-shop such as ACX with Amazon, or other larger production houses. They’ll have some great talent voices for you to choose from. I preferred to have more control over my choices as well as my production (as well as save some money).
I also wanted to use non-union talent because it gave me, the “buyer,” far more purchasing power and say in pricing. Union talent will have required costs for their time and set prices for their hours. They’ll also retain some license over the finished work, usually getting a percent of the profits of the audiobook sales in perpetuity (that’s fancy speak for forever). Without the “in perpetuity” clause, you may have to re-up their contract with you after a given number of weeks or months, which can result in a re-negotiation of their pay-out. I’ve worked with the likes of John Corbett and others when it comes to licensing voice overs and it’s a big paperwork headache. A lot of people need to get paid (by you) to have access to a union voice after the usage time has run out.
Thus, I went here to search for non-union voices. They have a ton! The trickiest part is listening to so many and making sure you pick someone who doesn’t sound too much like someone who makes happy-go-lucky cereal commercials for a living. You want someone who is going to take your project seriously and invest some time into it. I find it helps to close my eyes, stop thinking, and really let the voice hit me viscerally as I listen to each one. Go back and re-listen to them several times, giving yourself a few days to digest.
After you’ve created your book project, you can allow people to bid on it, or you can ask your favorite voices to bid. I did a little of both, and was very happy when my first choice said she was in! We signed a very simple contract and I received all rights in perpetuity to the finished audiobook, and gave her a single, one-time flat rate (it came in under $600 for a 85K word book). I did give her a substantial cash tip of $150 afterwards for all the additional work she did on the book, and because I hope to work with her again in the future.
You’ll be listening to the book through at least twice – the first time to listen for errors, and the second time to make sure they are all caught – so plan for many hours of sitting and taking notes. It goes faster than you realize.
Then, make sure you have the files in a few ways – Amazon/ACX asks for each chapter to be sent separately, and has a lot of rules, so when finishing the project, make sure the files comply. iTunesConnect is another publishing option. I also asked for the files in bulk so the book is in two big separate files instead of a bunch of little ones. It’s always nice to have options. You can use online file drops to save your inbox such as DropBox or even Google Drive.
In my next post, I’ll dive into the process of uploading files to ACX.
by Sara Dahmen
Sara Dahmen is the award-winning author of Doctor Kinney’s Housekeeper, a metalsmith, American cookware designer and manufacturer, and a mom. You can reach her @saradahmenbooks or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I think we can all agree that doing the proper research makes or breaks a book. Glaringly obvious mentions of places, events or details that haven’t happened yet are akin to all of us Wisconsinites watching Titanic and realizing that Jack Dawson could not have been ice fishing on Lake Wissota in Chippawa Falls in 1912…as there wasn’t a lake yet.
Alright, maybe I’m one of the few that is obsessed with accuracy in any movie I watch, but you get my gist. Research can not only authenticate your world building, but it can imbue your characters with truth, and a genuine placement in their surroundings. Even if you only mention something in passing, it adds a rounded, 3-dimensional depth to protagonists and antagonists alike.
If, say, your novel is set in the Civil War, even if your characters aren’t fighting in battles or even on the same continent, they’d likely hear about it in the news, or people would discuss it in passing, much like we do about major political or social news today. (If I had a quarter for every time my husband came home with a tidbit of celebrity gossip I hadn’t had a chance to hear because…babies…I’d be so rich!) Using research to allow characters to notice details, such as the pattern on the spongeware china, or the particular cut of a bodice, tells your reader that not only are they learning something, but that you did your homework.
I don’t suggest we all dive in as deeply as, say, Jean Auel did. But we can all probably create just one more small layer of richness to our novels. Those handfuls of tiny additions can really add up to one accurate story whether it is the ins and outs of a wedding planner’s job, a more involved description of a hunk’s financial schemes and clients, or the daily lifestyle of an obscure tribe in Antarctica. (I don’t think there are any…but then again, I haven’t done any research.)
So where do we get that research? Certainly the first thing that pops up in Google searches these days is some sort of Wikipedia link to potentially faulty information. But the internet is still one heck of an amazing tool with which we can supplement our information, check our facts, and hone our craft from the comfort of our laptops and pajamas.
With some time, you don’t even need to head to the library, though I’m a full-fledged believer in checking out at least one or two original volumes that might help you with some in-depth research on your most detailed subject. The internet can be completely used for research as long as you do a handful of things:
Beyond the internet hunting, however, discovering information for your book can also be a lot more interesting and interactive. Want to know exactly how to write the language of Pocahontas’ tribe? Reach out to the nation itself and ask for help. Care to get a taste for life in Revolutionary times? Go to a local reenactment (or better yet, ask if you can join in for a weekend in costume). I know Molly Maka has spoken to that notion and I wholeheartedly agree with her. Or at the very least, reach out to a few of the groups on Facebook and inquire about your needs – many old-timers will be more than loquacious enough for you.
Do your characters have a specific trade or job? Run in circles you don’t touch? Reach out via Facebook, LinkedIn, or even through your own network to get some good insight. We are authors, but we are also observers and questioners – we wonder, wait, watch and then write.
Remember when you do reach out to be:
This is not to add to the never-ending list of requirements aspiring or published authors have already. I’m merely hoping that this is just a nudge to remind you of easy and relatively painless and quick ways to incorporate accurate details in your novels and manuscripts to add flavor, desire and depth.
by Sara Dahmen
Sara Dahmen is the award-winning author of Doctor Kinney’s Housekeeper, a metalsmith, American cookware designer and manufacturer, and a mom. You can reach her @saradahmenbooks or at email@example.com. Her next novel, a romantic drama, Wine & Children, is due out by November 2016.