One year ago today, The Healer’s Rune was officially released for publication.
And what a year it’s been! I’ve learned about marketing, done some reading, done lots of writing, and had some great experiences along the way.
The better part of this year has been devoted to learning: how to build a platform; how to market a book; how to set up and then host a book signing; how to get the most out of attending a writer’s conference; how to put my book out there despite my natural inclination to avoid drawing attention… I had no idea how much time needs to be devoted to the “published” part of being a published author! For those of you who are still seeking publication, get started on your marketing platform NOW! Seriously, it’s never too soon. Check out “When Should Authors Start Working on Their Platforms?” on my Writing How-to: Marketing board on Pinterest.
According to my GoodReads list, I managed to read 23 books this year, including The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, The Novice and The Inquisition by Taran Matharu, and The Firethorn Crown and The Midsummer Captives by Lea Doue. I started reading The Shadow of What Was Lost, by James Islington, just after Christmas, but didn’t finish it until after the new year, so that one doesn’t technically count for 2016, but is seriously an amazing book. If you’re in the mood for a good read, any one of these books will fit the bill. You can also find out more about my reading habits and the books I’ve reviewed on my GoodReads page.
Just before I went back to school for the spring semester, I finished the first draft of The Guardian Prince, which is the working title for the sequel to The Healer’s Rune. I took a week off to give me a fresh perspective, and now I’ve begun the first of the revisions. If you’re interested in keeping up with my progress, check out the progress bar in the right-hand margin of my web page.
Speaking of plans for the future, here are a few writing-related things I hope to accomplish this year:
I don’t really make resolutions… I figure if there’s something I need to change or work on, then I should do it now, not just because the year is changing. However, around the turn of the year I decided to try two new things: bullet journaling and consistent blogging. I’m really not very good with agendas and reminders on paper. Once I write them down, I forget to ever look at them again, so if there’s an appointment, birthday, or whatever that I need to remember, I use the calendar and reminder service on my phone. However, I am seriously drawn to the idea of bullet journaling, so I’m going to try it with a more writer-oriented twist. As for blogging… I would love to engage more with you guys! I plan to blog twice per month: once about life in general, and once about writing. However, I’d love to know what you guys want to see. Please feel free to leave questions or ideas in the comments section below.
I want to thank all of you for taking a chance on a new author and reading The Healer’s Rune. Because of you, it has been an amazing year. I can’t wait for you to see what’s in store for Sabine in The Guardian Prince, and I’m looking forward to interacting with you over the next year.
May your 2017 be amazing!Read More
Are you a Kindle Unlimited subscriber? Then you can now access The Healer’s Rune at hyperurl.co/5t0rjb
Check it out today!Read More
This week I am thrilled to be hosted on 2 Me From Him, a blog written by Norma Gail, a Christian blogger and a Bookvana Award winning author. Stop by to discover how my students respond to having a published author as a teacher and whether I think it’s more important to write in order to teach or to entertain. You can also enter a Rafflecopter giveaway to win a print copy of The Healer’s Rune. Please note the giveaway is only open from January 6 until January 12, 2017.Read More
“9-1-1-: What’s your emergency?”
“There’s been a really big accident. Please help! My best friend’s not moving and there’s all this blood. Please send help!”
“Okay, what’s your location?”
“I’m outside of the school…”
Even though I know the above conversation is staged, my throat clenches as I listen to the mock emergency call broadcasting over my school’s loudspeaker. The student I’m hearing is one of my juniors, and the terror in her voice sounds real.
After the call ends, I shepherd my class outside, as instructed at that morning’s staff meeting. We sit on bleachers temporarily erected a safe but short distance away from the highway that parallels our campus. It’s a busy road, and I am surprised and impressed to see that authorities have all four lanes blocked. Average people who may not know what’s going on are stopped en route to wherever they were going, delayed without an alternative while we experience the simulation. Apparently, some of them posted about the big, seemingly fatal accident outside the private school on social media and expressed concern for the students involved.
It’s not hard to understand how onlookers could think the accident scene was real. A legitimate-looking two-car crash spills across two lanes of the highway, two totaled SUVs sprawled among automobile debris. Each one holds a student of mine, trapped, bleeding, and either unconscious or semi-conscious. A third student, injured but mobile, wanders along the edge of the scene in a shocked state of confusion and disbelief. A fourth sprawls across the shoulder of the road, dead the moment her head collided with and scraped across the rough asphalt. Her beautiful face, now embedded with shards of glass and scraped raw, reminds me of ground meat. Blood runs from her in three places, puddling in the grass on the side of the road.
I struggle to display the right balance of emotion. I know the scene is not real, but I want to model how my students should react to what they are seeing with the respect and reverence an actual accident of this magnitude deserves. At the same time, I am working hard to keep from crying. I am a writer, after all. I have a vivid imagination, and I love my students dearly. It’s too easy to envision the tragedy depicted a few yards in front of me as something very real, and I have to breathe deeply several times in order to ease the clenching of my lungs.
This entire scene is staged as part of the Shattered Dreams program, a two day accident and funeral simulation designed to increase awareness of the possible effects of distracted driving among teens. It is a powerful program, but I’m not going to outline it here because a lot of the impact is lost when everyone in the audience knows what is going to happen next. I will, however, share a few details about why this program is so important. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2015:
Distraction.gov, the official US Government website for Distracted Driving, reports:
These statistics are sobering, which is why our school participated in the Shattered Dreams program. We care for our students and don’t want to see their lives ended before they have a chance to begin.
This year, as students participate in Red Ribbon Week activities across America, please take a moment to really let the magnitude of this situation sink in. It only takes five seconds to cross a football field at 55 miles per hour. Looking down for even a moment can potentially end a life. Please don’t let it be yours.
For more information, check out the following link:
You’ve done it. You’ve put in the grueling effort, the rear-end numbing hours, the family-alienating dedication. You’ve studied your craft, honed your technique, and parsed your rough draft until you have a final product worthy of public consumption. You have written a book / short story / poem / screenplay and have decided to publish traditionally, and you are looking for an agent and / or an editor to represent you.
There’s just one problem: most editors, and a lot of agents, are not accepting unsolicited manuscripts. So how do you get your finished product in front of someone who has the power and resources to publish and distribute your work?
There are two very good ways. The first is to get the most current copy of the Novel and Short Story Market (or whatever version of the Market fits your work–there are several), produced by Writer’s Digest (you can get it from the Writer’s Digest website, or from most bookstores). That book is a comprehensive list of which agents and editors are searching for clients, what they represent, and how to contact them. It also contains essays that discuss current publishing guidelines and how to prepare your manuscript for submission, and a section listing contests for the current year. Everything I learned about how to submit my work for publication, I learned from these Manuals.
The second way is to go to writer’s conferences and make a pitch appointment with an agent / editor you want to represent you. You can also have a portion of your work critiqued by an industry professional at most of these conferences. The best thing about the whole conference experience, however, is the people you get to meet. If it’s truly not what you know but who, then conferences are the way to meet the whos. Conferences can be expensive, but they are well worth the cost. Consider them a well-made investment in your future.
A few miscellaneous details to make your efforts more successful:
Now it’s your turn. What other questions do you have? Are there any pointers that I should add? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Happy writing!Read More
I met my second fan at a book signing yesterday (see the dedication in The Healer’s Rune to discover why second and not first). His first name is Phillip; his last name I withhold to maintain his privacy.
I was running late (my GPS had originally marked my destination as an empty field), and I was distracted by setting up my books while signing them (I have Lupus, and the exertion of carrying in and setting up my table and books left me winded). Fanning myself with a few of my bookmarks, I saw him standing off to the side, a copy of my book in his hands. Still a titch breathless, I politely remarked that he could purchase my book from me because it was not stocked by the bookstore. Phillip just as politely told me he had already bought the book and enjoyed it.
That’s when I realized he was not there to buy the book but to meet me. He had already read my story and enjoyed it so much that, when he learned I was coming to a bookstore near him, he was motivated to come and connect with me.
The moment suddenly became profound, and I did my best to honor it as such. Still fanning myself, still slightly breathless, I engaged Phillip in a conversation about the only common ground we had: my book. Imagining how I would feel to see Tad Williams or Neil Gaiman, or any of the other authors I admire (had I the access and the courage), I talked with Phillip unill I ran out of ideas and then asked if I could sign his copy of the book.
He said yes. With sweat beading down my neck, I wrote a personal note on the title page in purple Sharpie, signed it, and thanked Phillip for coming.
As I reflected upon this event last night, I realized that I should have asked him to take a picture with me, and I wished I had found a way to make the moment longer, to honor it more for what it was.
My debut novel is not quite six months old, yet it has touched someone deeply enough that he came to meet me. It is, for a writer, a moment of remarkable profundity. It is why I write–to give back to one of the most influential forces in my life by touching readers the way other authors have touched me.
Thank you, Phillip, for coming to see me yesterday. If you don’t mind, will you please send a picture of you with my book to my email address at Lauricia.Matuska@gmail.com? I’ll put it with this post.
To the rest of you who have enjoyed / are enjoying The Healer’s Rune, I hope to meet you someday, as well. Remind me to take a picture!Read More
I am currently in the process of learning how to be THAT author who visits local schools, but I have no idea how to do it. If you, like me, share this passion and if you, like me, also don’t know what you’re doing, then have I got a blog post for you! Check out my resources page for How to Host an Author Visit to find links to instructional websites that I found helpful. If you know of any other useful resources on this topic, please reply in the comments.
As a shameless plug, if you are a school librarian or administrator in the Houston area and would like to have me present in your school, send an email to me at Lauricia.Matuska@gmail.com. I’m available to speak for Career Day, Library Day, Young Author Round Tables, and Creative Writing Skills workshops.Read More