I may not have won Kindle Scout, but I learned a heck of a lot about blogging and marketing. This blog post is recapping my 30 day campaign:
That’s a ton of hashtags!
As a millennial, it isn’t surprising that I LOVE social media. I am the person walking down the street with her phone in her hand. I guess I don’t need to “disconnect.” It’s fun to catch up with friends, or read local news, or post my favorite cat meme.
However, as an author, the task of sharing on social media is daunting. I don’t mind if my Aunt Sally doesn’t comment on my picture of dinner last night, but there is a negative outcome if people don’t like my author posts…they won’t read my books! The trick is to ensure the information you share is interesting and useful for the reader. Keep ’em coming back for more!
Today’s post is an example. I prepared the picture below, which is a setting for my book called The Light of Supremazia, and I’m going to write this blog post on managing your social media and post it on all my sites. The picture might be intriguing for a potential reader, but if not, at least they got some value out of my post on social media presence.
Here are all the sites today’s theme will be posted on:
Vote for The Light of Supremazia on Kindle Scout!
Real locations are my favorite to write about. For my first book series, Olivia Hart and the Gifted Program, Pandora High School had many similarities to the high school I attended. Write what you know, right?
Sometimes, I scour Pinterest for inspiration. Check out the page for my next series (after)life lessons.
Every once in awhile, I type a chapter, read it back, and realize I’ve taken another book’s setting! My editor pointed this out when she read the chapter about Vita Post Mortem Academy’s cafeteria called The Dreadfort. It had an eerie similarity to Hogwart’s Great Hall.
To avoid accidental plagiarizing, I made the tables round instead of long, removed all candles from the chandeliers and replaced them with electricity, set up a high-tech video screen, and made large windows in the back for viewing the cemetery. Ok, still sounds similar, but you can’t mess with perfection!
What is magical realism?
Magical realism takes place in a world like the one we know, but there is one thing that makes it unreal. Perhaps there are lurking vampires, or the main character is cursed, or you can buy magic spells from the store on the corner. The trick with magical realism is the reader has to believe the world really does exist. The master of magical realism herself, JK Rowling, made us all have hope that our letter for Hogwarts would one day come in the mail. We believed wizards existed in our world. (believed in the past tense? Some of us still believe).
A World for Your Book Within the Existing World
Writing magical realism might sound easy since most of the decisions about the world are already decided, but I think its the opposite. Similar to using real people in a fictional story (as I wrote about in my last post), there is a ton of fact-checking that needs to be completed in order to convince your readers the world within our world is real.
Question #1: Where do you build your world?
The proper setting is tough. How many times did you read about Harry taking the Hogwarts Express and wonder where the final location really was? Or read about Percy Jackson heading out to Montauk toward Camp Halfblood and try to picture it in your head?
Vita Post Mortem Academy
When writing my magical realism novel, The Light of Supremazia, my editor and I went back and forth on the school’s location. The world around Vita Post Mortem Academy was exactly like the one we know today, except there needed to be a remote section of the woods, North of San Francisco, where a creepy institution run by spirits was located. We had a discussion about whether redwood trees grew in the area and if it was anywhere near Bodie, a real life ghost town. In the end, we realized that if you couldn’t see spirits, you wouldn’t notice much more than a massive institution surrounded by an endless necropolis.
Can you picture this edifice as your high school?
Vita Post Mortem Academy:
To see more pictures of The Light of Supremazia’s setting, check out the (after)life lessons pinterest page.
Throwback Thursday to John F. Kennedy’s Presidency! More on him a little later.
There is a fine line between real people as fictional characters adding an intriguing aspect to a novel versus causing it to crash and burn. Artistic license needs to be applied with caution so readers do not expect a biography, but instead a fact-checked, interesting twist on the person.
My latest book is about a girl who can see spirits, and the school she attends has a faculty of famous dead people. On the one hand, the spirit version of the celebrity may be totally different than the living version of the person. I could make Abraham Lincoln an outgoing, busybody, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, I attempted to write each character in the voice everyone knows, but I then add an exaggeration here and there. [insert coy devil smiley]
John F. Kennedy as a Teacher in Spirit Form
John F. Kennedy is one of the teachers at Vita Post Mortem Academy. In real life, he was quoted on many topics, but I particularly like the way his quotes show his open-mindedness. Whether this is true or not, the Kennedy that teaches American Ghost Stories (a version of social studies) at Vita Post Mortem Academy acts as an insightful role model.
The first time Jules Winklevoss (the main character) meets JFK, he quotes himself, “The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were and ask “why not?”
Later in the novel, he begins class with the following written on the board, “Ask not what your school can do for you. Ask what you can do for your school. –John F. Kennedy” It’s artistic license, but in the vein of the living person.
The John F. Kennedy in spirit form is charming, well-spoken, gives advice freely, smug, and a bit of a prankster. Close enough? I think so.
I may have put words in his mouth he never would have said, but the details around his death and family were fact-checked down to the weather in Texas on the day he died.
“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.”
Art, in all its forms, is an important ingredient to our lives. Since I spend my day buried in finance facts and figures, I use novel writing as an outlet to be creative. It clears my mind of trivial annoyances.
Check out the (after)life lessons pinterest page to see more quotes by John F. Kennedy.
Kindle Scout Campaign Update
Day 1 of the campaign to win a publishing contract at Amazon has been a success. My book, The Light of Supremazia, #1 in the (after)life lessons series, was trending as “hot.”
As I prepare to launch my next book series, I keep thinking about additional ways to enjoy the story. How many times have you read the details by J.K. Rowling about characters she didn’t mention at the end of the series? Or get excited because they brought the characters of Vampire Diaries to life in a tv series? Or sing along to a song from the Hunger Games movie on the radio?
Like a bag of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans or your very own Mocking Jay pin, I hope you enjoy Jules’s Vita Post Mortem Academy Class schedule!
The Light of Supremazia, book #1 in the (after)life lessons young adult, fantasy book series!
Check out the pinterest page: https://www.pinterest.com/alanasiegel/afterlife-lessons/
Check out the book trailer: https://youtu.be/ZfKnXA8oJBE
I’m a firm believer that resolutions should not be a once a year decision. That being said, I am declaring my latest resolution to update this blog one of many resolutions I will make in 2015.
To begin my blog updates, I’m making the posts more “Alana-like” and adding structure. Each post will include something that has inspired me and an update on my writing.
A SPANISH ARTIST AS MY MUSE
Last night, my husband and I went to a New Year’s Eve dinner at Coqueta in downtown San Francisco. The chef (@chefchiarello) used four Spanish artists (Miro, Dali, Picasso, and Gaudi) as his inspiration and the theme for the night.
Two particular dishes stood out to me. One was an ironic, yet delicious, interpretation of Miro’s Still Life with Old Shoe oil painting. Picture below includes the painting and a server passing out chicken croquette’s from an old shoe.
The second was an translation of a quote by quirky Salvador Dali (the Spanish chef emphasized the accent on the “i”). In Dali’s opinion, purgatory included eating sea urchin and ham. The chef brought the vision to life with dry ice, and I’ll admit, purgatory was tasty. Check out my video on instagram: http://instagram.com/p/xTWnczEOuJ/?modal=true.
I consider myself superstitious (can’t fight the jinx theory!), and I thought it was a nod from the universe that Dali was one of the artists honored at last night’s dinner. Dali is a teacher at Vita Post Mortem Academy in my next young adult, fantasy series about a girl who goes to school taught by spirits. Dali’s character is bizarre and eccentric. His classroom is a collection of clocks stopped at exactly 4:17, the time he died. As a school assignment, he asks the students to decorate their own urn while he has colorful conversations with his old friend / foe Picasso.
I have been brainstorming ideas for a book trailer as well. It would include creepy scenes driving through dark woods, doors creaking, and curtains blowing ominously. I was hoping my cousin Jane would record an unplugged version of Eminem and Rihanna’s song, “The Monster,” and my cousin Melanie would narrate. Fingers crossed they are on board.
I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed
Get along with the voices inside of my head
You’re trying to save me, stop holding your breath
And you think I’m crazy, yeah, you think I’m crazy
Other than that, I’m still pinning a few pictures to the Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/alanasiegel/afterlife-lessons/
And my editor is reading through my draft. I’m hoping to publish the book in the Spring!