The Call –WIPpet Wednesday

Is it too late? Today has been crazy-busy, student appointments back-to-back. I’m actually just getting home from a campus event, which was a great success! So back to my WIPpet, THS #springsemester, this section is from Owen’s POV. He and Sage (both RAs)  are confronting a transfer student that’s bringing a bit of mystery (or baggage) to Corbin Hall.

The math 2+9=11 (the 11th blog entry), and 14/1=14  (14 lines or so), all of this equal

January 29, 2014

Corbin Hall

Corbin Hall

# Owen

She turned around and smiled at Owen and Sage like they were old friends. “Hey guys! Want some coffee…I’m sure duty’s a killer.” Getting up from her pink chair, she stepped toward a little coffee maker.

Sage lifted his hand, his fingers blocking his nostrils as if something stunk. “Ah, no…we won’t be long.”

Gavin interjected, “Yeah, sorry to bother you, but I got a call from your mother and she seemed kinda worried. You should give her a call…”

Reilly’s face tightened, gritting her teeth like they were the only thing to prevent her from yelling. “What did you tell her?” she said enunciating every word, staring at nothing.

Owen’s brows lifted, seriously wondering if he’d have to perform an exorcism. A simple night of duty was forming on his mental bucket list. For a moment, he couldn’t remember why he wanted be a res-lifer forever. He glanced at Sage whose expression stayed the same, calm and indifferent.

We didn’t tell her anything, technically we’re not allowed to,” explained Owen slowly, watching her reaction.

Reilly’s chest was visibly moving up and down. A few seconds later, her breathing steadied and her eyes shot to Owen. “She’s going to call again. I’ll have to figure this out, but the games are over,” she mumbled.

*******

Thanks always for reading! If you’d like to participate in WIPpet just go here.  And thank you K. L. Schwengel for hosting! Happy reading and writing!

Giving them Away

Books, that is. I know that many indie authors have giveaways and contests. Some of them are really clever, getting readers to check out their work while generating excitement in the process. Heard of book swag? I mean, who doesn’t like free stuff or contests you can enter at no cost. It seems like a win-win situation, right? I was on a book blog site the other day and every novel listed was part of a drawing.  But I wonder how successful this strategy is for unknown indie authors.

A while back I read a free novella by Colleen Hoover who is the master of giveaways. She’s nailed it—practically branded the concept. And I think that’s awesome. Nothing about her giveaways feels forced, desperate, or like she wants something in return for giving away her novel. I get the impression when I read her blog that she loves giving them away. Not every author can or should do this, in my opinion. Colleen already had a fan base and this free novel was a gift to them. I think it’s important for authors to figure out what works for them, finding that special way to connect with readers. And you are not alone, I’m still trying to figure this out too. 🙂

Then there’s the topic free book. There are tons of free books available now by just tapping on a screen. I know people who will download books just because they are free, however, they have no intentions on reading them—at least no time soon. On the other hand, they always finish the books they buy. And that had me thinking. Does purchasing something instead of getting it for free increase its value or the customer’s investment?

A few years ago I organized a conference for college girls. I wanted it to be free since I know money is a common struggle among college kids. However, a friend of mine suggested I charge at least five dollars because it would help confirm attendees. It worked, and the turnout was much larger than I expected.

So what do you think about unknown indie authors giving away their books? Has anyone seen great success with giveaways?

WIPpet Wednesday–my first!

A sequel to The Hall Speaks already? Well..I’m a rebel, not really. But I had this planned out before I even wrote the first novel. Anyone that’s worked in Reslife knows that fall semester is very, very different from spring term.  And I wanted to capture all that and the growth that occurs among the students.

Anyway, since I haven’t found a critique group since I moved, I thought it’d be nice to take part in WIPpet W. I need the accountability and I really enjoying hearing from other authors!:) How it works is the excerpt has to be related to the date. So, here this is my first sample WIPpet, 22 lines on page 14 from THS#springsemester, which equals 1-22-14.  Like the first novel, this one follows the lives of a Reslife staff, and there are four main story lines. This is one of them.

Scene: Landon is having a difficult conversation with someone who means a lot to him.

His lips stayed in a tight line as he stared at the floor. He knew what he needed to say and that he’d cower if he looked at her. “Lizzie,” he sighed, “you shouldn’t have brought Rebecca here, not under the assumption that she could be my date.”

Her eyebrows came together. “Why not…Landon, you two always got along great, I thought you’d be  – ,“ explained Lizzie, but he interrupted before she could finish.

“I’m not available.” Lizzie looked even more confused as she waited for a plausible explanation. “I’m in love with–.” He paused, knowing from Lizzie’s tortured expression she already knew. He lifted his chin, tightening his jaw, unapologetic.

“Landon, you can’t be serious,” she said slowly, the words difficult for her to get out. She closed her eyes like she couldn’t look at him anymore. “Are you sleeping with her?” she asked, squeezing her temple as if she had a headache.

Landon frowned, appalled. “No, of course not. I wouldn’t do that – never under these circumstances,” he said with conviction.

Lizzie began pacing in the small living room. “So what does this mean? Are you considering resigning? Landon that’s ludicrous!” Her voice started to rise, “You’ve worked so hard – gaining the respect of everyone…and to do this…” She stopped, putting both hands on her hips.

“I am resigning and don’t try to convince me otherwise. I’m not telling you this so you that you can talk me out of it.” Blinking, he glanced at the ceiling, not wanting the emotion in his eyes to run down his face.  “You need to know this because I don’t need you setting me up on dates. I’m sorry for lying to you…”

*****

Thanks always for reading! If you’d like to participate in WIPpet just go here.  And thank you K. L. Schwengel for hosting! This is such a great idea.:)

 

Grateful

I’m grateful to have sight, to see the colors of the sky,

the blues, pinks, purples, oranges and even the shades of grey

I’m grateful for the smiles and hugs from my kids and husband

they are warm, forgiving, and full of love

I’m grateful for friends, to exist at the same time,

crossing paths and finding laughter in each other

I’m grateful for music, the way it penetrates deep and changes my mood

I’m grateful for sadness, without it I wouldn’t know happiness

I’m grateful for those who hurt me; it keeps me humble

and somehow more compassionate toward others

I’m grateful for the privilege of choice; I’ve made thousands of them

I’m grateful for books, that a journey is uncovered in the words

I’m grateful for today–I lived

And lastly, I’m grateful you listened

****

             As things go wrong sometimes  I just want to focus on what’s right.

If you’re ever having a down day check out this video. 🙂

I’m no Beyoncé…

Photo: entertainmentwise.com

Photo: entertainmentwise.com

Isn’t it amazing how this lovely lady can drop an album without advertising for it at all and sell millions?! Well, any indie author knows it doesn’t quite work like that for us. So, here’s my update on being indie, using a pen name and marketing.

Deciding to use a pen name was just as difficult as deciding to go indie. Both are tremendously risky. Here’s some of the problems I’ve come across so far.

Problem 1: I’m a newbie so building a platform is hard.  

No one would every guess that I minored in marketing. I’m so bad at it—really. I don’t like selling stuff, something about it feels insincere to me (It’s not. I’m just weird about consumerism. I can’t even sit through commercials because I don’t want to be persuaded into buying something). I like being on social media sites to connect with others, but when it comes to marketing my book, I’m timid. I just don’t want to come across as annoying. And this is me projecting my anti-consumerism, because I often find mass-advertising annoying. Honestly, my husband has done more to market my book than I have at this point. I’ve contacted 20 friends who I thought would like my book. Some of the responses from my friends were funny. They were excited but many of them didn’t even know I’d written a novel– proof that my marketing skills need help. 🙂

What I’m going to do:

On to building a platform, still working on this, but I’m starting with ResLife. I’ve gotten the most positive feedback there because I think many RAs can relate to my story. Then on to book bloggers!

Problem 2: I don’t have any other works so I didn’t have a following for my writing.

Ok, I may have been a little ambitious, a novel being my first attempt at creative writing. So I hadn’t been blogging and gaining followers daily like other writers. But putting out a novel under a pen name that’s only existed for about five months hardly creates credibility. Reading a book by an unknown person is a risk that many readers are not willing to take.

How this happened:

I literally just had an idea and started writing—mostly for myself (It saved me from my post-pardon depression insomnia madness). And then, with two little babies, any free time I had was dedicated to working on my novel.

Problem 3: And this is major– readers don’t know what I look like.

I knew this would be a huge downside of my decision. People connect with pictures, especially pictures of other people. I’m guilty. I see a cool, friendly looking photo of a blogger and next thing I know I’m checking out their page. Marketing myself and while keeping my identity hush-hush…is difficult.

Why I did this:

My legal name already has an online presence and I wanted my writing endeavors to have a separate identity. Mostly because I’m not trying to sell myself as an author but I’m trying to sell a story, highlight the ResLife culture, and expose the truth. Also, I mentor college students and I want them to feel as comfortable as possible talking to me about their life. A lot of times they tell me extremely personal stuff—the kind of things they don’t want anyone to know about. So for me, it just felt safer to use a pen name. That way, no one would assume I’m writing about the students I work with. And if I choose to discuss a topic they bring up, they’d be protected.

On the upside, using a pen name is freeing, it hasn’t interfered with my job or personal life.  This pen name is a brand but I’m not. I can write in a different genre without losing my readers in this one. Harry Potter fans kind  of prove  that readers these days are more loyal to characters they love verse the author. Also, being anonymous creates a little mystery. I like that sometimes. With so many people online these days, the anon can sometimes stand out. There’s an anonymous literary agent on twitter and it’s created such a buzz. This anon even has other agents wondering about their identity.

So whether you choose to hide your identity or not these are just some of the things I’ve experienced. 🙂

Stuck: Personal Rights vs. Public Safety

A few weeks back me and my hubby attended a Mental Health seminar held at the University of Maryland. We work with college students, and mental health is a continual problem on campuses everywhere. So we are constantly seeking advice because we love our students. The seminar was informative, for sure, but I left with more questions.

I’m going to take you back to my Hall Director days. And what I’m about to share my make you feel uncomfortable. But that’s not my intentions.

One of my RAs called me because her resident was banging her head against the wall. I was in my pajamas so I slide on my staff jacket over it. I didn’t have to go far, just down the hallway. When I got there, the resident was still hitting her head against the wall and she was bleeding. Even though I had worked in residence life for five years, handled several situations, I was still a little scared. She assured me she was fine—just stressed. Somehow I got the resident to calm down and to promise me that she wouldn’t hurt herself. It was 4am-ish, and I honestly wasn’t sure if I was making the right decision in leaving this resident alone. But she told me she wasn’t suicidal, and I wanted to believe her.

When I got back to my little apartment, I didn’t bother to wake my husband. He looked so peaceful, I, on the other hand, couldn’t sleep. All I thought about was that resident and if she’d be dead in the morning. I prayed that I had made the right decision. I called her two hours later, she was okay and a little shocked about my concern.

On college campuses, situations like this happens more than anyone would like to admit. Most schools want prospective students (really parents) to believe they’ve creative some Utopian environment that will foster academic growth and personal development. And I believe many practitioners really work hard to do just that. But here’s the deal, let’s drop off thousands of 18-21 year olds, give them a ton of work and remind them that their future success depends on it,  make them live with each other, encourage self-discovery, and there are bound to be a few mental melt-downs.

At times I felt lost confronting situations because students weren’t required to self-disclose. I never knew which students struggles with mental health unless they told me. So I spent many years treating symptoms because the cause was a privacy right that each student had—and still have to this day. I respect this right, I do. I just wonder can a right to privacy compromise public safety? For me, it’s a hard question to answer. Mental health is one of the themes in my book. I hope it will spark discussion that helps lead to a solution.

The Best Part–Characters

Literature has produced some of the best, most unforgettable characters out there. It’s one of the first things an author considers when writing a book. And for me, it was the best part about creating my story. I worked in Residence Life for years, and I must admit there are certain character types that are more common than others. Yeah, I know everyone is unique and special but we all have gotten that, “you know, you remind me of…,” comment. And this, my friend, happens often in Student Affairs.

Months ago I came across this video and it made me smile.  The students pretty much nailed a few of the character types among RAs. However, The Hall Speaks #fallsemester is not a remake of Mean Girls, but I could place two of my characters into this staff model they mention in the video. Check it out;)

So, to make the cut for my novel, I wanted character types that would be relatable. Where RAs reading would be like, “I know someone just like that.”  That way, none of the people I worked with would feel like I was writing specifically about them. Each character is made-up of 2-3 people, I did this for three reasons: 1) 15 years from now I want to read my novels and remember the people who impacted my life 2) I knew if I based my characters off of real people, I’d never give up writing about them, and 3) It’s just more fun this way, at least for me. Also, I noticed as my story evolved, so did the depth of my characters. Even though my characters  are loosely based off of former co-workers, by the end, they really became their own person.

However, I always wonder how other writers come up with characters. Do they just come to you in a dream? 🙂 I haven’t had that luck yet. Until then, I’ll keep writing about real ones.