Archive for Self-Published

Client Success: Joe Shumock’s “Briana and the Dog” Enlivens YA Readers with Unique Plot

“I develop many of my stories using a short question: what if?” said author Joe Shumock.  “What if I start with a nine-year-old who is blind? And what if she wants a dog for Christmas and her parents insist that she take care of him? And what if the dog has a disability too?”

Briana and the Dog is a young adult novel aimed at ages 8-12, but is lauded as a “children’s book for all ages.”  With the lead character and conflict in mind, Shumock researched people, places, and circumstances to develop a unique plot, while creating the book’s setting from memories of his rural upbringing grounded in the town near where he currently lives. Foley, Alabama is a stone’s throw from the Gulf of Mexico.

“I love writing. For me, it’s great fun to develop the story and the characters. And every word should be the best one possible for its place in the sentence and the story.” His process lasted about nine months, but Briana was one of several projects on his desk, including a fifth entry in his published thriller series, the first story in a new family trilogy, and the second entry in the Briana trilogy while he also worked on publishing details for The Shepherd’s Crook, a spiritual story scheduled for publication later this year

Very grateful, Shumock couldn’t do without his readers.  “I think of myself as a writer in the southern tradition, caring about family and community.  And everyone from family to friends to my high-school classmates and neighbors is aware of my writing.”  He enjoys the questions when someone finds out he’s an author. Some are about writing, and some are about him as a writer

After serving as editor on his recent novel Sacrifice of the Lambs, this story’s tone was very different yet still exhibited his signature style while writing complex issues and thrilling acts.  Shumock said, “Through our work, the lesson for me was to see how my writing could be better with your help, to see my novel through new eyes.  Working with you, Barry Hodgin (designer), and others has made this ‘work’ pleasurable.”

To those who want to write and publish, Shumock advised, “Don’t let the unknown overwhelm you. Dig in everywhere possible and learn all you can. And this goes for marketing the book too. It’s a challenge, but like the writing, it must be done. Use social media, schedule book events, and create new ways to spread the word. Stay at it a little every day.”

Client Success: Sue Horner’s “Second Chance Sister” Continues Successful Series

“When I spoke about my first book, Second Place Sister, to a book club in Alpharetta,” author Sue Horner shared, “several attendees asked why I didn’t show the sisters writing since Janelle was a successful novelist and Ali coveted the same  success?  This sparked the idea for the sequel, Second Chance Sister where one sister is trying to redeem herself for miscreant behavior and the other is trying to grow a backbone, and they think writing a novel together will solve their problems.”

In Second Chance Sister, Horner’s second novel in a contemporary women’s fiction series, lead character Ali hoped she’d finally gain equal footing with her prima donna sister, Janelle, after co-writing a bestseller, but when it’s time to write the promised sequel, Janelle refuses. Fed up with being her sister’s doormat, Ali puts down her pen, forcing Janelle to return to their hometown and prove she deserves a second chance. The sisters must learn to compromise or watch as family ties and a small fortune go down the drain in this humorous tale of sibling rivalry.

After four years to complete and self-publish the first book, and three years for the second, Sue said, “It’s a struggle to find bookstores willing to sell and promote a self-published book. For that matter, it’s hard to find brick and mortar bookstores. I had good success with the first book at retail stores because that’s where my audience shops. But, well, with what’s happening to retail, I’m focusing on social media with the second book.”

Sales for the sequel are building. However, since Second Place Sister was featured on Bookbub, sales have been awesome for that title.  “Bookbub is expensive, especially for my category, women’s fiction, but I’ve recouped the investment, even being bought by readers in Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Japan, and India.”

After Sue and I met when she participated in my writer’s group in Woodstock, I provided a content evaluation and edit for her first book, which I also did for the sequel.  “Wayne gives thorough, fair critiques on plot, character, setting and such, always responding in a timely manner.  He gets my sense of humor and suggests ways to up the comedy from my outrageous characters.”  Once completed, Sue worked with Jera Publishing in Roswell after having a great self-publishing experience with them on her first book.

“Don’t wait for inspiration,” Sue advises new writers.  “And whether you choose traditional or self-publishing, have a marketing plan in place before you type ‘The End.’ Have a great website and engage potential readers on social media.  In other words, do as I say, not as I do.”

Paperback and e-books available on Amazon and Bookbub.

Visit Sue’s website to discuss her coming to your book club.

Read my blog for more on Sue’s process with her first book.

Client Success: Kathy Florence Explores Female Friendships through Three Decades in New Novel

Kathy Wilson Florence considers her new novel, Three of Cups, a feel-good book. ”The story features three protagonists, each dealing with her own issues and heartache, but each woman is supportive of the others. I personally like hanging around woman who hold one another up, so I prefer to write about them too!”

Three of Cups is the story of the unshakable bonds of female friendships involving three women: Mandy, a determined young mother, raises her son alone when husband Adam is drafted with the Army and captured as a prisoner of war; Ginger, a lonely new bride waits for her husband Pete’s return from war; and Rachel, single and at the beginning her career, rallies for a new start when a high-pressured job gets the best of her. Against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, their stories begin in the early 1970s and converge almost thirty years later when a long-kept secret threatens to undo all their lives.

As with her first novel, 2017’s Jaybird’s Song, Kathy utilized historical events within the setting.  “The ‘60s and ‘70s are rarely covered in the historical novels I’ve read. The Vietnam War offered a perfect background to my story of these women.”  Atlanta repeats as the main locale and is a natural one since Kathy grew up and lived in the city all her adult life.  In both novels, she weaves local places into her plot.

After inspiration struck in the middle of the night, Kathy made notes on some character traits, story arc, time frame, and titles. “My initial thought was to see how a secret between two women would play out over several decades. That’s the only thing that remained from my original notes.  I definitely write from the seat of my pants and am always amazed and excited when the perfect idea comes.”

On designing her cover, Kathy prefers illustration to photography so the reader’s imagination defines their interpretation of each protagonist. “I am pleased with the Picasso-like illustration because, to me, it has an ethereal quality, similar to the tarot card sub-plot.”

I served as content editor for Three of Cups, providing feedback on plot, character, structure, setting, etc.  Kathy shared, “I’m again impressed with the thoughtfulness of Wayne’s content edit as he is able to cut to the gut of a story with hands-down excellence for areas to rewrite, reconsider, and redefine.”

Three of Cups, available in print and e-book, has been featured in readings and at local book clubs.  Her book launch occurs at Dunwoody’s Farm Burger on August 19 from 4-6pm.  Kathy will read at “A Novel Idea” in Canton on September 19. Kathy also coordinates and hosts the monthly event “A Novel Idea” in Dunwoody when a group of up to six authors read from their books in a particular genre, such as southern fiction, thriller, or memoir. “It’s an awesome and rare opportunity for authors to present and sell their books at no cost except for a donation of a door prize. I am enjoying the opportunity to place myself among other authors.”

Client Success: Ann Temkin’s Memoir Illustrates Personal Struggle to Revelation in Spiritual Quest

“I know others have held the same secret,” Ann J. Temkin said of her newly released memoir. “I needed to explore this period of my life, and I wanted to let them know they are not alone.”

The Smoking Nun recounts a woman’s conflicts over loving God, humanity, and one forbidden man.  Passion, struggle, and betrayal ignite this true story lived amidst the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War. Advanced readers found the book inspiring, relevant, and revealing for our current times, calling it “a spiritual quest bound with an inextricable thirst for justice.”

In late 2015, Ann saw the Oscar-winning film Spotlight about The Boston Globe investigative journalists who found proof of a cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.  Even though her situation was not the same, Ann began to think differently about a part of her life she had kept secret.  Then came her struggle with whether or not to write about her hidden love affair with a Catholic priest.

Soon, she went to the book signing of a friend.  “She didn’t know my story. No one did.  And when she signed my book, she wrote, ‘Tell your story.  It matters.’  I took that as a sign and began to write.”

Though possessing a career’s worth of writing experience and a published author of 2014’s memoir Sight In The Sandstorm: Jesus in His World and Mine, Ann shared that writing this book was often painful.

“My story involves an early time when I was not in touch with my own feelings and in an environment that encouraged denial. Writing about it, I often asked myself, ‘What was I feeling?’  I had to confront realizations and emotions that had never surfaced before. And it was scary to make myself so vulnerable, not just about the secret, but about my spiritual life.”

As her editor, Ann and I worked from initial writing through publication.  “Wayne got it, and when he didn’t, he asked questions and remained encouraging.”  I facilitated a focus group to lead into final revision, and she credits the stellar panel for their insight and praise. Ann’s cover designer Cristina Montesinos, along with fellow authors, friends, and Mort, her husband of 35 years, were positive influences during the two-plus years of process to publication.

Ann always welcomes opportunities to share her book and hear reflections from readers. For details about readings or to inquire about having Ann speak with your group, please visit www.anntemkin.com or follow her on Facebook.

For budding writers, Ann advises, “Just start somewhere.  Anywhere. Then just write. Thinking about it comes later.

Through her journey of revisiting and resolving the past, Ann came out stronger on both life and writing.  “I’m not at all shy about calling myself a writer now.”