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Coming back ‘round in a very nice way

One of the features I really like about Facebook is what I’ll call the memory boomerang: Facebook sends out a reminder of a major event that occurred a year to five years ago. We were boomeranged this week with the release of our very first book: Twist of Fate.

I was shocked to see that it had only been five years ago I wrote an entry that indicated the book was about to be launched. So much has happened in such a short amount of time. The most significant is that we are now in midst of launching Architect of Fate, book five of our series. Including our book of short stories (Holiday Connections), that means we’ve managed to put out six books in five years. We’re also now in the third iteration of covers—having given in to our original publishers’ desire to create a consistent look, but never really liking that look—we’re redoing our covers so they make a splash and can attract some attention online.

The new look for Twist of Fate

For the Nora Roberts’s or James Pattersons of the world, such developments would be no accomplishment; they are well established authors who do this for a living and have staff and lots of money to back them up. To a woman in her sixties who works an everyday job, helps to take care of her elderly mom and tries to make her wonderful husband and daughter priorities; and to her co-author who is in her nineties (as of November 13) and who has macular degeneration and very limited physical capabilities, six books is no small miracle.

One trait that I have learned that mom and I have in common is stubbornness. But I don’t say that in a negative way. Writing a book, and even more importantly, getting a book into print and then selling it, is hard work. Even more significantly, it creates long periods of time when you just want to give up—nothing is happening or the plot is going nowhere or there are no book events to keep your blood boiling or you get a critical comment or no comment at all from friends or fans you’d hope were at least reading the book. Mom and I (and my sister, children’s book author Allyn M. Stotz) have leaned on each other when those times come. We’ve laughed through the tears and frustrations, put on our cheerleader panties and pushed on.

It’s what you do when you’ve found something that gives you passion.

So here’s to all the authors in the world who are out there pushing to get their words before an audience and here’s to all the would-be writers who sit down at the computer and take that first step: putting down their thoughts. And especially: here’s to all those readers who take a few minutes to write a review or send a word of encouragement.

It’s a tough life being an author, but with enough stubbornness and help from fans and supporters: dreams do come true.—Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Navigating the Amazon wilds

The loudest lament among authors today is: wouldn’t it be nice to write? Who has time when you spend hours trying to navigate the world of publishing and marketing. Yet unless you’ve been “discovered” by a large, traditional publishing house or clever agent, most of your effort goes into getting the word out about your book. And even those authors with traditional contracts spend huge chunks of time fulfilling the marketing requirements of their contracts.amazon

The reality is you’re at the mercy of a new world of book publishing that’s so convoluted and complex these days that you spend a lot of time wearing a blind-fold and whacking at moles.

For those readers asking: what’s got your panties in a bunch this week, Genilee, the answer is: Amazon. The print version of our books under our own publishing name gradually started to show up on Amazon over the course of the last month, but I’ve been trying to ensure that the hundreds of people I know that use their Kindles could get our books, too.

I spent countless hours waiting, thinking it would work like it did for our first self-published book (Holiday Connections): just show up. Then I spent more hours trying to understand how Ingram Sparks (IS), my huge printing firm, works realizing that it gets distributed by them to Amazon and other retailers so I needed to start there. After several rounds of emails to IS (with absolutely no replies), I finally decided the best and only effective way to “contact us for help” was to pick up a phone. I waited 15 minutes to get through to a real live person. However, the very real, very live and helpful person I spoke with wrote one email to Amazon and our books reappeared in Kindle form on the Amazon site—within minutes of my initial phone call.

I’d celebrate this great victory, except for one reality: almost no one can find our books on the site, and the few that are clever or determined enough to try, find a huge conflict in what’s available.

By searching on Amazon’s site and using one of the book’s names and one of our last names (I used Swope), you get the following results:

For Twist of Fate: 1) A listing where it’s available for $9.99 new and $1.07 used; 2) A listing where it’s available for $30.67 “used & new”; 3) a listing where it is “unavailable.” No listing for the Kindle version. If you scroll down to the bottom of that page you see: Results for “Twist of Fate Swope.” Three things are listed: 1) Wretched Fate, the Kindle version only; 2) Twist of Fate, the printed version only (but wait, didn’t we just take out the first two words and get the same thing as our initial search??); 3) Violet Fate, the Kindle version only.

For a search for Wretched Fate and Swope you get: 1) A listing of an old, out-of-date version available new for $8.99 or for $.01 (really, a penny?); 2) a listing of the older version “used & new” for $83.26 (Would someone really pay that?). No listing for the Kindle version. Scrolling to the bottom to: results for “Wretched Fate Swope” you get: 1) Wretched Fate, the Kindle version only (yea, there it is!! But why does taking out the word “Wretched” get you to the right place?); 2) Twist of Fate, the printed version only; and 3) Violet Fate, the Kindle version only.

For Violet Fate: 1) A listing for the printed version for $8.99, 2) a listing that looks exactly the same except you can get it “used & new” for $28.11. No listing for the Kindle version. At the bottom of that page under: Results for “Violet Fate Swope” you see: Wretched Fate, the Kindle version only (there’s Wretched’s Kindle version again. All you have to do is search under a different name than Wretched Fate, the actual title!!); Twist of Fate, the printed version only; and Violet Fate, the Kindle version (REALLY: in other words, by taking out the word ‘Violet’, the Kindle version pops up. Hmmmmm).

My point in all this is not to paint Amazon or Ingram Sparks as the bad guys. They are just huge and with hugeness comes confusion. I couldn’t have afforded publishing my own books 20 years ago when these two players were emerging and the world of independent publishing was being born. My point is this: if you’re one of us out there trying to get down this great river of being an author through the wild jungle of learning how to get the system to work for you, make sure you have a spare paddle and lots of patience. You’re going to need it.

Genilee Swope Parente

 

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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An entry is born

I woke up this morning and realized I hadn’t written in my blog since well before Christmas, and only once between Thanksgiving and the Holidays. I’m an introspective person with too many best friends (and now a daughter) studying psychology, so I immediately began to question why I would neglect this author duty.

Do I secretly hate this type of writing? That answer came quickly: I took on a new client recently writing columns for their web postings because I enjoy tackling blogs. It’s a refreshing way to use words, and it seems to be a natural fit for me.

So it must be that I’ve been so extremely busy and stressed out this holiday season? That thought emitted a belly laugh, which triggered startled looks from my two cats. They sprinted from their restful perches to hide beneath my still-lit and decorated Christmas tree. I have taken this season very slowly and savored each minute. I’m still enjoying it.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Is it because I’ve been concentrating so heavily on learning how to republish our three original books? Our publishing firm hung up its hat at the end of 2015. Because of my success self publishing Holiday Connections, I’m trying to do the same with our original books—Twist of Fate, Wretched Fate and Violet Fate. I don’t know if I’ll get there; it’s horribly complex and I’m not good at detail work. But I’m stubborn and I’m tackling each little complication as it hits me in the face. Still, I can’t use this as an excuse because I tackle NO complexities first thing in the morning, which is my designated book time. I’m too sleepy and dreamy. I use that state to write creatively.

Then it has got to be because I’ve made so much progress on the fourth book of the Fate Series, right? It’s called Treasured Fate, and I’ve had a professional editor go through it and present me with her findings and suggestions. She gave them to me right before Thanksgiving.

Okay, that one is partially true. On the hours when I badly needed a creative outlet, I’ve been chipping away at the next stage of the writing process, which I expect to go on for many weeks. That’s never stopped me from my obligation to spend a day each week (or so) writing something for our blog, though.dreamstime_xs_31893228 1.6.2016 better

I finally realized it’s for the same reason I had to hit my late 50s before I found a way to write a book: routine.

That’s a really yawn-inducing answer to this yawn-inducing blog entry, but it’s the truth. And most of my fellow writers and creative friends will understand what I mean. You can have genius-level ideas floating around in your head, but unless you find a practical way to get them out, they’ll stay in your head. For me, it was getting up that extra hour in morning and working on fiction. I had let “getting up” slip and was too often sleeping in. When I did get up, I allowed myself to work my paying job because I wanted or needed more time late in the day for seasonal activities.

But I’m back on track now, the holidays behind me and anxious to see where the track leads next. It must be working: It’s 7:15 and I’ve been up an hour, and lo and behold: a blog entry was born.

Come to think of it: I don’t walk the dog until 8 a.m. so I have 45 minutes to do what I love a whole lot more than blogs: working on my books!

 

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Learning My Circus Act

juggling blog

Dreamstime

One of the thrills mom and I get when we talk to groups is the excitement audience members express for what we do. Written on the faces and weaved into their questions is this: “It must be so fulfilling and romantic to be an author.”
At the moment someone says this, it’s true. However, being an author in today’s hugely complicated world of publishing is not just being a writer. Authors today also have to be:
Bosses: I’ve learned to be a mean boss because someone has to get my sorry butt out of bed an hour early in the morning if I’m going to find time each day to write. That same mean boss has to wave the red flag after the hour is over, which is even harder than getting up. Once the writing begins, it’s heart-breaking to stop the flow of creativity so I can get on to my paying clients.
Traffic cops: I sometimes feel like Linda Blair in The Exorcist with my head spinning round and round as the whirl of advice to writers that’s out there goes by. I read, I attend conferences, I talk to other authors, I research my options constantly on the web; what I’ve discovered is there is no one-lane road headed to success. It’s a clover leaf of congestion out there, and the one person that can make the multiple decisions that will give it any sense is me.
Psychologists: The only way to survive the extreme ups and downs that comes with getting published is to band with other people going through this clover leaf. I have to lean heavily on other writers for the mental support that sorting through everything requires. Part of the reason is that I need to lament to someone besides my cat about the frustrations. But the other part if that I need the bond that listening to others creates.
Bean counters: To move forward in any business venture requires a way to measure what’s behind that forward movement. I have excel spreadsheets and multiple file storage locations on my computer so that I can at least stop once in a while to gather and count my beans—what events have worked; which books are selling well. I have to admit, however, that I often look at those beans and wish just one of them was a magic one.
Jugglers. Most authors can’t afford to write full time. We are trying to hold down a job, take care of families, find time for old and new friends, keep up with daily household tasks while adding a fifth ball to the mix: pursuing a passion for storytelling. It’s the same juggling act that anyone who finds a way to go after what they truly want must perfect—finding time for what we love. So I guess instead of hoping for that magic bean, what I should be doing is being grateful that life has allowed me to have that fifth ball in the mix.
—Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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A New Look along with the New Book

A new year is the perfect time to announce an exciting new development initiated by Spectacle Publishing Media Group for these two authors: we’re getting a new face for the entire Fate Series at the same time our latest book is launched.VioletFate1st edition_coverfront

As Violet Fate, the third in the Sam Osborne series comes out later this month, our publisher is re-launching Twist of Fate and Wretched Fate. The first two books received additional copy edits and have been redesigned so that the three books can be marketed together.

Mom and I love our new look for its vibrancy. Spectacle’s design team maintained the important elements of the stories: for Twist of Fate that was Casey’s wheelchair and the rose that hints at romance; for Wretched Fate it’s Jacob’s beloved Quan Yin (goddess of mercy and compassion) statue and the nail that brings our surprise character into the picture. However, the design team added a rich red that pulses with danger and passion. The look works wonderfully to tease readers into opening the new book―Violet Fate―where a set of eyes is a focal point of the plot and where our characters are drawn into the Amish country. Since that’s the goal of any book’s cover—to create a yearning to see what’s inside—we think The Fate Series redesign is a huge success.

Twist of Fate2nd edition_frontcoverThe new books will be available online later this month along with Violet Fate, and we will be launching the new book locally in February.

Mom and I are in awe that we now have three books in print and are working hard on getting the next two into place. It’s only been four years since we began this process inspired by the success of my sibling, children’s book author Allyn Stotz (www.allynstotz.blogspot.com), who is also about to have a banner year. It hasn’t been an easy ride, but it’s been an exciting one, and none of us could have predicted things would go so well. Like I told a young woman who called me for advice on publishing her children’s book early this week: the key to becoming an author is to want it bad enough to pursue all angles, be patient, and not give up the quest.WretchedFate2nd edition_coverfront

We hope that 2015 will be the best year ever for all our readers and supporters.

—Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Look for a Launch at our Neighborhood Grill

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Mom and I at Applebee’s working out the details of one of our mysteries.

In our first book, Twist of Fate, mom and I acknowledged the wait staff of our local Applebee’s restaurant. We did so because of the many times we met for lunch there and worked out the details of the plot. We received more than a few odd looks as we talked about the best poison for not leaving a trace, the proper police procedures following a murder attempt, what expired drugs might be sought on the black market, how to let our villain escape discovery. But after we explained what we were doing, we also got enthusiasm and encouragement and have continued to collect praise for having received our dream of being published authors. Many of the people that work there recognize us now when we walk in. They know mom likes to get the closest booth possible because of her physical limitations; they know that she needs the blinds pulled half-way shut for her vision impairment; some even know to bring an extra plate because we love to split an entrée and a house salad.

So what more appropriate place to launch book three, Violet Fate, than our local neighborhood restaurant? I got in touch with the corporate offices of the restaurant and proceeded to get the same kind of enthusiastic response as the local restaurant. The young man I talked to congratulated us immediately on our success, then talked to his boss in communications as well as the local franchise owner, and they’ve all been supportive.

The event is still very much in the planning stages, but I have found this whole exercise invigorating and rewarding. Mom and I now know after three years that publishing a book is very hard work that pays pretty terrible wages in terms of monetary value, but a pretty fantastic salary if you like being paid by gratification. As my little sister Allyn Stotz, a children’s book in Baton Rouge, LA, (who is our No. 1 cheerleader) has said many times: it’s those voices that praise you for having the courage to pursue your dream that make this a worthwhile pursuit.

As mom and I found at this past weekend’s art and craft’s fair, one person’s comment or action can make an entire day’s efforts worthwhile. We sold just enough books to deem the fair a success. But about half an hour before the fair’s end, mom turned to me and kiddingly said: we need to sell one more set of Twist of Fate/Wretched Fate to make it a true accomplishment. Fifteen minutes later, a quarter hour before the fair closed its doors, a young man wandered by, found out we were local authors, then proceeded to pump us for information on what we’d been through. He was fascinated. Then, even though he readily admitted he didn’t read many books these days, he bought a set. I patted myself on the back for having convinced him they make great Christmas gifts. But when we went to address the signed copies to a gift recipient, he grinned sheepishly and gave his own name.

Thanks to Applebee’s and to Daniel for this week’s needed “salary”.

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Getting Back to Edgerton

125th

Some of the Swopes at the 125th town birthday

Despite the fact we haven’t lived in our hometown for years, Edgerton remains a deep part of who the Swope family is. For that reason, we’re going back there this summer carting boxes of books and hoping to meet up with some of the best supporters we’ve had.

Allyn’s current connection with the hometown runs deepest because she has family there from her marriage to Brad Stotz.  For those of you who don’t know that name, Allyn Stotz is my sister, a children’s book author (www.allynstotz.blogspot.com) who will be carting boxes of The Pea in Peanut Butter and the recently released Kailee Finds Magic IN Words with her to Edgerton. Allyn has kept in contact with many of her friends from high school and made some new ones in the years since she and Brad moved to Louisiana. Allyn, Mom and I all feel strongly that Edgerton is part of who we are, and we often talk about what a wonderful environment Edgerton provided for our family. Mom was a substitute teacher there and wrote a local column for the newspaper that my dad ran (the Edgerton Earth). I developed a nucleus of high school friends so strong that when I celebrated my 60th this year, my husband invited a couple of them to travel great distances so that I can have a truly wonderful surprise. I have tried to reconnect with some of my friends from the awesome years of high school through facebook and to follow what’s happening with some of the other people of Edgerton.

Many of the good people of Edgerton have already bought our books and wrote to cheer us on. Allyn had a book signing and reading when The Pea was released. Still, we’re all packing up the cars and heading that way, dragging not only boxes, but our husbands and Mark, a major supporter for Allyn and for us and a researcher for Mom and I (not to mention our dearly beloved brother/son).

Verna

Verna and dad at the old Edgerton Earth

Mom is 86; dad is 88 and ailing from Alzheimers. Mark, Allyn and I are still young enough NOT to want to mention how very old we are. So why are we traveling 12 and 15 hours for book signings?  Because it’s part of who we are. Mom and I acknowledged Edgerton and one of our great cheerleaders, Verna Wortkoetter in our last book. Mom and Verna developed a relationship early in the years when we first moved to Edgerton. Verna showed mom quickly what the town was like when she made sure mom felt comfortable in Edgerton and knew that if the Swopes needed help in any way, the Wortkoetters were there. I still feel thrilled when Verna’s daughter Jane Jacobs, who I became close to growing up, announces another grandchild. And I still go through the Edgerton Earth each week looking for the names of the families we knew.

And we all try to stay in touch. I’ve learned that Facebook’s greatest strength is that it allows people to maintain links with their past, and it has been a great tool for the Swopes.  Several of my high school buddies pop up almost every day and when I read about their lives, it reconnects me with who I am.

It’s a long way back to Edgerton. Not only in miles, but in years. But I’m very much looking forward to the trip.

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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