Vacation finally comes to an end.

Vacation finally comes to an end.

*cracks knuckles* It’s time for things to get serious around here.

😀

Now that my major vacations and brain drains are complete, I’m going to be focusing on some major writing.

  • Goal one: get book four fleshed out and ready for some hard-core beta reading.
  • Goal two: if stuck, work on some of my other ‘fluff’ ideas to get creativity flowing again.
  • Goal three: in addition to the above, make reasonable attempts to connect on social media.

That last one is going to be my hardest. Why poor little reclusive authors such as myself are expected to have social anything, I’ll never know. Still, I do like connecting with my fans – so if you have any burning questions (other than when will the next book be ready – I’m working on it!) send them my way! Additionally, if there’s something you might like to see (blog posts, tweets, Instagram photos, or Facebook updates) feel free to share your ideas below.

Thanks, and it’s good to be back again! 🙂

Author resources: the importance of a good editor.

“Duh,” some of my readers might be thinking to themselves. “Of course an author should hire an editor, everyone knows that.” Most aspiring authors know this as well: every self-help book and article about publishing stresses the importance of hiring an editor.

So why this post? Because despite the frequency of this advice that borders on common sense, as a reader, I still run into cringe-worthy grammar mistakes or plot holes.

AND because I made my own mistakes when I started my own writing journey. Granted, I did hire an editor, so I didn’t have cringe-worthy errors in my initial manuscript … but I wasn’t an award-winner either.

However … after reediting and redesigning the cover for my first book, UnBlessed, I now am an award-winning author. Coincidence? I think not.

So what makes an editor good? All editors are good – no, really! The tricky part is getting the right editor for the right job. Originally, I hired a standard copy editor, meaning she focused on grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Great, right?

Yes … and no.

What I truly needed was a content, or substantive, editor: someone to look at the actual story, to dissect my plot and dialogue and point out the weak spots and my bad habits. Which is why I thank my lucky stars that I found my current editor, James Roberts.

My experience with James has been both enlightening and uplifting. I’ve learned so much about my own writing, and relearned many things I’d forgotten from my high school English days. I appreciate his willingness to explain the reasons behind his edits (and I think he enjoys having an author who genuinely wants to improve her writing to make his life easier – but I could be wrong. 😀 ) The best part of working with James, in my humble opinion, is the fact that he comments on what works well in my writing, in addition to the areas that need improvement. I’m not a particularly fragile writer (though my ego hasn’t been thoroughly tested), but it’s heartening to hear the good stuff with the bad.

So, all you authors out there: make sure you get the right editor for the job. If you find one that fits with your personality and writing style, even better. And if you want to try and steal my awesome editor away … you can try. 😉

Do you like free books?

How about a free autographed book?

Even better, a free autographed book with an exclusive piece of fanart featuring the first line of said book?

Then you might want to follow Behind the Willows.

She often has montly Book-at-the-Door giveaways, with a chance to win a book she’s read and enjoyed. All you have to do is guess which book she’s offering in a comment, and you get entered for a chance to win the book, art print, and any other potential goodies.

Hint for fans of my books: this month’s giveaway features a signed copy from yours truly … but you still have to guess which of the three it might be. 😉

But hurry! The giveaway ends April 25th!

Dreams really do come true.

Dreams really do come true.

April 2nd is nearly over and despite multiple deliberate pinches (and one accidental stubbed toe), I have yet to wake from this glorious dream. In fact, I’m now confident that I won’t wake from this dream, because I’m living it.

My first book won a book award.

A real book award! One where my target audience read and voted without any input or interference from me – just them and my novel.

Yes, it’s a small book award. True, I only scored the bronze. But you know what? I still won a book award. I made it into the top five out of (at least) twenty-one finalists. Readers loved my book; they chose my story as one of their favorites.

And at the end of the day, I get to call myself an award-winning author.

Heck, I can say it at the beginning of the day too, if I want.

“Hi! I’m Crystin Goodwin, and I’m an award-winning author.”

Those are words I thought I’d never hear outside of my own little daydreams. Guess that means I have to pick a new goal to fantasize about …

… hmm. Maybe best-selling author? 😉

Sparkly UnBlessed

Want to see what all the hype is about? Hop on over to Amazon and pick up a copy of UnBlessed for yourself!

 

UnBlessed is now a book award finalist!

Yes, my friends, you heard that right!

UnBlessed was recently selected as a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards! What I found most exciting is that this particular award is NOT a popularity contest. My book went out to various members of my target audience (aka, a few high schools, since I’m in the Teen Category) and the readers voted and ranked.

This is an incredible opportunity. To be selected as a finalist, I had to score over 30/40 points in editing, style, cover, and theme. The winners will be announced in April, but even just making finalist is a huge deal! I get a gorgeous award seal (see below) to plaster all over my blog and book and Facebook page (because, why not?) AND I’ll be featured on the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Award website for two years. Plus, there’s a ton of other cool things in store … potential Goodreads promotion, inclusion in a press release sent to major literary magazines, even the opportunity to be discovered by a publisher!

Needless to say, I’ll keep all you wonderful people updated as soon as I know anything (you guys are getting this post literally two hours after I read the email) so stay tuned! Meanwhile, I want to thank my editor and cover designer for helping me get to this point: James and Winter, I seriously couldn’t have done it without you guys. I mean, EDITING and COVER – you guys helped me score two out of three categories! Thank you thank you thank you!

And for all my fans – thanks for sticking with me. Great things are bound to be in store for Myrillia, and it means the world to me that you’ve all been along since the start!

Now, behold my new shiny award seal!

Travel: caffeine for your creativity

Travel: caffeine for your creativity

Ah, vacation. That wonderful time away from the daily grind, when you don’t have to wake up early for work or stress over mundane issues like whether you have enough time to hit the grocery store before rush hour starts.

But did you know that vacations, especially those that involve travel, can spark your creativity?

While we, as humans, crave the familiar and easily fall into routines, it’s also possible for those same routines to push our creativity into a rut. Think about the most common advice for authors suffering from writer’s block: go for a walk in nature, read a book, work on something else that requires creativity … in other words, step outside of your normal routine. And travelling gives you a chance to do all of the above.

Walk in nature – This is something you could do in your own backyard, but why not drive to a nearby city and immerse yourself in something less familiar? If you can afford to visit another country, that’s even more ideal: because then you get the added benefit of experiencing another culture or a completely unfamiliar climate. Case in point: picture the difference between arid Arizona and the ever-wet-and-cold England.

Read a book – Again, you can do this anywhere. In fact, reading books allows you to travel anywhere you want, no airfare needed. For a real jolt to your creative system, try reading a book set in a different culture/timeperiod, translated from another language, or a genre outside of your normal reading habits.

Work on something else creative – What creative outlet could one indulge in while travelling? The most obvious (and most useful, personally) is photography. I’m by no means perfect, but there are times when something I see just speaks to my imagination … Like this:

powis-castle-wales-castle

Powis Castle – Powys, Wales

Or this:

bath-somerset-church

St Michael’s Church – Bath, England

And this:

moreton-corbett

Moreton Corbet ruins – Shropshire, England

And the subject isn’t always what inspires me: the colors, the way the light hits, the overall atmosphere … all can be photographed and filed away to be used in future projects.

And don’t forget the experiences travel can give you, if you give it the chance. Take this example, written about a typical bar in England:

The murmur from dozens of voices meld together, creating a low buzz that doesn’t quite mask the sound of creaking floorboards. I unbutton my coat, the extra layer unbearable in the sudden heat of the packed pub. The scent of beer and a salty tang from freshly baked chips fills the air, along with a hint of old dust from the aged building. To the left, a conversation held in varying accents creates an exquisite music, one I desperately want to wrap myself in, to the point I subconsciously mimic their phrases and inflections in my responses.

I don’t know about you, but I can take that one experience – a real experience – and tweak it to fit a tavern scene in just about any fantasy story. And there are dozens of little moments like this that you can use to fuel your creativity. It’s not limited to writing, either! Capture your memories in photos or paintings, with music, or even by knitting a shawl with the coat-of-arms of a legendary knight you fell in love with … the sky, and your imagination, is the limit.

Awesome news! (For me, anyway.)

Starting sometime in March, I will start hosting a monthly book club! Even better? I’ll be holding it in my Starbucks store!!!

Books + coffee/tea = BEST IDEA EVER

I think this is a great way to increase community involvement in my store, and I can’t wait to meet fellow book lovers in my area to talk about what’s most important in life: BOOKS. 😄

That said, I’ve never even attended a book club before, so I’ll need to do a bit of research on what it all entails – like I didn’t already have enough on my plate with my unfinished novels – since I’m pretty sure sitting there gushing about my current favorite book isn’t quite what a book club is all about. Though I’ve already had several amusing conversations with my co-workers on that aspect: picture me sitting at a table by the front door maniacally smiling at everyone who walks by, asking, “Excuse me, sir, but have you heard about the life-altering phenomenon known as ‘books’? Let me tell you a little bit about my favorite …” Three hours later, folks are anxiously trying to escape while I prattle on with a crazy look in my eyes.

Just kidding. 😀 I usually take a break after an hour of ranting so I can read more books.

On a more serious note, who out there has attended or hosted a book club? What did you most enjoy about the experience? Share in the comments!