Guest Post: Author Fia Essen

Hello there! My name is Fia Essen and I’m an author. I thought I should get that said right at the beginning of this guest blog post.

The tricky thing about writing guest blog posts is making it seem as though you don’t have an ulterior motive for rambling on someone else’s blog. It’s especially tricky when you do have an ulterior motive. So I might as well admit that I’m here today in order to shamelessly promote my books Ariel and Anna.

I love to write. Writing is the fun part of being an author. For me, writing is the easy part. It’s everything else that comes with being an author that boggles my mind. Marketing and promoting my books is an uphill battle. I’ve spent the last couple of months working on building my “author platform” but Ariel and Anna are still close to invisible on Amazon. I clearly still have a lot of work to do. But I’m not afraid of hard work. I’m in this for the long haul. I’m committed to doing whatever it takes to build a long-term successful career as a chick lit author. Yes, I’m pretty stubborn.

 

Ariel is a half-English, half-American, lifelong expat who was born in Hong Kong and now lives in Singapore. At the age of thirty-four, she is in debt and out of luck. She used to have a great career, a penthouse she shared with her boyfriend of ten years, and a group of fun friends. Now she has a dead-end job, a rented hovel of a home, and a rising stack of unpaid bills to keep her company. In essence, this is a story about finding the courage to pick yourself up when you’ve hit rock-bottom and starting over. Of course, there is also intrigue and romance in the book. Ariel is summoned by the mysterious Muse Agency and she has no idea what they could possibly want with her. She meets a charming Irishman who makes her feel alive again. But can she work up the courage to take another chance on love?

Anna thought she knew exactly where her life was heading. She was wrong. After ten years of climbing her way up the stressful corporate ladder at Milton International, her dream of one day occupying her boss’ corner office has been ripped from her thanks to a round of downsizing. Her boyfriend of five years has dumped her because he didn’t think she shared his vision of their “ideal future” together. In addition to losing her job and boyfriend, she comes to the conclusion she might be losing her mind too. A sane person wouldn’t follow a perfect stranger they meet on a plane to a tiny village no one has heard of on a Greek island, would they? The stranger in question is an irresistibly handsome Englishman with a sympathetic ear. But that’s no excuse to follow him to the place he calls his home and practically move in with him, is it?

I’d be thrilled if you read the books and find out how things turn out for Ariel and Anna! You can find them on Amazon here: http://author.to/fia and visit my website here: http://www.fiaessen.com/

That’s enough rambling from me, I think. Thanks for listening!

Fia

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First Guest Post on Monday

Check in Monday when chick lit author Fia Essen writes about her ebooks “Ariel” and “Anna”. Fia is an expat who has lived all over the world and currently resides in Greece. If you have any questions for her after her post, send them to me and we’ll ask her in a later interview.

Also, you can check out her webpage here: Author Fia Essen

Cherished History, for the #Cherished Blogfest

When I was a child, I would feel like Indiana Jones slipping into my mother’s room to look in her jewelry box. Not only was it guarded and forbidden, it was full of treasures and, I was pretty sure, magic. My mother has always been a collector of beautiful and unique things and many of them were kept in the plain wooden box on her dresser.

Gemstones, coins, pendants, scraps of paper, and jewelry, so much jewelry, fine, costume, artistic, rustic. I would root through opal rings and gold chains, tangling them all together, examining each piece and always landing on one, the diamond lavalier.

It hung like a bluebell, sleek and perfect, white gold with a slight scallop on the edges. It was my first glimpse at filigree, starting the love affair I would maintain for the rest of my life, etched with flowers, scrolling up through the center. and vines, clutching the small diamond in their midst.

It was beautiful. It was powerful. Before my mother it had belonged to my great grandmother. Knowing it was an heirloom always made it more special as it not only held the magic of my mother but of my maternal line, something that resonated with me before I even understood what it meant.

I come from a line of strong women. My great grandmother came from dirt, dropping out of grammar school to help her widowed mother raise her brothers and sisters, marrying an Irish Catholic officer in Philadelphia and sneaking out to work during the Depression, not because they needed the money, but because once her daughter was in school she needed to stimulate her sharp mind.

My grandmother and my grandfather started out with little and worked hard together, building their own homes with little knowledge of how to do so, raising three girls and traveling the world. Today she is 91 years old and shows no sign of slowing down.

My mother pursued her dream of becoming a professional artist. She worked throughout college and maintained a high GPA. She fell in love with a man who was her equal in creativity, drive and stubbornness and they have fought and laughed their way through their enduring marriage. She is a lifelong feminist, in spite of the movement’s ebbs and flows in popularity, having kept her last name and passing it down to my brother and I as our middle names.

When I married my husband, she passed this lavalier onto me. Over the years my idea of the perfect wedding dress changed drastically, but I always knew the piece of jewelery I would want to wear with it. The diamond lavalier that possessed the grace, the wisdom and the strength of the women in myFeatured image family.

The lavalier will someday go to my own daughter. At 10 months old she has already proven she possesses the same grit and heart as the women who previously wore this necklace.

Visit the blogs of the other participants of the Cherished Blogfest

Self Publishing: What I’ve learned so far

I have some exciting stuff coming up. A guest post from an author in Greece, and some interviews with self published authors (get your questions in if you have any). But today I wanted a do a rundown of what I have learned since taking on this goal.

1. There are endless resources for indie writers

Endless. From online editing apps to peer editing communities, marketing communities and free image resources, and pinterest boards, the internet wants to help. When something holds you up, a simple search will yield countless results to help you stay the path.

2. Indie writers are awesome

Why are they awesome? Well, aside from being indie writers, they are the most supportive group you will ever meet. They will help you get your book out there because they know you would do the same for them. If you are just starting out, making a writer’s twitter account will quickly introduce you to some of the smartest, most talented writers ever and they will have your back.

3. Don’t set a release date until you are done

I think I have mentioned I’m an impatient person. I’m also a bit of an optimist (a rare quality in a writer indeed) so I thought a general summer release would totally happen with a book that was almost done. Yeah, I’m feeling a little less optimistic about that. Some major life issues came up and put me off my non-stop editing trend. This happens to everyone, traditionally published, indie published and unpublished so don’t beat yourself up about it but for real, don’t commit until your product is finished.

4. Its good to get a start before you’re ready to publish

I read this before I started but I didn’t really believe it. I see all my twitter friends posting their published works for sale and I want one of my own! But I have a jump on the process. The time I’m not promoting my finished product, I am meeting people, learning things and getting my name out there. I still have alot to learn. I hope that when “The Fate of a Princess” is released, I will know more than I know now.

What have you learned on your path to publishing and what would you like to know?

Something I would like to do here….

Because I am admittedly a self publishing novice, I would like to open up the floor to authors who have gone through the process. I’m compiling a list of questions but I’d love to get some suggestions on what others would like to know about as well.

So, if you are a writer plotting your first published work and want to know something, send me your questions.

If you are a writer who has self published and you have some advice to share, let me know and I’ll feature you and your book here and on twitter.

Lets do this!

Writing YA for adults who are young

I recently read an article that criticized love and first sight and anything beyond “pure” romance in YA novels (I guess that means anything beyond chaste kissing?). It made me a little angry. Not as a writer. As a former young adult.

I remember being a teenager. Do you?

The writer claimed the best YA romances start out as friendships, then turn into romance (chaste romance).

First of all, boring. “Hello friend I have mutual respect and admiration for. I believe we may be compatible for some hand holding and sipping a single soda from two straws. Do you concur?”

Secondly, sure. It happens all the time. But its not the only way it happens in real life. Maybe not love at first sight, but I’m sure everyone remembers their teenage selves setting eyes on someone and getting hit by that thunderbolt that started a devastating crush. That is realistic. That is interesting. It is something every now teenager has known and felt down to their cores. And we want our novels to be realistic, don’t we?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and I’ll probably eventually dedicate an entire post to it), you need to respect your reader. You need to respect their intelligence. You need to respect their priorities. You need to respect their world. If you choose to write a YA novel, you need to respect young adults, not as hormone ridden morons who only care about clothes and think their parents are so unfair. As adults who are young.

That means avoid the preaching. If you think kids should avoid sex and sexual situations, make that a relevant point in your character’s life. Yes. There are many teenagers who believe the same thing. But don’t act like these are not issues at all. Even honor roll, Christian, animal shelter volunteers’ face temptation and turmoil when it comes to sex.

Don’t downplay their issues. Its really tempting to just give your characters a great relationship with their parents. They’re good kids with cool parents. Everyone gets along. But Is that realistic? Even good kids fight with their parents, resent them, want them to give them room to breath, or feel the pressure of their expectations.

Remember your younger self. This is a big one. Once upon a time everything “adult” was new to you. It wasn’t always an easy transition. It wasn’t always fun. It came with heartbreak so devastating it felt like you were actually going to die. It came with elation so high you would ride on it for weeks. These are not things to roll your eyes at. They are the beautiful pieces of growing up and they are the things we try to capture for our reader, to relate to them, to give them a place where they retreat from the pressures of their lives, and yes, their lives do have pressures, even if we, as adults, do not think they measure up to ours.

So before you write you YA novel, ask yourself, do you respect teenagers? Do you remember what it was like to be one? Can you write a story that doesn’t idealize their lives, downplay their issues, or make them feel like their natural urges are wrong? Do you want to?

Working out of order

“Fate of a Princess” is out in the world, sorta. This weekend after numerous attempts to finish my second round of edits and clean up the end I sent it to my beta readers (my bffs) as is. I wouldn’t normally recommend this for several reasons.

1. When you do have it cleaned up, you’ll likely have to find new readers. Unless your friends are really the best people in the world and ready to read it again.

2. You are testing your friendships by sending people crappy drafts.

But in this case, too much is going on in my life and I just cannot get the momentum going to finish my second draft, so I’m choosing to keep the ball rolling. I still would like to shoot for my summer release, but at this point I’m thinking I may need to push it back to fall. And that’s okay, as long as it gets done.

Why I am self publishing an older novel

I finished the first draft of “Fate of a Princess” years back and every time I come back to it I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s fun, it’s light, it’s entertaining. It needs work and that’s why I haven’t done much with it until now, but in my humble opinion it’s pretty damned enjoyable.

With some hard work, some help from friends and fellow writers and alot of humility, I am willing to throw it out the window into the world of self publishing. I like it alot. I think it could fly.

But I am willing to let it fall.

This past spring I finished a first draft of a novel that I love. It is my best work. I am crazy psyched about it.

It won’t be ready for a long time.

I am an impatient person. I tend to throw myself head first into things instead of taking the time to make sure I do it all right. But this novel, I want to do it right. I want it refined to perfection. I want to gather a team that will be as psyched about it as I am to ensure it gets to an audience that will be psyched about it too.

So to keep myself from rushing through a revision and sending it to every agent I can find, I went back to “Fate of a Princess” and started getting it ready. I do not have the resources I hope to have for my latest rough draft. Everything I do is a learning process. I am not willing to make these mistakes with my future work. I need to figure out what they are this time around. I need to learn how the self publishing world works.

I am excited about “Fate of a Princess”. I think when it is ready it will be a really fun book. But I have learned over the years that I know far less than I think, so I am using it to get my feet wet. To get my name out there.

I hope that it flies. I really do.

Absurdity and Why I turn to Douglas Adams in times of Trouble

During the last long rough week, I needed to fill alot of long worrisome hours and I needed to keep my spirits up. The perfect solution-  Douglas Adams. I had listened to Hitchhikers Guide on audiobook a few years back when I was making long drives during a tense time and it had kept me from having panic attacks all over the road. The three following books worked like a charm this week as well.

To describe the plot of Hitchhikers guide and it’s sequels, they would play out like a horror sci fi. An alien race destroys the Earth and an English man narrowly escapes with his alien friend. Together they dodge peril as they try to explore the universe, teaming up the a two headed former president and the only other survivor of the Earth.

But if you’ve read it, or watched it, or even heard about it, that is not at all what these books are. Well, yes, in the most technical sense, that is the plot, but in what is missing from this brief summary are the words “hysterically funny”.

So how does Adams do it? How does he take what should be a terrifying subject and make it hysterically funny (while breaking almost all the writing rules we try to adhere to)?

Absurdity.

He is the master of the absurd and it has landed him in the ranks of the greats.

There are lose ends. There are plot holes. The explanations for many of his characters and situations don’t make any sense and it doesn’t matter because everything is improbable and absurd and with the except of Arthur Dent, everyone else accepts and understands this.

So if you’re struggling to pull something together, you have a premise that just won’t fit, whether it’s a scene or a whole novel, consider adding a touch of the absurd. Don’t take yourself, your characters or your work too seriously and see what happens if you change the way the world works.

Because while I love a really good dark, serious read that is well written, more often than not I just want to laugh.