Tag Archives: Red

Why Kait’s Win Is Even More Awesome

results from Kait's bracket in round 1

Generally speaking, I figure you can look at Amazon reviews as a matter of reach. Not everyone who reads a book is moved to review it. I know that I rarely leave Amazon reviews for a number of reasons such as, I rarely feel five star about anything and don’t want to leave lower, I don’t want to be critical of my peers yet I have a highly critical nature, andI get really ticked when I write something and then Amazon disappears it. (Seriously, is it because I called His Dark Materials’ Will swoonworthy? Because there’s a twelve-year-old girl inside this body who was totally swooning and doesn’t feel that’s inappropriate.)

What was I talking about? Oh, reviews as a measure of reach. Okay, so say there’s a more or less fixed percentage of any reading pool willing to leave reviews or tell others about what they’ve read. (It’s actually my theory that when a book goes viral it’s because something about it blows this percentage out of the water and unusual numbers of people start telling others and the ripples expand at an exponential rate. But I digress. Again.) (And certainly you can affect your review percentage to some extent by asking people to leave reviews and making sure your book gets into the hands of people more apt to leave reviews, like book bloggers, but generally speaking, just stay with me.)

When I looked at RED and ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD on Amazon yesterday, Red had 42 reviews and Anna had 175. This isn’t surprising. Anna is a traditionally published book by an author who has been traditionally published before. Red is an indie published book, and the author’s first venture into a different niche (from PR/UF to YA). There should be a tremendous difference, not only in copies of the books sold and people who have actually read and loved them, but also in people who have been exposed to the book and/or author on any level.

In the DABWAHA tournament, that matters. Few, I suspect, will have read every book named as a finalist, so a lot of people will be voting merely on any impression they have. It’s like how the incumbent is more likely to win an election. Not necessarily because of their performance, but because they have that bit of recognition and credibility over the other guy.

So how did Kait, publisher-free and all on her own, who I’m pretty sure hasn’t sold as many copies as Kendare, pull this off?

Well, partly because she didn’t do it alone. Kait spent her day on the road, traveling for her job. But she did an incredible job of mobilizing her people to help her succeed. They helped her because Kait is good at establishing and maintaining relationships, and because she gives to the writing community all the time. She has a very large following on her blog, many of whom aren’t really interested in her brand of fiction. They’re there because she constantly provides intelligent perspective on industry news and other topics to help writers both indie and trad. She founded and maintains the #ROW80 community, which continues to maintain a sense of community even where other writer groups have expanded and…jumped the shark, as it were. She helped to found IBC (Indie Book Collective), and before stepping down from that organization, put in a tremendous amount of time gathering and making available tutorials and other reference material for new indie authors. Self-confident and friendly by nature, Kait’s the kind of personality that shines on Twitter without allowing it to take over her life and take the place of, you know, writing books. So in addition to the fans who have flocked to her, she’s also made a lot of friends in groups like #MyWANA.

And that’s probably a big factor: Kait makes friends. You see her out and about, networking in the community, and that’s a big part of why she even had the reach to pull in all those votes yesterday. But you see her talking with people, not at them. So when she asked for help, people were motivated, not only to take 30 seconds to cast a vote in her favor, but to ask their friends, to keep an eye out for #TeamKait messages to retweet throughout the day.

I was on TweetDeck yesterday. The first time I’ve spent any time there in…I don’t know, months. And yeah, I wasn’t very motivated when I got there. I had to be bullied and strong-armed, because such are my personal issues with Twitter, and it was hard to imagine having to show up after my long absence and start asking for favors. I was put in the position of being one of THOSE people. Which, you know, was probably more of a problem in my head than in anyone else’s–as is usually the case–because at least I was spamming for someone else. And I stayed there all day and RT’d things on other topics or for other DABWAHA brackets, and sent out friendly @s throughout the day.

By the time I went to bed last night, I was exhausted. I’m not the sort who can focus on more than one thing. I was on this all day long, being friendly all day long. I’m nice–soooo nice it’s probably a disorder–but I’m not friendly because that’s an outward-facing trait and it’s an effort. But it’s not a bad sort of effort. And like that high you get when you finally force yourself to exercise, I got some genuine enjoyment out of yesterday when my presence was warmly received by several old friends who don’t seem to fault me for how I am or the absences that causes.

I think I may even go back.

Meanwhile, back to Kait. I hope you’re getting my point here, which in plain terms is this:

With regard to social media, Kait Nolan is how it’s done. Follow her, and follow her lead.

Who knows how the rest of DABWAHA will turn out. I believe Kait is the only indie in the bunch, and just her making it out of the first bracket is such a huge accomplishment. It means the world to her. For authors, the reach we think we have so often doesn’t translate directly to sales and readers. We so often wonder if we’re spinning our wheels and wasting our time. Kait has put tremendous time and effort into building her social network, so not only is this an honor for her, but it’s validation. Validation rocks. So I want to thank all of you who took the time to support her, especially if there were any of you who did it because I, as a small part of that network, asked you to, and I really hope you’ll be willing to do so for as long as she can hang on in this tournament.

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Congratulations are in order!

Those of you who spend any time here with me know that author Kait Nolan is my critique partner of several years as well as my best friend. In case there are any of you who don’t follow her directly, and just because the occasion requires some extra back-patting and documentation, I’m here to tell you that Kait’s YA novel, RED, is a DABWAHA (Dear Author Bitchery Writing Award for Hella Authors) finalist.

Based on a tournament structure used in sports, the mechanics of this book tournament are somewhat over my head, so if you’re not familiar, do read more at the website. If you loved RED, I hope you’ll consider supporting Kait in the tournament. And, if you haven’t, this would be an excellent time to find out what makes this book so special.

Congrats, Kait, and good luck!

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Interview: Kait Nolan on Red

Yes, today is Heroes ‘Til Curfew release day. It’s up at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords now and things are going great. But you’ve got to be getting kind of tired of nothing but HTC launch news around here, so we’re going to talk about someone else today.

Okay, you all know my bestie and CP, Kait Nolan. Or you should, I talk about her all the damned time. Kait’s just released Red, her first YA novel. Which rocks for me, not only because we’ve been wallowing in teen angst bullshit with a body count together, but because it gives me more opportunity to promo her awesomeness. So here she is today to answer some questions.

But first, a quick blurb so you know what we’re talking about.

Red Cover Image

Red by Kait Nolan

Every fairy tale has a dark side…

Elodie Rose has a secret. Any day, she’ll become a wolf and succumb to the violence that’s cursed her family for centuries. For seventeen years she’s hidden who and what she is. But now someone knows the truth and is determined to exterminate her family line. Living on borrowed time in the midst of this dangerous game of hide and seek, the last thing Elodie needs to do is fall in love. But Sawyer is determined to protect her, and the brooding, angry boy is more than what he seems. Can they outsmart a madman? And if they survive, will they find a way to beat the curse for good?

  1. I know you’re here to talk to about you, and talk about Red, blah blah blah. But let’s talk about what we all really want to know about. Let’s talk about me. Tell my readers how we met and what you thought about me in those early days.

Five years ago I decided to take myself seriously as a writer.  I’d spent years listening to other people tell me to be practical and get a real job, but I wasn’t happy, so I decided I was finally going to treat writing as a real job.  And part of that was trying to find a critique partner.  I don’t know what possessed me to look at LiveJournal communities, but in one I came across a posting by someone who seemed to be the only other person there who wrote romance.  I don’t remember anymore who introduced themselves to whom, but suddenly I was faced with someone who wasn’t afraid to give me legitimate critique on stuff other than that comma I forgot to insert.  She was actually willing to really work on my stuff.  It was a match made in heaven.

  1. Welcome to YA land! We’re so happy to have you. You’ve been writing for adults in the Mirus series. What’s different about writing YA? Tell us the good, the bad, and the ugly.

One of the initial frustrating things for me was writing in first person.  Which isn’t necessarily a requirement of YA, but it’s what Elodie positively demanded.  Girl simply would not talk in third person, which is my comfort zone.  And I think the other really hard thing for me was trying to be a teenager again.  It’s exhausting to feel like that!  And since I really wasn’t a normal teen when I was that age, I had some trouble finding a balance in how I presented these extraordinary teens in a way that’s still believable and authentic.

But the fun…the fun is in the freedom to explore so many interesting problems.  Teens are at that great point when the unbelievable can still be believable, when they’re (usually) less weighed down by responsibility.  And it’s fun to look at the world through their eyes for a while.

  1. You are one of those un-querying and yet agented self-published authors. How did that happen?

I am living proof that you always need to watch what you say on the internet!  Kristen Lamb (of We Are Not Alone fame) did a post about self-publishing in which she called it the American Idol of Publishing.*  Being not self-published herself, Kristen opened the floor to those of us with more experience, and I think I wrote a tome in the comments.  Repeatedly.  Answering questions in a sensible, business-like manner and countering naysayers with fact.  This is something I do from time to time when I feel motivated to correct misconceptions about the indie publishing movement, and I didn’t think a thing about it.

Then I got an email from Laurie McLean of Larsen-Pomada out of San Francisco saying she’d seen my comments on the post, though I sounded smart, checked out my platform (read: she interwebz stalked me via the social media platform I’d spent three years building), read the sample of my work on my blog, bought my other novella, and did I have representation, and if not, would I like to set up a phone conference.

I think I fell out of my chair.  After I got over hyperventilating, we had that conference and I found out she’s totally progressive and recognizes that the publishing industry is changing and that the usual way of doing things isn’t gonna keep working.  She totally acknowledged that I would be successful on my own, she just thought she could help me be successful faster and bigger via a hybrid career of traditional and indie publishing.  And I was sold.

  1. You and Laurie have a somewhat…non-traditional vision of what your career can be. You’re purposely releasing Red before submitting the manuscript in New York. What’s the idea?

Well the concept is two-fold: One, if New York decides they don’t want it, for whatever reason, I haven’t lost any time or done anything differently than if I had opted to keep it straight indie.  Two, launching it gives us proof of the platform I’ve been building, and shows my viability as an author via real-time sales numbers based entirely on what I can do on my own—with the theory being that if I can do this on my own, imagine what I could do with a house behind me.  Publishing is changing and self-publishing something is no longer the kiss of death for a traditional contract.  We’re going to reach a time when authors are picked based on actual indie sales performance instead of the slush pile—when readers tell publishers what they want.  I’m getting in on that from the front end.

  1. This is one I don’t really remember the answer to. Where did the initial inspiration for Red come from?

We watched or read some kind of fairy tale reboot.  I can’t remember what.  You and I were talking about it, and I got to thinking about what fairy tales I liked and what would lend itself to paranormal, and the question of What if Red Riding Hood was the wolf, popped up.  I was originally thinking something adult, urban fantasyesque, that involved a meeting of the paranormal and romantic suspense I love.  But I set the idea aside and didn’t think much about it until Elodie started talking to me, and I realized she was a teenager.  Then it was mostly an issue of the fact that she was talking loudest.  😀

  1. We all do it. There’s no shame. Okay, well maybe just a little. Tell us anyway, what personal teen demons did you use to craft Red?

Amber is totally based on a compilation of my middle school and high school nemeses.  I was never as meanly bullied as Elodie, but I was absolutely an outcast freak as a teenager—one of those socially inept smart kids who don’t know how to relate to “regular teenagers”— so it was really easy to go back to what that felt like and multiply it exponentially.  I also firmly believe (yes, that’s still present tense) that high school boys are morons.  I distinctly remember my mother telling me I needed to tone down the smart if I wanted boys to like me, and I was like “Why would I want to be with someone who’s threatened by my brain?  High school boys are idiots.”  College was a GODSEND.  To have guys think I was hot because I was smart?  Where had they been all my life?

  1. About Sawyer…does he like older wom—I mean, uh, was there any person or character who provided particular inspiration for Sawyer—or any of the characters in Red?

Not so much, no.  I think Sawyer is what I would have wanted back then, and of course he’s got that whole protect with his body and life thing going on that we all love about Jamie Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.

  1. Your tagline for this is: Every fairy tale has a dark side. How much did the tale of Little Red Riding Hood figure into the writing of this book?

For me it was backstory.  If Red was the wolf, how did she get that way?  The story of Red Riding Hood has a couple of different layers/interpretations.  One, it’s a tale about the consequences of talking to strangers.  But there have also been interpretations that it was a morality tale, that the wolf represented a man who would steal away virtue.  And I thought, well what if the original Red fell in love with a werewolf.

  1. I once took a class on fairy tales in which the instructor said, “Rule #1, kill the mother. Because if there were a mother around, she wouldn’t let any of this bad stuff happen and there would be no tale.” That’s the case in Red. Do you buy that?

Well yes and no.  I think certainly there’s the maternal instinct to try and protect your children from harm.  But absolutely bad things continue to happen even if Mom is still around.  I often have one or both parents dead or not part of the hero/ine’s life because it’s more convenient to the plot.  Teens in YA typically have to do all kinds of stuff that real teens with two involved parents would have difficulty getting away with or pulling off.  Sometimes parents can provide additional conflict to the story, but most of the time they just seem to get in the way.

  1. Hate me all you want, the dreaded open-ended question of DOOM, what’s your favorite thing about this story?

I think, probably, the fact that I wrote a kick-ass heroine who continues to be strong in the face of horrific adversity instead of lying down and letting the world beat her.  I think Elodie is a good example to teen girls, and we definitely need more of them out there to counter-balance the popularity of certain teen series with simpering, idiotic, wimpy heroines who let their heroes run their lives.

That’s all I’m going to ask Miss Kait because she’s on a blog tour and has a lot of questions to answer. To follow her around and soak up her answers, just swing by her blog each day for a new link. She’ll be doing more interviews as well as interesting articles about darkness, fairy tales, and other good stuff. More importantly, you can READ THE BOOK, which I really love. It gets my romance HEA seal of approval. Here are some links for you…

Smashwords, Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Barnes and Noble, and All Romance EBooks.

 Kait Nolan's bio picKait Nolan is stuck in an office all day, sometimes juggling all three of her jobs at once with the skill of a trained bear—sometimes with a similar temperament. After hours, she uses her powers for good, creating escapist fiction. The work of this Mississippi native is packed with action, romance, and the kinds of imaginative paranormal creatures you’d want to sweep you off your feet…or eat your boss.  When she’s not working or writing, she’s in her kitchen, heading up a revolution to Retake Homemade from her cooking blog, Pots and Plots.

You can catch up with her at her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

*The link Kait provided goes back to that original post in which you can read her comments. In what I swear is just a bizarre coincidence of Kait-love, Kristen Lamb re-ran that post on her blog today. Check it out if you’d like to get in on today’s conversation.

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Are you a loner or team player writer?

There’s no question that, for most of us, most of writing is going to be done alone. Alone, alone, alone. With our thoughts, the voices, and the quiet time it takes to figure out just the write word.

I’ve been catching up on some housework and having me some Joss Whedon time. (Firefly, specifically.) So many great lines and great ideas in this show. And you think, “How the hell do they keep coming up with this stuff?”

I don’t know much, or anything, about television writing but I kind of assume it’s a team effort. And I envy that sometimes. I find I’m often more awesome when I’m kicking ideas around with others. Which is why you’ll often find me kicking around with Kait, Andrew, Claire and anyone else on Team Susan who gives me the least bit of encouragement.

Didn’t used to be that way. I mean, partly because I didn’t have writer friends to talk to. But also because I used to be a lot more protective of ideas. And I’m not talking so much about someone “stealing” an idea. I mean that I guess I used to be concerned that there would only be so many, so I couldn’t just be giving them away. I had to save all the good stuff, not only for my own work, but also I had to put away the best of those for when I was a better writer so I didn’t waste them on when I wasn’t such a good writer. (The other day I pulled up a character sketch kind of piece I wrote for the Talent Chronicles. It was awesome. It was dated October 2007.)

What I learned, hokey as it sounds, is that not only will there always be more ideas, but there will always be even more ideas when they’re shared. Because that’s what helps my brain work, and making those ideas and then giving them away to make room for more exercises that part of my brain to make it even better at coming up with ideas.

There’s no finite number of ways to describe a kiss. It may seem that way when you’re struggling with it, but a kiss… Are any two kisses the same? Any two people coming together, everything that led to that moment and anything this act is going to change going forward, every nuance of feeling these people are trying to communicate in this amazingly human way–

And suddenly you all realize why HEROES ‘TIL CURFEW took me a year and is twice as long as HUSH MONEY.

But I give you this example because it comes up a lot as Miss Kait occasionally gets pissy over the kissy. Helping her out with that is part of what taught me this lesson. No matter how many kisses I’ve helped her write over the years, I’ve always got more. (I feel obliged to tell you that my student has become a master and the first kiss moment she wrote for RED knocked my socks off with no help from me at all!)

So now I’ve got this very Doritos crunch all you want, we’ll make more feeling about giving words and ideas away. And it’s good because I’m pretty much addicted to brainstorming with others.

How about you? Do you play it close to the vest until you have a finished project to show, or do you prefer to make some parts of your work more of a team effort?

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