Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pay Off Student Loan for My Amazing Aunt

As the oldest of five kids, my parents always wanted me to go to college. However, they didn't have the money or the credit to help me pay for it. So I filled out the FAFSA, worked two jobs, and went to school full-time. Still, I fell short in funding so my retired aunt stepped up to help me pay the last bit. In 2011, I graduated a semester early with a double major.

Now, I've gotten a full-time job. The only problem is it doesn't pay very much. Don't get me wrong. I'm thankful to even have a job and I take full responsibility for all my student loans. Still, because my aunt cosigned on the last two loans, she gets the bills in the mail and I feel horrible. She's an amazing lady. The only one in my whole family to step up and help me. She's retired now and lives by herself in a small apartment in DC. She had a stroke some years back but bounced back with ferocity.

I want to prove to her that her help was worth it. I want to surprise her and show her a balance of 0. Please help!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Kimie Hawaii and My First Friend

This is my new favorite singer Kimie! I saw her in concert earlier this month and it was amazing! Her voice is so smooth and, I swear, her latest single plays on the local stations at least twice an hour.

I also have a funny and very dedicated friend named Benjamin. Too bad he lives on the other side of the island. We are both broke as hell but we manage to see each other every other week.

We trade music and books. That's about the only things we agree on. Otherwise, we are polar opposites.  On good days, we hop in his beat-up white truck to search for good swimming holes, pull our money together for yummy dinners, or do a little exploring.

That's how I saw my first turtle while I was in the water. And a MONK SEAL! So fat.

Here's a snapshot of my tiny Kealakekua library. The caution tape was for a banned books display earlier this month.  It's a really small library with only me, the boss librarian, and my coworker.  We get along really well though, holding small celebration parties and talking about odd non-librarian subjects (e.g. tattoos, drinking, and a whole bunch of swear words).

Some days are still very hard.

Some days I'm not sure of what I'm doing.

Some days are better than others though.

Oh and you'll see below a strange dog. Yeah, she followed me home one day for no reason. Good thing her collar had a phone number. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Author of Heirs of War on Self- Publishing

My Road to Self-Publishing
By Mara Valderran

This is a hot topic lately since a lot more authors are doing it—and doing it the right way. What is the “right way” with self-publishing since there are so many ways to do it? My answer is simple.

Don’t publish a rough draft.
I think that’s how self-publishing got such a bad reputation when it first emerged onto the literary scene. It was too easy for people to write a draft, run over it a few times for typos or errors, call it done, and hit publish. There’s a lot more that goes into writing a book than the first couple of drafts.

I finished the first draft of Heirs of War October 21, 2011. I edited it quite a few times, had friends and family read it, and even had one person I’d never met or talked to read it. Everyone loved it! It was perfect! It was awesome! When was the sequel coming out? So I decided I’d start querying. I really think that everyone who intends to publish in some way needs to query first. It really makes you think long and hard about your book, and you make some great connections along the way when you take part in the contests out there. I participated in Gearing Up To Get An Agent, WriteOnCon, and The Haunted Writing Clinic just to name a few. I made friends, found critique partners, and ended up with two amazing mentors from Curiosity Quills that I still keep in touch with.
Even as I was participating in these contests and querying, something felt off to me. I felt like I didn’t want it as much as other people did. Honestly, I felt like I was the Oliver Twist of the literary world, knocking on people’s virtual doors.

And I really didn’t like that feeling. I didn’t want to make millions of dollars or see my books in a bookstore. I just wanted to share my books. Heck, I’d already passed out tons of free copies. So I think that’s when I started to lean in the direction of self-publishing. I was so tempted to hit that button and be done with it. When authors say they edited so much they were sick of their own book, they tell the truth. I was done with the first book and ready to move on to the next.

It’s a good thing I didn’t hit the publish button back then. When I compare my manuscript now to what it was then, I can see the improvements. I was lucky enough to come across an acquisitions editor willing to work very closely with me and teach me the error of my rookie ways before I’d really settled on the idea of self-publishing. She taught me so much, and my book is so much better for it. Ultimately, it wasn’t what she was looking for, which is fine. 
I think this is the point where I really got serious about self-publishing, because I went and hired myself an editor. I really only thought it needed to be shined up a bit, but boy was I wrong. I’m a much better storyteller than I am writer, and that definitely shows. Her guidance landed me another re-write just two weeks before the release date I had set for myself. I had two choices. I could either ignore her advice and publish the polished manuscript, or I could take her advice and make it a better book. I chose the latter and pushed back my release date. It was a hard choice, but my opinion is this: If you are going to expect people to pay for your work, you should respect them enough to give them the best quality possible.
So my advice: Wait before you hit that button. Sit back, work on something else, and come back to it later. Get beta readers and critique partners, but don’t depend on them to make your book the best it can be. Get an editor, and listen to what they have to say. Some are willing to do payment plans and I’ve even heard of some taking a smaller flat fee and working off commission. But whatever you do, make sure your book is ready before you publish it. Your audience is worth it.

For more information on Heirs of War, or the author, visit Mara Valderran's website or Facebook!

The new adult/older YA novel, Heirs of War, debuts on October 13, 2013

Stay tuned for Heirs of War blurb below.

 Seventeen-year-old Zelene doesn't believe in magic or prophecies. When she's told she is part of the prophecy foretelling five powerful girls bringing peace to the war-torn worlds, she scoffs. The idea of other dimensions layered on top of the world she lives in is almost as ludicrous as the idea that she might be able to save them. After she is attacked by magic-wielding assassins, she finds she can't argue with reality.

As their enemies strike, the girls are taken back to their world and discover the ties binding them together. Rhaya has always had an uncanny knack for reading people, but can’t seem to unravel the mystery tying her to Isauria, the new friend she bonded with instantly. For years, Isauria has been dreaming of Terrena, a girl living her life on the run in a magical world ripped apart by the tragedies of war, completely unaware that she is psychically linked to the world she was born in.

Zelene views them all with a distrustful eye, familial bonds or no, and can think of a plac or two she’d like to shove the crown she supposedly inherited. When she learns that her long-lost twin Ariana has been captured by the rebels, Zelene’s attitude changes. She doesn’t know how she is supposed to go against an army of magic-wielding rebels when her own ability to manipulate the elements is still locked within her. But can she trust the elders to rescue Ariana when it seems their medieval politics are what brought about the war in the first place? With all that is at stake, the answer becomes clear to Zelene.

Screw the worlds. She’s getting her sister back.