Articles by Meg @ Lulu

Meet NaNoWriMo Accelerator Author: Emily Covington

What first motivated you to write a book?

I was motivated to write because I loved to read and I wanted something that no one had ever done before. I wanted to love something that had a little bit of everything and was my own.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge about the writing process?

The biggest challenge is when you find your story down in a ditch and you have to motivate your characters as well as yourself. You have to remind yourself why you started, and that’s the most important thing. Sometimes you just have to stop and look at what inspires you, listen to Indie music, talk to your friends, go for a walk, and then describe everything as you sacrifice your homework and that essay that’s due. That’s hard, but it pays off.

If you could offer an aspiring author any piece of advice, what would it be?

Keep writing. Write everything, and describe everything. Tell me what you feel and why, tell me your past and give me the wildest imaginable future, and give me metaphors that I can relate to. I want imagery and description. I want characters made from real people that I have never met, and I want you to introduce me to them. I want to love them without knowing why or how. I want it to be seamless and real. Fall away from your fears your selfish desires cut the chains that anchor you with the knowledge that you have caged yourself and the key has been in your mouth the whole time.

Tell us a little bit about your book…who should read it and why.

My book is about adventure. It is about romance and finding yourself. It is about learning to love and let love go, and realizing that just because you think you love someone doesn’t mean it’s always supposed to happen. My book is meant for those people who have ever lost something, for those people who have ever been in love or wanted love or needed meaning in their lives. My book is for people who long for adventure, or who long to settle down. It is for the mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, and anyone who wants to hear a story about a girl that had to lose everything before she could rise again.

Why did you chose to write in this genre?

I chose fantasy/adventure because I wanted to create a place that was unlike our world, but exactly the same. It used to be good, but now it is corrupt, and it will take a massive effort to make it good again, to reintroduce freedom. It is a story with war, imprisonment, death, loss, victory, and love, and it is about a girl and her friends who fall in love with their world and the adventures they have.

Has writing and completing a book been the experience you thought it would be?

Writing a book has been so much different than I ever imagined, but I write every day. I wanted elements from everything that I love, and there is so much satisfaction to see my years of writing, knowledge, and daydreaming all rolled into one little paperback copy with a green cover and script letter and my own name sitting there before me. It is compelling and powerful to be able to hold something that I made with my own hands, my eyes, my mind. It’s quite enlightening and a very huge relief. I can’t wait to do it again.

What has been the biggest surprise so far in your author journey?

Writing a book has been so much different than I ever imagined, but I write every day. I wanted elements from everything that I love, and there is so much satisfaction to see my years of writing, knowledge, and daydreaming all rolled into one little paperback copy with a green cover and script letter and my own name sitting there before me. It is compelling and powerful to be able to hold something that I made with my own hands, my eyes, my mind. It’s quite enlightening and a very huge relief. I can’t wait to do it again.

Will you write another book?

I write every single day. I have hundreds of notebooks, documents, typed sentences that are lost in places, flash drives that appear out of thin air, words on notepads and papers and even on my desk with chalk. I have so many sentences and ideas that I can’t wait to reveal the next big project that will come alive as surely as this one has. Wait for Zhenya and Brielle.

Is there anyone you would like to thank who helped or supported you?

I would like to thank NaNoWriMo and my college friends at Murray State University who first got me involved. I would like to thank my parents, all of them, for shaping me into the person I’ve become. I would also like to thank the amazing people behind Lulu who have helped so much, and the other winners who have been beside me through this. We really have won in this endeavor.

Find her book, Silver Follows, here.

Meet NaNoWriMo Accelerator Author: Sabina Zbasnik

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 4.20.09 PMWhat first motivated you to write a book?

I wanted to write The King’s Blood after a small scene popped into my head. It pictured a girl chastising a boy for accepting a rusted and waterlogged sword from some half drowned woman lying in a pond. That scene became little more than a toss away joke in the book, but it grew into so much more. An exploration of how often history is rewritten, and though we treat it like stone, it’s really clay. Discovering what it takes to create a Charlemagne like character; young and naïve at first, but shaped by his circumstances to stitch together a shattered country while bringing back literacy. And, as always, poking fun at some of the classic fantasy tropes, especially the self fulfilling prophecy.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge about the writing process?

You know when you have a word on the tip of your brain, the perfect word to slot into your flailing sentence, but for the life of you, you cannot scrounge it up from the depths of your sunken vocabulary? When it happens dozens of times each writing session, wasting time and energy, it becomes a major stumbling block.

If you could offer an aspiring author any piece of advice, what would it be?

Write like no one will read your book; edit like your toughest critic will.

Tell us a little bit about your book…who should read it and why.

The King’s Blood has the bones of a classic epic fantasy, a prince has to get his butt onto his dad’s throne, but the sinew and flesh are satire of those tropes. It’s a book meant to get some color into the medieval fantasy realm that is sorely missing. Not only is the main heroine black, so is the friendly assassin, while the sardonic witch is Asian. If you really love Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams then you might enjoy my book. There aren’t a lot of long lists of who begat whom and the history of a stone pillar that has nothing to do with the plot, but there are jokes. Argonath sized piles of jokes.

Why did you chose to write in this genre?

Despite satirizing the fantasy genre, I do love it. It’s a chance to explore and examine the human condition, what drives and crushes people, while also throwing in a dragon or two. But no bards, no one wants to put up with a bard.

Has writing and completing a book been the experience you thought it would be?

Writing is always a surprise, getting to the book stage doubly so. It is stressful to chase that dream but, when you hold that finished copy in your hands, it’s all worth it.

What has been the biggest surprise so far in your author journey?

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the community that rallies around. Wonderful friends and people who have already slogged down this journey that are happy to share their advice, their congratulations, and beta read. A beta reader that shares both the good and bad in the form of constructive criticism is worth their weight in gold. Never let them go.

Will you write another book?

I’ve already started another series called Dwarves in Space, to move somewhat into the sci-fi arena. There are plans in my mind to stretch King’s Blood out to another two books, exploring secrets about Ciara and her father to tie them back to the Elven wars, but only time will tell if I ever write them.

Is there anyone you would like to thank who helped or supported you?

My husband offered a great sounding board while writing as well as a useful alpha reader. So many wonderful friends took on the thankless job of beta reading; Dawn, Adam, Rick, I never could have reached even a passable manuscript without their advice and suggestions. Also, a shout out to my fellow Let’s Go Wrimo winners who all came together to help each other out, and Lulu for giving me this opportunity.

Find her book, The King’s Blood, here.

 

Meet NaNoWriMo Accelerator Author: Thomasin Heyworth

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 2.34.29 PM

What first motivated you to write a book?

A good book can take you out of your own life for a while. The best books also teach you something, or provide new insights. I wanted to write a book to share some of my own insights about life and people, and also, with any luck, to tell a compelling story that people would want to read.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge about the writing process?

Getting started. The fear that I wouldn’t have all the pieces to make a good story. But I learned that once you get started, the rest follows.

If you could offer an aspiring author any piece of advice, what would it be?

Just jump in and get writing. As I said, getting started can be the hardest part. It’s been said by everyone, but it bears repeating, that if you just write, and keep writing, you will create something. If you don’t get started, it’s never going to happen. So don’t let the fear of doing it wrong or not writing a best-seller stop you. None of that matters. The writing matters.

Tell us a little bit about your book…who should read it and why.

After June will probably appeal mostly to women. The main character is a widow in his late sixties, but he shares the story with a young pregnant woman. They’ve both suffered the recent loss of someone close to them, and the story is about what we share with others and what we keep to ourselves, but also about serendipity, accepting the kindness of others and being open to change. Anyone who is interested in what motivates people to make decisions could take something away from the story.

Why did you chose to write in this genre?

I suppose I wrote a contemporary women’s novel because that’s what I know best. My own view of the world is through that lens. I am also most interested in real-life stories rather than fantasy, for example, because these are the most meaningful to me.

Has writing and completing a book been the experience you thought it would be?

I really had no preconceived notions of what it would be like to complete a novel. I’ve learned so much in the process. One of most important things I’ve learned is that all writers (all creators, for that matter) go through very similar experiences, and that there’s nothing quite as valuable as the advice of experienced writers. Listening to them assures you that you’re difficulties and successes are all very normal. And that’s encouraging!

What has been the biggest surprise so far in your author journey?

I was surprised by the way the writing took on a life of its own. Some of my characters took shapes that I had not planned. A story belongs to the writer and the writer can make anything happen, but even your best laid plans can change at any time if you’re open to it. It’s fun to see where the writing takes you.

Will you write another book?

Absolutely. It’s already forming. And this time, while I still have many of the same questions I had the first time, I know some of the answers will come once I begin.

Is there anyone you would like to thank who helped or supported you?

I have a lot of people to thank, but mostly those who lived through the writing with me, like my partner, Peter, my mother and close friends. And I should thank NaNoWriMo for creating a site that was so easy to use and offered so much encouragement. As for self-publishing, that’s another story, and the support of Meg and Glenn at Lulu as well as the other nine Accelerator Winners has been invaluable.

Find her book, After June, here.

 

Critterkin is activating young readers in a whole new way

Final Kindness Quilt - Paper1

Jena Ball, author of the children’s CritterKin Book Series, is taking the way kids read and interact with her stories and characters to a whole new level. As part of the “CritterKin Be Kind” project, Ball has been working with 43 third graders from Bellevue Elementary School’s summer reading program, not only fostering literacy in children, but also imagination by taking her books and turning the themes into a tangible expressions of kindness called the “CritterKin Kindness Quilt.”

During the three week program, Ball has helped these children to experience, learn about, and use kindness. Not only did the kids have read an entire book, they also created three versions of a ”CritterKin Kindness Quilt” (paper, fabric and digital) while blogging and writing poetry about their adventures, as well. In a grand finale today, the children will be performing the last chapter of the book as a play . The play will be open not only to the  local Bellevue, Nebraska community, but to the entire world as well. Since technology has played a huge roll in the project, the play will actually be mass broadcast for anyone to tune into on a custom Google Hangout.

We sincerely applaud all of the effort that has gone into this initiative and hope that you will consider joining for what promises to be a wonderful, giggle filled celebration of 43 terrific kids and  their work:

WHEN: Friday, June 20th at 1:30 pm (CST)
Google Hangout: Visit this Google+ Page for the link: https://plus.google.com/events/chst5ksdn7b5iv1rn6eb3be21to

To learn more about the book, Lead With Your Heart,  that inspired the program and the play, please visit the CritterKin books page: http://wp.me/P37dkL-kp-0p

To see how you can start your own “CritterKin Be Kind” project, visit the CritterKin “Be Kind” page: http://wp.me/P37dkL-bO

Book Expo America – One for the Books

2014 has been a very busy year for Lulu. We launched Lulu Jr., our new brand that allows children to become published authors by encouraging creativity, strengthening literacy and building self-esteem. We continue to introduce Picture.com to new audiences so everyone can show what they love. We expanded eBook distribution options to include Kindle, Kobo and many others. And we introduced new pricing for our vast print book options to save our authors and readers even more.

To celebrate these new offerings with authors, readers and our peers, we headed to Book Expo America last week. And what a great stage it was to showcase all of the new things we’ve been working to deliver. The most visible is our new brand.

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Lulu invades Book Expo America!

 

We were joined by three celebrities to help us spread our message – two-time New York Times bestselling author and award winning gospel artist Dr. Juanita Bynum, Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, known for her role as Kiki on Nick Jr.’s “Fresh Beat Band,” and New York Times bestselling children’s book author Peter H. Reynolds.

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Dr. Juanita Bynum and Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, best known as “Kiki” from Nick Jr.’s Fresh Beat Band, at Book Expo America

 

Our favorite part of BEA was getting to see so many of you, our customers and a great many aspiring authors. Self-publishing showed a lot of renewed momentum at the show, and we loved being able to tell you all about the new things we’re working on the deliver later this year, ensuring you’re as successful in your writing, marketing and selling as you can be.

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Peter H. Reynolds, acclaimed author of The Dot series, talks with fellow authors

 

We learned a lot from BEA attendees about What You Love and what you need to be more successful. We can’t wait to implement some of these ideas at Lulu.com to help each of you achieve your publishing goals. Of course, if you weren’t able to attend BEA this year, please share your ideas with us in the comments section!

Meet NaNoWriMo Accelerator Author: Laura Harris

What first motivated you to write a book?

I’ve been writing stories as long as I remember, probably since I was about six or seven and I realised people write the books I loved to read, so I could write them too. This book in particular was originally prompted by lyrics to the song ‘Demons’ by Imagine Dragons and developed from there into my NaNoWriMo 2013 project, which I was desperate to win after failing miserably in 2012.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge about the writing process?

I think the main problem I have is staying focused on writing and not getting pulled away by the rest of life. It’s why NaNoWriMo is so helpful because it offers motivation and gets me into the habit of writing. Every year it rolls around and gives me a kick to start writing and stop procrastinating.

If you could offer an aspiring author any piece of advice, what would it be?

Find other writers. Through school/university, a local writing club, NaNoWriMo – it doesn’t matter how, but find people who you can discuss your story with, who will understand why you’re tearing your hair out over a runaway character, who you can write with so you don’t leave a story alone for months on end.

Tell us a little bit about your book…who should read it and why.

The basic premise is that sixteen years prior to the start of the book, human-dragon politics reached breaking point for various reasons, and dragonslayers won. To save themselves from extinction, dragons fled their bodies and hid their souls in human hosts. This book is the culmination of that. The presence of two souls weakens the human body and is slowly killing them off, meaning the dragons can’t hide any more. There are two main characters; Giselle, an orphaned gold smuggler who’s grown up with a voice in her head, and Corran, the youngest son of a dragonslayer desperate to prove himself. Read it if you like dragons. Read it you like sword & sorcery fantasy (although there’s less of the sorcery in this, magic is limited to dragons). Read it if you like coming of age stories. And hey, read it even if none of those things is your normal reading preferences because why not try something new?

Why did you chose to write in this genre?

I’ve always liked the escapism of fantasy and the concept of magic. The majority of my bookcase and DVD collection involves magic or the supernatural of some kind, so it’s just natural to write more of that.

Has writing and completing a book been the experience you thought it would be?

The writing part is normal, I’ve been doing it for so long. Completing something is just a matter of writing day after day, week after week and staying motivated – and then editing. The editing a book to completion is what I’ve never quite managed before and it is a lot more work than I expected. There are so many parts to it (plot, make the reader keep reading, improving the writing itself) and it takes just as long as writing the book. It’s been a great learning experience though.

What has been the biggest surprise so far in your author journey?

The work that goes into marketing a book. Going into it alone is much more difficult than I imagined and there are so many things to consider like social media, cover design, promotional materials. Just having a book out there isn’t going to do anything – you need to make sure people know about it.

Will you write another book?

Of course! For one thing, I need to wrap up Giselle & Corran’s story in the final Firesouls book, but I could never stop writing for too long. The story ideas pick at my brain until I’m opening a new document and start typing away.

Is there anyone you would like to thank who helped or supported you?

To avoid repeating the acknowledgements already in the back of my book which is several paragraphs long: thank you to every single person who encouraged me in writing over the years, and everyone who gave me advice and/or criticism because that helped me improve.

Meet NaNoWriMo Accelerator Author: Alyssa Fisher

Fisher_FINAL_pdfToo Far Gone by Alyssa Fisher. A story about three teens who are destined to stop the apocalypse and save the world. -

Too Far Gone by Alyssa Fisher. A story about three teens who are destined to stop the apocalypse and save the world. – See more at: http://www.lulu.com/blog/#sthash.LUj7un7b.dpuf
Too Far Gone by Alyssa Fisher. A story about three teens who are destined to stop the apocalypse and save the world. – See more at: http://www.lulu.com/blog/#sthash.LUj7un7b.dpuf

What first motivated you to write a book?

I’ve loved reading my entire life and that love of reading turned into a love of writing. I’ve always especially had an interest in the paranormal. A lot of research into mythological creatures gave me ideas of different characters and situations. This, in turn, motivated me to write about these characters and tell their stories. I love being able to introduce these characters to the rest of the world and share their journeys.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge about the writing process?

To me, the biggest challenge about the writing process was forcing myself to write. There were many days where I was just too busy or not in the mood to write and even more days where I consistently thought to myself “This is awful, why am I even continuing?” The hardest part was pushing myself through that and forcing myself to write, even just a little bit a day. And eventually, things started taking shape. Without pushing myself, this book would never have been completed.

If you could offer an aspiring author any piece of advice, what would it be?

One piece of advice that I would offer to an aspiring author is to just keep writing. Even if you think that what you’ve written isn’t good enough, just keep going. Write everyday, even if it’s just a little bit. One paragraph, one sentence, even just one word.

Tell us a little bit about your book…who should read it and why.

My book is about three teenagers: Brady, Riley, and Gabriel who are demon hunters. Together, these three must fight demonic forces that are taking over in order to stop the apocalypse. Anyone who is a fan of young-adult books, the paranormal and mythological, or just a fan of reading in general should read this book. It’s a fun and entertaining book that everyone should be able to enjoy with some mythological aspect as well.

Why did you chose to write in this genre?

I chose to write in the young-adult genre because I think it’s interesting how major events (such as an upcoming apocalypse) can shape and change what the character will be like in the years where most people discover who they are. I love finding out how major events can change the future path of a character and how they learn to deal with these events. I wrote in the paranormal genre because I’ve already been interested in the paranormal and mythological. I’ve researched into a lot of mythological creatures and find the subject fascinating.

Has writing and completing a book been the experience you thought it would be? Why or why not?

Writing and completing a book was much harder of an experience than I thought it would be. When I first starting writing I had no idea how difficult it could be. I sat down with the idea that I would just write and the perfect words would come to me. Instead, there were many days where I sat staring at the computer screen, desperately trying to come up with what would happen next to my characters. Later, editing the book was even more difficult as I parted with words that I loved that just couldn’t make the cut. At the end of it all though, there was a huge sense of satisfaction in my work and relief that it was finally finished which made everything worth it.

Will you write another book?

I will definitely write another book. I have a few books in mind for a continuation in the world I made with this book. I also have other ideas in mind with different characters and different worlds that I want to write about as well.

Is there anyone you would like to thank who helped or supported you?

I’d like to thank my family for always supporting me. It was my parents who got me interested in reading and later into writing. My mother specifically pushed me to continue writing as it was something that I loved to do. Without that belief in me, I’m not sure I would’ve ever finished anything.

 

Join Lulu’s new crowdfunding page

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 1.08.17 PMNeed funding? Crowdfund Your Book With Lulu and Pubslush

Crowdfunding, not only presents a unique opportunity for authors to raise funds for their projects, it also can help to collect preorders, market your book before publication, and build and engage with your audience. Even if you may not need money for publishing, a crowdfunding campaign may be a beneficial option for you.

Lulu is now offering authors the opportunity to crowdfund through the Lulu Crowdfunding Page, powered by Pubslush.

Why crowdfund your book?

  • Raise funds. One of the most obvious benefits of crowdfunding is that it allows authors to raise funds for their publishing costs. Producing a quality book is essential to stand out in the book market, but can get pricey. Crowdfunding helps authors to mitigate the financial risk and burden of publishing.
  • Collect preorders. Reward based crowdfunding allows authors to create rewards that supporters receive in return for their financial pledge. The most obvious reward is, of course, the author’s upcoming book. The reward model gives authors the opportunity to collect preorders from a broad network. Who doesn’t want to start selling books before publication?
  • Drive traffic to your book before publication. Marketing efforts need to start well before a manuscript is published, but it’s difficult to talk about a book that hasn’t come out yet. A crowdfunding campaign provides authors with a landing page to drive traffic to that encapsulates them as an author and their upcoming book. Marketing before publication just became easier.
  • Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 1.03.32 PMBuild a lasting connection with your readers. Authors are often left in the dark as to who actually purchases their book when it’s bought on popular marketplaces. With a crowdfunding campaign, authors have complete access to their supporters. Every successful campaign receives advanced market analytics to better understand their audience. Additionally, campaign supporters have more access to authors with the ability to provide feedback and build buzz around the book that can be used for future promotional efforts.
  • Share readership with other Lulu writers. Your campaign will gain visibility to other Lulu writers and their readers. As the Lulu.com community grows, so will the number of possible supporters for your campaign.
  • Continuous discoverability. Successful campaigns will live forever on Pubslush and the Lulu Partner Page. Once an author publishes, they can add the links to where their book is being sold to their project page. This will continue to drive traffic to the sales of their book post-campaign.
  • Risk free. There’s no fee to start a campaign. Pubslush only takes a 4% platform fee at the end of every successful campaign. This process is completely contract free J
  • Personalized Service. The Pubslush team provides personalized service to all authors on Lulu.com’s Crowdfunding Page. Have the power of the pros on your side for your crowdfunding campaign.

To get started, sign up at Pubslush using the promo code Lulu to receive The Guide: Tips To Successful Crowdfunding and join the Lulu Community today!!

Lulu Celebrates the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Movement

Earlier this week, we posted about the growing #WeNeedDiverseBooks Movement, which is drawing world wide attention to the need to have more diversity represented in children’s literature. As part of this movement, we’d like to highlight some of our favorite Lulu children’s books that celebrate diversity.

I am a Big Girl by Estella Johnson

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 1.32.45 PMThis charming story follows the daily fun of a toddler who believes she is a Big Girl. From dentist visits to finding new friends, this is a great story for young children about growing up.

 

 

Dakota’s Easter Wish by Vasilisa Hamilton

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 1.42.28 PMMore than anything, little Dakota wants to win Pleasant Mount Sunday school’s Easter egg hunt. Indeed, she was the only child who had never won. Dakota’s Easter Wish is the humorous but touching story of how a child’s quest for a prize leads to a “malodorous” outcome.

 

The Lion’s Share by Said Salah Ahmed

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 2.04.21 PMA Somali-English Bilingual Children’s Picture Book. The hungry animals of the Somali forest have worked together to kill a big fat camel. Now they must decide how to divide it. Will the portions be equal? Not with the lion in charge! Read this popular Somali fable and see why, as the other animals come to understand, “the lion’s share is not fair!”

The Pink Monkey by Kari Wells

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 1.59.41 PMThe Pink Monkey is a fun and engaging tale about the misadventures of a little monkey hero who teaches everyone around him a valuable lesson about tolerance and acceptance of others.

 

 

 

I’ll Find a Way by Irma Y. Luna

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 2.01.03 PMI’ll Find A Way is an inspiring non-fiction story of Alejandro’s perseverance and inner strength. This book will inspire and encourage young readers who are facing any type of disability in their lives to follow their dreams no matter how great the obstacles.

 

 

 

 

CritterKin, National Teacher Appreciation Week, and Saying Thank You

As the school year comes to a close, it’s time to pause and thank the people that have some of the biggest impact on our lives…teachers.

This week marks National Teacher Appreciation Week, a time for all of us to express gratitude to those who have not only molded our minds, but provided us with inspiration, direction, guidance, and confidence.

Today, we want to shine the spotlight on the amazing work of Lulu.com author and illustrator, Jena Ball. Jena, a consummate animal lover and former teacher, wanted to develop a series that taught children the importance of kindness and compassion. The result: CritterKin Book Series. Her books are designed to teach children that animals (critters) are family (kin).

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 11.51.24 AMThe CritterKin books have been especially inspirational for young students and teachers have been reaching out to Jena, asking her to present to their classes. Momentum for this movement has grown. Jena now collaborates with teachers all over the county on project-based learning campaigns (check out the video on the right to see highlights). Entire schools are now getting involved and working on projects to teach kids the importance of emotional intelligence while incorporating core-based learning skills.

Our never-ending gratitude goes out to people like Jena, and teachers all over the world who work hard to ensure a brighter future for today’s younger generation.

Take some time this week, remember the key teachers in your life that went the extra mile, took elevated interest, and generally worked to see you succeed not only in your studies, but in your life. And say thank you.