Guest Post by David Estes: Do you believe in soul mates?

Do you believe in soul mates?

David Estes

I do! And I’m a guy! Is that weird? Are you saying “Awww, that’s so cute!” or are you saying “This dude’s a cheeseball for sure!”? Well, regardless of whether you think I’m a hopeless romantic with my head in the clouds and no clue about reality, let me explain why I believe the way I do. Yep, this is my true love story!

Before I met Adele I wasn’t so sure about the whole “soul mate thing.” I didn’t necessarily have an opinion either way, because I didn’t have enough experience to decide on it. Well, all that changed when I met my future wife. Adele and I, although not exactly alike in every single way, connected in a way that made it impossible for us to stay away from each other. We love each other’s conversation, jokes, laughs, touches, and everything else. We moved in together after 6 weeks, were engaged in 3 months, and were married in 9 months. Yeah, we moved fast!

She’s my sunrise and moonbeams and crashing waves and lightning bolts. She makes life better and happier and more worth it. I’m sure I’m hitting plenty of clichés, but they’re all true, and here comes another one: she makes me a better man. Without her, I’m loster than the plane crash victims on the hit TV show Lost. In short, she’s my soul mate.

In fact, it was Adele who encouraged me three years ago to start seriously writing, which had always been a dream of mine. I wouldn’t be a fulltime writer today if it wasn’t for her!

So, regardless of whether you have a soul mate yet, or believe in that sort of thing, my belief in the concept absolutely has an impact on my writing. I like the characters who I believe are meant to be together, to find each other, to have the chance for their relationship to grow, and to stay together. When I believe two characters are soul mates, no other characters can get in the way no matter how attractive or smooth they are. I rarely do love triangles for that reason.

So does that mean all my books are cheesy romance novels with sunshine and picnics and stolen kisses? Not at all! My characters have endless and brutal struggles in their quests to be together, many of which will tear them apart before they’re eventually brought back together. Happy endings aren’t always a sure thing in my dystopian novels, leaving the reader in suspense and hoping for the best. Challenges make my characters stronger and more appreciative of the time they do have together. That’s real life, whether you have a soul mate, a best friend, a sibling, mother, or father. Our trials define us and mold us together like super glue.

Now I’d love to hear from all of you! Do you believe in soul mates? Do you have a soul mate already? Why or why not? All opinions are welcome as I believe everyone has a different take and there isn’t any right or wrong answer! Leave your opinions as comments below!

I’d like to thank Tiffany for the chance to come on her awesome blog and talk about soul mates!

David Estes

Guest Post: Traditional vs. Self-Publishing by Cindy C. Bennett

Cindy Bennett

    Traditional vs. Self-Publishing by Cindy C Bennett

Up until a year or two ago, most readers were unaware of the difference between traditional and self-publishing. One simply chose a book, read it, and then judged it based on the quality of the story. Then self-publishing exploded and with it came a slew of both amazing books from new and established authors as well as some less-than-stellar books.

Traditional publishing means a book is published through an established publishing house. Self-publishing means the author has chosen to bypass a publishing house and do it on their own. I’ve published my books both ways. Geek Girl and Rapunzel Untangled are both published through Sweetwater Books, and everything else I’ve self-published. I love that self-publishing has given the world some fantastic authors who might otherwise remain silent. Because of my experience, I’ve learned quite a bit about the pros and cons of both methods.

I actually self-published Geek Girl originally because I was worn down by all of the agent rejections. However, I knew nothing of marketing a book so I began looking for a publisher who would accept a previously self-published book. In the meantime I self-published Heart on a Chain. Then Sweetwater Books, a subsidiary of Cedar Fort, sent me the spirit-lifting acceptance letter. I’ll admit it—I felt somehow justified, legit, vindicated, like an authentic author for the first time, no matter how many copies of my books I’d already sold.

That’s when I discovered some of the cons of traditional publishing. It takes months for your book to go from acceptance to publication, whereas with self-publishing you can be in print within a few weeks of final editing your manuscript. It was 9 months for Geek Girl, and that’s very fast for a publisher. Sometimes it can be up to 2 years before your book sees the light of day. It requires patience for sure. As an author, it takes a leap of faith to hand your baby over to someone else to mold. You have little to no say on the cover, book layout, sometimes the title and even content can be changed by the publisher.

However, a publisher can do things for an author that as of yet a self-published author can’t do for themselves. My publisher was able to put my books on the shelves at places like Costco and Barnes & Noble. A self-published author doesn’t have a prayer of getting their books in either of those stores. Plus, there’s a certain validation that comes with having been accepted by a publisher. Because of the way I published, I don’t have an agent (which I’m grateful for since that’s one less person taking a slice of the pie) so I can’t really speak to what it means to have an agent and publisher both.

Other than being on bookstore shelves, some of the disadvantages of self-publishing are that it can cost you some money up front for things like editing, a cover, formatting, and book layout unless it’s something you know how to do on their own. There are ways of doing those things cost free, but it’s a matter of making the choice to spend the time to learn. Some advantages are much faster publication, more creative control, and a higher royalty percentage.

As far as marketing your book goes, it’s equal work for both traditional and self-published books. As an author, you are your marketing team. If you are willing to put in the time and hard work—and you’ve written a good book—you’re going to get your title out into the world and into your reader’s hands. If you don’t, and just sit back and wait for others to find your book, it’s probably going to languish in oblivion.

If you have a book ready to publish, I suggest you study both routes and decide which is best for you and your future as an author. Go into it educated and informed, with the understanding that both ways have pros and cons, and neither one is the magical answer to putting you on the bestselling list—but both can lead to the bestseller list if you have the talent and are willing to put the work into it.

Thank you Cindy for this amazingly informative guest post.

Guest Post: BOYS -VS- GIRLS by Margaret Chatwin

Guest posts. They remind me of those days back in high school English class when your teacher lays a blank sheet of paper on everyone’s desk and says, “Write.”
Immediately a hand shoots up but the question can’t wait to be called upon. “Write about what?”
“Anything you want.”
Has terror ever sealed off your airway any faster?
You’re fully aware that “Mr. Freedom” is only trying to teach independent thinking, but you want nothing more than to be held prisoner within the confines of one subject and one subject only.
Dude, seriously, why can’t he just pick a subject? It can’t possibly be that hard, can it?
Your mind starts to reel, your breathing restricts, your eyes roll back and just short of complete comatose, you realize something. You realize that this might not be as panic worthy as you originally thought. In fact, it might actually be kinda cool.
Okay, so now that you’ve determined you’ll survive, you’re still faced with the arduous task of finding a subject to write about.

I’ve heard it said that the best gift you can give a writer is an idea. I second, third and fourth that. It’s absolutely true! So I must thank Tiffany for the idea of this blog post. At first, she was like “Mr. Freedom,” telling me I could write about anything I wanted. But then, during her interview questions she tossed out an idea seed and it started to take root within me. Her question was this: What is the biggest constant that you draw inspiration from?
Don’t worry; I’m not going to answer the question again. If you want to find the answer you can go read the interview. But I thought I’d expand on the tail end of my answer.
Why are nearly all of my stories written from the male point of view?
It’s really easy to just say “I don’t know, that’s just the way it is,” which is what I did in the interview question. However, there has to be some answer, doesn’t there? Some reasonable and logical explanation for this common occurrence.
It is kind of odd after all; a woman writing from a guy’s point of view, especially a woman like me.
What do I mean by that? Well, perhaps the explanation holds some of the answers to the original question.
I am the oldest child in my family. I have seven siblings. (Yes, I know what you’re thinking and I’ve already heard all the jokes.) Six of my siblings are girls. The one and only brother I do have is sixteen years younger than me, and was just a little guy when I left home.
So basically, like the unicorn, boys are mystical, mysterious creatures to me. I fantasize about them the way other writers do vampires or fairies.
Guys intrigue me and I love those times when I’m watching them, listening to them, or reading about them and for a moment I can completely connect to them.
I guess I just want to get inside their heads sometimes. Think their thoughts, feel their emotions, walk and talk the way they do.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being a woman, and I love my female characters as well. But for reasons I can’t quite explain, I have a really hard time writing a girl as my lead character. I did give it a try with my book Taking the Fall but you’ll have to judge for yourself how I did.
Wait, while sitting here thinking about this I just had an epiphany and maybe I have it somewhat figured out. It goes like this; nearly every woman I know is tender, soft spoken, kind, and gentle. Stories, on the other hand, need to be edgy, raw, and problematic, which is the way I view man. (Sorry guys.)
So maybe subconsciously I use the male to toughen the story, and the female to soften it. However, I must admit that’s not always the way it comes across on the pages. I have a tendency to make my girls pretty determined and strong. Which is what we women are, after all, isn’t it? 🙂

Margaret Chatwin