Kindle Countdown Deal to Celebrate Ocean Echoes Finalist Award

Just when I thought I’d give up on writing to become a goat herder, Ocean Echoes received finalist awards from the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the general fiction and e-book categories!

I might still become a goat herder, but I’ll never consider giving up on writing again.

Thank you to everyone for cheering me on through years of revising and thank you for reading, reviewing, and supporting Ocean Echoes once it was finally published.

A huge thank you to these wonderful authors for taking the time to read and review it: Carrie Rubin, Britt Skrabanek, Kourtney Heintz, Jill WeatherholtCharissa Stastny. And thank you so much to book reviewer Mary Jo Malo for such a kind and thoughtful review. If you don’t follow them through the blog, Twitter, or Goodreads, you’re missing out on a lot of humor, advice, and inspiration. I highly recommend their books.  

A Kindle Countdown Deal starts today: Ocean Echoes will be 99 cents for a few days, then the price will go up a bit depending on the day. The Kindle Countdown Deal will end on May 18 when the price goes back up to $3.99. For Amazon UK, the Kindle Countdown Deal will go from tomorrow, May 12 – May 17. Ocean Echoes is also free to Kindle Unlimited members.

Remember – never give up!

(Photo courtesy of Top Design Magazine)

 

 

 

Jellyfish and a Giveaway

jellyfishI’m not giving away jellyfish, but there is a Goodreads giveaway going on now for signed paperback copies of Ocean Echoes. If you live in the U.S., click here to enter.

jellyfish

Ocean Echoes is about a marine biologist who gives up on love to study jellyfish at a Cape Cod research facility.

jellyfishHere are a few jellyfish details to celebrate the giveaway:

Jellyfish have roamed the world’s oceans for at least 500 million years. They were here before dinosaurs and long before humans.

More people are killed or injured each year by jellyfish than by sharks.

Jellyfish are 95 percent water and they live without a heart or a brain.

A group of jellyfish can be called a swarm or a smack.

Jellyfish can sting when they’re no longer alive. In 2010, about 150 swimmers at a park in New Hampshire were stung by the 40-pound carcass of a lion’s mane jellyfish.

The giveaway ends March 8 – here’s another chance to enter (U.S. only for this one because I’m too cheap to pay for extreme postage these days).

What do you think of jellyfish? Do you think they’re beautiful, scary, or otherworldly?

Resolutions, Paperbacks, and a Thank You

sunsetThis year I’ll try to keep it simple. These are really more like guidelines to remember than resolutions (except maybe for the first one).

Write More – Mostly, I need to get back into the routine of writing after revising for years. I’ll try writing a scene a day. Even as I’m writing this I know I won’t do it. Maybe I should just try to write every day instead.

Read More – I might do a Goodreads challenge for this, but I’d also like to try branching out into reading more poetry and short stories. With that in mind, I’ll start the new year off with Christy Birmingham’s Versions of the Self, a book of poetry that’s been getting great reviews lately.

oceanWalk Along the Ocean – Sometimes I go for weeks or months without seeing the ocean, which is crazy because I live on a sandbar. Life and work too easily get in the way and so I’ll have to make sure to go to the ocean more often, even if it is freezing outside. Sometimes those are the best times to go there.

Give More – My favorite nonprofits are Oceana, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Ocean Conservancy. Oceana and the Environmental Defense Fund will triple any donations and the Ocean Conservancy will double donations made by the end of the year.

Love More – A few years ago, Britt Skrabanek pledged to love more as a new year’s mantra. I thought that was a great idea and have been trying to do that too. The world will always need more love. This means loving not only those closest to us in the new year, but everyone we come in contact with.

Laugh More – I usually add this to my list of resolutions but it’s an easy one to forget. Last year I did at least go to a laughing yoga class with my mom and it really worked. If you haven’t been to a laughing yoga class, it could be something crazy to try in the new year. I promise you’ll laugh more than usual and feel good afterwards.

Ocean Echoes paperback and a thank you

The Ocean Echoes paperback is finally out! Thank you so much to everyone who supported, encouraged, commiserated, and laughed with me through all the years of writing and revising.

Wishing everyone a New Year filled with love and laughter!

NanoWriMo Insanity and a Giveaway

cape-cod-oceanI’m visiting Jill Weatherholt today to talk about the writing process for Ocean Echoes and we’ll be doing a giveaway over there. The picture above has nothing to do with that, unless the boardwalk could take us from Cape Cod to North Carolina, but it’s probably easier to go there virtually.

It’s always fun to visit Jill because her posts remind me of all the good that can be found in everything. One of her posts about childhood even made me remember the fun of Pop Rocks. If you’re not familiar with her blog, make sure to follow for inspirational, fun, and nostalgic posts. I always leave there with a smile.

She’s participated in the NanoWriMo insanity a few times now, including the one that just ended. Her debut novel, Second Chance Romance is scheduled to be released by Harlequin in February 2017.

So, I’ll close comments over here and will hope to see you over there for a chat and a giveaway…

New Novel: Ocean Echoes

ocean-echoes-final-kindle-version300It’s hard to believe after years of revising, but the e-book version of Ocean Echoes has finally been published. I’m hoping the paperback will be out soon.

This is my first published novel even though I’ve been a writer all my life. Before this novel took over, I wrote short stories and feature articles for local newspapers. I’m looking forward to going back to those for a while.

I had a hard time deciding on a specific genre for this novel. It could be called contemporary fiction, but it’s rapidly turning into historical fiction because it takes place in 2010. It could also be called science fiction, but most of the science in it is real. I guess that’s how it is with some science fiction – the label just doesn’t sound very real. Mostly, I think of it as an ocean adventure. I’m not so sure that’s a real category though.

Here’s a brief description – this also happens to be the bulk of my query letter:

Marine biologist Ellen Upton gives up on love to study jellyfish at a Cape Cod research facility. Her ultimate goal is to make a difference through her research, but the ocean would rather mystify than reveal its secrets. When her funding is threatened, her future will depend on the success or failure of an upcoming research cruise.

During the cruise, she discovers what could be a new species. Every discovery only leads to more questions. She is driven to learn the truth behind its existence, even as the truth continues to change. Either her dreams of recognition are within her grasp or her research is slipping into obsession.

Reverberating with mysteries of life and love, Ocean Echoes is a journey into the unknown.

By now, most of you know how much I love the ocean and I know we all share that love. A percentage from the sale of this book will go toward nonprofit organizations working to protect the world’s oceans for future generations.

Thank you to Mario Lampic for designing a book cover that shows the beauty and mystery of jellyfish. I highly recommend working with Mario for any design project.

I’d like to send a huge thank you out to Carrie Rubin for recommending 99 Designs for book covers. Thank you Carrie!

Thank you to the goat club on Twitter: @readinterrupt, @BrittSkrabanek, @carrie_rubin, @TWDittmer@mary_jo_malo. You’ll be happy to know goats do make a few brief appearances in this book, which was hard to do in an ocean novel.

Thank you to everyone for your advice, encouragement, and the needed laughs through the years! I’ve loved sharing the writing adventure with all of you. And the adventure continues…

It’s About Time to Stop Dreaming and Start Doing

Cape Cod oceanI’ve been off dreaming again. I can’t seem to help it. I start dreaming and then before I know it, months have gone by and blizzards have turned into heat waves. Now it’s already time for fall shadows and golden light.

Cape Cod oceanLike you, I’ve been dreaming of a better world. A world without violence or hate. An unpolluted world with clean water and clean air for all. I know, I’m dreaming again.

Lately, I’ve also been thinking, “Why bother?” Why bother trying to do anything  when everything is such a mess? Why bother writing or reading or dreaming? Why bother signing petitions or joining conservation groups or marching in the streets?

The answer to all of that is – because we have to. Dreamers are the majority, but we’re not heard often enough. Sometimes we need to stop dreaming. If we did everything we can, every day, to make the world around us better then it would be.

I haven’t been out in the world much lately, except to go to a day job that gets crazier with every passing day. For the past few months, I’ve been attached to my computer while trying to use every spare moment to work on my novel Ocean Echoes. The e-book should be published soon and that’s a terrifying thought, but it’s about time to stop dreaming and start doing after all.

I’ve missed everyone more than I can say and I’m looking forward to catching up with you again.

How’s everything going? Have you been dreaming lately? What do you dream of?

Five Things I Learned from My Editor by K.C. Tansley

The-Girl-Who-Ignored-Ghosts11I’m honored to take part in the blog tour for The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts, a best selling young adult novel combining mystery, romance, ghosts, and time travel. If that sounds as good to you as it does to me, click on the cover to find out more about this exciting new novel.

Thank you K.C. Tansley for stopping by to share what you’ve learned on your publishing journey.

Five Things I Learned from My Editor
by K.C. Tansley 

1) Nothing is final until the book is actually in production

You will tear your book apart during editorial revisions. Major plot points will change. Entire chapters will go away. Scenes you spent years revising and polishing will get cut. You’ll move into line edits and think this is all about polishing and fine tuning, but some new things will still be laid down and old things will still be tinkered with. That’s the nature of revisions. Anything and everything can change right up until the final deadline.

2) What you thought was essential to the story may not be needed

There are so many things you needed to know to write the book. Unfortunately, you may have taken up valuable space on the page figuring them out. Sometimes scenes aren’t needed in the book. They might be useful to you as the author, but if they don’t advance the plot and develop the characters, they probably need to be cut. Even if they survived several rounds of revisions, if they interrupt the reader’s flow or the focus of the story, they should be cut.

3) You have to trust the people you work with

Your editor wants to make your book better. Believe that and it’s easier to swallow all the feedback. Especially when she asks you to rework the first 100 pages. It hurts. Your pride smarts. Your ego aches. Being critiqued is never easy. But know that everything she says comes from a place of wanting to get your book to readers and wanting them to have the best reading experience they can. Editors care about their books and their authors. Trust yours.

4) There are five stages of grief to an editorial letter

When you receive it, politely thank your editor so she knows you received it and let her know you plan to review it and respond with questions within five days. Then take three to five days and process it.

You need to privately go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And by privately, I mean offline. Complain to your friends on the phone. Talk to your loved ones over dinner. Rally against it all verbally to your nearest and dearest. But never ever publicly or in writing. Because by day five you will see that most of your editor’s points are valid. And you will be so grateful to have her guiding you through this process. Feedback is always hard to process. Give yourself the time and space to do it.

5) Publishing is a tremendous amount of hurry up and wait

If you’re a planner, you will go nuts. Things are dropped on you with no warning and then (bam) the contract deadline ticks down on due dates. Editorial revisions in two months. Line edits in two weeks. It’s very hard to live your life when you can’t manage your work queue. My editor was great about giving me a heads up whenever she could. In return, I always stuck to my deadlines and stayed in touch with her. Communication is a two-way street. When you want someone to communicate, you have to make sure you’re giving that person information too.

About the Book: In The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts, prep school junior Kat Preston accidentally time travels to 1886 Connecticut, where she must share a body with a rebellious Victorian lady, prevent a gruesome wedding night murder, disprove a deadly family curse, and find a way back to her own time.

Bio: K.C. Tansley lives with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, on a hill somewhere in Connecticut. She tends to believe in the unbelievables—spells, ghosts, time travel—and writes about them. Never one to say no to a road trip, she’s climbed the Great Wall twice, hopped on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, and danced the night away in the dunes of Cape Hatteras. She loves the ocean and hates the sun, which makes for interesting beach days. The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts is the first book in her YA time-travel murder mystery series. As Kourtney Heintz, she also writes award winning cross-genre fiction for adults.

Social Media

K.C. Tansley WebsiteBlog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

Blog Tour Stops

To learn more about K.C. Tansley and The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts, take a look at these blogs and articles:

“Five Ghostly Discoveries” featured on J.M. McDowell’s blog.

“Five Things From My Life That Trickled Into My World Building” featured on Fresh Fiction.

“Spell Casting and Ghosts: Researching The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts” on Harvesting Hecate.

“Five Things You Didn’t Know About Kat Preston” on Jill Weatherholt’s blog.

“Trope Twisting: Something Familiar But Different” on Small Press Reviews.

“Why I Wrote a Time Travel Novel” on Authors to Watch.

“Five Reasons The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts Should Make Your Summer Reading List” is scheduled to be published on 4 AM Writer’s blog this Saturday.

Gone Dreaming

gone clamminIt’s officially the offseason here on Cape Cod. Houses are boarded up and the beach is turning into a wasteland of blowing sand.

It must be liberating to put up a sign like this while going off to pursue a dream. I’ve never gone clamming so my sign would have to say something like “Gone Dreaming.”

There’s never enough time for writing or dreaming. In A Moveable Feast, Hemingway describes trying to write in cafés while ignoring anyone who interrupts him. He makes himself unpresentable by wearing old clothes and growing his hair out so that he won’t be tempted to visit friends. I’ve been doing that for years now and it hasn’t helped.

Sometimes we have to be hermits. We have to go off and dream, even while other people are around, so that we can come up with different ways of looking at the world.

The only drawback is that you end up missing everyone. I’ve missed you all. I kept thinking I’d reappear earlier, but then life would get in the way and I’d have to disappear before reappearing. And I’m not even a magician.

I’m still dreaming. After revising for most of the year, I’m in the querying stage. So we’ll see. My hope is that, like all of us, this book will only get better with age.

Whenever I start thinking it might be done or close to it, I’m reminded of this quote by Paul Gardner:

“A painting is never finished – it simply stops in interesting places.”

It’s the same for novels. Maybe they’re only done when they’re published, but even then, are they really? Each reader brings something different to a book. So then, it’s continually recreated with each reading. That’s part of the magic. As the winds pick up around here, I’m looking forward to the magic of books.

book magic

How’s everything going with you? Have you read any great books lately?

Thank You and a Giveaway

November oceanWriting can be a lonely thing to do. We’re observers of life so it does help to get out there every once in a while, but we also need to lock ourselves away as often as possible if we’re ever going to get any writing done.

These days, we’re not writing alone. Thanks to blogging and Twitter, we can find other writers, cheer each other on, and commiserate together. If you’re doing NanoWriMo, you know what I’m talking about and I hope you’re locked away somewhere with a fresh supply of chocolate.

The road to publication is filled with potholes of self doubt. We wonder if anyone will hear our words. We wonder if anyone will care. Maybe they’ll laugh at us or think we’re horrible writers. Still, we take that risk and put ourselves out there. Because we’re hoping someone somewhere will care.

I’m amazed by the friends I’ve found here and I just want to say thank you. So it’s about time to start doing some random giveaways. If you leave a comment on this post, I’ll put your name in for a $25 Amazon gift card. If you already follow me on Twitter, I’ll put your name in again. Finally, if you follow me @SheilaHurst11 by Monday, November 11, I’ll put your name in for the gift card and I’ll make sure to follow back. The winner will be announced here on Wednesday. In the meantime, just think of all the books you’ll be able to get to last you through the winter.

November is a good time to look back at the year and give thanks. I’m thankful for the beauty of the ocean, the joy of finding and reading that perfect book, friends that are more like family, and family that’s more like friends.

What are you thankful for? Which books are you thinking of reading next? If you’re doing NanoWriMo, how’s that going so far? 

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

Cape Cod seagull

Seagulls don’t tweet.

I know this is ironic after my last post about the distractions of technology, but I just joined Twitter. And yes, I’m laughing at myself.

It took me this long to join because I always figured it would take too much time away from writing. There are already too many things that do that, so why add another one into the mix?

Well, it’s another way to connect with people. People who want to talk about things like books or the ocean or crazy dogs. It’s also a fun way for some quick entertainment because tweets are short. So far, it hasn’t taken up much time but then I haven’t done much on it either. I’m guessing blogging will still be my main time-sucking diversion. Unless I become a tweeting addict, that is.

So far it’s been a little like changing the point of view in a novel. Twitter can provide another perspective. As long as you open that window, all kinds of things will come flying in. Sometimes you can catch them and throw them back out into the world. Or you can sit and listen to the cacophony of other tweeters. Mostly, all I’ve done on there is laugh at myself.

If you’d like to laugh along with me, I’m @SheilaHurst11.

How much time do you spend on Twitter? What do you like or dislike about Twitter? Anything else I should know before making a fool of myself out there? Oh wait, too late for that… 

Learning from Vacations and Evaluations

Thank you to everyone for hanging in there while I went off on my blogging vacation. I missed you all. I wish I could say I visited exotic lands, but in a way I did just because of the power of reading, writing, and imagination.

slow turtle crawl to publishing

Remember this guy? He’s my symbol for writing, revising, and publishing. But hey, at least he’s smiling?

Mostly, my blogging vacation gave me the chance to concentrate on my book. I’ve lost count of how many drafts it’s gone through but now it’s at least a few turtle steps closer. Three agents have evaluated the first few chapters. Their advice has been invaluable and I’ve kept their suggestions in mind while making revisions throughout the novel.

A few things I’ve learned along the way:

Everyone is going to have a different opinion. One agent loved certain paragraphs while another marked the same paragraphs up and changed them all around. This just shows there is no secret formula. There is no “best way” to write. There’s only writing and the love of writing.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. If someone suggests adding in a zombie, try throwing one in and see what happens. You can always change it back if it doesn’t work. (I haven’t gotten a zombie suggestion….yet. But some pretty crazy suggestions have come through and I’ve even used a few.)

Know the rules, but also know that if you follow all of the rules all of the time your writing just might end up sounding too stilted and devoid of life. It’s more important to develop your own writing style than to follow all the rules.

The more revisions a book goes through, the better it will be. At least that better be true. I thought my book was done years ago but that was only the beginning.

Even if your book never gets published, it’s still a success. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. It was a learning experience and I had a lot of fun along the way.

Don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t go insane. I have a sneaking suspicion that one has to do with the other.

Have fun. If you’re not having fun while writing and revising and revising, try reading for a while. Reading can only help and it’s a chance to get away from it all while visiting that exotic land.

How was your summer (or winter)? Do you agree or disagree with any of this? Any advice to add?

Summer Vacation

crazy dog

Summer is here and that means it’s about time to really concentrate on my novel. I’ve met with a few agents who had positive things to say, but more revisions are still needed. I’ll be taking next week off from my day job and during that time I’m hoping to concentrate on the novel for the first time ever.

So it seems like a good time to take a vacation from blogging. Between the day job, the novel, freelancing, researching agents, querying, and blogging, there’s no time left for sanity. I’m amazed that anyone ever finds the time to do it all. There’s all that to do, and then I still need to somehow become fluent in Italian and learn how to play the fiddle.

I’ll miss everyone and will try to visit when I can. I’m planning on joining Twitter at some point and will look for you there. You can also find me at Goodreads, where I’ll be trying to catch up on my reading challenge of 50 books for the year (maybe it’s about time to go for 30 or 20 instead).

I’ll be back in September with book reviews from summer reads, Cape Cod stories and photos, and hopefully a few posts on how to get through the querying process and find an agent. When I reappear, I’m going to try to be more consistent and will post every Wednesday. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Thank you for visiting, commenting, and following – but most of all thank you for your friendship. Wishing you a summer or winter filled with laughter and love.

Van Gogh’s Café

icon-grill-ted-strutz

Van Gogh stares through the centuries. He could be studying every detail of the café for one of his paintings: every rose-tinted light, every bottle clink and curve. The colors of his century are abstract, inviting.

He scrutinizes a shadowed corner and finds me there. He is committing it all to memory. He just might go home and paint my stunned expression as I stare back at him.

I raise my glass in a toast, wanting him to know how much his art is finally appreciated. The bartender scowls. But then, she must think I’m toasting a blank wall.

For Friday Fictioneers, writers from all over the world come up with a 100-word story or poem inspired by a photo that’s posted every Wednesday. Thank you to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting and to Ted Strutz for this photo.