4

Summer 2017 in Pictures – All About Adjusting

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on August 25, 2017 in Anecdote, Family, Parenting, Travel |

It’s been a summer of adjusting to the new family dynamic, but we have managed to do some fun summer stuff as well. We had The Prince’s birthday party before baby was born and The Boy’s after…with custom decorated cakes of course. My birthday was just two days before The Gentleman was born.

We managed to get in a trip to Boston before baby was born where the most exciting part was checking out one of Cambridge’s fire houses. The boys went to the splash pad with their auntie, we went strawberry picking, ate lots of fresh corn, did the summer running races in our town, went out for ice cream…all kinds of stuff! The Boy got to take a special trip up to my sister-in-law’s family farm. We even bought a mini-van to accommodate the growing family (and the convenience of it totally negates any soccer-mom stereotypical feelings I had about it!).

I’m definitely feeling like there isn’t enough time or sleep or patience on my part, but all that will come as The Gentleman gets a little older. I’ve been meaning to write up his birth story for the blog but just haven’t had the time and energy…it’ll get up here eventually. The Boy starts first grade next week, and The Prince is starting preschool! Can’t believe how fast time is going by. Enjoy our summer pics!

What have you all been up to this summer?

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December 1695 to September 1696 – Privateer, Not Pirate #CaptainKiddHistory

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on August 14, 2017 in #CaptainKiddHistory, Books, History, Middle Grade, Pirate Island |

Here is the next installment of #CaptainKiddHistory. These historical tidbits about Captain William Kidd are told by Billy, the main character of my upcoming middle grade adventure PIRATE ISLAND. Billy discovered and wrote down these tidbits while doing research to find Kidd’s lost treasure but before he actually looked for it on Pirate Island. Let’s give a big welcome to Billy!

December 1695 to September 1696 – Privateer, Not Pirate

by Billy Bonny

Credit: Willem van de Velde the Younger, via Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.
Billy’s comment: This ship is actually the Charles Galley, but it was a very similar ship to Kidd’s Adventure Galley.

It was in December 1695 that Lord Bellomont, a colonial governor, hired Kidd as a privateer to try and solve the growing problem of piracy. As I mentioned in the entry “1688 to 1689 – Mutineer and Captain,” a privateer is a sort of legal pirate who is hired by a government to attack ships they are at war with and actual pirate ships. This was all financially backed by important English lords. The letter of marque, which is the official document marking Kidd as a privateer, was signed by the King of England himself! (This document was mysteriously missing during Kidd’s later trial and only turned up many years later…only more reason to believe he was wrongly convicted of being a pirate.)

Kidd’s brand-new ship was the Adventure Galley (a pretty awesome name for a ship if you ask me). A string of bad luck would start for Kidd on his way back to New York City after picking up his ship. He failed to salute a Navy vessel, a shot was fired by the Navy, and Kidd’s crew offered up a rude gesture in return. The Navy captain took most of Kidd’s crew immediately into service, leaving Kidd’s crew seriously understaffed. Back in New York, Kidd had to pick a bunch of criminals and unsavory characters to begin his journey to Africa as a privateer.

PIRATE ISLAND blurb:

A thrice cursed island, a legendary pirate treasure, and one not-so-brave boy. What could possibly go wrong?

For centuries, the whereabouts of Captain William Kidd’s lost pirate treasure has remained a mystery. When Billy’s best friend, Andy, proposes they look for it on nearby Pirate Island, Billy thinks it’s just another one of their crazy adventures. It’s usually Billy who ends up in trouble as a result, but he goes along for the ride…like always. The more he delves into the life and death of Kidd, the more he thinks the treasure is real and that it might be buried on the small island in Long Island Sound. Billy—nope, call him William—becomes obsessed with the captain of the same first name. He even believes he’s possessed by Kidd’s restless soul. Now he and the spirit of a long-dead pirate are leading the crazy adventure on Pirate Island. And what they find is far bigger than the treasure they imagined.

Now available for pre-order! Get it on  Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, IndieBound, and many other of your favorite book sellers.

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6

August #InkRipples: Options in Publishing – What’s Your Path?

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on August 7, 2017 in Books, Elixir Bound, Ink Ripples, Pirate Island, Self-Publishing, Writing |

When it comes to publishing a book, there are so many more options than there used to be. If you’re new to the business, it can be downright overwhelming and confusing to decide what publishing path is the right one for you. That is why we decided to tackle the topic in this month’s #InkRipples.

Traditional Publishing – For my intents and purposes, when I’m referring to traditional publishing, I mean a publishing house that offers advances to their authors and their books come out in print simultaneously with their ebooks (for the most part, though you may find imprints within the publishing house that deviates from this). Some publishers that don’t meet these criteria might call themselves “traditional publishers,” but I’m going to put those in another category.

  • Big 5 – Formerly the Big 6 publishing houses, when Penguin and Random House merged back in 2013, the largest 6 publishing houses became 5. So the big 5 are now Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, and Penguin Random House. These are the largest 5 publishing houses, the heavy hitters, what many authors consider the gold-standard of publishing. They each have many branches, called imprints, that specialize in certain areas of publishing. They have the ability to offer big advances for books they think will make them lots of money; they have big budgets to market and publicize those books; and they have large, influential distribution channels.
  • Medium to Small Traditional Publishers – These publishing houses are smaller than the Big 5, but they are well-known and well-respected in the industry and they have the ability to offer advances and print and ebooks release simultaneously. Sourcebooks and Charlesbridge are good examples of these smaller traditional publishers.

~Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishers – The big advantage to going with a traditional publisher is the influence they have. Your books will likely be in all the major bookstores and easily available. You’ll also have a full editorial staff to support you in making the book the best it can be and hopefully at least a small marketing push made by the publisher. There is a certain legitimacy that many still feel about traditional publishing that you won’t find with the other paths of publishing (not that this is my personal feeling, but I will admit that a stigma exists for those who chose a different publishing path). You as an author also have no monetary investment in the process of making the book when you traditionally publish.

A disadvantage is that you might end up being a small fish in a big pond. If your book isn’t of their heavy-hitters for that publishing season, it might get little attention or push from the publisher. The fact is, no matter what publishing path you chose, unless you’re a big-name author, you probably will have to do much of the marketing yourself. And if your book doesn’t sell well (the definition of a well-selling book will vary greatly depending on your situation), it might have a short self-life. It’s also really hard to break into traditional publishing, and you usually need an agent to submit to these publishers.

Hybrid Publishers – This is an emerging term in the publishing industry and may mean different things to different people. Basically what I mean by a hybrid publishers is a publisher that exists in the space between traditional and self-publishing. They may be a digital only publisher or a digital first one (where select titles come out in print only after the ebook is released), as is the case with the publisher of my YA fantasy ELIXIR BOUND, MuseItUp Publishing. They usually offer royalty-only payments with no advances. Some of the Big 5 houses have imprints that operate this way.

~Pros and Cons of Hybrid Publishers – Hybrid publishers often have long backlists that don’t get pulled because of slow sales because there is less investment up front. Generally, like traditional publishing, you as an author don’t have to put your own money into anything (until it comes to any marketing you opt to invent in), as the editing, cover art, and production of the book is handled by the publisher.

Without an advance, though, the author has to rely on royalties for payment, which can be slow in coming. Sales may also be low because hybrid publishers don’t have the clout and distribution channels of of traditional publishers. If you do have a print book, it may or may not end up on the bookshelves at bookstores.

Self-publishers – When you decide to do it all yourself and skip working with a publishing house all together, that is self-publishing. You, the author, are your own publisher. You may decide to create your own publishing company so you have a publisher’s name associated with your book and for tax purposes (as I did with PIRATE ISLAND), but it’s still self-published.

~Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing – The main pro and con of self-publishing is pretty much the same thing: you have all the control! That’s a good thing in some ways because you make all the decisions for your book and you reap all the benefits (except for what your distributing partners take). But that also means you have to make a ton of decisions and you have to be informed about all the aspects of creating a book. It’s a big learning curve, but it’s also wonderfully freeing to self-publish. You also have to put up your own money for any services (editing, cover, formatting, etc…) that you don’t decide to do on your own. And you should definitely hire out for those areas you need help. Even a great self-editor should no solely rely on their own editing skills for editing a book your going to self-publish.

*Note on Vanity Publishers – Vanity presses are where authors pay to have their books published. These are not really publishing houses in a sense that they don’t have an acquisitions process. If they do offer any kind of editing or cover services, it’s usually for an additional fee. Honestly, most vanity presses are scams, overcharging authors and giving them very little in return. These should not be confused with reputable, professional editing or formatting services that charge a fee for help with editing or formatting for authors who are interested in self-publishing or going through a round of professional editing before submitting to agents or publishing houses.

What types of publishing have you tried? How has it worked out for you?

#InkRipples is a monthly meme created by Katie L. CarrollMary Waibel, and Kai Strand. We pick a topic (August is all about options in publishing), drop a ripple in the inkwell (i.e. write about it on our blogs), and see where the conversation goes. We’d love to have you join in the conversation on your own blogs or on your social media page. Full details and each month’s topic can be found on my #InkRipples page.

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5

Interview of LA Dragoni Author of GUARDIAN’S TOUCH

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on July 31, 2017 in Books, Guest, Interview, Kai Strand, Writing |

I’m always happy to have a good writer friend guest on the Observation Desk, and LA is one of the best! It’s no wonder when I saw the answers on this author interview, which made me realize we have more in common than I thought. Check out her latest release GUARDIAN’S TOUCH, book two in the Touched by Afterlife series. There’s also a special running on book one GHOST TOUCH and a giveaway, so don’t miss out on those.

Final week of the Sale! http://www.ladragoni.com/

Welcome to the Observation Desk, LA. What made you want to become a writer in the first place?

Thanks for having me, Katie. Congratulations on your new baby. He’s adorable! (Thanks! 🙂 )

Like most writers, I’ve always written, but it was reading the Harry Potter series that really gave me the spark! I anxiously awaited the release of another book in the series, but I really missed Hogwarts. I thought to myself, “I can create a world of my own while I wait.”

GUARDIAN’S TOUCH is the second book in the Touched by Afterlife series. How does writing a second (or third or fourth…) book differ from writing the first one in a series?

It’s fun to write series because you know your characters that much better with each consecutive book. And usually your setting is familiar too, unless your characters travel around or are on a quest. For now, mine are still on Tamara’s farm, which is modeled after our old farm, a favorite place of mine.

What one book by another author do you wish you had written?

I really love emotional books. I recently listened to Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. Holy cow what a story. I had a book hangover for days. The characters popped into my head as if I expected to run into them at the store or find them in my living room when I returned home. I really didn’t want to let them go.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring two books and one movie, what would you bring?

Goblet of Fire (the fourth Harry Potter, in case there is someone out there who doesn’t know that). It feels like the biggest turning point in the series to me. The kids are really growing up, the graveyard scene is so intense, the dance is fun, and dragons! What’s not to love?

One of Thoreau’s tomes. It wouldn’t really matter which one. They are all so impossibly long and filled with stream of consciousness and beautiful words.

It’s a toss up on the movie! Either the A&E version of Pride & Prejudice, because it’s long and I’ll have loads of time to fill, plus I’m a hopeless romantic and P & P is one of my favorite love stories ever. Or, Phantom of the Opera. Again, because it’s one of my favorite love stories, plus it has music and I like to fancy myself a good singer. I’m pretty sure I could be stranded for the rest of my life and never grow tired of that score!

What is your favorite part of the writing process? What is your least favorite part?

The first draft is my favorite part of the writing process. I’m a pantser – I write by the seat of my pants, without an outline. It never fails, about 2/3 of the way through the book I think I’ve written myself into a corner that I’ll never get out of and all of those smart things I set up have just become troublesome problems to solve. Then it all starts to fall together and I feel very pleased and extremely clever. You know how you wish you could read a really good book for the first time again? Because the discovery is part of the fun. That’s how the first draft is for me.

Least favorite part has become the marketing. Though I love to visit blogs (thank you!) and I enjoy social media, my efforts don’t always pay off and that is discouraging. My dream is to make enough money to hire an assistant.

What is the single best piece of advice you have for aspiring authors?

Read, read, read. Read books written for your target audience. Read best sellers and self-published and obscure. Learn what you like and what you don’t. When you are steeped in the books written for your target audience, then read everything else. If you write middle grade, read mystery for adults, if you write horror, read Christian romance. You will pick up on techniques that you might not have seen before that you can incorporate into your own work.

What is next for you in your writing career?

Thanks for asking! I have a time travel romance publishing in November that I’m super excited about. Readers can subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on that release and to be among the first to see the gorgeous cover! And I’m writing the third Touched by Afterlife book now and hope to release it in spring of 2018. I can’t even tell you the name, because it would be a bit of a spoiler for Guardian’s Touch.

Thanks for having me Katie. Good luck to your readers in the giveaway!

GUARDIAN’S TOUCH blurb:

Life has returned to normal for Tamara and Dex after helping a horde of ghosts cross over. Their brush with the afterlife affirmed one thing: happily ever after is real.

When odd pranks around the farm escalate to destruction, Tamara fears mischievous teenagers are vandalizing the neighborhood. Then Dex starts to act out of character. Meanness slips into his usually playful disposition. One day he even ridicules a co-worker publicly. Tamara watches helplessly as he seems to lose the ability to control his own actions. When Dex’s abnormal anger turns violent—toward Tamara—their happily ever after is threatened. Desperate to help Dex and herself, she sends out a silent prayer for help.

She didn’t expect Cal to come to her aid.

Available on Amazon.

About the Author:

LA Dragoni isn’t too particular about who falls in love or where they fall in love. Whether it’s paranormal, mythical, or time travel, LA simply considers it her job to divine their story and share it with you. She lives in Central Oregon with her husband and children, but haunts ghost towns and cemeteries throughout the west, in search of the next adventure to sift through her storytelling brain. Learn more about LA and her work at ladragoni.com

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4

1690 to 1695 – The Archenemy and the Wife #CaptainKiddHistory

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on July 28, 2017 in #CaptainKiddHistory, Books, History, Middle Grade, Pirate Island |

Here is the third installment of #CaptainKiddHistory. These historical tidbits about Captain William Kidd are told by Billy, the main character of my upcoming middle grade adventure PIRATE ISLAND. Billy discovered and wrote down these tidbits while doing research to find Kidd’s lost treasure but before he actually looked for it on Pirate Island. Let’s give a big welcome to Billy!

1690 to 1695 – The Archenemy and the Wife

by Billy Bonny

Credit: Captain Kidd in New York Harbor, ca. 1920 painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris. Public Domain.
Billy’s comment: Kidd looks a little too much like Captain Hook here!

If you want to know who was a real, cutthroat pirate, just look up Robert Culliford. He happened to be one of the English members of the crew who mutinied against the French captain and then became a crew member of the Blessed William (see my last entry Mutineer and Captain). Later while sailing in the West Indies, Culliford mutinied against Kidd and stole the ship and all the loot Kidd and the crew had earned in the war. Throughout his life, Culliford never even bothered to pretend to be a privateer but was a pirate through and through. More on that scallywag later, though!

Meanwhile, Kidd had earned a name as a successful privateer and headed to New York City. There he met Sarah Bradley Cox Oort, a woman of many names because even though she was only in her early twenties, she already had two widows. She was rich, too, thanks to her first dead husband. Her second husband suffered a mysterious death and shortly after, she married Kidd. Some historians pointed out the suspicious timing and think Kidd was involved in the death, but there’s no evidence to support that. One theme of Kidd’s life (and death) seems to be taking the fall for things he may or may not have done.

PIRATE ISLAND blurb:

A thrice cursed island, a legendary pirate treasure, and one not-so-brave boy. What could possibly go wrong?

For centuries, the whereabouts of Captain William Kidd’s lost pirate treasure has remained a mystery. When Billy’s best friend, Andy, proposes they look for it on nearby Pirate Island, Billy thinks it’s just another one of their crazy adventures. It’s usually Billy who ends up in trouble as a result, but he goes along for the ride…like always. The more he delves into the life and death of Kidd, the more he thinks the treasure is real and that it might be buried on the small island in Long Island Sound. Billy—nope, call him William—becomes obsessed with the captain of the same first name. He even believes he’s possessed by Kidd’s restless soul. Now he and the spirit of a long-dead pirate are leading the crazy adventure on Pirate Island. And what they find is far bigger than the treasure they imagined.

Now available for pre-order! Get it on  Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, IndieBound, and many other of your favorite book sellers.

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