Sunday, 21 June 2015

Scotia Sinker Author, Alison DeLory, Shares her Writing Secrets

It gives me great pleasure today to interview my new favourite children's book author, Alison DeLory. I must admit, I'm a bit biased as Alison and I have known each other for years, both did public relations at Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax, NS (where she now teaches) and even shared an office during a PR co-op work term! Her first children's book was Lunar Lifter and she is now celebrating the recent launch of her second, Scotia Sinker. As Alison explores this new genre, she continues her work as a university professor, freelance writer, editor and communications consultant.  

Here's a look into Alison's writing life: 
Alison DeLory, author, editor, teacher


Tell us a little bit about your new book, Scotia Sinker

In Scotia Sinker, Cameron, 10, and Erin, 6, take a new adventure in their gigantic cardboard box —transforming it with their "magic" markers into a small submarine that plunges them into the Atlantic Ocean. They're pulled far from home and become disoriented. They need to be brave and enlist the help of some merpeople to find their way home. All the while they're outrunning Lydia, a great white shark whose character is based on a real shark that's been tracked swimming through the North Atlantic for the past two years. Scotia Sinker is the sequel to my 2012 book Lunar Lifter. Both are middle grade (early chapter) fiction.

Where do you get your inspiration when writing?

My inspiration comes mainly from living — watching, listening, reading, thinking and talking. I also do school visits. When the kids laugh, make connections, or ask questions it inspires me. When I'm in the process of writing I'm inspired watching the words pile up, and even more so in those glorious moments when ideas are racing off my fingertips before I even knew they were in my head. I like when my characters surprise me.

What’s your favorite genre to read and why? 

For pleasure I usually read contemporary and literary fiction. I'm a big proponent of supporting local so read books by Nova Scotia authors. Plus I read a ton of news. Right now I'm teaching a course in creative non-fiction so reading widely in that genre and loving it, too. I'm captivated by well-drawn, three-dimensional characters — anyone from Max in Where the Wild Things Are to Gatsby. Plots are secondary for me but I do like a sense of foreboding. There should be tension.

Are you traditionally published or self-published? Why did you choose that path? 

I've published two books and a young adult story each time using a different model: hybrid, traditional, self. This new book, Scotia Sinker, I self-published under my new label Sketch Publishing but I had help. My writing group and several friends were beta readers, plus I work-shopped the manuscript with a grade 3 class. Then I hired a copy-editor and later a proofreader. My closest relationship was with Joel Duggan, my illustrator. He designed a beautiful cover and provided four interior illustrations. I have a background in laying out newspapers and magazines so was able to format the text myself for upload.

Do you have any helpful tips for other authors when it comes to marketing and publicity?

Marketing and publicity start long before a book is published. It's all about relationships and those are cultivated over time. You must give support to later receive it. This means going to book signings and readings, reviewing books, attending industry events like awards, joining local writers' associations or writing groups, and then enthusiastically sharing all this activity on multiple social media platforms. Luckily none of that feels like work to me.

How did you become a writer? 

I have degrees in journalism and public relations, and a master of public relations. I was a journalist and in-house communications specialist for many years before I started writing fiction. I took a creative writing course in 2008 on a lark and found I enjoyed it and had some aptitude for it. Two years later I joined a poetry collective at my university and that was life altering. I'm always looking for new challenges and in this vein wrote and performed a spoken word piece as part of a writing mentorship program. It was light years outside of my comfort zone but I keep pushing and occasionally find my groove.

What does your writing process look like?

Fits and starts. I write a lot in a short period of time then not at all while I'm busy editing or teaching.

What are you currently working on?

I'm seeking a new project. Have any ideas? My training makes it easier for me to write nonfiction but I'm not afraid of fiction.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I parent my two boys, teach in the Department of Communication Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University, write freelance copy and articles for websites and print publications, spend as much time as I can being active outdoors, volunteer in my community, sing, and spend probably too much time on Netflix, Facebook and Twitter.

If you'd like to learn more about Alison and her writing or order copies of her books (if you're in Canada), visit alisondelory.com/sketchpublishing.  If you're outside of Canada you can pick up a copy of Scotia Sinker on Amazon. You can follow her on Twitter @aldelory or join her on Goodreads.


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Monday, 8 June 2015

Persistence is Tough

As I sat down to start writing this blog about being persistent, I mentally stumbled because, well… persistence is tough. Especially during the lull that inevitably comes after the flurry of a book launch. Actually, it’s not a lull, it often feels like a crash and burn! How can I write about persistence when all I want to do is hide away and curl up with a good book?

Love those Sugar Highs

It’s like the crash after a sugar high. My new book, Deep Deceit, came out with a bang! It reached the Kindle Top 10 in mystery/suspense on Amazon.ca during launch week. Heady stuff. The problem is, there’s no way, other than huge sales or continuous free downloads, to keep it there. But, the idea ultimately is sales, right? My book is in a very popular genre so I’m competing with some heavy hitters, but I persevere.

Helpful Resources

I read self-publishing and marketing books voraciously. One I read a while back and pulled out again recently is called Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran (also the author of Let’s Get Digital). It does a deep dive into understanding Amazon’s algorithms. For new authors, he recommends finding sub-genres that aren't as crowded, so I search. It’s complex and detailed but… I’m determined. And, my background is in PR and marketing (20 years!) so I’m not afraid of doing what needs to be done… but I would also like to get down to writing my next novel.

A Healthy Obsession?

But, I’m obsessed. The action has slowed down to a trickle. All the experts warn authors about that, but it’s hard to watch the sales graph flatten. But, I will persist. The reviews have been stellar (even from people I don’t know) so, I’ll keep my nose to the marketing grindstone and keep sending it out to reviewers, scheduling author appearances (coming up next month in my hometown of Halifax, NS), finding new online listings to add it to, doing guest posts and author interviews and promoting on social media (just to name a few things I’m doing). I'll let you know if persistence does pay off as everyone keeps telling me and I keep telling myself. 

I know the real secret is to get the next in the series written (and the next... and the next) so I’ll be clearing the decks to make time this summer to get started on Deep Freeze, the next Susan Morris Expat Mystery!

Uptick is Encouraging

On the positive side, during the launch activities of Deep Deceit I did also see more attention and an uptick in sales of my first novel, Mental Pause. So, the advice that keeps popping up as I scour the shelves for more advice and guidance is, write more… while, of course, doing at least one thing a day to market your existing books.

I’ve just started reading Jessica Bell’s Self-Publish Your Book, which she gave me in return for an honest review. I know there will be some great new nuggets in there so I’m looking forward to sharing. In case you didn’t know, Jessica is also the author of the ‘In a Nutshell’ series, which I highly recommend.

Have a great week and watch for my review of Jessica’s new book. In the meantime, happy writing!!!

If you’d like to receive my newsletter, book launch announcements or information on upcoming writing retreats, go ahead and sign up for my newsletter. When you sign up you’ll also receive a free copy of my ebook, 10 Steps to a SuccessfulPR Campaign – a Do-it-Yourself Guide for Authors.