Author Archives: Monica Martinez

Guest Post Tips & Tricks

Tellwell editor Simon Ogden’s advice to first-time authors

By Simon Ogden, Tellwell editor

Welcome!
You’ve done it. You’ve committed to the writing life. How are you feeling? Excited? Scared? Bored? Lonely? Us too. Welcome to the band—we’re delighted that you’ve decided to join us. We’re a bizarro group and legion, all of us utterly, fantastically, bewilderingly unique, except for one little idiosyncrasy: we all have stories screaming and punching and kicking inside of us that we need to wrestle into the world. There are many out there with the same constipation as us, but they may let it loose through interpretive dance or song or watercolours, or by yelling it into the faces of people in line for the bus. But not us. Not we. We’re the scribes, the men and women of letters. We adore specificity and nuance. We love the tranquility of words nestled on a page, the calm, rational, and quiet way they present themselves to our audience. Our hearts beat for that alchemic conversion of action and imagery and diaphanous emotion into the solidity of language. We’re the Hobbits of the storytelling tribe, and we don’t give a fig if you haven’t yet been paid for your writing. If you’ve managed to set a word down on a page and followed it, tentatively or resolutely with another, you’re one of us and you are welcome here. Make yourself comfortable and we’ll put the kettle on.

As a brand-new author, the first thing you need to be clear on is that all those concerns you have about what comes next and exactly how this whole writing puzzle works—samesies! We’re right there with you, in one way or another. This, like all great and worthy art forms, is a mentorship trade, like sculpture or carpentry. The longer you do it, the more sense it makes, and the more your lovely, unique, necessary voice rings out melodically to the readers who need to read that thing in that way at that precise time, and they will be grateful in ways none of us can hope to fathom. Delightfully, unlike most mentorship trades, our mentors are all around us: our bookshelves groan under their weight, our end tables disappear beneath them, our bathwater occasionally reshapes them for us.

Read and find inspiration
The all-time, number one, pin-it-to-the-top-of-your-list chunk of writing advice from anyone worth listening to will always be: Get your nose in as many books as possible. Find the authors who talk in the way you want to be talked to and ingest their work.

The second piece of advice toward becoming a better writer is—no surprises here—to write a whole bunch. It’s a close number two, but make no mistake, number two it is. It would be hard to build a nice house if you’ve never been inside of a nice house, no matter how many nails you’ve hammered into a board. However, in the wake of these bits of obviousness, the sea of writing advice starts to get a little choppy. What is revelatory for some from here on forward may be pure bilge for others. There is a freakish amount of writing advice out there to shovel up if you choose to dig for it. Give it all due consideration, but understand as you do that there is no specific method applied by another artist that is also exactly your method. This is the essence and provenance of art. If some “genius” advice doesn’t resonate with you, it ain’t your soup—chuck it and move on.

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Author of the Month

Author Tyler Cameron not only survives his wedding but launches a new career

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Tellwell author Tyler Cameron’s new book is not only the completion of a life-long dream, it’s the launching pad of a book writing career.

For the last several years, he’s been blogging on various sports sites on top of his full-time advertising job. But Cameron says from a young age, he’s always known that one day he would write a book.

“I didn’t want to wait any longer to achieve this dream. The timing was right for me and I wanted to move this passion forward,” said the Greater Toronto Area based author.

“A Dude’s Guide to Surviving His Wedding” is a humorous, educational handbook for soon-to-be-grooms.3d-cover-dudes-guide-to-surviving-his-wedding

“The reason I chose to focus on weddings was due to the lack of resources from a male’s perspective, coupled with my extensive involvement in weddings, it was a perfect topic for me to cover.”

Cameron says he’s everyone favourite wedding guest and groomsman. He’s been part of eight wedding parties, three of those as ‘best man,’ has been a guest at about 50 weddings and DJ’d many more.

On May 31, 2014, he played the most important wedding role, marrying his beautiful, better half, Christina. He says the biggest advice he has for engaged dudes is “listen to your future wife and enjoy the ride.”

“There are so many aspects to successfully plan and execute a wedding, I’ve seen it and heard it all. It was great to be able to lean on my experience from different perspectives to build the foundation for this book. I know what I like to see as a guest, I know what it’s like to work at a wedding and I personally know how to execute one after my own wedding,” he said.

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Writing the book took about five years from concept to completion, although he finished the majority of writing in the last year and a half after signing on with Tellwell.

“The support and motivation from the team helped drive me to complete my project,” he said.  “The publishing process was really seamless for the most part. I had no idea what I was doing, so luckily, I had the great people at Tellwell to help guide me along the way.”

His wife was also instrumental in helping him articulate parts of the wedding planning process and structure the book. She also gave him the time and space to work on it.

Tellwell published the book in April 2018. Cameron says holding that first copy in his hands felt surreal.

“To get that first copy was amazing for me and everyone else who heard me talk about it,” he said.

In just three short months, A Dude’s Guide to Surviving His Wedding” has 38 reviews on Amazon averaging 4.9/5 stars.

Indie Reader gave it a 4.5/5 star rating calling the book “a funny, fast, and informative read that will make engaged bros everywhere rejoice.”A Dude's Guide to Surviving His Wedding

Cameron says it was very exciting to see the book so well received.  “It was really cool to see that the reviewer just got it and understood where I was coming from. It was great they found it educational but also funny.”

The Indie Reader approved author is now working hard with the Tellwell book marketing team to promote his book and making sure as many people as possible hear about it. In June, he hosted a successful book launch, he’s appeared on podcasts, vodcasts and has several interviews and book signings coming up.

ty036 ty031 Author Tyler Cameron book launch

He’s also keeping active on social media, focusing on building a following on his website and gaining subscribers to his newsletter.

Now with the first book under his belt, Cameron is excited to launch a series of “dude’s guides” with the next title being “A Dude’s Guide to Surviving His Kids.”

He and his wife have two daughters (three and six months old) so it’s been a very busy time at the Cameron household. Now that he’s gone through the writing and publishing process, he expects the next book to take about a year. The Canadian author has no shortage of ideas, and multiple projects are in the works.

With a dedicated and growing audience, it won’t be long before Tyler Cameron’s side hustle turns into a full-time writing career.
Buy A Dude’s Guide to Surviving His Weddding on Amazon

Visit Tyler’s Website

Say Hi to Tyler on Social  socialmedia-facebook socialmedia-instagram socialmedia-twitter

 

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Author of the Month

From the set to the page: Author Michael Parnall shares advice for those working in the film industry

By Tyler Hooper

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While working as a production assistant on a film set, Michael Parnall learned the hard way not to make a mistake. But this mistake also sparked some creativity, which led him to publish his first book, “Am I the on Idiot Set?,” an often funny, yet practical guide for those new to working on film productions.

“As the film industry grows, there are increasingly new people starting in several different departments and I know this guide will save productions time and money. I also wish there was a book with this info when I started because learning by mistake is not fun,” said Michael.

However, there was also a more personal motivation for Michael wanting to publish his book. In January of 2017, Michael was also diagnosed with multiple scleroses, a diagnosis that drastically changed his life. MS is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, and because of the disease, Michael isn’t able to do all of the things on set that he used to. But he didn’t let this deter him. Through sheer optimism and love of film, Michael made his dream come true of publishing his book and now he’s also giving back.

“During my lifetime, I have witnessed the magnitude and devastation that this disease can inflict. It is my intention to not only bring awareness to multiple scleroses but provide a useful and practical way for people to donate as well. “

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Tips & Tricks

The Art of the ARC – How advanced reader copies can add buzz, publicity and reviews to your book before the official release

There is nothing better than the smell of a freshly cracked book spine – unless of course, that book is an advance reader copy (ARC). ARC’s are copies of a book that are given to certain people who are permitted to read it before its scheduled release date.  They are typically given to bloggers, critics, and other online influencers to review and promote the work to a wider audience.  For authors, sending out an ARC is a great way to gain buzz and publicity before the big release.  Although this may open the door to potential negative criticism, this also gives authors the chance to make last-minute changes before releasing their book to the world. So how do you create an ARC for reviewers?

 

Making an ARC

An ARC does not need to be fancy, however, there are additional elements that need to be considered:

  • Disclaimer – A complete cover is not necessary, but there should be a disclaimer stating that this copy of the book is an advance reader copy that is not for resale.
  • Quick facts – Include a list that has information like: number of pages, price, release date, ISBN etc.
  • Formatting – While this may not be your final copy of your book, you should still make sure it appears clean and professional. Reviewers may have several ARCs to review, and an aesthetically appealing file could boost your chances of getting read first.

When it comes to distribution, you can choose an electronic copy, such as a PDF, or a print copy. Digital distribution is inexpensive and easy to deliver, however, this also makes it easier to leak. Print is the traditional route, but it does take more effort and time to produce.

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Author of the Month

Winston Schroeder combines Santa and social issues in his satirical graphic novel, Elf Wars: The Battle for Santa’s Village

Know someone who is a fan of Christmas and politics? Elf Wars: The Battle for Santa’s Village is a graphic novel where the two subjects merge into one hilariously dark story. The novel was written by Tellwell author Winston Schroeder and illustrated by Logan Miller.

The 31-year-old writer grew up in Saskatchewan but has been living in Vancouver for the past 10 years. In 2015, he graduated from the Langara College Film Arts program where he studied screenwriting. While working odd jobs on the West Coast, Schroeder says he has dedicated some of his time attending L.A. pitch fests trying to pitch his screenplays. Although there was some interest in his work, it would ultimately fizzle out. Instead of waiting for others to collaborate with his content, Schroeder teamed up with one of his childhood friends and started their first project together.

“I’ve known [Miller] since the first grade. He’s always been a great artist and he pursued his passion and I kind of pursued my writing,” says Schroeder. “We lost touch for several years honestly but we always knew each other. And then we came back years later and decided to work on a project together.”

elfwars

Although the political undertone of the graphic novel may reference the current political environment in the United States, Schroeder says he began the writing process during the Obama era but later revised his work to parody current events. “I was pretty influenced by the American political climate and how publicly tumultuous it is,” he says. “Plus, I’ve always enjoyed Christmas and Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer from the 1960s. It’s one of my favourite holiday stories and I thought that if I could fuse real world politics with a fantasy world, that would be fun and interesting.”

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With the first one published just in time for Christmas, Schroeder says he has already completed the sequel. Although it is not a continuation of the first graphic novel, it continues to highlight American issues using the same characters and festive holiday setting. In addition, readers will be exposed to a new villain and a new obstacle. “I kind of like to do parodies of social issues in America,” he says. “This one deals with a lot of police brutality in America and terrorism but done in a satirical, comedic way. It’s underlining social issues but done in a ridiculous way with Christmas elves and snowmen.” The second installment is titled Elf Wars 2: White Powder, and the author hopes to have it available for comic book lovers by Christmas 2018.

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Tips & Tricks

Five New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

1. Write every day

A study conducted by University College London claims that there is no definitive amount of days required for a habit to stick; it varies depending on the activity. However, most habits will become a part of your daily routine after several weeks. Once you have your flow going, it is easy to produce dozens of pages in a matter of hours. Unfortunately, the hardest part is getting started. Depending on your writing objective, your quota can be something like a blog post, diary entry, or a page towards your novel. What you write does not have to be Shakespearean quality. In fact, this resolution focuses more on the process of writing by encouraging you to incorporate this activity into your everyday routine. Here are a few tips to help you achieve this goal:

  • Schedule in time – Commit time in your agenda that is strictly dedicated to freewriting
  • Start small – Spend 10 minutes per day on writing for the first week but gradually add more time as this becomes a regular activity
  • Create projects – It might be difficult to write something if there is no purpose for the work. Write for a reason. Submit your pieces to a writing contest, start a blog, or send reviews to a media publication.

 

2. Read every day

Reading is just as important as writing when you are trying to perfect your craft. Similar to the tips mentioned in resolution one (see above), you are going to need to dedicate a bit of time out of your day to reading. Most people will choose to read for 15 minutes before hitting the hay to calm themselves before bed. Reading on a regular basis can help make you a better writer, since it will expose you to new words, writing styles, and perspectives. Additionally, reading makes you more intelligent, empathetic, and relaxed.

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Author of the Month

Sally Walls shares her ‘nightfall to daybreak’ in emotionally raw book on losing her son

sally-birthday_1-copyPrior to becoming a published author, Walls admits that she was always in love with writing. “I’ve grown up always being a writer of some sort,” she says. “I like people. And therefore, when you put the two together I like storytelling because they kind of go together. I like to write about people, what I hear, and what I see.”

Although Walls had written two manuscripts about the tragic event, she never felt that it was the right time to publish her work. About five years ago, Walls attended a writer’s conference in New Mexico and had her work critiqued.

“I met some American publishing groups and they were all sort of giving me the green light, ‘Go ahead. This is good,’” she explains. “And yet I came back and really felt I had to sit on it. I really felt like it was not my time to tell the story yet.” With 2017 marking the 10-year anniversary of her son’s death, the author admits she “found her voice” and felt that it was ultimately time to share her experience.

After her other son left for Berlin following New Year’s Day, Walls immersed herself in writing this book. From January to May, the difficult writing process forced her to recall the heartbreaking memories.

“I didn’t think it was possible to have so many tears,” she says. “After ten years of letting go of my son, I was actually amazed at how much emotion it evoked. There would be some days that I would be going deep into my memories to craft a story because I had written the book in a series of snapshot stories to tell his life. There were days where I would really have to lay my head on my desk and just sob until I let go of some of that pain that had found me.”

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Tips & Tricks

Picking a perfect cover image

There are only ever a few reasons as to why we are compelled to pick up a new book from Amazon or our local bookstore:

  • It’s one of those must-read titles.
  • One of our friends or family members mentioned it.
  • It’s mandatory to pass our upcoming high school test.
  • Our favorite author finally finished another book. Like maybe the sixth book, George?
  • Or…we liked the look of the cover.

I can easily think of a few books that I picked up for one of those reasons, and I bet you can too!

The importance of a cover

Your book cover is the first thing a reader will see, it will determine if they look past it on a shelf, or if they keep scrolling down while shopping online. Your cover is important, I can’t stress this enough; it is also one of the biggest contributors of creating a successful book as a self-published author.

Let’s break the cover down to its elements: a cover is essentially a title and an image. While the title is usually a few words or a phrase that describe the content or the story of the book, an image is a bit more than that. The image is a picture that introduces readers to the story. It can be used to convey themes, plot points, characters, and it can even foreshadow events to come.

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Tips & Tricks

How to plan a book tour

Now that you’ve published your book, it’s time to think about ways of generating buzz. A book tour can be a good way to engage with potential readers, make connections, and get exposure. In some cases, you’ll be able to talk about the book, read a sample chapter, and answer questions. It also gives you a hook for contacting local media and material for social media promotion.

We talked to Tellwell author Sharyl Rains to get her advice on planning a book tour. She’s held dozens of book signings and author talks across Canada and the United States for her book The Holy Tudors. She lives in St. Albert, Alberta.

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Author of the Month Tellwell Books

How parents can help protect their children from online predators

Many children are accessing the Internet using mobile devices and computers, and parents often don’t know what sites they’re visiting or with whom their kids are interacting.

The way we parent our children has to evolve along with technology, says author Charlene Doak-Gebauer. That means including digital supervision and guidance as part of traditional parenting.

“The Internet and digital devices are light years ahead of parenting, and it’s time parents caught up,” she said.

Doak-Gebauer explains her theory of digital supervision in her book Digital Sexual Victims: True Cases (published by Tellwell). She wrote the book to protect children and families from becoming victims of child pornography after her niece was targeted by neighbours when she was only four-years-old.

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