Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Welcome Sandy Lender to the Polebarn!!

As promised, I would like to extend a warm Minnesota welcome (and I mean WARM. The temp will be over 90 degrees today), to my friend and fellow author, Sandy Lender. Her debut novel, "Choices Meant for Gods" hit the bookstores this spring and she has been on a relentless promotional tour. I really appreciate her stopping by here to chat. Sandy, welcome!

Laura: What do you think has been more difficult, writing and publishing your book or the promotion and marketing?

Sandy Lender: Now that I've learned that no one cares who I am, I'm going to say the promotion and marketing is the most difficult part. And I mean that! There are some wonderful people (probably 50) who have purchased the book and read it and called to tell me that it rocks (I've heard other positive adverbs and adjectives, too), but, ummm, I'm not going to build a great audience with 50 sales. (I'm under-exaggerating; it's more than 50, but I'm trying to prove a point.)

Now, don't get me wrong, I never set myself up to believe I was going to make any money off this first novel. My publisher was very clear in the seminars he's given that new authors in small- to medium-sized houses just don't make money - certainly not the kind of money that lets you quit your day job and focus on the career you love. So I didn't go into this with any "delusions" that I know of. But, wow...I had hoped at least one radio station or magazine would care that a local artist had succeeded in the publishing game. Not so much. Having the people who have read the novel tell me that it's amazing and genre-breaking, etc. is a great ego boost, but that's not going to get me anywhere in life, and that's heartbreaking in the end. So I'm going to say writing is the easiest part of the equation. Getting published was next in line in terms of ease (and, by the way, that was NOT easy...took three years). Marketing and promotion is the part that will kill me.

Laura: Now that you have the book published, the first in a trilogy, do you feel the other two books will be easier or more difficult to write and publish?

Sandy Lender: Book II in the Choices Meant for Gods trilogy is complete. I'm editing now. There's a scene I have to include and I've been writing and rewriting it during traffic jams. Book III in the trilogy is almost complete, but I stopped when the Marketing and Promotion Nightmare began in full force in March. My publisher has already requested Book II and has intimated this is a long-term relationship, and I have no reason to doubt him. The arrangement is not akin to the cut-throat, bizarre situations you read about in some of the online chatgroups around the net. I'm quite surprised by some of the animosity I see authors feel toward their publishers and I'm thankful for the peace I have with mine. Very thankful. (very thankful)

Laura: You have been very open about your work schedule, your writing schedule, and the places you are going to promote your book on virtual blog tours, book signings, etc. When do you sleep? LOL!

Sandy Lender: Oh, my. Well...to be honest...I am getting a bit more sleep now than I was for a while there. I get about four hours of sleep a night. It can't be helped. I'm a new author that no one has ever heard of, so I must build a presence for myself. I must "brand." And then there's my personal life that has spiraled completely out of control thanks to the stellar choice I made in life partners 13 years ago. Like the Nazi at the end of the Indiana Jones movie...I chose poorly. So I have more than one job to try to make ends meet. (Did I mention that I won't make any money off the book?)

Laura: Writers by nature are very isolated souls, perfecting their craft out of the public eye. Do you find it more interesting to see readers in person at book signings or to participate in the virtual blog tours and promotion where you are not out in the public? Is there one way you prefer over the other?

Sandy Lender: Readers? What is this illusive creature you speak of?

Laura: What has been the most interesting thing or most interesting person you have met so far during your book tours?

Sandy Lender: Oh, man, I know who I want to meet, but I don't think he's paying attention...
The most interesting person...I'm drawing a blank, but that could be from lack of sleep. The most interesting thing...I had an online chat early on in the tour that about five people attended (if you include the host, who I think was studying for an exam or something, so he didn't really participate) but the people who attended and participated had this fantastic discussion. We covered everything from how childhood experiences affected our writing to great works of literature affecting our writing...I don't remember all of it because I never got the transcript, but I remember it being a really productive and intriguing conversation with folks, only one of whom I knew.

I'm going to have three more online chats before the end of the tour. One is this Thursday evening at http://www.cassidymckay.com/ at 8 eastern. I encourage people to participate because the conversation can get really good.

Laura: Your novel is an epic fantasy. I have read the Harry Potter series, but I felt your book was more adult and spellbinding. I read it in just a couple of days, and I got completely involved in the story and the characters. I know you had to do a lot of editing, but for the life of me, I cannot imagine what you cut that didn’t appear in the book. Is the material you cut out going to end up someplace in the second or third book? Or are you going to just keep it ‘just in case’ it inspires you to write something else?

Sandy Lender: I cut more than 70,000 words out of Choices Meant for Gods. A couple of scenes went into Book II but a majority of the material just got slashed. I'm ruthless with the delete key. If I decide I don't want something in...pow...I just yank it out and it's gone. There were a few scenes, though, that were breaking my heart to remove and those will be posted as deleted scenes on my website (as soon as I learn how to build a website in my sleep). I've already put some scenes - in the archives now - on my blog at http://www.todaythedragonwins.blogspot.com/, one of which almost got me maimed by a reader who wanted more. So, ah, I think I'll be posting more (in my sleep).

I'm not concerned about the missing material inspiring me, though. Everything around me inspires me.

Laura: When you first held your book in your hands, was it surreal for you? Do you think you will have that same feeling once you publish the other books in the trilogy?

Sandy Lender: I don't know how to describe the way I felt (which is mind-boggling, considering I wrote a 250,000-word novel, eh?). I knew the books would be waiting for me on my front porch when I got home from work one evening, so I was watching for them as I backed into the driveway, practically driving off into the yard. But once I got the box open and had MY book in my hands, I just sat down and stared at it, amazed that it was real at last. I mean, Choices Meant for Gods took three years to find a home and another 18 months after contract to get to this final, hardback stage. I cried like an idiot for a few minutes, and then dried my eyes and started reading. I found a huge typo on page 13 and let out one of those gurgling sounds like you're on your death bed. I've been an editor for 15 years...you'd think I could have caught that BEFORE we went to press. But we can fix it before the second printing.

Laura: What is next for Sandy Lender?

Sandy Lender: Ugh. Well, I'm marketing and promoting...

Seriously, I have a conference I'm speaking at this fall called Context 20 out in Ohio. Some of all ya'll may be attending... Then there's DragonCon. And I have several books rattling about my head that I need to write. I have six blogs. I'm finishing this online book tour. I want to set Nigel Taiman up on a tour (not even half as long as this one I'm doing, though). So I have plenty of the writing career to keep me busy!

Laura: I have kept a journal since my Aunt Peg in the 4th Grade gave me a diary for Christmas. It has helped me through a lot of tough times in my life. Do you keep a journal and do you find any kind of writing as therapeutic?

Sandy Lender: I do not keep a journal for fear of it falling into enemy hands.

Laura: Do you have any plans to stop in Minnesota or any states close by, during your book tour? What is your next stop?

Sandy Lender: If Duran Duran has a concert near there, I'm all over it, Baby.

Sandy, Thanks for stopping by the Polebarn!

Sandy Lender: Thanks for hosting me today, Laura. I hope my answers don't feel too negative. I'm overtired from a long weekend of marketing and promotion so that topic has me on edge! Tell all your visitors that the writing is the fun part. Stick with the fun part as long as you caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan.

Thanks so much Sandy! If you would like to learn more about Sandy Lender, go to http://www.todaythedragonwins.blogspot.com/ or to obtain a copy of "Choices Meant for Gods" go to http://www.amazon.com/ or http://www.archebooks.com/. And feel free to leave a comment! I love hearing from my readers!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sandy Lender is coming to the Polebarn!

Hey, everyone! Now that the graduation festivities are over, it's time to get back to business. The writing business, that is, and what better way to kick it off than to have a published author visit the Polebarn?

Mark your calendars folks, because Sandy Lender is visiting on Tuesday, June 26th. She is the author of the breakthrough epic fantasy novel, "Choices Meant for Gods." The novel is the first in a trilogy, and if you are waiting for the new Harry Potter, this will be a great read until the final series installment arrives. I read it in a couple of days because once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down! Seriously!

So, if you don't have anything pressing to do on Tuesday, stop on over and meet Sandy! And if you want a copy of "Choices Meant for Gods" just click on this link: http://www.amazon.com/Choices-Meant-Gods-Sandy-Lender/dp/1595071652/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-9883296-3024969?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1182722132&sr=8-1.
You can read more about Sandy Lender at her blog: www.todaythedragonwins.blogspot.com
See you all Tuesday!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I surrender!

Ok, I admit it, I am mortal. I don't possess any supernatural powers, I cannot leap tall buildings in a single bound (I can't even hop from a boat to a dock without getting wet, sheesh!), ...and I cannot control the Universe. There, I feel much better now. I give up, and I am not going to keep trying anymore! I'm getting out of my own way. I submit. Tap, tap, tap!

What has brought me to this "lightbulb moment", you ask? Well, tomorrow my son, my only child, will be graduating from high school. There has been a large part of me that has been in denial of this since, oh, the first day of school this fall that this was indeed his Senior year. This was it. In true dysfunctional fashion, I have been in total denial that this was coming about, that it would be here so quickly, that time was NOT on my side, and God, the Universe, the Holy Trinity, has given me the spiritual equivalent of a smackdown! Hoo boy, did it hurt!

You see, all of the "bad luck" that has been occurring in my life has been a side effect of my denial. I realized this today, and it didn't cost me a dime or any time on the therapist's couch. I have been so wrapped up in thinking that this was going to take place later, that I realized that nope, tomorrow is it! No more school supplies to buy, no more backpacks to buy or forget in the morning rush, no more books to lug around, no more fingerpaintings of turkeys at Thanksgiving or metal geometric shapes welded together from shop class.

No more field trip fees! No more permission slips or medical emergency cards to fill out! Hey, I'm seeing the good side of this now! He, he!

All joking aside, I guess I have been stressing myself out and working myself into a stroke because I didn't want it to be over...not yet. When I put him on the bus that first day of Kindergarten, I was wiping the tears from my cheeks as the bus rounded the corner and looked across the streets to the other mothers in the neighborhood doing the same thing, then we all turned and went home. At least we knew we weren't alone. Now, my son is a grown man, who is driving, shaving, holding down a job, and I cannot believe that he is who he is, but mostly, I cannot believe he came from me!

I have a biased opinion, I know. But he is the kind of person I am proud and honored to know. Truly, I am. And I will be sitting in that fieldhouse, crying my eyes out and I am sure I will look around and see the other mothers from the neighborhood and we will nod and acknowledge each other and one of us will smile and the others will smile back as if to say, "Here we are again! Wasn't it just yesterday we put them on the bus for Kindergarten? Where did the time go?"

My son is taking the summer for himself, to have some fun with his friends, to work and save up some money. He is planning to enlist in the Navy and leave in the fall for boot camp. He's not doing it "just for the money" for college. I asked him if I hit the lottery if he would just take the money and go to college and he said, "No. I would still enlist in the Navy. I want to see the world." Fair enough. I totally support him on that. I'm still scared for him, our world is at war and there is a part of me that prays he never has to fulfill his duty as a soldier and kill someone or be killed or wounded himself, but if that is where his heart lies, I will be there to support him. So, when he takes that journey this fall, I will have a whole new set of worries, but I know my son will be taking the path that is right for HIM, not the path I think is right for him. And that right there tells me that we raised a fine, young man. And I am grateful to all of those who helped me make that possible. In a way, we are all graduating too. Congratulations!