On November 10th 2017 and November 30th 2017, I braved my first ever Facebook live events. Over two videos, I covered 22 writing-related questions, which I've also answered below for your convenience.
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Catch other live Facebook videos at www.facebook.com/erachaelhardcastle.
Of your published books, which one is your favourite?
Finding Pandora has always been a comfortable world for me to write in, probably because I know the characters so well and it was my first ever attempt at speculative fiction. For this reason, you could argue Finding Pandora is my favourite. But I always say my most recent work is at the top of my list because it's fresh and exciting, and it displays my current skill level.
For this reason, I guess my favourite right now is Noah Finn & the Art of Suicide.
Which is yours?
How do I book a podcast interview on your show, The White Room?
Please send me a quick email expressing your interest and I'll get back to you with some more information. At the moment, the show is fully booked until March. I'll be inviting new authors to confirm interview slots in mid-February.
How do you make your book covers? Is it complicated?
Ebook covers, I think, are the easiest. Once you have your ideas and images together, log in to a free online resource called Canva.com and use one of their handy templates to create your finished design. They have Kindle and Wattpad sizes already uploaded so you don't have to worry about finding a template. They also have some lovely designs ready-made and free for you to use if you get stuck.
For paperbacks, I use a free Photoshop-type programme called GIMP which you can download and install to your PC. It's trickier to master than Canva, but does a lot more.
For free images, I use Pixabay.com. Please read their terms and conditions before you proceed.
I really enjoy designing book covers, which is why I now offer this service to authors. If you get stuck, please feel welcome to contact me.
Where do you find the confidence and content to film your vlogs?
I'm an introvert so I wouldn't use the word 'confidence' here. I push myself to do things outside my comfort zone every day because I think it will be beneficial for my business. So far, this mindset hasn't let me down, but I know vlogging isn't for everyone.
Podcasting has helped me a lot - chatting with another person is much less awkward and the conversation flows naturally. You can bounce topics and opinions off one another, and it might also help you to interview others first.
With regards to the content, I usually save up FAQs like these or talk about what's happening in my own life (writing-related) that I think could help other authors.
Do you have any marketing tips in relation to merchandising?
Yes, I have a free marketing webinar you can watch (see below) for marketing and merchandising tips. It's 30 minutes long and you don't need to subscribe to anything to access the content.
You can download my marketing workbook here to develop your skills and understanding further: www.erachaelhardcastle.com/webinar
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I'd like to try one of your books free of charge. Is this possible and if so, how do I go about downloading it?
I currently have two free books available. The first is available only when you subscribe to my fan club. This is my romantic short story, Forgotten Faith. You can also download Finding Pandora: World which is book one in my series free of charge at www.books2read.com/findingpandora.
If you enjoy the book, I'd really appreciate an honest review through your favourite online retailer.
My young daughter wants to write fiction. Do you have any advice?
When I teach creative writing I tell children to have confidence in their own skills and abilities. I also tell them to write the stories they want to write; to be as creative and imaginative as they want to be and most importantly, to have fun. Then, when they have the initial story, they can re-read and make changes or improvements.
I think it's important they have the support and encouragement of their relatives, too, especially if it's something they can transfer through to what they're learning in school. Offer to read what they're working on and be supportive and positive, then help with spelling and punctuation etc if required.
I've found Rory's Story Cubes to be a huge help when I run workshops.
Do you have any book signing tips?
Lots. My top two are as follows:
- never underestimate how much stock you will need. It's better to have too much than not enough.
- think of some fun merchandise you (as a reader) would like to purchase, then create and offer those things to your own fans. For example, bookmarks, pin badges, pens etc.
How do you find the time to write?
I don't, I steal it. I use the minutes between other responsibilities to make notes and tinker with my website. I write by hand on my lunch break and instead of browsing Facebook, force myself to write a few hundred words instead. It's difficult when you're working full-time, taking care of a house and kids etc, so don't put too much pressure on yourself. Learn to recognise the opportunities, then take them.
If you're struggling to be productive, have a go at NANOWRIMO this year (National Novel Writing Month 2018 - https://nanowrimo.org/) and work to a specific word count each day. You'll find having a deadline forces you to put pen to paper more often.
Are you ever scared to admit you're a writer?
I used to be, but not any more. I think people sometimes fear this because writing doesn't seem like a 'real job' to other people. Once you are published - self or traditionally - it gets easier because people seem to validate what you do, especially if you're an 'author' rather than a 'writer'. I don't know why, but it's something I've noticed.
If you love what you do, be proud and admit you're a writer/ author. You'll feel tons better if you face your fear, and you'll be surprised how many people will just want to hear all about your work.
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Catch other live Facebook videos at www.facebook.com/erachaelhardcastle.
Why do you write across genres?
I write the genres I enjoy reading and whatever I think will be enjoyable to explore. I transitioned from romance to fantasy and from fantasy to post-apocalyptic, but my most recent book is a visionary novella, which is unlike anything I have ever produced. I had lots of ideas and wanted to share some of my own morals and values through a character I felt deserved a story, so I went with it.
I change genres sometimes to ensure I please a wider audience, but mostly to ensure I have fun!
What's the relevance of Noah's handkerchief?
Noah's handkerchief is an important part of the novella and it's hard for me to explain the role without giving away most of the story. All you need to know is that it means a lot to Noah, and serves as a reminder.
Where did the initial idea for Noah Finn come from?
Originally I wanted to write a story about a man who goes to work via train every day and, when he dies, finds he's on that train heading to either heaven or hell. His destination would depend on the answers he gives Death, who is accompanying/ testing him.
After several weeks of planning and outlining, I managed to develop the story further, adding subplots and symbolism to create the novella that exists today.
I want to write a book. Where should I start?
I always tell people to write their ideas down first and work on an initial draft before they do anything else. Don't worry about spelling and grammar and don't show anyone else - you don't even have to tell people you're doing so! Keep it personal and private and have as much fun as you can.
When you have a completed story, get out your red pen and think of ways to improve it.
Now would be an ideal time to buy a writer's notebook.
Why did you choose 9/11 as the setting for Noah Finn?
I wanted Noah Finn to learn some important life lessons. In order to teach him life is precious, show him how little control we have, how some people aren't so lucky and how we should always love and be kind to one another, I set the book on 9/11. So many people sadly lost their lives that day, and Noah needed to see that some things are more important than greed and selfishness.
What are you writing now?
I'm writing the rest of the Aeon Infinitum trilogy (The Wanted and Faded Realm - a prequel and sequel to Run For Your Life) and the remaining 8 Pandora books (across 2 paperbacks, The Resurrection of Pandora and The Rise of Pandora).
What are you reading at the moment?
Since filming the Facebook live events, I've read The Jungle Book, Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom and a few of the short stories from Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks. I also recently read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and I'm now reading Humans, Bow Down by James Patterson.
As you can see, I read across genres too!
What writing software would you recommend?
I use Scrivener which is brilliant, but it can take some time to learn. I also use a free word processor called Open Office, which works the same as Microsoft Word but is free to download and install.
If you're planning an e-book, download Kindle Create through Amazon and have a play with their features. It's free.
What Noah Finn merchandise do you currently have available?
As of December 2017, I have Noah Finn bookmarks and pins available. Blue handkerchiefs are also available with any gift set purchased, but these are by private request only. Merchandise can be purchased through my online store at https://www.erachaelhardcastle.com/merchandise.
If you have a question you'd like me to cover in my next Facebook live event, please use the contact form on my website or find me on social media.
Thank you for your time today, and as always if you need help or clarification in relation to this content, please get in touch with me.