Candidly Elle

I'm just a girl in love with words and sentences.
Common Self-Publishing Mistakes

Common Self-Publishing Mistakes

When I published my first book Pieces of Me. I thought, “Man this is going to be easy!” Boy, was I wrong. Self-Publishing means exactly what it is, you are the publisher responsible for writing, editing and marketing your release. You are writing at your own expense. You are the backer verses a traditional publisher would handles everything in house. Yes, there are sites that assist you in the process. Like CreateSpace through Amazon KDP, this is a self-publishing site there to help you from concept to creation. I utilized this site for both of my books. However, my upcoming release and my first are completely different.

Self Made Cover:

 Pieces_of_Me__A_Coll_Cover_for_Kindle

I cut a few corners with my first book. It was the inexperience that I lacked eventually learning an easier way. For instance, I didn’t want to purchase an expensive cover. So, I used CreateSpace’s build your own cover tool. Now mind you that I am no cover artist, this could have turned into a complete disaster. Any writer should know that a good cover will turn a profit. Luckily, I chose a fairly easy theme and cover for that book. I knew I would never do that again. For my next book, More Than Words…I outsourced my cover from a very talented artist who turned out to be fairly reasonable with her pricing. I plan to use her again.

Purchased Cover:

Courtesy of Author Elle Henry.

How many times have you wandered in Barnes and Noble spotting a book with a really neat cover? I have several times. One recent book was The Girl on The Train was a book I didn’t care for particularly; however the cover was subtle and striking. Here’s another confession (keep it between us!) I read Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga and EL James’ Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy based on the cover art. Don’t judge me readers. I’m just saying even though the story plots were questionable, the cover work was stunning.

Another thing I failed at was the editing and formatting portion. Okay, yes I am an English major; however I can tell you it is very hard to edit your own work. Also, the formatting for your paperback and e-book template has to match. I spent the first night of my launch last year crying in my friend Sylvia’s inbox because my e-book format was off in the margins. Once I resolved that issue I knew this was another mistake I wouldn’t repeat again.

Photo Writers Life

Photo Writers Life

We are all subject to error in ours lives, we are human. If you want to publish work you are proud of it’s very easy to do and it won’t break your budget.

Here are a few tips that helped me out the second time around:

  1. Copyright your material-If you don’t want to pay the fee to copyright.gov take a copy of your manuscript, email to yourself with the title For Copyright Purposes Only. This is a considered “A Poor Mans Copyright” this is a cheaper way to establish ownership until you register.
  2. Set out a realistic budget for your cover art, editing and formatting fees.
  3. Work with your cover artist to design a cover to fit your genre.
  4. Don’t settle for the first publishing site you find. There are plenty of sites that offer different promotions to fit your budget and your needs.
  5. Set a realistic goal for writing and editing. This isn’t NaNoWriMo you don’t need to stress out over creating a novel in a month. My novel took a year to complete from the original conception.
  6. Check out some of the writing groups on Facebook. There’s a group of every genre. Amazon has a group dedicated to promoting your work.
  7. Use Beta readers to critique your work. I’ll explain how that works in a later blog.
  8. Network! Use social medium to drive your work. I have met some amazing writers, publishers and editors here in Orlando and across the country.
  9. Believe in your goals. Writing requires an idea along with a ton of dedication.
  10. Good luck and happy writing! Remember you have all the tools you need to be successful.

 

This simple tips helped me out a ton. I hope you can take some inspiration for me as I did my writing friends.

Always Candid,

Elle

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(Cover photo’s courtesy of Author Elle Henry, A Girl & Her Books Publishings)

 

You’ve written your novel…now what?

You’ve written your novel…now what?

Creating and publishing a piece of work is considered to be a huge accomplishment. The last year has been an emotional event for me. My first novel titled More Than Words… It focuses on a sixteen year old named Ansley Stevenson with a severe panic disorder from a kidnapping by a drug-abusing aunt when she was a child. Ansley just wants normalcy in a world full of over-bearing parents, psychiatrist and medication. She doesn’t want to be know as “that girl” anymore. I think the hardest part in finishing this novel was the revision of my years as a teenager who just wanted to read books and work in a library. People thought I was weird, because I loved to read so much. Part of me understood the angst this character was dealing with. In this novel I was able to tap into a place of writing that I wasn’t even aware existed. I learned a lot about cognitive therapy and the many way child psychologist effectively treat children with behavioral disorders.

When I decided to pursue this career professionally, I never imagined that I would be in a situation in which I able to publish not one, but two books in the span of 15 months. Now mind you my first release was a series of poems and short stories that allowed more freedom of expression. Working on this new novel has placed me in a situation where I am no longer writing just for my personal gain. I’m writing to gain a following within a specific genre. That’s mainly why I haven’t been blogging as much, this novel has taken up a wonderfully huge amount of my time!

I wanted to create something with a lasting impression I could be truly proud of. Writing I assert is something not easy given, no must truly love this art form. A talent sent from a higher power and its something that takes a ton of research and dedication. Now that I’m in the editing phase of the process, the roller coaster ride that’s become of this journey is winding down. Writing takes on many hats in the creative process, but what do you do once you’ve finished writing? Am I supposed to cheer and celebrate or continue writing. Do I take time out to catch up on current events? Maybe I could read the pile of books that I’ve purchased in the recent months from Barnes and Noble. Maybe I should start that YouTube page that many have suggested? I have to admit that’s a funny idea me writing and rambling online all day!

What am I do? Yes, I eventually would like to write a sequel to this novel. It touches on teenage angst, loss of innocence and the emotional coping of love for the first time. My friends think I should take a break to recharge, but what if I lose time that could be focused on another project. Usually around this time of the year I would be outlining my National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo manuscript. Now I ask myself what is next? Yes, of course there is the process of marketing and promoting this novel. I’m a self-published novelist this huge big business task of publishing relies solely on my shoulders. Whatever I decide to do it will include blogging more. I miss my rants and raving on pop culture and taking to the wonderful people in Orlando!

P.s. my new novel More Than Words… will be available next month via Amazon, Barnes and Nobel and iBook’s. Here’s a peek at the wrap of the cover, I’ll keep you posted on the book release!

Courtesy of Author Elle Henry.

Courtesy of Author Elle Henry.

Forever candid,

Elle <3

 

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An Ode to My Grandmother

An Ode to My Grandmother

In celebration of Mother’s Day, I thought I would share a story that I wrote about my grandmother after she passed away. It’s deeply personally, my granny was a second mother to me because my mom often worked two jobs as a single parent. We shared a lot over the years, she was one of the main reasons I became an avid reader and eventual writer.

Butterfly tattoo in her memory, Photo Elle Henry

Butterfly tattoo in her memory,
Photo Elle Henry

Wake me up when December ends…Pt two

It was stillness in the air that day and a pain in my heart that has never healed. Death had hit me twice that sweet December and I wasn’t ready for my next journey. I looked out the window and tried to think of yesterday years that passed “The good ole days” that would be nevermore. No more cheesecake, TV land and late-night talks about absolutely nothing and no more grandmother. I promised myself that I would be strong for my mother, after all this was her mother and she was in a very fragile state. But granny was my second mom, confidant and my everything. As I stare out at passing cars, trees, stoplights and traffic. I realize that life in an instant can be taken away and in that same instance continue to move forward. I grappled with my emotions and I tried to keep them in check; however this was truly devastating and really hard for me to wrap my head around. It just didn’t make any sense to me, I kept thinking repeatedly. One minute she was alive and vibrant and the next a stroke took it all away.

As we pulled into the cemetery, I felt a chill take over my body, a lump in my throat and I begin to tremble. The car came to a halt; we exited and proceeded walk to her finally resting spot a newly marked spot with fresh covered dirt. You could feel the tension as everyone watched me, I was always the sensitive type and I never coped well with death. This was a special instance given that my grandmother and I were so close that we shared a room together and life. My everything. She was the first to know about me losing my virginity. We would giggle and laugh all night and fight like sisters at other times. She was my best friends and here I am staring down at her grave. It just didn’t seem right to me, I could not wrapped my mind around the fact that my grandmother was gone. I wanted to be strong, I wasn’t here for the funeral. I was in California and in a way I think she wanted it that way. My sister was on a plane to California to visit me for Thanksgiving the day she passed. So, I think that she wanted me to remember her happy and free from pain. As, hard as it was for me the day of her funeral that’s what I did. I celebrated her life all day with my sister through laughter and a few tears.

I walked up closer to the plot and again I notice the pile of fresh dirt.

“Brand new” I thought and I completely lost control of my emotions. I collapsed on the fresh grave and sobbed like a baby. I couldn’t understand this and why I wasn’t given the chance to say a proper goodbye. Even now it touches a spot in my soul that I try to hide. I lie there on that pile of sand, letting my tears stain the ground and wept. My family allowed me my time with her alone and for that I am grateful. But it took me a long time to realize that everything happens for a reason and it was meant for me to be in California when she passed. My grandmother wanted me to remember her in happy times and that is how she was the last time that I saw her. It took time to realize that the Lord’s will is his way. I am not angry with him anymore, because she is always with me. I finally have peace in my heart, but she will always be my best friend and I will always cherish those memories.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mother’s and grandmother’s!

Elle <3

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“Wake me up when December ends…” is an Excerpt from the book “Pieces of Me: A Collection of Poems and Short Stories” Copyright Elle Henry 2014.

Thank you Shonda Rhimes…

Thank you Shonda Rhimes…

Going into this season of Grey’s I was very unsure. I felt that it lacked the chemistry from seasons past. I wasn’t invested after Sandra Oh departed and I knew the series was going to take a hit with its audience once it moved to the new 8:00 time slot. It wasn’t the juicy show I loved and craved to watch from years ago with McSteamy in the towel and now with death of McDreamy I can go without it permanently. I don’t know or care to get to know the new cast and lets face it there is NO Mer without Der! Grey’s Anatomy used to be my staple Shondaland show from producer Shonda Rhimes. I have been a fan since the beginning, even though Shonda has managed to drag me through the five stages of grief by killing off some of my favorite characters (Denny and Sloan to name a few) also managing to ruin many of my birthdays with her dramatic season finales (My birthday is in May) by killing off some of my favorite characters (Little Grey). I sorry I already said that, blame it on the grieving. I’m accepting starbucks coffee until May 31th to get through this loss :-)

Photo abc.go.com

                      Photo abc.go.com

So imagine my angst last Thursday night when I get a Google alert from E! News That Patrick Dempsey is GOING TO BE KILLED OFF! Totally not impressed. I thought to myself “Self you are not going to chase that pavement, because Shonda is not going to ruin yet another birthday for you.” (Ode to Adele) Oh how wrong was I sitting in front of my TV yelling “Shut up!” profusely, because yet again another one of my favorite characters was dead. I couldn’t speak for an hour. I messaged my friend Sylvia (a Grey’s fan) and she was just as upset. I needed someone to talk it out with. Then I turned to twitter. Twitter was just as upset, then I read the press release from her and Patrick and I while I understand the necessity in the situation. This is not #HeiglGate (Sorry Katherine) we as fans deserve a fair warning and Patrick deserved better than a what he was giving after eleven seasons. Sandra Oh had a whole season devoted to her departure last year and quite frankly it was a complete snooze fest I could have. By the way good job Sandra you jump ship earlier this show is finished.

Here are a few times Shonda has put my life through the ringer:

  • Episode: “Losing My Religion” Denny dying (Pregnant Tears)- (May 15, 2005, my birthday thanks!)
  • Episode: ”Flight” May 17, 2010 Lexi dying (Serious tears)
  • Episode: “How to Save a life” April 23, 2015-(DEREK DYING I QUIT!)

 

Courtesy Clashdaily.com

             Courtesy Clashdaily.com

At a time in my life when I’m losing faith in television I needed to depend on my staple shows. Now I’m being force to move on and it hurts. Watching tonight’s two hour show was SERIOUSLY harsh. I hated it. It seemed rushed, jumbled and everyone was miserable. Plus, my daughter looked at me like an idiot as I cried like a baby over a fictitious character. I can’t blame her I would have done the same. Only I invested eleven years of my life into this show, I was pregnant her on bed rest watching this show crying emotionally pregnant tears over Denny’s death ON MY BIRTHDAY during the season finale in 2005. I fell in love with Adele on the season finale of 2008 when I first heard “Hometown Glory”. I cheered with Mer when she begged Derek in the OR to “Pick Me, Choose Me, Love Me” over Addison. I was the twenty something girl who drank tequila and danced badly to 80’s music… I identified with Meredith (Except the promiscuity #NoJudgement lol). I understand you are the show runner and you don’t tolerate “Diva antics”; however I have watched you kill too many characters on this show and I just can’t watch it anymore. Also, why did you have to kill JJ last night? That was just mean! I must move on, I needed a drink after this episode a really strong drink and some Chipotle. My heart muscle is irretrievable broken. So I’m gonna go listen to Otis Redding, cry a river or something and remember the good times. At least I have the reruns. Thanks a lot Shonda I can’t forgive you, not even with Scandal.

I give you my two weeks notice.

Signed a truly upset fan,

Elle

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Baltimore Riots: Violence is not the answer.

Baltimore Riots: Violence is not the answer.

I once thought we lived in a peaceful civilized country.  But, I was wrong that was a sheltered existence that my parents gave and my naiveté believed and soaked it all in.  Now in the wake of the latest murders of Freddie Gray and Walter Scott before that Michael Brown who raised his hands shouting “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting“. It’s hard to think about MLK’s dream…because the content of ones character is out the window and the color of ones skin is the still of the utmost importance.  When will this country realized that we are much stronger united as will fall divided. I think about my son, with his pale skin and brown eyes and I wonder if the world will change in ten years? I have also been told that I don’t have to worry about the “Black man’s plight” because my son is half white.  Bullets are colorblind, therefore I worry.

As a society we need to understand that violence is just not the answer. When I think of the Civil Rights era, the anniversary of Selma and the dream that Dr. King had, it just doesn’t correlate with how we live in the twenty-first century. There is a way towards coexistence, if we all took time to put away our misgivings about each other as a race to realize that our bodies bleed the same blood. I don’t think this is the dream that Dr. King spoke about. Tearing down your own neighborhood isn’t going to provide you with the answers. What happened to Freddie Grey is a complete devastation; however if you want answers there is a way to seek them. The old proverb “Speak softy and carry a big stick.” Weighs heavily on the riots in Baltimore. You can cautiously and respectfully stand your ground while only using violence as a necessity. Don’t judge an entire group of policemen on the merit of a couple of bad seeds.

Freddie Gray’s death was a terrible occurrence in a society, where some feel as though black lives don’t matter. As a black woman I find this disheartening that the police still feel as though they are invincible. We vote people in office to serve and protect, not kill and cover up. History is repeating itself and not in the most appealing way. I have my own views on this situation; however many have told me I that I don’t understand the “plight of a black man”, because my son is multi-racial and he looks Caucasian. That maybe true to some extent but I still worry as any mother would when my son walks out of the front door in the morning for school. We are still judged by the color of our skin and not the content of our character. So I challenged that notion of not having the right or not “understanding the struggle” I am the sister, aunt, daughter and cousin of many black men. I have one brother and God forbid he is stop and judged solely by the skin color he had no choosing in. I asked when is enough going to be enough? The Mayor of Baltimore Stephanie Rawlings-Blake doesn’t seem to have control of her city with the statements she’s been making about giving the looters “space to destroy“. Violence is not the answer, looting solves what problem? Take what we learned from Ferguson. Tearing up the city will not incite change.

Our ancestors had to fight for rights against racial intolerance and prejudice. Burning down your neighbors and looting in your city isn’t going to make the situation better. Violence is not a means to solution. Rioting and looting the streets will only harm the community. Also, the looting that you see on the television is not colorblind, whites and blacks are out there tearing apart the streets damaging the community. If you want change, use your voice and vote! Get an education, run for office. Hit society with words of empowerment. None of this will bring Freddie Grey, Mike Brown, Walter Scott or Trayvon Martin back from the dead. So, instead of the riots why don’t we vote the right people in office and inspire change. Make them do the jobs they were voted in to do. Don’t allow another mother to bury a son for injustice.

Thanks for reading,

Elle

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The Downside of Reality Television

The Downside of Reality Television

Gone are the days where we watched television to find a role to emulate based on talent. I miss the days when I couldn’t wait to get home after school on Friday for TGIF on ABC. Those shows were wholesome and very family oriented. Each show had love and laugher; my favorites were Full House, Step by Step and Family Matters. I lived for my weekends, because I they would consist of great television programing. Friday night would be the family shows followed by Saturday morning cartoons with a huge bowl of cereal. The best ones were The Smurfs, The Snorks, He-Man, Jem and the Holograms and my favorite Scooby Doo. I love Velma to this day! 

Courtesy of Pinterest

Courtesy of Pinterest

Reality television wasn’t as prevalent as it is today. We had the Real World and Road Rules challenges. The theme of those two shows were to invite people from all walks of life to each stay in a nice mansion for six months or drive around the country in a Winnebago and compete for clues. These show thrived due to the constant infighting that happened between characters with zero in common. As a Gen X’er I must admit that I was addicted to The Real World every season up until 1999. It was great television watching Tami Roman getting dragged across the floor by David in her panties. We had never seen anything like that or when Irene the cop moved out early because she had gotten married. It was interesting watching people act a complete fool on camera.

 Cartoons-660x385

Fast forward 10-15 years and I can tell you that reality television has come along ways. Not for the better might I add. We now have Real Housewives in six cities. By the way I don’t consider you a housewife, if you aren’t or have never been married. Women who come together to fight and have catty arguments over stuff that’s really no importance. MTV and VH1 were two of the biggest music channels when I was growing up (aging myself!) Now they pride themselves on capitalizing on the spectacle of reality life with such shows like Teen Mom, Couples Therapy and Love and Hip Hop.

Real Housewives of ATL, Courtesy of Bravotv.com

Real Housewives of ATL,
Courtesy of Bravotv.com

As I watched the Real Housewives of Atlanta Reunion last night, I realized that television has reached an all time low. What should be a proud moment of six successful black women coming together for a good time ends with them ripping each other to shreds. As a black woman I don’t want that “angry black woman” titled that seems to elude these women. Also, I don’t think its fair that MTV capitalized on the young and naïve. You shouldn’t be rewarded with a television show just because you are Sixteen and pregnant. I don’t think that’s something to celebrate. We as a culture have twisted the values system of what’s important in life and it’s not fighting and screaming on television. The times have definitely changed. People will sell their souls for fifteen minutes of reality television fame. I often long for the days of carefree lifestyle this country use to have. Now, I believe we are all lost in materialism and fame.

Thanks for reading,

Elle

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The Coffee Shop

The Coffee Shop

I’m still trying to establish myself as a writer in my hometown of Orlando; however I am a lover of the short story format. I’m a published author with a book of stories and poems out now through Amazon and Barnes and Nobles title Pieces of Me. Here’s one of my stories I hope you enjoy it enjoy to comeback and follow more of my work!

Elle

 “The Coffee Shop”

She was sitting there again like a gentle breeze flowing in the wind when he walked in the coffee shop. He eyes immediately grazed upon her ever so slowly and spotted her sitting in the corner instantly. Adjusting her glasses, she noticed him as well. The tension was felt between the two. They’ve played this game of cat and mouse for weeks, neither one dared to speak just a glance here and there.

Boom, boom, boom…went her heart. Turning the page in her book, trying to seem interested in Rebecca a novel she’s read a million times. Grabbing her latte from the table beside her, taking a sip—it was cold.

He smiled and went to the register.

She remained silently still in her position, showing no expression returning back to the book. Realizing that she would need to get up from a refill, then deciding to wait. There was no way she could speak to this man. He was too handsome in his khaki pants; red cable knit sweater and thin blue jacket. The reflection he preceded wasn’t the heart he held. It was frail, timid and saddening. The same as hers…but she wasn’t aware of that.

Observing her movements out of the corner of his eye, his nerves begun to quake at her very sight. An odd complexity given his physical stature was so tall, broad and muscular. Feeling her survey him from behind he smiled at the barista and ordered his usual.

“Tall house blend, please and keep the change.” Handing her crisp ten-dollar bill, he decided to sit today. It was a slow day at the office. The short spiky haired brunette barista returned moments later with his piping hot house blend. He nodded thanks again, and then headed over to the condiment counter to add his one creamer and three sugars. After fixing his coffee just right, he grabbed a seat at the table by the window. It was starting to snow a little outside and this time of year always made him sad. Sweet November, Maria died around this time two years ago. The death of his wife Maria caused him to become a recluse for a while. Maria was the soft wind against his cheek, the smile on his face when she spoke. Cancer took her from the earth’s presence and left Mark flowing in a trance every since the soil covered her remains. Until he spotted the beauty in the coffee shop with the pensive look concentrating on the different novels she read. He needed saving and yet the beauty he admired in the wind needed salvation from herself. As he stay gazing out the window thinking about Maria, he noticed the beauty with the book motion to the counter to get a refill. Taking a chance he gets up to say hello.

A gentle tap on her shoulder.

“Hi, I’m Mark.” He said with a casual smile that made her stomach churn with nervousness.

“Hello—I’m Naomi.” She said as the spiky haired brunette looked on annoyed waited for someone to order.

“I noticed you here often and I would like to buy you a cup of coffee.” He said handing the annoyed barista another ten-dollar bill, before Naomi could interject a response.

“Well, now I’m indebted to you Mark thanks.”

“The same ma’am?” the barista said as Naomi handed her the cup.

“Ummm—Yes with soy please.” Trying to figure out what else to say to the handsome stranger, who just did a kind deed. “Thanks—Umm…Mark?”

“Yes and please join me.” He say as the barista came back with the coffee he motioned again for her to keep the change, which put a smile on her previously unhappy face.

“I guess for a minute.” Then they walked over to the cozy chairs in the corner where she always sat. They were both nervous, but he took a leap by talking to her at all and that made him smile.

“What’s so funny?” she inquired.

“I don’t know, if you know this but I have been gaining the courage to come over and speak with you for weeks now. But you are always so focused on your books.” Naomi smiled in returned, so he had noticed her as well she thought. She wouldn’t be as bold enough to admit as much to him.

“No, I hadn’t noticed that.” She lied and her cheeks flushed revealing her truth. Taking a sip of her college it was nice of him to buy her refill, but coffee and small talk was all she could offer.

“How long have you been coming here?” he pressed.

“Since grad school. I’m working on my Ph.D. in counseling.” Replying as he admired her dark hair and olive tone skin, considering her low self confidence internally she was dressed nicely in jeans, leather ankle boots and a pale pink sweater. She was a very beautiful woman, someone he would really like to get to know better; however this was as far as he could go now.

“You seem like the educated type, I always see you with a book.” He said.

“Books don’t turn on you.” She said sipping her coffee again, his presence was making her uncomfortable.

“Why do you say that?”

“It’s a cold world and people are cruel.” She said matter of fact. “I’ve had to learn the hard way.”

“I suppose you are right.” He agreed and she begun to pack up her things. “Leaving so soon?”

“Yes, I’m a student teacher and I have to be there in thirty minutes.” She added, “Thanks for the coffee Mark.” Then she grabbed her purse and bag a stood to leave.

“It was all my pleasure Naomi, until next time?”

“Maybe” She smiled as she walked past him and that was that. He was happy and a bit shocked that he spoke to the beauty in the coffee shop. Even though it was a brief conversation it was better than anything he had experienced in the two years since Maria’s passing and it was also rewarding for Naomi. She walked away with a smile.

© 2014 Elle Henry

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