Open your eyes.

White Butterfly

Yesterday, I sat in a lounge chair by the pool while my kids splashed and played. Earlier that afternoon, a blue and black butterfly had flown around the pool, sending the kids on a wild goose chase trying to catch it. As I sat there, listening to the kids laughing (fighting) and the birds chirping, a white butterfly flew up beside me. It landed on the flower pot next to me, then flew off into the woods. A white butterfly. It was so beautiful and for a split second, time froze as I looked at it perched next to me. The whole encounter lasted less than 5 seconds. But it sparked something and it was all I needed. Before it had reached the tree line, I thought “What if there was a world that was completely white?” Boom, a new world was born. Then, of course I spent the next hour researching the science behind the color white.

Sometimes we just need to open our eyes.

My friends asked me where I come up with this stuff (different worlds, fictitious stories, etc.) And to be honest, this is it. I just notice things, things that trigger something else; an idea or a thought. This is where almost everything I have ever created comes from. Once I sat on the beach, watching the gentle lapping of the waves pulling and pushing each other in different directions when I was inspired to create an entire world around that idea. Not too long ago, I sat by the Chattahoochee River and watched a huge swan (could have been a goose, lol) fly and gracefully land in the river,  which inspired a major detail in that same world. One of the other worlds I’d imagined had been inspired by sitting in a hammock by the lake staring up into the trees. One time, I woke up after having the most vivid dream of skipping rocks on a lake. It was so beautiful I wrote it down immediately because I thought it such a beautiful scene. It ended up making it into the book.

You never know when inspiration might strike. It could be on vacation, or at work, or while cooking, or dreaming in your sleep. All I know, is if we are too busy to notice, we might miss out on a beautiful opportunity or a beautiful moment of inspiration and creativity.

Are you a writer? Or a creator? Artist? Or are you just curious if you could be any of those things? My advice for you today is simple.

Just open your eyes and take notice of the things around you…then of course, make sure you write it down.

The Door Keeper Announcement

The Door Keeper official release dates! This is crazy, I am so freaking excited!

royaljamespublishing.com

book interview

We are excited to announce the official release date for the fantasy novel, The Door Keeper by Steen Jones will be January 23, 2017.

Pre-sale starts December 23, 2016.

The cover reveal will be December 5, 2016. To be a part of the cover reveal day click here to sign up!

Blog tour dates are January 15-22, 2017. To be a part of the blog tour click here to sign up! Space is limited.

For more information follow Steen Jones on her Facebook or on her website.

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How it happened.

I’ve had a few people ask me how I got a contract. So here is the condensed version of the process of the last seven months.

I finished my first draft of my novel in the fall of last year. My first draft was only 50,000 words, which for a fiction novel, is very short. After I had some friends, (way smarter than me), edit it for me, I started querying. I knew that self publishing was a viable option for me, but I wasn’t in a hurry to get my book out there and just wanted to see if I could do it the traditional route. (Find an agent, let the agent try to sell it to large publishers, etc.) Now, I got some great advice from a couple of author friends. (And all of this goes for querying publishers as well.) They told me to:

Query to a handful of agents at a time.

Try to find agents that fit your style and were people you would want to work with.

Query your letter to them personally. (Why are you querying them?)

Every rejection you get, send another query out into the world.

I sent out my first query letters in January. I picked 4 agents that represented authors like me, and slowly the rejections came. Some were in the form of emails, and some were just deadlines crossed. (FYI, most agents/publishers will just tell you if you don’t hear from them in 6 weeks, they aren’t interested. How’s that for testing patience! 🙂 I always had 4 or 5 queries out at any given time.

Also, I found the agents I queried by looking in some of my favorite novels and saw who their agents were. Some I found online by simply googling “fantasy fiction agents.” As my husband always says, “When in doubt, google it.” I’ve done more googling in the past year than I ever imagined possible!

Through this entire process I had started writing the sequel to The Door Keeper. It wasn’t long before it was finished also. It too, was short, finished at just under 50,000 words.

In the spring when I wasn’t getting any traction or feedback, I talked to a friend of mine who had written an awesome trilogy and had it published. She said something that changed everything for me! She was honest enough to tell me the book was too short, that I needed to consider putting my 2 books together, and to not be afraid I would run out of ideas. She was right! I had wanted a trilogy so bad and was afraid I would run out of story. So I decided to try it…what could it hurt? If nothing happened, then I could just self publish eventually and re-seperate them.

During this same time, I had also decided to quit focusing on trying to query agents and attempt to query straight to publishers. Side note: most publishers will not accept unsolicited material, but a few of the smaller ones do. Also, some publishers will open their gates for a short, determined amount of time to read unsolicited manuscripts, so you need to keep a look out.

Around this time I also decided to start a blog and Instagram just in case I ended up self-publishing. I wanted to set myself up to be able to build a platform for my writing and have a place promote my book. My first follower on my blog was Royal James Publishing. They were in the first batch of queries I sent with my 2 manuscripts together, and the rest is history.

The main reason I decided to start looking for a smaller publisher was I wanted a partnership. I wanted collaboration. Having lived in the non-profit, social enterprise, small business, and start-up world for the past 5 years…I’m super comfortable here. I watched tiny business explode, watched some grow slowly, and always work hard to achieve success. I enjoy watching and being a part of that process. Plus, I have a weird obsession with getting in with things on the ground floor. I love being able to say I was apart of something back when it wasn’t big or important. (I guess it’s the deep rooted hipster in me.)

Honestly, I was prepared for this process to take years, but thankfully it didn’t. I think the main thing to learn from my journey up until this point is: learn as much as you can about a process and then tailor it to fit you. I’ve learned that the writing world is full of many different ways to get to one final result: a book for sale. Don’t be afraid to go traditional, or to be a trailblazer, or simply do something in between.

And when in doubt, just google it.

New Author Announcement! Please Welcome Steen Jones!

I am so excited about this! Thank you to Royal James Publishing for giving me a chance.

royaljamespublishing.com

 PRESS RELEASE-

NEW AUTHOR

ANNOUNCEMENT 

Royal James Publishing is proud to announce the signing of our newest author Steen Jones and her stunning fantasy novel titled, The Door Keeper to our publishing family.

About Steen Jones:

Steenportrait

thedoorkeepertrilogy.wordpress.com

FACEBOOK/TWITTER/INSTAGRAM

Steen was born and raised in Woodstock, Georgia. While she has only recently discovered her passion for writing, she has always been an artist and a storyteller. A couple of years ago, a story idea gripped her and wouldn’t let go until she wrote it all down. The Door Keeper is her debut novel and she can’t wait to pursue all of the other stories that have built up in her over the last three and a half decades.

When she isn’t writing, reading, painting, or baking, Steen enjoys spending time Netflixing with her husband and playing in the pool with her two children at their North Georgia home.

For more information…

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*Cue nervous laughter.

It’s finally sinking in. I have a contract with a publisher for The Door Keeper. I’m not sure exactly what I expected, I’ve seen this process from the outside. I have a few friends that are authors and I know I’m entering the harder part of it…letting go of what I’ve worked so hard on. Letting it out in the world.

But this junk is scary.

I’m about to submit my final manuscript to my editor. *Cue nervous laughter.

I’ve given my stuff to friends to edit before…people who love and support me. But this, this is a whole other animal. This is not someone who thinks I “poop sprinkles.” (Thanks to my friend Jen who gave me that lovely compliment. Extremely inaccurate, but still sweet. 😉 This is someone paid to find every grammatical error, every misspelled word, and every plot hole.

I am definitely in for a rude awakening. *Cue nervous laughter.

All that being said, I am super excited to see what comes back. Nervous, yes. But mostly pumped to stretch and grow. I’ve never written a book before, but my editor has. I know that with every book I write and have edited by someone who knows a crap load more than me, the better I’ll get. And I do want to get better. We should all want to get better at the craft we claim, right?

So as of today, my story is officially out of my hands (for the moment) to be refined, sharpened, and honed to be the best story possible. For those of you who have been my beta-readers, the friends and family who helped me develop it to this point, I sincerely thank you. You all have already taught me so much. Look for your names in my acknowledgment section. 🙂 You all have already played a ginormous part in The Door Keeper, and there is no way I’d be at this point of the process without you.

I think you all poop sprinkles. And I love you bunches. Thanks again for supporting me.