How I got the idea for SIREN SUICIDES, and more...

by Ksenia Anske

Photo by Sara Haas

Folks keep asking me how I started writing and how I came up with the idea for Siren Suicides, my 1st novel. Since I have answered this already in several guest blog posts and in a couple of interviews, a brilliant idea struck me. How about I do a quick compilation of all those posts here with summaries for each, so I can refer everyone to this post in the future. Smart, eh? I know. But, hey, I'll also give kudos to all those folks who were gracious enough to let me ramble about my story on their blogs, and that's a big thing. Right? Right. Here we go:

Wren Doloro asked me to talk about MAGIC. And that spilled into me reminiscing how I escaped into magic when I was little, and how it eventually got me to writing diaries, poems, screenplays, and, finally, after my daughter gave me to read Twilight (yes, THAT TWILIGHT), I decided, if she can do it, I can do it, and the idea for Siren Suicides was born, back in 2008. 

"In 2008, on one pre-Christmas weekend I asked my 14 year old daughter if she could suggest anything to read. Something light. She handed me Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

"All my friends have read it, it’s light and romantic, and it’s got vampires." “No, not a teenage flick. Anything else?” I turned the book in my hands.“You asked, so I gave you what you wanted.” She stomped down the stairs.“Ok, I’ll try it. Thanks for advice!” But she slammed the door two floors below." MORE HERE.

Digital Journal asked what inspired me to write my book. They sent me a long long list of questions, and it took me forever to answer, but it made me really dig deeper into WHY I'm writing, and WHY this book in particular. In short, I wrote for therapy, for trying to understand why when I was a teenager I was preoccupied with the idea of killing myself.

"I ran away from home at the age of 16 and have been battling suicidal thoughts, until I got pregnant with my daughter at 17 and gave birth to her at 18. She gave my life a new meaning, yet at age of 33 I started having suicidal thoughts again and decided to examine what it was that drove me to wanting to kill myself when I was a teenager. You can read more about it on my blogWriting my book was, in fact, part self-therapy, part an attempt to reach out to teenagers and hold their hand, hopefully stopping them from taking their life. And, even though my book is not published yet, I have managed to help one teenager talk about wanting to end his life - and I felt like my life was accomplished at that moment." MORE HERE.

Jeff Shear asked me how I started writing. So this is not so much about my novel, but more general info on how I started and what kind of base did I have to begin with. It made me think, indeed, how DID I start?

"My first stories have been written in my head, literally. When I was 5, I’d imagine entire movies, except I didn’t know how to write them down yet. At 15 I started my 1st diary and it snowballed from there. Flash fiction, essays, poems, a couple screenplays, short stories. And, finally, this year, a novel." MORE HERE.

Tony Riches asked me how I stared writing this particular novel. I thought about it long and hard, and realized that my friends pushed me into it, my boyfriend supported me, and that's how I stared. Without them, I wouldn't even dare, especially because English it not my first language.

"I've wanted to write a book for years and most of my friends knew it. They also knew that I started on a novel, got stuck, abandoned the effort. Started again, abandoned again. Then did it again the third time. Why? Oh, the reasons were very simple. It couldn't be any good, no way. I'm not a writer, never studied it in school. How dare I write in English, it's not even my first language! Who do I think I am trying to finish a whole novel without practicing first on short stories like normal people do? And so I thought, all right, to hell with all these doubts. I'll give it another try." MORE HERE.

I will be writing another post for Corey Seeley this week. Corey asked me to pinpoint that exact moment when the idea struck me. I'll try to do that and will post an update here with a link to his blog when done (this week). In the meantime, check out his blog because he is a very talented writer who doesn't know it yet.

THAT'S IT! Hope this answered your questions, and then some. And now, without talking more ABOUT my writing, I'll go do the actual writing, if you don't mind. Cheers!

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How to market your book: POP YOUR EGO

by Ksenia Anske

Photo by Kyle Thompson

That's right, I haven't even finished my book yet, let alone marketed it. I haven't even marketed anybody else's book, for that matter, so why exactly are you reading this? I'll give you one reason. I'm a reader too, and depending on how you market your book, I'll either pick it up or never grace it with a second glance. This, of course, applies mostly to indie authors as you guys have to do the work yourself. But more and more traditionally published authors have to pitch in as well. And, boy, do I get turned off sometimes. You. Don't. Want. That! Cause I read A LOT! And, well, I used to do social media marketing, so I hope I know something. Without further ado:

Play the underdog. This is surprisingly easy and works every time like a charm, yet people forget it and think that if they shove a link to their book in my face, I will drop everything and run screaming to check it out, to read it, to review it, and to tell all my friends and my entire extended family in Russia (hmmm, maybe THAT is not exactly what they want, but you get the point). Well, I won't. And not because I don't like you or I don't want to read your book. NO! Because you didn't ask nicely. Because you didn't delight me with a joke about your horrible self and your horrible book. Because reverse psychology always works. It does! Tell me I should never EVER click that link, and I will die from curiosity. It works like this: Tell a teenager she can't smoke, you bet she will. Tell her she can smoke, she'll... (well, this is another story, shall we move on already?)

Use a sense of humor. Get used to people beating you down and telling you your stuff sucks. Play it off with good humor, good sarcasm, a good joke. People lynch you NOT because they don't like you, it has nothing to do with you. Most of the time is has to do with them spilling their coffee on themselves in the morning and looking for that convenient target to spill their anger onto. Here is the trick. If you approach people with a sense of humor and don't take their remarks personally, they'll blow off their steam, and then they'll talk to you like to a human being. And you have a chance of them actually checking out your book (especially if this happened on one of your social media channels - because people tend to be more expressive online than they are in person).

Grow up. Oh, what did I just say? OMG. Did I tell you to grow up? Yeah, I did. Here is what some authors do. They run around and befriend people, tell them about their book (without actually being asked first) and then push it onto people to read it, or like their Facebook page, or whatever. Then, immediately, if they don't get a positive response or a promise or a LIKE, they unfollow you everywhere, cross you off their friends list, block you, strike you, close their mouth and don't speak a word to you as if you're some enemy. Sheesh, GROW UP! Stop your toddler tantrum and understand that people are busy! They might actually check out your book if you give them time! Which leads me to the next point.

Learn patience. Didn't your mama teach you? People are busy, and it's polite to ask one time and then wait. It's also polite to ask if the person MAY be contacted next week, and then wait till next week and actually contacting the person like you promised. So, instead of friending me on Goodreads, then flooding me with event messages and group invites and other stuff, and then, when I don't respond, blocking me, WAIT. Give me time. I can't go through all these, and sometimes I don't respond simply because I have no time! Some people keep asking me, how did you coax A. Lee Martinez to guest post on your blog? Easy. Patience. I've been patient and courteous and gave him time and each time played up his late response to my e-mails with humor, and won him over (I wonder if he'll agree after reading this?). Anyway.

Be yourself. I don't even have to write anything here, do I? Stop pretending you're some big best-selling author, just show people who you are, with all your pains and tears and doubts. We're all human, and we want to read your book to connect, to feel, to glimpse some sense into the course of humanity and continue living. If you keep puffing up your chest as if you're the best out there, we won't trust you, because we know we're not perfect. And if you're saying you are, then maybe you're lying about something else too. And we don't want lies, we want truth woven into genuine stories. 

To sum up. This is NOT a blog post about the technicality of how to market your book, where, etc, etc. There are plenty of those already written. This is a post about tucking your big writer's ego away for the benefit of the reader WHILE you're at it. However you do it. Please, take that rusty nail. Drive it in. Oh, I heard it! IT POPPED! Good job. Now, tell me what you thought, and give me a nail in turn. I need to pop my ego too, get carried away sometimes. Guilty.

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