Monday, July 28, 2014

The Power of Collaboration

Miranda Hardy and I want to thank everyone for their support last week as we unveiled our YA paranormal thriller, Death Knocks. What was also so exciting was how everyone became interested in the whole collaborative process. So that's what I wanted to talk about today.

Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking delves into the psychology of creative people. She says that artists are "almost always individuals who like to go off by themselves - who can tolerate the solitude that creativity requires."

So very true. The fact is, collaborating with another artist - whether you're a writer, musician, or painter - is definitely not for everyone. Many writers, for example, refuse to read other books in the fear that what they're reading with subconsciously seep into their own writing.

Collaboration is a challenge for artists.

Look at Paul McCartney and John Lennon. In the beginning, they wrote many songs together. Literally sitting there with their guitars creating music. But later, as their music became more intricate and personal, their partnership became more like duel editors, going back and forth.

Here's my personal take on how collaborating with an author can be a successful adventure:

1) Brainstorm together. Miranda and I first started just swapping ideas back and forth before we even conceived the idea we'd write Death Knocks. It was just the two of us talking about a blog post I made, and it soon became obvious we were already collaborating on this idea that had taken a life on its own.

2) Give and take. Miranda and I first started working at the same time on stuff, and that logistically became impossible. It was pretty cool working via Google Docs and seeing our writing in real time, but it was tough to schedule. So we went the McCartney and Lennon route and wrote our book piece by piece, going back and forth. This worked for us because it became apparent that neither of us were willing to let EGO get in the way of our process. We'd throw ideas out there and talk it out. And the best ideas always won out in the end.

3) Make sure you're compatible. This is tied into #2. Our partnership worked because our personalities and strengths/weaknesses matched up perfectly. Miranda is much better at putting that spark into action and throwing it all down on paper. I work very differently, probably because I spent more than a decade as an editor. I'm more methodical in my approach, and I often ponder and struggle before I put anything down. Together, we made a great team.

She'd get it down, and I was good at going back and polishing and refining what we had.

4) Don't be afraid to raise the white flag. When you've got a partner, and your end product isn't working out, it's easy to just continue for fear of making the other person angry. Again, you have to shove aside your ego and look at the work itself. Our first draft of Death Knocks was essentially scrapped. It was a gut-wrenching decision to pretty much start over, but it was the right thing to do.

5) Get your ducks in a row. Make sure to deal with the business aspect of the collaboration. This includes all the details like publishing contracts, marketing costs, and other expenses. Talk it out and make sure everything is clear. Get it in writing too.

Finally: Have fun and enjoy the ride. Collaborating with another author successfully is such a blast. Writing can be such a lonely existence, and it's a nice change of pace to be able to have a great writing partner.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Death Knocks Cover and Trailer Reveal


Every October, I love to do a series of posts I call my Spooky Stories in celebration of Halloween. In 2010, I did some posts about the weird Urban Legend surrounding the Black-Eyed Kids. The stories about these weird children with black eyes span the globe, but they seem to all have started back here in the States back in 1996 when a journalist wrote about his weird encounter on a message board.

So, a fellow blogger and author, Miranda Hardy, became captivated with this paranormal topic. We exchanged emails and private messages, and it was obvious that we were brainstorming some ideas for a book. We decided to continue to work on this project via Google Docs, and more than three years later, we can finally reveal the cover to our new book, Death Knocks.

Collaborating with Miranda was actually pretty easy. Often, authors' egos and personalities clash, but this book is the result of a true partnership. I think what makes it work for us is that we seem to compliment each other very well. We would through suggestions out there, and didn't step all over each other to get this book as perfect as we could make it.

Who knew a knock at the door could rupture your entire world? They don’t demand money or possessions…they want much more than that, they want your life.
Maverick is preparing for senior year: he’s no longer stuck in the “friend-zone” with the girl of his dreams, he’s looking forward to choosing the right college and being on his own, and he plans to have a blast along the way.
But a knock on the door changes all of that forever.
Maverick begins a mind-altering, life-changing journey to discover the truth—a truth that certain individuals will do anything to keep hidden.

Death Knocks is a Young Adult paranormal thriller about the strange global phenomenon known as the Black-Eyed Kids. Take a creepy and exciting ride in a world where myth meets reality.
Death Knocks is scheduled for publication on September 26, 2014 by Quixotic Publishing.

What's extra special is that Miranda and I were both able to incorporate our children in the project. That's Miranda's daughter on the cover - and no, she doesn't usually sport black eyes. And my oldest son put the book trailer together using Adobe Premier Pro.

Check it out!

Monday, July 14, 2014

ToyMan Show and SOULLESS

It's been a rough couple of weeks, but I'm trying to power through it as best I can. I've been a pretty bad blogger, and I'm WAY behind on catching up with everybody. I'll do my best!

Blogging for me has always been filled with lots of ups and downs, especially since I've been doing it for long. And by the way, in three weeks, this blog turns NINE years old. Thanks so much for sticking with me, and all of your support and encouragement is greatly appreciated.

So in that spirit, I attended my second ToyMan Show here in St. Louis. I didn't sell that many books, as people are there to buy toys, but the organizers have been working to make it a "mini-con" of sorts. Here are some fun pics:

Me and Stereo Optimus Prime (its creator is selling it for $500)

Deadpool Mariachi

Harry Potter outfit

Fellow steampunks!

They demanded a copy of my book

Cool Predator costume!

Not sure what they're from. Somebody enlighten me

Um...scantily clad superhero?

The 10th Doctor

1960s Catwoman

Who you gonna call?

Time traveling bounty hunter

* * * * * * * * * 
Crystal Collier's SOULLESS Cover Reveal!!!

Have you met the Soulless and Passionate? In the world of 1770 where supernatural beings mix with humanity, Alexia is playing a deadly game.

SOULLESS, Book 2 in the Maiden of Time trilogy

Alexia manipulated time to save the man of her dreams, and lost her best friend to red-eyed wraiths. Still grieving, she struggles to reconcile her loss with what was gained: her impending marriage. But when her wedding is destroyed by the Soulless—who then steal the only protection her people have—she's forced to unleash her true power.

And risk losing everything.

What people are saying about this series: 

"With a completely unique plot that keeps you guessing and interested, it brings you close to the characters, sympathizing with them and understanding their trials and tribulations." --SC, Amazon reviewer

"It's clean, classy and supernaturally packed with suspense, longing, intrigue and magic." --Jill Jennings, TX

"SWOON." --Sherlyn, Mermaid with a Book Reviewer

Crystal Collier is a young adult author who pens dark fantasy, historical, and romance hybrids. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend†(a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her blog and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

COMING October 13, 2014

PREORDER your print copy
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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

IWSG for July

Purpose of the Insecure Writers Support Group: To share and encourage. Writers are allowed to let all of our anger, frustrations, and insecurities to like-minded writers, which is cheaper than getting counseling.

I had a fun little vacation in the Ozarks, so I spent a lot of time in the sun and in the water. But I got some bad news when I came back to reality. Part of being in the corporate world is the fact that you're an insignificant little tiny cog in the great big machine, so you don't really matter to the powers-that-be.

Let's just say that I hope that I don't end up living in a van down by the river.

So this month, obviously I'm insecure about my job. Which, in turn, makes me insecure about money. And of course, that includes being able to put food on the table and keep the roof over our heads.

Since I am also my own publisher, I rely on what little I sock away in a separate bank account to pay for stuff like...copies of my paperback book to sell, artwork for covers, editing, formatting, etc. It ain't cheap. So with my job security in jeopardy, I'm not sure where that will leave my publishing venture. I think I have maybe $50 left in that account.
And I HATE government cheese


This will be a very tough few weeks as I continue to grind it out with my job, do my best to prove my worth. And hopefully be able to weather the storm. Yet, I have to make sure I've got Plan B in the works, which is time consuming too.

That leaves very little time for writing. I was up until almost 3 AM over the weekend, trying to push my latest WIP towards the finish line. I hope to get it done before all this crap hits the fan.

Yup, my middle name is INSECURE for sure.

Have a wonderful 4th of July, my fellow Americans.