Paper Lantern Writers, A Book Marketing Collective, Part 3
In “Paper Lantern Writers, A Book Marketing Collective, Part 3” host Beth Barany, creativity coach, and science fiction and fantasy novelist chats with the founding members of the Paper Lantern Writers Collective — Ana Brazil, Edie Cay, and Linda Ulleseit — where they discuss their published anthology, the many ways they cross-promote their fiction, and their advice for being part of a collective.
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Paper Lantern Writers
Many cultures around the world have a tradition of paper lanterns. A paper lantern amplifies and diffuses the light from a single flame, allowing the human eye to see further and more broadly in the dark. Paper Lantern Writers (PLW) aims to shine light on the shrouded stories of the past, giving modern readers a clearer perspective on the people and places that came before them. We promote the historical fiction writing of our members, both published and in progress, in order to better connect with readers and reviewers. By collaborating as a group, we build the individual careers of our members through marketing, social media, and events. www.paperlanternwriters.com
Edie Cay writes award-winning Regency romances. A LADY’S REVENGE (2020), THE BOXER AND THE BLACKSMITH (2021), A LADY’S FINDER (2022), and A VISCOUNT’S VENGEANCE (2023) focus on the history of women’s boxing and themes of misfits and found family. As a speaker, she has presented at Historical Novel Society, Regency Fiction Writers, History Quill, Chicago-North Spring Fling, Toronto Romance Writers conference, and the Historical Romance Retreat. She regularly contributes to the HNS quarterly journal. She is a member of HNS, The Regency Fiction Writers, ALLi, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers. Follow her on social media @authorEdieCay.
Linda Ulleseit was born and raised in Saratoga, California. She is a retired elementary school teacher with an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University and is a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers. She enjoys cooking, cross-stitching, reading, and spending time with her family. Linda writes historical fiction that tells the stories of unsung women in history.
Ana loves to write and read historical fiction about curious, ambitious, and totally bodacious women. Her historical mystery FANNY NEWCOMB & THE IRISH CHANNEL RIPPER won the IBPA Gold for Historical Fiction, and her short stories “Kate Chopin Tussles with a Novel Ending” and “Miss Evelyn Nesbit Presents” have appeared in crime fiction anthologies. Her short story “Trust No One” is included in the PLW’s UNLOCKED anthology.
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Transcript for episode 45 – Paper Lantern Writers, A Book Marketing Collective, Part 3
Are you looking for a way to dig into your world building for your story?
Then I recommend that you check out my World Building Workbook for Fiction Writers. Now available.
It’s at How To Write The Future.com.
Just head on over there. Click, sign up. Put your name and email, and there you go.
That workbook will be delivered to your inbox straightaway.
Hey everyone. Welcome back to How to Write the Future podcast.
The focus of this podcast and the focus of my work is to support writers to create positive optimistic stories because when we vision what is possible we help make it so. And part of that visioning is learning the tools of today that help us become better writers for tomorrow.
Part of becoming a better writer is also learning how to become a better marketer of your fiction and of yourself as a novelist.
I also want to encourage you on being an innovator in the way that you bring your stories out into the world.
The Paper Lantern Writers historical fiction collective: Part Three of Three
So join me on this three-part series where I interview three historical fiction authors who have come together to create a collective to market their work.
Welcome to the third part of our interview where we talk about the tension between research and writing, and also about the big vision of this marketing collective with these novelists.
If you haven’t already, please do go back and listen to parts one and two, so you will be all caught up for this third and final part. Enjoy.
Let’s dig in.
If you’re gonna form a collective to market your fiction, you need to have a bigger scope. And for you and for your group, what would you say is that generally? 5 years, 10 years?
I’d say at least 10.
When we got our partnership agreement put together, we did put in there that there is the exit strategy, but really what we put in there is: what happens if one of us dies?
That’s the endgame that we are talking about. We are talking till death do us part, which sounds a little more dramatic. Maybe it’s because I’m the romance writer.
We now have a goal where we publish something once a quarter. So we are doing not just an anthology. Our anthology last year was our first publication that where we had people pay for it.
But prior to that we had been making these free downloads from our website, which are quite delightful.
So now we’re starting to expand on that by making this brand new content. Unlocked went splendidly. We are currently at work for one that will be out in November. We don’t have a title yet, so we’re still anticipating new content published yearly.
We are looking at gift guides for the holidays. That one went over really well. We’re looking at a couple of other different free download things that we can put out there for people because it’s not just about selling books.
Our main motto is: A rising tide lifts all boats. And we think that about each other, and we’ve made the commitment to each other that to do this.
But we also think that about every author out there because readers don’t just read one author. There’s no reason to see each other as head-to-head competition. And that was something that always felt wrong when I was in the literary community where there was a bunch of jealousy and a huge amount of ego, and I hated that part.
I just wanna tell some funky stories. That’s all I want.
What you’re talking about is really the core values of your group. I just love that so much, that sense of rising tides lifts all boats.
So the group together has put out some freebies that people can still access on your website?
And a short story collection which came out- was that just recently?
I saw some lovely commentary about it on Twitter, about how every story was captivating and highly recommended.
So just a shout out for all you historical fiction readers of which I am one. Just like you were saying, Edie, I read across — I read everything.
I see it. Let me put you in the spotlight, Linda. Keep that up there.
This is the book, Unlocked.
Oh how pretty. And just keep it there for a moment. I just wanna describe it. It’s a beautiful image of a keyhole with a heart in the center and a beautiful red background and Unlocked, a script font.
And it’s just gorgeous. I see that book and I just wanna hold it. That’s beautiful.
And how many pages is that?
It is, I don’t know. It’s not super thick, but it’s eight short stories that spans –how many –seven centuries?
Oh, what fun.
At the heart of it is a wooden chest that appears in all the stories in some way.
So, I heard gift guides are coming for the future.
Quarterly published books that everyone can purchase are coming out.
And what are some of the bigger ideas that you have coming?
If you could share about what your collective is doing to do this beautiful thing of cross-promoting and shining the light on everybody.
We also speak at conventions. We have several talks that we have already put together and several that we’re working on to speak at conventions. So we’re always looking for new opportunities to speak at writing conventions.
Those talks are not just about us being a collective, but we also talk on different points of historical fiction, the craft. And we had a great one– I thought it was great anyway– about setting. And I thought that was a fantastic talk because we focused so much on historical fiction, we try to keep it very focused.
But I think historical fiction, because it is a world building genre, just like science fiction, just like fantasy. I think a lot of those lessons are cross genre craft discussions.
Oh, that’s wonderful. I really love that.
My first three books were a young adult historical fantasy. So I totally understand how building worlds in the past can be almost the same as building worlds in the future. Because in the past you have certain historical details that you need to get right, and in the future you have to create believable societal things that happen for people to be able to relate to ’em.
It’s not like you can just make everything up because you still have to have some grounding in facts that are real or relationships that are real. So in that respect, historical and future are very similar.
Yeah. I love that. And I would totally agree.
I have a guide that I created recently, a world building guide, and I know there’s a ton of material out there for that.
So, one question that may come up for our listeners is some writers talk about getting lost in the research and, maybe they’re afraid, oh, I’m gonna just go down a rabbit hole and I’m gonna forget to write, or maybe they love the research more than they love the writing.
Any tips for writers out there who are wrangling with that?
Each of you share one or two tips, how you balance the research with the writing. And how do you know maybe the research is done and then you write, or maybe some of you research and write in tandem.
I don’t think the research is ever done. I’ll be writing a scene and halfway through the scene, I have to stop. I’m like, wait. I have to look that up and I’ll go look it up.
And then of course you have to look it up after you’re done too. This is after you’ve done months of research or to get your head in the setting. So I don’t think the research is ever done. And I think that’s a fun part, but it’s also annoying because the more things you uncover, the more questions you have.
Right, right, And
Well, that, doesn’t help sometimes. Like, no, you can’t be doing that. I have you over there doing that. You know, so, it is difficult.
The book I’m writing right now, my current work in progress, I have done a lot of research for it. Then I went and found a diary of one of the characters. Cause they’re real people I’m writing about.
And I’m reading through her diary going, no, no, no. That’s not how it was, cause I’ve already written that part of the book.
Good thing it has in the copyright page that’s a work of fiction.
But are you seriously having to rejigger your story halfway through?
Yes, I had two of the main characters meeting a good 20 years before they actually did meet. And so the problem I was running into is filling that timeframe cuz it’s, it’s after that 20 year period something important happens and drives their relationship forward. But like getting through that 20 years was hard.
Well, let me do a little research and find out what they were actually doing during that time. Oh, they didn’t know each other yet. So now do I start story later or do I have their story start in separate places and bring together? Had to rethink that.
Yeah. And it sounds like you’re used to that since you are basing your stories on real people. Very interesting. Taking it in stride. It’s great to hear.
Edie, how about you? What are your tips for– How do you handle that balance or that dance between the historical research and the writing and some of the– Any advice you have for other writers?
Well, one of of my pet peeves is the collective ye oldie history beliefs that are never centered in an actual city or town or culture. And they have these beliefs about how it must have been because people from the past are backwards and we today are modern and progressive and forward. And that is not necessarily true.
And so a lot of my research does come down to understanding or attempting, doing my best anyway, to understand how society’s rules were, but also how people actually acted because the rules and how people actually are are completely different. So, you can think about that in terms of premarital sex.
You can think about that in terms of diversity. You can think about that in terms of homosexuality. All of these different things, gender presentation. There’s so many different aspects that we believe that in ye oldie times were not acceptable. That never happened. Those people couldn’t be there. And it’s not true.
And so a lot of it is I spend time reading about the area that I’m researching from different perspectives, often marginalized perspectives, because they’re gonna tell me a different story than the mainstream perspective. I wanna know all of it. I wanna know about what the prostitutes were doing. And how those rules might be different because for me, I write about Regency time period, which is the early 1800s. For people who don’t know, it’s about 1800 to 1820, if you think about that time period.
But the Victorians that came after that really changed how we view the past and they whitewashed the Regency because it was a darn tooting good time.
So I work really hard to make sure that my modern readers are able to see through their lens and through the Victorian fog of what actually was happening. I do use a lot of slang in mine because I write about boxing. Boxing is where a lot of our, even still modern slang comes from. So I try to put that in there, but also a couple of the other terms that you can figure out if you think about it hard enough. But I also have to glossary in the back, just in case.
So for me, I do a lot of upfront research. I figure out my story. I do have a lot of what Linda’s saying where you’re writing, you’re writing, you’re writing, and you’re like, what do they call that? Do they, did they call, is that a, would they say it’s a cupboard? Would they say it’s an armoire? Would it be a wardrobe? What would they say?
And so you have to go through this research.
For me personally, because I, that stops me up. I put three asterisks on anything that’s there, and then I just keep on going because I’ll figure that word out eventually, or it’ll come up in my readings that I do during the day from different historical societies I’m a part of.
And then I can go in and I search for those three asterisks at the end of a session when I’m in my editing mode. And then I can just go right to it and I can find ’em and say, oh, I need to double check this fact.
Or, I currently am writing a short story right now that’s set in 1789 during the Frost Fair. And they went down to the Black Fryers Bridge.
Did they go down to Black Fryers Bridge? Where is Black Fryers Bridge? Three asterisks.
Three asterisks there. Yeah.
I love that. It sounds like you do a bunch of research that helps you settle the story and then you come back for the other things. I do something similar, even though I’m writing about the future.
So Ana, I wanna hear about your process with this whole research writing, research writing.
It’s very similar to Edie’s, except I use angle brackets. So I can put the correct information here.
I do a lot of research up front and then I do a lot of research when I’m writing, but I have to be careful because it makes me want to kill more people–
In the book. In the book.
In the book, in the book.
When you do research, it’s like maybe this guy should be the victim, or maybe this is a better villain or this is a better suspect.
So I have to be careful, but research is continual for me.
But, but I would like to say, if you writer out there have a problem with too much research and you can’t stop researching in order to write, the best thing to do is get a critique group and get on the calendar to share your work.
Because if you have a deadline, you’re gonna have to stop researching at some point. And that means that you’re gonna have to have a chapter. And in that chapter you could have three asterisks because it’s just for your critique group consumption. Having a critique group will keep you writing, even though the research is saying, “Come here, come here, come here’, come here.”
I love it.
I don’t work with a critique group anymore because I’m at the point where I wanna have the whole story cuz I don’t wanna hear other voices. But if you’re a beginning writer and do have that problem with, can’t walk away from your research, get yourself a different deadline. And that will help get you away from, or that will help you manage the research, hopefully.
Mm-hmm. That’s a great piece of advice for anybody I would say who wants feedback on their work. I’m in a critique group still, but I also don’t let them see too much a work in progress. Maybe the beginning and then I stop showing it to them until the very end when it’s all in one piece.
So, I love that. Well, thank you so much for that.
LAST PIECES OF ADVICE
As we wrap up for today, why don’t we go around and see is there any last pieces of advice that anyone wants to give around being a part of a collective to market their fiction, cuz that’s what brought us all here together today.
Okay, well I’ll start there.
Writing is a very solitary activity, but relationships are what sells books.
And you can’t get on anywhere and say, buy my book, buy my book, buy my book.
It’s the relationship, not the demand to buy that sells the books.
So whether you’re on social media, making relationships with followers, or whether you’re in a collective making relationships with other authors, it’s really important to have that basis of the relationship, the interpersonal connection, in order to sell your books. Get the word out there that your book exists.
I couldn’t agree more. That’s great. Anybody else wanna add their 2 cents?
I would say that some of us are extroverts and we don’t mind coming on something like this and chatting and talking to everybody, talking to the world, selling our books and our collective, but there are others who are not that comfortable with that as writers because it is a solitary endeavor.
And so being in a collective means that you can take the talents of the people who are not comfortable being forward facing, use those, and then the people who are comfortable being out here discussing everything, then they have time to do that.
One of our members who I just wanna give a shout out to Mary Christie. She is the one who did the cover. She does a lot of our graphics and our cover art, and she did the cover of Unlocked. She hates doing this stuff. She does not want to be forward facing, and that is okay because she makes these brilliant cover designs and it makes everything look professional and beautiful, and it affords us the opportunity to come on and chat about what we do.
Yeah. Yeah. That’s great. Yeah, absolutely.
Ana, you wanna take us home?
I think everybody can find a place for their talent.
If you start a collective, start it small. And then grow wisely. Everybody can find a place to fit in there. And, again, the big thing is keep writing because we love to read. So that’s what we’re all about.
Yeah. Yeah, that’s why we’re here. So great. Oh, thank you so much everyone for sharing your experience and wisdom about being a collective as a fiction writer. I just love what you’re up to and I think it’s a great model for others. And I look forward to sharing about your books and about your collective in my podcast.
So everyone, write long and prosper.
Thank you so much, everyone, for listening to my podcast. Your interest and feedback is so inspiring to me and helps me know that I’m helping you in some small way.
So write long and prosper.
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ABOUT BETH BARANY
Beth Barany teaches science fiction and fantasy novelists how to write, edit, and publish their books as a coach, teacher, consultant, and developmental editor. She’s an award-winning fantasy and science fiction novelist and runs the podcast, “How To Write The Future.”
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