Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Joining a Compilation: To Be or Not to Be? by Jennifer Hallmark

Author Jennifer Hallmark is one of twelve writers who recently participated in creating the novella compilation A Dozen Apologies. I asked her share a little of her experience in creating the novella and working with so many other authors. -- Sandy

Jennifer: What is a compilation project? According to Encarta Dictionary, a compilation is “something created by bringing things together; a gathering.” “A Dozen Apologies,” proved to be both those things. Authors were brought together and gathered for a single purpose of creating a book.

My involvement began when I attended “Catch the Wave” a Christian writer’s conference in Atlanta. I pitched a book to publisher Tracy Ruckman. She contacted me, not regarding my book, but with an opportunity to be part of a compilation to be written by eleven authors and one contest winner. Many of these authors came from the conference, but some were known to Tracy already.

The main premise of the book was sent to me, then later the first chapter. I was asked to choose a month within a year’s period for my hero to meet the heroine, Mara Atkins. I chose August and the journey commenced.

I wrote the chapter, had several rewrites, and just when I thought I was done had a beta reader mention a couple of parts that didn’t flow with the rest of the story. More rewrites. Initially, each of us also wrote a final chapter for the book. Another contest would decide which of our final chapters would end the story. During this time, I met the other authors through Facebook and promoted their blogs and social media.

The initial contest winner joined us and the release date was announced, Valentine’s Day. I had heard marketing would be super busy, so I wrote my scheduled posts for February for both my blogs, updated all blogs, websites, and social media. I was ready.

Or not.

The marketing plan was presented to us and a mass tweet campaign put into place. I began the slow process [for me] of scheduling tweets ahead of time and some Facebook posts also. The book would be offered for free for the first three days and Tracy wanted the world to know. J

One of the best parts of this experience was the private group page set up on Facebook. We received our information there, cheered for each other, and shared prayer requests. If one person struggled, we all shared their pain and encouraged them. If someone had a post on their blog, we could all read it and comment. We all scheduled interviews with other writers and were given specific interviews and assignments for blog posts to increase our book’s exposure to the world. The day before the book release, I was able to set up an author page on Amazon and one on Goodreads. My eyes pooled with tears. Me. A published author.

February 14th arrived. I actually received the book the day before and again tears flows as I read the story. No, my hero didn’t win, but the ending was written by Elizabeth Noyes and was perfect. By this time, I was tired. A good kind of tired. I had entered the land of published author and survived. And thrived. I’d found new friends and the team of authors surrounding me made the journey extra special. Thank you, Tracy, for inviting me along for the wild ride.

If you ever receive the chance to work on a compilation, whether you write a chapter or a short story or a novella, go for it. You’ll be stronger for it, make lots of friends, and have an experience with many memories.

Have you ever been a part of a project like this? What do you think?


Jennifer Hallmark: writer by nature, artist at heart, and daughter of God by His grace. She loves to read detective fiction from the Golden Age, watch movies like LOTR, and play with her two precious granddaughters. At times, she writes.

Her website is Alabama-Inspired Fiction and she shares a writer’s reference blog, Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My! with friends, Christina, John, Ginger, Tammy, Don, and Betty. She and Christina Rich share an encouraging blog for readers called The Most Important Thing. Her first book, a compilation project called A Dozen Apologies released in February.

Jennifer and her husband, Danny, have spent their married life in Alabama, are blessed with grown children, granddaughters and a basset hound, Max.

In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game. They'd date men considered geeks, win their confidence, and then dump them publicly. The tables turn after college when Mara loses her job and boyfriend. Mara's heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she'd wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men to find that God truly does look upon the heart and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.