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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Top 10 Things Every Apprentice Author Needs by Kristy Cambron, Author of The Illusionist’s Apprentice + Giveaway (US/Can)

The Illusionist's Apprentice
Kristy Cambron

Harry Houdini’s one-time apprentice holds fantastic secrets about the greatest illusionist in the world. But someone wants to claim them... or silence her before she can reveal them on her own.

Boston, 1926. Jenny “Wren” Lockhart is a bold eccentric—even for a female vaudevillian. As notorious for her inherited wealth and gentleman’s dress as she is for her unsavory upbringing in the back halls of a vaudeville theater, Wren lives in a world that challenges all manner of conventions.

In the months following Houdini’s death, Wren is drawn into a web of mystery surrounding a spiritualist by the name of Horace Stapleton, a man defamed by Houdini’s ardent debunking of fraudulent mystics in the years leading up to his death. But in a public illusion that goes terribly wrong, one man is dead and another stands charged with his murder. Though he’s known as one of her teacher’s greatest critics, Wren must decide to become the one thing she never wanted to be: Stapleton’s defender.

Forced to team up with the newly formed FBI, Wren races against time and an unknown enemy, all to prove the innocence of a hated man. In a world of illusion, of the vaudeville halls that showcase the flamboyant and the strange, Wren’s carefully constructed world threatens to collapse around her. Layered with mystery, illusion, and the artistry of the Jazz Age’s bygone vaudeville era, The Illusionist’s Apprentice is a journey through love and loss and the underpinnings of faith on each life’s stage.

Things Every Apprentice Author Needs

The Illusionist’s Apprentice follows the world-famous Harry Houdini as he mentors a stage apprentice– a would-be vaudeville illusionist named Wren Lockhart.

As an author who just wrote her first novel that includes a mystery-and-illusion angle, I remember feeling like Wren in the first days of my career. You might call them tricks of the trade. Or secrets of the stage. Or, whatever it takes to get a book down on paper and ultimately, to store shelves and into those beloved readers’ hands... There are just some things we apprentices need to know when we’re starting out.

Here’s what I’ve learned after working with some of the best agents, editors, and authors in the business– the things we need to go from aspiring authors to published ones:
  1. Fearless devotion. It sounds like an character attribute out of a fantasy novel, right? But it’s true. If writing is engraved upon your heart, be prepared to fiercely defend that calling. Be strict about your social media brand, the community you’re building, and the time you devote to your writing dreams. Pursue, pursue, pursue your chosen career with a fearlessness that surprises even you.
  2. Routine. Coffee. A cushy chair. A favorite coffee shop corner or a cabin in the woods… The whatever and wherever you write is up to you. The point is, writing is a job. It’s a deliciously creative one, but you have to put the effort in to learn in the craft, to grow in the passion, and to find your author’s voice. Make sure you have a routine of writing– every single day.
  3. A label. Every time someone would ask me what I did in my career, I’d say, “I’m an author.” (Psst! I was also a traveling trainer in corporate America at the time.) But I claimed the label of author four years before I ever had a word published. Why? I had to believe it of myself before anyone else would take me seriously. You’re an author. Not a “maybe” writer, not hopeful and dreamy... you’re an author. Own it.
  4. A library card. An e-reader. A frequent book-buyer card. A home library teeming with volumes on the shelves… These things are must-haves for authors, aspiring and published alike. Use that library card until the edges are frayed and the letters have faded from the front. And then? Get a new one. Read, read, READ. You’ll find inspiration, endless ideas, and fall in love with the power of storytelling, over and over again.
  5. A Sharpie marker. A bestselling author and mentor told me this shortly before my first book was published: carry a Sharpie everywhere you go. You’ll find friends, family, and even that lovely reader friend on the street stop you and ask you to sign their book. Get in the habit of preparing for those kinds of mind-blowing-awesome encounters now.
  6. Reason to write. When you’re asked why you write (and you will be, by the way), have your answer ready. Know why you write what you do, and draw from that inspiration any time the road gets bumpy on the journey to publication.
  7. A disappearing act. This is what could be described as a “distraction fast”. Whatever those distractions are, disappear for a while. Turn off Netflix for a time. Still engage with your reader community on social media, but put a stopper in the surfing newsfeeds. Step away from the distractions of the world and instead, step behind the curtain into your story world. Remember that if you want to take your readers on a journey, you are going to have to take one first.
  8. Dragon skin. It’s rumored to be the toughest substance on earth. (Or, to authors… a kind of Middle-earth?) In any case, you’re going to need tough skin. From rejections on the path to publication, to lackluster sales and 1-star reviews… For the absolute joys in storytelling, there may be some aspects of the role that you have learn resiliency in. Pause. Reflect. Take a deep breath, and let it roll off your back. Then, dive into the fray again. (Remember the REASON TO WRITE? Draw on that inspiration here.)
  9. Business savvy. Read all you can about the industry. Follow bestselling authors’ social media sites and sign up for their newsletters. Read about how to improve in the writing craft. If you want to be taken seriously as an author, prove you own a seat at the table by honing your savvy about the industry you want to be a part of. This is a business– make sure you come prepared to thrive in it.
  10. Joy. We just talked about business savvy. It’s crucial and you need to have it. But the flip side of that coin is the creative joy in writing. When I began in this industry, I was working a full-time corporate job, had a marriage, a home, and three children under the age of eight. Trying to carve out writing time on that schedule was TOUGH. But for the joy of it, I couldn’t give it up. I began writing on my iPhone, wherever and whenever I could. (That turned into writing my debut novel on my phone, while on maternity leave.) Lack of time is a strong motivator. What’s even stronger? The absolute joy of storytelling.

About the Author

Kristy Cambron fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her debut novel, The Butterfly and the Violin, was named to Library Journal’s Best Books of 2014 and nominated for RT Book Reviews’ Choice Awards Best Inspirational Novel of 2014 and for the 2015 INSPY Awards for Best Debut Novel. Her second novel, A Sparrow in Terezin, was named Library Journal’s Pick of the Month (Christian Fiction) for February 2015 and a Top Pick for RT Book Reviews.

Kristy holds a degree in Art History from Indiana University. She currently lives in Indiana with her husband and three young sons.


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Illusionist's Apprentice—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is answer Kristy's question in the comments below:
Now it’s your turn. Whether you’re an ardent reader or an aspiring author yourself, what skill or trick of the trade do you think an author needs most?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Kristy and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at TLC Book Tours and Thomas Nelson!
Giveaway ends April 26th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!