Posts Tagged ‘book’

Today, my third book was released by Limitless PublishingThe Rest Will Come

This book was a journey in every sense of the word. Long ago, it was accepted by my previous publisher before that publisher returned all my works to me. I was fortunate to find a new home with Limitless very quickly; however, that still meant starting the editing and publication process all over again. Logistically, this book just seemed to take forever. But I think it is far better for it.

This was also my first attempt at a full length novel. Both Savages and The Waning are considered novella by length. And while those authored quickly, there is something different about producing a longer piece. Short fiction has also been a forte of mine and continues to be prevalent as I have been submitting to numerous anthologies lately (two more coming this October).

Moving to novellas was a challenge for me. Part of what I like about shorter fiction is that I am only providing a snapshot. I only need to give a flash of pertinent details; then I am able, in my style, to dump the reader abruptly and leave them wondering and thinking. It was hard to flesh out all the transitional bits between plot points. By the end of Savages, I could not write about the characters walking ANYMORE!

So stretching my words into a full length novel demanded even more. I worried that there was too much backstory, too much lead up. I love to punch the reader in the face then sprint into the action. It felt strange to wander back through the complete development of an issue. Hopefully it worked.

The subject of The Rest Will Come is also a change for me. After the extremely dark tone of The Waning, I made a hard turn into horror comedy. And while most of my works (NOT The Waning) have elements of my real life and experience, The Rest Will Come is nearly entirely based on real life inspiration.

I am not the protagonist (like has been suggested for Savages), but I do make an appearance as a character in the book, playing the same role to the protagonist as I did in real life. Turning these real people into characters was endlessly fun and entertaining for me, but it was also intimidating. These people had to read these renditions, and I tend to go straight for the throat on flaws.

Happily I can report, no one disowned me after a read. So far.

Since the book was so reality-based, inspiration was more of a collaborative experience. I queried my friends for their worst dating horror stories and turned those stories into victims in the book for them. I remember sitting on the couch writing with my husband and our roommate, debating best body disposal practices and murder weapons.

Writing is usually an individual sport, something experienced very internally. Writing this book brought it out, tagged in additional players. As someone compulsively social (I know, weird for an author), it made it more fun for me. I could talk about it, and they actually had skin in the game.

Everything about this release is cathartic for me. I have assembled all these online dating tidbits into one narrative. I have finished a full length book and taken a side step into another horror subgenre. I have found a new home with a new publisher. Most importantly, I am published again. I was heartbroken when my first two were taken down.

It feels like a step. A development. I can only hope it’s in the right direction.

 

 

Christina Bergling

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Where have I been lately? What have I been doing these past months? Why have I sucked horrendously at this whole blogging, social networking business? Aside from my day job, my family, and my workout obsession, BOOK #3!

Technically, this is the third book I have completed in three years. Additionally, this third book is my first full-length novel, doubling the length of either Savages or The Waning. I wrote Savages when I only had my daughter and The Waning mostly while I was still pregnant with my son. The authoring process became much more complicated with two children, who are now old enough to have their own schedules, plus the addition of my own new fixations.

This book was also a unique writing experience because it was assembled from a collection of real life influences. I made people in my life into characters in the book (myself included, even more so than in Savages), and I used these people’s actual life experiences as suggestions for portions of the plot. These people were also involved in the process, both by providing me with inspirations and reading over the book itself to provide feedback. This difference made the process much more interactive. On more than one occasion, I sat and had heated debates about realistic ways to dispose of a body. It more fun than I expected, to share the experience and my craft.

So the process took longer than normal, both because distractions were more prevalent and because the process itself was different, but last week, I completed my submission draft. Now, the book is off of my laptop, out in the world in the hands of my editor, being evaluated for publication. My fingers, toes, and anything else I have are tightly crossed.

I have a couple new ideas batting around the edges of my mind, yet I also think I might need a bit of a BREAK to recoup my creative abilities. Maybe I’ll even come up with an entertaining blog post or two…

 

Christina Bergling

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SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com

Being a published author, even on the smallest of scales, remains a perpetually surreal experience.

A couple weeks ago, I attended my first book club. This experience was especially unique because it was also the first time (to my knowledge) that my book, Savages, was the book said club read that month.

Even though this book club was one a friend belonged to, sure to be hosted by equally welcoming people, I found myself nervous. I had experienced feedback on the book from people directly in my life in person and from strangers at the distance of the internet. While the response from those sources was overwhelmingly positive, I had developed coping strategies for when/if it was not. Having to receive critiques from live people who had no personal stake in my mental well being was going to be new.

Thankfully, my anxiety was largely unfounded.

The women were, as anticipated, very welcoming and friendly. Prior to our book discussion, I could have easily forgotten I was there as an author and would have had a delightful time just eating and chatting with newly met women.

When we transitioned to book discussion, I was reminded, “hey, you’re a published author.” Enter the surreal.

There were the normal questions. Where did you get the idea for this book? And so on. Every time I get the questions, I get a little better at articulating them. Especially in person. The more I’m asked about my own inspiration and process, the more I am able to analyze and define it myself.

The critiques were also relatively gentle. They wanted more, more time with the characters, more about the characters. They wanted to know what caused the apocalypse. They wanted to know what happened next. I took all of these reactions to mean I had accomplished what I wanted; I had affected them.

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Overall, it was a good experience. Like a baby step to public scrutiny.

More recently, I (or more just Savages) went to Denver Comic Con. ChaosStudios was kind enough to grant Savages a cozy little corner on her booth, as she was the artist to visualize the savages from its pages.

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Aside from it being Savages‘s convention pseudo debut, this was also my first official convention. I went to a couple misnamed events falsely claiming to be conventions when I was a belly dancer in Tennessee and Georgia. I also attended the Stanley Film Festival. Yet this was my first full fledged, official convention attendance. And a comic con, no less.

Denver Comic Con was overwhelming. We spent the duration of our time among the vendors, lost in a sea of cosplay bodies, shouted sales, and blinking geekdom. Everywhere, there was a vendor to take my money for something new and creative. The market was utterly saturated.

While our voyeur experience was enjoyable, Savages did not fair especially well. On a small corner of a non-horror art booth in a sea of visual options, it went largely unnoticed. Not even a copy sold, which was quite disappointing. Yet I could understand how it could easily happen in such an overstimulating market.

So when I was physically present at the booth on the last day, I simply distributed my cards and evaluated what made a successful booth. It was exposure, and it was a learning experience. In the end, that was enough.

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It is difficult to gauge my place on the public spectrum. I have a published book that seems to be selling; I have created a growing social media following. In short, I am infinitely farther than when I started. Yet in comparison to successful public figures, I barely seem noticeable.

Once again, just utterly surreal.

So I continue to stumble down this unknown path as an author, fumbling through a string of unfamiliar experiences. It all makes me wonder where this road will lead after my second book, The Waning, comes out in July.

Christina Bergling

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SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning, coming July 2015

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

thewaning.com

Savages is fully launched and out upon the world! ebook is released; paperback is released. And finally, I threw a launch party and book signing to commemorate it.

Rather than maintain a professional veneer of a polished, public author, I am going to be more raw in my account of my release. More personal and honest. As Savages is my debut book, I have obviously never hosed a book launch party before. I also have never attended one before. Add to that the fact that I am supposed to do something creative and different, I truly had no idea what I was doing.

I stressed about this event for months. I dreaded it. I am not the typical socially reclusive, shy, or awkward writer. I love to host parties; I enjoy attention. However, hosting something of this scale and having it all centered around a deep piece of my own brain made manifest in paper was intimidating. What if no one showed? What if nothing sold? What if people thought it was all stupid?

I just was not sure what I wanted to do, what suited my book, what best represented me, and what would attract and appease my guests. Once I abandoned my apprehension, however, it all came together.

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Ultimately, much like it was the backdrop for the story itself, I let the apocalypse be my theme. A friend suggested a taproom in an old church for the venue. Though the place was more polished and less professional than I would have preferred, it fit the theme perfectly, and I simply built from there. I set up a table at the venue. I sold and signed copies of my book. I did a raffle for book-related and survival swag. I did it open house style to keep it casual. And finally, under duress, I did a reading from my book.

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Sari NeoChaos of ChaosStudios also sold prints of the savages she drew from the pages of Savages, including a selection of prints in the raffle as well.

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Admittedly, even with a plan, I remained nervous. It was fear of the unknown. It was fear of exposure and vulnerability. It was fear of failure. However, all the planning did eventually coalesce. Though I dealt with venue issues and swag issues, in the end, none of those problems were visible.

People not only showed up; they arrived early to ensure they could purchase a copy of my book.

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And they kept coming. All told, more than 75 people showed up for the event. People from every branch of my social network made an appearance. I saw friends, family, coworkers present and past, people from high school. I would have guessed at least 25 of my people would show up; it was overwhelming to see triple that number arrive.

It was also overwhelming to interface with all of these people. It took me well over an hour to move around the room, greeting and talking to people. Though it would be a lie to say I was not basking in the attention, praise, and support. It is a rare thing in life to physically see how much you are supported, to have a gathering of people just to wish you well. I did not let such a moment pass me by unnoticed or unappreciated.

I was woefully under stocked for the turn out. I had wrestled with how many copies of my book to purchase, how much swag to make. Unsure of the amount of guests, I did not want to come home with a stack of my own books, but I also did not want so many to leave empty handed. The copies of my book I did have sold out in the first 20 minutes of the event. I had to keep them covered until the event actually started.

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Having your book sell out in minutes is not a bad problem to have. Having people upset that there were not enough copies is also not a bad problem to have. I would have preferred to have been better prepared, but I am not unhappy to have created demand or the need for additional signings.

And I donated half of the money. Not the money I made but all of the money. I donated it to Wounded Warrior Project where it belonged.

It was a surreal feeling to sign my own books as well. Asking people how to spell their names felt foreign. I had to force myself not to concentrate on my own signature, lest I foul it up. The entire experience was just deeply weird for as much as I always wanted it.

I was immersed in being social, but I later found out that the bar was providing very substandard service. Numerous people left due to being served painfully slowly or not at all. This would later explain why so few people lasted until the raffle. The place was packed; I filled it up for about the first hour or so. Then they gradually all disappeared.

We raffled, nonetheless.

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We doled out the Savages keychains, the last signed copy in the house, the prints from ChaosStudios, and the stocked bug out bag. I would have been content to happily conclude the night there as a success. However, the public demanded a reading.

I did not want to read. I was sick and losing my voice. I did not want to hear myself in that microphone or read from my book. It should be the easiest thing ever, to read my own words. I read the full book to my husband twice while I was drafting it. Yet, somehow, I was intimidated once again. Yet the audience would not be dissuaded.

I had selected a passage for such a contingency; however, with the sellout, I had to borrow a copy of my own book to read from. I stood behind the microphone and shakily read my own words to the crowd that remained. Quickly at first, the words leaping off my tongue to make room for the next, sprinting toward the end. Then I slowed myself, allowed myself to fall back into the story I lived in for months writing it. I let my eyes flit up from the words to see them smiling at me, pointing their phones up at me.

reading

As I read my own words in my own published book in front of crowd that came to see and support me, it all felt real again.

Thank you to all who celebrated with me, in person or in spirit; I deeply appreciate you.

When you publish a book, the first thing people ask you is where the idea came from.

The honest answer (that it just one day materialized out of the gray matter between my ears and started knocking on my skull until I wrote it out) always sounds like a vague copout, so I guess the real question is what inspired that idea in the first place. What planted the seed that bloomed into (in my case, a dark and twisted) alternate reality in my head.

For me, with Savages, the answer is a combination between a short civilian deployment to Iraq and a season long marathon of The Walking Dead.

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The two might be seemingly unrelated, yet they have one common vein for me: savagery.

When I traveled to Iraq, I was a young, naive civilian girl. I had experienced messy and rough patches of life but all under the pillowed safety of American culture. I never wanted for food or shelter; my life was never in daily peril. I lived the good and easy life without realizing or appreciating it.

In Iraq, I did not see any action. I spent my time on a few different bases (Victory, Liberty, Slayer, Tallil, Taji, War Eagle) but never outside of the wire. I only traveled by plane of helicopter. My interaction with the soldiers was in a living capacity, as we shared living areas, laundry, and dining facilities, and professionally, as I trained them on software. My interaction with actual Iraqis was slimmed down to only an Iraqi troop store on War Eagle.

The impression made on me was an issue of exposure. Feeling the blast of an IED in my boots and the walls of a trailer around me was different than a passing news story on TV. Hearing the sirens for a mortar was different than the idea of the threat. Talking to soldiers who lost brothers or had missions go awry was different than some cold article in a magazine or link on Facebook. Seeing wounded warriors still walking and still serving was different than donating to a charity in their names.

My little taste of war, my front row sideline seat, made me appreciate my cushy life back home, but it also highlighted the worst in human nature. The stories I heard, the reports I saw, the realities all around me painted humanity in a very depressing and unfavorable light. To me, it seemed if you removed a flush and comfortable society to take care of our needs, people reverted to animals.

So into my brain went the seed that people are savage in nature. Enter twelve straight hours of The Walking Dead.

twd

My favorite part of The Walking Dead, aside from the gruesome zombies, is the examination of what the apocalypse does to the survivors. I appreciate how the show tracks their slow exchange of humanity for survival. No matter how the characters try to cling to the humans they once were, with each threat, they ransom off a little piece of that person they remember. Not to mention the entirely savage other survivors they encounter.

Psychology is my favorite part of apocalyptic media.

So with my brain saturated half a day’s worth of post-apocalyptic dead fighting and living fearing, the mood and the imagery permeated my mind, reached down to mingle with my own memories, my own life imprints.

I started to think about how savage we are underneath all our socialization and civilization. I started to brood on how those animals within would come screaming out at the smallest threat, much less the end of the world. Gradually, these ideas grew legs, formed into bodies, started speaking in dialog inside my head. I could see their world, and I only followed.

SavagesCoverChristina

Savages tells the story of two apocalypse survivors navigating through the ruins of America and battling through lingering savages with no answers, searching for the last strain of humanity. Until one discovery changes everything. The infant’s cry shatters their already destroyed world. For Parker, the babe invokes the ghosts of her dead husband and sons. For Iraq war veteran Marcus, the child embodies his hope and gives him innocence to protect.

As far as inspiration, Parker is the most pessimistic and damaged parts of me, the rational parts of my mind the believe the worst of us as a species. Marcus is the embodiment of the best I saw out of the soldiers I was deployed with. The savages are representations of what might be at the core of every one of us.

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What do you think? Are we savage at our core? Would we all devolve in the face of the apocalypse?

Savages is available in paperback and for Kindle on Amazon and Barnes and Noble (with more formats and sites to come). Feel free to step inside my brain and see how I imagine the world falling apart.

 

 

 

 

Sweet Success

Posted: December 23, 2014 in writing
Tags: , , , , , ,

When I was in fourth grade, my teacher did extensive writing lessons. We wrote different formats of poetry. We even wrote and published our own short stories, which included printing and illustrating the pages then binding them together. It was in this class that I realized I wanted to be an author.

I always wrote. I kept a journal compulsively over the years. I wrote short stories that I would pass around to my friends in spiral notebooks between junior high classes. I placed in every writing contest to which I ever submitted.

Writing came easy to me. It was just what I did. And all I wanted to do.

I pursued writing in college, of course. I took every creative writing class they offered (beside poetry). I caused controversy when I made a satire out of suicide. It was just not enough for a career, and I surely could not make a living off of what I was producing and publishing.

After college, I faced a fork in my writing life. I was offered a job as a technical writer for a Department of Defense contractor and as a community writer assistant at a newspaper. It was write for salary and benefits or write for the hope of doing what I love eventually.

I chose salary and benefits; I sold my writing soul for comfort.

And I do not regret that decision, though I do sometimes wonder what if. I have financed a beautiful life; I have supported the growth of my family. I have been comfortable. And eventually, that comfort left me to be able to write my first book.

The seed was planted during my brief civilian deployment to Iraq (another side effect of the soul selling). I went to train soldiers on software but ultimately ended up just writing software user manuals in a trailer in a war zone. I didn’t see any action, but I was immersed into military wartime culture, exposed to things that never could seem so real on the news. My three months there changed everything, shifted every perspective I had.

Later, I nurtured this unconsummated idea with full season marathons of The Walking Dead (complete with my gothic belly dancers for company and lots of booze). The way The Walking Dead explored the survivors made me question the ideas of humanity I had seen in a war zone.

What would we become without all our civilization? What are we really underneath all the comfortable pretense?

And so my novella, Savages, was born.

The story infected me. I woke in the middle of the night to write sections and scenes. I lived inside it.

Then, on a whim, at the recommendation of a dear friend, I entered Savages into a contest from Assent Publishing. I placed as a finalist; I won a publishing contract. It all happened, and my dream since fourth grade was finally realized.

And a year later, after promoting and prepping and editing and reviewing, Savages is released!

SavagesCoverChristinaI cannot wait until next month, when I can hold the paperback copy in my hands. Maybe then it will feel less surreal than sales numbers on an ebook. Maybe then it will feel like I have finally made it to being a published author.

Find Savages on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Savages-Christina-Bergling-ebook/dp/B00R8YRBYY