The Upload to Retailers is Complete!

The manuscript was uploaded for the eBook and paperback, and I am overjoyed. It feels wonderful to finish a task that you lived with daily for a long period of time. Thankfully the second time around was significantly easier — even though I still have a lot to learn about the writing process. Establishing a routine that truly works right along with the day job is ongoing work. Yet progress is on the horizon.

The intimidation factor of venturing into the unknown was missing this time. My confidence level was higher than when writing A Gateway to Hope. Once again I fell in love with the characters. It’s like Sadie and Kyle became a part of my family, just like Neka and James had. I really got to know them inside and out. After a while, information about their characters flowed effortless onto the paper. I knew these people and could anticipate their reactions in any situation they faced.

I wonder if every author feels the same way about the characters they create? I didn’t think I would ever stop thinking about Neka and James and their family and friends. That is, until I began writing about Sadie and Kyle and their story mates.

Now, I must delve deeper into the lives of the characters in Pajama Party: The Story. October (a tentative ready date) will arrive in no time. I don’t want the month to catch me by surprise.

Keep praying for me as I pound away at the keyboard for insight and the Father’s desire for this story. Also, pray about book three in the hope-themed series, due in the summer of 2017.

Remember to pre-order your eBook copy of A Living Hope at the reduced price of $3.99 before July 31.

I’ll be back soon!

Good News

A Living Hope produced a special surprise that pleased me and I hope will delight you. Years ago, I wrote a play that debuted in St. Louis, but will now be contained between two covers. Book covers that is. The four-act play gets a full rejuvenation, and soon.

Stay tuned for the spin-off young adult novel Pajama Party: The Story, with a tentative release date of fall 2016.

Book three of the hope-themed series will be coming in the summer of 2017. Keep praying that God brings glory and honor to His name through the gifts and talents only He can provide.

Be blessed!

Whew! It’s done.

I sent the A Living Hope manuscript to Formatting Experts on July 3. The book is available for pre-order on Amazon, iBooks. Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords for a limited time at the special price of $3.99, then it will raise to $5.99.

As always, my family and friends supported me throughout the process with prayers and encouragement. Editors Amber Barry and Angela Trent helped to polish my tome. Alex, with Standoutbooks, wrote the perfect book blurb. And Rafal, along with the team at Formatting Experts, furnished the book cover, will format the copy, and do everything else needed to present this book to the reader.

The book-cover reveal, sponsored by Loving the Book, took place on June 15. A three-week online book tour featuring my first book, A Gateway to Hope, will launch July 10. Then the book tour for A Living Hope will begin August 1.

The Journey Continues

All in all self-publishing my first novel has been a humbling experience. One of the highlights derived from the process was meeting a host of professionals who helped me along the way. From Editors: Jeni Chappelle and Amber Barry, book cover designer: author Lynnette Bonner, author services: Standoutbooks, and book cover designer and formatters: Formatting Experts (who went far beyond the call of duty in making this book a reality) to Mcgully and Actress Ellen with two superb videos. It’s done! Time to move on.

Now after a few snags in the process, you can order A Gateway to Hope from bookstores and a multitude of online distributors. Mardels’s bookstore will order the book for the list price.

The last two giveaways has ended. The giveaways at bookgiveaways.net and Goodreads totaled 1225 entries with 10 winners. Hope all the winners love the story and publish a review.

Next on the agenda, I’m busy writing books two and three. Yep. As if writing book one didn’t stretch me enough, I have hopes of completing both drafts by March 2016. A standalone novel, book two will continue the hope theme begun in A Gateway to Hope. While book three is a young adult book adapted from my play Pajama Party. I’ll keep you posted.

In the future, I will update author services and blogs for booklovers and authors on my website. Hopefully the information will prove beneficial.

Thanks to everyone who made my dream of becoming a writer a reality. Be blessed and happy reading!

Back to Normal?

The last five weeks hit me like a whirlwind. Take a look at the testimonial I sent to Loving the Book:

Thank you, Loving the Book! You guided me through two unknown events to promote my debut novel A Gateway to Hope. First off, the book blitz engaged me quickly. For one full day, friends and people I’d never met gathered to review my labor of love. How amazing that bloggers I didn’t know hosted my book around the globe. Then, ten days later, the book tour launched fourteen days spent visiting multiple booklover sites. There were interviews, book reviews, giveaways, plus a host of information to promote my inspirational romance. Loved the swag. The bookmark matched the keychain featuring the book cover. Thank you, ladies! All in all, you made marketing A Gateway to Hope a wonderful experience.
Author E. C. Jackson

What’s next? Hopefully, turning this website into a font of information for self-publishing authors and book lovers enjoying clean reads. Well, actually three scenarios are now taking place.

Formatting Experts, who have more than lived up to the name of knowing their craft, navigated me through the perils of receiving unacceptable proof copies. First, from Createspace, a subsidiary of Amazon. The book cover, though technically correct, had to be adjusted.

Even today, I’m waiting on a free replacement proof copy from Ingram Spark because the first copy they sent had an error in production. Self-publishing can be difficult, yet holding a copy of your book has many rewards. Ingram Spark, utilizing print on demand, will distribute A Gateway to Hope to bookstores and libraries around the world.
Instead of twiddling my thumbs while waiting, I am tackling books two and three. Book two, a standalone book, will continue the hope theme found in A Gateway to Hope. I’ll also adapt my first play, Pajama Party, into a YA novel. The tentative publishing date for both books is May 2016.

A Gateway to Hope has a 4.7 rating on Amazon with 32 reviews. While Barnes and Noble has 5.0 with 11 reviews. And Goodreads has a 4.61 with 28 ratings and 19 reviews. So far, 270 people entered the giveaway ending September 15. And 203 people added it to read.

There were approximately 1,057 entries in the giveaway hosted by Loving the Book. Two paperbacks, three e-Books, and nine bookmarks and keychain sets were won.

Until next time…

A Gateway to Hope First Interview

E. C. Jackson, Author of A Gateway to Hope

Today we are interviewing E. C. Jackson, author of the inspirational romance “A Gateway to Hope.”
Tell us a bit about yourself. I’m excited. Finally, the number one goal of my freshman English class has been realized. After a lifetime of wanting to write books, “A Gateway to Hope” is published. This one accomplishment answers many years of prayers.

Describe the plot of “A Gateway to Hope” in a few sentences.
Neka (Nikhol Lacey) is a beautiful twenty-one-year-old introvert. Without a word to anyone, she leaves home to support a friend when his fiancée breaks off their engagement. James Copley is twenty-nine and every woman’s dream man. Despite his fiancée’s desertion, James still needs a fiancée so he can take control of his family’s business. Neka’s arrival offers the perfect solution to Teri’s defection — until Neka’s father attempts to maneuver James’s scheme into fulfilling the Lacey agenda.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
Anyone who wonders what their life might have been had they made different choices. And those still seeking God’s purpose for their life.

What inspired you to write a book about a shy, beautiful young woman who has the opportunity to help out her friend in a very unique way?
I believe that there is a little of Neka in all of us, but life has a way of muddying those unique qualities everyone receives from God. Difficulties, missed chances and thwarted dreams obscure our pathway, and then we accept the mundane instead of utilizing our natural gifts and talents. Neka can allow life to lead her into an alternate position or she can make decisions that fulfill her destiny.

Tell us a bit about the protagonists, Neka and James Copley.
Though grief came from different sources, they both suffered hurts while growing up. Neka masked the pain by putting on a brave face and pretending not to notice the exclusion and snide remarks. James harnessed each attack, using them to validate his calculating behavior.

What are some of the challenges Neka and James face?
Can they embrace a life together without losing themselves in the process? How do they blend two diverse lifestyles into one? And they must decide if it’s worth taking a chance on each other.

Who was your favorite character to write?
Actually, I liked writing both characters equally. I enjoyed Neka’s optimistic approach to life as she came to terms with reality. And James’s self-styled stage managing of everyone else’s life bumps heads against another master manipulator.

How do you hope readers react to “A Gateway to Hope”?
I hope they relate to the characters as believable and see the story as a real slice of life. That is part of the slogan on my website. The write way – a real slice of life.

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing style?
Jane Austen. I’m pulled into her stories, especially my all-time favorite book, “Pride and Prejudice.”

Tell us about your creative process, from initial idea to published manuscript.
The story flowed once I placed my fingers on the keys. Yet, I learned a lot through writing this first book. It’s hard to believe that I rewrote each chapter several times before moving on to the next one. However, I wised up halfway through the first draft and wrote the last 15 chapters before critiquing them. Many scenes were removed during the editing stage. No more overwriting.

While writing “A Gateway to Hope,” did you ever use personal experiences as a reference?
On occasion, I identified with certain aspects of both characters.

How do you feel about the increasing popularity of eBooks?
Publishing the e-Book was simpler than publishing the paperback.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
Writing one bestseller per year that adds purpose to the reader’s life.

Is there any aspect of writing you don’t like?
Book promotion is difficult. The introvert in me shies away from exposure.

What do you have in mind for your next project?
Another standalone book following the hope theme.

Is there anything else you’d like potential readers to know about your book?
“A Gateway to Hope” was a labor of love. I hope everyone enjoys Neka and James’s story just as much as I enjoyed sharing it with them.

The interview was featured on: http://www.writersinterviews.com/

All Done!

It’s finished! The paperback is available for purchase on Amazon. Barnes and Noble will follow in three to five days. Also, with the ISBN, you can order a copy in bookstores everywhere.

The reviews have increased as of this writing. Here are a few examples.

Amazon 18 Reviews 4.8 stars out of 5

Five Stars: An Excellent Debut Book

A Gateway to Hope is an excellent debut book from E.C. Jackson. Neka and James are very well developed and fully fleshed out characters with a believable relationship that is built organically and not forced. It is refreshing to find a romance novel where the story and the relationship is not all about sex. In this book the author has not gone down the easy route of including loads of sex scenes to show their attraction to each other.

Overall this is an excellent book that had me hooked from the first page and I actually finished it in 1 sitting. Each character and the plot of the book is very well developed. Both main characters are very real and relatable. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to read an actual romance story where the characters actually connect with each other and develop their relationship without jumping into bed every other scene.

Five Stars: Wonderful new author

Wonderful debut novel well formatted free of spelling and grammar error. Shows this author cares and wants a good novel and indeed did give us a very wonderful story of love and the obstacles overcome through love and faith. A romance novel you would not be afraid to let a young teen read. I didn’t want to put down until the end. Looking forward to the next novel by E C Jackson!!!!

Goodreads 4.92 13 ratings 12 reviews

Five Stars: Refreshing and well written romance – Many people believe that arranged, or forced, marriages in powerful families are the stuff of Hollywood movies and dramatic fiction. I tend to believe that this stuff really still happens and is a tragedy for all involved. This is only one of the themes so masterfully examined in author E.C. Jackson’s “A Gateway to Hope”. The story of James, who is set to marry someone he doesn’t love, yet fate puts him in front of the right person after all. Neka has been friends with James for a long time and the two come together as support but there is much more to the story, which is what made this a very intriguing read for sure. Very well-written, well paced and so hard to put down.

Five Stars: It’s rare finding a romance novel that isn’t based on physical relationships. I love that this book was about an actual relationship and not sex. It’s great finding a romance novel that is PG. With James about to be single Neka decides to make a move to win the heart of James who she has secretly been crushing on for years. The book covers their relationship at a nice pace that isn’t to slow or to fast.

The characters had real problems, and real struggles. You feel for the characters and are intrigued to find out how the story pans out to the last chapter. With so many questions about life and the meaning behind God’s plan for you and this personal journey Neka goes on you find yourself unable to stop reading.

Barnes & Noble 8 Reviews Average Rating 5

Five Stars: Neka was always an outcast; understood and befriended by no one but her family. She loved her family dearly but still felt the ache of loneliness and hoping for more.

James wasn’t as lucky as Neka in the family department. His brothers didn’t support him, they wanted to destroy him. Doing everything he could to prove them wrong he built himself a successful business but sacrificed himself in the process.

The only real friend she had was James-the man who was always there for her no matter what. One day she overhears a plot against him and is determined to help him however she can. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and her actions set things in motion that will change the lives of everyone she loves.

Is God leading her? Or is she just choosing to think so? She will need to know the answers soon…because the future of both families hang in the balance.

Five Stars: I found this book impossible to put down until I finished reading. The style of writing puts the reader right in the middle of the action. I look forward to reading her next novel.

What’s next? Writing book two under the hope theme and penning my first young adult novel. Can the person who took practically two years to write one book write two in 12 months? I hope so. I feel like I’ve wasted too many years and need to step up the momentum.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated. Please stay in touch on the website or author page. Until next time—

E. C.

The E-book is Available Online!

On May 22, which happens to be my mother’s birthday, A Gateway to Hope became available on Amazon and Smashwords. Now you also can purchase the e-book at Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iBooks. Other retailers will follow soon.

My debut novel was reviewed at the Hog on Ice: Books and Independent Learning blog. And it will be featured during the month of June on the Folks Tales Things blog.

Also, a two-month-long advertisement will begin July 1st in Times of Praise, an Oklahoma-based newspaper. Feelers are out for ways to introduce people to the romance novel.

Reviews Are Coming In

As of this writing, A Gateway to Hope has received twenty-three reviews, those coveted comments that are needed to expose your tome to even more readers. If you purchased a copy and enjoyed your reading experience, please post a review on the site of purchase and add one to Goodreads. And anyone who has made any purchases on Amazon may post a review on that website, regardless of your place of purchase.

Don’t forget to click “yes” on any reviews you find helpful in making your decision to buy.

Amazon: 10

Barnes & Noble: 4

Goodreads: 7

Smashwords: 2

What’s Next on the Marketing Agenda?

Getting the word out to book lovers and keeping it there. If you enjoyed reading this novel, please spread the word. Tell friends, family and coworkers about your experience. Also, recommend it to book clubs and suggest that your library buy a copy.

Though the paperback is coming soon, anyone can read it by downloading a free Kindle reading app from Amazon or a free Nook reading app from Barnes & Noble to their computer or smartphone.

While waiting for the paperback version of A Gateway to Hope to be published in the next two weeks, I would love to hear feedback from you. I can’t wait to say that the paperback version is available online and a copy can be ordered at bookstores everywhere.

Last weekend began the official writing of my second book!

Up next: It’s done!

Almost There

A Gateway to Hope has helped fulfill my overwhelming desire to fashion the lives of others through writing. I have come to love the characters as if they were a part of my own family.

Before the manuscript was sent to the formatter, I purchased the services of independent contractors on Fiverr. First, I wanted the book blurb read on a book trailer. Okay, you may ask, who makes book trailers with a voice-over of a book blurb? A legitimate question.

Second, I envisioned chapter one narrated in a video highlighting the protagonists.

After listening to various voice-over recordings and poring over many book trailers, I chose three Fiverr contractors Actress Ellen, Mocha Gypsy, and Mcgully, full names are never disclosed, to bring my vision to life. If you haven’t viewed the book trailer and video, please do so here or on my Facebook author page.

YouTube remains an available option as well, both for the book trailer and the chapter one video. Now the book’s description is available and the mood is set, but ensuring those videos get viewed by booklovers everywhere has puzzled me.

Though sometimes technically challenged, I am learning to navigate through the previously mentioned avenues more easily than expected. Yes, uploading the book trailer and video to my social sites has been relatively simple. Drawing potential readers to view them is a different matter.

Days away from the e-book version being published, and approximately ten days away from the print version that will follow, I’m praying to make the right moves going forward. Actually, I’m asking everyone to pray for me.

After rounds of edits and much-needed author services, the marketing budget is limited. Yet promotion places the book in front of its intended audience and is therefore necessary.

Lots of people effortlessly handle multiple social media accounts. I applaud their flexibility and expertise. Wish I could join them. With another standalone book following the same hope theme waiting to be penned, I can only handle two sites at a time. Especially since I have a full-time job.

Because a decision must be made pronto, I will sign up for a book giveaway with Standoutbooks, once the paperback and e-book are published. Then I plan to blitz the book and take a book-blog tour around the Internet. Now the question is with whom.

One blog that came highly recommended revealed its integrity by not allowing me to waste any money. The owner explained that her company saw greater results with young and new adult books. It seems that they don’t have a very large number of tour hosts who read the adult genre. Though I appreciated the honesty, it left a hole in my plans.

The search is on for multiple avenues to place A Gateway to Hope in the hands of booklovers everywhere.

Next up: The e-book is available online!