Writing Her Way To Success: by Chey Scott…

2 Dec

A local journalism student did a piece on me for class! I wanted to share it with all of you so that you could see what a great writer she is! Her name is Chey Scott, and she got an “A” on the project. Yay! I’ll include the spreads she made, and then also the story below…

Success comes quickly to self-published WSU alum

By Chey Scott

Less than four years after graduating from Washington State University, alumna Abra Ebner has already self-published five young adult novels. While attending WSU, she studied for a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts, having no idea that by the time she was 25 she would be working full-time as a writer.

“I read Twilight and thought I could do better,” she says, referring to the hit-sensation vampire romance series that has taken teenagers by storm.

Pulling a stack of books that make up her writing resume out of a chic, yellow purse, Ebner modestly lays them on the table in front of her. All five have been published in the span of about one year, starting last December. The young author doesn’t brag about her success, but seems more surprised at herself that she has been able to accomplish all she has in such a short time.

Ebner’s first novel, part of a three-part series, called Feather, she describes as similar to the Twilight series due to the quality of romance. Right now, Feather is Ebner’s top-selling book having sold over 1,000 copies on Amazon.com. The second book in the series, Guardian, is not far behind in sales.

When Ebner began writing Feather in 2008, she was working at Washington State University as a graphic designer for the athletic department. She designed the artwork that is on the bottom of the practice tanks for the rowing team as well as the color-coded parking signs around campus.

During her down time, Ebner says she worked on Feather at her desk, originally emailing the story back and forth to herself. When she left her job at the university, Feather and Guardian had both been released and she was making enough of an income to pursue her writing dream full-time.

During the writing process Ebner says she had to write down all of her ideas as soon as she had them so she did not forget, one of the reasons she was able to write each book so quickly.

“I only do a loose outline and then just write and see where the story goes,” she says.

Because of the current economic recession, Ebner says that many publishing companies stopped taking new writers, which has forced her and other “indie” writers to publish on their own.

A branch of Amazon.com called CreateSpace gives budding writers the opportunity to self-publish their work to be sold through Amazon at little to no risk or cost. The difference between CreateSpace and other publishers is that a writer doesn’t risk losing thousands of dollars if their work doesn’t sell.

Instead, Amazon prints copies on demand. By selling her books online, Ebner gets to keep forty percent of the profits and Amazon gets sixty. However, if a customer also buys something else on Amazon’s web site, like a Kindle or a boxed DVD set, she still gets ten percent of the total sale because her book was included.

Even though Ebner self-publishes through Amazon and sells her books on their site, she and her husband, Erik, own and operate Pullman-based Crimson Oak Publishing, the official company name under which her work is published. Crimson Oak is a family-owned operation; her husband’s parents also contribute. Other family members have goals of self-publishing as well, hoping to follow in Abra’s footsteps.

Also a graduate of WSU with a degree in business, Ebner’s husband mostly oversees the business and the financial aspects of Crimson Oak. She, meanwhile, writes and focuses on maintaining several Web sites, blogs, and social networking profiles to promote her work.

Many of her fans she has met online, through the popular social networking site Facebook, where she says she has fans from as far away as Africa. Applications on the site, such as the outrageously popular Farmville and its sister application, Yoville, are just some of the places online where Ebner has met followers of her work. She says she also personally replies to all of her fan mail.

 “There are so many unconventional ways to self promote your work,” she says.

When she isn’t writing, Ebner spends her time promoting her work online. One of the main sites Ebner runs, booksliketwilight.com, is where she promotes the Feather series, as well as supporting other indie writers she has met through the self-publishing world. Ebner met her current editor online, Christina Corlett, who also self-publishes, and the two trade material to edit. Ebner says she pays a fee up front for Corlett to edit her work, but also creates covers and a Web site for Corlett’s books as part of the payment.

Ebner’s artistic background also comes in handy for cutting costs and gives her the chance to create exactly what she wants for her books when it comes to cover design and internal layout.

As a fine arts major at WSU, Ebner focused the majority of her collegiate education on graphic design and the art of book binding. One of the most interesting projects she undertook – creating a book about ketchup – is still viewable on the WSU fine arts homepage under her maiden name, Abra Soehren.

Ebner also studied abroad in Australia during the spring of her junior year where she learned about book design and binding techniques. Her senior thesis project was a two by three foot book called “Infamous” about classic fairy tale characters. She created the project using Adobe Illustrator, which she still uses to design her book covers today.

After graduating in 2006, Ebner worked in professional tile design in Bellevue, Wash., creating custom tile designs for high-end clients in the area. Then Ebner got engaged to her husband, moved to Chelan, got married, and then moved to Pullman where she lives now.

Right now, Ebner is getting ready to release the third book in the Feather Series, called Raven. With this she also plans to re-release Feather and Guardian in more fully edited versions.

Between writing Guardian and Raven, Ebner wrote another book completely unrelated to the series called Parallel. She completed her draft of this novel in June of 2009, writing for about four hours a day every day for two months.

“I wrote all the books very quickly. If I don’t get it down, it’s all I think about,” she says.

For Parallel, Ebner says she was inspired by the best-selling novel The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, as well as the movie The Butterfly Effect. The book’s plot explores the idea of humans having the ability to go back and alter parts of their lives, thus creating parallel versions of their current life. The main character of Parallel discovers he can jump forward or backward in his lifespan and can change the outcome of his own life as well as that of others. He falls in love with a woman he meets on one of his journeys to the future and makes it his duty to change the less-than-favorable events in her past leading up to the time he first met her. The book ends with an interesting twist that readers will not see coming.

While Parallel won’t turn into a series, Ebner says she feels like she has improved her writing skills and wants people to say it’s one of the best books they have read since Twilight.

Currently, Parallel is ranked on Amazon as the 1,500th top-selling book, which places it in the top one percent of the millions of books that are sold on the site, Ebner says. 

Now that Parallel is out and Ebner has successfully promoted it through her web site and blogs, she says she wants to focus the next six months on expanding her Feather fan-base. Next she plans to create a spin-off series similar to the three Feather books.

“I thought they ended in a good place so I don’t want to write a fourth or fifth book,” she says. “I would rather move on and do better. A spin-off would be better,” she adds.

Long-term goals include having her work picked up by a mainstream publishing company and getting her books on the shelves of bookstores like Barnes and Noble.

Ebner’s other published work includes a writer’s workbook, called An Author’s Outline: A Simple Book about Writing. The inside of the book is mostly blank, lined pages for the purpose of filling with plot lines and character development exercises. Ebner says she pulled techniques from online when writing her own books, and decided to put them together in a workbook for other aspiring authors.

“I’m definitely a self-taught writer,” she says.

Paperback Editions Available From Amazon:

CLICK HERE: Feather (Second Edition, Fully Edited): Book One of the Feather Book Series

Estella’s magical life as an orphan was never easy, and at eighteen, she is finally free. In her desperate attempt to leave the city behind and unravel her strange talents, she flees to a secluded college nestled deep in the forests of the North Cascades. It is here that she hopes to escape her painful life, and forgotten past. As classes begin, Elle struggles to find her place, until she meets Professor Edgar. Young, handsome, yet terrifying, Elle is suddenly intrigued. Despite her fear of him, she finds the strange attraction mesmerizing, dangerous, and somehow familiar. As their acquaintance grows, she is suddenly drawn further into a life she never knew she lived, in a place that finally feels like home. As her happiness returns, so do the demons of her forgotten past. It is here that she finds herself faced with the sacrifice of her life, and the beginning of a journey deeply rooted in our existence. Book Two: Guardian, Available May 20, 2009 on Amazon. Available on Kindle now!

CLICK HERE: Parallel: The Life of Patient 32185

When six year old Jordan McKay dreams, he dreams big. Sitting in the park one day eating a popsicle, Jordan is suddenly launched into the future he had been manifesting in his mind. Finding himself lost and alone, he is shocked that he’d finally dreamed hard enough to make it come true. Found on the other side by a woman, she works to help bring him home, touching his soul in a way he will never forget. After dreaming himself back he learns to control this new talent, never forgetting what the woman had done for him and vowing to return the favor, even if it meant sacrificing his own life to do so.

Now bound to Jordan by fate, Kenzie Ashcroft finds her life riddled with bad dreams. Every night when Kenzie falls asleep, she wakes up to a parallel life where things are not only normal, but are eerily real. Struggling to keep the two worlds straight, she grows up wondering how this happened to her and why, wondering who the shadow of a man growing up beside her really is.

Thinking life is wonderful, Jordan begins changing Kenzie’s fate, giving her everything she ever wanted and making her the woman he always thought she was meant to be. As he delves deeper into his web of time and space, however, fate sends him a curve ball and he finds that he is not alone. Followed by a girl with turquoise eyes and skin cold as death, he struggles to learn who she is, what she does, and why she is here. As he gets to know this strange girl in the hopes of learning more about himself, Jordan finds that what he thought was the right thing was not in the end. In a desperate attempt to take back the wrongs he thought were right, Jordan takes the leap to trust the strange girl. It is then that Jordan’s world begins to fall apart, or does it?

Parallel begs to challenge the notion of luck and the idea that no matter what you do to force change, you cannot hope to change fate.

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