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Peek-a-Boo! My Involvement in The Twisted Towers Book Launch

This is a short break from my blog hiatus.

Recently, one of my fellow authors invited me to help out with an online book launch via Facebook. After I shoved my nervousness aside, I enjoyed every moment of it.

E. Rose Sabin, the author of the newly released, The Twisted Towers, dedicated a lot of pre-planning, planning, time, and energy into the event.

She invited local authors that tag-teamed each other off in order to keep the viewers cozily entertained with games, prizes, and real-time question and answer sessions.

Before the event, authors were asked to answer questions that I found really important for readers and writers.

Here are the questions I was asked to respond to:

1.    Synopsis of your writing career and style including your most current and/or favorite project:

Since I was a kid, I loved making up stories, worlds, and the characters that populated them. From talking cheetahs preaching social justice reform to poachers over the roar of a camp fire, former slaves with supernatural powers that raise the dead to destroy an unjust and racist system, to the birth of twin sons that will turn a theocracy on its head, unique ideas come easy to me, but finding the time to write them is a constant battle. Being a mother, a full-time teacher, (yes, even during the summers) and a wife I have to organize my day to make time for my life as a writer. And when I don’t write, I’m not happy. I write so that I don’t kill . . . my emotions. 😏  When I was a much younger writer, I struggled with submitting my stories for many reasons. A primary one is I didn’t think my work was good enough. I also didn’t think I had a shot when majority of the work being published in the science fiction and fantasy community was by white authors.

Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers says it best: “Books transmit values”. Myers goes on to express, “That books explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books?” Let’s take this train of thought a little further. What is the message when some authors are not represented in the publishing industry? What is the message when stories with nonwhite main characters (and side characters) are written by exclusively white authors. When I noticed that more and more people of color were being published (I will not use the word trend — this is here to stay) I not only took notice, but swallowed my fear, and joined in. Currently, while I’m in between writing two novels — one YA urban fantasy that takes place in the same universe as the Gabriel Lennox series and one adult high fantasy — I draft, revise, edit, and submit short stories, prose, and poems to markets in order to build my writing credentials. I also read and critique other authors’ works. I mentor young writers. My dream is to be traditionally published. So, I’m polishing my work and looking for agents and publishers to send my manuscripts to.

**During my blog hiatus, I won 2nd place in a poetry contest and sold one flash fiction piece. I also won a partial-grant. More on that later. I also had emergency surgery. 😦 

 2.    Can you define Co-op publishing and share with us three lessons learned from your experience with that publishing method?

Co-op publishing is also known as cooperative publishing.

Co-Operative

When Co-op publishing goes well.

Traditional publishing is often viewed as an “I’ve made it” badge of honor for aspiring writers while self-publishing needlessly and unfairly bears a red stain of shame. Co-op publishing is supposed to be a happy median and can work as a middle way between self-publishing and traditional publishing. Basically, when you’re a traditionally published author, your publisher pays you a royalty and you will get a small percentage of royalty statements for each book sold thereafter. Self-publishing is a different animal that I haven’t been able to tame quite yet. I’m in the processing of preparing my vampire novel “Forbidden” for CreateSpace as a paperback. It’s been available as an ebook for at least a year.  And like a creature from the world of Pokémon, self-publishing is still evolving and is often “super effective” for some. For some. Not for all. ::raises hand sheepishly::

The author is the publisher, book manager, marketer — the whole effing enchilada! And that can cost lots of money! In general, the Co-op experience is when authors pay to have their book published and they work with a second-party publisher that guides the dear writer through the entire publishing process. My experience with Booktrope was a little different. I didn’t have to pay to be published. However, there were marketing packages I couldn’t afford and didn’t know they weren’t included in the gig. So, I marketed my book by blogging, tweeting, Facebook posts, etc. Surprisingly, I made more sales to practical strangers when I attended face-to-face book signing events than I did in Virtual Land via social media. Though I won’t go into further juicy details, I will say this: If you choose this route, God forbid your Co-op publisher goes out of business! The experience is like a Charles Dickens’ novel nightmare where you’re now an orphaned author, abandoned and shivering in the biting cold and crying, “Pardon me, sir, may I have a crust a bread?” So, I’m going to keep on Dune Methane (doin’ my thang — I love Hieroglyphics — dee dee dah dah dee dee dane) and excel where I can. 🙂

 3.    What makes the vampire in your story different from other popular vampire characters?

The vampires in my stories possess some traits with the traditional vampires of legend. However, though they are humans tempted with immortality, supernatural powers, they’re  actually pawns in a dark, sinister web of deception, power, and blood lust set in a glittering world that starts in 19th century England. If vampires are real, then they’d be apex predators in the proverbial food chain. But when confronted with the harsh reality that there is something more powerful that feeds off of them their worldview shatters. They must pick up the jagged pieces in order to rebuild and save their world. If they can.

 4.    One piece of advice for aspiring writers and/or a cool fact for your reading audience:

I’ll indulge in a two for one special. First, to all of you inspiring writers: I implore you to “never give up. Never surrender!” Science fiction movie watchers, you might recall that battle cry from the satirical movie Galaxy Quest. And yet, I won’t stop there. Why? Because there will be times when you do indeed give up and when you want to surrender. But don’t let this be a “forever” end game option. Even though there will be times when you will fail (oh, yes, and you will) you only truly fail if you stop writing. And then you’re no longer a writer, but a thinker. And thoughts alone don’t write books.

Now, all of that aside . . . what are you waiting for? Go and get yourself a copy of E. Rose Sabin’s The Twisted Towers! I’ve already read it and am so glad that I have my own copy.

Here’s my take on the novel:

Sabin delivers a breath of fresh air to the fantasy genre with a twisted plot that mirrors the winding setting her compelling characters trek through. A heart-pounding ride from beginning to end.

The best way to thank an author is to:

Feed the Authors

Lolz. Heck, I’d be happy if I could make $20/month. Or $5.00 Or $1.00? 

Still here? 🙂

Now, try here. Or here. And here. 🙂

Thank you for visiting and reading.

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Island of the Misfit Stories and What To Do About Them!

islandofmisfittoys

Toys from the Island of Misfit Toys 

When I was a kid, I loved watching Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys. The toys were considered misfits because they possessed some defect and nobody seemed to want them. For example, there is a cowboy that rides an ostrich, a bird that swims, a winged bear, and a boat that can’t stay afloat — to name just a few!

And sometimes, our stories don’t seem to fit anywhere. We may often wallow about in self-pity giving into “writer’s block”, which probably isn’t even a thing. Well, according to, Terry Pratchett.

Terry Pratchett_quote

Regardless, time and time again, our stories come back rejected. And with each return, our will to keep submitting diminishes.

But, don’t despair!

Below are ways I’ve come up with to soldier on and write on when your short stories — just don’t seem to fit anywhere — and come back unwanted when all you’re aching for is some reader love. 😉

Play Rejection Bingo

This is an effective way to keep track of common trends or reasons as to why each story has been rejected by editors. Sometimes, you may not get any feedback at all. Sometimes, a form letter is all that haunts your email. Now, I don’t use this method because it’s fun, (when is rejection ever fun? LOL) but I’m a visual lady and this is another way to keep track of the bigger picture. After gathering feedback and you notice that there’s a trend in the reasons why your story is being rejected address the issue and fix it. Here’s one of my rejection bingo sheets:

Rejection Bingo

Revise your story

Share your story with writers and readers in order to gain priceless feedback about the story. Then, try submitting to another market. Even after you’ve revised and edited further, if that fails, consider paying an editor to look at your work — preferably one that is an expert in the genre you’re writing for. Carefully consider the feedback you receive and make changes accordingly, which will increase the likelihood of an acceptance letter and a contract! 🙂 Ooh la la!

Try a different market

Oh yes, yes, yes! Please do this! You see, what didn’t work for one editor (after all, they are indeed people with different preferences and needs for their particular audience) may suit another just fine. Try it. Don’t self-reject!

Consider Independent Publication

This option isn’t a personal favorite of mine, but there is indeed a market for short story anthologies. What most likely won’t work for me, may work for you. However, being new to this I won’t be taking this route. Yet. 🙂

Consider Traditional Publication

This choice will be easy if you’re Stephen King or another well-known author. If you’re not, then you will need to find an agent or publisher who wants to publish short stories from a new or not as well-known writer. This route isn’t impossible, but it will be difficult.

Post for Free — (Huh?)

You’re probably shaking your head wondering why I mentioned posting your hard-earned stories for free, especially after I supported the argument against it when I reblogged Aimee King’s The True Cost of Free. Well, I’ve reflected on of safer ways of doing this (still be careful and protect your work), which will also increase reader interaction, and potentially further cement the foundation for your author brand and platform. If you have a decent mailing list of trustworthy and faithful readers, share your work with them for free. After all, they love hearing from you and have trusted you with their email address. It doesn’t have to be the entire story. An excerpt is fine, too. You can also offer a free sneak peek of your work in order to funnel in new subscribers.

With that said, I’ll be going on a temporary blog hiatus, starting tomorrow! 🙂 Happy Friday to you and Happy Writing! 🙂

Temporary Blog Hiatus – Coming Soon. Why? So I can Work Harder and Smarter!

Hello fellow bloggers and Happy Monday to you!

In order to finish up The Novel I’ve been dropping hints about, I need to prioritize and reschedule a few things.

  1. I won’t be posting new content on here much — if at all.
  2. I will most likely reblog your posts. I’m a reblogging superstar! 🙂

sharing is caring

And last, but not least, I plan on adding new content by late May.

Just this morning, I finished submitting an application for an artist grant. I hope to share more information about that at a later date.

One of my goals is to continue researching agents, publishers, and small press magazine markets in order to publish more and more of my work.

Being a mommy, wifey, and full-time teacher doesn’t leave me with enough quality time to write as much as I’d like.

Last week, I was able to write 1,073 words total. 😦 That’s all. For the whole bleeping week.

And that’s just not enough words.

Regarding submissions, I was able to submit three stories this month to a couple of markets. A lot of them don’t accept simultaneous submissions and that’s fine. It’s just that the turnaround time is tight.

Starting today, I want to write at least 1500 words a day (of The Novel) and find a home for at least two of my short stories. I’ve been reading 5000 Words Per Hour in little chunks and I may have to settle for 5000 words per day instead.

By April, I want to double that amount and finally finish the first draft of The Novel. 🙂

So, ta ta for now! 🙂

Never-Good-Bye-Its-See-You-Later

It’s See you Later”. Lol. 🙂

 

Can you afford to be an Indie Author?

At this present time, I don’t consider myself an “active Indie Author”. To clarify any confusion, let me explain. Yes, I do have two books out in the world. Yes, you can find them on Amazon. Yes, you can purchase them on Amazon. Please do. Sometimes, you may have the vampire novel, due to KDP land, for free.

And I had planned on independently publishing more books, but life didn’t only happen– it Dragon Punched me in such a way that I wouldn’t wish these circumstances on my worst enemy.

Ryu-shoryukens

Life kicking my a$$.

knock out emoji

Me: -9,999,999,999

So, for now, I won’t be putting money (that I don’t have) into marketing these books. Why? Please read what’s within the parentheses above. For example, my oldest son will be going to college soon, driving, and continuing to make my husband and I proud.

Needless to say, my answer to the question “can you afford to be indie author?” is No. Not Yet.

And the not yet is a much better response than no, not ever.

Now, with that said, I simply had to share this post from Angela J. Ford, an Indie author who has the right stuff.

pexels-photo-707196-1

Can you afford to be an indie author? As independent authors, we have to be aware of the way cost plays into self-publishing. Cost can mean the difference between turning book publishing into a business versus having a very expensive hobby. The question is, how much is too much? When do you know if your books are bringing in a positive return on investment?

Truth be told, some authors make back the investment they made into their books, while the percentage of authors who don’t make back their money is larger. As I enter my 4th year of writing and publishing, I’m taking a hard look at the cost of book publishing versus what I can recoup back. While I certainly don’t have all the answers, I do want to break down expenses a bit and help you figure out when too much is too much.

You can enjoy the remainder of this thought-provoking post here.

 

Epigraphs? How to Increase the Depth and Tension of Your Fantasy World

An epigraph is a short quotation or saying at the beginning of a book or chapter, intended to suggest its theme. Epigraphs usually come from other artists, such as poets, authors, painters, or musicians.

For example, here’s the famous epigraph, written by D’Invilliers from Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. If you’ve read The Great Gatsby, then you’re familiar with how the quote kisses upon (but doesn’t tell) what is to come (foreshadowing) and the tragic theme of gaining the superficial love of a woman — no matter what the price.

the great gatsby epigraph

I noticed that some of my favorite fantasy novels contain quotes in the beginning or at the ending of each chapter, which are both entertaining to read and build onto the story. I also noticed that one of my favorite role-playing games — Dragon Age: Origins — includes epigraphs, which though not immediately relevant to the story, entertain me with something to read while I wait for the game to load.

dragon age origins

What both of these mediums have in common is that these quotes come from fictitious works within the story’s or game’s universe. These quotes, or what TV Tropes brilliantly calls Encyclopedia Exposita, are excerpts from other fictional books “being used as an epigraph or part of the frame of the story”.

As I mentioned before, epigraphs usually come from other artists. However, since I’m writing fantasy, I want my own quotes from my own fictitious text. It took me a couple of days to create six texts for the first book in this trilogy and draft five decent quotes with imaginary authors, which makes a nice round number of 30 total quotes. I enjoyed writing the quotes and focusing each one on specific themes of music, immortality, religion, fairy tales, and so much more. Stuff I actually love, love, love to discuss! Seriously, if I’m going to be stuck with these pseudo-encyclopedias, I need to like it. Even a little, yes?

Oh, yes. In order to write epigraphs for your novel or short story, think about the underlying themes. Reflect on the conflict. Once you’re able to write one solid sentence that encapsulates what the main character wants, you’ll be able to start drafting your own mini-poems, quotes, religions tenants, or whatever it is your literary heart desires.

I had specific goals for the epigraphs that I noticed in books I’ve read and what my personal desired outcome was.

In a nutshell, an epigraph can and should relate back to the story by:

  • foreshadowing what’s to come
  • highlighting a point the author made
  • introduce a new theme or turning point (which will hopefully increase tension and suspense)
  • set reader’s expectations

All of these points should keep readers engaged, deepen the complex “reality” of your fantasy world, and perhaps even answer some questions you didn’t realize you needed answering as author and literary god.

Another great outcome of this kind of writing is that I realized how more three-dimensional I could make this world with its own encyclopedia of musicians, historians, and artists. These artistic individuals wouldn’t only need names, but backgrounds of their own. And even though these mini-biographies will most likely not appear in the story, this necessary information is essential for me while I write.

So, if you’ve fallen into a rut with your fantasy story, consider using epigraphs — your own or someone else’s — to spice up your novel.

Happy Writing!

 

 

 

 

Lyrics from the Soul: FIYAH’S Issue #5 Ahistorical Blackness Spotify Playlist

Music is an art form that I hold close to my heart. When I was a child, I loved singing and modulating my voice to match the tone and pitch of various artists. Whether it was Prince (Joy in Repetition), Annie Lennox (Love Song For A Vampire), Mariah Carey (Someday), or Stevie Wonder (Signed, Sealed, Delivered) I’d listen to their unique style, intonations, pitch, and then to the delighted horror of my siblings imitate singers (especially Ariel from Disney’s The Little Mermaid). I’ve grown up and though I don’t sing as much as I used to, I still enjoy it. I especially love listening to music while I write.

When Fiyah Literary Magazine asked what favorite songs I’d like to contribute for Issue #5 Ahistorical Blackness, I knew exactly what songs matched the mood of Bondye Bon (in this link I received some wonderful accolades along with other authors — thank you, Maria Haskins!) Do click and read.

I chose three songs for Fiyah’s Issue Five Spotify Playlist, which you can find here: Do click and listen:

  1. A Child With the Blues by Erykah Badu
  2. No Woman No Cry by Bob Marley & The Wailers
  3. Just Fine by Mary J. Blige (I love Mary J. and initially I had chosen Jill Scott’s Golden, but it was a favorite for another author. Great minds think alike, y’know! 🙂

TerenceBlanchard

erykah badu

Below is Badu’s emotionally resonating song marvelously paired with Terence Blanchard’s ethereal trumpeting skills, which I  discovered while watching Eve’s Bayou  (over twenty years ago). It’s an awesome movie that EVERY speculative fiction fan should watch at least once! 🙂

My favorite line (well one of them – heh) from the song:

“Baby, check yourself. Brace yourself. Protect yourself. Face yourself.”

5 (Out)+ 5 (Ready) X Patience = SUCCESS!

I teach reading and the title of this post reminds me of a math equation. My oldest son is a Math Wonder and he smirks when I admit to him that the mere mention of mathematical equations makes me break out in hives.

5 (Out)+ 5 (Ready) X Patience = SUCCESS!

So, what’s with that weird equation? In my defense, it looks less intimidating than this:

TeacherEvaluationFormula

*Shudders*

*Whips out bottle of Calamine and applies it generously*

Ah, that’s ever so much better.

I’ve been learning a lot in my local critique group. One of the members shared that writers should have five pieces of work submitted while preparing another five for the submission process. Why? Because some markets despise and will NOT allow simultaneous submissions, which occurs when a writer submits a given work to more than one market (literary agents, editors, magazines, etc) at one time.

Wow. Five pieces of work sent out, huh? Plus, another five waiting in the wings? I thought about this tip and realized that this practical tip requires a lot of patience, a lot of writing. A whole lot of writing.

And selective forgetting. Why? Because there will be times that the rejection you receive as a writer can seem daunting and you may feel like giving up. But, remember:

never give up, never surrender

  1. Consider the feedback
  2. Consider revising based on the feedback
  3. Work on that short story, query letter, or whatever and
  4. Submit it AGAIN!

And lately, I’ve made it a habit to write something every day.

Yes, every day.

My new goal is to add new content to this blog twice a week (setting aside no more than fifteen minutes to write the blog and preparing it for sharing via social media) so that way I can dedicate the remainder of my time to completing stories and submitting them to markets. #NewYear #NewYou #BillsToPay #DreamsToBeMade #GetItGirl

Even if it’s a sentence, a paragraph, or a string of conversation (I happened to overhear #I’mAWriter, #YesIEavesDrop #NoShame) that will help me to complete more of my works for submission. Likewise, writers, the more writing we do and the more we’re sharing, the more likely our work will be noticed and accepted for publication!

yay us

At this time, I’ve sent out two stories and am waiting for either rejection or acceptance so I can move onto the next market . . . or break out the wine and celebrate.

I hope this practice helps all of you, too!