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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! 🙂

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.

 

2017 Year-End Reflection AND 10 Reasons Why I Plan on 2018 Being Even Better!

Soon, the year 2018 will roll on in. Looking back to all that I’ve accomplished, in spite of the struggle and medical hardships (yup, maybe I’ll share that someday), I can finally admit that I’m amazed and proud of myself.

Before I sat down to type this post, I had to think back on every single thing I did in order to own this feeling and not dismiss it. My mother and father raised me to always strive to be better. So, I blame them. Thank you, Mommy and Daddy. Thank you ever so much. Lol.

For most of you that know me on a more personal level, you know it’s hard for me to express such affirmations and truly, TRULY own them.

So, without further adieu, here are 10 Accomplishments in 2017 I’m MOST PROUD OF:

1. Attended various local author events at bookstores, libraries, and conventions.

2. Republished Forbidden as an e-book (now if only I can finish it up as a paperback)!

3. Independently published my first middle grade book (Waking Dream Series). Due to the fact that I struggle with marketing books like other Indie authors, I’ve decided that WHEN (not if) I become traditionally published, I’ll still put 100% into social media and marketing, but I hope that I’ll have more time to dedicate to writing. Being an Indie author is HARD! And yes, the stigma of independently publishing books is slowly disappearing it isn’t completely extinct!

indies what we are

Read more about Being an Indie Author here.

4. Celebrated my sons’ birthdays (17, 5, and 2).

5. Wedding Anniversary – 🙂

6. Submitted several manuscripts to agents and publishers! Sure, I received rejections! But if you don’t try, you won’t succeed!

7. Applied for artists grants.

8. Sold my FIRST PAID short story, “Bondye Bon” to FIYAH Literary Magazine. Learn more so you can purchase your copy in January here!

9. Created YouTube Channel that’s in need of some serious, serious attention! 😉

10. Connected with more bloggers, readers, writers, and friends all over the world!

With you and your stimulating social interactions, I’ve become a better writer!

Thank-you-word-cloud

 

 

What Do Recurring Themes Say About You as a Writer?

recurring dreams

According to HowStuffWorks.com,

Many people have the same or a similar dream many times, over either a short period of time or their lifetime. Recurring dreams usually mean there is something in your life you’ve not acknowledged that is causing stress of some sort. … In this case, the dreams tend to lessen with time.

I’ve had recurring dreams, but the main point of this post is to discuss recurring themes in writing. I think that the themes we express creatively, like dreams, often reveal a lot about us.

A little while ago, I needed to go back and look at some work I did over a decade ago. I ended up pulling out floppy disks (yup), flash drives, and paper copies of work.

floppy neckchain

Ahhh. Floppy disks — as retro as Flavor Flav.

flavor flav

You see, there’s a grant that I’m really interested in winning (finalists won’t be announced for quite some time) and when I attended the workshop to learn more, the facilitator shared that applying artist were encouraged to reflect upon past work (none could be older than 15 years) and analyze it critically in order to improve the work.

I found short stories, novellas, poems, flash fiction from when I was a teenager. I also noticed a trend in writing themes I’ve maintained over a decade late. Here’s a taste:

Death

Family — blessing or curse

Love Conquerors All

Immortality

Oppression of women

Words have power

Evils of racism

All those years ago, I didn’t know that these stories fell into the speculative fiction category. Heck, I didn’t even know that I was genre writing. I just wrote because it made me feel better. I wrote in order to channel my passions and sometimes despair in an artistic manner. The themes I write about often transcend what’s happening in our current world. In other words, the settings I create don’t exist based on the world as we know it now. At times, it’s comforting to speculate. And at times, it’s downright terrifying too.

Speculative Fiction Diagram_Annie Neugebauer

This diagram (thanks to Annie Neugebauer) for this great visual of how far-reaching speculative fiction is. And the possibilities seem endless. 

I’m actively looking for an agent that will help me to reach my next goal: a home with a traditional publishing house. Some of my friends and families say, “Hey, just write a memoir. Or write in a hot niche category that will get you published quickly. Once you get your foot in the door, then, you can write whatever you want.”

I considered this route. Sucked on it like candy, before spitting it out. I realized if I write something I don’t love, or something that isn’t a part of me, I’m not being true to who I am.

It’d be like one of those cringe-worthy romance-comedy (less on the comedy part) movies where The Girl (me) changes who she is so the School Hunk (publisher/agent) notices her and takes her to the prom (publishing contract). And heck, maybe a year or so later they’ll get married and have a bunch of kids (royalty check + sequels and New York Times Bestseller List).

Reaching my goal as a successful Indie author has been hard. I’m a face-to-face kind of gal. I sometimes kiss with my eyes wide open, break out into random songs, or dance in the rain, and marketing from behind a keyboard isn’t my idea of a “good time”.

So, back to the recurring themes . . .

My first PAID short story, “Bondye Bon” will be published in Fiyah Lit Magazine’s Ahistorical Blackness (January Edition). I remained who I am. The story includes themes such as death, family, oppression of women, the evils of racism, and so much more.

Writers, what themes often appear in your writing? What do you think they say about you and your craft? Readers, what kind of themes do you especially enjoy appearing in the stories you read? Please share in the comments!

 

The Priceless Importance of Leaving a Book Review!

I have a lot of New Year’s resolutions for 2018 and I plan on sharing them in upcoming posts!

One of goals is to write more often on this blog, even if it’s really brief. Another goal I have is to write more book reviews. It’s important to support other authors. Books are important and I’m going to make sure my actions speak this truth.

After all, I had mentioned that I would be doing reviews for books (for example, Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older) I recently read. Unfortunately, I was also in the process of republishing my first book that was orphaned after my publisher went out of business. And then when I tried to be an Indie publisher (mind you, with a full-time job, and three sons) I got disheartened with how poorly I felt I was doing compared to other authors like this guy. My husband ADORES Chris Fox. Chris has a lot of good advice, but he’s no longer in the trenches like little old me so . . .

Anyway, if you write reviews, you’re awesome sauce.

If you’re an avid reader and aren’t putting in that extra effort, please consider it! Writers NEED YOU!

review or pie

I’d prefer the review any day, hands down, because then I can reward myself with a slice of pie.

How Million Yen Women Inspired My Revised Author Wish List!

wish-list

On Twitter, I discovered this hashtag: #MSWL. For those of you who don’t know, it stands for Manuscript Wish List. There’s even a website dedicated to this where agents and editors can share with writers what kind of manuscripts they specifically want in their inboxes!

Groovy, baby. Just groovy.

As a writer, I’ve always had a wish list of my own and it was simple:

  1. Find an agent or publisher
  2. Get published
  3. Sell books
  4. Quit day job
  5. Write for pay all day, every day! 🙂

Unfortunately, my journey toward becoming a best-selling writer hasn’t been simple to achieve. In between going to college to have a career to support my oldest son (almost two decades ago it was just the two of us); working full-time as a teacher; writing a book or two while pregnant, vomiting, nursing, crying, and living “the dream” (fake it until you make it) I didn’t think it would EVER happen. Sure, I independently published a book and had my first novel published (unfortunately, the publisher went out of business shortly after), but it wasn’t enough to quit teaching. Heck, it wasn’t even enough to make a car payment. Or a cell phone payment. Or even enough to buy a box of Tic Tacs (ha, ha — okay, I exaggerate it was enough to buy 12 packs of Tic Tacs!)

So, lately I’ve been submitting short stories, picture book manuscripts, and trying to complete another novel in order to return to that above wish list. And as time marches on, I get anxious, depressed (I may share more on that at another time), and feel hopeless that my dream to work as a full-time author will never come true.

And after watching “Million Yen Women” (it’s based on the manga series, “100 man yen no Onna tachi” by Shunju Aonoon) on Netflix, I have a new wish list. 🙂

I won’t spoil the series for you because I hope that you take advantage of the fresh satisfaction of watching it soon. Oh, so very soon.

I enjoyed it and highly recommend it. Especially to other writers because even though Japan possesses different cultural views in comparison to those in the United States of America, both countries share a similar perspective when it comes to the publishing industry and marketing.

The main character, Shin Michima, is considered a poor novelist, but one day that begins to change when he’s visited by five beautiful women who live with him. Each women has a role to play, but their purpose for being there is shrouded in mystery. Oh, and he’s not allowed to ask them ANY questions or enter their rooms. Now, why would Shin want to allow five, strange women into his home? Well, they pay him a million yen for every month they live there! As the story unfolds, you learn a lot about what it often takes for a writer (even one who is considered a failure, like Shin) to become a hot, best-selling superstar!

My (Revised) Author Wish List

  1. An Ally with Connections, like Hitomi. She’s the daughter of a deceased, famous novelist.

    Hitomi Tsukamoto

    Hitomi Tsukamoto

  2. A Dedicated Following (even one person would suffice — not including my husband –I love you, bae, but you can’t count!)

    Dedicated Following

    Nanaka Hiraki – pop singer and actress

  3. A Ride or Die Editor like Mr. Sakurai. He’ll guarantee a bidding war for your book. He’ll push to have the right amount of copies sold! Sakurai san

  4. A Manga-styled Harem (if I wasn’t married, of course — heh heh). So, we’ll go with someone to kick my behind whenever I fall into self-pity. Every writer needs a Minami Shirakawa in their inner circle. She’s loyal, she won’t settle for anything but your best, and she’ll give you her all. She’s my favorite character in the entire series! 🙂

    Minami Shirakawa

    Minami Shirakawa: my fictitious BFF

    A Fan Club that Hosts and/or Attends all of My Events!you need a fanclub

Have an author wish list? Share yours in the comments!