Tuesday, June 7, 2016

You SUCK! Why....Thank You.

One of the questions I'm often asked about is reviews and how I handle getting bad ones in particular. You can't live in a bubble. You can't please everyone. You have to know what your strengths and your weaknesses are as a writer and compose around them.
Someone pointing out your mistakes in a novel feels like an entire class room pointing at your nose zit. It's okay to feel like that, but you have to shake it off. How? Change how you think about your audience and what it means to please them. Widen what it means to be successful. Remind yourself that not every successful writer is a good writer. Sometimes, one successful element in your book can carry your career. Look at some of the top selling books of our time right now. (You know what book I'm mostly talking about...doncha??)
"But people are mean to me." Yeah, but they can be wonderful too. "People are catty." Yeah... but mostly forgiving. Mostly. :) And those who aren't...well...reviews are an easy outlet for the angry, and for many, it is wielded like a weapon. But bad and even mediocre reviews prove that you've made it! You've reached out with your book and you gave someone feelings. Strong feelings. How cool is that?
Me? I look at those types of reviews and I love them! (Saying this usually gets me more ugly reviews, as if I'm challenging the mob. LOL ) I know that sounds fake, but I am telling you, I do! It's mostly because they drive me to better myself and my writing, but there's another side to it. I love them, because I use them. How many heroines and heroes in a story have an easy time of it? None. That would be boring!! It's the fight that rocks! It's the fact that someone is attacking you, trying to destroy you and all you have built. You are under siege, my friend...how will you react?
Will you curl up into a corner and cry about how no one likes you? Or will you pick up your pen again and say "If you think that was bad...wait until you see this!?" Then you keep writing, and writing for the fans who love you because it's what you were born to do. And the fans who love you, grow. And despite the people who can't wait to knock you down and rip on what you've created...you become successful. Whether it's because your writing improved, or because people are buying your book to see the train-wreck, laugh your ass to the bank.
The negativity failed, and you have won. What better encouragement can you get than one that drives you to fight for success?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What If?

There's a sense of fear that grasps you when you are days away from your official release date.

It's hard to explain to anyone who hasn't gone through it, but suffice it to say--the book publishing industry gives me panic attacks.

Why? The what-ifs.

What if everyone hates my book? What if I don't have enough of a presence online? What if there is some brand-spankin' app I don't have that I would need to have in order to capture the attention of my demographic? What if I miss a deadline for a contest that could earn me more readers? What if I don't belong to the right groups? What if my guest blogs blow? Hard.

Already, before this book has hit the shelves, I've run into a few moments, standing by myself, where the sheer weight of success feels heavy on my shoulders.

I'm reminded of that song "Lose Yourself" by Eminem. "If you had...one shot...or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted, would you capture it? Or let it slip?"

As cheezy as that is (yes with a Z), that's how you feel when you see your book and think...if I could just get people to read this...great things could happen. :) So how do I get them to read it? Do I spam the shit out of them until every time a tweep or FBF person blinks they see my cover? Probably not. I hate when I friend someone and the first interaction we have is them trying to get me to buy their book, join their page, sing them a song. ...okay that last one just slipped in there.

I want to promote without being obnoxious. Is that even possible these days? All I can do is hand out little cards with my name on them and my book cover to people I meet who seem kinda cool.

The problem is, I'm not always slick. I'm good with words on paper, but when I open my mouth to speak them, I'm often awkward. I sound more deranged than I do articulate. Last night I actually handed a funny woman one of my disk-shaped cards and said "Hey if you're a reader, try my book wouldja?"

I swear, those words actually came out of my mouth. The best part is the "wouldja". I laughed at myself all the way to my car thinking...it's a good thing I'm not a lonely guy looking for a date. I'd be doomed to spank it into eternity.

But that's another what if! What if my saleswoman skills suck? I was once told that I failed the shoe sales test. I went in for a job, thought I answered all the questions correctly...only to be told I didn't have what it takes to sell shoes and couldn't be hired. As an aside, I now wonder if that was really a thing or if the manager just didn't like how bubbly I was or something. She did seem a little bitchy.

I digress.

After obsessing for the last week or so over all my what-ifs, I've brought myself back down to a calmer reality. Truth is, there isn't much an author can do to stand out. We can visit with our readers, try to give back to the writers who haven't received their publication yet, and most importantly...we can keep writing! I'm going to keep writing while doing promotions here and there because really...I think what will really take me to success mountain, is word of mouth. If people like my book, they are going to talk about it. I just have to make sure the biggest mouths in YA are talking about me. :)

Thanks for stopping by today!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Black Friday Weekend...Week...Month

Why do we not just call it holiday shopping sale? Why bother have it on a single day when you know it's going to be "extended". Then there's Cyber Monday, and that gets extended, too. The sales never end, neither does the mail spam and it's all messing with my holiday mojo! Wtf marketing idiots?

There is nothing more distracting for writers than this time of year. Believe me. Not only do most of us have other jobs while waiting to be lucky enough to make the big bucks in writing, (And by big bucks I mean paying for groceries and cost of living, not paying for a trip to McDonald's and a pack of T.P.) but we all have to do shopping, business parties, and setting up for the holidays while trying to throw in some writing time.

I don't know about any other writer out there, but I can tell you, my creativity spikes when I know I can't write. I usually get great ideas when I'm on my way out the door to a family function or a dentist appointment or some such. It's always at the worst time.

Then when I do sit down to write, I usually have to write up a quick blog post ( :) Cheese!) or respond to Twitter requests and make statements on my myriad Facebook pages just to feel like I'm plugged back in. Then I write for about five seconds and Booooop! My email is going off again with another notice from another store that sends me coupons every other day, telling me that I have just six more hours left to shop their deals. I keep writing. Guess I'm going to miss out on some cheap pink hair dye.

Boop! Six hours later I'm trying to squeeze in another 500 words and my phone is informing me that it's a good thing I didn't stop typing earlier, because they have no extended the sale for the following day too. But all the really good deals...well those are happening right now and only now. Boop! Amazon deals are still up for grabs until midnight. Boop! Old Navy says I've got a little more time too. Boop! Kohl's would really love it if I shopped their extended sale and while I'm at it, I need to download their store app which if I check in when I get to the store I can have more extra awesome points for being poised to spend money...possibly.

I turn my phone off and get back to writing, but now I can't stop thinking...what if the gifts I got for my family are cheaper elsewhere and I didn't look?

I look at my phone again and chew on my lip, right before I flip it the middle-jack-knuckle and think, screw it, I'd pay more to get this damn book typed out! I will not be victimized by passive aggressive marketing any more! At least not until I get my 2.5k words out for the day.

Happy Shopping everyone!

Friday, November 27, 2015

I swear I'm not going to swear!

It is time for me to admit to you all, that I have what my great grandmother would've called "a mouth on me". My grandmother would've said I talk like a drunken sailor denied a refill. And my mother...well she's constantly telling me that ladies don't talk "like that". Even my loving mate and partner in crime, David, once in a while will tell me to "watch my mouth", which I think he says reflexively before remembering who he is talking to. I often frown and have a moment of guilt, wishing I could be the type of person who can recognize when I'm about to say something offensive and reel it in. I should be banned from the public eye! Flogged for my indecency! Someone should glue my f--er, my mouth shut, and then...and only then, would I be allowed entrance back into the glistening white walls of a welcoming society fully reformed and ready with my new arsenal of acceptable words. Like: "fiddle-faddle, goshdarn, dagnabit" etc.

Then I hear a small voice in my head that sounds suspiciously like my dearly departed Uncle Bob..."What the fuck is their problem?"

Well said U.B. Well said. I can honestly say, I don't know what their problem is, but their solution seems to be censoring me with a wagging finger and a glance down their noses.

Okay, okay, I get it. I have language issues. Yes, I come from a place where it is more acceptable to go hungry than to go without a pair of designer jeans. We weren't the most sophisticated lot by the standards of some (insert subtle finger display), but we were, and still are, street wise and able to handle sh--stuff that would make the silver spoons lose their fookin' minds! ( Doesn't count!)

Some of my friends that I grew up with would say no less than seven F bombs in a fourteen word sentence and I understood perfectly what they were trying to say. That's just how we talked. It's how some people I still talk with from school converse even now. I don't judge them, because I know that's how it is. I changed my address, I changed some of my habits, but that doesn't mean others have to. They live in a harsher environment, they express themselves differently.

But here's the real question: When you're writing about an environment described above, how authentic do you keep your dialog?

I've seen people who have full on cuss-strong writing works, whether it is a screen play or a book. I've read those pieces and I've enjoyed them. I don't know if other people will or if they'll feel strongly that the book/play is ruined. Who can tell? My personal opinion is that it takes a good writer to let the audience know they're in a highly slang-tastic region without having to paint a colorful picture that leaves readers slack-jawed and feeling violated. But that doesn't mean you should p...wuss out. If your character is facing some next-level trauma, and you have them saying "darn that really sucks", they better be someone who aspires to be the next saint.

Basically I'm saying you have to find a happy medium. Know your audience. If you're writing for John Oliver or an HBO series, by all means, F-bomb like you're trying to win a war. But if you're writing for a more sensitive audience, use your skills and choose your words wisely. You don't want to come off as a writer who is trying to sell shock value any more than you want to be known as a writer who writes a teenager with the soul of a mid century grandma. Maximize your stories potential by keeping it friendly to more readers.

Or you can tell me to go fiddle-faddle myself.

**Please excuse all typos and nonsensical sentences well within my control but outside of my ambition!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Visiting Rochester Hills Public Library's Young Writers Program!

A few days ago, I had the honor of visiting a young writers group at the Rochester Hills Public Library. And though it would have been nice if the weather hadn't been horrible, the company was awesome.

Lining the pushed-together tables on my right and left were eager young writers, ready to tell me all about their books and poetry and comic ideas. And I do mean ALL about their books. :) I had to stop a few of them from revealing everything about their ideas, trying to instill a little bit of social media paranoia I think is healthy for all writers. (There are times I refuse to even tell anyone the title of the book I'm working on.) But in truth, I hope to do more with these writers. I hope to visit again in the future and this time offer a little critique on their first chapters. I want to be surprised by what they've written. No spoilers for meh!

So there it is...for any of you sneaking over on my blog to see if I mention the visit. You better get to writing because I want to see some pages!! :)

I can't explain just how awesome it is to come to a group such as this and give them a quick overview of the publishing world. Letting them know that someone out there takes them seriously, regardless of
their age, is the greatest feeling in the world. I left the library remembering those who furiously scribbled notes down as I spoke, and I smiled. I have high hopes for the group.

Yes even the dark, dark, dark poetry writer obsessed with Nazi references. I'm convinced there isn't anything any of you can't accomplish. Thank you for letting me into your group for an afternoon of conversation (okay, more like me babbling) and visually pretty weather.

It takes a serious writer to brave a snow storm just to hear some writing advice and to talk about your projects. I hope you all made it home safe and sound. Your stories need to be told! :)

Thanks for everything,

Friday, November 6, 2015

It's all about the ME!

There's plenty of time to be selfish in the coming months. By February, when my book comes out (On Edge- Feb 2nd from Poisoned Pencil Press. :) ) I plan to talk to anyone who will listen to me, at whichever venue I'm at, and tell them all about my book, my process, and my accomplishments. I plan to excite the masses with my action adventure thriller mystery young adult novel. (There's a lot of adjectives there, I know. But I have genre commitment issues.) I plan to even over-share a bit to--well I'll be honest, I do it on accident because I'm not good at holding back stories or refusing to answer questions put to me.

But, with all of this me, me, me...I find myself uncomfortable. It is part of being published, yes. And I agree, if you can't deal with being out in public and under a microscope, you should definitely not be an author (or actor, musician, etc. because there's always that one in a million chance you might become a household name.) But my lack of comfort isn't as much being an extrovert phobe. ( :) See what I did there? I cheated.) No no, for me, I get uncomfortable talking about myself and my accomplishments at times because I'm no different than the people I'm talking to. So why should they care what I have to say if I give them nothing for listening to me?

So I decided I'm going to start doing classes, seminars, or maybe even a club or two this coming year for teens and adults who are looking to understand the writing world and the publishing world. I'm totally excited! I've had some good experiences that have qualified me to talk about the industry. I've had two different agents, I've tried different kinds of publishing, I've tried different kinds of marketing, and I learn differently, so the writing process was a struggle. (Still can be.)

There's a lot of good things I can share to balance the conversation with those who come to visit me. I think that's how I prefer to "market myself".

I'll post updates on the blog for when I plan to hold any of these events! If you have an event in mind, feel free to message me on Facebook!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

She's Bald And Not Quite Right...

...BUT I love her anyway.

Yes my friends, my first Uncorrected Proof has arrived. And I'm totally stoked.

She doesn't have her final cover yet, so she's a little exposed, the cover states my release date is February 2015 instead of 2016, and my last few copy edits haven't been entered into the final body...but I think it's just beautiful.

I find myself picking up the book a lot and just walking around with it.

I received two copies, and though I keep one with me at all times, the second is traveling to those I promised could read it. My daughter has started it, and though the language is a little strong and the themes a touch violent, I figure if she can watch avengers, she can handle it. The language thing is all about me informing her, as I always do, that cuss words are emotional and should never be substituted for quality. She gets it, so I don't worry.

I hope, to those of you who would like to read it, that you will enjoy this book as much as I've enjoyed writing it.

Here's to future plots!

All my best to you,