Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Receiving Criticism - How to improve instead of surrendering

The Mill's first 1 star review, it finally happened! But I'm not sad. You can never please everyone, it's just not possible. I'm very glad that this was not my first review of The Mill - that may have been a little soul crushing - but all the same, her opinions and views are valid and potentially helpful to other readers.

I respect Evelyn all the more for her honesty, she truly hated my novella! And that's fine, because she does not hate me as a writer/human being (I hope >_>).

Most reviewers are not interested in attacking you personally - and if they are, you know who not to talk to anymore. Evelyn was pretty brutal with her assessment, but only because she wants to see the work improve. Who wants to read a shitty book? No one! While it makes me nervous now that everyone will feel this way about my work, I'm not disheartened. This is an exemplary learning opportunity.

Step one to Learning

Identify if the criticism is coming from your target audience. If the answer is no, probably take it with a grain of salt, but still investigate. If the answer is yes, write down all of the points in the criticism that the reviewer mentioned as unpleasurable to them.

Next up

As unbiasedly as humanly possible, take all of the points and reread your work. Write down where you notice what the reviewer mentioned, then postulate on how to fix the issues.

Keep a running list of complaints

If your work is being called out for a few specific things, again and again, it's likely time to take a hard visit on that matter.

Request pointers directly from the reviewer

If you have a decent relationship with the reviewer, it would be a good idea to really pick their brain on the matter. Get what they really wanted from the book out into the open. However, changing your work based on one person's feedback is something I would not advise. Simply keep it in mind for the future.

And now, for the best piece of advice I've ever given...

Listen, learn, deploy a plan of action, and then release any feelings that you had on the matter whatsoever. It's not worth allowing your personal life/sleep/eating habits to suffer from stuff like this. It hurts, I know... but one cannot dwell on the past.

That's all for tonight kiddies ^_^ have a wonderful evening.

If you're interested in seeing what Evelyn had to say, here is her review: https://bookswithchemistry.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/review-the-mill/

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Naming a work of Fiction - Guest post and the next Novella Teaser!

Hey guys!

Sorry I haven't been super active, life and stuff. Here's a link to the guest post I did for Amber Gregg on her site Judging more than just the cover!

Here's a bit of what I've been doing recently:

Walking through the sand was grueling, and we all began to pant. Our packs were each at least twenty five kilograms, and the resistance of the riverbed made it that much worse.
“Contact south.” Delilah River whispered, crouching with her weapon raised.
We all stiffened, scouting our designated directions. “What is it River?” Xander crept towards her.
She shook her head, “I’m not sure, it was small, and quick. Too quick for a human. Maybe a dog, or a fox.”
“River, Reese, Sway, Eli, investigate.” Xander ordered and we formed up into our smaller diamond, moving with conviction.
Slinging my M4, I pulled my sidearm from the holster, placing a hand on Eli as I walked backwards. I turned from side to side, watching as the other half of our cell disappeared between the trees.
River whispered, “Target in sight."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Reviews of The Mill - Book to the Future & Have you heard my Book Review!

Hey guys, just in for a quicky. I've recently had the pleasure of being in contact with Melanie Adkins of Have you heard my Book Review, and "Ste J" of Book to the Future. Both fantastically wonderful human beings. Ste J and I have carried on many conversations, late into both of our nights (pretty convinced he's a robot at this point).

Please check out their reviews of The Mill below!

Book to the Future / Bookmust.wordpress.com - Steven Johnson

Have you heard my Book Review - Melanie Adkins

Thursday, September 17, 2015

When sh*t hits the fan: How to adapt to less than stellar situations

As the title states... sometimes the proverbial poop will hit the fan. Or sometimes, the actual poop will hit an actual fan. I've never seen it myself, but I assume it's both terrifying and amusing.

So far on this journey, I haven't had anything go absolutely wrong, but I've had several things take a dump on my day. I'll list them each, and how I went about handling it.

Stay on Target

The number one ingredient in overcoming a crappy situation is to stay on target. I know, yes, I'm adding lots of pictures and such.

What do I mean to stay on target? Zoom the f*ck out and remember the end goal. Whatever just happened may be for the best anyway, you'll have no idea unless you zoom out and check what's going on. So. What happened to me.

I was just bumping along, being me and doing me things, when suddenly my madre in law was like "Oh hey, that book that you're about to publish, yeah there's like a blaringly obvious error in it."

FFFFFFFFFFFFFF..... That was the face I made. Just imagine someone saying "FFFFFFF" really loud and that was my face.
Exhibit C.

Anyway. I'd already ordered a copy and sent it off to a reviewer in the U.K. Much to my embarrassment, I had to inform said reviewer of the error and ask them to ignore it... Yeah, that's pretty damn lamesauce and just doesn't speak to me being any kind of decent writer that I allowed something to be printed with an issue as big as this. We will not discuss what said issue was.
Anyway, how to handle that sh*t.

  1. Calm down, it's not the end of the world.
    Take a few deep breaths, pet your kitty, or dog, drink a glass of water. Do anything except take immediate action. You just discovered this after who knows how long it was out there, an extra 45 seconds is not going to make or break the bank.
  2. If you can, recall issues that have not yet been printed.
    I was lucky in the fact that the 5 issues I ordered for giveaways and sending to places for review had not yet been sent through the printer, and so I contacted CreateSpace and got them cancelled. Unfortunately, the order for the reviewer in the U.K. could not be recalled since it was rush ordered.
  3. If you're book is already live, and people have bought copies, offer some kind of giveaway.Let your audience know that you're human, and you made a mistake. Tell them the first person to find said mistake will get: an amazon gift card, a copy of your new work, an ice cream with sprinkles, etc. This will increase user engagement for one, and for two, let the people who admire you and your work know that you're not some untouchable god high on a perch (no matter how often you pretend with your cat tower). You become like J-Law, the girl who could be your best friend if she just knew you existed. (Jennifer if you ever read this, please acknowledge my existence. I love you.)

So, situation #1 covered. Poopy mistake in my debut launch. Zoom out, take a breath, formulate a plan, take action. Never, never, get angry at yourself or anyone else. It will do you absolutely no good.

Poop #2. I paid quite a little sum of money for a magazine placement, and a web banner on their website. They will remain nameless for their protection... but my goodness. My rep said her team worked on the ad over the weekend because they were so slammed.

It looks like she worked on my banner ad in MS paint for 2 minutes. Like, dear lord in heaven, WHAT HAPPENED?! (interrobang!)

"Ok, how about a kind of fall-ish background, with some orange and green leaf looking things... yeah... then we'll slap the book over on there, add two different type faces, neither of which match the font used on the book cover. Good, good. Ok now what..? Yeah let's have the text super close to the edge, and to the image. And OOOH! Let's make it pinkish red with a WHITE OUTER GLOW! That, is f*ckin snazzy. I'm so tits at this."

I'm so sorry magazine rep, if you read this, but I am an art student, and this is just not acceptable. Though I could have fixed it myself, I decided to go to my artist for help. So here's how we handle situation #2

Again, don't get mad. Anger does nobody any good.
It's totally possible they were so completely slammed that my rep had to do it themselves, and this was the best they could do. I didn't get angry and let them know how unacceptable it was, I just took a breath and let them know "My artist wants to take a stab at it." Seemed to all work out OK on that end, because they provided me with all the details I needed to get it done myself.

Bleh, I could go on and on, but that's the gist of it.
  1. Don't get angry, poop happens but that doesn't mean it's anyone's fault.
  2. Take a breath and step back. Could the poop actually be good for you, set you on a new path, open a new door?
  3. Explore your options, ask for opinions and advice if you feel it's necessary.
  4. Be cordial in all your dealings. No matter how crappy things get for you, don't pass it on.
  5. Take action. Do not let the poop sit. Though in the real world that's usually best because it will firm up and be easier to handle, typically in the proverbial sense it's better to handle your poop sooner rather than later.
Night kiddies...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Launch Party - It's a big deal

Hello hello my dear audience!

Today, I'd like to talk about launch parties. Parties can be awesome, but they can also suck. You do not want to throw a party for your book that sucks.

Step One

Canvas the area. Find where it is that you want to host said party. Your home can be an acceptable place, but in truth, if you can find somewhere else with foot traffic that is not part of your devoted following, do that. Here are some good places to look into:

  • Public Library.
    I know... the library... but it's typically free to host here, and you'll get a lot of foot traffic that likes books! So, double win.
  • Book Stores.
    They will charge you. It will suck. But it will be your target audience and you can gain a lot of new fans here.
  • Depending on your genre, Game Stores.
    In my area, I have quite a few game stores that are super open to hosting for games, movies, books, artists, etc. Try to find a place that hosts game night, that can be good traffic.
  • Smalltime Restaurants and Breweries.
    I know, I live in Colorado so smalltime breweries are pretty common for me, but if you look hard enough, you can find one. Restaurants are wary to host you for loss of revenue, but you can find the ones that will be willing to get your extra foot traffic in exchange.
  • Hotels...
    This is like your last resort. Hotels are definitely not the best place to host for a book launch, but they do have the space. You will likely not get any additionally traffic here.

Step Two

  1. Blast your event on social media.
    Make sure everyone knows. Tag all your friends. Get dirty with it, because you'll have to.
  2. Order postcards for the even to leave in places around the happening of the event. 
    If you're doing it in a library, leave them in nearby restaurants, banks if you can, and even gas stations. Gas stations are probably pretty low probability of getting you traffic, but it's an option.
  3. Get "table tents" or banners.
    This one is optional because banners can be expensive. If you're doing this in a restaurant and bar/brewery, get the table tents and make sure you can set them up and leave them up for a week or two. Put some QR codes on that bitch too.
  4. Reach out to the places nearby to promote you.
    Give them a copy of the book even, and drop off some promotional items like pens/tiny collectibles that can be given away with your website/blog on it.
I'm not to step three yet... so I'll have to let you know how that goes later. I've picked a brewery for my location, and they're going to let me set up for free, so that's awesome for me, hooray! I've ordered my postcards for leaving around places, and the table tents for leaving on unsuspecting victims tables...

Well, cross your fingers for me. I'll be having my launch party on October 23rd. Stop by if you're interested ^_^ Dry Dock, South Dock: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80014

Night Night kiddies.

The Night Shift interviewed me for The Mill!

Check it out ^_^

Please be aware that this podcast is Rated R for talks of porn, pooping, killer squirrels, and tons of cursing.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Distraction and Procrastination - What I'm doing right now...

Goooood evening everyone! As the title states, we'll be talking about distractions and procrastination tonight, mainly how to avoid it, when writing. This one is going to be a little short, because unfortunately I did not use any of my methods today, and procrastinated writing this post.

Do you ever catch yourself writing two paragraphs in about twenty minutes because you stop to re-read the entire chunk every time you complete a sentence? Or maybe you're trying to edit and end up alt-tabbing over to Facebook / Twitter / Insta / Reddit/r/funny? Maybe you know you need to write a particular blog post (cough cough), and you held off until the end of the day because there were so many other very important things you needed wanted occupied yourself with that day?
We can all be victims of our brain's inability to stay on task, but below are a few of the things I do to avoid getting distracted, or procrastinating on writing.


  1. Go to your writing place.
    Much like you have a specific place to cook, eat, shower, poop, etc, you should have a place that is for writing. I know that can be really difficult when you live in an apartment/with your parents/have many roommates, or just not a lot of space in your home, but there are solutions for that too. If you can't physically go to your writing place, have a sit and meditate for a moment, 3-5 minutes should do. I know it might sound ridiculous, but it works. Sit, close your eyes, put headphones in if it's loud around you, and just clear your mind. Attempt not to think about anything at all. Then, keeping the headphones in, look down into your laptop or sheet of lined notebook paper, and tell yourself, "This is my world now." Anytime you feel the need to look elsewhere, or think about something other than the task at hand, meditate for another moment until you're clear again.
  2. Block websites / turn off your phone / write in offline mode.
    If the social media distraction is real for you, get away from it. Turn your phone off and move it far away from you, write in offline mode or block websites. I would say set a timer, but then you might be inclined to check that timer every few minutes to see how much longer you have to go before getting your fix. Instead, I would say set a milestone, "I have to write 10 paragraphs, then I can check my [insert thing you need to check here]".
  3. Headphones all day ere'day.
    I do not currently have a writing space, as my husband will sort of follow me around after 30 minutes of not knowing where I'm at. So, I've given up trying to find solitude, but I don't really like being away from him anyway. My solution, good sound blocking headphones. The $15 skullcandies do just fine with music blaring. I'm fighting the urge at this very moment to look up and watch him play MGS5, because flashing lights and colors and explosions! But, the good ole headphones are doing a fantastic job of keeping me on task.
  4. Have all the things you need near you.
    Have the thirst of a thousand deserts and need to drink water all the time like me? Keep the bottle within arms reach, like not even far enough to have to lean over... leaning over might let you find something to distract yourself with, like dirty carpet that needs to be vacuumed (v_v)...
    Sniffly nose? Keep tissues up your nostrils. There's no time for blowing, only writing.
  5. Stop going back to edit what you just wrote!
    Sometimes your own writing is the distraction. You didn't like the way that sentence flowed, or how it pairs with the next paragraph. You used the same word four times in three sentences, or didn't use appropriate punctuation. MOVE ON! Do not stop, do not go back. This isn't Iraq, you can leave a man behind and come back for him later. This is the #1 thing I do that slows me down. I re-read, a million friggen times before I'm even done writing the thing. I have successfully resisted the urge to do that in this entire post, huzzah! And of course I just went back and changed the exclamation point in the sentence before last to a period because there was one in the last sentence... I've already failed.


  1. Make a checklist.
    If you're anything like me, having a checklist of the stuff makes it more tangible. If you start your day, and writing is at the bottom of your list... then that's exactly the priority you've put on it. If you feel like that's unfair, reevaluate the things above it. If you've put it higher on your list for the day, and either get it done last, or not at all, then you've perhaps put it too high on your list and it needs to get demoted. Either way, if you're unhappy about how things went at the end of the day, reevaluate the list, and evaluate what you actually did throughout the day. You probably ended up spending a lot of time doing something that was not on your list at all.
  2. Checklists aren't for everyone... Set a reminder.
    Set a specific time in the day where you will do nothing but write; right before bed, when you wake up, immediately after lunch, etc.
  3. Reward yourself.
    Everyone likes to get a gold star. I prefer a bright orange star, but whatever. Not just with writing, with anything really, but when you do the thing you said you were going to do, give yourself a little treat of some kind. Maybe you really wanted to walk the dog, play an hour of video games, eat a whole snickers bar (I don't advocate this... simply because I'm also on a fitness journey), have wild sex, buy that really cool shirt from the FiXT Store... Depending on how heavily you want to reward yourself, be careful where you set the bar for something as small as "getting two paragraphs done".
I said it was going to be short, and I made it more like medium... and now I have no time left for my new novella T_T. That's the procrastination price you pay... I'm outta here kiddies. Have a great week.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The road to success isn't paved: Part 2 - Launching & Platforms

When it comes to self publishing, I only have experience with two services; Amazon, and Createspace.

Amazon was awesome, easy, hell it was even fun! They made it very newb writer friendly to start, it's easy to get it through review, and see your page on the app store before even going live. Updating files or settings only took about 12 hours to go through, though the initial approval was more like 36 hours.
The only thing I didn't really like about Amazon, was the explanation of the pricing system. It's not always clear to the writer what they're getting into, or the difference between the 30% royalty plan and the 70% plan.
I lied, there was one more thing I didn't like. When setting up the physical copy at createspace, the Amazonians did not have a way to link my digital and paperback versions until both were live... I ended up having to put the paper back copy live for realz for about 4 hours to get them linked. Fortunately, (or maybe unfortunately?) no copies slipped out into the public.

Creatspace was a different damn story. Even their inexperienced setup walkthrough was difficult, and slow. Good god was it slow. Being a child company of Amazon, you'd think they would get access to their high speed servers... Incorrect.
They don't walk you through, or even tell you anywhere, the size file you'll need for your cover. I went with the same size as was used on Amazon, assuming that they would let me create a custom back and spine. Again, incorrect. You have to upload the whole cover, front/back/spine, as one PDF.
Nextly, they're not the fastest to respond to customer service inquiries, and their "Call Me" system does not work, at all. I ran into several issues while setting up The Mill and had to be in contact with them quite frequently. Their CS portal doesn't always save the previous email on the same chain either, so often times you won't be able to see what they said, or you said.
They don't allow you to set up for pre-order. It's just not a thing. I understand that they're "Print on Demand", but seriously, can you not set up a system that allows people to place orders to be filled at a later date? Can you not store the order request in a database that has a "release on" date set in it, so when that date occurs, the orders print? It doesn't sound like a difficult system to set up to me. A few new servers to hold onto the project requests, a system to hold the orders until a specified date, then release to the printers.
This was probably the second biggest issue to me... maybe third since I've been setting up my second book in Createspace and I decided I was a pro and didn't need the newb route. They shipped me the wrong book! When I ordered a copy for review, I got some guys book of children's poems. Fortunately, I got someone on the phone and we fixed it rather quickly. That was probably the best customer service experience with that company.
As said, I didn't take the hand holding walkthrough for my second book setup and it turns out that this system is actually broken. The cover will constantly say that it's not ready to publish, even though it is. You have to save, refresh, save, cut off a chicken's head and spread the blood over your laptop, then save again. Minus the chicken head part, but it's still pretty bad.

The second topic, even though I'm out of order here with the title, is Launching. Prepping your launch is paramount to success. My novella, The Mill, has been done for about 4 months, and the art was complete in early June, but I'm waiting until October... why?
For one, Horror books are hard to market to begin with, and if I were to launch in the middle of summer, when everyone is out on vacation, at the beach, thinking about sunshine, they're not going to be in the mood for doom and gloom (at least most of them aren't).
Halloween is a set time of year here in 'Merica for all the horror and gore you could ever want to feast upon. So, why should I fight uphill, against the sunshine and the beaches, when I can hold off, solidify my marketing strategy, better identify my target audience, reach out to bloggers and reviewers? I talked a little more about blogging and reviewers in this post, check it out if you're interested.
So, my advice to you, dear reader, is this:
  1. Find some sort of seasonal, or largely promoted event, to tie your release to.
    For example, you wrote a fiction book about Football, and it finished up in March 2015. That sucks... you pretty much missed your big opportunity to tie it to the super bowl. Hold on to it for another 8 months, at least, and spend that time connecting with fans, building your Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Reddit presence. The 2016 super bowl is Feb. 7th, so consider going live in early January. And understand, that even though you wrote a book about a sport that is mainly dominated by males, a lot of your readers will be female. Don't forget about dem ladies. 
  2. Buy artwork for your launch. (I know I know, this was in the last post too)
    Not just for the cover, but additional promo images you can use for ad campaigns, teasers, adding to your teaser trailer (which I highly recommend. I'm working on my video with my good friend George right now!), etc. 
  3. Speaking of teaser trailer, even if it's just some stock photos, with text overlay, and a not so great song you purchased the rights to from spotify, make a trailer.
    Humans are much more likely to watch a 15-30 second video, and then click your link, than they are to read words in a post with one image... let alone read words in a post with no image... Ain't nobody got time for that. Make yourself a video, put it on youtube, and consider doing a paid Facebook campaign with it. I will be doing that shortly ^_^ 
  4. Find conventions / meetups that are an appropriate venue for you to stir some hype.
    This was a brilliant suggestion from my marketing manager, Kent Barton.
    It may not be appropriate for you to bring your Football book to Buffalo Wild Wings and start asking people to read it, but something like Fantasy Draft night may be a good idea. In my case, with the novella, Tacticon might be an ok-ish venue for me to tout my book at, but the Mile High Horror Fest is probably my best bet (I'll be calling the event organizers this weekend...) 
Well, that's it for today kiddies... I might do a part 3 if I learn anything new during the "Go Live" phase. We'll have to see. Stay tuned for more awesome though ^_^, thanks for reading.