Monday, December 30, 2013

2013's Final Epiphany. "What's Your Book About?"

I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday season. Mine was busy. Too busy. But this is the longest I've ever taken off of work EVER, and it's been great.

So with Dragonfly Warrior being released early and my getting to reunite with friends and family, I've had the dreaded question posed to me:

"What's Your Book About?"

I love science fiction and fantasy, so of course my debut novel is science/fantasy-related. Almost all of my family and close friends don't read "that stuff." They either read romance, nonfiction, or just the newspaper. Many of them have purchased my book, but I'm pretty sure a tiny percent of them will actually read it.

While I truly appreciate their support, knowing they did it just to support me makes me a little sad.

So how do I answer the dreaded question? Usually it goes something like this:

"It's science fiction/fantasy. Steampunk actually. Lots of adventure and action." And then I'd kind of dismiss them. Why? Because I'm pretty sure the person inquiring wouldn't want to actually read my science fiction/fantasy novel. And I admit, I'm a little embarrassed to say that I write genre fiction. But I'm also bothered by how quickly I dismiss others.

Now, if I was surrounded by my fellow geeks, I'd have no problem going on and on about the cool steampunk machines in my book. The awesome action scenes, the mix of all kinds of world mythology. I could easily talk their ears off about my book.

But what about those that don't read the kind of books I write? 

Not only do I struggle with that embarrassment, but I think I'm a bit of a science fiction snob. It's not right of me to dismiss others like that. Just because someone doesn't exactly fit in our "club," it doesn't mean that they wouldn't enjoy my book or others in the same genre. A few of my beta readers don't read science fiction or fantasy at all, and they said they loved it. They were surprised by how much they enjoyed it? Why? Because underneath all that steampunkery and science fiction/fantasiness...it's just a story after all.

And who doesn't love a good story?

So the next time someone asks me, "What's your book about?"

I will not be such a jerk. I will look them straight in the eyes and reply, "It's about a naive sent on a quest out into a cruel world to save his people."

2014 will be the year of inclusion for me. I will promote and market my book to anyone willing to read/hear what I have to say. Because it's the story that draws readers in. The story, the characters, the conflict. That's what counts.

Oh yeah, and my book has kick ass steampunk in it too.


Quick Updates:

* The paperback version of Dragonfly Warrior is NOW available. Click HERE to go to the Amazon link. Sales were brisk early on, with friends and family buying my book. Now, I'm dead in the water. It's a marathon, not a sprint, right? If you want a personalized and signed copy, let me know in the comments. I'll reach out to you and get that going.

* I've decided to create a mailing list. I promise not to fill your inbox with junk. Just quick announcements and such. 2014 is going to be a big year, as I've got some pretty HUGE goals set. Wanted to keep people updated of my books coming out. The sign up is below.

* I want to do a very EASY blog tour. I have never done one of these before. I will reach out to those who did the cover reveal and see if you're interested. I'll also put up a new sign up form in the coming weeks. I'm thinking of doing the blog tour sometime in March.



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Monday, December 23, 2013

Early Release Holiday!

Oh steampunk tree, oh steampunk tree...
I hope you and yours are having a great holiday season.

Dragonfly Warrior was released early, just last week, and it quickly skyrocketed up the charts. In fact, it reached #39 on the Amazon Best Sellers List for Science Fiction - Steampunk.

Pretty cool. I guess technically, I can call myself an Amazon Best Selling Author.

But then Amazon's newest algorithm can not only giveth, but it can taketh away. After my friends (which includes many of you great people) and some family members bought it, sales pretty much slowed to a trickle. I will say that many of my friends are waiting for the paperback (which will be available on Amazon very soon). Whenever a book climbs the rankings in a short amount of time, then sales stop, Amazon punishes you.

It's an effort to stop manipulating the numbers, I understand. But you can bet you bottom dollar that I took a screenshot at the pinnacle of my glory.

I didn't plan very well for what happens after the release. In fact, I'm going to be in New Orleans from January 6-9th on business, so I won't be around to do much promotion during my official release day.

So my Christmas Wish is to get some help. What should I do next? How can I get more steady sales? I know many of us struggle with this aspect of the business, but I'm open to any and all suggestions to make sure Dragonfly Warrior doesn't end up being a dud.

Thanks so much, and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, Christmas, and I look forward to posting here next week for the last time in 2013!!!

This is my proof. The matte finish is gorgeous!


Ebook versions available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas = Childhood


Before I get to my post, I wanted to share my book trailer with all of you. Some of you have already seen this, so forgive my indulging in showing it to you again. Once again, the artwork was done by the very talented Enggar Adirasa.




* * * *

I was talking about Christmases past with an old friend, and we talked about all the cool toys we grew up with. In this digital age, will the kids of today look back at their childhood and have that same sense of nostalgia that we all do? I wonder.

This year, my A-Z Challenge topic was everything 80s. It was totally radical. So I wanted to share some of the cool toys I either WISH I had as a kid, or did actually own. To this day, when I think of these fun toys, I always think of Christmas (in no particular order).

No Sarlacc Pit can stop me
Star Wars Figures. I wonder how many hours I spent playing with action figures. Half my childhood was spent on a tennis court and the other half was spent having my action figures (not dolls) re-enact my favorite parts of the movies. And in my version, Boba Fett survives and kicks Han Solo's ass.

Atari. This was a huge evolution in home entertainment. I remember getting Atari for Christmas and beating my dad mercilessly in Combat (which came with the console).

Stompers. These were so cool. At least the TV commercials made
Look at those tires!
them seem that way. These were little trucks with giant mudders that could traverse over everything. Even your hand! Or pencils! Or Lego pieces! I actually had one that you could replace the rubber tires with foam ones, and the darn thing could go in water.

Voltron. I got this from Santa (okay, not really. I was 12 and played along for my siblings' sakes), and it was incredible. It was die-cast metal, and it weighed a ton. It was made by Matchbox. I wish I still had that toy. In mint condition, I've seen it go for over $700

I want you back, Voltron!
G.I. Joe. I was one of those kids that mixed and mingled his G.I. Joe and Star Wars action figures. I know, take away my Geek Card. Snake Eyes was my very first one, and I had the lunchbox too. Had both of these things before G.I. Joe even had an enemy to fight (Cobra hadn't been invented yet).

Transformers. Okay, hell, my Transformers also entered my Star Wars/G.I. Joe Universe. My imagination was just full of all kinds of unholy alliances!

Maybe it's the holidays. Or maybe it's the fact that my birthday this week reminds me that I'm getting old. Either way, it's always fun to go back and remember a time before you had bills, taxes, traffic, back pain, and deadlines.

Deadlines...that reminds me, I've got some work to do. 

Have a great week!

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Science of Terrible Gifts

Tis the season...for getting really crappy gifts.

Do you throw it away, or are you a re-gifter? No matter how you deal with the mounds of useless stuff, every year it never fails. It's as inevitable as the sun rising and Santa ho-ho-ho-ing. You will receive some gifts that make you think:

What the hell?

Why do people give crummy gifts to the ones they know and love? There was an interesting study published in The Journal of Consumer Research suggests that familiarity actually makes it more difficult to figure out and predict what our loved ones prefer.



Dr. Davy Lerouge of Tilburg University, the Netherlands and Dr. Luk Warlop from Katholieke University, Belgium found that we buy crappy gifts even even when armed with lots of information about our loved ones. In fact, we have the most trouble understanding the tastes of those we know a lot about.

Lerouge and Warlop set up a bunch of experiments in which couples, who had been together more than two years on average, tried to predict which kinds of bedroom furniture the other would like. In the experiments, half the couples knew they were trying to predict their partner's preferences. The other half tried to predict the preferences of someone they were told was a stranger, but who was, in fact, their partner.

The results: Subjects were much better at predicting a stranger's preferences than their own partner's.

Why???

Lerouge and Warlop explained that when predicting what a stranger would like, we are forced to "rely on general and stereotypical information about the stranger, which can be quite diagnostic." But when predicting what our loved ones would like, we "ignore this valid information" and rely on more intimate information "that is often found to be invalid or irrelevant when predicting product attitudes."

In other words, you might remember the time when your significant other overslept because the clock's alarm was too quiet. And so you find an alarm clock with a louder alarm. Does this mean they will love their gift? Hardly.

Here are some gifts you should steer clear from for sure. Take my word for it, do NOT buy the following:

Hair removal: This includes nose hair trimmers, personal groomers, or ear hair shavers. Unless your loved one begs for one, just don't do it. Nothing says "You're a walking Sasquatch" like getting any sort of hair removal apparatus.

Stupid puzzles: If your loved one is under six year old, go for it. Otherwise, don't buy that 50,000 jigsaw puzzle. I don't care if it is the Taj Mahal. And no, it doesn't matter if it's a 3-D puzzle. This gift suggests that the recipient has too much time on their hands.

Used crap: OK, you cheapskate. Don't be going around the house looking for something to wrap and give away. You don't think we can tell? The seals on the box are all broken...duh! All the cheese popcorn in the tin is missing! Hmm.

Drug store perfumes/colognes: This stuff should be banned. Talk about tacky! Not only are you suggesting that your loved ones smells bad, but why give them something that would make them smell like a mix of potpourri and whisky? Hai-Karate anyone?

Weight loss products: Free weights, exercise videos, or a treadmill might sound like a great gift, but guys - do NOT give your lady anything to do with weight loss. Nothing says "Babe, you're a fat ass" like getting her weight loss stuff. It's about as subtle as hitting them over the head with a Honeybaked Ham.

You might as well just smack her hand when she goes for that Christmas cookie. See how that works for ya!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My FIRST IWSG Post!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog.

I'm super-happy to finally be a part of the IWSG. It's been a long time coming, and I feel like I need to vent my fears BIG TIME and just put it out there.

My debut novel is set for a January 6th publication, and I'm terrified. My writing career has been a long, strange journey. It's strange to be on the precipice of such a huge landmark, and I think I've just gotten so accustomed to the struggle.

For about twelve years, I advised and edited other people's work. I was damn good at it (still am), and I enjoyed it. When I started blogging in 2005, it was my creative outlet. And my blog got HUGE, which led to a syndicated podcast attached to the blog. It was fun, but I felt unfulfilled. I yearned to write again.

So I did.

In 2011, my novel, Dragonfly Warrior, was my baby. And I threw it out into the world. I was in query hell. Then I had the opportunity to pitch to a publisher face to face. The result was a contract. But the publisher shut its doors in mid 2012.
Steam-powered spider from Dragonfly Warrior!


I was down, but not out. Another publisher knew of my manuscript and I received two contracts - one for Dragonfly Warrior and another for its sequel, Shadow Warrior. I was part of a great team of writers, and everything was looking great.

But the publisher was having financial issues, and I decided to jump ship. I got my rights back and I decided that no one was going to care about my work more than me. So I decided to go full-on indie.

So here I am, a little more than a month away from publishing Dragonfly Warrior (AGAIN), and what if people don't like it? What if it never finds its audience? What if it's not sci-fi enough? Fantasy enough? Steampunk enough?

I've had some writing friends suggest I have a book launch party, but I've decided not to. I'm not sure many people would show up. My friends and family are not into reading the kind of stuff that I write, and I don't want them to feel obligated to buy my book. Maybe if I had written something more mainstream...but I can't handle any more rejection at this point.

There are moments where I lay awake at night, wondering if I'm just delusional. Maybe I should just go back to editing. Hide behind another person's work and share in their joy and triumph instead. Life was so much easier!

At this point, I have no choice but to leave my comfort zone. Hopefully it will be worth it. But I guess even if I fall flat on my face, and I'm a big fat FAILURE, I don't see myself just giving up. Maybe I'm too stubborn.

Monday, December 2, 2013

NaNoWriMo Recap 2014

I'm exhausted, but I had a very productive November.

This year's NaNo was a very different experience for me. I had a huge optometric exam I had to take on the 21st, and I was essentially cramming for it. I have no idea how I did, and I hated all the trick questions. Gotta wait until January for results. Boo.

So no local write-in gatherings this year (which is the greatest part about NaNo), and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to win with all the studying I was doing. But I had planned well for it, and I did a ton of writing at the beginning of the month. And it all worked out. I hit my goal early on the 25th.

Please come back Wednesday, as I will be posting my very FIRST IWSG post ever. I know, isn't that weird? I read all of your IWSG posts and have done so for two years now, yet I never officially signed up. So I aim to remedy that on Wednesday.