3 Months Later . . . This Blog Post is Waaaay Overdue

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Remember my last blog post where I promised to post quality blog posts? Neither do I. That was 3 months ago. I only know this because I went back and read my last blog post to see where the heck I left off before disappearing from the blogosphere.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

At the end of April my mother passed away from liver cancer. After two years of battling it out, she finally gave up the fight. Thankfully, her family was with her in her final moments, an experience I wouldn’t have passed up for anything.

But for the first time in my life, I found myself unable to push through. Work became hard. Life became hard. Forget writing and editing. Everything had to step aside for grief.

I recently saught out the help of a therapist to help me work though my grief. I’ve also returned hard and heavy to the gym, which has helped improve my mood and sense of motivation tremendously.

I am happy to return to the blogosphere. I forsee blogging being an excellent outlet for me right now and hope you will all just bear with me.

I’m looking forward to catching up on your posts as well. I’ve been away from the online writing community for far too long. I can’t wait to get back on schedule and interact again. I’ve missed you guys so much!

Before I go, a big thank you to everyone who reached out to me via WordPress and Twitter to offer their support and condolences. That meant a lot to me.

THANK YOU!!!!!

It could afford to be bigger . . . but you get the picture. Well, that’s all for now. See you all again on Friday!

Voice Talent Jay W. Eccent Brings Characters from “The Wizard’s Gambit” to Life During Open Mic Night

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Every author secretly dreams of the day when their book becomes, not only a bestseller, but a movie as well. Some of those authors are only interested in the money, but most of us just want to see our story come to life in a whole new media. My book has not yet been adapted to the big screen but on Friday, I did have the pleasure of hearing my story read aloud for a live audience . . . well part of the story anyway.

For First Friday’s, Beyond Barcodes Bookstore hosted an Open Mic Night, inviting local artists, musicians, and poets to showcase their talents. The store owner suggested I might be interested in reading a segment from my newest novel. So I did her one better. I invited local voice talent Jay W. Eccent to read a segment from The Wizard’s Gambit, knowing he would bring life to the narrative and characters as he did with the first chapter of my debut novel.

I was not disappointed. Not only did the audience have a laugh or two at some of my puns, but they were impressed by Jay’s vocal talents as well, especially his impression of Wizard White Beard. His representation of Margo wasn’t half-bad either. She didn’t sound as I imagine her, but it was interesting to hear his impression of her.

To be honest, I’ve always wondered what my characters sound like in other peoples’ heads. I’ve had several people attempt to describe to me what they see or hear when they read my stories, but it’s not the same as actually hearing it. So imagine my enjoyment when Jay’s vision of Wizard White Beard matched my own.

Unfortunately, the recording I captured on my phone was really low quality so I don’t really want to share that on my blog, but if you’re interested in hearing Jay’s higher quality recordings, follow the link here to listen to his reading of The Quest for the Holy Something or other. I know you’ll enjoy it!

Have a great week, everyone!

A Recap on Wednesday’s Author Visit & Tips for Doing Your Own

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Last year, I hosted several author events during which I met readers behind a booth. On Wednesday, I was wrenched out of my comfort zone when asked to speak to a group of students at Peru High School about writing and publishing.

I honestly didn’t know where to start. Do I talk about the writing process? Do I focus on indie publishing? Do I promote my published works?

Thankfully, one of my favorite indie authors, Adam Dreece, had recently spoken with a group of students and had some awesome advice:

One of the mistakes I see a lot of author speakers do locally, is they are giving a speech for them, instead of thinking of their audience. If the audience wants more about the series, give it. But start from the position of what are they likely writing, and that your goal really is to inform and encourage

Adam,I hope you don’t mind me sharing that verbatim but the advice was just too good to keep to myself! Actually, he shares more advice on his blog. Follow this link to check it out.

I’m glad I read his post first. Going into the event focused on the audience helped me create a better presentation. Audience interaction was fantastic! I could tell the kids had a really good time. Plus, I even sold a few books (at a special discount).

Why Should Authors Visit Classrooms?

Besides offering a break from the regular routine, an author visit introduces students to the writing process, publishing world, and gets kids excited about books. Most importantly, we as authors have an opportunity to encourage young writers.

Tips for Making Your Author Visit a Success

Be yourself. Kids can spot a wannabe and a fake in an instant. Tell jokes, juggle, and do tricks as part of your presentation if that’s your style. If not, that’s okay. Whatever you do, just be honest.

Be prepared. You don’t have to create a PowerPoint presentation like I did, but at least think about what you’re going to talk about. Prepare an outline if that helps. Practice at home and take along note cards if need.

Be aware of your audience. Find out what grade the students are in, how old they are, and what their interests are. I spoke to high school students from a writing club so I tweaked my presentation with that information in mind.

Plan activities as part of your presentation. Kids don’t enjoy long lectures. Keep their attention and engagement by including them in activities. At least involve them in the discussion. Students love  to share their experiences and knowledge.

Bring copies of your published works. Keep in mind the point of the event is not to make a profit, but some kids might want a signed copy of your book. If nothing else, provide them links to buy your books.

Bring marketing materials. I gave every student who attended a free bookmark and a business card. I encouraged them to follow me on social media.

Have fun. I shouldn’t have to say this, but author visits are supposed to be fun. Kids are fun. So lighten up, relax, and enjoy the experience.

Now go schedule an author visit. It’s totally worth your time!

Thank You For Being a Friend!

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My presentation is in less than 5 hours! Meanwhile, I’m scrambling to make last minute preparations which include finishing my PowerPoint! **Pulls hair out and screams**

I just want to pause a moment in the midst of preparations to say THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me recently and from the start. What success I have seen is all thanks to you!

So to all of my friends on WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter who have shared, supported, and cheered me on every step of the way:

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Words are not enough! Here’s a video that says it better:

 

Again, thank you! Have a wonderful rest of the week!

Just Keep Writing, Just Keep Writing, Just keep Writing, Writing, Writing!

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The holidays are over, which means … holiday hangover! Nothing’s worse for writers than feeling sluggish, tired, and uninspired.

Here’s some advice for my writer friends struggling to scrape their butts off the couch to get some writing done:

Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing, writing, writing! What do we do? We write, WRITE!

And if all else fails, go get another cup of coffee. Caffeine always does the trick.

Have a great week!

How to Recover from NaNoWriMo Hangover

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NaNoWriMo 2015 is over! And like many of my fellow participants, I’m suffering a post-wrimo hangover, complete with headache, bloodshot eyes, and fatigue. Like Sadness in the movie Inside Out, I just feel so deflated, like I could lay around for days. I’m concerned these symptoms are getting between me and continued progress on my current project.

With a regular hangover, the cure is a piece of toast and a couple of egg yolks, but how does one recover from a writing hangover?

Here’s how:

  1. Take a break. Seriously you’ve earned it. But not a long one. Maybe a few days or a week tops. Don’t want to fall out of shape or lose your new routine.
  2. Step away from the draft. Trust me. It’s garbage, and you’re too vulnerable right now to cope with that. Maybe you should resume work on another project until you’re ready to face the facts.
  3. Get extra sleep. This is especially important for those sleep deprived individuals who have been pulling all-nighters. Catch up on your Zzzs.
  4. Do something other than writing. That’s all you’ve been doing for the last month. Watch some TV instead. Or better yet, read a book!
  5. Work in a workout. A little physical activity is good for you after sitting at a computer chair for an entire month. Go for a walk, ride a bike, or do some yoga, anything to get the circulation back to your legs.
  6. Celebrate. Even if you didn’t win. Go out with friends or treat yourself to a coffee from Starbucks for your efforts. You’ll feel better for it.
  7. Vent. Even if you won. Writing 50k words in one month is hard work and I’m sure it has taken its toll. So, share your struggles, setbacks, and frustrations with friends and writing buddies. Undoubtedly, they share your sentiments.
  8. Cuddle your kitty (or puppy). No doubt during NaNoWriMo they were your loudest cheerleader … or worst distraction for those of us who have cats. Now that November is over, they’re available to offer you some much needed therapy.
  9. Drink. Alcohol makes all your worries disappear … along with your memory.
  10. Go shopping. Ever heard of shop therapy?

Well, that’s all I’ve got. If you have other ideas, please share them in the comments section below. Happy Hump Day!

Voice Actor Jay W. Eccent Brings Characters from “Quest” to Life

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Welcome back, everyone! I hope you all had a good holiday weekend . . . or plain old weekend for my friends abroad who do not celebrate Thanksgiving. Last week, I posted a list of 10 things indie authors have to be thankful for. On that list, I listed readers last, though I personally would place them at the top of the list. I just thought it would be more pungent to save them for last.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for readers, especially when they leave a review on Amazon or send me a private message telling me how much they enjoyed my book. And I can’t even begin to explain my excitement last week when one of my readers shared with me a voice recording they did of the prologue from my debut novel, The Quest for the Holy Something or Other, an Arthurian parody centered around Sir Kay and his quest for the illusive holy item.

The reader’s name is Jay W. Eccent. Jay is a talented artist as well as voice actor, it turns out. His recording of the prologue was absolutely fantastic and entertaining. It was just as good, if not better, than the recordings I’ve played for other audio books. The recording can be found here. Check it out!

I want to congratulate Jay on his fantastic voice acting and thank him for bringing my characters to life!

As always, thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you again on Wednesday!